Strong's concordance indicates the original Greek word for child in this text is brephos and defined as: an unborn child, embryo, a foetus, a new-born child, an infant, a babe.
2 Timothy 3:15
ESV - 15 And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
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How is it possible Timothy knew the holy scripture from infancy? The Greek word "brephos" for infant in 2 Timothy 3:15 has a range of possible translations including infant, babe, foetus new born child, unborn child, or embryo. The passage context of 2 Timothy 3:10-17 read together with 2 Timothy 1:2-14 clearly supports the view that Paul implied that Timothy learned the Scriptures at a very young age. He was tutored by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois both of whom were devout Jews who converted to the Christian Faith through the ministry of Paul. Spiritual training was an integral aspect of the upbringing of Jewish boys and we can observe that Jesus successfully underwent this tutelage given his sharp grasp of the law which stunned the religious leaders(Luke 2:46-47) Timothy was certainly not a Jew by lineage because his father was Greek. We learn this from Acts 16:1-3 where Luke narrates, "Then came he (Paul) to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek." Since Paul claims that Timothy was his son in the faith, we can conclude that he was a convert of Paul's first missionary journey and when he returned he found him and his family deeply grounded in the faith. He may have also left the church ministry at Derbe and Lystra in the hands of Timothy's family and associates because Timothy was well known there. Little is mentioned of Timothy's father other than his Greek ancestry and this has led Bible scholars to assume that he may not have been a believer. By circumcising Timothy Paul was trying to avoid accusation by the radical Jews that he was bringing uncircumcised Gentiles into the Synagogues. That Paul picked Timothy as his companion is instructive of his spiritual maturity and passion for missionary work and Paul's desire to mentor young ministers Timothy was often present with him as he wrote to the churches. Timothy later served as a leading missionary, church bishop and overseer of churches in Macedonia and Asia Minor. Unfortunately little is known of Timothy's thoughts because he never published any works of his own and if he wrote any letters, they were not preserved by the church community. We can clearly deduce from the first passage of 2 Timothy 3:10-17 that Timothy had a special distinction for his command of the Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Old Testament] which was commonly available in the Greek speaking world even before the birth of Jesus. Timothy may also have been a fluent Greek and Hebrew speaker by virtue of his dual ancestry and this may have been a special advantage in his ministry. Paul confirms in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 that there is a special unity between Timothy's Christian training and the spiritual foundation he had received from his godly mother and grandmother. He was the product of a dual spiritual heritage, having been born Greek, raised by Jewish mother in Judaism and mentored by Paul in church ministry. No other New Testament minister received the kind of accolades that Paul reserved for this young minister. Some scholars believe that Timothy may have been instrumental in jointly writing with Paul some of the New Testament letters but may have subordinated his copyright to the Apostle (cf. Philippians 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess.1:1; Phil. 1:1)
I believe the passage referred to means exactly what it would mean today if someone says "he was raised in church since he was a baby". Or "he was taught scripture from the time he was born." Hyperbole was used for emphasis.
In the scripture we are shown that the people in the very beginning were told that from the time they get up till they lay down they were to tell the children. Everything The Lord had done, and to this everyday in Israel the children are thought, the Greatness of The Lord, and what he has done. By the time the children reach the age of 13, the boys mainly, it's their birthday which is called their bar mitzvah, they know the first five books of the bible which is called the Torah. That's why it says Timothy knew the scripture from childhood. So our study of scripture will help us understand passages like that when we come across them. Hope this is helpful, God bless.
Before the foundations of the world, God knows us. Before we are formed in our mother's womb, God knows us. God knowing us means God molding us and shaping us for His purpose. So I believe God anointed Timothy before and in the womb to be an Apostle. Also, in 2 Timothy 1, Timothy's Grandmother and Mother are mentioned as passing on their faith and teachings of the sacred scriptures to Timothy. It could be that they read the scriptures to him while he was in the womb. Many psychological studies have shown that talking to and reading to unborn children has lasting scholarly effects on babies--that they hear and learn from what they hear. So I believe a combination of divine and practical anointing and teaching is what is referred to in the text. And I believe as an infant, baby & toddler, those matriarchs in Timothy's life passionately deposited the sacred scriptures into him. As soon as he could speak, I'm sure he was being taught to speak the Word of God.
There could be a different take on this as well. Do we know that Timothy was Jewish and therefore raised on the Torah? For the purposes of my opinion and only my opinion, I am coming from a Gentile approach. What if Timothy was a Gentile? How then could Paul say that he had known the Word since he was a child? I believe that Peter gave us the answer: 1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: Who of us can honestly say that we have lived the day? That we have the Word of God appointed for us for this day? Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. We must become as a little child. Asking for the sincere milk of the Word, that we may grow. Matt 18:3 I believe that Timothy had eaten of the daily Word of God, sincerely seeking to grow as Paul plainly stated to the church at Ephesus Eph 4:11-15. Until he was no longer just a child but a mature Christ-like individual that could not be tossed about with every false doctrine that came along to deceive, but was mature in Christ in all things. This is what we all should press for, this is the mark, the highest calling. (Php 3:14) To be mature in Christ, recognizing Him as the Head of All Things in our lives.(Col 1:18) That we are no more little children, tossed to and fro, with the evil wind the enemy blows, tearing us apart, fighting each other instead of the true enemy. Eph 6:12 We should want to die to the thing in ourselves that wants to control situations and circumstances and realize Who is the Master and Owner of All. Eph 6:9, Col 4:1 Paul said, "I die daily." (1Cor 15:31) This was his maturity, his growth from being a child, to being mature. 1Cor 13:11 In the natural, should we teach our children about Jesus, His Father, the Holy Ghost, and leading a Christ like life? Absolutely! Do we expect them to learn and grow? Yes! As Christians, no matter our natural age, does God our Gracious Father expect us to learn about Jesus, Himself, Holy Ghost, and leading a Christ like life? Absolutely! Should we strive to learn and grow? YES! Just like Timothy! Be Blessed, Lena
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