Although Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts, it is clear from Paul’s epistles that he was a trusted and dear friend. Titus was a Greek (Gal. 2:3) who had been converted by Paul (Tit. 1:4). He accompanied Paul to the Jerusalem council which is spoken of in Acts 15 and Galatians 2. Paul went to Jerusalem to settle the issue of whether the Gentiles had to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Controversy centered around Titus, and he became a test case. The Judaizing teachers demanded that Titus must be circumcised, but Paul refused to give in to their error. After extended discussion, the apostles and the elders clearly proclaimed that the Gentiles were not bound by the Law.
While Paul was staying at Ephesus on his third missionary journey (1 Cor. 16:8), Titus served as his messenger to the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 7:6-7; 8:6,16). This was a very difficult mission, because the Corinthian church was deeply troubled. To entrust Titus with this responsibility shows the confidence Paul had in him. Titus not only helped resolve the problems at Corinth, but he also established good relations with the church. This is a tribute to his tactfulness and his determination to stand up for the truth.
Both Titus and Timothy were companions and helpers of Paul. They were very different individuals. Timothy was sensitive and somewhat timid. Titus seems to be more vigorous. He was a man of decision. Paul knew that his life was drawing to a close. He passes along his mantle and encourages these two men to continue his work.
Crete was a mountainous island in the Mediterranean located at the southern end of the Aegean Sea. It was about 156 miles long, and varied from 7 to 35 miles in width. In antiquity, the Minoan civilization flourished on Crete. This glorious culture was at its peak between 1600-1400 B.C. However, with the passing of time that society declined. The island was invaded by the “Sea Peoples,” or Philistines. Later, it was subdued by Rome in 67 B.C. There were Jews from Crete who heard Peter preach the gospel on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11). Paul’s ship sailed past this island when he was being taken to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 27:7ff).
By New Testament times, the inhabitants of Crete were known as crude barbarians and were held in contempt by more civilized peoples. Paul recognized their low moral character: “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans afe always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. For the cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit.1:12-13). This unflattering description is a quotation of a Crean poet named Epimenides.
A lesson could be drawn here. We sometimes are prone to write off certain classes of men. However, we shouldn’t prejudge who will respond to the gospel. All men are in need of the gospel. It doesn’t matter whether they give the appearance of being dignified, or if they are crude and vulgar. There were individuals on Crete who obeyed the gospel, just as there were disciples in the cultured city of Rome.
When the book of Acts closes, Paul is awaiting trial in Rome. He made certain statements in the Prison Epistles that show he expected to be released (Phil. 1:21-25; 2:23-24; Phil. 22). After being imprisoned for over two years, apparently Paul was released from house arrest in Rome. Perhaps his accusers chose not to press chargers against him before Caesar (Acts 24:1; 28:30) and their case was lost by default. Paul was freed and once again was able to travel among the churches. He left Timothy at Ephesus and went on to Macedonia. From there Paul wrote 1 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3). He also visited Crete where he left Titus to carry on the work of the gospel. Paul went on to Nicopolis in Achaia (Tit. 3:12) where he wrote Titus to encourage him and provide him with further instructions. Then he visited Troas (2 Tim. 4:13) where he was arrested. Then Paul was taken back to Rome and during this second imprisonment he wrote Timothy for the last time. In the closing remarks of 2 Timothy, Paul mentions that Titus had gone to Dalmatia (which is modem-day Yugoslavia). Titus had not deserted Paul like Demas. Rather, he had gone away to further the gospel. Titus was so dear to Paul that he is called “my partner and fellow worker,” “my brother,” and “my true child in a common faith.”
Paul deals with the subject of church organization. He speaks of the character of those who would serve as elders. False teachers threatened the church on Crete. Paul urges Titus to expose those who promote heresy. He stresses the need for sound doctrine and holy living. Sound doctrine must be upheld, but this was not an end in itself. The acid test of our faith is how we live. The truth must be applied to one’s daily life. In this way we either glorify God, or discredit the gospel. Regardless of age or sex, believers should live consistently with the principles of Christianity.
1. Opening Greeting And Salutation (1:1-4)
2. The Qualification of Elders (1:5-9)
3. The Threat of False Teachers (1:10-16)
4. Conduct Among Christians (2:1-10)
5. The Proper Response To God’s Grace (2:11-15)
6. Conduct In Society (3:1-2)
7. Christianity Contrasted With Paganism (3:3-7)
8. Dealing With False Teachers (3:8-11)
9. Personal Messages And Conclusion (3:12-15)
Guardian of Truth XXX: 3, p. 83
February 6, 1986