Philippians 2:22, “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”
The story of Paul and Timothy in the Bible is a remarkable story of discipleship and loyalty. Paul most likely led Timothy to the Lord in his first missionary trip to Lystra and Derbe in Acts 14:6-7. However, it wasn’t until John Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, left Paul on a mission trip that Timothy was given the chance to be Paul’s traveling companion (Acts 15:38-16:3).
When one of Paul’s young disciples quit and turned back in the middle of a mission trip; God raised up a new disciple to travel with him. We’re all valuable, but we’re all replaceable.
Timothy’s relationship with Paul most likely started when he was around 15-19yrs old and spanned for approximately 20 years. Paul considered Timothy a “son in the faith” or a “spiritual son” (1 Timothy 1:2). The trust that Paul had in Timothy can be seen in his choosing to place him over the churches in Ephesus, which was where Paul spent the most time and most likely had the greatest fruit (Acts 20:17-38).
At one point in Paul’s ministry, it seemed like many people were abandoning him, but he said that Timothy never left his side. He wrote in Philippians 2:19-23 regarding his love for Timothy, “19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.”
At the end of Paul’s life, Timothy was the one to receive his last and final letter, 2 Timothy. In this letter Paul started by writing, “Timothy, my dear son,” and ended by saying, “Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 1:2 & 4:9-10). Uniquely, the life of Timothy is only known by the things Paul wrote about him because he never wrote any letters nor is quoted in the book of Acts. However, what we can learn from Paul is that Timothy had great faith in God and was willing to be like a son to him, even when others left.
Paul used the imagery of a “father and son” relationship with Timothy because they served God together, fought the good fight of faith side-by-side and never let anything break apart their love and commitment to each other. And because of their work together some of the greatest books in the Bible have been written, 1 & 2 Timothy, which are my personal favorites. Plus, young and old leaders alike have been inspired to work together for the Kingdom of God, spanning generational gaps and successfully passing the gospel torch.
Do you have faith to serve your church leadership like Timothy served Paul?
- Repent if you have ever wrongfully forsaken your church leadership.
- Ask the Lord to bring you into “family style” relationships with leaders in your church. Albert Schweitzer said, “Example is leadership.”
- By faith, be committed and loyal to the good leadership God has placed in your life.
One Year Reading Plan
Daniel 4:1-37, 2 Peter 1:1-21, Psalm 119:97-112, & Proverbs 28:17-18. Click here to read online.