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Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters
Lois and Eunice
THIS Lois was a God-fearing woman herself, and a woman of a strong and an unfeigned faith. But with all that she made the tremendous mistake of giving her only daughter in marriage to a man who was still an absolute heathen. How such a good woman, how two such good women, could have fallen into this tremendous trap, we can only guess. But, then, we can guess; ay, and that only too well. For Eunice's lover, like so many of our own lovers, would begin to attend the synagogue-services for her sweet sake, till he was almost persuaded to become a proselyte of the gate for her sweet sake. And, but for some pagan and overpowering influences holding him back, under the transforming influences of Lois's noble character and Eunice's holy beauty he would surely have become all that Lois and Eunice prayed for so unceasingly that he might become before the marriage. But let Lois only give her consent; let Lois only give her dear daughter to him in marriage; and she will never have to repent putting her great trust in his hands. And the young Greek lover was not a false-hearted and a designing cheat in so saying. He really and honestly intended, after he was married, to live a godly husband's life. He said so, and Lois and Eunice believed him, and I believe him. We have all come through it ourselves. We have all had our own experiences of this self-deceivingness of a young man's heart. We have all ourselves seen and come through enough to convince us that Eunice's lover was entirely honest and honourable, as we ourselves were, when he said what he intended to be and to do as soon as he was a married man. Yes, we have all seen all that a thousand times, till we can sympathise, with all our heart, with all the three. That is to say, with the ardent and almost sanctified Greek lover, and with the two still-hesitating, but fast-yielding, Hebrew women. Till at last when she could hold out no longer, Lois gave her long-withheld consent to the mixed marriage. And in this way Eunice, a daughter of Abraham, became the married wife of this still heathen man; his wife, and in due time the mother of his uncircumcised sons. And he became her husband and her lord and the father of her children, still remaining all the time the same heathen man he had always been. And, alas! not only the same heathen man he had always been, but as time went on, and as his married life became a familiar possession and a disenchanted experience to him, he went further away from God and from family religion than ever he had been before. Nor did Peter's beautiful promise ever come true so as to mend matters in that so mixed and so unequally-yoked marriage. Peter's so beautiful promise to all good women when they waken up to see how they have sold themselves, and where they have landed themselves. "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the Word, they also may without the Word, be won by the conversation of the wives, while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." For some reason or other, that so apposite promise was never fulfilled to that so mismanaged marriage. Whether it was that Lois failed in her part as a mother-in-law, as she had so conspicuously failed as a mother; or whether it was that Eunice failed in fulfilling her part of the Apostle's promise; or whether it was owing to the pride and the obstinacy of the heathen heart of her husband; whatever was the cause, the father of Eunice's goodly child never came to walk with a perfect heart before his house at home. He was never won, as at one time he so solemnly promised that he would be won, and at that warm-hearted time actually was almost won, to his believing wife's Holy Scriptures and to her God and Saviour.
Now nine women out of ten would simply have accepted Eunice's fate, and would gradually have sunk down to their husband's unbelieving level. But neither Lois nor Eunice were such weak women as that. Instead of that, and especially after the birth of little Timothy, the two God-fearing women set themselves all the more to a far more Scriptural, a far more prayerful, and a far more obedient, life than ever before. They did not cast up the days of their husband's love-making to his accusing conscience. Neither did they thrust their own repentance and remorse too much in his face. But neither did they hide out of his sight that divine faith and that domestic piety which had been the mainstay of their hearts before ever they had seen his face, and which was more than ever their only mainstay now that he had so fatally misled them. And the daily growth of the uncircumcised child only made the broken law of God against all such mixed marriages as theirs had been the more poignant to their broken hearts: as also, the same law of God as to the proper nurture and admonition of such unhappy children as their child was. The confirmed, and now hopeless, heathenism of the child's father, and the everpresent remorse of their own hearts, only made both Lois and Eunice determine to work with all their might in order to make up somewhat to their innocent child for the great wrong they had all three done to him. And that the two sorely chastened women succeeded in all but completely compensating their spiritually fatherless child, we have Paul's own testimony to that, and a testimony that Timothy must all his days have read with tears and thanksgivings. "Thou Timothy from a child hast known the Holy Scriptures, and that because of the unfeigned faith that dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and then in thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded in thee also." And thus it came about that Timothy, unhappy enough in his birth, and handicapped enough in starting on the race of life, was more than compensated for all that through the labours and the prayers of his mother and his grandmother, and through the beneficial operation of that noble New Testament law,-"He is not a Jew who is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter whose praise is not of men but of God."
That noble passage also in which the Apostle describes to Timothy his own upbringing is a classical passage to all Christian households. "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." "Wise unto salvation." There is a whole volume of the inner history of that Greek-Hebrew household in those four verses, and in those three words that shine like an apple of gold in a picture of silver, at the heart of those four verses. The Greek father's bad conscience because he had never even tried to fulfil to those two over-trustful women what he had so often so solemnly promised them; his bad conscience would often exasperate his temper at them, and at the Scriptures they were always reading. He had his own Scriptures; and he was not wholly without excuse for exalting them as he did. Only, all his Greek and Roman Scriptures taken together could not give him peace of mind for the wrong he had done those two women. Nor could Lois and Eunice get the comfort and support they so sorely needed, out of any other Scriptures but the Psalms of David, and the promises of the Hebrew prophets. It was with Lois and Eunice's son as it was with the son of another self-deceived wife and mother long afterwards. The handwriting which was against us, which was contrary to us, is blotted out. This assurance the Platonic writings contain not. Plato's pages, with all their beauty, and all their wisdom, present not the image of this piety-Thy sacrifice, O Lord, is a broken heart. No man sings in Cicero or Plato-From Thee cometh my salvation. No one hears this call out of those books-Come unto Me all ye that labour." Not that it was young Timothy's time as yet to understand such deep and such spiritual Scriptures as these. But his time is coming when all Plato, and all Cicero, and all else, will no more satisfy his soul than they satisfied the soul of Monica's son. But that is still in the far and the unknown future. Timothy is still at that early stage of soul of which John Bunyan writes: "Wherefore falling into some love and liking for those things, I betook myself to my Bible, and began to take great pleasure in reading it; but especially with the historical part thereof. For, as for Paul's Epistles, and such like Scriptures, I could not away with them." Paul's Epistles were not written as yet in Timothy's youth, and he had no temptation to contemn them. But many were the delightful Sabbath hours that Lois his grandmother spent with Timothy her dawning grandson, over Bunyan's favourite Scriptures; over Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and David, and Solomon. When, as he grew in wisdom, she would show him how all those great men of his mother's and his grandmother's Scriptures became wise unto salvation. As also, where they became foolish, and risked their salvation. Especially Solomon, who was in everything, except his salvation, the wisest of them all. Little did Lois dream as she went on with her pious occupation that she was thereby writing her name so impressively on the immortal pages of our New Testament. Little did she dream that we would actually be reading about her, and about her daughter Eunice, and about her grandson Timothy, in this far-off island of the sea. Little did that devout and chastened saint think that many of us in this congregation tonight would carry home lessons of salvation from her house to our own house at home. Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints.
There is a piercing cry in this connection that often comes to my own heart out of one of Lois's Hebrew Psalms. And that heart-piercing and heart-uttering cry is this, "O, when wilt Thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." I know the man who first uttered that cry to God. I see his house at home, as well as I see my own. And, more than that, I see him before he had a house. I see, and hear, and share in all his holy dreams, and high hopes, and solemn vows, and in all his protestations and resolutions. I made them all myself, and far more. But no sooner did that Hebrew bridegroom get the desire of his heart than he soon became a still worse husband than Eunice's Greek husband, and a still worse father than Timothy's father. And now so beset is he behind and before with his badly performed part as a husband and a father, that, O wretched man that he is, he is every day doing and saying things he ought not to do and say; doing and saying things that drive him to downright despair. No reformation prospers that he attempts. Everything seems to be bent against him in his life at home. And nowhere else so much as in his life at home. Till we come on this heart-breaking cry of his in our hundred-and-first psalm. Just as Eunice's husband and Timothy's father would have cried all his days, had he begun to look at himself as a husband and as a father in the glass of his wife's Holy Scriptures. For those Scriptures, while holy in everything, are in nothing more holy than just in the incessant and the inexorable demands they make on every husband, and father, and master, who reads them. How hard it is, but how heavenly good it is, to look continually at ourselves as householders in this glass of God that stands at this moment shining before us and searching us! How wise unto salvation it will yet make both ourselves and our households, if we will lay up in our hearts and practise in our lives the lessons even of this one Scripture we have had from the God of families tonight. And this great good will begin tonight with all those of us who are honestly asking ourselves before God, just what things they are, naming them, in which we have so sorely disappointed those who once so trusted us. Just in what things, and naming them, we have come so shamefully short of our marriage-vows, and of our honest, and at one time, warmhearted, intentions. To accustom ourselves to make such an inquisition as that, will do this at any rate-it will teach us humility at home, and that is the beginning of all true reformation there. It will teach us patience also, which is so much needed at home. And it will give us a sore heart all our days for those whose unhappy lot it is to live all the rest of their days under our roof, and to have us for all the husband, and all the father, they are ever to have in this world.
And O you who are still full of promises, and vows, and fond intentions! You who cannot listen to God's severe truth tonight with patience, you are so full of ardent dreams about what a house of love, and honour, and religion, your house is to be! Begin, I beseech you, tonight, to make yourself what you are one day to make your happy house. It is far easier, believe me, to begin all these good things before your marriage than after it. I can tell you that; nobody better. But if you will not believe me, believe Lois and Eunice. For they are come here tonight to warn you against a mixed marriage like theirs. Be ye not unequally yoked! Both the grandmother and the mother are come here tonight to plead with you, with all their experience, and with all their authority.
But whatever other men and women, young and old, may do, this is what I, the present preacher, will do even if I do it alone,-I will sing of mercy and judgment. Unto Thee, O Lord, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt Thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will often return to the days of my youth. I will often return to the days of my warmth of heart, and of my many prayers in this matter, and my many vows. I will tell to my own heart all the steps in which Thou hast led me up to this present time. I will say, As for me and my house, we will henceforth serve the Lord. And one thing will I do; I will keep my heart well broken before Thee, and before my house all my days. I will clothe myself with humility as I go in and out before my house. I will put a bridle in my mouth. I will keep the door of my lips. I will not provoke my children to anger. I will reprehend them in private, and praise them in public. I will look on all their faults as what they have inherited from their father; and on all that is good in them as having come to them from their mother, and from their Father in heaven. The sins of my children shall always be their father's sorest chastisement at the hand of God, and their gifts and their graces shall always be his highest ornament and his greatest renown. O when wilt Thou come unto me?
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Whyte, Alexander. Entry for 'Lois and Eunice'. Alexander Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wbc/l/lois-and-eunice.html. 1901.