“Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. 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. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:1-3)
Timothy’s mother was Jewish, his father was a Greek. Immediately, Timothy looks like an unlikely candidate for someone to multiply into. First, his parents’ marriage was outside Old Testament law. In that day, to minister the gospel to Jews meant that you had to be in basic compliance with Old Testament law. Timothy had not been circumcised and the fact that he had a Greek father was common knowledge. Further, he was the son of a woman who married a Gentile.
It would have been easy for Paul to say, Too much baggage. I’ll pass and look for someone more perfect. He didn’t – for the same reason that Samuel had to pass on all David’s brothers and learn that God looks at the heart. Paul was a multiplier and multipliers can see past the exterior to the heart. How did Paul multiply himself in Timothy?
Paul taught Timothy. As they walked and travelled, he taught him. There’s no better example of this than the letters we call 1 and 2 Timothy. They are filled with practical pastoral exhortations. Do this. Don’t do that. Remember this. Don’t forget that. There was no doubt who the teacher was and who the student was.
By the way, this says a lot about Timothy. To be a Timothy you have to have a learner’s spirit and he did this with a man whose weaknesses he knew all too well by living with him. Yet, Timothy was a learner. An apprentice. Multiplication requires teachers with a willingness to share and students with a willingness to learn.
This is an interesting concept, but I don’t know what my part is in this. Every one of us ought to be a multiplier. Think of all the opportunities you have. Men, if you are a husband, talk to other men who are about to become husbands. Help them understand all the blessings of welcoming a woman into their life. I’m all ears right now. Or how about teaching the younger men about what it means to be a man? Is that needed in our culture today? How are young men going to learn to be masculine, spiritual men? As J.C. Ryle says in his book, Thoughts to Young Men, “Young men become mature men by standing next to them.”
And ladies, the same goes for you. Older women should be teaching the younger women. That’s another biblical principle. There’s a Barnabas kind of spirit in a church that is healthy where I am willingly looking for opportunities and people to bless. It’s not like “Hey, I’m Paul, you want to be my Timothy?” Don’t do that. Just be yourself and build relationships with people where you can possibly invest in them.
As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. (Acts 16:4ff.)
I wouldn’t make too much of a pronoun but notice that it says, they delivered to them the decisions. No doubt Paul took the lead. But “they” hints at this point. Timothy was given opportunities to do ministry. How do Timothys become Pauls? By watching and learning and having opportunities to serve under the watchful eye of the multiplier. Can you hear Paul and Timothy debriefing? Timothy says, “How did you think I conducted myself in Lystra?” (learner’s spirit) Paul says, “Well, I think….”
A huge part of multiplying ourselves is giving others opportunity. Clearly, there was a period of time where they served together. They ministered together in Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Phillippi and Berea. (Acts 16-17) Then they get to Athens and here’s a key moment: Paul sends Timothy on his own to Thessalonica. Now Timothy was flying solo on a project. Later they were together again, but Timothy continues to take on more responsibility. Later he would be in Corinth and Ephesus and he was sent into Macedonia. You don’t need to know the geography; what do you hear? Paul brought him along with increased opportunity and responsibility.
- My true child in the faith. (1 Timothy 1:2)
- My beloved child. (2 Timothy 1:2)
- I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. (2 Timothy 1:3)
Timothy knew that in Paul he had someone who was totally for him. The language here may make some of us men a little uncomfortable. I think this is the most important part of multiplication and one we have to get right. There is a reason the Son of Encouragement, Barnabas, goes down as one of the great multipliers. Encouragement and personal affirmation of love is what ultimately does the multiplying. We all know this. When we think of the people who have made the most positive difference in our lives, not one of them failed to encourage us and make it clear that they believed in us.
Healthy churches multiply themselves and healthy Christians do as well. God has called all of us to make disciples, to multiply what we have received from Christ through the gospel by the Spirit into others. This will happen as we identify our Timothys, instruct them, give them opportunities, and affirm to them that we love them.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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