Listen to the podcast on Titus (18 min), who, like Timothy, was one of the most important persons in Paul's circle.
Click on the arrow to play the podcast, or you can use the "download" icon to download the podcast (if available). You can also right click here, in order to save the audio file and listen later.
- Titus was a major figure in Paul’s life, although not mentioned in Acts (which is selective).
- We come across him 13x in NT, 8 times in 2 Cor—also Gal, 2 Tim, Titus.
- Unlike Timothy, he had no Bible background. A true gentile!
- Paul, we notice, was effective at working with people from biblical background as well as with those who had no biblical conditioning—that is, pagans.
Galatians 2:1-3 1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
- No 1. first century issue: how much of Judaism must Gentiles observe? Similar confusion today with so-called “Messianic Judaism.” (Do we need to observe the Jewish Law?)
- Timothy and Titus are different cases—the apparent discrepancy is easily resolved with the principle of 1 Cor 9:22.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.
- Titus almost certainly carried the “painful letter” referred to in chapter 7.
- Communication took place by letter, envoy, personal visit, or conference.
- It isn't just that Paul misses Titus. Paul wants to know the impact of his “severe letter.”
2 Corinthians 7:5-7 5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
- Titus has relayed the good news.
- Titus wasn’t merely a messenger; he too was affected by the Corinthian response—“comforted.”
- [The famous repentance passage follows.]
2 Corinthians 7:13-16 13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titushas proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
- Titus wasn’t just a mercenary; he loved the Corinthians. The relational bonding is key in a Christian leader. Knowledge of the Bible and personal consistency are not enough, particularly when serving in so broad a circle as Titus did.
- The Corinthians respected Titus as much as they respected Paul.
2 Corinthians 8:6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.
- He was entrusted with the matter of the famine relief collection—no small task.
- The Corinthians are donating to assist hungry Judean brothers and sisters.
- (The famine was predicted by the prophet Agabus in Acts 11:28.)
2 Corinthians 8:16-17 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
- Titus's initiative reminds me of Onesiphorus in 2 Tim 1:17.
- We also may admire his enthusiasm. One man has enthusiasm for thirty minutes, another for thirty days, but it is the man who has it for thirty years who makes a success of his life. Samuel Butler (1612-1680)
- These are great characteristics.
- Work on these things in the fellowship!
2 Corinthians 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you…
2 Corinthians 12:18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
- Paul can trust Titus.
- He is a true partner in the ministry.
- 1:4—Close relationship. “Child.”
- 1:5—Entrusted him to appoint elders. It's reasonable to assume that Titus possessed the strength of character indicated in the list of qualities for church leaders
- 1:13—Entrusted also to rebuke those teaching error.
- 2:1—Paul trusted Titus to teach sound doctrine.
- 2:15—"all authority" and “Let no one despise you”– Probably not because of Titus's youth, but because he wasn’t an apostle like Paul, only filling in in his place. Or perhaps because he lacked the intensive biblical background of his mentor.
- 3:10-1—Paul also entrusted him to deal with divisive persons.
- 3:12—"…do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there." This parallels Paul’s request to Timothy in 2 Tim 4. Suggests this is an important relationship to Paul.
2 Timothy 4:10—Titus had gone to Dalmatia
- 2 Tim is probably written after Titus. This is around 10 years later than 2 Corinthians.
- Titus is still in Paul's circle.
- As one interpreter neatly observes, “Titus was… a troubleshooter, peacemaker, administrator, and missionary.”
- According to tradition, Titus died around the year 100, on the island of Crete. Skull of Titus is in Heraklion (?).
- What we can do:
- Be a support to Christian leaders. Respect the older men and women in our lives.
- Aim for character traits like enthusiasm and initiative.
- Stop making excuses for small thinking. Even if you weren’t brought up around the Bible—if you’re more of a Titus than a Timothy—God can still use you in powerful and important ways.