(Welcome to our Saint of the Day series! Each weekday, we present you with an excerpt from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints series, published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press.Today's saint, St. Timothy, comes from Volume 1 of the series.)
To a man called Timothy fell the solemn honor of being the recipient of two letters from the great apostle St. Paul, who wrote these sacred epistles in his final hours before his martyrdom, while a captive of Nero. Now known as the Pastoral Epistles, they are the two books of the New Testament entitled First Timothy and Second Timothy. In them are set forth regulations for many aspects of church worship and a bestowal of apostolic trust upon a young man with whom St. Paul chose to “labor and suffer reproach” in spreading the word of Christ, and whom St. Paul embraced as a son.
With the mantle of responsibility for spreading the word of Jesus Christ having been spread by no less than St. Paul over the shoulders of the young Timothy, it is enough that the great St. Paul’s letters to him form a part of the New Testament and thus make sacred the very name Timothy. But if any reverence be fully accorded to St. Timothy, it is because he assumed that sacred responsibility with such dedication that chapters of the Holy Bible bear his name, a name synonymous with Christianity itself.
He was born in Lystra in Lyconia of a pagan Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. His grandmother was a Christian and it was perhaps through her influence and teaching that he came to follow Christ. When the apostle Paul visited Lystra, the young Timothy was already a full member of the Christian Church. After the two discussed the many difficulties Christianity was facing, the younger man expressed a desire to serve as a missionary, despite its hazards. It was after the departure of Barnabus and Mark that Paul summoned Timothy to accompany him as a colleague in the cause of Christ.
About a quarter of a century after Christ had died, Timothy and Paul traveled to Europe, accompanied by Silas, in a missionary task of staggering proportion. In most areas theirs was at best a thankless job, but with the zeal born of a profound love of the Savior, they succeeded in securing a foothold in spiritually darkened corners. They brought this about with administrative skill in the face of odds which might have discouraged less hardy souls. In a fury of religious oratory, they summoned thousands to the fold and established churches of God where for centuries people had worshiped mere objects or beasts out of fear and superstition.
When Paul was summoned to Athens, he commissioned Timothy to carry the word of Christ to Corinth, Thessaloniki, and Philippi. To these areas Timothy displayed his talents to the fullest in establishing a nucleus of Christian churches which became the cornerstone from which Christianity has grown to its present-day proportions. With the help of subordinate apostles, he instilled in the populace a love of the Savior. Under his leadership churches were built, the form of worship was set forth, and capable ministry for all services was established.
Overcoming obstacles strewn in his missionary path, Timothy made his way to Ephesus. There he was established as bishop of that city and took on the formidable task of putting Christ into the hearts of people who lived in fear and awe of the pagan goddess Artemis. The pagans grew more and more resentful of the presence of Timothy and out of their hatred evolved an aura of terror. One evening, when one of their eerie rituals had spilled out into the streets and had carried them out in front of the Church of Christ, Timothy emerged to denounce them, whereupon the frenzied mob stoned him to death.Timothy died a martyr for Christ on January 22.
Text from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints. Image from Wikimedia.