A Legacy of Faith

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (v. 5).

- 2 Timothy 1:3–5

The need for faithfulness in passing on the deposit of truth that God has revealed to His people is a theme that we can find throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 6:4–9 exhorts parents to teach the Mosaic law to their children even as they are to treasure its riches in their own hearts. Jesus promises His apostles in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance all the Lord has taught them, which ministry is needed only if Christ wants His servants to pass on His teaching accurately.

As an apostle of Jesus, Paul was acutely aware of the need for the gospel to be handed down through the generations without corruption, and he wrote a second epistle to Timothy largely to impress upon him the responsibility of passing on the content of the faith. Second Timothy 2:1–2 makes this point directly, but most of chapter 1 supports it indirectly. This is especially true of today’s passage wherein the apostle speaks of the legacy of faith that he and Timothy share.

Paul first ties his ministry to that of the old covenant saints. The Greek word translated “serve” in 1:3 is latreuō, the term for priestly service used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, which Timothy and Paul knew well. Moreover, the apostle equates his service to God through Jesus Christ with the service of his ancestors to Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel. Paul would have us understand that the Christian faith stands in continuity with the Old Testament revelation; to have faith in Jesus as Messiah is to partake in that great line of faith that began with Abraham (Gal. 3:7–9). Being his “beloved child” in a spiritual sense (2 Tim. 1:2), Timothy is likewise a part of this legacy and must continue it in his ministry.

Within Timothy’s family we also see a heritage of faithfulness, for his mother, Eunice, and his maternal grandmother, Lois, share his trust in the Lord (v. 5). Acts 16:1 tells us that Eunice was a Jewish woman, so she and Lois were apparently Jews who later trusted in Jesus. These women have understood the need to pass on the faith once delivered to the saints, teaching Timothy the way of Christ. The implication is that Timothy is to do the same.

Coram Deo

Many of us have likewise had faithful mothers and grandmothers who have taught us the gospel, and we should thank them for their faithfulness on the appropriate occasions. Regardless of our family history, however, all of us are to play a role in passing on the gospel. If we have children, we are to teach them the things of God. If not, we can still pray for the children that we know that they will hear and believe the Word of God.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 28:1–5
Proverbs 1:8–9
Luke 1:57–80
Titus 1:4

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.