(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It was the apostle’s last letter from his Roman jail cell, written to Timothy, Paul’s “…beloved and faithful son in the Lord…” (I Corinthians 4:17), just before Paul was martyred – beheaded in Rome! (see II Timothy 4:6). Here is what he wrote in the first five verses of II Timothy:
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 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.
From the Bible, here are the mentioned instances of Timothy’s life and ministry:
- We first meet Timothy in Acts 16:1. Paul and Silas (on Paul’s second missionary journey) “…came to Derbe and Lystra…” on the southern coast of Asia Minor. “And, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was a Greek.”
✞ By the sound of it, Timothy’s father was not a follower of Jesus Christ! ✞ But, according to our featured Scripture, his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were strong believers, and passed that faith on to young Timothy!
- According to Acts 16:2, Timothy “…was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.”
✞ We don’t know how old he was, but tradition says he was born in 17 AD. The best date when Paul was in Asia Minor on his second missionary journey is 50 AD. That puts Timothy about 33 years old. ✞ Some years later, About 64 AD, Paul wrote the first letter to Timothy in our Bible. Timothy was then the bishop of Ephesus at about the age of 47, apparently quite young to be appointed a bishop! So Paul wrote in I Timothy 4:12, “Let no one dispise your youth....”
- Paul was quite impressed with Timothy when he met him, and asked the young man, in Acts 16:3, to accompany him and Silas as they spread the gospel across Asia Minor and into Greece.
✞ He is next mentioned in Acts 17:14 helping to minis- ter with Silas in the Macedonian city of Berea, as the brethren sent Paul away to Athens for his safety. ✞ In Acts 17:15, Timothy and Silas are then summoned to assist Paul. ✞ The two of them joined Paul in Thessalonica, accord- ing to Acts 18:5. ✞ On the apostle’s third missionary journey, as he ministered again in Asia Minor, “...he sent into Macedonia [northern Greece]...Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in in Asia [Minor] for a time.” (Acts 19:22). ✞ The last mention of Timothy in the book of Acts is in Acts 20:4, when he and several others traveled with Paul back to Jerusalem.
- Timothy ministered so closely with Paul, he is mentioned as co-author of II Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, and Philemon! (see verse 1 of the mentioned books).
- Apparently, Timothy was jailed for his faith at least once! In Hebrews 13:23, the unknown author writes, “Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I will see you if he comes shortly.”
There are tradions concerning the later life of Timothy:
- According to the church father Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History chapter 3.4.6 wrote, “Timothy, so it is recorded, was the first to receive the episcopate of the parish in Ephesus, Titus of the churches in Crete.”
- The apocryphal Acts of Timothy states that in the year 97 AD, the 80-year-old bishop tried to halt a procession in honor of the goddess Diana by preaching the Gospel. The angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death!
- Fox’s Book of Martyrs was published by John Foxe in 1563. He enlarges on the tradition from the Acts of Timothy and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History:
Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period,as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.
All this to say, Timothy was an outstanding Christian, and Paul, as his mentor, made a lasting difference in the life of his disciple!
Let me now tell you of a man who made a substantial Christian difference in my life, my Uncle Stuart Prindle!
As a boy growing up on our dairy farm in northwestern Connecticut, I remember Uncle Stuart as our insurance man, from the Prindle Insurance Agency which he founded in Sharon, Connecticut. He was not blood-related for he had married my mother’s sister. He was always welcome at our house, for his smile and soft-spoken kindness left us all feeling uplifted.
One day I decided to make some money by selling lemonade from a roadside stand. There wasn’t much traffic on East Street, but I sold a couple of 5 cent glasses (Remember, this was about 1954). Uncle Stuart came along and asked for a glass. He then gave me a whole quarter! I was so excited I left the stand and ran up to the house to show my mother!
One incident left him shocked! It was a warm summer day when I was about 14. he had come to discuss insurance matters with my mother. Mom wasn’t feeling well and so was lying down on the livingroom couch. Uncle Stuart sat in a chair near the open door, left open to let in a summer breeze. As they talked, a racoon calmly entered the front door, ambled over to the couch, climbed up on my mother’s shoulder, and stared down looking into her eyes! I heard her scream and ran to the living room, took in the scene of my petrified mother and frozen-in-place Uncle Stuart, and said, “Oh, there you are!” Sammy, our neighbor’s pet raccoon, had escaped his cage, and had wandered in! Sammy was soon back home at the neighbors’!
In 1962 I took my driver’s license test at the Canaan, Connecticut State Police barracks. The car I had practiced driving, my mother’s 1953 Chevrolet, was down for repairs. Uncle Stuart took me to the Canaan barracks, and I tested for my license in his Volkswagen Beetle – the first time I had ever driven that make of automobile! The man who oversaw my road test must have understood my inexperience with a Volkswagen Beetle, because I struggled to get it into reverse when told to back into a parallel parking space! I was familiar with the ‘H’ pattern of a standard transmission, but with a Beetle, you had to push down on the lever before dropping it into the reverse gear! I passed the road test and was issued my license. Thank you, Uncle Stuart, and thank you road-test inspector!
After receiving my driver’s license, Uncle Stuart arranged to issue my needed auto insurance. He put me on a plan to pay him $25 a week from my wages working on a local farm. I faithfully fulfilled my obligation over that summer, stopping each payday at his office. The last installment was due and I walked in to pay it. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “You have been very good with your payments. This one is on me!”
I joined the Air Force, got married upon discharge, and lost connection with my uncle. Then in the early 1990’s we reconnected through the mail – he living in Florida and I pastoring in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He wrote me in early 1994 that he was going to host a trip to the Holy Lands. I surprised him by signing up for that same trip! For ten days we roomed together, I and my 85 year old uncle! It was as if we never had a 26-year separation! He was a dedicated Christian man, and we had great Bible discussions and prayer times!
Hope and I visited him and his wife twice in their Florida home. Both times we were made to feel welcomed and special! I had great love for my Uncle Stuart!
He lived an active life into his mid-90’s, and I had to privilege to conduct his memorial service back in his and my hometown of Sharon. I have wanted to be like my Uncle Stuart for many years now! He made a big difference in my life!
In whose life are you making a difference?