Titus is not mentioned in Acts, but we can learn about him from Paul’s epistles where Titus is mentioned 13 times. He was one of Paul’s trusted fellow-workers in the Gospel; a Gentile, who worked with Paul during the third missionary journey. The Apostle sent him to Corinth where he helped the church with its work and coordinated the collection for impoverished Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 7:5-6; 8:6). Later Titus went on a mission to Dalmatia, the modern-day coastal strip of Croatia, (2 Timothy 4:10) which is the last we hear about him in the New Testament.
In Titus 1:5, Paul says that he left Titus in Crete. Apparently, the Apostle took Titus with him to preach the Gospel on the island of Crete when he was released from his first imprisonment (around the early 60s AD), and then left him there to finish establishing the church.
Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. 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 left Titus on the island to help establish the church, to appoint elders to lead it (1:5) and set out the pattern of godly living (1:1). 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 wrote 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 of writing was around AD 63.
Paul wrote that he left Titus in Crete to ‘put in order what was left unfinished’ (1:5). Many Cretans had believed in Jesus but there was a gap between what they believed and how they lived. In the first verse Paul talks of ‘the faith … that leads to godliness’ (1:1) and, in almost the last verse, that ‘our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good’ (3:14).
False teachers were leading divisive groups within the church (1:10, 3:9-11). All believers needed to be warned about the wrong teaching and encouraged to live godly lives so that their non-believing neighbours might be attracted to the gospel (2:10).
Paul also invited Titus to join him in Nicopolis, where he was spending the winter (3:12).
Titus includes some of the most exceptional descriptions of God’s goodness in all of Paul’s letters (2:11-14, 3:4-7). This letter shows how the goodness of God should be demonstrated through the godly lives of believers.
If the Gospel of Jesus is genuinely believed, it needs to be lived out in good works. 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. This letter tells us that unbelieving people can understand something of what God is like by seeing how Christians live.
As the saying goes, ‘whatever Christians should be, the Christian leader has to be’. Titus was to appoint leaders of godly character who showed by their behaviour and speech that God’s grace was at work in their lives. This is especially important when the church is exposed to false teaching; those in error must be strongly warned.
|Godly leadership matters
|The importance of godly teaching and relationships
|The need for holy living