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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Timothy

Timothy Timothy

There's only one Timothy (Timotheos) in the Bible. He is the son of Eunice and the grandson of Lois of Lystra (Acts 16:1), and one of the very first to have been raised Christian (2 Timothy 3:15). He's subsequently devout and faithful (Philippians 2:19-22) and dedicated to the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul loves him and sees him as his son (1 Timothy 1:2 & 18), takes him under his wing (Acts 16:1-3) but leaves him as a very young evangelist at Berea (Acts 17:14), sends him to Tessalonica (1 Tessalonians 3:2) and Macedonia (Acts 19:22). Two of Paul's letters to his young friend were immortalized as books of the Bible.

The name Timothy (or rather the Greek original Timotheos) was very common in the first century AD and it shows up all over the classics. It consists of two parts:

The final component of the name Timotheos is the word theos (theos), meaning God or god.

The first part comes from the common verb timh (timh), meaning to honor or revere, a verb that's used in all the expected ways. When this verb or its derivatives is applied to inanimate items, it's usually means that these items are of high prize or valuable. When this verb is used as a legal term it means to estimate the amount of punishment due to the criminals, or award the penalty.

Being such a pivotal word, its ubiquitous in the New Testament: meaning honor and respect rendered a person (John 4:44, Romans 12:10), a state of honor (Hebrews 2:7, Revelations 21:24), a "mark" or deliberate show of respect (Acts 28:10), compensation, most likely in the form of tangibles (1 Timothy 5:17), or price (of blood - Matthew 27:6; of the one pierced, v9).

A wonderful extra-biblical word is the Platonian timocratia (timocratia), denoting "a state in which the love of honour is the ruling principle" (Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon).

For a meaning of the name Timothy, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Revere God. Spiros Zodhiates' The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament reads Honoring God.



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