Timothy was from Lystra in Asia Minor, in the Province of Lycaonia, suffragan of Iconium, where Paul had travelled on his first missionary journey in 46 AD. Paul had healed a lame man and an enthusiastic population wanted to offer a sacrifice to him and to Barnabas. The people had mistaken them for Jupiter and Mercury. It took a lot of convincing to contain their crowd of admirers. This event caused significant problems for the apostles that followed them to Iconium.
Timothy, his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, were probably converted under Paul's ministry but Timothy was instructed in the faith, both scripturally and by personal example, by Eunice and Lois. Lois was particularly well studied in the Old Testament.
We are first introduced to Timothy's mother, Eunice, in Acts 16:1,2 and we learn some personal information about her. Eunice is a Greek name that is a derivative of the name Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Her name means "conquering well" and expressed a victory of a good or happy nature. According to Jewish tradition, Eunice's marriage to Timothy's father would have been illegal as he was a Gentile. It is assumed that she was not a practicing Jew at the time of her marriage but became a Christian, along with her mother, at a later date. Timothy was raised as a Christian in a community that worshipped the Greek gods . Timothy's father was a Greek and in respect of this Timothy had not been circumcised as a baby.
"Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." II Timothy 1:4,5
When Paul returned to Lystra in 52AD, Timothy was ready to accompany him in his missionary journeys.For the rest of Paul's life, approximately another 20 years, Timothy was his most faithful apostle and Paul loved him like a son. The faith and knowledge of Lois and Eunice shaped the young man whom Paul would appoint to lead the church at Ephesus and pen his last letter to. Paul's respect for these two ladies as women of faith is clearly evident and it is obvious, in the face of his impending execution, he found comfort in remembering time spent in their company and in their home.
Archaeological excavations have discovered the exact site of the town at Khatum Serai which is twelve miles south of Iconium. It is marked by ruins on a hill approximately one mile north of the present community.
"For generations, sadly, the mother who wanted to engender esteem in herself and her offspring needed the very qualities that were expressly forbidden to her: vehemence, fearlessness and fearsomeness.
For a mother to happily raise a child who is slightly or largely different in psyche and soul needs from that of the mainstream culture, she must have a start on some heroic qualities herself. She must be able to steal these qualities if they are not allowed, shelter them, unleash them at the right time, and stand for herself and what she believes. There is almost no way to make oneself ready for this, other than to take a deep draft of courage, and then act. Since time out of mind a considered act of heroism has been the cure for stultifying ambivalence."
from "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes