“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”
Paul led Timothy to Christ as a young man (1 Timothy 1:2) on his first missionary expedition (Acts 13-14). Timothy’s father was Gentile (Acts 16:1) and his mother Eunice was a Jew turned Christian (2 Timothy 1:5). He joined Paul on his second missionary expedition. Upon the writing of 1 Thessalonians, Timothy had just returned from Thessalonica with a report about the state of the church there (3:1-6).
Timothy was a vest-pocket edition of the apostle Paul. He was Paul’s companion on many of his travels (2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and his son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:1). Timothy had a Gentile father (Acts 16:1) but a Jewess mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). They taught him the Old Testament from a young age (2 Timothy 3:15).
Paul hand-picked Timothy to serve with him. Timothy joined Paul on his second missionary journey at Lystra, where he was reported to be effective in ministry (Acts 16:2). Thereafter they were almost inseparable. Wherever Paul went, he took Timothy. Wherever Paul could not go, he sent Timothy. “Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do” (1 Corinthians 16:10). Paul personally polished him as a leader. He addressed 1 & 2 Timothy to this young pastor.
Paul had numerous colleagues and friends but none of them was quite as close as Timothy. Note his view of Timothy in Philippians 2:10-23,
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus [but not Timothy]. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.”
God brought these two men together and they remained together. Their friendship made them as one. Their friendship glued them together with a divine adhesive. Others forsook Paul, but Timothy remained loyal. When the going got tough, they quit: “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). Paul knew what it was like to have some bitter disappointments in his friends and co-workers.
What kept Paul and Timothy together? It seems they had little in common. Paul was much older than Timothy (Philemon 9). In 1 Timothy, Paul said, “Let no man despise your youth.” Usually, people separated by a large gap in age do not remain together for very long unless they are relatives.
Paul and Timothy also had different family backgrounds. Paul was a pure blood Jew (Philippians 3:5). Timothy was half-Jew, half-Gentile. His father was a Gentile (Acts 16:3). He was a mongrel. He was neither Jew nor Gentile, fish nor fowl.
Moreover, Paul and Timothy’s educations were not at par. They were on different planes. Paul had the equivalent of a graduate degree today. He sat at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). There is no record of any formal training for Timothy. But here, these men were together–Jesus Christ made the difference.
Here was an old man and a young man serving together who had little in common. Yet, there was one thing that brought them together–the Lord Jesus. Jesus Christ eradicated the distance that separated them. This was a beautiful fellowship.
God breaks down natural barriers between people.
Although people come from radically different backgrounds, they can serve the Lord side by side. Paul mentored Timothy by personal involvement with him. Everything he learned, he learned from Paul. Timothy was both loyal and faithful. Jesus Christ compensates for the differences in culture, education, and financial background. He annihilates the differences that may separate us.
Paul’s relationships with Silvanus and Timothy indicate something of his commitment to discipling others, both in Christian living and in service.