St. Timothy, Faith and Family

The story of Timothy is one of faith and family, for he exhibited in his life the commitment to Christ and the adherence to Christian belief and practice learned from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Noting the influence of these women, his mentor and fellow missionary Paul praised Timothy for his “sincere faith” and encouraged him to apply “the gift of God within” him (2 Timothy 1:5,6). Timothy allowed himself to be circumcised by Paul in order to make him acceptable to the Jewish Christians of his time (Acts 16:3). Timothy’s father was a Gentile and his mother Jewish, so he was caught up in different traditions, though he studied Scripture and became a companion and representative of Paul among the new Christian communities Paul was starting, notably in Thessalonica and Corinth. Eventually Timothy, according to the tradition reported by the historian Eusebius, became the first bishop of Ephesus. It was risky to be a follower of Christ then, as it still is in many places around the world today. Paul had been a persecutor of Christians before his conversion on the road to Damascus where Jesus confronted him. He was a teacher and example to Timothy who bravely stood up against the enemies of Christ by opposing pagan festivals in Ephesus. According to later stories, these pagans killed Timothy with stones and clubs.

Timothy is honored in our Calendar on January 26, along with fellow missionaries Titus and Silas. The two letters in The New Testament that are directed to him are full of encouragement for Christian living and give advice on the formation of faith and practice in the early Christian churches. They remain useful for our instruction in living our lives as Christians and facing the challenges of our times.

Holy Women, Holy Men, Celebrating the Saints, Church Publishing Incorporated, NY 2010
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, David Hugh Farmer, Oxford University Press 1982