Eunice (Εὐνίκη, Eunı́kē, “conquering well”) was the mother of Timothy and and daughter of Lois. She was a Jewess though her husband was a Greek, Acts 16:1 2, Timothy 1:5. She transmitted to her son the lessons of truth she herself had received from a pious mother; and Paul, on his arrival at Lystra, found them rooted and grounded in the truth as it is in Christ.
Her name is Greek and this might lead to the inference that she was a Gentile by birth, but such a conclusion would be wrong, for we read in Acts 16:1 that she was a Jewess. Her husband however was a heathen Greek. She was in all probability a daughter of Lois, the grandmother of Timothy, for both of those Christian women are spoken of, in one breath, by Paul, and this in high terms of commendation.
How She Trained Her Son
Timothy had not been circumcised in childhood, probably because of his father’s being a Gentile; but the mother and the grandmother did all that lay in their power to train Timothy in the fear of God and in the knowledge of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. “From a child” Eunice had taught her boy to “know the holy scriptures” ( 2 Timothy 3:15 KJV). It is right therefore to connect this home training of Timothy in the fear of God, with his and his mother’s conversion to the gospel. His name Timothy – chosen evidently not by the father, but by Eunice – signifies “one who fears God.” The “wisdom” of the Hebrews consisted not in worldly prudence or in speculative philosophy, but in the fear of the Lord, as is shown in such passages as Psalm 111:10, and in Job 28, and in Proverbs throughout. His name, as well as his careful home training, shows how he was prepared to give a welcome both to Paul and to the gospel proclaimed by him, when the apostle in his first great missionary journey came to Lystra, one of the cities of Lycaonia or Southern Galatia, where Eunice and her family lived. This is implied in the account of Paul’s second missionary journey ( Acts 16:1 ), where we read that he came to Lystra, and found there a certain disciple named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman who was a Jewess, who believed.
Her Conversion to Christ
It is therefore certain that Eunice and Timothy were not brought to a knowledge of the gospel at this time, but that they were already Christians; she, “a believer”; he, “a disciple.” This evidently means that Eunice, Lois and Timothy had been converted on Paul’s former visit to Lystra. This conclusion is confirmed in 2 Timothy 3:11, where Paul recalls to Timothy the fact that he had fully known the persecutions and afflictions which came to him at Lystra.
The apostle repeats it, that Timothy knew what persecutions he then endured. Now this persecution occurred on Paul’s first visit to that city. Eunice was therefore one of those who on that occasion became “disciples.” And her faith in Christ, and her son’s faith too, were genuine, and stood the test of the “much tribulation” of which Paul warned them ( Acts 14:22 KJV); and on Paul’s next visit to Lystra, Eunice had the great joy and satisfaction of seeing how the apostle made choice of her son to be his companion in his missionary work.
Eunice is not afterward mentioned in the New Testament; though it is a possible thing that there may be reference to her in what is said about widows and the children of widows in 1 Timothy 5:4-5.