When I think of the mothers in Scripture who deeply inspire me, two women immediately come to mind. We don’t know much about the personal lives of these women other than their names and one extremely valuable aspect of their legacy – mother Eunice and grandmother Lois poured their lives and their faith into a boy named Timothy.
The Bible tells us that Timothy was half-Jew, half-Greek. We are told that Paul circumcised Timothy before taking him on his journeys with him (Acts 16:3). Reading between the lines, this tells us that Timothy was completely on the outside of Jewish life and culture. He would not have been allowed to receive training in the Torah from the Rabbi, and he would have been restricted from even participating in temple worship.
2 Timothy 1:5 tells us that his mother and grandmother had “sincere faith” which Paul was persuaded lived in Timothy also. 2 Timothy 3:15 tells us that Timothy had known the holy Scriptures “from infancy.” Lois and Eunice had poured their lives into him. They had taught him the truth from infancy and prepared him to the extent that the other believers spoke well of him and Paul called him to follow him on his journeys.
Paul sets out with young Timothy. They walk thousands of miles together. Eventually, they spend three years in Ephesus.
Ephesus would probably blow our minds. Ephesus offered asylum to any criminal. It was the slave capital of the world. There was not a single believer in Jesus Christ when Paul arrived on the scene. The worship of Diana (or Artemis) was so central to life in Ephesus that we are told in Acts 20 that eventually as more people placed their faith in Jesus Christ and abandoned idolatry, it was upsetting the local economy and actually caused a riot! Into this pagan and corrupt culture Paul walks, with his teenage disciple Timothy. Every mom’s dream for her boy, right?
Eventually Paul leaves for further missionary journeys, and he appoints young Timothy to pastor the Ephesian church. Alone. In Ephesus. Get this: Scholars say that in less than 100 years, Ephesus was 90% Christian. Partly because of a gangly teenager, an outcast from his culture, who was taught God’s Word from infancy, discipled well in adolescence, and equipped and sent to serve.
The impact of Lois and Eunice challenges me in two distinct ways.
- These women taught Timothy the Word of God themselves. They didn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves that Timothy’s father or the temple leaders were not as involved as they would have liked. They knew the Scriptures themselves, and they taught him well – from infancy. At this stage of my children’s lives I have a tremendous number of hours each week with them – what am I doing with those minutes?
- As I consider the world my children will grow up in and the corrupt culture that presses in around them, my mama heart wants to build a big strong wall around them and insulate them from it all. The thought of watching my adolescent son leave my town with the Apostle Paul (you know, the one who was always getting stoned or shipwrecked or beaten!) and head out toward Ephesus (of all places!) blows my mind. Lois and Eunice’s testimony challenges me that not only must I teach my children God’s Word, and teach them well, I need to remember that the goal is not to insulate them from the corrupt culture around them – but to prepare them to impact their world.
Moms, what we do each day can feel small and unimportant. But in the midst of diapers and homework and dirty socks and soccer practice, Lois and Eunice remind us – our job is not just to bring them through this day. Our job is to disciple our kids – to teach them God’s Word, to train them to obey, to walk with them into ministry, and equip them to turn their world upside down for Jesus Christ.
That’s the legacy I long to have.