Tradition has it that Timothy was about sixteen years old when he and his mother were converted to Christianity. Presumably, this occurred during the Apostle Paul's visit to their home at Lystra. Paul had a close bond with Timothy as Paul addressed him as "my son Timothy." (1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tim 1:18; 2 Tim 1:2) This was due no doubt to the fact that it was through St. Paul's instrumentality that the truth had reached him. "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." (2 Tim 1:5, 6)
When Timothy was about 21 years old, he, with Silas, accompanied the Apostle Paul on his second tour through Asia Minor. From that time on, for some sixteen years, Timothy was closely identified with the Apostle in his service of the truth. Paul later left Timothy with the church at Ephesus that Timothy might help them overcome some difficulties. It was while he was thus serving this church, that he received the two epistles which bear his name. Scholars believe Timothy received the second epistle when he was about forty years of age.
The Apostle Paul gave Timothy advice to seek the approval of God first before minding what men may say or think. He urged him to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15) The intimation is that the ability to rightly divide the Word of God is to be gained by the study of His Word. Timothy was a young man–young in years–so that the Apostle needed to write, "Let no man despise thy youth." (1 Tim. 4:12.) This young man was recognized as an elder in the church because of his spiritual development and knowledge of God’s divine plan. By his aptness to teach, he was well qualified to feed the flock of God and to be an overseer of it. But Timothy was not a lord, not a ruler, and not a master–merely privileged to call believers to listen to the voice of the great Shepherd and his twelve chosen assistants, the Apostles. Let every child of God, the younger as well as the older, strive to be an example worthy of imitation–an example of one earnestly and faithfully endeavoring to copy the Master in his daily life. We want none to have cause to think of us, specifically elders, as immature and unfit to lead the flock of God. Let each of the Lord's children individually realize his personal responsibility. Let each one ask himself the question: Am I "an example of the believers"? (1 Tim 4:12) Timothy was to make a special use of the talents and opportunities which were his. In doing this, he would be a worthy example–not only to believers, but to unbelievers. Thus, not only would the church see his mature, Christian life, but worldly, unbelievers might also see this, and thus have a greater interest in the Lord's Cause.