We meet Timothy for the first time shortly after the Jerusalem church council of Acts 15. After that first church council, Paul was tasked with delivering the conclusions of the council to all the churches, and so departed on his second missionary journey.
In Acts 16 we read that “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra” and there Timothy is introduced to us with these words:
A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.Acts 16:1-2 (ESV)
It might be that it was on Paul’s first missionary journey, when he also visited the towns of Debre and Lystra, that Timothy had come to salvation, and that it was a joyful reunion at this beginning of Paul’s second missionary journey.
According to 1 Tim 1:18 and 4:14, Timothy was appointed as a gifted preacher and perhaps that is why Paul asked Timothy to join him on his trip to all the churches.
From that time, Timothy and Paul spent a lot of ministry time together and became close personal friends. In Acts 17 Paul left Timothy and Silas in Berea entrusting them to continue the work he began but had to leave because of the Thessalonian persecution.
Shortly later they were all together again and spent over a year in Corinth where Timothy was a co-author of the letters to the Thessalonians.In fact, Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians since he himself was unable to go, essentially saying that if Timothy is with them, they would experience the same teaching and love that Paul would have showed.
During Paul’s third missionary journey Timothy was not only the person to send to encourage and teach the faithful saints as he did among the Thessalonians previously, but also the person Paul would send to teach and sort out the problems in Corinth and Ephesus. By the end of the book of Acts, Paul is in prison in Rome and Timothy becomes Paul’s feet and mouth.
Listen to what Paul says about Timothy to the Philippians.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. … you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.Philippians 2:19-22
Later, just like Timothy was sent to Philippi, so he was also sent, is seems with a much more long-term plan in mind, to the city of Ephesus. Timothy and Paul met up a few more times after Paul was released from the Roman imprisonment of Acts 28, but Timothy was now settled as the new full-time preacher and pastor in Ephesus.
That is where we meet Timothy in 1 Timothy – as the new pastor in the church of the Ephesians. It is rightly called “1st Timothy” and not “2nd Ephesians”, because it is a personal letter to Timothy to be a good pastor.
Timothy reminds us of the wonderful way in which the Lord saves sinners, appoints them to ministry, and proves their worth through the love that they have for the people of God. Value pastors like Timothy; imitate pastors like Timothy in your own love for other Christians.