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By: Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Titus 1.4

Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Epistle of Titus in conjunction with this article.

The Epistle of Titus

Over the last two months, we looked at some of Paul’s instructions to the early church leader Timothy. This month we are continuing our examination of instructions to church leaders by looking at Paul’s epistle to Titus. It was to the church’s blessing that both Timothy and Titus learned and kept in mind the spiritual direction of the newly founded church, and by extension, we can learn what it means to serve the church.

Some History
Titus, like Timothy, was a church leader at the behest of Paul. It is interesting to note that without Titus being a church leader, one of the letters left to Christian posterity would not be. With Titus being an important leader of the first century, it seems to our benefit to learn what we can about this leader.

From the fourth verse of chapter one, we learn that Paul had a close relationship to Titus.1 While they share a common belief and faith structure, it also seems that this verse indicates that Paul considered himself a father, and Titus, his son. Since the words “common faith” are used in the King James, it seems likely that Titus was converted during one of Paul’s missionary journeys. Additionally, from Paul’s letter to the saints at Galatia, we learn that Titus was not of Jewish heritage, but was an uncircumcised Christian of Greek heritage.2

While we may not be able to precisely identify the year of the conversion of Titus, we do know that when Paul assigned Titus to help those in Crete,3 Titus was not a youthful convert of Paul’s. To the contrary Titus had several years of practical experience working under Paul’s oversight and serving Christians. It appears that Titus helped Paul in the area of Troas,4 but as we shall see, Titus also helped the church in Corinth.5

Paul considered Titus as having “earnest care”6 or as The Message renders it, Titus had a “devoted concern” for the brothers and sisters in Corinth, just as much as Paul himself. Knowing this, when we read of the time that Titus brought comforting news to Paul regarding the church,7 it is no small event. Truly it was a moment of comfort and rejoicing, for both of the Lord’s servants.

As a church leader, Titus also had experienced the difficulty of accomplishing a congregational goal. From the eighth chapter of Second Corinthians we know that Paul is encouraging the church at Corinth to demonstrate their ability to give.8 Paul was encouraging them to demonstrate their love.9 And it seems that in order to accomplish this, Paul had Titus,10 along with another brother,11 helping the Corinthian Christians to be diligent to their task of giving.12

As he was nearing the end of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul again made mention of Titus. In this statement Paul is claiming that both he and Titus did not work at Corinth for personal profit but for theirs.13 Paul seems to be trying to express that he and the others had no ulterior motive when working at Corinth.

Some Trivia
As we continue, let us consider some tidbits mentioned in the NIV Archeological Study Bible. These provide additional points of interest which can enrich one’s reading of the Epistle of Titus. The study Bible states that the reader should note “that specific groups had special responsibilities but that every individual was accountable to live a life characterized by self-control, integrity and grace.”14 So that one can increasingly appreciate the leadership responsibilities encourage by the inspired apostle Paul, consider the following information (provided by the Archeological Study Bible) regarding the epistle of Titus:15

  1. Crete, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, was a Roman province populated by farmers and fruit growers (1:5).
  2. Roman slaves had no legal rights, their fates being entirely in their masters’ hands (2:9-10).
  3. In the Jewish sense the term “lawyer” referred to an expert in the Mosaic Law, while in the Gentile context it referred to a Roman jurist (3:13).

Final Thoughts
While we are not given a large biographical picture of Titus, we do know that he was one of Paul’s trusted confidants. Paul trusted the judgment of Titus, and Paul trusted Titus in his work. When Paul sent his second letter to Timothy, Paul mentioned he sent Titus to Dalmatia,16 a region on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea,17 a region nearer Macedonia than Jerusalem, and days from easy communication. Paul must have had tremendous trust in Titus. Perhaps, this trust is one of the greatest reasons Paul assigned Titus to work with the Christians on the island of Crete. Churches are established, built, and maintained by various skills and spiritual levels of Christians, but without trusted and skilled congregational leaders churches cannot flourish in spiritual maturity. May the LORD bless us to thrive.

Endnotes
1. “Paul and Titus: A Close Relationship.” Titus 1.4, NASB.
2. “Titus: a Greek.” Galatians 2.3, NASB.
3. “Titus assigned to help Crete.” Titus 1.5, NASB.
4. “Titus working with Paul at the time of Second Corinthians.” Second Corinthians 2.12-13, NASB.
5. “Titus helped the church at Corinth.” Second Corinthians 8.23, NASB.
6. “Titus had earnest care” Second Corinthians 8.16, KJV.
7. “Titus brings comforting news to Paul.” Second Corinthians 7.6-7, NASB.
8. “Corinthian’s to demonstrate their giving.” Second Corinthians 8.7, cf. 8.1-4, NASB.
9. “Corinthian’s to demonstrate their love.” Second Corinthians 8.8, 11, NASB.
10. “Corinthians had help to demonstrate their giving.” Second Corinthians 8.16, NASB.
11. “Titus and another brother.” Second Corinthians 8.18, NASB.
12. “Corinthians to be diligent.” Second Corinthians 8.22, KJV.
13. “Motive: Congregational Profit.” Second Corinthians 12.17-19, NASB.
14. Introduction to Titus; “As You Read” Archaeological Study Bible, New International Version, p. 1970, ISBN-10: 0-310-92605-X.
15. Introduction to Titus; “Did You Know?” Archaeological Study Bible, New International Version, p. 1971, ISBN-10: 0-310-92605-X.
16. “Titus sent to Dalmatia.” Second Timothy 4.10, NASB.
17. “Dalmatia east of Adriatic Sea.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatia, August 6, 2009.

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