The Apostle Paul took Titus with him to preach the Gospel on the island of Crete, when he was released from his first imprisonment (around early 60s AD).
Titus is not mentioned in Acts and so we can learn a little about him from references to him in Paul’s epistles (mentioned 13 times), making it clear that he was one of Paul’s trusted fellow-workers in the Gospel. He is a Gentile, who worked with Paul during the third missionary journey. The apostle sent him to Corinth where he helped that church with its work and with the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (see 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 7:5-6; 8:6). Later he went on a mission to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10) which is the last we hear about him in the New Testament.
Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It would seem that in New Testament times life in Crete had sunk to a poor moral level. In the letter Paul refers to Cretans as being dishonest, greedy and lazy (1:12).
Paul leaves Titus on the island to help establish the church, and in particular appoint elders to lead the church. Titus is probably best seen as an apostolic delegate (rather like Timothy in Ephesus) who would serve the church for a short time before moving on.
Paul then writes to Titus, probably from Philippi (for he had not yet reached Nicopolis (3:12)). He probably sent the letter with Zenas and Apollos, who were on a journey that took them through Crete (3:13). The date is around 63AD.
The aim of the letter is clear: ‘The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you’ (1:5). The letter is aiming to support Titus in that, and help the rest of the church (who would also read it) to understand what the apostle requires.
It’s clear that there were potentially divisive groups in the church (3:9-11). Titus needed to be warned about the false teachers, and encouraged to develop a church that lives godly lives so that their non-believing neighbours might discover what Christianity is all about.
Paul also invites Titus to join him in Nicopolis, where he was spending the winter (3:12).
Why read it?
Titus includes some of the most exceptional descriptions of God’s goodness to us in all of Paul’s letters (2:11-14, 3:4-7).
If the Gospel of Jesus is truly believed, it needs to be lived out in good works. This Letter tells us that people can get to know God through how we live. We are not saved by our good works, but having been saved, we are freed from selfish patterns of living to care for those around us.
As the saying goes, ‘what ever Christians should be, the Christian leader has to be’. Titus was to put in place leaders of godly character who showed by their behaviour and speech that God’s grace has been at work. This is especially important when there is alternative teaching around.
|1||The appointment of godly leaders|
|2||The importance of sound teaching|
|3||The need for holy living|