About the Commemoration
Three young companions of St. Paul are commemorated together on the day after the festival of Paul’s conversion. Thus, the church is reminded that not age but love of Christ and faithful care of the church are the important qualities for Christian witness in the world. Two of these three disciples who are remembered together today, Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy, are linked with St. Paul in the address of 1 Thessalonians 1:1.
Timothy, who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey, is described by Paul as a “brother” (1 Thess. 3:2) and was apparently converted by Paul when Paul first visited Lystra in Asia Minor (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Tim. 2:2, 18; 2 Tim. 1:2). Timothy’s father was a Greek; his mother, Eunice (according to Acts 16:1-3, a Jew), was the daughter of a Christian, Lois (2 Tim. 1:5). Paul had Timothy circumcised so that he would be acceptable to the Jews as well as the Gentiles. Timothy first appears in the New Testament as a young associate of Paul and Silas at Corinth. He went with Paul to Philippi and then to Beroea, where he remained for a time, rejoining Paul again in Athens. Paul then sent Timothy back to the Thessalonian church to strengthen their faith during a time of persecution. Timothy returned to Paul at Corinth with a report of their steadfastness (1 Thess. 1:6-9). Timothy was apparently the bearer of Paul’s letter to Corinth, and 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 urges the Corinthians to put the emissary at ease, as if he were somewhat shy. While at Corinth, Timothy preached the same message as had Paul and Silas (1:19), but the problems of that church remained because his father was a Gentile. Timothy was sent to strengthen Gentile churches, for he seemed to have their confidence (Phil. 2:20-22). Paul seems to have sent his young companion ahead to prepare for Paul’s visit to Macedonia and Achaia and later to Jerusalem. According to Hebrews 13:23 he was imprisoned for a time.
John of Damascus says that Timothy, the first bishop of Ephesus, witnessed Mary’s assumption. According to tradition, Timothy was beaten and stoned to death in 97 C.E. under Nerva because he opposed heathen worship, and in 356 his supposed remains were moved to Constantinople by Constantine. His feast day in the Greek and Syrian Churches is January 22; his feast day in the West had been January 24 (where it continues to be in the calendar in the Lutheran Service Book), but the calendars in the Book of Common Prayer and in the Lutheran Book of Worship and Evangelical Lutheran Worship have followed the lead of the Roman Catholic Church and commemorate Timothy with Titus on January 26, remembering those two companions of Paul immediately after the celebration of Paul’s conversion.
Timothy had delivered First Corinthians. The bearer of Second Corinthians is Titus, who seems to be Paul’s new deputy. He plays an important role in the Corinthian correspondence from this point on. Titus is not mentioned in Acts, but he is frequently referred to in Paul’s letters. He was born of Gentile parents (Gal. 2:3) and was perhaps a native of Antioch, since he was in the delegation from Antioch to Jerusalem (Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:1-3), and he may have been converted by Paul (Titus 1:4). He and a companion were sent to Corinth after 1 Corinthians had been delivered there, because of reports Paul had received about that troublesome church. The mission was a delicate one. Paul had expected to meet Titus at Troas (2 Cor. 2:12-13), but instead Titus met him in Macedonia with good news (7:6,13-14), and he returned to Corinth with Second Corinthians (8:6, 13, 23). The epistle to Titus gives the information that Titus had been left on Crete to oversee the organization of the churches there. Titus’s mission to Dalmatia is alluded to in 2 Timothy 4:10. Tradition says that Titus lived in Crete as the first bishop of Gortyna and died there at the age of 93. His head was later transferred from Gortyna to St Mark’s in Venice after the invasion of the Saracens in 823. Ancient sources provide no further information. In the writings of Paul Titus is pictured as vigorous, resourceful, decisive, efficient, zealous; yet with it all of a kindly disposition. In the Pastoral Letters a rather different picture is drawn. Titus there needs to be reminded to exercise his authority (Titus 2:15). This clear difference in characterization is a primary reason why many think that the Pastoral Letters are pseudonymous.
Titus’s feast day in the Greek and Syrian Churches is August 25. In the West it had been observed on January 4, but it was transferred to February 6 by Pius IX to avoid a conflict with what was then (January 4) the octave of the Holy Innocents. On the present Roman Catholic calendar and on the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist calendars, Titus is remembered with Timothy on January 26.
Silas (as he is called in Acts; in the epistles to the Thessalonians he is called Silvanus, his Latin and Hellenistic name, which resembles his Armenian name, Saul) was a leader in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:22) who was sent with Paul to tell the Christians of Antioch of the decision of the Jerusalem Council concerning Gentile Christians. Paul chose Silas to replace John Mark on the second missionary journey when Mark and Barnabas left, and so Silas was one of the first Christian missionaries on the continent of Europe (Acts 15:22-40). Paul and Silas were imprisoned together at Philippi (Acts 16:19-40), and Silas was with Paul during the riot at Thessalonica. He was then sent away to Beroea and remained there when Paul went on to Athens. He rejoined Paul at Corinth. When Paul left Corinth, Silas remained, and this seems to be the end of the relationship between the two. Silas is not mentioned again. Silas-Silvanus was probably the Silvanus who delivered First Peter (5:12); some say he was the author of 1 Peter or at least the amanuensis. Legend says that he was bishop of Corinth and that he died in Macedonia. His traditional feast day in the West has been July 13. The Lutheran calendar joins his commemoration with that of Timothy and Titus on January 26.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
From an essay by Wilhelm Löhe
Among the means which the Church uses to save souls, preaching stands first. It is the means by which those are called who stand afar off, and those who have been called are rendered steadfast in their calling and election. In preaching, the Church does not aim to support the holy Word by human art, but the chief matter is not to hinder its power and operation and not to impose upon the Word any kind or manner of operation which does not befit it.
The preacher proclaims salvation in Christ Jesus with the consciousness that it is not what he does, but the noble contents of the Word itself that must separate souls from the world and bring them near to God. Of course the preacher believes and therefore speaks, and it is a detestable contradiction to preach and yet not believe; but a true preacher will not try to recommend the truth by imparting his faith and experience; rather he seeks to bring his people to say with the Samaritans: “Now we believe, not because of your saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
An upright preacher does not purposely withdraw himself, nor does he purposely make himself prominent, but he comes with the Word and the Word comes with him; he is a simple, faithful witness of the Word, and the Word witnesses to him; he and his Word appear like one thing. All his preaching is based upon holy peace. Even when he rebukes, and zeal for God’s house eats him up, it is not the wrath of the restless world, but the wrath of the unapproachable God of peace, that burns within him. It is not he that speaks, but the Lord speaks in him and through him, and his execution of his office is worthy of the Lord.
Wilhelm Löhe, Three Books Concerning the Church, trans. Edward T. Horn (Reading: Pilger, 1908), 181f., rev. PHP.
Almighty God, you called your saints Timothy and Titus [and Silas] to the work of evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship and joyful in prison: Strengthen us to stand firm in adversity and to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly in this present time, that with sure confidence we may wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Titus 2:12-13, LFF, rev. PHP
Readings: Isaiah 62:1-7; Psalm 112:1-9 or 23; 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5 or Titus 2:11-15; John 10:1-10
Hymn of the Day: “Spread, O spread, thou mighty Word” (H82 530, LBW 379, LSB 830, ELW 663)
Prayers: For the hesitant; For reconciliation; For mixed marriages; For Christians in Turkey; For the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece and Crete.
Preface: Epiphany (or Pentecost, BCP)