“And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:”
I Thessalonians 3:2
Paul uses three words in our text in reference to Timothy. They are “brother,” “minister,” and “fellowlabourer.” These words speak of different aspects of Timothy’s life, relationships, and purpose. They also describe our personal relationship to God, each other, and His work. In addition to the fact that they apply to our associations and activities, they suggest a progression in our spiritual growth and responsibilities.
Paul first calls Timothy a “brother.” This speaks of his, and our, primary and unchanging relationship. Through our new birth, we are now members of God’s family; therefore, we are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We are first and foremost, family. The other words Paul uses to speak of activity and attitude, but more important than these aspects of our lives, we are part of the family of God.
Next, he uses the word “minister.” This word has to do with both our activity and our attitude. The minister is an errand runner, a waiter, an attendant, or a servant. The word implies a position of servitude. Paul recognized Timothy as a servant. He was a “brother” and also a “minister.” We should all be servants of Jesus and servants of others. This would include helping and serving where we are able to, but also an attitude of humility. Some who could be effective servants see themselves as being above menial tasks of service. They lack the humility of our Savior who was willing to wash the feet of the disciples.
Then we see that Paul saw Timothy as a “fellowlabourer.” He was a co-worker with the apostle. Timothy was involved in the great work of reaching, teaching, and training others. He had proven himself to be faithful and was a partner in the labor of the ministry. He was willing and capable of taking on vital leadership responsibility in the work of missions and the establishment of churches. We can easily see that these three titles refer to different roles of the Christian. They are also progressive and dependent on each other. Before a person can be a servant, he must first be a brother. Before he is qualified to be a laborer, he should have a servant’s heart and an attitude of humility. As children of God, we should become servants and diligent workers.