“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2022

“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

In today’s Epistle, Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him in his faith. Paul also reminds Timothy of the ladies who passed on the faith to him. Their names were Lois and Eunice. One was Timothy’s mother; the other, Timothy’s grandmother. Let’s see, now which one was which? Here’s the way I have of keeping them straight: “Lois” sounds like “oldest,” so she was the grandma. “Eunice” sounds like “youngest,” so she was Timothy’s mom. So now let’s hear more about “Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith.” Let’s hear what that faith is, and what it means for us today.

First, a little background. When Timothy was young, he and his mom and grandma all lived in a town called Lystra, in Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. And these two ladies–Eunice was the mom, and Lois the grandma–these two women did great work in support of the spread of the gospel. How? By helping to produce a missionary. Timothy may not have ended up as “St. Timothy” unless these two ladies had not first done a lot of work to prepare him to be the great missionary-pastor he ended up being.

In our text, Paul writes: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Do you notice here the great work that Lois and Eunice did? They passed on their faith to young Timothy. That is perhaps the most important and God-pleasing work that you mothers and grandmothers–and fathers and grandfathers, and aunts and uncles–this is the great work that you also can do: You can pass on the faith that dwells in you to the next generation coming after you. Whether or not that child grows up to be a missionary or a pastor, whether or not he or she ends up having the word “Saint” in front of their name, the important thing is that your young person has been brought up in–and lives out and carries forward–the only saving, life-giving faith there is, which is a living faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A little more background is in order. Why are only the grandmother Lois and the mother Eunice mentioned? Where’s the dad? Where is Timothy’s father? That’s the first question, since, according to God’s word, it is the father who has the primary responsibility for being the head of the household and its spiritual leader. The father is the person who should see to it that the whole family goes to church together and that the children are raised in and taught the Christian faith. That’s the way God has designed for families to work best. But unfortunately, in Timothy’s case, as in so many families, the father was not doing his job of being the spiritual head of the household.

In fact, Timothy’s father was not even a Christian. That’s the way it appears when we first meet Timothy, in Acts 16. Paul had come to Lystra, and it says: “A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer”–that would be Eunice–“but his father was a Greek,” that is, a Gentile, and presumably not a believer. So here you have Timothy, whose mom was a Christian and his dad was not. Nevertheless, Timothy was a believer, a Christian, a disciple. The apostle Paul took him under his wing, and Timothy became part of Paul’s missionary band. And the godly influence of Eunice and Lois played a big part in raising Timothy the right way.

How did they do it? They taught young Timothy the Bible and the Christian faith, and they did this from early on. In 2 Timothy 3, we read where Paul says to Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

And so here is an encouragement for you, moms and grandmas, dads and grandpas, aunts and uncles–any of you who can help influence a child for Christ. Even if someone in the family who should be taking the lead in passing on the Christian faith isn’t, perhaps God can use you in some small or not-so-small way to help get the job done.

I know in my own case, my dad died when I was one year old. But thank God, Grandma and Grandpa Henrickson lived right next door, and they did a lot–I mean, a lot–in both modeling the Christian faith for me and in seeing that my sister and I went to church and got a good Christian education. God put my grandparents in my life to help fill a void, a gap that my father was not filling. I would not be a pastor today–maybe not even a Christian–if it were not for them.

Well, that’s what Lois and Eunice did for young Timothy. They filled in the gap. They passed the faith on to him. They made sure he learned the Bible. And then Paul took it from there. Paul became Timothy’s spiritual father, his mentor in the faith. And you can hear that relationship expressed in the beginning of our text, where Paul addresses Timothy as “my beloved child.”

So what is it about the Christian faith that makes it so important to pass on–the most important thing in the world, actually? Paul explains that in our text, in a passage that is utterly brilliant and profound. Paul lays out an exposition of God’s plan for the ages. This plan stretches from eternity to eternity, and yet it lands smack dab in the present, with what’s happening here today. Notice, God’s plan begins before the beginning: He “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Dear friends, God planned for your salvation before the foundation of this world. God knew that we would need a Savior, and so he made provision for that to happen. God the Father appointed and determined that his own eternal Son would one day come into this world to bring us God’s grace and favor. God’s own Son would win for us forgiveness for our sins, a work we could not do for ourselves. In the mystery of God’s foreknowledge and in the depth of his love, our heavenly Father knew that this is exactly what we poor sinners would need.

And so Christ came. Paul says that God’s own purpose and grace “now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Christ has abolished death. He did this by himself dying the biggest death of all, the death that put an end to death. The very Son of God, come in the flesh–this same Jesus Christ suffered and died in the place of us poor sinners, taking our sins on his own sinless shoulders, shedding his holy blood to purchase our redemption. This is what Jesus did for you! And then he rose on the third day, showing that life and immortality are the result when sin is paid for and removed. This gift, eternal life, is for you, in Christ, through faith in him.

And this faith comes through the gospel, the gospel as it is preached and sacramented to you, today, here in this place. Paul says that Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher.” Through the ministry of the gospel, through the church’s work of Word and Sacrament, through missionaries like Paul and Timothy, through pastors today speaking the gospel of Christ into your ears and putting the body and blood of Christ into your mouth, you are being given faith in Christ and forgiveness for your sins. This is the gospel in the here and now, the present-day application of our text.

And this gospel will sustain you and sustain the church until the day of Christ’s return. That’s where Paul takes us next. He says: “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

The Holy Spirit keeps and sanctifies you and me and the whole Christian church in the one true faith, until that great and glorious Day when Christ returns. The good deposit that has been entrusted to you, the deposit of the Christian faith, which you have received–the Holy Spirit will continue to keep you in that faith and keep you from falling. And so we look forward in hope to the return of our Lord on the Last Day. Then he will right the wrong, he will restore the whole of creation, and he will raise the living and the dead who have believed in him. Our Lord will bring us into unending, everlasting life and joy.

What a gospel! What a faith! This is the faith that Eunice and Lois passed on to Timothy. This is the faith that has been passed on to us. This is the faith we ourselves believe in and rejoice in and gladly pass along to our children and grandchildren. And this is the faith and the gospel ministry that our church will carry on.

Today I want to remind us all–moms, grandmas, dads, granddads, all of us–of the importance of raising our children in the Christian faith. We raise our children right by both our personal example and our verbal teaching. This means raising our “Timothys” in the faith, in the church, in the Holy Scriptures. This is our Lois-and-Eunice work. And it is some of the most important work that God has called us and gifted us to do.

Have you failed in this in the past? God forgives you for the sake of Christ. Do you need help to do this in the present? God will supply it. And together–parents, grandparents, children, all of us–together we have a great hope to sustain us as we head toward our eternal future.

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Published in: on October 1, 2022 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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