Sunday of the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Titus 3:8-15)

This is the Epistle Reading of the Sunday of the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (14 July), and it was at this Council in 453 that the Church denounced Monophysitism as a heresy. The reading starts with St Paul telling Titus, his disciple, to affirm to his flock that they should continue living virtuous lives filled with good works. It continues with St Paul contrasting the good in the virtuous life with the folly of “foolish questionings, genealogies, strife and disputes about the law” (Titus 3:9).

St John Chrysostom’s explanation of this verse assists us to understand why this passage is read on this day. He explains that it is not worthwhile to engage in prolonged contentions with a person who is “perverted [from the truth] and predetermined not to change his mind.” The next verse says to “avoid a factious man after the first and second warning” (Titus 3:10). St Cyprian of Carthage and St Ambrose of Milan interpret this as applying in the case of heresy. St Basil the Great states that those who cause scandal should be avoided in this way “as a heathen and a publican.”

In the end, St Paul writes that these people are “self-condemned” (Titus 3:11). After greetings to members of Titus’ flock, St Paul writes to “let our people be careful to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they may not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). St John Chrysostom elaborates that being “careful to maintain good works” is to “not wait for those who are in want to come to them, but that they seek out those who need their assistance.”

Source: Lychnos July-August 2019