Thanks is what I have to God, who from my ancestral line I worship with a cleansed perspective, as I remember you continually in [my] prayers day and night, longing [as I do] to see you, remembering you with [my] tears, with my joy filled to overflowing, when I recall just how lacking all duplicity you give expression to the faith, the faith which is in you, which initially showed itself in Lois, your grandmother, and Eunice your mother and, I am persuaded, dwells also with you. And that is why I am reminding you to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you, [and that has been confirmed] by my taking hold of you and commissioning you for service. For God by His Spirit has not given us a spirit of shrinking back [in fear], but of [personal] power and of love and of self-discipline. - II Timothy 1: 3-7 (transliteration by Bruce C Wearne).

Shoes on beach

Paul reminds Timothy of his family lineage. PICTURE: Md Zahid Hasan Joy


"God's faithfulness, generation to generation, is the context in which Paul and Timothy share their faith."

Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. He was a person of great importance to Paul, as can also be gathered from the account Luke gives us of Paul's encounter with the young man (Acts 16). That was when Timothy became incorporated into the work. This with the earlier letter, along with the one Paul wrote to Titus, are all written as personal memoranda.

The bond between them is one of close affection. Paul has no hesitation of reminding Timothy of the tears shed by the young man, presumably when they were parting (or maybe it refers to Timothy's own communication with his mentor about his work). We should not forget that Paul had also administered the rite of circumcision for Timothy.

Just as Paul can refer with thanks to his own ancestors and ethnic line, so he reminds Timothy how his faith presupposes the positive influence of his grandmother and mother. Such profession of faith, with thanks to God for His oversight in his life, provides a context of consolation for the fact that the two workers, such close friends, had been apart for a time.

God's faithfulness, generation to generation, is the context in which Paul and Timothy share their faith. Paul encourages Timothy to stir up the gift of God and to “fan it into flame”. Timothy has a commission from God that has not only been recognised and endorsed by Paul but also by Timothy's elders. So, with this task in hand, he is to take courage.

God has indeed seen to it that the competence, love and clear perspective are readily available for the work in which they are engaged.

These are two Jewish Christians who can confess that their faith in Jesus Christ has been nurtured by God’s Spirit, maintaining the covenant promises to their ancestors. This is the same gift that Paul encourages his younger protégé to “fan into flame”.