When Paul was on his first missionary journey, he came to a city called Lystra, where the people stoned him and left him for dead. During Paul’s visit to Lystra, he brought to Christ a boy named Timothy, together with his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois. Timothy had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. He learned about the Lord from his mother and grandmother. Both his mother and grandmother had sincere faith in their heart and they passed this faith to Timothy. Under his mother and grandmother’s care, Timothy had known the Holy Scripture since he was a child. (2 Tim 3: 15)
During the interval between the apostle’s first and second journeys, the boy Timothy grew up to manhood. At the time of Paul’s second visit to Lystra, the brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. (Act 16.2)
Paul asked Timothy to be his companion and help in the work of spreading the gospel. Timothy agreed; and from then on they grew up a wonderful friendship between the two men. They traveled together, lodged together, and wrote together, even shared imprisonment.
Paul loved Timothy deeply, looking upon him as his own son. When they were separated he sent young Timothy all sorts of good advice to help him in his work and keep him in the strait and narrow way.
Two of Paul’s letters to Timothy, given by an old man to a young man, are so precious to us and have great values for our young people.
II. The precious faith passed from one generation to the next
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Tim 1.5.
A person’s saving faith, a personal faith, can’t be passed from one generation to the next as a matter of natural heritage. One can’t be saved and have the new life just because his or her parent was saved and had the new life.
Nevertheless, blessed is a child whose parents are faithful! Blessed is he who has indeed learned from his faithful parents and, with an obedient heart, allowed the Holy Spirit to do the same work as He has done on the lives of his parents.
Timothy is that testimony. Timothy is a carefully chosen example by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate God’s continuing work to build the Body of Christ through normal inner-family relations. To accomplish His eternal purpose in His Church, God is of course not limited to just a particular method of working. He doesn’t have to rely on a believing parent to raise up a next believer. With the heavenly power at His disposal, He can raise up whoever to be a believer, even a great believer, and far beyond. God captured and fully laid hold of Apostle Paul while he was journeying on the road to Damascus. There is no mentioning, and nor any need of such mentioning, of who Paul’s parents were.
But that was just one aspect of God’s administration. In the age of dispensation, God intends to, not that He has to but that He desires to, build a faithful line through the passing of the faith from one generation to another. It’s God’s economy and no one has right to ask why He chooses to do so. We are only sure that God is particularly pleased to see such faithful reproduction in God’s family. Of course God still saves others from the “outside” and bring them into God’s family, but the sight of the Holy Spirit is not only on “Pauls” but also on “Timothys.”
It is worth considering that Paul’s heart was so much on Timothy, to an extent that the last epistle (letter) he ever wrote was to Timothy (2 Tim) and the last person who wanted to see before his departure from earth (and from his imprisonment, literally) was also Timothy. It clearly wasn’t because Timothy was a fruit of Paul’s evangelism, for thousands had come to the faith as a direct result of Paul’s preaching; nor was it because Timothy was the most gifted leader among God’s children. Timothy wasn’t the strongest, or even the most spiritual, among the believers who had followed or co-worked with Paul (consider Barnabas, Apollo, or Silas).
In fact, Timothy is more of timid temperament, even showing youthful immaturity. Paul’s heart was on Timothy because the Holy Spirit’s heart was on a true child of faith born in the Church, not through outreaching by the Church (though that is good as well), not through special intervention by the Spirit (though that is good as well), but spiritually born in the God’s family.
A true child of faith to demonstrate the inner life and the reproducing ability of the Church of Christ! It’s fitting that Timothy, as his natural person stood, was not like the mighty Paul but more like most of us. Timothy’s testimony was his faithfulness, and in his faith he proved the living faith of his mother and grandmother, and also proved the spiritual blessing passed to him by the church elders. He was a child of the Church, and by keeping the faith he thus honored the Body of Christ, and that, is true “honoring God” before Christ returns.