Handbook of Titus




Concerning the Churches of Crete

Titus
    He was a Greek, who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, whose circumcision Paul steadfastly resisted (Galatians 2:3-5). One of Paul's converts (Titus 1:4) .
    
    Some years later he appears with Paul in Ephesus, and is sent to Corinth to look after certain disorders, and to initiate the offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:6, 10). Returning from Corinth, he meets Paul in Macedonia, and, after explaining the situation to Paul, he is then sent back to Corinth, ahead of Paul, bearing the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, to pave the way for Paul's coming, and to complete the offering (2 Corinthians 2:3, 12, 13; 7:5, 6, 13, 14;8:16, 17, 18, 23; l2:14, 18). The fact that Titus was chosen to look after the troublous situation in Corinth indicates that Paul must have considered him a very capable, wise and tactful Christian leader.

    The next we hear of him, some 7 or 8 years later, is in this Epistle to Titus, about A.D. 65. He is in Crete. The expression "left in Crete" (Titus 1:5) shows that Paul had been there with him. Paul's ship, in his voyage to Rome (Acts 27) touched on the south shore of Crete, but it is scarcely likely that that could have been the time when he left Titus there. The prevailing opinion is that, after Paul's release from his first imprisonment in Rome, about A.D. 63, he returned east, including Crete in his intinerary. After setting the Cretan churches in order, Titus is to be replaced by Artemas or Tychicus, and is asked to rejoin Paul in Nicopolis, in western Greece (Titus 3:12) .

    The last notice of Titus is in 2 Timothy 4:10, where it is said that he had gone from Rome to Dalmatia. Evidently he had rejoined Paul, and was with him when arrested, accompanying him to Rome. Whether he forsook Paul in that dark and lonely hour because of threatening dangers or Paul sent him to finish the evangelization of the coast northwest of Greece, we do not know. Let us hope the latter, for he was a good and great man. Tradition says that Titus became bishop of Crete, and died peaceably at an advanced age.

Crete
    An island, also known as Candia, southeast of Greece, or the border between the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, about 150 miles long, and 7 to 30 wide. Mountainous, but its valleys were fertile and populous and rich; the "island of a hundred cities." The seat of an ancient and powerful civilization that had already become lengendary at the dawn of Greek history. The work of Sir Arthur Evans and his successors gave the knowledge of the Cretan civilization to the world early in this century. The script was deciphered in 1953 by Michael Ventris and found to be in primitive Greek.
    The highest mountain in Crete, Mt. Ida, was famous as the legendary birth-place of the Greek god Zeus. Home of the half-mythical lawgiver Minos, son of Zeus, and of the fabulous Minotaur. The people were akin to the Philistines, thought to have been identical with the Cherethites ( I Samuel 30: 14) . Daring sailors and famous bowmen, with a very bad moral reputation.
    The nucleus of the Church in Crete, probably, was started by the "Cretans" who were at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:11). There is no New Testament mention of an Apostolic visit to Crete other than by Paul on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27), and that implied in the Epistle to Titus. Inasmuch as Paul was inclined to avoid building on other men's foundations, it seems likely that the Cretan churches, in the main, were Paul's work. Else he would not have assumed the authority over them indicated in this Epistle. Possibly they may have been the fruit of his work in Corinth or Ephesus, both of which cities were nearby.
    Similarity to 1 Timothy. Titus and 1 Timothy, it is thought, were written about the same time, around A.D. 65. They deal with the same general subject: the appointment of proper leaders. Titus in Crete, Timothy in Ephesus; the problem in both places very much the same.

Chapter 1 . Elders

    In Hope of Eternal Life (2). Paul, like Peter (1 peter 1:3-5), as he neared the end of his earthly road, kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on heaven. It had been the unceasing burden of his preaching and the one grand motive of his life: the Glories of Existence when the body shall have been redeemed (Romans 8:18, 23); the Ecstasy of the day when the mortal shall have put on Immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-55); his longing for the House not made with hands (2 Corinthians 5:1-2) ; this Citizenship in Heaven with a body like the Saviour's (Philippians 3:20-21) ; his Joy at the thought of being
caught up to be Forever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians :13-18); the Crown
Righteousness which he would receive in "that day" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
    
    Qualifications of an Elder (1:5-9) . "Elder" (5) , and "Bishop" (7), are here used as identical terms for the same office. Their qualifications,  as here enumerated, are practically the same as those given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, which see.
    The False Teachers ( 1:10-16) . The Cretan churches were beset with false teachers who, like those spoken of in 2 Peter 2 and Jude, while professing to be Christian teachers, were "abominable" and "reprobate" (16). The quotation from the Cretan poet (12), is from Epimenides 600 B.C. The "mouths" of the false teachers were to be stopped, nor by force, but by vigorous proclamation of the truth (11). "Whole houses" probably means whole congregations, for churches then met in family homes.

Chapters 2 and 3. Good Works

    The grand emphasis of this Epistle is "Good Works." Not that we are saved by good works, but by His Mercy (3:5), and justified by His Grace (3:7). But because of this we are under strict obligation to be "zealous of good works" (2:14); "an example of good
works" (2:7); "ready unto every good work" (3:1); "be careful to maintain good works" (3:8) ; "maintain good works f or necessary uses" (3:14). One of the indictments of the false teachers was that they were "unto every good work reprobate" (1 :16).
    The Power of Beautiful Lives (2:1-14) . Aged men, aged women, young women, mothers, young men, and slaves are exhorted to be so faithful to the natural obligations of their own station in life that critics of their religion would be silenced (2:8).
    Slaves, of whom there were many in the early Church, are exhorted to be so obedient, diligent, and faithful that their lives would "adorn" their religious profession (2: 10), and their heathen masters would be constrained to think, "If that is what the Christian religion does for slaves, there must be something to it."
    The Blessed Hope (2:11-14). The Lord's Coming Again supplies the motive to godly living in this present world. It is mentioned in almost every one of the New Testament books.
    Obedience to Civil Authorities (3:1-2), is a prime Christian virtue. Citizens of heaven should be good citizens of the earthly government under which they live (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
    The Genealogies (3 :9) , referred to here and in 1 Timothy 1:4, seem to have figured quite prominently in the doctrine of the false teachers who were at that time infesting the churches of Crete and Ephesus. Possibly they were basing their claims for their teaching on Davidic ancestry and kinship to Jesus, with inside information on the Gospel. Or teaching strange doctrines grounded on abstruse interpretations of passages in genealogies.

    "Heretic" (3 :10, RV "factious man") . After a reasonable effort to set a false teacher right, avoid him. "Artemas" (3:12), is nowhere else mentioned. Tradition says he became bishop of Lystra. "Tychicus" (12), was of Asia (Acts 20:4). Either he or Artemas was to take Titus' position in Crete. "Nicopolis" (12), in Greece, about 100 miles northwest of Corinth. (See note on Paul's Later Movements under Acts 28: 31.) "Zenas" (13) , mentioned nowhere else. Either a Jewish scribe or a Greek civil lawyer. "Apollos, ( l13, see on Acts 18) . It seems that he and Zenas, on a journey to some unknown destination, bore this letter to Titus.