Why does Paul in the beginning of his epistles call Timothy his son?


  1 Timothy 1:2 says, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Timothy 1:18 says, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;”

We know that Timothy was not Paul’s physical son, because Paul was not married.   1 Corinthians 7:7-8 says, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.   I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”

In regard to whether Paul could have had Timothy as an illegitimate child out of wedlock, that idea cannot be supported from Scripture, because Paul testifies of his strict, religious life, even as a youth.   Acts 26:4-5 says, “My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;   Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."

Some may think that Paul led Timothy to the Lord (and so called him his “son”), but the following passages show that Timothy was already saved before Paul came to his city, and that it was Timothy’s mother and grandmother who were instrumental in bringing Timothy to Christ.   Acts 16:1-3 says, “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:   Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.   Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.”   2 Timothy 1:1-5 says, “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 dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.   I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;  Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;   When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

The answer to the question as to why Paul called Timothy his “son,” is found in this passage: Philippians 2:19-23, which says, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.   For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.   For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.   But ye know the proof of him, that, AS A SON WITH THE FATHER, HE HATH SERVED WITH ME IN THE GOSPEL.   Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”   Timothy served with Paul “as a son with the father;” in other words, Timothy was learning the ministry by serving in an apprenticeship-type situation under Paul.   It was a “father-son” relationship like a father would teach his son a trade.   This was a common way to learn a trade in those days.

Notice what was said about Jesus Himself.   Matthew 13:54-55 says, “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?   Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”   Mark 6:2-3 says, “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?   Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”   The carpenter, Joseph, had taught his Son Jesus, carpentry.

I wonder what people are learning under our influence?   Are we apprenticing people in holiness, or in hypocrisy?


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