For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (1:5)
The final principle of motivation Paul alludes to is that of affirmation. In the two previous verses Paul mentions his remembering Timothy in prayer and recalling his tears. Now again he reflects on their intimate association, this time being mindful of the sincere faith within Timothy.
Anupokritos (sincere) is a compound word, composed of a negative prefix attached to hupokritēs, from which we get the obviously related English word hypocrite. Timothy’s faith was completely genuine, unhypocritical, without pretense or deceit. In his previous letter to Timothy, Paul had written, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere [anupokritos] faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul used the term to describe his “genuine love” (2 Cor. 6:6, emphasis added). Peter used it in his admonition to all believers scattered throughout the Roman Empire: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22, emphasis added). James used it as the final qualification of “the wisdom from above [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, emphasis added).
Timothy had a heritage of sincere faith within [him], which first dwelt in [his] grandmother Lois, and [his] mother Eunice. The reference to Lois and Eunice suggests that Paul knew those women personally and perhaps was instrumental, along with Barnabas, in winning them to Christ during his first missionary journey, which had taken him through Timothy’s home area of Galatia (see Acts 13:13–14:21). They probably were Jewish believers under the Old Covenant who immediately received Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord when they first heard the gospel from the lips of Paul. By the time of Paul’s second journey, the women had led their grandson and son to the Lord, and he already had become “well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2). Timothy was Paul’s indirect son in the faith who had come to belief through the witness of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, who had been led to faith directly by the apostle. Through them, he had “from childhood … known the sacred writings which are able to give [him] the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Some years ago I was involved in a discussion regarding the choice of a man to take up the leadership of a well-known Christian organization. In looking over the list of prospects, I commented that it was interesting that every one of those men had a godly pastor for a father. The Lord has, of course, raised up many faithful leaders, including Paul, from ungodly and even godless families. But a high percentage of the great men throughout church history have come from godly homes. Timothy’s father was an unbelieving Gentile (Acts 16:3), but his mother and grandmother were believers of great godliness. Paul commends them for the immense influence for good they had on Timothy and for the sincere faith that the apostle was sure to be in Timothy as well.
5 The reason for Paul’s gratitude is Timothy’s “sincere [anypokritos, GK 537; see 1 Ti 1:5; cf. Ro 12:9; 2 Co 6:6] faith,” which bodes well for the disciple’s carrying on the apostle’s legacy. Just as Jesus built his church on Peter on the basis of his confession (Mt 16:18–19), Paul entrusts to Timothy the welfare of the apostolic church on account of his “sincere faith.” The permanence of this faith is apparent in that Timothy carries on the living faith of both his “grandmother Lois” (the term mammē [GK 3439; cf. 4 Macc 16:9] is an endearing term equivalent to “grandma”) and his “mother Eunice” (a Jewish believer, Ac 16:1; see Quinn and Wacker, 581–83).
Just as Paul has been “serving” (v. 3; the only instance of latreuō [GK 3302] in the PE) God, as his forefathers did (cf. Ac 23:1; 24:14), so does Timothy (latreuō denotes the performance of religious duties; cf. Knight, 366). In previous correspondence, the apostle has already stressed the need for a “clear conscience” (v. 3; cf. 1 Ti 1:5, 19; 3:9; cf. 4:2). Paul does not take Timothy’s transparently real faith for granted; he knows it is possible that external faith can masquerade inner bankruptcy (cf. 2 Ti 3:5).
5 At this point, Paul begins to close the bracket begun with his self-description in v. 3. Timothy’s faith and heritage will now be described in a way that parallels Paul’s description. Grammatically, another participial phrase creates the connection with the initial statement. Thematically, it is the thought of “remembrance” that helps forge the connection. Logically, the phrase announces the main reason for Paul’s offering of thanks. The word indicating the act of remembering or recalling (hypomnēsin) is the third of its type in this section (see mneian, v. 3c; memnēmenos, v. 4b). The noun combined with the aorist participle probably intends the passive sense “I am reminded.”37 Paul does not indicate a specific reason for this recollection; he simply fastens on a distinctive trait as a prelude to parenesis.
That trait is the quality of Timothy’s faith. Two things require discussion—the meaning of “faith” and the force of the qualifier “sincere.” “Faith” is a key concept in these letters to coworkers that carries different nuances of meaning in different contexts: often with the definite article it means the objective content of what is believed (the apostolic gospel), but it may describe the existential condition of believing in God or Christ. In this context, “your faith”40 is probably meant as Timothy’s continual disposition of belief in Christ. The qualifier, “sincere,” is more accurately understood as “authentic,” as in 1 Tim 1:5 (see discussion and note), in contrast to the inauthentic faith of those who have deserted Paul and who have been involved in spreading false doctrine (2:17–18). And the contrast is probably intended (for the wider readership) to distance Timothy from the false teaching (1:8, 12, 14; 2:2). Timothy’s faith is “authentic” in what he believes and in the fruit that belief produces.
Timothy’s spiritual heritage is traced back to his grandmother and mother: “which [faith] first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you also.” The effect is to create a parallel with the reference to Paul’s spiritual heritage in v. 3. The verb translated “to live in” (perhaps more familiarly “to indwell”; 1:14) is Pauline and used uniformly to describe inward spiritual elements of the Christian life. “Faith” is thus depicted as an enduring characteristic of these three lives. The aorist tense of the verb suggests that this state had a beginning, and the reader is invited to see God as the initial cause.
We know nothing of the two women, except that they were Jewish (Acts 16:1). The content of their faith and the sequence in which they came to it and came to know Paul, as Paul envisages it, is a matter of speculation among commentators. Paul’s self-description leaves some room for the reference to be to a living Jewish faith that readily accepted the gospel.43 But while this continuity may be necessary for the historical connections in the sequence to make sense, Paul’s main interest is in the quality of the faith that now resides in Timothy, which is to be measured by the pure apostolic faith. In any case, we know only that Timothy’s grandmother and mother apparently came to faith in the Messiah prior to Timothy and provided an environment crucial to his conversion and spiritual development (cf. 3:15). Of the latter, Paul seems, on the surface, convinced: “And I am persuaded [the faith] now lives in you also.” But, given the context that implies some degree of ambivalence towards the mission on the part of the younger coworker, the rhetorical effect of this statement goes beyond simple affirmation and encouragement to exhortation designed to induce Timothy to demonstrate his faith.
With this statement of Paul’s conviction about Timothy, the thanksgiving prayer comes to a close. It functions to remind him of Paul’s true feelings of affection. The thanks to God and prayer offered for Timothy and the fond memories serve this purpose. Equally, the sense of identity created between Paul and Timothy intends to bridge the gap of distance that separates them. But this is not an end in itself. This same paralleling of characters and qualities—apostle and fellow-worker—which the bracketing formed by Paul’s self-description and Timothy’s description emphasizes, becomes the basis upon which Paul will urge Timothy to take up the work again. At this level, the argument proceeds as follows: “Timothy, in terms of our faith and spiritual heritage, we are cut from the same cloth. The obligations and call to duty this implies for me, it also implies for you.”
We would pass too quickly over this very personal introduction if we only considered its literary significance. Paul strikes a chord that finds some degree of resonance in all believers. The OT prophets often tell the story of an enslaved people chosen and blessed by God. These people are given privileges and promises and with them the obligation to serve the Lord in every facet of life. But one of the repeating themes of this story is how the people squander their privileges and fail to carry out the obligations that attend the blessings. In preparing the coworker for the renewal of his calling, Paul draws heavily on Timothy’s sense of loyalty and responsibility to the faith, which he has as a heritage, to live out his faith in service. He was obligated to exercise the faith in him as a gift, and this included taking seriously the people to whom God had committed him. God mediates that claim of loyalty through numerous relationships in which we have experienced his grace and call to service. Loyalty or faith in modern Western culture often operates more on the intellectual than the interpersonal level, and this puts us at a disadvantage when we seek to understand a passage like this. It boils down to this: authentic faith in God requires more from us than simply adherence to doctrinal ideas.
1:5 / With this clause Paul returns to the thanksgiving proper, now expressing the basis for it—God’s work in Timothy’s life. This work is expressed in terms of Timothy’s sincere (or perhaps better in these letters, “genuine”; see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:5) faith, which in this case means at least his genuine trust in God but also perhaps moves toward the idea of “faithfulness,” that is, his continuing steadfast in his faith. Paul regularly considers this quality in God’s people to be thankworthy (cf. 1 Thess. 1:3; 3:6–7; 2 Thess. 1:3; Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:4; Philem. 5).
Because this letter will basically be an appeal to Timothy to maintain his loyalty and steadfastness (to Christ, Paul, and the ministry of the gospel) in the face of suffering, he is therefore prompted to remind Timothy that the same faith he has—and is to be loyal to—was what first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. That is, “Don’t lose heart, because just as my ministry has continuity with my forebears (v. 3), so does yours. Don’t forget your roots; they go way back, and your own faith is like that of your mother and grandmother.”
The mention of his maternal parentage is in keeping with the evidence of Acts 16:1, where we learn that Eunice was a Jewish Christian, whose husband was a Gentile. Paul’s appeal to her faith, therefore, although almost certainly referring to her faith as a believer in Christ, also reflects his view that such faith is the genuine expression of the Jewish heritage, that is, that faith in Christ is the true continuity with the religion of the ot (cf. v. 3). It should also be noted in passing that, the more personal the letter, the more often Paul mentions personal names (twenty-two in this letter; cf. Philemon, nine).
Finally, to register his concern one more time, he adds, I am persuaded it now lives in you also. This confidence in Timothy’s genuine faith becomes the springboard for the appeal that follows (1:6–2:13). Thus, as in other letters (esp. 1 Thessalonians, Romans, and Colossians), the thanksgiving not only sets out some of the themes of the letter but actually moves directly into the letter itself.
1:5.… being reminded of the sincere faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is also in you.
For the third verse in a row, Paul speaks of remembering Timothy or something about him. In this verse, the Greek construction could mean some sort of external reminder, such as Paul’s receiving a report about Timothy. But that is far from certain.
Paul has remembered Timothy’s tears, but he also remembers his ‘sincere faith’ (see the same expression in 1 Timothy 1:5 and the comments there). He is thankful for the depth of Timothy’s love and emotional bond to him. But more importantly, he is thankful for Timothy’s sincere faith in the Lord. In fact, twice in this verse Paul mentions the faith that is ‘in you’, emphasizing that it is personal and very much a part of Timothy’s being. Personal, sincere faith is cause for rejoicing, not only because it produces a bond with other believers, but also because it means salvation on the Day of Judgement. Paul’s mention of Timothy’s faith here also serves as a lead-in to his later exhortation to Timothy to persevere in that faith.
Although Timothy’s faith is personal, Paul does not privatize or individualize faith. He rejoices in Timothy’s spiritual heritage, much as he had spoken of his own heritage in verse 3. Timothy’s faith was passed on to him by his ‘grandmother Lois’ and his ‘mother Eunice’ (cf. 3:14–15). Paul’s mentioning these women probably serves no other purpose than emphasizing for us the importance of a godly heritage, much like many of the genealogies in the Bible. Evangelicals who tend to individualize the faith often miss important corporate aspects of the faith, including the spiritual ancestors who have gone before us and to whom we are indebted. Paul here steers a good course for us. On the one hand, faith is personal; it must be ‘in’ each one of us. On the other hand, we must recognize the important role of our spiritual heritage and the spiritual ancestors who taught us the faith. There is no salvation without personal faith; we do not get to heaven on the coattails of our spiritual ancestors. Yet there would be no Christian faith without godly ancestors who stood firm in it and passed it on to us.
5. Calling to remembrance that unfeigned faith. Not so much for the purpose of applauding as of exhorting Timothy, the Apostle commends both his own faith and that of his grandmother and mother; for, when one has begun well and valiantly, the progress he has made should encourage him to advance, and domestic examples are powerful excitements to urge him forward. Accordingly, he sets before him his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, by whom he had been educated from his infancy in such a manner that he might have sucked godliness along with his milk. By this godly education, therefore, Timothy is admonished not to degenerate from himself and from his ancestors.
It is uncertain whether, on the one hand, these women were converted to Christ, and what Paul here applauds was the commencement of faith, or whether, on the other hand, faith is attributed to them apart from Christianity. The latter appears to me more probable; for, although at that time everything abounded with many superstitions and corruptions, yet God had always his own people, whom he did not suffer to be corrupted with the multitude, but whom he sanctified and separated to himself, that there might always exist among the Jews a pledge of this grace, which he had promised to the seed of Abraham. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying that they lived and died in the faith of the Mediator, although Christ had not yet been revealed to them. But I do not assert anything, and could not assert without rashness.
And I am persuaded that in thee also. This clause confirms me in the conjecture which I have just now stated; for, in my opinion, he does not here speak of the present faith of Timothy. It would lessen that sure confidence of the former eulogium, if he only said that he reckoned the faith of Timothy to resemble the faith of his grandmother and mother. But I understand the meaning to be, that Timothy, from his childhood, while he had not yet obtained a knowledge of the gospel, was imbued with the fear of God, and with such faith as proved to be a living seed, which afterwards manifested itself.
5. When Paul says I have been reminded, it may be that he had just had news of Timothy (so Bengel). The expression in the Greek would support this (hypomnēsin labōn literally meaning ‘having received a reminder’). It is striking to note that four different expressions are used in verses 3–6 to denote memory. Remember in verse 3 is paralleled in 1 Thessalonians 3:6; recalling in verse 4 is used in 1 Corinthians 11:2; I have been reminded in verse 5 is not used elsewhere in Paul (but cf. 2 Pet. 1:13); and I remind you in verse 6 is paralleled in 1 Corinthians 4:17. This rich variety of wording emphasizes the apostle’s reminiscent mood, and his desire that Timothy himself should have stores of memory on which to draw.
It is Timothy’s sincere faith which prompts some further reflections. A similar description of faith has already been met in 1 Timothy 1:5, although it is not found elsewhere in Paul. There is no need to imply from the use of the qualifying adjective sincere that faith here means no more than religious feeling. A profession of faith, understood as commitment to the Christian doctrine, could certainly be unreal. In this case the sincerity of faith was transparent and there was good reason, therefore, for its special mention. Paul refers in the Pastorals to some of Timothy’s weaknesses, such as his timidity, but there was no deficiency in his faith.
The indwelling of faith is paralleled by the Pauline ideas of the indwelling God (2 Cor. 6:16), the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 2 Tim. 1:14), the indwelling word (Col. 3:16) and indwelling sin (Rom. 7:17). The metaphor of a building and its inhabitants was well suited to express this inner character of Christianity.
The thought of Timothy’s faith stimulates the memory of his grandmother’s and mother’s faith. But there is difference of opinion among commentators whether the Christian or Jewish faith is here meant. The use of the word first (prōton) in this context has been supposed to indicate that Lois was a devout Jewess and was the first to inculcate religious faith in Timothy; in other words from his earliest days he had been surrounded by religious faith. Yet if Christian faith is intended, prōton may mean that Lois was the first to become a Christian, followed by Eunice and her son. The reference to Timothy’s parents in Acts 16:1 is little help in solving this question since the word ‘believer’ used of Eunice could apply equally to both Jewish and Christian believers. Since by her marriage to a Greek Eunice cannot have been a strictly orthodox Jewess, it seems more probable that Christian faith is meant (cf. comment on 3:15). The lack of mention of Timothy’s father, who according to Acts 16:1 was a Greek, was probably because he was not a Christian (cf. Jeremias). Such personal details bear a genuine stamp and some scholars who dispute the authenticity of the Pastorals as a whole list this passage among the genuine fragments (e.g. Falconer). It is difficult to believe that a pseudonymous writer would have thought of mentioning Timothy’s forebears by name if the Epistle was directed to some ‘Timothy’ of a later age.
The apostle was not only deeply conscious of the powerful home influences which had shaped his own career, but was impressed by the saintly atmosphere of Timothy’s home. Lois and Eunice were perhaps well known in the Christian church for their domestic piety. The apostle closes this personal reminiscence by the assertion of a strong conviction (I am persuaded), in thoroughly characteristic style, the verb peithō being used twenty-two times in Paul’s writings. There is no doubt in his mind about Timothy’s faith.
Ver. 5. When I call to remembrance [R.V., having been reminded of] the unfeigned faith that is in thee.
Unfeigned faith:—Some recorded circumstance, some spoken words, some searching test, had convinced St. Paul that Timothy at the present time was shedding no womanish tears, that his faith had revealed its strength and reality. If put to a severe strain there was now no mistake about it. His faith was not a mask of unbelief, not a mere species of personal affection for the apostle, nor was it an unpractical faith, or one dependent on circumstances. St. Paul may once have entertained some transient doubt about Timothy. His fears may have exaggerated to himself the significance of Timothy’s excessive grief. The words of despair wrung from his lips at their parting may have distressed the apostle; but now the ugly suspicion is suppressed and no longer haunts his nightly intercession. (H. R. Reynolds, D.D.)
Unfeigned faith practical:—A lady and gentleman were being shown over the Mint by the Master of the Mint, who took them from the gate where the rough gold came in until they saw it going out in the form of coins to the bank for distribution all over the country. When they were in the melting-room, the Master said, “Do you see that pail of liquid?” “Yes.” “If you dip your hand into it I will pour a ladleful of molten gold into your hand, and it will roll off it without hurting you.” “Oh!” was the remark somewhat sceptically made. “Do you not believe me?” inquired the Master. “Well; yes, I do,” replied the gentleman. “Hold out your hand, then.” When he saw the boiling gold above his hand, ready to be poured out, the gentleman took a step back, and, in terror, put his hand behind his back. The lady, however, stooped down, dipped her hand into the liquid, and holding it out, said, “Pour it into my hand.” She really believed, and could trust, but her friend had not the practical faith to enable him to trust. (J. Campbell White.)
- The peculiar excellence for which Timothy is here commended—“Unfeigned faith.” St. Paul goes to the root of all that was excellent in Timothy—namely, his faith. Not but that he could at other times dwell with pleasure on the fruits of that faith; especially when speaking of him to others. A beautiful specimen we have in Phil. 2:19–22. But in writing to Timothy himself, he thinks it most profitable to insist upon the source of that excellent character—his faith.
- The instrumental cause to which the faith of Timothy is here ascribed—namely, the previous faith of his pious mother, Eunice, and of his grandmother, Lois. The only effectual cause to which unfeigned faith can be ascribed, is the grace of Christ and His Spirit. Nevertheless, in conferring this precious gift, the Lord frequently works by instruments or means. The case of these excellent women, then, may lead us to observe the special honour conferred on the weaker sex, in their being often made—1. Foremost in faith and piety. Man fell by the woman’s transgression; but it is by the seed of the woman that he is redeemed. The first convert in Europe was a woman—Lydia. In every period of the history of the Church women have been more open to conviction, more simple believers in Christ, more devoted in their zeal for His cause, than others. 2. Foremost in spiritual usefulness. Such they were in the case before us. Now this remarkable succession of piety, in three generations of the same family, was a blessing from God, in honour of female faith—“unfeigned faith.” “Them that honour Me,” saith God, “I will honour.” (J. Jowett, M.A.)
The worth of faith:—All other graces do still accompany it. Where it is they all be. Faith may be compared to a prince which, wheresoever he pitcheth his tents, hath many rich attendants (1 Cor. 13 ult.), as love, hope, zeal, patience, &c. Faith expelleth infidelity out of the heart, as heat doth cold, wind, smoke, for they he contraries. It cannot, nor will not, admit of so bad a neighbour; it shoulders out all unprofitable guests (Acts 15:9; Heb. 4:2). And besides this, faith makes our actions acceptable to God; for without it it is impossible to please God: this is that true fire which cometh down from heaven and seasons all our sacrifices (Heb. 2:6; Rom. 14 ult.). What, then, are they worthy of, that neither respect it in themselves nor others; many have no care to plant this flower in the garden of their hearts; or, if they have it, to preserve it from perishing. Jonah mourned that his gourd withered, yet we grieve not if faith be destroyed. (J. Barlow, D.D.)
Faith the chief thing:—The world cries, What’s a man without money? but I say, What’s a man without faith? For no faith, no soul quickened; heart purified, sin pardoned; bond cancelled, quittance received; or any person justified, saved. (Ibid.)
Get faith:—I say that to all, which I do to one, get faith, keep faith, and increase your faith. A mite of this grain is worth a million of gold; a stalk of this faith, a standing tree of earthly fruits; a soul freighted and filled with this treasure, all the coffers of silver in the whole world. What can I more say? The least true faith is of more value than large domains, stately buildings, and ten thousand rivers of oil. If the mountains were pearl, the huge rocks precious stones, and the whole globe a shining chrysolite; yet faith, as much as the least drop of water, grain of sand, or smallest mustard-seed, is more worth than all. This will swim with his master; hold up his drooping head, and land him safe at the shore, against all winds and weather, storms and tempests; strive then for this freight; for the time and tide thereof serveth but once, and not for ever. (Ibid.)
Faith works like effects in divers subjects:—The grandmother, the mother, and the mother’s son, had the same faith; and the like fruits proceeded from them, else Paul would never have called it unfeigned, or said that it dwelt in them, or given them all three one and the same testimony. All three had faith, and unfeigned faith. For the likeness of actions were in them, and proceed from them, by the which it was called unfeigned, and equally appropriated to each particular person. And it is an undoubted position that faith produceth the like effects in all God’s children; in truth, it must be understood, not in degree. For as faith increaseth, the effects are bettered. Many lanterns, with several candles, will all give light; but in proportion to their adverse degrees and quantities. Every piece hath his report, but according to the bigness, and each instrument will sound, but variously as they be in proportion, and that for these reasons. Because faith differs not in kind, but in degree, and like causes produce like effects. Every bell hath its sound, each tone its weight, and several plants, their diverse influences; yet not in the same measure, though they may vary in kind. Again, faith is diffused into subjects, though several, yet they are the same in nature and consist of like principles. Fire, put into straw, will either smoke or burn, let the bundles be a thousand; life in the body will have motion, though not in the same degree and measure; and reason in every man acteth, but not so exquisitely. The constitution may not be alike, therefore a difference may be in operation natural, and also from the same ground, in acts spiritual. A dark horn in the lantern dims the light somewhat. (Ibid.)
Unfeigned faith manifested:—From this point we may learn how to judge of the faith in our times which so many boast of; they cry, Have not we faith? do not we believe as well as the best? But where be the fruits of faith unfeigned? hast thou an humble and purging heart? dost thou call upon God at all times, “tarry His leisure, and rely upon His promise? art thou bold and resolute for good causes? canst thou resist Satan? cleave to God, and shun the appearances of evil? will neither poverty oppress thee by despair, or prosperity by presumption? Why, it is well, and we believe, that faith is to be found in thee, but if not, thou hast it not rooted in thee. For the tree is known by the fruit. Will not the flower smell? the candle give light? and the fire heat? and shall true faith be without her effects? Boast not too much, lest thou deceive thyself, taking the shadow for the body; and that which is not for that which should be. (Ibid.) Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice.—
Lois and Eunice:—Origen conjectured that Lois and Eunice were relatives of St. Paul. This is only conjecture. There is far more reason for believing that they were converts made by him on his first visit to Lystra. In the Jewish communities of these Asiatic towns there were elect souls who had begun to cherish larger hopes for humanity. If Lois had permitted her daughter to marry a Greek, and yet had retained her faith in the promises made to Israel, and if Eunice had so far yielded to her husband’s views or habits as to have foregone for her only son the sacramental rite of admission to the Jewish nation, and yet, notwithstanding this, had diligently instructed him in the history and contents of Holy Scriptures (chap. 3:15). We have a glimpse of light thrown upon the synagogues and homes of devout Israelites in Asia Minor. (H. R. Reynolds, D.D.) Lois is the same with the more familiar Lais; Eunice is an equivalent of the Latin Victoria. (H. D. M. Spence, M.A.)
The day of Christian faith:—Christian faith in its morning (Timothy), at noon (Eunice), and at the evening of life (Lois). (Dr. Van Oosterzee.)
Celebrated mothers:—Like the celebrated mothers of Augustine, of Chrysostom, of Basil, and of other illustrious saints of God, the life, sincerity and constancy of Lois and Eunice became vicariously a glorious heritage of the universal Church. (H. R. Reynolds, D.D.)
Lessons:—1. The infidelity of the father prevents not faith in the children. For if it had, Eunice and Timothy and many more should never have been found faithful (1 Kings 14:13; 1 Cor. 7:14). 2. Succession of faith is the best succession. 3. Where we see signs of goodness, we are to judge the best. 4. When we give others instruction, we are first to possess them with the persuasion of our affection. For then they will take it in good part, and our words will have the deeper impression. (J. Barlow, D.D.)
Memories of a mother:—Among the reminiscences of a great statesman, Daniel Webster, it is related that on one occasion a public reception was given him in Boston. Thousands of his country’s citizens crowded together and paid him homage. Bursts of applause had been sounding all day in his ears. Elegantly dressed ladies had thrown bouquets of the rarest flowers at his feet. But as he ascended the stops leading to his mansion, crowned with the honours of the gala day, a little, timid girl stepped up and placed a bunch of old-fashioned garden pinks in his hand. At sight of these old, familiar flowers, and their well-remembered fragrance filled the air, the old memories were stirred. Just such pinks used to grow in his mother’s garden when he was a child. Instantly that sweet face of the loved mother came to his vision; her tender, gentle voice sounded once more in his ears. So overcome was he with the tide of old memories that crowded into his heart that he excused himself, and went to his apartments alone. “Nothing,” said he, “in all my life affected me like that little incident.” John Newton in his worst days could never forget his mother, at whose knees he had learned to pray, but who was taken to heaven when he was but eight years old. “My mother’s God, the God of mercy, have mercy upon me!” was often his agonising prayer in danger, and we all know how it was answered. (Great Thoughts.)
Mother’s influence:—If we call him great who planned the Cathedral of St. Peter, with all its massiveness and beauty; if they call the old masters great whose paintings hang on monastery and chapel walls, is not she (the mother) great who is building up characters for the service of God, who is painting on the soul canvas the beauty and strength of Jesus the Christ? (A. E. Kittredge.)
Christian mothers:—Give me a generation of Christian mothers and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months. (Lord Shaftesbury.)
Woman’s influence:—A missionary in Ceylon writes as a “noticeable fact” that where Christian women are married to heathen husbands, generally the influence in the household is Christian; whereas, when a Christian man takes a heathen woman he usually loses his Christian character, and the influences of the household are on the side of heathenism.
Parental example:—We may read in the fable what the mother crab said to the daughter: “Go forward, my daughter, go forward.” The daughter replied, “Good mother, do you show me the way!” Whereupon the mother, crawling backward and sidling, as she was wont, the daughter cried out, “So, mother! I go just as you do.” (Family Churchman.)
Mother and child:—Sir Walter Scott’s mother was a superior woman, and a great lover of poetry and painting. Byron’s mother was proud, ill-tempered, and violent. The mother of Napoleon Buonaparte was noted for her beauty and energy. Lord Bacon’s mother was a woman of superior mind and deep piety. The mother of Nero was a murderess. The mother of Washington was pious, pure, and true. The mother of Matthew Henry was marked by her superior conversational powers. The mother of John Wesley was remarkable for her intelligence, piety, and executive ability, so that she has been called the “Mother of Methodism.” It will be observed that in each of these examples the child inherited the prominent traits of the mother. (J. L. Nye.)
Mother’s influence:—“It was at my mother’s knees,” he says, “that I first learned to pray; that I learned to form a reverence for the Bible as the inspired word of God; that I learned the peculiarities of the Scottish religion; that I learned my regard to the principles of civil and religious liberty, which have made me hate oppression and—whether it be a pope, or a prelate, or an ecclesiastical demagogue—resist the oppressor.” (T. Guthrie, D.D.)
Children to be taught young:—First, for then they will remember it when they are old (Prov. 23:13). Dye cloth in the wool, not in the web, and the colour will be the better, the more durable. Secondly, to defer this duty is dangerous, for thou mayst be took from them. Who then shall teach them after thy departure? (2 Kings 2:24). Thirdly, besides, what if they come to faith? Will it not be with the more difficulty? Fallow ground must have the stronger team, great trees will not easily bend, and a bad habit is not easily left and better come by. If their memories be stuffed with vanity as a table-book, the old must be washed out before new can be written in. Fourthly, what shall I more say? God works strangely in children, and rare things have been found in them; and what a comfort will it be for parents in their life, to hear their children speak of good things, and at the last day, when they can say to Christ, Here am I, and the children Thou hast given me! (J. Barlow, D.D.)
The secret of a good mother’s influence:—Some one asked a mother whose children had turned out very well, what was the secret by which she prepared them for usefulness and for the Christian life, and she said, “This was the secret. When in the morning I washed my children, I prayed that they might be washed in the fountain of a Saviour’s mercy. When I put on their garments, I prayed that they might be arrayed in the robe of a Saviour’s righteousness. When I gave them food, I prayed that they might be fed with manna from heaven. When I started them on the road to school I prayed that their faith might be as the shining light, brighter and brighter to the perfect day. When I put them to sleep, I prayed that they might be enfolded in the Saviour’s arms.” (T. De Witt Talmage.)
Training the young:—Rightly to train a single youth is a greater exploit than the taking of Troy. (Melancthon.)
A good grandmother:—“I owe a great deal to nay grandmother,” said a young man who was courageous and true above many in his Christian life. “Why, what did she do for you? Oh, she just sat by the fire.” “Did she knit?” “A little.” “Did she talk to you?” “A little; but grannie was not much of a talker; she did not go in for all that, you know; but she just sat and looked comfortable, and when we were good she smiled, and when we were wild in our talk she smiled too, but if ever we were mean she sighed. We all loved her, and nobody did as much for us, really, as grannie.” (Marianne Farningham.)
A godly household:—A household that fears God is another joy of my life. I would rather see it than the finest landscape. I can understand why Sir Walter Scott got his seat put down in his garden, within earshot of his bailiff’s cottage, that he might always hear the sound of the psalms at morning and evening worship. There never was incense sweeter from morning or evening sacrifice! A home, where the father and mother walk in the narrow way, is pretty sure to find their children accompanying them. Not that God’s gifts are hereditary, but example goes a great way, and if the parent, who is the highest on earth to the child, live a Christian life, it is very seldom the child will not follow him. It depends on the parent. If the mother, or father, or both, be real Christians, gentle, kind, reverent, pure, the little ones grow accustomed to these graces and catch them almost unconsciously.
Suppressed lives:—A few years ago a gentleman died in Germany whose name was almost unknown both in Great Britain and on the Continent. A physician by profession, and an inheritor of a title, he lived a life of comparative seclusion. He was never in the front at any pageant or ceremonial of any court. He was never known when treaties and alliances were made between reigning sovereigns. In diplomatic circles his name was never prominently mentioned. And yet no man of his time in all Europe had more influence in determining the destiny of nations than he. He was the power behind thrones. He was the intimate confidant of princes. He rendered the most important services to England and to Germany. His was one of those “suppressed lives” which are so often lives of commanding power. It was a suppressed life, expressed in kings, parliaments, and statesmen. Such lives are to be found in literary circles. It is often a matter of infinite surprise that such marvels of erudition and widest compass of reading in the domain of metaphysics, philosophy, theology, and ecclesiastical history, can be produced by a single man in the compass of so short a life as is given the world by many a German writer. But the secret is, that behind the life of the author, who may receive all the praise of the public, are scores of suppressed lives. These are the men of culture and training who are doing the toiling drudgery, wading through volumes, finding and verifying quotations. It is well known that in the business world these suppressed lives play a most important part. Many an employer is dependent upon the labours of faithful men, unknown to the world, who have mastered all the intricacies of a complex business, and upon whom they implicitly depend for advice in its management. St. Paul, after his somewhat depressing visit to Athens, found a home in the humble abode of Aquila and Priscilla, in the busy, sensual city of Corinth. In the house of this lowly artisan he found rest, refreshment, and strength. Working with him side by side, in the plebeian craft of tent-making, the great apostle to the Gentiles derived new zeal and energy for his great work from the life and conversation of this faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. In the same home the eloquent Alexandrian, Apollos, found shelter and instruction. In his life, full of eloquent thought and speech, and still more eloquent deeds, their suppressed lives found a brilliant and glorious expression. These two lives may justly stand for the lives of the great multitude of teachers in the Sunday Schools and other schools of our land. Suppressed lives mostly they are. Comparatively unrecognised is the influence these teachers are exerting upon the destinies of the millions of children intrusted to their care. In St. Paul’s words to Timothy, as quoted in the text, we have the recognition of the power of suppressed lives in the charmed circle of the home. An ampler life has been opened to woman than heretofore in our day. The most thoroughgoing infidel cannot deny that Christianity above all other systems guards and glorifies the home; that it has given to the wife and the mother the unique and the peerless position they hold in the countries where the highest civilisation is enjoyed. This Bible before me loves to honour the home. Who can estimate the influence of the suppressed lives in these homes? In that obscure country rectory at Epworth lived the mother of the Wesleys. The husband was a dreamy, poetical, unpractical man. The household quiver was full and running over with children. She was the teacher of them all. John Wesley was taught by her the alphabet for the twentieth time, that in her own language, “the nineteenth might not be in vain.” She kept up with the classical studies of her boys until they went away from home to school and college. She managed her large family with the economy extolled by “Poor Richard,” with “the discipline of West Point,” and yet in the loving spirit of the home at Bethany. She was the constant counsellor of her once seemingly stupid but now most gifted son John, and the earnest defender if not initiator of the greatest ecclesiastical movement of our day—the coming to the front in every Christian enterprise of the laymen of the Church. She stood in her old age by the side of that son when, as the foremost religious leader of the centuries, he preached on Kensington common the memorable sermon to twenty thousand persons, and “the slain of the Lord” lay in windrows before him. The grey-haired, bent, and silent mother was speaking in the burning words and ringing tones of the great reformer. The mother of Washington lived and triumphed in the matchless deeds of the father of his country. (S. Fallows.)
1:5. Paul returned to the subject of spiritual heritage as he thought about Timothy: I have been reminded of your sincere faith. He had watched Timothy and worked beside him for years. In Timothy, Paul recognized a genuine faith, one adhering to the teachings of Christ and the apostles, which in turn produced righteous behavior. Proper belief and proper actions are components of sincere faith.
Paul realized that genuine faith had been modeled for Timothy through his family. It was evident in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice. Though true faith cannot be inherited, it can be demonstrated in convincing ways within the context of a family. Even so, each person must entrust himself personally to Jesus Christ. True faith is individually claimed.
Timothy’s father was Greek. His mother and grandmother, however, were Jewish (Acts 16:1). Apparently they had trained Timothy in reading and memorizing Old Testament texts because Paul later remarked how Timothy had from childhood known the holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15). This had proved a good foundation as he developed into faith in Christ. The genuine faith Paul had noted in Timothy’s mother and grandmother, he was convinced now lives in you [Timothy].
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 7–8). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 568). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 453–455). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 223). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Barcley, W. B. (2005). A Study Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy (pp. 219–220). Darlington, England; Webster, NY: Evangelical Press.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 187–188). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 141–142). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Second Timothy–Titus, Philemon (Vol. 1, pp. 6–11). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.
 Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 265–266). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.