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Timothy (Phil 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1)

Role: Literate Worker

Gender: Male

Date: mid-first century CE

Place: Corinth; Colossae; Philippi; Thessalonica

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: 1 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians; Philippians; Philemon

Reference:  2 Cor. 1:1; Phil 1:1 ; Col. 1:1;  1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 16:10; Phil 2:19; Philemon 1

Original Text (Selected):

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ (2 Cor. 1:1) 

Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, (Phil. 1:1)

Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς (Col. 1:1)

Διὰ τοῦτο ἔπεμψα ὑμῖν Τιμόθεον, ὅς ἐστίν μου τέκνον ἀγαπητὸν καὶ πιστὸν ἐν κυρίῳ, ὃς ὑμᾶς ἀναμνήσει τὰς ὁδούς μου τὰς ἐν Χριστῷ [Ἰησοῦ], καθὼς πανταχοῦ ἐν πάσῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ διδάσκω. (1 Cor. 4:17)

Ἐὰν δὲ ἔλθῃ Τιμόθεος, βλέπετε, ἵνα ἀφόβως γένηται πρὸς ὑμᾶς· τὸ γὰρ ἔργον κυρίου ἐργάζεται ὡς κἀγώ· (1 Cor. 16:10)

Ἐλπίζω δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Τιμόθεον ταχέως πέμψαι ὑμῖν, ἵνα κἀγὼ εὐψυχῶ γνοὺς τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν. (Phil. 2:19)

Παῦλος δέσμιος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφὸς Φιλήμονι τῷ ἀγαπητῷ καὶ συνεργῷ ἡμῶν (Phlm. 1)

English Translation:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia…  (2 Cor. 1:1) 

Paul and Timothy, enslaved workers of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops [lit: overseers] and deacons [lit: assistants]  (Phil. 1:1)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother (Col. 1:1)

For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.  (1 Cor 4:17)

If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am (1 Cor. 16:10)

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. (Phil. 2:19)

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother (Phlm 1)


Timothy is one of the most visible of Paul’s co-authors, couriers, and missionary co-workers. Scholars are in the process of exploring whether Timothy was an enslaved or formerly enslaved literary worker, who was entrusted with prominent aspects of communication and instruction between Paul and Jesus-adhering communities in Greece and Asia Minor.

Within Paul’s epistolary repertoire, he is presented multiple times as being a co-author alongside Paul (and occasionally alongside Silvanus). Claims of coauthorship occur both in letters that scholars agree belong to Paul (1 Thessalonians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon), as well as letters that are more debated as to their Pauline authorship (2 Thessalonians, Colossians). The characterization of Timothy as an authorial figure might lead to reconsideration of what criteria make a letter count as distinctly or genuinely “Pauline.” Additionally, Timothean coauthorship may encourage readers to consider how Timothy may have influenced or produced parts of these letters. It is possible, although unclear, that Timothy may have composed one or more letters associated with his name.

Timothy is also represented as one of Paul’s representatives or couriers to the Corinthians, Thessalonians, and Philippians. In doing so, Timothy is characterized as an extension of Paul’s presence and teachings in early Christian communities—perhaps stemming from the widespread concept that enslaved persons were bodily extensions and representatives of their enslaver in the ancient Mediterranean. Paul describes Timothy as functioning like a “son” (Phil 2:22), who is responsible for checking on the progress of certain Christian communities and reporting back to Paul. Timothy’s function in Pauline epistles is, in part, to transport information, progress reports, and teachings across the Mediterranean in order to keep Paul informed and encourage conformity to Paul’s message.

Elsewhere in the Pauline epistles, Timothy appears as a figure who Paul highlights as a coworker recognizable to the Roman Christian community and a co-teacher of his message to the Corinthian community. Likewise in Hebrews and Acts, Timothy is depicted as a traveling co-teacher alongside Paul who is capable of being dispatched by Paul to particular communities. Among the letters deemed pseudo-Pauline, Timothy is presented as the recipient of two letters that focus mainly on qualifications for Christian leadership and maintenance of social hierarchies (1 Tim and 2 Tim). Such letters demonstrate how early Christians imagined communication between Paul and Timothy in ways that maintained Timothy’s subservient status.

The name Timothy, meaning “honored by God,” was occasionally used to designate enslaved and formerly enslaved persons (e.g., CIL 10 6514; CIL 6 7009 ; CIL 6 8917). As Doole has argued, it is possible that Timothy was incarcerated with Paul during the composition of Philemon and Philippians.


Author: 2 Cor. 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Phlm 1

Courier / Representative: 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor 16:10 (anticipated); Phil 2:19; 1 Thess 3:2, 3:6

Other appearances: Acts 16:1, 17:14–15, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; Rom 16:21; 2 Cor 1:19; 1 Tim 1:2, 1:18; 2 Tim 1:2; Heb 13:23

Keywords: Christian; Literate Worker; Messenger; New Testament; Paul; Secretary

Related Entries: Silvanus (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1)


Doole, J. Andrew. “Was Timothy in Prison with Paul?” New Testament Studies 65.1 (2019): 59–77.

Holloway, Paul A. “Alius Paulus: Paul’s Promise to Send Timothy at Philippians 2.19–24.” New Testament Studies 54.4 (2008): 541–556.

Mitchell, Margaret M. “New Testament Envoys in the Context of Greco-Roman Diplomatic and Epistolary Conventions: The Example of Timothy and Titus.” JBL 111.4 (1992): 641–662.

Shaner, Katherine. “Timothy, Slave of Christ, Slave of Paul?” Unpublished Paper Presented in a joint session organized by the Historical Paul Section and the Slavery, Resistance and Freedom Section. Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. November 18, 2024. 

How to Cite:

Bonar, Chance. “Timothy.”  Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>


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