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Bible in Basic English

13:23 Our brother Timothy has been let out of prison; and if he comes here in a short time, he and I will come to you together.

American Standard Version

13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy hath been set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

Westcott and Hort

23 γινωσκετε τον αδελφον ημων τιμοθεον απολελυμενον μεθ ου εαν ταχειον vaερχηται οψομαι υμας

Though there is no evidence that Timothy had been incarcerated the authors of the Bible in Basic English seem to to allude to his release from prison.

Does the above text actual refer to Timothy's incarceration & release or sending away on a mission?

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The verb απολυο, apoluo, means, according to Liddell & Scott (my one thousand page American 1864 edition) :

'to loose one thing from another' hence 'to set free or release from'.

Liddell & Scott then goes further and describes the main uses of the word to be :

'to acquit of a charge' or to 'release a prisoner'.

Thayer [1885] has :

'set free, liberate' and 'let go, dismiss'


Απολυο is much stronger than the plain root λυο. This can be seen in its usage throughout scripture, for example when a synagogue, Acts 13:4, releases its congregation it is luo but when Jesus, Matthew 14:22, dismisses a congregation it is apoluo. (He has more authority than the Scribes and Pharisees, Matthew 7:29, thus attending one of his sermons is more binding and requires a stronger 'release' word.)

The words as far as I have studied them (in connection with redemption - lutrosis and apolutrosis) are very broad in concept, 'loosing' shoes, 'breaking' the sabbath, 'dismissing' congregations, and I eventually arrived, myself, at the word 'dispossess', for both luo and apoluo, which is actually what redemption is about.

But whatever word one arrives at for luo, apoluo is much, much stronger.

EGNT has 'release' in this place as does Young's Literal. KJV has 'set at liberty'. So they are being non-committal.

So why does the writer to Hebrews not say, precisely, what he means ?

There are four possibilities that I can think of :-

  1. Timothy was under some kind of obligation (or discipline ?) within the church which was at an end.

  2. Timothy was on a specific project or undertaking of some kind within the church which was now completed.

  3. Timothy had some personal obligation which was now finished.

  4. Timothy had been imprisoned or restricted in some way and was released.

Whatever it was, it was a private matter, personal to Timothy and to those around him and the writer wishes to allude to it, but prefers not to refer to it in detail.

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Hebrews 13:23 (KJV Strong's) Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

In this case it is possible that he had died as expressed by (Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary) Dictionary Definition g0630. ἀπολύω apolyō; from 575 and 3089; to free fully, i.e. (literally) relieve, release, dismiss (reflexively, depart), or (figuratively) let die, pardon or (specially) divorce: — (let) depart, dismiss, divorce, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty (Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary) to set freeto let go, dismiss, (to detain no longer)a petitioner to whom liberty to depart is given by a decisive answerto bid depart, send away to let go free, releasea captive i.e. to loose his bonds and bid him depart, to give him liberty to departto acquit one accused of a crime and set him at libertyindulgently to grant a prisoner leave to departto release a debtor, i.e. not to press one's claim against him, to remit his debt used of divorce, to dismiss from the house, to repudiate. The wife of a Greek or Roman may divorce her husband.to send one's self away, to depart

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