*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 26th of January 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
So, here on the 1001st episode, I have a question for you- and maybe one I should have asked about 1000 episodes ago: when does Church history begin? Diarmaid MacCulloch- for his magnum opus on the church’s history has subtitled his book “the first 3000 years”- a provocative way of saying that to understand the church, you have to go back to its greek and Jewish roots.
So, I asked myself- when does Church history start (realizing it’s an intellectual exercise that might not mean that much). The first answer that bum-rushed my brain was “Clement of Rome,” maybe Polycarp and Ignatius too, as they are the first Apostolic Church Fathers who received the traditions from the Apostles themselves. And perhaps this is also acknowledging that here on this network, you have 40 Minutes in the Old Testament with Dan P and Chad, 30 Minutes in the New Testament with Dan P and Erick, and then this little outfit that picks up where they left off.
All of this is because today is the feast of Timothy and Titus. And for some reason, the first thing I thought was, “well, I’m not qualified to talk about that,” as if there is some divide between doing new Testament history and theology and church history. Ok- having said that. What do we know about this feast day for two of Paul’s young companions who, according to tradition, became Bishops in Ephesus and Crete?
In the Orthodox tradition, the feast of Timothy is on the 22nd of January. Until 1969 it was on the 24th in the West but then some churches- following the Roman Catholic Church- moved the date to the 26th and added Titus into the mix while others make a point of Timothy only. Nevertheless, Timothy and Titus: what do we know?
Timothy was the son of immigrant parents in the town of Lystra (modern Turkey). His dad was Greek, and his mother was Jewish. We know that he was taught in the Scriptures by his mother Lois and Grandmother Eunice from a young age. He likely saw the apostle Paul preaching in the late 40s. He became a travel companion with him and Silas to Macedonia and was then sent to Ephesus to help settle an agitated church during Paul’s imprisonment.
Titus was a gentile, most likely from Crete, with an educational Greek philosophy and poetry background. He was one of the apostle Paul’s most trusted companions. As a likely Cretan himself, he was sent to the tiny island in the Mediterranean to chill out a raucous group of Cretans (there are no stopping Cretins from Hoppin, as the Ramones reminded us).
As you might suppose, with few extra-biblical accounts of these two characters, we would get a trove of fan fiction- you know, what sad Buffy fans wrote for years after the show was canceled? On this show, it’s like the Golden Legend, the Lives of the Saints, the Bollandists, and all kinds of books called “the Acts of” in the first few centuries.
Legend has it that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus, and during persecution, John came to stay with him. Here we are told that Timothy was with Mary (the Theotokos) when she died. John is said to have left Timothy when he was exiled to Patmos. The story is that he was protesting pagan worship sometime later in life- maybe Artemis, maybe Diana… and for this, he was beaten and clubbed to death.
Titus gets a lot less of the fan fiction treatment. He died peacefully in old age on the island of Crete. He was able to smooth out the rough edges of those hopping Cretans, and today is the Order of Titus is the distinction for US Army’s best chaplains.
Of course, Paul had Timothy circumcised and Titus not circumcised based on the context and what he thought would best serve the Gospel. I’m sure there’s a sermon in there.
And lastly, they have come to be seen as examples of pious men who have been called to build up the Church of Jesus despite their young age. Perhaps if you went to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, you know the chapel there is dedicated to Timothy and Titus. Who are recognized on this day, or around this day- the 26th of January.
The Last Word for today comes from a great little hymn tucked inside 1 Timothy, starting at verse 15:
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of January 2022 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by Christopher Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who does care about history- Rock in Roll High School, and that’s where I want to be. I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.