Study Guide

Timothy in The Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus)

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Timothy was one of Paul's right-hand men. Hey, travelling around, spreading the word of Jesus is tough work. You gotta have friends.

Leader of the Flock

Because Paul isn't really our author, this letter was probably never opened by Timothy. Sorry, Timothy fan club members. It's probably only addressed to him because he was one of the guys who would have carried on with Paul's work after he died. Timothy's name obviously carried some weight, too.

The first two letters by the Pastor set up Timothy as Paul's official representative:

  • "Remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine." (1 Timothy 1:3)
  • "I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight." (1 Timothy 1:18) 
  • "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16)
  • "I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality." (1 Timothy 5:21)
  • "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

Basically, Timothy has the direct line from Paul (who in turn has the direct line from God). The letters are kind of setting up a chain of command: once Paul is gone, Timothy is in charge. He'll appoint leaders and everything will be good.

Timothy in Real Life

The real Timothy was actually one of Paul's closest companions and bosom buddies in Christ.

We first meet him in Acts where he gets introduced to Paul and, then, promptly circumcised (Acts 16:1-3). See, Timothy's mother was Jewish, so Paul figures it would be easier for them to preach in Jewish communities if Timothy at least looks like he's following the law.

He's probably right about that one.

In Philippians, Paul praises Timothy, repeatedly saying, "I have no one like him," and that the kid is like "a son" to him (Philippians 2:20, 22). Awww. Timothy is also the co-author on 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and Philemon. But hey, who are we kidding? We know Paul's the real biblical mastermind here.

These letters give us a few other details about Timothy. His grandma, Lois, and mom, Eunice, were both Christian (2 Timothy 1:5) and Timothy was taught about Jesus "from childhood" (2 Timothy 3:15). He may be young (1 Timothy 4:12), but he has the gift of prophecy, which he got through "the laying on of hands by the council of elders" (1 Timothy 4:14). Pretty sweet.

Oh, he also has occasional tummy troubles (1 Timothy 5:23).

It's hard to know if these details are real historical info about Timothy or just little tidbits the Pastor threw in to make the letters look like the real thing. In any case, you'll sometimes see them crop up in Timothy bios, so feel free to imagine Timothy eating cookies and talking about Jesus at Grandma Lois's house anytime you want.

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