He Was Well Spoken Of
Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. 4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. (NKJV)
The time is A. D. 49. It has been a busy year for Paul. He attended the Jerusalem Council where the ruling from the church in Jerusalem was that Gentile believers would not need to be circumcised, as was the tradition of the Jews.
Next, Paul returned to the predominantly Gentile church in Antioch, Syria, now Antakya, Turkey, This has become the home church for Paul and Barnabas, the sponsors of Paul’s three missionary journeys. In Antioch, Paul continues to provide help to the church.
Also in A.D. 49 it is likely that Paul wrote the first of his letters, the letter to the Galatians. Paul visited the southern Galatia churches on all three of his missionary journeys so it is likely that this letter was written to them. However, it should be pointed out that some scholars believe that the letter was written to northern Galatia churches.
Finally, in this busy year, Paul begins his second missionary journey. Instead of sailing to first the Island of Cyprus and then to Asia Minor Paul travels overland, first north and then west, to southern Galatia. He takes Silas with him while Barnabas goes his separate way via the sea route taking his cousin Mark with him. Paul was not in favor of taking Mark because he had bailed on Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey.
In this passage, Paul first ministers in Derbe and then moves on to Lystra, the place of his stoning during his first missionary journey just four years earlier (v. 1a). Lystra was the home of the young man, Timothy, who has now become a disciple (v. 1b).
Timothy, to whom Paul would later write the letters known as 1 and 2 Timothy, was the son of a Jewish mother named Eunice and a Greek father who likely was deceased by this time (v. 1c). Eunice and her mother, Timothy’s grandmother, Lois were strong Jewish converts to Christianity.
Timothy had apparently grown strong in his faith, likely through the influence of his mother and grandmother (2. Timothy 1:5). He “was well spoken of” by Christians at, not only his church in Lystra, but also by the church in Iconium, some 30 miles to the north (v. 2).
Paul asked Timothy to join him on his journey, but he first circumcised Timothy because “his father was Greek” (v. 3). Since his father was a Gentile, Jews would know that Timothy had not been circumcised. At first glance this circumcision seems to go against the ruling of the Jerusalem Council.
But Paul saw this as a necessity to advance the Gospel. Since Timothy was half Jew and half Gentile Paul knew that he would not be accepted by the Jews without being circumcised. Timothy would not be able to evangelize Jews and, consequently, Paul’s work with them would also be hindered.
As Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled to the four Galatian churches at Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, Psidia, they discipled and delivered the decree from the Jerusalem Council (v. 4). The decree was especially welcome to Gentile believers who would not be required to be circumcised and “the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (v. 5).
So Timothy “was well spoken of” by his fellow Christians. He was a product of two strong Christians, his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. He was an example of the influence we can have on our children and grandchildren.
We can influence our children and grandchildren by making sure they receive good Christian training. But, more importantly, we ourselves should read them the Bible and train them up in the way of the Lord. Part of this training is to live a life of Christian values. Often our actions will influence them more than our words.
Online Bible Commentary