My career started off as an apprentice diesel fitter. Although the end result was specializing in diesel engines, I needed to learn everything about the vehicle before specializing on engines. The idea of an apprenticeship is to work under a qualified journeyman, who needs to teach you everything you need to know about the said discipline. Today in some Churches we have what are called apprentices. They might be fulltime or part time. They might be paid a small stipend or nothing at all. The training process is the same. They work under the leadership of a pastor, elder, youth leader, etc. and are trained in various disciplines such as prayer, visitation, counseling, preaching, teaching, administration … but surrounding every one of these disciplines will be taught what the Bible says about them. Theoretically they will learn doctrine and theology, the way of salvation, how to study the Bible, Church discipline, etc. The idea behind such an apprenticeship is twofold.
(1) To carefully monitor and evaluate whether the apprentice has the gifting, skills and ability to proceed towards a theological degree and full time ministry as a pastor, missionary, etc.
(2) To after working with the apprentice for a year or two, decide the person should either return to secular employment and serve God part time with the skills obtained through the apprenticeship or to work as a fulltime lay worker in that Church or perhaps another Church.
The passage we come to today reveals a young man, soundly converted, who became Paul’s apprentice and provides us with what Biblical Apprenticeship ought to look like. Although we won’t consider this man’s apprenticeship, there are a few matters we need to grasp about him. Please read:
Ac 16:1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
1) On their travels, Paul and Silas arrived at Derbe and then Lystra. These were cities Paul and Barnabas evangelized some two to three years previously. As we have seen, Paul’s pastoral heart was to visit Church Plants to see how they were doing and to encourage them in the Lord. Although I have not visited the one Church Plant we did in the Free State, I have the other. Reports suggest both are doing very well. The one I visited is thriving remarkably under a great pastor and his ministry team. Church Plants always remain precious to those involved in expanding the Gospel’s presence.
2) Timothy the apprentice. He has an interesting story.
(1) Half Jew, half Gentile. The text tells us that he was half Jew from mom’s side and half Greek (Gentile) from dad’s side. It seems as though segregation between Jews and Gentiles was far less amongst the Jews in central Asia Minor compared to Palestine. By Jewish law, Timothy was a Jew because his mother was a Jew. But from a technical point, because he was not circumcised he was an apostate Jew. We shall return to this later.
(2) Becoming a Christian. We need to breakaway from Acts to understand how Timothy became a believer.
2Ti 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
See two things here …
(i) Timothy is a third generation Christian. This does not mean many years. It would appear that his grandmother Lois heard the Gospel first and was converted. Then his mother heard it and became a believer. Likely with their help and speaking the Gospel to him, he believed and was saved. Paul was convinced his salvation was genuine. It is so sad that so often the Gospel seldom passes onto to children and grandchildren … and should it, it is lost after the third generation. You have no guarantee that your children will believe in Jesus for salvation. Yet you ought to be praying for this, even before pregnancy comes. Future grandparents should be praying for this too … and include their greatgrandchildren.
(ii) Prayer support. Paul prayed for Timothy. It seems as though the bond between Paul and himself was greater than with his blood father. We see this as Paul writes to him:
1Ti 1:2 To Timothy my true son in the faith.
He never claimed parental rights—this is spiritual parenting. Again:
2Ti 1:2 To Timothy, my dear son.
Timothy might be an apprentice to Paul, but Paul sees him as a son in the Gospel. One to care for and look after spiritually. Timothy was vital to Paul’s ministry but equally he was in his own rite, he became a great pastor, missionary and evangelist. Mature Christians ought to “adopt” younger Christians to pray for and help disciple for Jesus. Spiritual parenting has become a lost ministry in the Church. We need to regain it because of the long term value it brings into the Kingdom.
(iii) Spiritual input from Christian parents:
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Although the word “infancy” in verse 15 can mean baby or child, it also means “young” and “fruit of the body”. It seems as though Timothy was taught the Scriptures from a young age which seems to be the major factor in his conversion, even as a child or young teenager. It also seems as though his grandmother and mother were the ones reading and teaching the Scriptures to him. In other words, the tender shoot was shaped from the earliest of days. Beloved this is missing in so many Christian homes today … and this is the reason so many children of Christian parents grow up, not knowing the Bible and once leaving home desert the Christian Faith. It might seem laborious and time consuming doing daily family devotions and grooming your children in the Faith … but consider why God gave you children. Is it just for you to have prosperity? If that is what you believe they shall die and enter eternal damnation … and friend that would be your fault! God gives Christians children to raise for Him, grooming them in the Gospel so that they in turn may take their place in His Kingdom, praying for and reaching the lost, as well as the children He gives them.
Our Father, after salvation and the spouse You give us, the children given by Your good pleasure are ours on loan. Help us to pray for their salvation, teach them the Scriptures, ensure they attend the graces You provide, so that that might grow up to take their rightful place doing Kingdom work for You. Amen.