Timothy, a Boy Who Grew Up to Serve God

{alt}

  • a child whose mother and grandmother diligently taught him the Holy Scriptures
  • a boy with a heart to listen and learn
  • a devoted servant of God who assisted Paul in ministering to the churches

KEY VERSES

[I am thankful] when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. —2 Timothy 1:5

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.—2 Timothy 3:14-15

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. —2 Timothy 3:16-17

PROLOGUE

It was an exciting time in the history of the New Testament Church. Since Jesus’ crucifixion, hundreds were baptized, and new congregations were springing up far and wide. The apostles busily cared for the churches, and new laborers were added regularly—men like Barnabas and Paul and Timothy.

But times were not always easy. Occasionally those preaching the gospel message met with violence and opposition, described in Acts 14:1-7, 19.

News of shocking events in the cities of Antioch and Iconium spread like wildfire throughout the countryside. Paul and Barnabas, zealous preachers of the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of salvation, suffered the brunt of anger and jealousy from local religious leaders. Thrust out of those cities with threats of stoning and deadly harm, Paul and Barnabas journeyed to yet another city, Lystra, and preached the same hopeful message. Perhaps they would find safe haven and willing listeners here.

Lystra was a gentile city with little or no Jewish presence. In fact there is no historical mention of a synagogue having existed there. So Paul and Barnabas found a central place within its gates and began preaching, attracting first one person and then another. Soon a crowd formed, curious about these “notorious” strangers. They watched Paul single out a man crippled in his feet from birth and heard him say in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” (verse 10). To their amazement, the man did just that: he stood for the first time in his life, leaping and walking with joy!

To their amazement, the man did just that: he stood for the first time in his life, leaping and walking with joy!

The crowd was stunned and soon reached a very wrong conclusion: these outsiders must be the gods Zeus and Hermes in human form! Immediately the city prepared to worship them, bringing oxen and flowers to offer as pagan sacrifices. Shocked and horrified, Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and cried, “Why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them” (verse 15).

Pause for thought: Why were Paul and Barnabas so shocked by these actions? Where in the Bible does it say not to worship other gods?

Now mingling in the crowd were rabble-rousers from Antioch and Iconium, still determined to stir up trouble for these righteous ministers of the one true God. Someone hurled a stone at Paul and then another. Soon a very angry mob battered him into unconsciousness, dragged him out of the city gates, and left him for dead. But Paul had friends there too—believing disciples who came to his rescue, tended his wounds, and saw him safely on his way the next day (verse 20). Very likely a young teen named Timothy, along with his mother and grandmother, witnessed all these events, and their lives would never be the same.

It fell to Eunice and Lois to teach him the Holy Scriptures from the time he began to talk and understand, and they welcomed the opportunity.

 

STORY AND STUDY

Timothy the boy

There was not a time the young boy could remember when he was not being taught by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. Though his father was a Greek (a non-Jew) and probably a pagan by religion, it was not his influence that dominated Timothy’s formative years. By all rights if a child was born to a Jewish mother, he was considered a Jew. It fell to Eunice and Lois to teach him the Holy Scriptures from the time he began to talk and understand, and they welcomed the opportunity.

Pause for thought: Timothy faced an interesting set of circumstances. Evidently his gentile father felt no need to have him circumcised, as was commanded in the Torah, and Timothy’s countrymen were aware of this. As he grew older, Timothy found himself considered to be a gentile by Jews, who required circumcision, and a Jew by gentiles, because of his lifestyle based on the Holy Scriptures. It must have been a difficult place to be. Discuss the difficulties of “being different.”

Timothy memorized whole passages from the Scriptures, as was the custom for Jewish boys, using them to guide his life.

Prepared for every good work

Eunice and Lois took the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-8 very seriously and perhaps reminded him of them often: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

Over the years, their efforts bore fruit. Timothy memorized whole passages from the Scriptures, as was the custom for Jewish boys, using them to guide his life. Gradually he developed into a “vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

A heart to learn

By the time Timothy watched the startling events in Lystra, he had matured in his understanding. Paul’s words made sense to him, and he had a heart to learn more and to obey. It is likely that about this time, Timothy and his mother and grandmother joined the ranks of a newly-forming church of God in what had once been a totally pagan city.

Of a good reputation

Sometime later, Paul decided to revisit the cities where he had preached, including Lystra and Iconium. As he talked with the members in both areas, he kept hearing about a certain man. “He is a good man,” they said. “One dedicated to God, and so young. Why, his mother and grandmother taught him the Scriptures as soon as he could understand, and he lives by them!”

“You should meet him,” they urged. “His name is Timothy.”

Paul loved Timothy as his own son and wrote two letters of instruction especially for him.

True to his reputation, Timothy’s character so impressed Paul that he chose to take him on many of his future missions. In fact, Timothy became his right-hand man, carrying messages to churches and individuals and ministering to churches where needed. Paul loved Timothy as his own son and wrote two letters of instruction especially for him. We know them as the New Testament books of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy.

Their careful shepherding of a young boy’s heart bore wonderful fruit.

Conclusion

Young Timothy grew to be a tireless servant of God, a trustworthy Christian, and a man who believed the gospel message and lived his life accordingly. Eunice and Lois must have been so thankful that Timothy became such a devoted servant of God and a faithful, trustworthy helper in the churches of God. Their careful shepherding of a young boy’s heart bore wonderful fruit.

QUESTIONS

(A note to parents: Reflect on what you have just studied. There may be important points you wish to stress that were not covered in this lesson.)

1. Knowledge

What were the names of Timothy’s mother and grandmother?

Where did they live?

True or False: Timothy had a bad reputation among church members.

2. Comprehension

What do you think are some of the things Timothy’s mother and grandmother would have taught him? Why?

What kind of character traits do you think Timothy had? Why? How can children today develop the same traits?

3. Connections

Which of the following people does the Bible show also learned about God as a little child and grew up to serve Him in a powerful way?

  • Adam
  • Goliath
  • Samuel

How was this person like Timothy? How was he different? Where in the Bible can you read about this person?

DISCUSSIONS

1. Encourage each child to share the most important part of this story from his or her perspective. What lessons might be applied today?

2. Discuss ways to memorize scriptures and how to use them in everyday life.

3. It must have been challenging for Timothy to grow up in a pagan city where false gods were worshipped. What would some of the challenges have been? Which of the 10 Commandments would have specifically applied to his situation? Can you turn to where the 10 Commandments are listed in your Bible?

ACTIVITIES

1. Timothy Word Search

As a family, create a Word Search containing key words from this story and share it with someone at church on the Sabbath. Include attitudes exhibited in the story such as “troublemaker,” “teachable,” “brave,” as well as character and place names.

2. Who Am I?

Create a guessing game featuring the key figures in this story. For instance, “I am Timothy’s mother. Who am I?”, “Eunice is my daughter. Who am I?”, or “I can walk! Who am I?”

Encourage each child to come up with a question and to give answers to others’ questions.

3. Charades

Write the names of all the characters or the action scenes in this story on slips of paper. Then have each person choose a slip and act out what is written on it nonverbally. The rest of the family must guess what is being mimed. If there are several family members, it could be a team effort.

Further Your Study

Lessons We Learn From Their Lives

Lessons We Learn From Their Lives

The examples of individuals recorded in the pages of the Bible can teach us valuable lessons about life. God often worked with ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Learn how our biographical studies are organized and get tips on how Read More >

Monthly Study Guide: Bible Literacy

Monthly Study Guide: Bible Literacy

Increase your family’s understanding and retention of Scripture and cultivate a love of God’s Word with this focused study. Ideas to present this concept to age ranges from preschoolers through teenagers are included. The four-week study Read More >

Barnabas, Man of Encouragement

Barnabas, Man of Encouragement

During the trials, persecutions, and growing pains of the early New Testament Church, the apostle Barnabas was there to uplift and motivate others. Be inspired by this story of generosity, humility, and faith. Read More >

Monthly Study Guide: Young Bible Heroes

Monthly Study Guide: Young Bible Heroes

“You mean he was my age when he did that?” “She had the courage to say that at my age?” The extraordinary acts of faith of children and teens are recorded in the Bible for us Read More >