Mark and Paul and Luke and Timothy

The other day, I said that part of how I write stories from the Bible is by looking at the context of the text. And in the post last week about Paul and Timothy, I connected the “spirit of timidity” with the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat (see yesterday’s post). So what makes me think that Paul and Timothy might have heard that story from Mark? Since I don’t know for sure. And, while we’re at it, how did I put Paul and Timothy and Mark by a campfire?

As I was looking at the text in 2 Timothy, I thought about what I know of Paul and Timothy. According to Acts, they connected first in Lystra. Paul was in town and met Timothy. Timothy was young, but had a great reputation. Paul invited him to join his team, which included Silas. They traveled together. Eventually, they went from Asia Minor to Macedonia. At that point, the writer of Acts says, “we” and that writer is commonly believed to be Luke. So Luke and Paul and Timothy seem to travel together and likely would have been next to a campfire. Which Timothy would have tended as a younger member of the team.

But what about Mark? At the end of  2 Timothy, Paul asks Timothy to tell Mark to come see him (and we see that Luke is with Paul). But we know from Colossians that Mark and Luke and Timothy were with Paul, likely in Rome. Timothy is the co-author of that letter, and in the list of people sending greetings are Luke and Mark.

Imagine with me Mark, Luke, and Paul together. The writers of two gospels, one history, and thirteen letters in the New Testament. When they are together, what are they talking about? Baseball? Or Jesus? Mark’s talking about what he learned from Peter. Luke is talking about what he learned from his interviews with everyone. Paul’s listening, asking questions, and talking about the implications for the people he is leading.

And isn’t it likely that the story where Jesus uses the word deilia shows up in that conversation? And isn’t it likely that when Paul is talking to Timothy about finding courage, that he would choose the same word that both of them would remember from that story?

We do it all the time, don’t we? One word from a punchline brings back the whole shared story?

So that’s why I am comfortable drawing those connections.

But what about the campfire story? Tomorrow we’ll look at rekindling the gift.


This is the third part of a series on how I write about the Bible.

The original post is Stir up the fire.

Part one of the series is How I write about the Bible

Part two is a reflection on timidity.