Training Timothy

The Training of Timothy

II Tim 2:2

The training of Timothy helps young men desiring to move from faithful Christians to successful cross-cultural missionaries by way of a model to follow. His life helps us find answers to the following six questions heading each page: How should we get our training and preparation? What kind of man is an ideal candidate for the job of Cross-Cultural Missionary? What kind of man should we look for to train us? What is a good time period for practical training? What are the areas specific to cross-cultural missions we need training in? What are the stages that good training moves in?


Five Models of Training


(Taken from Jacob Taube, Missionary to China)



1. The Jungle Safari Model


I know I am getting the training I need because it is really intense, difficult, and uncomfortable.


Jim with Operation Mobilization was dropped into complete immersion. He reminds us more of Janet with the Peace Corps than Paul of the New Testament. Chase from TN who spent time in the Philippines  and Michael whose wife gave birth in Mongolia have similar stories.


– ‘Survivor Man’ can stand any climate, adapt to any culture, and eat anything put in front of him, but that does not make him a missionary. A super hard-core missions trip does not prepare you for church planting.


2. The Actor/Politician Model


I know I am getting the training I need because I’ve got a measure of success in a number or related fields


Jesus with OM learned distribution but lamented that he knew nothing about discipleship and church planting.


– Preaching ability, theological training, experience with youth groups, bus routes, etc. is all good, but it is no guarantee at all that you will be able to make disciples of any nation


3. The Lego Engineering Model


I know I’m getting the training I need because I don’t really need any training; all I need is the Bible.




– Planting a church and ‘just following the Bible’ is like doing brain surgery and ‘just following the textbook’ – the textbook is accurate, but you still need someone to demonstrate it. You can build a skyscraper model out of legos but building a real skyscraper is a bit more complicated. It is easy to oversimplify the whole process when you are looking at it from outside.


4. The Assembly Line Model


I know I am getting the training I need because I am surrounded by people that are all doing pretty much the same thing that I am doing and I am passing each level.




– Is the average person that’s graduating from your college prepared for the work? Average, not 1 all-star out of 50



1. It is based on classroom education with minimal practice.

practice, only theory

In how to preach, evangelize, organize a church etc


How is it that the only relationship based faith in the world can be trained for in a classroom with facts and rules as it’s basis?


2. It provides no example for church planting.

They are typically based in established ministries. The ministry he is involved in is established. He does not learn to start and organize anything. Typically all of his training is done in his home culture


3. It promotes external conformity and performance.

The sheer numbers make it impossible for the student to have real personal time with the teachers to the only way the teacher knows the students is on a superficial outward way. Second, in order to control such a large number of immature disciples, the organization is forced to place many rules in place to manipulate the student into imitating an outward form of godliness. The student, while left unchanged on the outside learns to gain recognition by being the set at keeping the manmade set of laws and condemning those who don’t by way of demerits. The result is a full blown Pharisee with a degree in ministry. No teacher ever knew him intimately enough to detect and root out this attitude.

Ex: One school has done an admirable job to fix this error by reducing their rules to two: love God and love your neighbor.


4. It leaves the student with no ongoing mentoring outside of a yearly conference he is free to attend if he wants.


5. It sets the bar at the lowest possible level.

If a student can pay the bill he can come. Since one more student takes no extra time from the teacher but provides extra income for the lavish buildings. With all bills paid for four years the student has spent 40 to 60 k to obtain a piece of paper. If he can then raise support he can get to the mission field. Now he’s on the field and the only thing that has ever qualified him is money.


End result: When the student is finished, he still is clueless as to what to do in ministry.


We are sending few missionaries and the ones we are sending have never even discipled a new believer or built even a ss class.



5. The Timothy Model


I know I’m getting the training I need because I have fully known a Christian leader (1 Tim. 3:10)


– Paul’s confidence that Timothy would endure the trials to come were based on the training Timothy had received at Paul’s side




How should we get our training and preparation?

Timothy’s life followed the following basic stages:

I John 2:12-14

I. Timothy the New Believer

During this time he grew strong in his faith, faithful to the body of believers, and learned to live a holy life. This time of his life was possibly two years between Paul’s first visit it Lystra and Derbe and his second visit.

II. Timothy the Apprentice

During this time he spent over 5 years following Paul everywhere he went. He traveled with him, ate with him, listened to every sermon, helped him disciple new believers, suffered along side of him during persecution, and even let Paul circumcise him! At the end of this intense training he had fully known everything about Paul and his teaching.

III. Timothy the Spiritual Father

Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, what would become one of the strongest basis of Christianity in the world during that time, to run the whole show teaching doctrine and organizing the leadership. He was a full-blown leader. He knew what to do. He knew the ministry backwards and forwards.

The following analysis of Timothy’s training provides you with the framework to map out your training for the one shot you get at fulfilling the Great Commission. Before you strike out on your own, you ought to be able to answer yes to the following five questions.



What kind of man is an ideal candidate for the job of Cross-Cultural Missionary?

I. Timothy’s hometown

He was from either Derbe or Lystra (most likely Lystra) in a region called Lycaonia 16:1 It was a medium sized town in an economically average area.

This was the same town Paul had preached in, founded a church in, and was stoned outside of Lystra before preaching again in Derbe.

Timothy was possibly present at his stoning (Acts 14:19-20) and no doubt aware of the stoning, Paul’s miraculous healing, and courage to continue preaching.

His hometown was full of fervent pagan worshippers of Greek gods (they called Paul Mercurius Acts 14:12) but he himself was raised in a Jewish community in a sort of semi-porous bubble.

II. Timothy’s Family

He was raised by a Jewish mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois II Tim. 1:5, Acts. 16:1

He was also the son of an unnamed and apparently absent Greek father

Timothy may have learned from his father’s culture that women were created by Zeus as punishment to man for having obtained fire. (Discovering God, 81)

Marriage between pagan men (outnumbering pagan women) and Christian women (outnumbering Christian men) was common. There was a tax against men 25 years or older (imposed by Augustus in 9 ad) who were not married with children. This led to high levels of divorce or abandonment. (The Rise of Christianity, 116)

III. Timothy’s faith

It is possible that Timothy was won by Paul himself on his first journey to Lystra since Paul calls him his “beloved son” (M. Henry). No doubt, he followed the Jewish faith and then faith in Christ that was first believed by his grandmother and then mother.

He was “well reported of by the bretheren” in his area (Acts 16:2). This leads us to assume he had the big three down:

1. He had learned to not continue in sin (He hated sin)

2. He was faithful to the local congregation (He loved his brothers)

3. He was an diligent student of God’s Word and ardent advocate for the Gospel (He loved Jesus, God’s Word)

IV. Timothy’s choosing.

Paul chose him 16:3 We can assume then that he was:

*Desirous to go.

*He was willing to suffer physically (circumcision). He gave up his own rights.

*He was willing to submit to Paul’s advise. He wanted God to use him so bad he would pay whatever price there would be. He proved it up from.

*Serving. Next to Paul serving making his life easier as Paul ministered in his hometown for a second time.

*Unattached. No debts. No marriage or marriage hang-ups.


Question: Are you an average guy from an average family from an average town with an un-average desire for God use your life to impact the world still in darkness with the Gospel? Are you willing to pay the price, loose respect, and submit to be trained to do that?


What kind of man should we look for to train us?

Timothy’s trainer: Paul

  1. Paul’s method.

A. He practiced “with-ness”. Timothy traveled with Paul (16:4) somewhere around 5,400 miles in total (Carson). Everywhere it would say “they” from then on it was talking about Paul with Timothy included in them with him.

B. He trained in groups. He traveled with Luke, Silas, Timothy and many others mentioned by name.

C. He was anything but emotionally disconnected. I Tim 1:2 Often calling Timothy his beloved son and dearly beloved disciple, Paul had a genuine love for the workers he trained that was rivaled only from his love for the work itself.

II. Paul’s experience

He was probably 20 years his senior or so.

Paul had a deep, personal relationship with Christ.

Paul had been a missionary pastor in Antioch for a number of years and had already completed one tour of Turkey and Cyprus.

He was the most experienced and successful of all preachers at the time (surpassing even Peter in miles traveled, placed preached, and cultures adapted to.)

III. Paul was spiritually a Jewish Christian, legally a Roman, and intellectually a Greek.

Timothy could say that he fully understand each of these areas of Paul’s life that gave him the skill he needed to be the successful missionary he was. Paul testified of that when he said: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me…” (II Tim. 3:10-11)


Question: Can you say with Timothy that you fully know the doctrine, manner of life, and ministry of a man like Paul not having just watched one from afar?


What is a good time period for practical training?

A conservatively estimated timeline of Timothy’s train with Paul

1 month             Delivering decrees in many cities 16:4

+2 weeks             in Ephesus 16:12-40

+3 weeks             or so in Thesalonica 17:1-10

+4 weeks             in Berea 17:11-14

+4 weeks             traveling to Corinth 18:5 (taken by assuming the time it took for Paul to preach in Athens and then “every Sabbath day” 18:4 in Corinth until Timothy arrived)

+18 months             in Corinth Acts 18:11

+1 more month in Corinth 18:18

+4 months             Trip to Syria, Ephesus (reasoned in the synagogue), Jerusalem (kept the feast), Caesarea (saluted the church), Antioch (“spent some time”), Galatia and Phrygia (strengthening the disciples), return to Ephesus. 18:19-19:1

+1 year             in Ephesus doing evangelistic ministry 19:1-10, (Explained in 20:31)

+2 years             in Ephesus teaching in the school of Tyrannus 19:10

(At some point during their stay in Ephesus (I Cor 16:8) Paul sent Timothy to Corinth I Cor. 4:17. Though he was apart from Paul during his trip to Corinth this was still part of his training.)

+2 weeks             Trip to Macedonia (where he gave much exhortation) and Greece  20:1-2

+3 months             in Greece 20:3 (Timothy is confirmed to still be with Paul 20:4 accompanying him to Asia through Macedonia at which point it is possible that Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus where he stayed long term carrying out the work.)

We see no more mention of Timothy’s name in Acts and it’s doubtful that Timothy went to Paul all the way to Jerusalem during which time Paul was arrested (Acts 21:27). Timothy did make visits to Paul in prison in Rome (Philemon 1,  but Paul’s imprisonment marked the end of Timothy’s hands-on training and his launching into ministry by himself.

5 years 4 months= Total training time with Paul before being sent out alone

Question: According to this example, have you spent sufficient time in intense, close, and personal training with a man like Paul?


What are the areas specific to cross-cultural missions we need training in?

  1. The ability to teach the Apostles Doctrine

I Tim 1:3-18

The whole first chapter is about the doctrine that Paul was committing to Timothy to teach.

II.  Persecution/opposition

1. They faced religious, political, and mob opposition together

In Philippi Acts 16:16-24

Paul and Silas were arrested

The conflict was ethnic in nature uprising by the pagans vs 20

Their preaching was illegal in that place

They were beaten with stripes and put in jail while Timothy and the other believers met outside praying

Ended with their exoneration

Their stay lasted two weeks maybe

In Thesalonica Acts 17:5-9

There was a mob raised up

It was religious and political in nature uprising of the Jews

Ended by Paul and Silas escaping by the city wall

Stay lasted at least three weeks

In Berean Acts 17:13-14

Stirred up by an outside group

Ended by Paul escaping by boat

Stay lasted at least a few weeks

In Ephesus, Corinth, and many other cities

2. He watched as Paul continued in the work and saw prayers answered in the face of this opposition Acts 16:25-36

3. The Holy Spirit encouraged Paul to keep preaching in Corinth Acts 18:9

4. Paul defended the Gospel before the city’s authorities Acts 16:37

5. Timothy himself was imprisoned at some point in Italy as he traveled with Paul Heb. 13:23

II. Developing strategies of evangelization for virgin territories

  1. Paul determined steps to take

He followed the Spirit’s leading Acts 16:6-9 away from Asia and Bithynia and finally toward Macedonia.

Timothy considered himself part of Paul’s team ready to help wherever and however God led Paul. He was not loose cannon but was committed in whole with Luke, Titus, and others. Acts 16:10

2. Paul’s team planted new churches in unevangelized cities

They tried out new and old evangelistic strategies

In Ephesus by the river where prayer was made on Sabaath days with the Jews Acts 16:13

In Thessalonica on Sabaath days in the synagogue Acts 17:1-4

In Berea daily Bible studies with sincere Jews seeking the truth and Greeks Acts 17:11

In Athens in the market place and on Mars Hill he spoke from the worldview of Epicurians and Stoiks and other pagans. He taught them of the creator. Acts 17:17

Paul persuaded Jews and Greeks both in Corinth Acts 18:4

Timothy learned as Paul decided when was the appropriate time to “shake the dust off his feet” concerning the Jews and focus on the gentiles. Acts 18:6

Paul led the head of the Synagogue to Christ in Corinth and many followed his lead Acts 18:8

Timothy watched as Paul evangelized Jews, Greeks, and Romans with many different strategies and starting points to arrive to the Gospel.

3. They won and baptized whole families in completely unevangelized contexts

Lydia in Philippi, The Philippian Jailor, Crispus in Corinth among others.

4. They found places of lodging and places for meetings for training for the new church

House of Lydia in Philippi Acts 16:15

House of Jason in Thessalonica Acts 17:5

School of Tyrannus in Ephesus Acts 19:10

III. Identifying young leadership in another culture

1. Paul worked with baby churches helping train leaders

Paul taught the Apostles Doctrine to the new church leaders in multiple cities 16:4

  1. The churches grew in numbers and multiplied 16:5
  2. Traveling preachers were trained and sent out as leaders into all of Asia Acts 19:10
  3. Paul ordained men in all the churches around Corinth according to their gifts and abilities. I Cor. 7:17

IV. Creating a financially viable, Biblically defensible economic model for missions

1. Timothy learned to keep ministering with or without even the basic provisions

a. He was oft fasting II Cor. 11:27

b. He worked with his own hands from time to time to eat Acts 18:3

c. He learned to danger of the love of money I Tim 6:10

d. He knew how to abound and be abased Phil 4:12

2.  He learned to accept gifts from the churches to live of the Gospel

a. Paul taught him the Biblical basis for paying pastors and missionaries for their work. I Cor. 9:14

b. Paul taught him how to communicate well with those who are helping in the work financially. Phil 4:14-15

3. He learned to teach the churches to give I Tim 6:17-18

V. Unmentioned skills in the life of Timothy that may be necessary today

  1. Language Acquisition
    1. It appears that everywhere Paul and Timothy ministered the people spoke Greek as well as any other native language they may have used. Therefore, language learning was not needed. To complete the Great Commision this will have to be a part of training to learn how to learn a foreign language.
  2. Marriage and family life on the foreign field
    1. Though Paul taught often about marriage and the family, he and Timothy were both single throughout the Biblical account of their ministry. This may have been partly due to the present trial the church was then in. A missionary with a wife and family will need to consider this as an important part of his and his wife’s training.
    2. How do you deal with children growing up in another culture with another language?

Question: Have you had enough experience in these above areas to say that you have mastered them?


What are the stages that good training moves in?

  1. Observation
    1. It appears that Timothy mostly just observed the teaching ministry of Paul while serving on the first round of confirmation of the churches as well as the ministry in Philippi (Acts 16).
    2. During the year and a half stay in Corinth, no doubt Timothy listened much but also participated as so many in that place had come to Christ. Men like Crispus, the newly converted head of the synagogue, most likely was Timothy’s elder and superior in scripture knowledge so Timothy would have got plenty of opportunity to listen to Paul train him in the ways of Christ.
  2. Participation
    1. Berea seems to be where Timothy got his first taste of teaching ministry under the direction of the older and more experience Silas. (Acts 17:10-15) Paul had escaped from the Thessalonians  who had persued him all the way to Berea. Now Silas and Tim stayed in Berea with the new church that had been started no doubt continuing to teach all that they had learned at the feet of the apostle.
    2. During the three years that Paul spent in Ephesus (Acts 19) it is very likely that Timothy had a large part in the evangelism of the first year and the subsequent training of believers for two years in the school of Tyrannus.
  3. Deputation
    1. Timothy was first deputized by Paul and sent with his authority to teach the believers in Macedonia during the team’s three years stay in Ephesus. Timothy was sent with Erastus (Acts 19:22) who was a newly converted leader in the city (Rom. 16:23). Timothy, though most likely his minor had become an expert teacher of the scriptures and the Gospel seeing that he was named first before his elder.
    2. Timothy was sent to Corinth to “bring them into remembrance of Paul’s ways which be in Christ” (I Cor. 4:17)
    3. Timothy was also sent by Paul to Theselonica to “establish them and comfort them concerning their faith” (I Thes. 3:2)
  4. Full Partnership
    1. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus. He was on his own.
    2. Tradition says that Timothy was “ordained” as an elder in Ephesus in AD 65 (though some experts would put put that date closer to AD 60) where he served for 15 years (some say more like 25 years) before he was stoned.

Another way to understand these four stages is in the four levels of the training pyramid:

Be-I Tim 2:1-6- Paul reminds Tim of the inner man and reminds him to be faithful to teach others about the inner man. Themese like prayer, thanksgiving, godliness, honesty, selflessness

Do- I Tim 2:8-15 Paul teaches about what worship looks like on the outside with public prayers and modesty with women in subjection.

Serve- I Tim 3:1-13 This is what the requirements are on those who would serve as a Bishop/pastor and deacons.


Question: Have you successfully completed all of these stages without skipping one or two to your own detriment?


Conclusion- The most effective way to prepare a faithful church member to be a successful cross-cultural missionary is that he would spend a number of intense years (preferably 4 or more) working along side of and under an experienced and successful cross-cultural missionary in all areas of ministry moving from observation to participation to fully capable partner. Anything less is a gamble and setting up the missionary for failure.

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