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Discipleship

Do people speak highly of me as a disciple? Does it matter? My job is to please God. That should be my focus every day. I am to be a disciple of Jesus. I am to learn and grow in His ways. If that leads to other disciples speaking highly of me, then great. That can’t be my focus though. I must focus on God’s will and purpose.

My next purpose is the strengthen the faith of the disciples. Jesus gives us the goal to go and make disciples of all nations. That is the main thing.

Where should that lead? It should lead to growth. It should lead to that daily. I know it seems fashionable to pooh pooh large mega churches and the numbers. I do find it interesting though that five times in the book of Acts (see here) it highlights the church increasing in numbers. I think a heavy emphasis on evangelism and discipleship leads to growth.

Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. | Acts 16:1-5 (CSB)

Paul and Silas approached their destination from the east, so they came first to Derbe and then to Lystra, just the reverse of the first journey. The preachers went from church to church, delivering the decrees and helping establish the believers in the faith. The result was fruit from the witness of the believers so that the churches increased in number daily. A growing assembly of disciples is a great thing. God is in favor of more disciples.

Perhaps the best thing that happened at Lystra was the enlistment of Timothy to replace John Mark as Paul’s special assistant. Timothy was probably converted through Paul’s ministry when the apostle first visited Lystra, for Paul called him “my beloved son” and “my own son in the faith”. Timothy’s mother and grandmother had prepared the way for his decision by being the first in the family to trust the Messiah. Young Timothy undoubtedly witnessed Paul’s sufferings in Lystra and was drawn by the Master to the apostle. Timothy was Paul’s favorite companion and coworker, perhaps the son Paul never had but always wanted.

The decision at the Jerusalem Conference was that it was not necessary to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul did not allow Titus to be circumcised lest the enemy think he was promoting their cause. The battle in Jerusalem was over the truth of the good news, not over the fitness of a man to serve. Paul’s concern with Timothy was not his salvation but his fitness for service.

Timothy would be working with both Jews and Gentiles in the churches, and it was essential that he not offend them. That was why Paul had Timothy circumcised. Again, it was not a matter of Timothy’s salvation or personal character, but rather of avoiding serious problems that would surely become stumbling blocks as the men sought to serve the Lord. It is a wise spiritual leader who knows how and when to apply the principles of the Word of God, when to stand firm and when to yield.

In the years that followed, Timothy played an important part in the expansion and strengthening of the churches. He traveled with Paul and was often his special ambassador to the “trouble spots” in the work, such as Corinth. He became shepherd of the church in Ephesus and probably joined Paul in Rome shortly before the apostle was martyred.

Who is Timothy? Paul’s convert and companion, whose name means “one who honors God.” Timothy first appears in Acts 16:1–3 as Paul’s disciple whose mother “was a believer; but his father was a Greek”). He was a third-generation Christian after his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. The apostle Paul, undoubtedly Timothy’s spiritual father, refers to him as “my true child in the faith”; he perhaps converted Timothy on his first or second missionary journey. The son of a Greek (or gentile) father, Timothy was yet uncircumcised; however, when Paul decided to take Timothy with him on the second journey, he had him circumcised, so as not to hinder their missionary endeavors among the Jews.

Timothy, who was “well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium”, became Paul’s companion and assistant on his second missionary journey at Lystra.

He traveled with Paul into Europe following the Macedonian vision. When Paul decided to go to Athens, he left Silas and Timothy at Beroea to better establish the church there. Timothy and Silas eventually joined Paul in Corinth. He next appears with Paul in Ephesus on his third journey, from where Paul sends Erastus and him into Macedonia ahead of himself. In the last mention of Timothy in Acts 20:4, he was included in the list of goodwill ambassadors who were to accompany Paul to Jerusalem with the offering for the Jews who were disciples.

Timothy is often mentioned in the Pauline letters. His name is included in the introductory salutations of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Timothy’s presence with Paul when he wrote these letters confirms the accuracy of the references to him in Acts. He was in Corinth on the second journey when Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians, at Ephesus on the third journey when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians, and in Rome during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, when he wrote Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He is mentioned in the introductions of 1 and 2 Timothy as the recipient of those two pastoral letters.

In the closing salutations of Romans 16:21, Timothy is listed along with others who send their good wishes to the believers in Rome. In 1 Corinthians 4:17 and 16:10, Paul speaks words of praise for Timothy as he sends him with a message to Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 1:19 Timothy is named along with Paul and Silas as men who were telling about Jesus the Messiah.

Paul put Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus and wrote him two pastoral letters addressed with his name to help him perform that responsible task.

Sources:

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 466–467). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Timothy, Timotheus (Person). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 2069–2070). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  3. Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Ac 16:1–40). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.