By Elizabeth Prata
I often refer to the Book of Titus when discussing what behavioral standards the Lord has in mind for us ladies. Titus has some go-to verses. Who was this man? Paul’s letter to Titus is a great book of the Bible, but Titus is mentioned many times elsewhere, too. Let’s look at who Titus was.
There are 12 mentions of him in the New Testament; 8 of those are in 2 Corinthians. There are 2 mentions in Galatians, 1 in Second Timothy, he is mentioned by name in Titus 1:4 and of course the entire book of Titus is a letter to this valued companion of Paul.
Paul calls Titus earnest, a fellow worker, his partner, a comfort, a brother. The name Titus means honorable, which Titus seemed to have lived up to. Titus accompanied Paul on his mission trips, and Titus was who Paul sought when Paul was released from prison. Titus was a Gentile (Galatians 2:3) likely having been converted by Paul when Paul was on his first missionary trip. In AD 63, Paul wrote the letter to Titus from Nicopolis, after Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment. That is the Book of Titus we know today.
Paul’s words to and about Titus bespeaks a particular affection for his beloved companion. Paul mentions twice being comforted by Titus’s presence:
But God, who comforts the discouraged, comforted us by the arrival of Titus (2 Corinthians 7:6).
This verse makes me think about my arrival anywhere- is it a joy to those present? Or do they sigh in strained patience?
Because of this, we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. (2 Corinthians 7:13).
This verse makes me think, does the refreshment of being with brethren infuse me and is it so bountiful that the joy is evident to people in my next visitation to a group of brethren?
No doubt the bulk of the mentions of Paul about Titus were in Corinthians because Titus helped Paul there in the church that was having so much difficulty. Titus was thoroughly informed of the heresy of the Judaizers, in fact, being Greek and uncircumcised, Paul took his beloved brother as a test case (Galatians 2:1) before the Jerusalem Council debating an official answer to the dispute that Gentiles did not need to adhere to the Mosaic Law. (Titus was very likely in the group of “certain others,” Acts 15:2). A concession that Gentiles needed to be circumcised would be a blow to all that Paul had been preaching, but the Council decided on Paul’s side and Titus became one of Paul’s most trusted companions from then on.
That section makes me think, would I ever be selected as a test case for faith by grace alone and not works? Of someone who does not strive for righteousness because of a work (in Titus’ example, circumcision) but lives Godly on the foundation of Christ? Lord, never let me be brought forward as a test case for what NOT to do!
Titus later went with Paul to Crete where Paul tasked Titus with ordaining elders in that church, teaching them to avoid unprofitable discussions, and to assert his authority. Titus had learned much in Corinth with Paul in that church and though he was young, was solid enough for Paul. In fact, Paul appointed Titus to lead in Corinth, Crete, and Dalmatia (what we knew as Yugoslavia) to evangelize the pagans around them.
In Crete, Paul wrote that it was universally acknowledged that the Cretans were liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons! (Titus 1:12). Hence, this letter’s thrust was Paul’s emphasis to Titus numerous times to live Godly life. The Book of Titus contains almost no instructions on doctrine, indicating that Paul was confident of Titus’ understanding and hence, made his emphasis on living Godly lives as a light to the debauchery around him. Titus was repeatedly selected to be that witness in leadership in all those different places as a light for holy living.
Titus’ humble life-witness makes me think, do I live in such a way that people could point to me having the power of the Spirit for holy living, as one who is earnest, full of joy, and a comfort to others, and not relying on works, exhibiting pride, or succumbing to the world around me?
Later, Titus went back to Corinth to serve not only because he was called to but was eager to go on his own accord. This shows Titus’ love for all peoples, even the difficult believers, and his zeal to minister to them. (2 Corinthians 8:16-17).
Paul obviously loved and respected his formerly pagan brother. They were together many years, sought each other out, and lived for Gospel evangelization with joy and rectitude. Titus seems to have been an important and integral part of Paul’s life and Gospel mission. The Letter to Titus by Paul contains wonderful standards for holy living, ones that we can take as the righteous diamonds they are and hold them dear.