“…God gave us a spirit of love and of power,” wrote St Paul in II Timothy 1:17. This truth accompanying Timothy’s conversion to Christ in his late teens influenced him throughout his life. Growing up in the first century in Lystra, in today’s Central Turkey, Timothy’s father was Greek and his mother a Jew. Greatly influenced by his mother and grandmother, he loved the Old Testament Scriptures. When he heard St Paul preaching the Good News in 47 A.D., he was readily converted and went on to support and serve the Apostle, who was like a father to him. Timothy traveled extensively with St Paul in Southern Europe and Asia Minor. He spent three years in Ephesus, the center for the worship of the goddess, Diana, beloved by the Ephesians who benefited financially from this worship. The message of Paul and Timothy later proved to be a real threat to this worship. Timothy continued to help the Apostle Paul convert and nurture new Christians in their faith. A help to Paul during his first imprisonment in a house in Rome, Timothy was unable to support him during his later imprisonment in a Roman dungeon. It is from this dungeon, just before he was beheaded that the Apostle Paul wrote his last and encouraging letter to Timothy. This letter helped him over the next three decades faithfully care for the churches the two had established.
Early in the first century, another notable saint was born. Titus, from a wealthy pagan family, received an excellent education in Hellenistic philosophy, ancient poets, and the sciences. As an affluent young man, Titus made the unusual choice to live a virtuous life. Not surprisingly, when he was twenty, he was warned in a dream to leave Hellenistic wisdom behind.
Consequently, he started studying the Old Testament and, in particular, the book of Isaiah, both of which prepared him to realize the importance of the Good News that Paul preached. When he heard about Jesus, he was converted and baptized. As a deeply committed Christian, Titus was proof of the power of the Gospel to the Gentiles. When he went with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, this truth became more evident. Many there felt it was essential to become circumcised in order to become a Christian. However, Titus, backed by the Apostle Paul, stood his ground! Like Timothy, Titus also spent three years helping Paul build up the church in Ephesus. However, perhaps his greatest achievement was the reconciliation he achieved and solutions provided to problems in the Corinthian church. St Titus remained faithful to preach the Gospel wherever he went.
Each of these men, different in temperament and background, was called by God when young. Each took risks and stepped out to follow Christ. They were aided by the Holy Spirit to achieve things they could never have done in their own strength. They listened attentively to the Apostle Paul and were instrumental in building and strengthening the first-century church. In 97 A.D, Timothy courageously took a strong stand against idol worship and consequently died a martyr, Titus also spoke against idol worship. When no one listened, he prayed so effectively that the statue of Diana fell and shattered, a miracle which attracted many to faith in Christ. St Titus, a true soldier of Christ, died in his late nineties in 107 A.D.