Who Was Timothy in the Bible? How Did He Help Paul?

This great asserter of the cause of Christ was a disciple of St. Paul and born at Lystra in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile, but his mother was a Jew.

  • Dan Graves, MSL
  • 2022 8 Sep
Who Was Timothy in the Bible? How Did He Help Paul?

Timothy’s Birthplace and Family

This great asserter of the cause of Christ was a disciple of St. Paul and born at Lystra in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile, but his mother was a Jew. Her name was Eunice, and that of his grandmother Lois. These particular are taken notice of, because St. Paul commends their piety and the good education which they had given Timothy.

Timothy Joined St. Paul on His Second Missionary Journey

When St. Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, about 51 or 52 A.D., the brethren gave such an advantageous testimony of the merit and good disposition of Timothy that the apostle Paul took Timothy with him in order to assist him in propagating the doctrine of his great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Timothy applied himself to labor with St. Paul in the business of the gospel and did him very important services. Through the whole course of his preaching, St. Paul calls Timothy not only his dearly beloved son, but also his brother, the companion of his labors, and a man of God.

This holy disciple accompanied St. Paul to Macedonia, to Philippi, to Thessalonica, to Berea; and when the apostle went from Berea, he left Timothy and Silas there to confirm the converts. When St. Paul came to Athens, he sent for Timothy to come to him.

Then when Timothy came and had given St. Paul an account of the churches of Macedonia, St. Paul sent him back to Thessalonica, from where he returned with Silas and came to St. Paul at Corinth. There Timothy continued with him for some time, and the apostle mentions him with Silas at the beginning of the two Epistles which he then wrote to the Thessalonians.

Timothy Continued to Travel with St. Paul on His Third Missionary Journey

Some years after this, St. Paul sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia; and gave Timothy orders to call at Corinth to refresh the minds of the Corinthians with regard to the truths which he had inculcated in them.

Some time after, writing to the same Corinthians, he recommends them to take care of Timothy and send him back in peace; after which Timothy returned to St. Paul into Asia. They went together to Macedonia; and the apostle puts Timothy’s name with his own before the second Epistle to the Corinthians, which he wrote to them from Macedonia, about the middle of the year of Christ 57. And he sends his recommendations to the Romans in the letter which he wrote from Corinth the same year.

Timothy Became Bishop of Ephesus

When St. Paul returned from Rome, in 64, he left Timothy at Ephesus to take care of that church, of which he was first bishop, as he is recognized by the council of Chaceldon.

St. Paul wrote to him from Macedonia the first of the two letters which are addressed to him. He recommends him to be more moderate in his austerities, and to drink a little wine, because of the weakness of his stomach, and his frequent infirmities.

Timothy Received Paul’s Second Letter

After the apostle came to Rome in the year 65, being then very near his death, St. Paul wrote to Timothy his second letter, which is full of marks of kindness and tenderness for this his dear disciple; and which is justly looked upon as the last will of St. Paul.

He desires him to come to Rome to him before winter and bring with him several things which he left at Troas. If Timothy went to Rome, and it is probable that he did, he must have been an eyewitness of the martyrdom of Paul, which happened in the year of Christ 68.

Timothy Returned to Ephesus and Was Murdered

After Timothy had visited Paul at Rome, he returned to Ephesus, where he continued to govern the church as its bishop, without the least interruption for a considerable time, till at length he fell a victim to the malice of the pagans, who were his most inveterate enemies. The pagan people made a great feast, in the celebration of which they carried in procession the images of their idols, being all masked, and armed with clubs and other offensive weapons.

Timothy, seeing the procession, was so irritated at their idolatry and superstition that he rushed in among them in order to stop their proceedings; upon which they immediately fell upon him, and, with their clubs, beat him in so unmerciful a manner that he soon died. They left the body on the spot where they had murdered him, which was removed thence by some of his disciples and decently interred on the top of a mountain at a small distance from the city.

The Greeks commemorate his martyrdom on the 22nd of January, the day on which it is supposed he gave up his life in defense of the doctrine he had long labored to propagate; and during which time he had brought over great numbers of people to embrace the truth of the Christian religion.

Resources: This story is adapted from John Kitto's 1870 History of the Bible and represents the commonly accepted views about this apostle among rank and file believers in the late 19th century.