Paul's Sons

by Earl Robertson
via Biblical Insights, Vol. 8, No. 6, June 2008.

The relationship of Timothy and Titus to Paul as sons is spiritual, legitimate and true -- "legitimately born, not spurious," says Thayer, pg. 119. They were true sons. Paul said Timothy was "a true child in the faith," showing the sphere in which this relationship existed -- naming the where -- "in the faith" (I Timothy 1:2). Likewise, he writes Titus saying, "my true child in a common faith" (Titus 1:4). This direct statement acknowledges the accessibility -- the faith is common, available to all, as stated by Jesus in giving the worldwide commission to the apostles.

Before the brethren in Judea met Paul, "...they kept hearing, 'He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy'" (Galatians 1:23). The gospel or faith preached is the seed that made Timothy and Titus true sons. There is no other way to become a true son (I Peter 1:22-25) as sonship is according to this common faith. Timothy is identified by name twenty-four times in the New Testament and Titus twelve. Such a father and son relationship is very binding, and should be guarded and honored.

Generational Faith Building

Timothy's grandmother, Lois, had unfeigned (lack of hypocrisy) faith as did his mother, Eunice (II Timothy 1:5). Sincere faith finds opportunities to share with others, especially from godly mothers and grandmothers to their offspring. The expression, a "the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world," is difficult to deny. The impacting spiritual influence of a consistent mother and grandmother has much to do in molding character and quality of children. Paul tells Timothy he is persuaded this faith was in him as well as in his mother and grandmother. These ladies were able to teach Timothy the truth though his father was a Greek and obviously not a believer (Acts 16:1). Timothy was not circumcised prior to his becoming a Christian, and this indicates his father was not a proselyte. So, it appears his education in Old Testament Scriptures was totally from the training of his mother and grandmother (II Timothy 3:15).

Paul urged Timothy to continue (abide) in the teaching he had learned (II Timothy 3:14). This practice develops character and strength, and prevents apostasy. It is a waste to learn the essentials for godly living and the way to heaven and then cease doing God's will (II Peter 2:20-22). Doctrinal teaching must be stressed in the home, Bible classes, and the pulpit to expect faithfulness. Blessed assurance rests in knowing the truth and living it. Each Christian, particularly young people, needs the strengthening influences from others in doctrinal and moral authority to escape the tragedy of seducers leading us astray. Timothy was told if he would put the brethren in mind of these things he would be a good servant of Christ (I Timothy 4:6). He was solemnly charged in the presence of God to maintain these principles without bias (I Timothy 5:21).

One's teaching and preaching must be clear and distinctive to convince and motivate others to stand where they belong in service in the kingdom. Give us examples in teaching and preaching that demonstrate conviction for values that transcend time; we neither desire nor can afford the cheap and silly messages so void of the saving power of God (Romans 1:16,17). There are no acceptable substitutes for truth to accomplish the purposes of God with man, and we, as teachers, must faithfully stay in the fields that are white unto harvest as Paul instructed Timothy (II Timothy 2:2; Matthew 9:37ff).

Mentoring a Worthy Young Man

Paul deeply loved Timothy and called him "my true child in the faith," "my child Timothy," "my beloved child," and "my beloved and faithful child in the Lord" (I Corinthians 4:17). Perhaps, Timothy was from Lystra where Paul was stoned and left for dead on his first tour of preaching from Antioch, Syria. It was here that the sorrowing disciples gathered around Paul, and it is altogether possible that Timothy was in that number believing him dead (Acts 14:20); an exciting time for a young man yet in his teens. Paul later recalls his tears (II Timothy 1:4). Timothy was a true convert and at Paul's disposal from his visit to Lystra on his second journey to his death - approximately seventeen years.

Timothy enjoyed a good reputation, being "well reported of by the brethren" (Acts 16:2). This reflects his knowing the Scriptures from childhood which his mother and grandmother taught him (II Timothy 3:14,15). When he left home going with Paul on his second tour to preach (Acts 16:3), Paul had him circumcised to prevent hindering the gospel in order to reach the Jews. Paul wanted Timothy to be a good gospel preacher (I Timothy 1:18-20; 4:6-16; 5:21; 6:11,20,21).

Because of agitation by Thessalonian Jews, Paul went to Athens, and calls for Timothy and Silas to come with all speed (Acts 17:10-16), and from here he sent him to Thessalonica to establish and comfort the disciples (I Thessalonians 3:2), being successful in it (vss. 6-8). He then returns to Greece, preaching Jesus the Son of God (Acts 18:5; II Corinthians 1:19).

Timothy was with Paul on his third journey, worshiping with him at Troas (Acts 20:7), and apparently accompanied him to Jerusalem. He gave Paul and the Lord his best; when other wavered, he was faithful. Paul urged him, saying, "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you..." (I Timothy 6:20), and when the true test came, Paul said, "I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father" (Philippians 2:20-22).

He behaved himself so that no one would look down on him as a mere youth ("Worthless old men readily do so," says Bengal), so as to be an example in word, manner of life, love, spirit, faith, and purity (I Timothy 4:12), and this earned Paul's confidence and respect. He was not a "know it all," but could receive instruction about his personality and disposition (II Timothy 1:7,8;2:1,3).

He unashamedly served Christ, standing with Paul in the drama of warfare demanded in God's revelation. He remained faithful when Demas forsook the work (II Timothy 4:10), refused to be sidetracked with vain babblings or wrangles (II Timothy 2:14), and stood unmoved at Paul's side when Alexander the coppersmith did him much harm (II Timothy 4:14,15).

This excellent young preacher believed as did his teacher, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom..." (II Timothy 4:18). What a son!