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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Timotheus

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commonly called Timothy, a disciple of St. Paul. He was a native of Lystra in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile; but his mother, whose name was Eunice, was a Jewess, Acts 16:1 , and educated her son with great care in her own religion, 2 Timothy 1:5 ; 2 Timothy 3:15 . To this young disciple St. Paul addressed two epistles; in the first of which he calls him his "own son in the faith," 1 Timothy 1:2 ; from which expression it is inferred that St. Paul was the person who converted him to the belief of the Gospel; and as, upon St. Paul's second arrival at Lystra, Timothy is mentioned as being then a disciple, and as having distinguished himself among the Christians of that neighbourhood, his conversion, as well as that of Eunice his mother, and Lois his grandmother, must have taken place when St. Paul first preached at Lystra, A.D. 46. Upon St. Paul's leaving Lystra, in the course of his second apostolical journey, he was induced to take Timothy with him, on account of his excellent character, and the zeal which, young as he was, he had already shown in the cause of Christianity; but before they set out, St. Paul caused him to be circumcised, not as a thing necessary to his salvation, but to avoid giving offence to the Jews, as he was a Jew by the mother's side, and it was an established rule among the Jews that partus sequitur ventrem. Timothy was regularly appointed to the ministerial office by the laying on of hands, not only by St. Paul himself, but also by the presbytery, 1 Timothy 4:14 ; 2 Timothy 1:6 . From this time Timothy acted as a minister of the Gospel; he generally attended St. Paul, but was sometimes employed by him in other places; he was very diligent and useful, and is always mentioned with great esteem and affection by St. Paul, who joins his name with his own in the inscription of six of his epistles. He is sometimes called bishop of Ephesus, and it has been said that he suffered martyrdom in that city, some years after the death of St. Paul.

The principal design of St. Paul's First Epistle to Timothy was to give him instructions concerning the management of the church of Ephesus; and it was probably intended that it should be read publicly to the Ephesians, that they might know upon what authority Timothy acted. After saluting him in an affectionate manner, and reminding him of the reason for which he was left at Ephesus, the Apostle takes occasion, from the frivolous disputes which some Judaizing teachers had introduced among the Ephesians, to assert the practical nature of the Gospel, and to show its superiority over the law; he returns thanks to God for his own appointment to the apostleship, and recommends to Timothy fidelity in the discharge of his sacred office; he exhorts that prayers should be made for all men, and especially for magistrates; he gives directions for the conduct of women, and forbids their teaching in public; he describes the qualifications necessary for bishops and deacons, and speaks of the mysterious nature of the Gospel dispensation; he foretels that there will be apostates from the truth, and false teachers in the latter times, and recommends to Timothy purity of manners and improvement of his spiritual gifts; he gives him particular directions for his behaviour toward persons in different situations in life, and instructs him in several points of Christian discipline; he cautions him against false teachers, gives him several precepts, and solemnly charges him to be faithful to his trust.

That the Second Epistle to Timothy was written while St. Paul was under confinement at Rome, appears from the two following passages: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner," 2 Timothy 1:8 . "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he was at Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me," 2 Timothy 1:16-17 . The epistle itself will furnish us with several arguments to prove that it could not have been written during St. Paul's first imprisonment.

1. It is universally agreed that St. Paul wrote his epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and to Philemon, while he was confined the first time at Rome. In no one of these epistles does he express any apprehension for his life; and in the two last mentioned we have seen that, on the contrary, he expresses a confident hope of being soon liberated; but in this epistle he holds a very different language: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day," 2 Timothy 4:6 , &c. The danger in which St. Paul now was, is evident from the conduct of his friends, when he made his defence: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me," 2 Timothy 4:16 . This expectation of death, and this imminent danger, cannot be reconciled either with the general tenor of his epistles written during his first confinement at Rome, with the nature of the charge laid against him when he was carried thither from Jerusalem, or with St. Luke's account of his confinement there; for we must remember that in A.D. 63, Nero had not begun to persecute the Christians; that none of the Roman magistrates and officers who heard the accusations against St. Paul at Jerusalem thought that he had committed any offence against the Roman government; that at Rome St. Paul was completely out of the power of the Jews; and, so little was he there considered, as having been guilty of any capital crime, that he was suffered to dwell "two whole years," that is, the whole time of his confinement, "in his own hired house, and to receive all that came in unto him, preaching the word of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no man forbidding him, Acts 28:30-31 .

2. From the inscriptions of the epistles to the Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, it is certain that Timothy was with St. Paul in his first imprisonment at Rome; but this epistle implies that Timothy was absent.

3. St. Paul tells the Colossians that Mark salutes them, and therefore he was at Rome with St. Paul in his first imprisonment; but he was not at Rome when this epistle was written, for Timothy is directed to bring him with him, 2 Timothy 4:11 .

4. Demas, also, was with St. Paul when he wrote to the Colossians: "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you," Colossians 4:14 . In this epistle he says, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed into Thessalonica." 2 Timothy 4:10 . It may be said that this epistle might have been written before the others, and that in the intermediate time Timothy and Mark might have come to Rome, more especially as St. Paul desires Timothy to come shortly, and bring Mark with him. But this hypothesis is not consistent with what is said of Demas, who was with St. Paul when he wrote to the Colossians, and had left him when he wrote this second epistle to Timothy; consequently the epistle to Timothy must be posterior to that addressed to the Colossians. The case of Demas seems to have been, that he continued faithful to St. Paul during his first imprisonment, which was attended with little or no danger; but deserted him in the second, when Nero was persecuting the Christians, and St. Paul evidently considered himself in great danger.

5. St. Paul tells Timothy, "Erastus abode at Corinth, but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick," 2 Timothy 4:20 . These were plainly two circumstances which had happened in some journey which St. Paul had taken not long before he wrote this epistle, and since he and Timothy had seen each other; but the last time St. Paul was at Corinth and Miletum, prior to his first imprisonment at Rome, Timothy was with him at both places; and Trophimus could not have been then left at Miletum, for we find him at Jerusalem immediately after St. Paul's arrival in that city; "for they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus, an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple," Acts 21:29 . These two facts must therefore refer to some journey subsequent to the first imprisonment; and, consequently, this epistle was written during St. Paul's second imprisonment at Rome, and probably in A.D. 65, not long before his death. It is by no means certain where Timothy was when this epistle was written to him. It seems most probable that he was somewhere in Asia Minor, since St. Paul desires him to bring the cloak with him which he had left at Troas, 2 Timothy 4:13 ; and also at the end of the first chapter, he speaks of several persons whose residence was in Asia. Many have thought that he was at Ephesus; but others have rejected that opinion, because Troas does not lie in the way from Ephesus to Rome, whither he was directed to go as quickly as he could. St. Paul, after his usual salutation, assures Timothy of his most affectionate remembrance; he speaks of his own apostleship and of his sufferings; exhorts Timothy to be steadfast in the true faith, to be constant and diligent in the discharge of his ministerial office, to avoid foolish and unlearned questions, and to practise and inculcate the great duties of the Gospel; he describes the apostasy and general wickedness of the last days, and highly commends the Holy Scriptures; he again solemnly exhorts Timothy to diligence: speaks of his own danger, and of his hope of future reward; and concludes with several private directions, and with salutations.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Timotheus'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/t/timotheus.html. 1831-2.

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