Over the last week I gained an even greater appreciation of the Word, as I endeavored to do a character study of two people whose names were only mentioned once in the entire Bible. I was tasked to do this for a message on discipleship that I was to deliver to a group of youth leaders. The names were Lois and Eunice.
Initially, I thought I’d need to rely on existing devotions and to be imaginative in order to “craft” a character study of these two women. Here’s the verse where their names appear:
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. (2 Timothy 1:5)
I learned, though, as I prayed and studied, that God’s grace is such that He has given us His Word in all its richness, and all we really have to know is to pray for wisdom and to persevere in examining it in order to gain understanding.
From the above passage alone, I culled out the following points:
- In this second letter of Paul to Timothy, Paul acknowledged his familiarity with the genuine faith of Timothy.
- Paul expressed that he had witnessed this same faith found in Timothy, first in his grandmother Lois and then also in his mother Eunice.
- Paul saw this faith of the two women as a legacy that continued strong in Timothy.
Eventually I found a couple other passages that completed a picture of the discipling life of Lois and Eunice.
Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek. (Acts 16:1-3)
To sum up the pertinent information from this passage:
- Timothy was from Lystra
- Timothy’s mother (whom we already know to be Eunice) was Jewish, and a believer of Jesus
- Timothy’s father was a Greek
- Timothy was a highly regarded believer in Lystra and Iconium
- Paul circumcised Timothy in accordance to Jewish custom, because until then, even though his mother was Jewish, his father’s influence as a Greek had kept him from being circumcised.
From here we can note a number of things: First, even though outwardly (in terms of circumcision) Timothy had been influenced by his Greek father, it was Eunice who was able to have a genuine, deep influence on Timothy as he grew up to be not only a believer of Jesus, but one who was well thought of by other believers in and outside his hometown. What a strong woman Eunice must have been to be the main influencer of Timothy’s spiritual walk! This fact stands out even more when it is considered that Lystra was a pagan community, which meant that she raised Timothy in a half-Greek household, in a broadly pagan environment.
Here’s another passage that gives us an insight regarding Lois and Eunice’s discipleship of Timothy:
You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)
Apparently, then, Timothy grew up studying the Scriptures — and we already know that the main person who can be responsible for this training is his mother Eunice, who was in turn influenced and discipled by her mother Lois. (A side note: Eunice is a Greek name, and is in Lystra, which possibly means Lois was also married to a Greek man from the same land.)
Note, too, how he was taught Scriptures: not as the Pharisees were trained, in a way that led to legalism, but in a way that brought forth wisdom and prepared Timothy’s heart and mind to receive the salvation that comes from trusting Jesus.
Timothy’s spiritual foundation was such that Paul encourages him to lead and disciple others even though he was a young man. Paul instructs him:
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them…Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:12-13, 16)
And lastly, Paul tells Timothy to train others to become disciplers as well, the way he was raised not only to become a follower of Christ but to be the kind of believer who can mentor and pass on the legacy of discipleship to others:
Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. (2 Timothy 2:2b)
By the time I got to this point in my study, I was floored by how much I had learned and how much insight I had been able to derive from a few passages, enough to have me see the kind of believers and disciple makers that Lois and Eunice were: They were women who were obedient to Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples, and this obedience and their love for God and for Timothy (in Lois’s case, love for both Eunice and Timothy) caused them to persevere and to succeed in raising up a strong, wise, young believer in spite of constraints in their family (an unbelieving father figure) and their pagan community. Key to their discipleship of Timothy was their rootedness in God’s word, and passing on to him this same rootedness and correct appreciation of the Scriptures such that he was prepared to receive Christ’s salvation into his life.
Who would have thought that two women whose names were mentioned only once in the Bible would become my role models in discipleship?
This exercise has made me more eager to pursue the study of God’s word with conscientiousness and diligence, as well as with anticipation that there is wisdom and there is enlightenment to be found in every single morsel of it.