The young convert may have been 17 or 18 years old. From infancy, he had known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. A year or so later, Paul returned to Lystra. He had invited Timothy to join him and Silas during the second missionary journey. Paul called Timothy his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord.” When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, it was Timothy he asked, “To come before winter” to comfort him.
Paul wrote two inspired letters to Timothy that entered the canon of Scripture. Timothy became Paul’s trusted confidant and his troubleshooter. Paul sent Timothy as an emissary to Corinth, where he preached for some time. In addition, Paul urged him to stay in Ephesus so that he might command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.
Eusebius, the fourth century historian, says that after Paul’s death, Timothy became the first bishop of Ephesus, probably at around age 40. He outlived Paul by 30 years, and according to one tradition, was present at the death of Mary, whose tomb is said to be near Ephesus. This tradition also says that because he protested the festivities honoring Artemis, he was stoned to death in A.D. 97. His relics were brought to Constantinople in A.D. 356.
How courageous and bold was Paul? Young Timothy was about to learn. He would have been one of the disciples that gathered around Paul thinking he was dead. To his amazement, the apostle got up and walked back into the city where he had been stoned! It never struck him to run away.
Paul’s amazing recovery sounds like a miracle. Some believe Paul actually died and he had been caught up to the third heaven at this time (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). However, the chronology does not fit. Years later, Paul reminded Timothy of these sufferings:
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. (2 Timothy 3:10-11).
We might speculate that Paul thought about Stephen, especially since he received back his own medicine. He must have often asked, “Why did God spare me and not Stephen? Years later, he would write the answer:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Stephen had completed his good works; Paul was just beginning!