Paul apparently wrote the two letters about the same time. After his two-year imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:16,30), Paul went on further travels. Among the places he visited was the Mediterranean island of Crete, where he found that the churches were in a state of confusion. He stayed a while to help the churches through their difficulties, but he wanted to visit other cities and countries as well. He therefore left Titus behind in Crete to help correct the problems (Titus 1:5), while he himself sailed on to Ephesus. There were problems in Ephesus also, but Paul could stay there for only a limited time. When he moved on to Macedonia, he left Timothy behind to carry on the work (1 Tim 1:3). (For map see under TIMOTHY.) From Macedonia Paul wrote two letters, one to Titus in Crete, the other to Timothy in Ephesus. Both letters were intended to encourage Paul’s fellow workers in the tasks they faced, particularly in matters concerning leadership and teaching in the church. (For details of Paul’s travels and writings of this time see TIMOTHY, LETTERS TO.)
Contents of the letter
After a lengthy introduction (1:1-4), Paul reminds Titus of the need to appoint elders in the Cretan churches and of the personal qualities that should characterize those elders. In particular they must be able to recognize and resist false teaching (1:5-16). Paul gives Titus instructions concerning the behaviour that people of different ages and social backgrounds should exercise towards each other in the church (2:1-10). He reminds Titus that the grace of God changes lives (2:11-15), and that Christians must demonstrate this by the way they live (3:1-7). Titus must therefore teach the great truths of the Christian faith, and not waste time arguing over senseless topics (3:8-11). The letter closes with a few notes concerning Paul’s plans for himself and Titus in the months ahead (3:12-15).
It seems that Titus was originally from Antioch in Syria. When Paul and Barnabas took a gift from the Antioch church to the Jerusalem church, Titus went with them (Acts 11:27-30; Gal 2:1). By nationality he was a Greek (Gal 2:3).
Paul’s representative to
Corinth Much of the Bible’s information about Titus has to do with the church in Corinth. From Ephesus Paul had written at least one letter to the Corinthians, and had made a rushed visit to Corinth in an effort to deal with serious problems in the Corinthian church. When he heard that his efforts had only made people more rebellious, he wrote a severe letter and sent it to Corinth with Titus, his special representative (2 Cor 2:3-4,9; 7:8; 12:18). (For map see under TIMOTHY.) Paul’s plan was for Titus to return from Corinth via Troas. Being eager to hear of the Corinthians’ response to his letter, Paul went to Troas to meet Titus. Unable to wait patiently, he then went across to Macedonia in the hope of finding Titus there (2 Cor 2:12-13). Titus met Paul with the news that the severe letter had produced the desired results (2 Cor 7:5-6,13-15). Although this letter has not been preserved in the Bible, the letter that Paul wrote in response to Titus’ good news has. It is called 2 Corinthians and it was taken to Corinth by Titus (2 Cor 8:16-18). Titus was also Paul’s appointed representative to encourage the Corinthian church to participate enthusiastically in an important project Paul was organizing. Paul was collecting money among the Gentile churches of Asia Minor and Greece to take to the needy Jewish Christians in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:1-6,16-24).
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Activities in other places
Many years later, after Paul had been released from his first imprisonment in Rome, Titus went with Paul to Crete to try to correct disorders in the churches there. When Paul left, Titus stayed behind to help the churches further (Titus 1:5). The book of Titus in our Bible is the letter Paul wrote to Titus at this time (see TITUS, LETTER TO). Titus was such a valued worker that Paul could not leave him in Crete indefinitely. He therefore wrote to advise Titus that soon someone would come to take his place. Titus then apparently went to Nicopolis on the west coast of Greece to meet Paul as planned (Titus 3:12), and from there went north to Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10). That is the last mention of him in the biblical record.