At the start of the new year, we began a new sermon series entitled “Friends”. We have been looking at friendships throughout the Bible. I launched the series with the most important friendship any Christian must have and that is our relationship with Jesus Christ. The second week I talked about the loyalty as we looked at the friendship between David and Jonathon. Last week John Glass spoke about the supportive relationship between Moses and Aaron. This week we are moving to the New Testament as we will look at the mentor relationship Paul has with Timothy.
We know quite a bit about the Apostle Paul. About one third of the New Testament was written by him. Unfortunately, we do not know much about his life pre-Christ, other than he was an aspiring young Pharisee who persecuted and killed Christians (Philippians 3:5 – 7).
However, we do know much about his life after he became a follower of Jesus as it is documented in the Acts of the Apostles and many of his epistles. He was influential spreading the gospel to and planting churches in predominantly gentile regions. He was a missionary who was zealous for spreading the gospel and he was determined share it wherever he went. This also meant he spent some time in jail and often fleeing for his own life.
Naturally, he had many friends around the known world, and he had faithful travel companions who went with him. Some of these companions include Luke (the author of the Gospel of Luke) Barnabas, John Mark (the author of the Gospel of Mark) and many more. One of the most valuable relationships he had was with his travel companion, co-worker, and eventual young pastor named Timothy. Timothy was Paul’s ministry companion and assistant on his second missionary journey.
Acts 16:1 - 5
Vs 1: “A disciple was there, named Timothy”
We are introduced to Timothy in this chapter. When Paul begins his second missionary journey his first stop was in Lystra. It was in this town that Paul meets Timothy. He was the son of a Jewish Christian woman (Eunice), and a gentile father. His grandmother (Lois), was also a believer. It is believed that Timothy may have become a Christian when Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra five earlier.
Vs 3: Paul was impressed with this young man and he invited Timothy to accompany him on his missionary journey. But before they left Paul circumcised Timothy. It seems a little strange that Paul does this because he spent much of his time defending gentiles from the law of circumcision. His message of salvation by grace through faith and not the works of the law (circumcision) was his prominent message among the church and gentiles. But according to commentator Ajith Fernando, “(Paul’s) battle was against insisting that circumcision was a condition for the full inclusion of the gentiles among the people of God (salvation). Here the issue was the qualification for the ministry.” He continues, “Timothy needed to win the esteem of the Jewish Christians and being circumcised would give him openings in evangelizing the Jews.”
Both Timothy and Paul wanted to be above reproach in their personal lives so as to not be a stumbling block to those Jews who would potentially come to faith in Jesus Christ. People knew Timothy was the son of a gentile father and he wanted to ensure that he would not be the reason someone did not come to faith in Jesus. He put others before himself. He very well could have said, “Paul, there is no need for me to be circumcised because as you preach regularly, I am saved by grace and not the works of the law.” But we see early on that Timothy had a deep trust and respect for Paul.
Vs 5: Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s journey was a success because the result was churches were strengthened in faith and grew in numbers… DAILY.
1 & 2 Timothy
As mentioned earlier Paul had a genuine love and relationship with Timothy. In both letters Paul writes to Timothy he calls him respectively “my true son in faith” and “my dearly loved son.” (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2) Paul’s life situations had changed drastically between his two letters to Timothy. His first letter was written to Timothy while was on the road and hoping to eventually visit Timothy in Ephesus. It is believed that at the time of this writing Timothy was a young man. Pastor John Stott believed Timothy was most likely in his early thirties. He was, in fact, a young pastor left in charge of the church in Ephesus and Paul writes to him about church order, discipline, and worship. Paul gives Timothy pastoral and practical advice and encouragement on how to be an effective leader for the glory of God and he encouraged him to remain faithful preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 6:11 – 16:
“But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you to keep this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. God will bring this about in his own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.”
In the conclusion of the first letter to Timothy Paul encourages him to be upright as a man of God by teaching sound doctrine, by remaining content, and resisting the temptation for financial gain. Pursue godliness. Fight the good fight of faith. Preach the gospel faithfully until the Lord comes back. Finally, to guard the gospel and heretical teaching.
The second letter to Timothy was written from prison in Rome. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he writes to encourage (yes, a prisoner writes to encourage a free man) Timothy to persevere in the ongoing persecution and trials he is and will be facing because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Paul has a special bond with Timothy, and he knows since he is in prison that he will probably not be able to see Timothy again, let alone have an extended life on earth. The purpose of this letter is to encourage Timothy to protect the integrity of the Gospel, stand firm in the faith during the good and bad times. In some ways it is a farewell letter to a good friend and colleague. The timing of Paul’s death is uncertain, but it is looms on the horizon.
However, at the conclusion of the letter, we do see Paul has a glimmer of hope to see Timothy once again. He tells Timothy to get Mark (the same one who wrote the Gospel of Mark) and come to see him. He is told to bring his cloak, books and parchments that he left behind in Ephesus. It is apparent that many people have either deserted or betrayed Paul and he is vulnerable enough to share how has been hurt by some of these people who were once his friends.
Mentoring and You
Paul was a mentor to the young Pastor Timothy. He invested his life helping Timothy become the leader God called him to be. A general reading of both Epistles to Timothy will show that Paul cared deeply for Timothy and he wanted to see Timothy succeed as a Pastor and church leader. This is what good mentors do… They invest.
Can you identify any mentors in your life currently or in the past? I believe having at least one person in your life as a mentor is extremely beneficial to your growth, especially in your Christian walk. But you may be asking yourself, “What is a mentor and how could having one benefit me as a Christian?” Glad you asked…
So, let’s begin with defining what a mentor is. A simple definition is someone who is an experienced or trusted advisor. In the case of Paul and Timothy, Paul had experience as a minister and missionary of Jesus Christ. He had lived through many experiences and learned many lessons in his life that he could use to share with Timothy in his early ministry. Paul was faithful, trustworthy and consistent in Timothy’s life. He commissioned Timothy for ministry, but he didn’t leave him high and dry. He nurtured, instructed, and remained in continual communication with him. However, the trust had to be reciprocated. Not only was Paul (the mentor) trustworthy, but Timothy (the mentee) was faithful and trustworthy as well.
Three characteristics a mentor.
A Practical Look at Mentoring
I have many people in my life that I consider my mentors. But there is one man that always comes to mind when I talk about the topic. His name is Jim Moelk. Jim was one of the three pastors named Jim at the church I served as a youth minister in Erie, PA.
Jim was/is a friend, confidant, influence, and mentor through and through. I never asked Jim to be my mentor, he just became a mentor to me.
We would meet regularly in his office to pray together, talk about life, and share our ministry desires and goals with each another. Jim would also ask me hard questions to ensure I was living a life of integrity in the ministry. There were times he would lovingly rebuke me for a bad attitude I had, or for something I did in my ministry that I probably should have thought through more carefully. He would give advice on how I preached, conducted myself, and dressed. I would always ask him for insight and help for sermon prep and he even went so far as to help (more like do) my taxes for me.
I remember one day he talked to me about the way I dressed for church. One Sunday I apparently came to church and I looked messy. The following day he came in to my office and instead of berating or shaming me for the way I looked he talked to me about how I should take more care in how I dress. He offered some suggestions and that was that. I appreciated what he said, and I took his suggestions. Now, it would have been very easy for me to be defensive and offended but I knew he had my best interest in mind. He wasn’t doing it because he was trying to control me, he was telling me this so I could look more respected in my position.
I respected and still do respect Jim greatly, and even though we live hundreds of miles apart I still consider him a great mentor and friend. Unfortunately, I haven’t talked to him in a while but his mentoring played a big part in who I am as a Pastor today.
I still have mentors in my life today and I do have some I mentored and still to some degree mentor today. God has given me gifts and allowed me to have experiences so I can mentor others as well.
So, my challenge for you today is to find a mentor and be a mentor to someone. This begins with prayer. Ask God to bring people to be a mentor or to to mentor. Be sensitive to God’s direction and be intentional in seeking. The church is called the body of Christ for a reason. We need each other, we grow with one another, and we share life together. This is God’s plan for the Church.
 Fernando, Ajith: Acts: The NIV Application Commentary, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998, p. 432
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.