A Mother’s Influence

From Bible Encyclopedia Online

From Bible Encyclopedia Online

“Timothy Taught By His Mother”

Bible References: Acts 14:5, 19-23; Acts 16:1-3, 2 Timothy 1:3-7.

Heart of the Story: Lois and Eunice demonstrated the positive influence of a godly mother and grandmother on a son’s life.

Story Line: During his first missionary journey (46-49 AD), Paul went to Lystra, a town now located in Turkey. In 6 BC Caesar Augustus designated Lystra a Roman colony; many Roman soldiers retired there. Despite Rome’s influence, native Lystrans spoke their local language, Lycoania, and worshipped the Greek pantheon of Gods, e.g., Zeus and Hermes.

A Jewish woman, Lois lived in Lystra; her daughter, Eunice was Timothy’s mother. Eunice married a Greek man who was a pagan. When a Jewish woman gives birth to a son, even if the father is non-Jewish, the child was a Jew. Although a Jew, Timothy wasn’t circumcised. The Bible gave no indication that Lois’ husband was alive when Paul visited Lystra. Both Lois and Eunice were devout Jews and taught Timothy Jewish beliefs. Because of their close association and the role both had in Timothy’s upbringing, possibly Lois lived with Eunice. Lois, Eunice and Timothy heard Paul’s message of Christ and converted to Christianity. Eunice’s Greek husband didn’t convert.

While Paul was preaching in Lystra, Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and stirred up the town’s people against Paul and Barnabas. The crowd stoned Paul and dragged him outside Lystra, where he was left for dead. After disciples gathered around him, Paul got up. Probably Timothy was one of the disciples as were Lois and Eunice.
The next day Paul and Barnabas left Lystra. Despite personal danger, Paul and Barnabas returned from their journey through Lystra. In Lystra, they appointed elders for the new church. Although Lois, Eunice, and Timothy were early converts, the Lystran church didn’t meet in their home, probably because Eunice’s husband was Greek. At this time Timothy wasn’t a church elder. His young age or his not being circumcised could have been an impediment to the “elder” designation.

Analysis of the Relationships: Timothy was a product of a mixed marriage, e.g., a Greek father and a Jewish mother. His father had little influence in his life. Until Paul took an interest in him, Lois and Eunice were the primary guidance in Timothy’s life.

Timothy had frequent physical ailments. His character was a blend of amiability and natural reserve coupled with faithfulness in spite of timidity. Possibly Timothy learned some of these behaviors from watching the behavior of two Jewish women in a Greek household.

Timothy was an important figure in the first century Christian church. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey; often Paul sent him as his official representative to churches. Timothy was the recipient of two letters from Paul which are part of the Canon of the New Testament. In Paul’s letters to the young churches, he mentioned Timothy more often than any other companion. He called Timothy his “spiritual son.”

Reflection: How were Lois, Eunice and Timothy examples of the importance of inter-generational faith and influence?

Copyright: June 2014, Carolyn Adams Roth

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