Sincere, Unfeigned Faith.

Today we will study sincere, unfeigned faith and how Timothy lived out this sincere faith that was modeled by his grandmother and mother.

In 2 Timothy 1, Paul is writing to Timothy, the pastor of the church of Ephesus. We see the word "for" mentioned three times in verses 5-7.

In verse five, Paul remembers that Timothy’s grandmother and mother each had a sincere or unfeigned faith, and he is confident that Timothy has the same. There are three generations of sincere faith in that one verse. Timothy's grandmother and mother modeled sincere faith, and Timothy was able to imitate these examples in his own life.

Timothy is encouraged in verse six to continue to fan the flame of the spiritual gift he was given the moment he was born again and confirmed by the flock of God. Timothy’s ability to develop a spiritual gift was directly connected to the modeling of the same by his grandmother and mother. The word "for" in this verse connects these thoughts for us.

In verse seven, Paul reminds Timothy to rely on the ability of God and not his own as he does the work of the ministry, doing so with clear thinking.

Three Virtues of Timothy’s Faith

In the Greek language, the word "sincere" means unhypocritical. The first-century believer in Ephesus would have understood this to mean a faith that is not showy, without pretense, and capable of demonstrating practical love to the flock. These three virtues comprised the genuine faith Timothy learned from the godly ladies in his life, and this learning began in his home.

2 Timothy 3:14-16 tells us that from a child, Timothy knew the Scriptures well, and they made him wise unto salvation. He grew up in Lystra. In his youth, he mostly likely heard Paul preach, because his grandmother and mother would have taken him. By his late teens, after Timothy had become born again, he began to build quite a testimony in his town and the region around his hometown. Eventually, Paul was encouraged to take Timothy with him on his missionary journey.

From his childhood to his ministry with Paul for 18 years to Timothy’s first and only pastorate in the church of Ephesus, he served the Lord into his late seventies where he most likely lost his life through martyrdom. Historians tell us that Timothy had grown from a timid young boy and pastor to a bold, wise old sage. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs details how Timothy, in his late seventies, had become bold enough to confront a pagan parade with the truth of the gospel. History tells us that the crowd and those participating in the parade fell on him and clubbed him to death.

From his conversion as a child to his death as a martyr, Timothy was faithful, promoting the gospel and standing for what was right. He was able to do so because he had two wonderful mentors in his grandmother and mother.

The Value of Earned Respect

The first virtue we can learn from Timothy’s faith is to value the respect earned by Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Timothy would have been familiar with Solomon’s words in Proverbs regarding a wise son listening to the counsel of his mother (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 23:22). Much of Proverbs sounds forth the wisdom of children listening to their parents.

Timothy allowed the Holy Spirit to develop in him a deep reverence for the work God was doing in and through the two dear ladies in his life as they lived faithfully and earned his respect. Timothy was submissive to his mother’s desire to have him hear the word of God publicly preached. Timothy did not have a believing father, and we do not know if Timothy’s father was even living when Paul meets Timothy in Acts 14. Timothy could have experienced bullying growing up since his father was Greek and his mother Jewish, as many would have considered this unclean. The sincere faith of Timothy’s grandmother and mother influences him to grow in his own unfeigned faith regardless of his sociological status in the community.

Timothy knew Christ from his childhood, valuing Christ largely because of what Christ was doing through his mother and grandmother. Timothy is a third-generation believer who could know that his mother would die proud of him because he lived for Christ. The ladies in Timothy’s life allowed Christ to be formed in their hearts and lives (Galatians 4:19). Timothy was an eyewitness of that work of grace and chose to live accordingly.

We need to sit at the feet of our godly mothers and learn from them. The modeling of Christlikeness of the godly women in our lives is critical to the growth of each one of us. We need to develop patterns of consistent fellowship with these godly ladies, learning what Christ has taught and is teaching them.

God gives us Spirit-filled people who have learned Christ from others and who live Christ before us for our learning. With these examples, serving the Lord goes from probability to reality for the second, third, and even fourth generation of believers. The world today wrongly says, "be your truth," "be your own person," and "you do you." Scripture knows nothing of this thinking apart from learning God’s truth from godly people in our lives. Timothy becoming Timothy was clearly connected to what, why, how, and where he learned Christ from Lois and Eunice.

We can learn Christ without the internet. It is possible to develop and grow into a sincere, genuine, person of faith just by watching how Christ is formed in the hearts of the people in the body of Christ by the demonstration of the Spirit of God working in us, through us, and among us.

We need to be careful not to be distracted by all the resources we have at the expense of our primary focus: what Christ is doing in each one of us. Christ through us is enough to be formative for our salvation, the development of our character, and the integrity of our ministry.

Any teaching that peels us away from godly influences inside our local church and takes the primary place of instructor in our lives is a pied piper playing music of deception and leading us into the dark woods of destruction. The wicked one loathes the sincere instruction of saints like Lois and Eunice. He hates genuine faith put on display for us inside the church, particularly if we have a godly mother or grandmother.

Some of us have allowed those relationships to be tarnished and set aside. Today we are reminded to embrace those necessary, life-saving relationships. The unfeigned faith Timothy learned from those relationships was not flashy. Most likely, Lois and Eunice were simple ladies in the church of Lystra, but transformed by Christ to be an influence in the local church God had given them.

We all have younger ones to influence. In the context of Grace Church of Mentor, allow these younger ones to see Christ being formed in us, in our homes first and then in our ministry among the church family. Let them see faith unfeigned. Genuine faith is not showy, is without pretense, and is focused on practically loving the people of God. This is the virtuous life that garnered the respect of Timothy.

A Faithful Disciple

This second virtue is a revolutionary way in which these ladies led Timothy. It was within Timothy’s generation that ladies were called disciples for the first time. About 500 years before Christ, the followers of the philosophers were called disciples. These disciples could never be women. Later, rabbis had followers, and likewise, they could not be women. With Christ’s work on earth complete and the church now a reality, for the first time in religious and philosophical circles, women could be called genuine followers and disciples. In Acts 9, Tabitha was the first woman in history to be called a disciple, and now Lois and Eunice too are women of genuine faith as followers of Christ. They owned their placement into Christ as His disciples and were able to have their own biological son in the faith be their first disciple. They modeled disciple-making so well that Timothy would know to do the same as he became a follower of Paul and then a leader of the next three generations of believers at the church of Ephesus (2 Timothy 2:2).

Lois and Eunice influenced Timothy in a revolutionary way! These women were foundational and formational to six generations of spiritual influence and gospel progress. Their profoundly simple, reverent, serving, prayerful, and loving lifestyles in Lystra were the gospel seedlings that planted the known world at that time with the gospel.

This must be the legacy of revolutionary women of influence today! God can take a seemingly small and insignificant life and cultivate genuine, unfeigned faith to seed regions in the world for the gospel. We can never lose what we have offered to Christ. Lois and Eunice understood this truth.

Revolutionary faith for every believer is not flashy, without pretense, simply faithful, deeply prayerful, and loving toward the people of God within our proximity unto Christlikeness. God will break the bread of our obedience unto the spread of the gospel throughout the world. Let God do what Jesus said only He can do, which is build His church. This is something we cannot do. Jesus does the building through our obedience in these ways, and it is sustainable for multiple generations.

Care and Love for the Flock

These godly ladies had earned Timothy’s respect, demonstrated what it meant to be simply revolutionary, and taught Timothy the reverent way to care for the flock. The word "unfeigned" describes these ladies’ faith, and it also means that they loved the flock. They would have modeled for Timothy how to care for the physical and spiritual well-being of the flock in Lystra, and Timothy followed their example (1 Corinthians 4:17, Philippians 2:19-20). Before learning from Paul, Timothy had learned from his grandmother and mother how to practically care for and love the church.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10, Timothy reported three virtues of the Thessalonians to Paul that were of great reciprocal value to the flock in that church: they overcame persecution together, overcame personal affliction together, and learned doctrinal conviction together, learning to stand firm. Timothy was able to take the pulse of the church in Thessalonica and return a good report to Paul because it had been modeled for him as a child, youth, and young man. The apostle Paul, too, reaffirmed these values for eighteen years. Timothy had learned how to focus on that which was important so he could identify that which was truly spiritual in the church of Thessalonica in the practical way this flock loved and cared for each other.

Lois and Eunice knew well that the flock needed to be loved practically so it could be healthy and sustained unto gospel influence. This faithfulness has eternal significance. As we love practically, it is a demonstration of genuine faith, which nurtures the flock, keeping it healthy, so the gospel can be taken to the world.

Application Points

  • Have you considered your faith? Does it fit the definition of unfeigned: not showy, without pretense, and capable of demonstrating practical love to the flock?
  • Are you learning from the godly women in your life and church body? Are you making it a priority to spend time with and grow relationships with these women?
  • Have you prayerfully considered those God has placed within your sphere of influence? How can you be an example of Christ before them, allowing them to see Christ formed in your heart, home, and ministry?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Ps. 101:6; Prov. 28:20; Matt. 25:21; Luke 16:10-12; Eph. 1:1; 1 Tim. 6:2; 3 John 1:5; Rev. 2:10 – Faithfulness
A Quote to Ponder

Elisabeth Elliot said, “There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.”