Author: Ron Graham
How Timothy Knew the Truth
—How do we know the truth today?
How did Timothy know the truth? How do we know the truth today? This lesson is about knowing how to know the truth.
Timothy lived in the 1st Century. You and I live in the 21st Century. Around 50 human generations and 2000 years separate Timothy from us. Some things in Timothy’s world would amaze us, and some things in our world would amaze him.
However there is really not all that much difference between Timothy’s world and ours when it comes down to fundamentals and knowing the truth about the really important things.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Timothy was able to know that truth. You and I can know that same truth. Furthermore, we can know the truth in just the same way that Timothy knew it.
1 Timothy’s Experience of the Miraculous
You might assume that Timothy knew the truth through miraculous spiritual gifts because he lived when those gifts were operating. It is certainly true that Timothy’s ministry was connected to, and even initiated by, his direct contact with these gifts. Timothy even possessed such a gift.
- Prophecies were made concerning Timothy (1Timothy 1:18).
- This bestowed a spiritual gift on him (1Timothy 4:14).
- He had received the laying on of an apostle’s hands (2Timothy 1:6 cf Acts 8:17-18).
Clearly Timothy had some experience and connection with miraculous gifts, and this was important to his ministry —otherwise why would Paul urge him to stir up the gift he’d received? There is, however, no clear inference that Timothy needed his gift, whatever it was, in order to know the truth.
2 Timothy’s Problems in Daily Life
Before we look at how Timothy knew the truth, let’s just glance at the problems he faced in daily life. Lest we think that Timothy lived in a completely different world to ours, and knew a different truth by a different means, we should see that Timothy faced a set of problems and experiences no different to ours.
Paul gives us a few little windows into Timothy’s life, and through these we see Timothy struggling in circumstances very familiar to us...
- Troublesome social behaviours (1Timothy 5:13,19).
- Health problems (1Timothy 5:23).
- Heresies (1Timothy 6:20-21).
- Hardships (2Timothy 2:3).
3 Timothy’s Reliance upon the Scriptures
With the above background, we now come to look at how Timothy knew the truth, and to see that he knew the same truth that we know, in the same way that we know it. Timothy was "following words of faith and of the sound doctrine" (1Timothy 4:6-7), and he had to preach that "word of truth" (2Timothy 2:15, 2Timothy 4:2-5, 1Timothy 6:2b-4a). Here is how Timothy knew that truth...
- From Paul’s letters (1Timothy 3:15).
- From scripture generally (1Timothy 5:18, quoting Deuteronomy 25:4, Luke 10:7).
- From his believing relatives (2Timothy 1:5, 2Timothy 3:15).
- From sermons he heard (2Timothy 2:2).
- By applying his own mind to the above (1Timothy 4:15).
Near the end of his second letter to Timothy, Paul gives an excellent summary of the means by which Timothy could know and preach the truth (2Timothy 3:14 to 4:5).