SS Timothy and Titus
Paul the first apostle had many colleagues and helpers, men and women who accompanied him on his missionary journeys, and into whose charge he often entrusted some of the young churches.
Today’s feast speaks of two such men, Timothy and Titus. They are honoured by having two pastoral letters written to them, through which we gain our first glimpses into the Church of New Testament times.
Timothy was the son of a pagan father and a Jewish mother, from Lystra in the Roman province of Asia. He was probably baptized as a young boy, and when he grew up, accompanied Paul and Silas on their journeys. Over the next 13 years he criss-crossed the Greek world with Paul – Corinth, Thessalonika, even Rome – ending up in Ephesus, where he was made bishop. Timothy seems to have been affectionate in nature, frail in health, and a bit young for his important office. “Let no one disregard you because of your age,” Paul writes to him, and warns him against certain Gnostic heresies prevalent at that time.
Titus seems to have been born in Antioch, at that time the second city of the Empire. He was a pagan by birth, and received baptism from the apostles. For several years he served as interpreter and secretary to Paul, and accompanied him to Jerusalem when the apostles met to decide on the vexed question of whether the Greek converts should submit entirely to the Mosaic law or not. Later Titus was sent by Paul to the island of Crete to take charge of the church there. Titus received close instructions on the selection of elders for the churches in that country, and was associated with the community there until his death in AD 96.
The lives of these two bishops and pastors introduce us to Christian living in New Testament times. The Gospel has been preached and accepted; small churches have been formed. There are troubles, though: occasional persecutions from the government, exaggerated beliefs, quarrels among the presbyters and others. The lives of Timothy and Titus remind us of how the apostles slowly laboured at building church infrastructure without quenching the Spirit.
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