🔼The name Timothy: Summary
- Honoring God, God Values
- From (1) the noun τιμη (time), value, and (2) the noun θεος (theos), God.
🔼The name Timothy in the Bible
There's only one Timothy (or rather: 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).
Timothy is 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 and 1:18), 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 Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2) and the broader Macedonia (Acts 19:22). Two of Paul's letters to his young friend were immortalized as books of the Bible.
The name Timothy occurs 24 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Timothy
The name Timotheos (Timothy) was very common in the first century AD and it shows up all over the classics. It consists of two parts:
The first part of the name Timothy comes from the common noun τιμη (time), meaning value:
The noun τιμη (time) describes something that is dear, valuable or honorable. It stems from the verb τιω (tio), to honor, revere, prize highly or simply: to value or price. Both this verb and its noun speak of an intimate knowledge of the thing assessed, and an intimate knowledge of the item's usefulness relative to the economy at large.
The final component of the name Timotheos is the word θεος (theos), meaning God or god:
The difficult word θεος (theos) means god, and it's difficult because it's commonly assessed from the Roman pagan legacy that dominates modern thinking. The ancients were not religious like we moderns are. The ancients were mostly interested in survival — surviving nature, wild animals, disease and attacking neighbors — and for that they needed an unbiased, accurate, verifiable and shared worldview. In those days, false prophets were executed (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
We moderns may be tempted to think that religious nonsense was the old standard and science the new, but the fact of the matter is that science was always the standard until politicians began to muddy the waters with religious demagoguery. The information technology we celebrate today began when prehistoric people began to share symbols. A book is a far greater miracle than a hard drive, and the narrative technology in which the Bible was written far exceeds any sort of data compression, storage and retrieval that came after that.
The word θεος (theos) probably comes from the noun θετης (thetes), setter, from the verb τιθημι (tithemi), to set or place. It derives from the idea that the universe runs on a set of fixed laws, which ultimately are one. Modern science calls this the Theory Of Everything, and assumes it's a mere set of detached mathematical statements. The ancients, however, understood that this unified set, or Word, describes a universe that is alive in essence, and as one as the Word that governs it. In that sense it's like the DNA that could be confused with a mere inanimate code, but which in fact is the very source of life. The Word contains everything, including DNA.
For a meaning of the name Timothy, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Revere God. Spiros Zodhiates' The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament reads Honoring God.