Some commentators focus on Paul’s letter to Timothy as a primary exhortation to stay strong in the faith and to withstand the persecution he is facing in Ephesus. Some of them read as if Paul is afraid that Timothy might be in danger of losing his faith. I don’t see it that way at all. I think Paul has unshakable confidence in his young disciple. Paul tells Timothy how certain he is of Timothy’s faith. In 2 Timothy 1:5, the focus is on certainty, not doubt. He says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Paul does not doubt Timothy’s sincerity or his faith. He’s confident that Timothy will hold firm to the convictions that have been planted in his heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul told Timothy that he was praying for him. He knew Timothy was facing severe trials, and Paul prayed that God would strengthen him as he lived through those trials. Paul then affirmed his confidence that Timothy would persevere. Paul called Timothy’s faith “sincere.” The Greek word used here is the one from which we get “hypocrite.” But the word is prefixed with a negative preposition. It would be “non-hypocritical.” Timothy’s faith had no hypocrisy in it! Hughes explains, “Their faith was genuine. It penetrated their hearts and wills so that everything was touched by it—their fears and hopes and loves and desires and joys and compassions and zeal. They were the genuine article. And such faith had come to characterize Timothy as well. This was not a case of eugenics (good breeding). Rather, he had seen faith in them, then he came to Christ, and then his life demonstrated the same genuineness.”[1]

Just as Timothy’s mother and grandmother stood firm in their faith, Paul was sure that Timothy’s faith would not falter also. There’s something to say about a good heritage. Matt Proctor tells us about Teddy Roosevelt and his son, who followed closely in his footsteps. In 1898, Teddy resigned from his role as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy to join the Calvary. Teddy said, “I want to explain to my children someday why I did take part in the war, not why I didn’t.” Teddy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill. In 1944, at 57 years of age, Teddy Roosevelt Junior led his troops in the landing at Normandy. Proctor recalls, “At first, his superiors had denied his request to go: ‘You’re 57 years old. No other general is going ashore with the first wave of troops.’ But he insisted, ‘It will steady the men to know I’m with them.’ After his third request, they finally agreed. So that June morning, Teddy Jr. strapped on his boots and led the charge up the beach under fierce German gunfire and on to victory. For his courage, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor … just like his father. The leadership of each generation is the legacy they leave to the next.[2] In his letter, Paul referred to Timothy as his “beloved son.” Paul was in a Roman prison for the last time and writing one of his very last letters before being beheaded for his faith around 64 AD. According to early Church History, in the year 97 AD, Timothy was an 80-year-old Bishop in Ephesus. He 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. Although we suspect that Timothy’s father was a Pagan, we know that his mother and grandmother raised Timothy in the faith. Paul, serving as Timothy’s spiritual father, set an example for Timothy of sincere faith.

[1] Hughes, R. Kent, and Bryan Chapell. 2000. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Proctor, Matt. 2009. 2 Timothy: Finish-Line Faith. 3:16 Bible Commentary Series. Joplin, MO: CP Publishing.