Timothy was a native of Lystra in Asia Minor, the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother who was a believer. We learn from the Acts of the Apostles that he “was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1-3). In addition to being a devoted companion of Paul, Timothy was entrusted with missions to the Thessalonians, to encourage them under persecution, and to the Corinthians, to strengthen the converts in the faith. Timothy became Paul’s apostolic representative and delegate at Ephesus, and, according to Eusebius, the first bishop of that city. Timothy likely did not hold the title, “bishop”, for that would have referred to the presbyter-bishops of the Church who served with him and under his authority, but this ministry of apostolic delegate almost certainly played a part in the development of the episcopate of the second century and its separation from the presbyterate.
Like Timothy, Titus was a companion of Paul, who calls him “my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). Titus, a Greek, accompanied Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to Jerusalem at the time of the apostolic council. During Paul’s third missionary journey, Titus was sent on urgent missions to Corinth. Paul writes, “And besides our own comfort we rejoice still more at the joy of Titus because his mind has been set at rest by you all…And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of you all and the fear and trembling with which you received him” (2 Corinthians 7:13, 15).
Later, Titus was entrusted with the organization of the Church in Crete. Paul writes, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint presbyters in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).
As companions of Paul, Timothy and Titus are commemorated together close to the feast of Paul’s conversion. Paul several times mentions their youth, while entrusting them with great responsibilities in pastoral oversight and administration and in the proclaiming of the Gospel, a reminder that not age but faithfulness, pastoral care, and the love of Christ are the important qualities for Christian leadership and Gospel ministry.
adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts
Almighty God, you called Timothy and Titus to be evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live godly and righteous lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul the Apostle, are published on the Lectionary Page website.