Philippiansby David Sanford
Paul has many brothers in Christ, but not many sons. Without question, his foremost son in the faith is Timothy, whose name means ″one who honours and respects God″ in Greek.
From Acts 16:1-3, we know that Timothy's father is a Greek and his Jewish mother is a strong woman of faith. The churches also speak very highly of Timothy. So, Paul invites Timothy to join him on his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16-21).
From 2 Timothy, we also learn that Timothy's Jewish grandmother is a strong believer, and that she and her daughter faithfully taught the Scriptures to him from a very young age (1:5; 3:15). In later years, the local churches faithfully taught him the Scriptures too (see Acts 16:2).
The greetings at the beginning of six epistles (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon) include Timothy's name after Paul's. It is thought that Paul dictated these epistles to his dear son in the faith, who scribed them down faithfully.
It's no surprise, then, that Paul affirms how ″Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel″ (Philippians 2:22). Timothy serves shoulder to shoulder with the great apostle year after year in the cause of Christ. If anyone knows Paul's weaknesses, foibles, and failings, it is Timothy. Yet his unshakable loyalty to the Lord and to Paul makes Timothy a man without peer.
How much Timothy means to Paul can hardly be overstated. Paul knows of no one else who is so selfless and passionate about following Jesus Christ and, in particular, who cares so much for the welfare of the Philippian believers. This suggests that the attention, affection, nurture, and care that Timothy received from infancy to adulthood produced the real deal-a man who loves the Lord wholeheartedly and loves others well. The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28) always bears good fruit indeed.
No wonder Paul says, ″I have no one else like him″ (Philippians 2:20). And no wonder Paul wants to send him to Philippi ″as soon as I see how things go with me″ (v. 23).
Timothy does not share the same standing or authority as Paul. Yet, what a great man of faith he is in so many ways.
How much does the Greatest Commandment determine the direction and content of your life?
Like Timothy, how can we be more ″others-focused″ in our leadership or example to other believers?