15:22-26, 30-33, 16:1-5
Preface of Pentecost
PRAYER (traditional wording)
Just and merciful God, who in every generation hast raised up prophets,
teachers and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise thy holy
Name: We give thanks for the calling of Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose
gifts built up thy Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that
we, too, may be living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ
our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one
God now and for ever. Amen.
PRAYER (contemporary wording)
Just and merciful God, in every generation you raise up prophets, teachers
and witnesses to summon the world to honor and praise your holy Name:
We thank you for sending Timothy, Titus and Silas, whose gifts built up
your Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we too may be
living stones built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who
with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.
Silas proviosnally added to this commemoration at General Convention,
2009. Collects and readings also revised.
Return to Lectionary
Last updated: 12 December 2009
TIMOTHY AND TITUS
COMPANIONS OF PAUL (26 JAN NT)
Timothy and Titus appear in the New Testament writings as missionary companions
of, and co-workers with, the Apostle Paul.
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