Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
Sts. Timothy and Titus
"They Teach Us to Serve the Gospel with Generosity"
H.H. Benedict XVI
December 13, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
After speaking at length of the great Apostle Paul, today we take into
consideration two of his closest collaborators: Timothy and Titus. To
them are addressed three letters traditionally attributed to Paul, of
which two are destined to Timothy and one to Titus.
"Timothy" is a Greek name and means "who honors God." While Luke, in the
Acts of the Apostles, mentions him six times, Paul names him on 17
occasions in his letters (moreover he appears once in the Letter to the
Hebrews). We can deduce that from Paul he enjoyed great consideration,
although Luke does not tell us all that he had to do with him. The
Apostle, in fact, entrusted him with important missions and saw in him a
sort of "alter ego," as can be seen in his great praise of him in the
Letter to the Philippians. "I have no one like him, who will be
genuinely anxious for your welfare" (2:20).
Timothy was born in Lystra (some 200 kilometers northwest of Tarsus) of
a Jewish mother and a pagan father (cf. Acts 16:1). The fact that his
mother had contracted a mixed marriage and that she did not circumcise
her son leads one to think that Timothy was brought up in a family that
was not strictly observant, though it is said that he knew the
Scriptures from his childhood (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). His mother's name
has been transmitted to us, Eunice, and that of his grandmother, Lois
(cf. 2 Timothy 1:5).
When Paul passed through Lystra at the start of his second missionary
journey, he chose Timothy as his companion, as "he was well spoken by
the brethren at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:2), but he "circumcised him
because of the Jews that were in those places " (Acts 16:3). Together
with Paul and Silas, Timothy went across Asia Minor to Troas, from where
he went to Macedonia. We are told that in Philippi, where Paul and Silas
were accused of disturbing the city and imprisoned for having been
opposed to some unscrupulous individuals who were taking advantage of a
slave girl who had a spirit of divination (cf. Acts 16:16-40), Timothy
was released. When Paul then was obliged to travel to Athens, Timothy
caught up with him in that city and from there was sent to the young
Church of Thessalonica to confirm her in the faith (cf. 1 Thessalonians
3:1-2). He then joined the Apostle in Corinth, giving him good news
about the Thessalonians and collaborating with him in the evangelization
of that city (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:19).
We again find Timothy in Ephesus, during Paul's third missionary
journey. From there, the Apostle wrote probably to Philemon and to the
Philippians, and both letters were written with Timothy (cf. Philemon 1;
Philippians 1:1). From Ephesus, Paul sent him to Macedonia with a
certain Erastus (cf. Acts 19:22) and later to Corinth, with the task to
take a letter, in which he recommended to the Corinthians that they give
him a good reception (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10-11).
He appears again as co-writer of the Second Letter to the Corinthians,
and when from Corinth Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans, he
transmitted greetings to Timothy, as well as to others (cf. Romans
16:21). From Corinth, the disciple again traveled to Troas, on the Asian
shore of the Aegean Sea, there to await the Apostle who was going to
Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (cf. Acts 20:4).
From that moment, we can say that the figure of Timothy stands out as
that of a pastor of great importance. According to Eusebius' subsequent
"Ecclesiastical History," Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus (cf.
3:4). Some of his relics have been in Italy since 1239, in the Cathedral
of Termoli, in Molise, having come from Constantinople.
As regards the figure of Titus, whose name is of Latin origin, we know
that he was Greek by birth, that is, pagan (cf. Galatians 2:3). Paul
took him to Jerusalem on the occasion of the so-called Apostolic
Council, in which the preaching of the Gospel to pagans was solemnly
accepted without imposing upon them the precepts of the Mosaic law.
In the Letter he addresses to him, the Apostle praises him describing
him as "my true child in our common faith" (Titus 1:4). After Timothy
went to Corinth, Paul sent Titus with the task to call that rebellious
community to obedience. Titus brought peace to the Church of Corinth and
the Apostle wrote these words: "But God, who comforts the downcast,
comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only with his coming but
also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of
your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still
more.... Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort we
rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set
at rest by you all" (2 Corinthians 7:6-7,13). Paul again sent Titus --
whom he called "partner and co-worker" (2 Corinthians 8:23) -- to
organize the completion of the collections for the Christians of
Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:6). Subsequent news found in these pastoral
letters speak of him as bishop of Crete (cf. Titus 1:5), from whence, by
invitation of Paul, he joined the Apostle in Nicopolis, in Epirus, (cf.
Titus 3:12). Later he also went to Dalmatia (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10). We do
not have any more information on Titus' subsequent trips or on his
In short, if we consider together the two figures of Timothy and Titus,
we are aware of some significant facts. The most important is that Paul
used collaborators in the development of his missions. He is, of course,
the Apostle par excellence, founder and pastor of many Churches.
Nevertheless, it is clear that he did not do it all alone, but leaned on
trustworthy persons, who shared the effort and responsibilities.
To be pointed out, moreover is the willingness of his collaborators. The
sources we have on Timothy and Titus underline their willingness to take
on the different tasks, which often consisted in representing Paul even
in difficult circumstances. In other words, they teach us to serve the
Gospel with generosity, knowing that this also implies a service to the
Let us take up, finally, the recommendation that the Apostle Paul makes
to Titus in the letter he addresses to him: "This saying is trustworthy.
I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in
God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent
and beneficial to others" (Titus 3:8). With our concrete commitment, we
must and can discover the truth of these words, and carry out in this
season of Advent good works to open the doors of the world to Christ,
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on the Church's apostolic ministry, we now
consider Saints Timothy and Titus, two close associates of Saint Paul in
his missionary journeys. Timothy, born of a Jewish mother and a pagan
father, is frequently mentioned in the Apostle's Letters. Titus, a
convert from paganism, was brought by Paul to the Council of Jerusalem,
which sanctioned the preaching of the Gospel to the pagans while not
imposing on them the precepts of the Mosaic Law. Both were sent by Paul
on important missions to the young Churches, often as his
representatives in difficult situations. As we see from the New
Testament epistles addressed to Timothy and Titus, Paul clearly counted
on the help of these two collaborators in his ministry. Timothy and
Titus were likewise prompt in accepting the responsibilities entrusted
to them by the Apostle. May the example of these apostolic men inspire
us to serve the cause of the Gospel with generosity, and thus contribute
to the building up of Christ's Church.
I offer a cordial welcome to the members of the ecumenical pilgrimage
sponsored by the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the National Council
of Churches in Korea. May your visit to Rome be a source of inspiration
in your efforts to promote the unity of all Christ's followers. Upon all
the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially
those from the Philippines, Australia and the United States of America,
I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.
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