The Mother of the Faithful

This is the fourth in a five-part series about Mothers in the Bible. You can read the previous posts about Eve, Mary, and Ichabod’s mother.

L is for Lois

Last week’s mother was a bit of a downer, so let’s return to the New Testament and someone a bit more hopeful. Lois!

We know a little bit about Lois from piecing together different Bible verses. She was a Jewish believer who most likely lived in Lystra in the Roman province of Galatia (now modern-day Turkey). Her daughter, Eunice, was the mother of Paul’s spiritual son and traveling companion, Timothy. We first meet Timothy in Acts 16:1 where he is said to be the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father.

Jewish lineage is passed down from the mother, so Timothy was a Jew. But that also means that Eunice was Jewish because her mother (at least) was Jewish. Isn’t extrapolation fun!

We don’t know when Lois and Eunice became believers, but Paul commends them for passing down the faith.

“…that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” — II Timothy 1:4b-5

In that greeting there is a sweet nod to the common refrain of God’s, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” But in this case it’s “Lois, Eunice, and Timothy.” This subtle tie to the theme of heritage reminds Timothy of faithfulness, ours but most importantly, God’s.

Paul may have been intended his mention of Lois to be an example and encouragement to Timothy as the church faced external persecutions and inner peril.

Example

Lois stands in stark contrast to others mentioned in this letter. In chapter 3, Paul talks about men in the last days “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (II Tim 3:1-9) This is the full list Paul gives of these men: (Buckle up.)

  • lovers of themselves
  • lovers of money
  • boasters and proud
  • blasphemers
  • disobedient to parents
  • unthankful
  • unholy
  • unloving
  • unforgiving
  • slanderers
  • without self-control
  • brutal
  • despisers of good
  • traitors
  • headstrong
  • haughty

These false teachers, Paul warns, “have a form of godliness but [deny] its power.” Unfortunately, the outward veneer of Christianity and false religious devotion of these men would draw gullible women away into the love of pleasure, destroying their households (Prov 14:1).

Lois had genuine faith; in King James, the word is “unfeigned” — she didn’t have to pretend to be devoted to her faith. Through her honest love of the Lord and the Holy Scriptures, she established her house and she passed her faith down to her daughter and grandson. Through Timothy, and the letters Paul wrote to him, generations of believers in Ephesus, Corinth, and beyond would be blessed.

Encouragement

At the time of writing, Paul is in prison expecting very soon to be martyred (II Tim 4:6-8). He encourages Timothy to stand strong in the faith, reminding him that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men will and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Tim 3:12-13)

Okay, imagine you’ve just read the list of the men above that would lead people away and then Paul says, “and these imposters will grow worse.”

If I were Timothy, I might be tempted to throw the letter in the fire and say, “What’s the point? Who can stand up against that constant bombardment?”

Paul continues in verses 14 and 15 of chapter 3:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”

Is that Paul? Or does he mean Lois? Eunice? The next verses indicate that Paul doesn’t entirely mean himself.

“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures.”

From whom did Timothy learn the Holy Scriptures as a child? His Jewish mother Eunice. From whom would she have learned them? Lois!

If I may speculate and paraphrase Paul’s words: “Don’t worry about the counterfeits, Timothy, you’ve grown up with the real thing.”

Lois’s faith was a model that Paul — never one to shrink away from stating his opinions of people — remembered with joy.

Personally, I was blessed with three “Lois’s” in my life: my two biological grandmothers and my grandfather’s second wife who became my grandmother when I was a young teen. All of these women wanted to pass down a genuine faith to their children and grandchildren, and they weren’t waiting for a “Paul” [the church] to come along and do the spiritual raising of their children for them. [That’s my soapbox for the day.]

Just a few years ago, my own mother, Emily, became a “Lois” when her first grandchild was born. As we watch him grow up, we’re seeing the fruit of a genuine faith that was passed down to her children.

We don’t know what property Timothy’s father passed down to him, but the faith and knowledge that he received from Eunice and Lois is the greatest treasure any man or woman can inherit.

That is truly a cause for joy.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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