Was Timothy in jail or committed to doing something else when it was mentioned that he was "set free"?


Hebrews 13:23

NKJV - 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.

Clarify Share Report Asked November 26 2014 Stringio Henry Brent

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Mini John Appelt
Hebrews 13:23 (NKJV) reads, “Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.” Because of the reference “to set free” or “released,” it is assumed Timothy had been arrested, so that several translations add “out of jail” or “out of prison.” This verse is the only basis for thinking Timothy was in prison. Commentators place the imprisonment between Philippians 2:19 and Hebrews 13:23. But this may not be what is meant. There is no record of Timothy being in prison or being arrested. A whole scenario is depicted of Timothy going to Rome, being arrested and imprisoned and then released due to his relative youthfulness and gentle character, as well as the absence of any definite charge. The news of the release of Timothy from prison would be something new they heard through this epistle. None of this has been proven, and is, at best, conjecture. 

The whole argument for Timothy being in prison is based on the Greek word “apoluo,” which can mean to let go, send off or away, be released, be dismissed, put away or to divorce. It can mean to set free or at liberty, which could be either “from some kind of confinement” or “from a certain duty.” It is likely the latter since Paul hoped that he would soon send Timothy as soon as he returned. Paul hoped to join with Timothy to see the Hebrews to whom he had written this epistle, Philippians 2:19, 23-24.

Timothy was with Paul when Paul was in prison according to Philippians 1:1, 2:19, Colossians 1:1, Philemon 1:1, but that does not necessarily mean Timothy was in prison. In II Timothy 4:9, 13, 21, Paul urged Timothy to come quickly, bringing Paul’s cloak and books, especially the parchments. Timothy could not have been in prison at this time. In his book “Redating the New Testament,” John A. T. Robinson, gave a compelling argument that II Timothy was not written from Rome, but while Paul was in prison in Caesarea, not long after Philippians was written, perhaps within the same year. He noted the uncanny similarities of Philippians 1:23 to II Timothy 2:17, Philippians 2:17 to II Timothy 4:6, Philippians 3:12 to II Timothy 4:7, and Philippians 3:14 to II Timothy 4:8. Timothy was not in prison but at Paul’s service during this time. 

Both the Tyndale Bible and Coverdale Bible have “we have sent from us.” “Matthew Poole’s Commentary” has this entry: “He acquaints them with the good news of his dismissing Timothy to them, to acquaint them how it fared with him, as he dismissed and sent Tychicus to the Colossians, Colossians 4:7, 8, Epaphroditus to the Philippians, Philippians 2:25, 28...”

Some may ask if this is an important matter. It is for those who read the Bible and desire the truth. There are a number of stories that have been added to the Bible without facts to back them up and this is one such example.

June 25 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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