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The Catholic Defender: Saints Timothy and Titus


In the decades to follow, Timothy and Titus assisted Paul and other early Church leaders by preaching and tending to administration. Timothy's journeys led him to assist the Church in the Greek cities of Philippi, Athens, Thessalonica, and Corinth, eventually becoming the first bishop of Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey.


Timothy is the patron saint of stomach and intestinal ailments, owing it to St. Paul's advice in 1 Timothy 5:23, “No longer drink water exclusively, but us a little wine for the sake of your stomach”.


What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried bishop. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.


Timothy, Titus, and Silas all appear in the New Testament writings as missionary companions of, and co-workers with, the Apostle Paul. Silas (aka Silvanus) accompanied Paul through Asia Minor and Greece, and was imprisoned with him at Philippi (Acts 15:22-18:5), where they were delivered by an earthquake.


Timothy remained in Ephesus to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). Titus was left in Crete to “put what remained in order and appoint elders” (Titus 1:5). They were serving as Paul's delegates or envoys to strengthen these two church plants, one more established than the other.


He is believed to be a Gentile converted to Christianity by Paul and, according to tradition, he was consecrated as Bishop of the Island of Crete. Titus brought a fundraising letter from Paul to Corinth, to collect for the poor in Jerusalem. According to Jerome, Titus was the amanuensis of this epistle (2 Corinthians). An amanuensis was a person who wrote a letter while it was spoken (dictated) by someone else. One example of an amanuensis appears to be in Romans 16:22.


St. Timothy is the patron saint of those suffering from stomach and intestinal disorders. You can ask him to pray for you if you are suffering from a stomach or intestinal disorder. You can also ask him to pray for someone you know who is suffering from a stomach or intestinal disorder.


Eventually, Timothy went to Ephesus, where he was made bishop and lived for several years. When he tried to stop the worship of pagan idols, he was stoned to death by angry townspeople. He is honored by the Church as both a bishop and a martyr.


Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local churches which Paul had founded.


Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.


Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).


Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel.


When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more…. And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The “Letter to Titus” addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses, and appointing presbyter-bishops.


In Titus we get another glimpse of life in the early Church: great zeal in the apostolate, great communion in Christ, great friendship. Yet always there is the problem of human nature and the unglamorous details of daily life: the need for charity and patience in “quarrels with others, fears within myself,” as Paul says. Through it all, the love of Christ sustained them. At the end of the Letter to Titus, Paul says that when the temporary substitute comes, “hurry to me.”


Both men received letters from St. Paul, which are included in the New Testament. Pope Benedict XVI discussed these early bishops during a general audience on Dec. 13, 2006, noting “their readiness to take on various offices” in “far from easy” circumstances. Both saints, the Pope said, “teach us to serve the Gospel with generosity, realizing that this also entails a service to the Church herself.” The son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Timothy came from Lystra in present-day Turkey. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are known to have joined the Church, and Timothy himself is described as a student of Sacred Scripture from his youth.


After St. Paul’s visit to Timothy’s home region of Lycaonia, around the year 51, the young man joined the apostle and accompanied him in his travels. After religious strife forced Paul to leave the city of Berea, Timothy remained to help the local church. Paul later sent him to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution. The two met up again in Corinth, and Timothy eventually journeyed to Macedonia on Paul’s behalf. Problems in the Corinthian Church brought Timothy back for a time, after which he joined Paul and accompanied the apostle in subsequent travels.


Like Paul, Timothy endured a period of imprisonment in the course of his missionary work. His release is mentioned in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. Around the year 64, Timothy became the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus. During that same year, he received the first of two surviving letters from St. Paul. The second, written the next year, urges Timothy to visit St. Paul in Rome, where he was imprisoned before his martyrdom.


Ancient sources state that St. Timothy followed his mentor in dying as a martyr for the faith. In the year 93, during his leadership of the Church in Ephesus, he took a stand against the worship of idols and was consequently killed by a mob.


The pagan festival he was protesting was held Jan. 22, and this date was preserved as St. Timothy’s memorial in the Christian East. In contrast with Timothy’s partial Jewish descent and early Biblical studies,


St. Titus – who was born into a pagan family – is said to have studied Greek philosophy and poetry in his early years. But he pursued a life of virtue, and purportedly had a prophetic dream that caused him to begin reading the Hebrew Scriptures. According to tradition,


Titus journeyed to Jerusalem and witnessed the preaching of Christ during the Lord’s ministry on earth. Only later, however – after the conversion of St. Paul and the beginning of his ministry – did Titus receive baptism from the apostle, who called the pagan convert his “true child in our common faith.” 


St. Paul was not only Titus’ spiritual father, but also depended on his convert as an assistant and interpreter. Titus accompanied Paul to the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem during the year 51, and was later sent to the Corinthian Church on two occasions. After the end of Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle ordained Titus as the Bishop of Crete. Paul sent his only surviving letter to Titus around the year 64, giving instructions in pastoral ministry to his disciple as he prepared to meet up with him in the Greek city of Nicopolis.


Titus evangelized the region of Dalmatia in modern Croatia before returning to Crete. Titus is credited with leading the Church of Crete well into his 90s, overturning paganism and promoting the faith through his prayers and preaching. Unlike St. Timothy, St. Titus was not martyred, but died peacefully in old age.


“And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.   Go your way, behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”...Luke 10:2-3

REFLECTION – 1562 “Christ, whom the Father hallowed and sent into the world, has, through His apostles, made their successors, the bishops namely, sharers in His consecration and mission and these, in their turn, duly entrusted in varying degrees various members of the Church with the office of their ministry.”   43 “The function of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfilment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ.”...CCC 1562 The ordination of priests – co-workers of the bishopsAnother observation concerns the willingness of these collaborators.   The sources concerning Timothy and Titus highlight their readiness to take on various offices that also often consisted in representing Paul in circumstances far from easy.   In a word, they teach us to serve the Gospel with generosity, realising that this also entails a service to the Church herself.”…Pope Benedict XVI 13 December 2006

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