Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms checking in today! I’m sorry this is coming to you under such circumstances, but I’m also glad that we serve a God who is in control. Moms, do you know who is more vested than anyone in your success as a mom? God, of course! He created all of our roles in life and designed them in a way that would reflect His goodness, wisdom, and handiwork. The love of God can be captured so much in the love of a mother. It’s one of the greatest forms of love on this planet, isn’t it? I know there can exceptions to the rule, but there are many loving mothers out there, and let me just say “thank you” once again for the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and the environment you help to provide for your children’s upbringing.
Let’s get into our lesson today:
2 Timothy 1:2-5
To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
Moms have a very important role in the lives of their children. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook all of the value motherhood brings to the table because what mom brings to a home creates an entire environment. The absence of a mom (or dad) often is how we realize how much they provide for and enable the home. Many of us have gone through storms where the lights went out for hours on end (if not days). How quickly in those moments we grasp the value of electricity and all of those appliances and such that are powered by electricity; what was once a luxury for the world at large has become a necessity in modern times for many of us. Moms, you are both a necessity and a luxury at the same time.
The apostle Paul invested himself deeply into one younger man more than most other people we’ll see in the New Testament. Timothy’s Greek name in full is Timotheos, which means “honoring God.” Even his name has implications upon his upbringing. We learn a bit about Timothy in Acts 16:1-3:
“Then he (Paul) 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. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 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.”
The passage highlights the parents of Timothy in part; his mother was a Jewish believer in Christ, “but his father was Greek.” This is implying that his father was not a follower of Christ, but likely would have been a follower of Greek deities. Most people in this area of the world at the time were tradesmen whose trade guilds had religious ties to them; they would customarily get together and have idolatrous feasts and practice immorality. It’s hard to say what the character of Timothy’s father was like, because it says very, very little about him. In understanding what Timothy may have gone through with a father who was a Greek, we could look at Revelation 2:18-29 to understand the social dynamic of the areas much like Timothy’s in the Lystra/Derbe region (modern day Turkey):
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,`These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations–`He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels ‘– as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘
It is possible that Timothy’s father had this kind of participation in guilds himself, being a Greek. It’s really hard to speak to the individual morality of Timothy’s Greek father, but the passage above in Revelation shows a problem faced within many of the early churches of the New Testament: the potential for participation in spiritual debauchery linked to polytheism and trying to follow Jesus at the same time. Those who were not followers of Christ had no dilemma going on like those who had chosen to follow Jesus. The woman named Jezebel (probably figurative of the Old Testament wife of Ahab who sinfully led her husband astray) was teaching the people in an authoritative manner that they could both participate in sin and serve Christ.
Following Christ in the ancient world could mean losing your job and social acceptance, which should help us understand why early Christians were often far more given to living in community, selling and distributing to each in need and meeting in each other’s houses as often as they did. There are on more than one occasion women in the New Testament marked for their faith, whose husbands unfortunately are either not mentioned or spoken of very briefly.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother took bold strides in being believers in Jesus Christ in their day. Timothy’s father must have had some level of honor to him, though, because he did not cast his family away in their following of Christ, though he did not follow along from all biblical accounts. Acts 16:3 tells us that Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, but had him circumcised to not be a holdup to local Jews, “for they all knew that his father was Greek.” There is some level of notoriety in saying this about Timothy’s (unnamed) father that he was known by all the regional Jews.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother were introduced as believers prior to Timothy’s conversion in 2 Timothy 1:5. The wording may mean that they were both present at the hearing of the gospel and may have both come to Christ at the same time, but it’s hard to be dogmatic about that. What can be gathered is that they both seemed to be honorable women whose faith preceded Timothy’s faith. Eunice did not revolt against her Greek husband but still remained with him for what can be seen; it would not be surprising to find that she exemplified verses like 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”
There is very little said about Timothy’s mother or grandmother, other than that Paul was confident of their faith and had a good impression with the child they had raised in the faith. More specifically, let’s see how Paul words it in 2 Timothy 1:5: “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” Paul identifies a genuine faith in Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. The word “genuine” comes from the Greek anupokritos. It should sound familiar as the word for hypocrisy is embedded here (hupokritos), as well as the antecedent “an-” referring to without, as inwithout hypocrisy. It is translated positively as genuine or sincere and the word shows up in 1 Timothy 1:5 regarding faith, too. Let’s look at the full context from 1 Timothy 1:3-7:
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia– remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (anupokritos), from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”
What can be drawn about Timothy’s mother Eunice and grandmother Lois from all of this, and what challenge does it give to a Christian mom today? Paul says that goal of staying true to the Scriptures is the outcome of love from three sources: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. This love is a warm regard both for God and for other people and Paul says that those who stray from the truth essentially stray from this love. This love for God and others was modeled by Lois, Eunice, and Timothy as it was part of the evidence of their sincere faith. Timothy was raised not just in doctrine but also in the extension of belief coming out of them in sincere faith. They were models to him and to all other believers that came in contact with them, including the apostle Paul who was so impacted with their genuine faith that he was moved to bring Timothy along as a good companion for the ministry of the gospel. Could you imagine having a faith that speaks volumes to an apostle? It’s a challenge to us all as believers to grow in a faith in God that would be evident to others “by life and by lip.”
Moms, you have many jobs and a very complex role in your children’s lives, but please remember today in the study of God’s word that the faith you have in God is either a model for your children if it is sincere or a warning for your children if it is a facade. Demonstrated faith is foundational to your children’s lives whether your kids are two, twenty or seventy years old. We always model something to others, including how one relates to God even into old age. You are in my prayers, as it is a big task not only to raise kids but also to be a model to them as well. Thank you for your hearts and the service you provide. There are no perfect moms, but I’m reminded as I’ve heard at times over the years, moms who are placed specifically where they are with the kids they’re given by a perfect God who loves them deeply. God bless you today!
God, we thank you for mothers. Thank You for the love you have instilled in them and the care that they give. Thank You for their hearts and for the many sacrifices they have made for their families. Thank You for the grace you provide to help all of us and specifically today to moms. You are good to us and You give us great gifts; thank You for the great gift of moms. We understand there are many believers out there whose moms may be far from You, who have no relationship with You through faith in Christ and so I pray for them that you might soften their hearts to the gospel. Help those moms who do believe to be strengthened in their faith and to live that faith out before others, especially their children, with the time You give them. I thank You now and pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.