Timothy + Titus (+ Silas)
Companions of Paul
26 January NT
From the Satucket Lectionary
Titus is mentioned as a companion of Paul in some of his epistles (2 Co 2:13; 7:6,13,14; 8:6,16,23; 12:18; Gal 2:1-3; 2 Tim 4:10).
Timothy is mentioned in Acts 16-20, and appears in 9 epistles either as joining in Paul’s greetings or as a messenger.
In addition, Timothy has two New Testament letters addressed to him, and Titus one. From these three letters (called the Pastoral Epistles), it appears that Paul had comissioned Timothy to oversee the Christian community in Ephesus and vicinity, and Titus to oversee that in Crete.
The Pauline authorship of these three letters has been disputed by many scholars who accept as genuine most or all of the other New Testament letters attributed to Paul. In this connection, we may note:
It would be difficult to forge a letter from Paul to an early Christian community. If you did it during Paul’s lifetime, the congregation would be likely to reply, thanking Paul for his letter, and he would write back, saying, “What letter?” If you forged a letter from Paul to (say) the Corinthians after his death, sooner or later the Corinthians would hear of the letter, and say, “If Paul wrote that letter to us in his lifetime, why has no one here ever heard of it?” These difficulties are less when one forges, say, a letter from Paul to Timothy, waiting until after the death of both to do so.
There are significant differences in manner between the Pastorals and the other letters. In his letters to churches, Paul routinely presents arguments for the positions he takes. In the Pastorals, he simply states his position and expects that to end the matter. However, it is a matter of common observation that a man may have one style when lecturing to a classroom and another when explaining something to a member of his family. (Hence the saying: Never teach a family member–or let a family member teach you–how to drive a car. The lesson is bound to lead to a shouting match.)
The subjects Paul deals with in the Pastorals are different from those in the other letters, and imply a much more formal church organization. However, it may be noted that Paul normally writes letters dealing with the questions that the recipient has asked, or needs to have answered. He writes to the Thessalonians about the Second Coming because some of them have gotten the idea that it is just around the corner, and so there is no reason to plant the crops. He writes to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper, because of reports that some of them are behaving irreverently at celebrations thereof. (If the Corinthians had observed proper decorum at the Lord’s Table, there would now be scholars who argued that Paul had never heard of the Eucharist, since he never mentions it.) It is not surprising that, having set Timothy and Titus to organize the church in certain areas, he writes to them about church organization.
The preceding remarks are not intended to settle the question of Pauline authorship, or even to present all the arguments on either side. They are merely there to get the reader started.
by James Kiefer
MISSIONARY COMPANION OF PAUL
Silas is chiefly remembered as the companion of the Apostle Paul who was arrested with him at Philippi (Acts 16:19-40). They were beaten severely and confined in the inner prison, with their feet in stocks. There they sang hymns in the night, and an earthquake shook the prison, and released them. As a result, the jailer and his household became believers.
The first mention of Silas is earlier. Paul and Barnabas went on a missionary journey (A 13:1-5), taking with them John Mark, who (for unspecified reasons) parted from them and went home in the middle of the journey (A 13:13). Paul and Barnabas completed their mission and returned to Antioch. They had made many Gentile converts on their mission, and the question arose whether a Gentile could become a Christian without also becoming a Jew, being circumcised if male, and undertaking to observe the Law of Moses (A 15:1). The congregation at Antioch referred the question to the Apostles at Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to present their case. A council of apostles and elders at Jerusalem judged that, with a few specified exceptions, the Law of Moses was not to be imposed on Gentile Christians, and they sent two men from Jerusalem back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to convey their reply. The men were Judas Barsabbas (not otherwise mentioned) and Silas (A 15:22).
Eventually Paul and Barnabas undertook to visit again the congregations they had founded on their previous journey, and Barnabas wished to take John Mark with them, but Paul thought this unwise, and so they determined to travel separately, Barnabas taking Mark, and Paul taking Silas (A 15:36-40). And so Paul and Silas (joined in progress by Timothy and by Luke) went through part of what is now Turkey and then crossed over into Europe and preached at Philippi (where they made converts and were arrested as described above), and went on to Thessalonica and Berea, being the center of riots in each place (A 17:1-13), after which Paul went on to Athens and thence to Corinth, and was soon joined there by Silas and Timothy (A 18:5). And that is the last we hear of Silas.
The name “Silas” is a shortened form of “Silvanus”, and the Silvanus whom Paul mentions in his writings to the Corinthians (2 C 1:19) and the Thessalonians (1 Th 1:1; 2 Th 1:1) is almost certainly the Silas of Acts, and probably the same as the Silvanus who carried the Apostle Peter‘s first letter (1 P 5:12) to its scattered recipients.
Further details of the life of Silas are not known, but he is customarily honored as a martyr.
by James Kiefer