The Book of Acts lists several of Paul’s ministry partners and traveling companions: Barnabas, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Aquila and Pricilla, and others. Dr. Luke does not mention Titus. So, to learn about this important New Testament character, we are left with Paul’s letters.
Chronologically, Galatians is probably Paul’s first letter. It was written after the first missionary journey that took Paul and Barnabas into modern-day eastern Turkey where they saw great numbers come to faith in Christ and many churches established (Acts 14). When Paul wrote back to those new churches, he mentioned Titus, possibly indicating that Titus was with Paul and Barnabas on the first expedition.
After returning to his home base in Syrian Antioch, Paul was compelled to travel to Jerusalem to defend the evangelization of Gentiles (Acts 15). Strategically, Paul took Titus with him to the Jerusalem Council. Titus was a young convert of Paul’s (Titus 1:4), and an uncircumcised Gentile (Galatians 2:3). With Titus as an example, Paul rightly argued that salvation is not dependent upon adherence to the Old Testament law, but by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.
Paul called Titus, “my partner and coworker” (2 Corinthians 8:23). While Paul was in Ephesus on the third missionary journey, he learned that the Corinthian church was divided by immaturity and immorality. Paul wrote the scathing rebuke that we call First Corinthians, and another letter, now lost. Of this letter, Paul wrote: “For I wrote to you with many tears out of an extremely troubled and anguished heart—not to cause you pain, but that you should know the abundant love I have for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4).
It seems likely that Titus was the courier entrusted with the “tearful letter” and charged with disciplining and discipling the wayward church. Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God, who put the same concern for you into the heart of Titus. For he welcomed our appeal and, being very diligent, went out to you by his own choice” (2 Corinthians 8:16-17). When Titus and Paul were later reunited, Titus brought encouraging news concerning the beloved church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:5-7).
In what might have been the twenty-nineth and thirtieth chapters of the Book of Acts, Paul was released from the Roman prison. It was then that Paul and Titus traveled to the Island of Crete. There, they evangelized the lost and established churches. When Paul left, Titus was commissioned to stay. Paul wrote back to Titus saying, “The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5). Titus was entrusted with the formidable task of organizing new churches and ordaining and training pastors to lead them.
In Paul’s last letter, we sketch together the last piece of Titus’s biography. There we learn that Titus went to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). Dalmatia was in Illyricum, north of Greece, part of the modern-day Balkans in eastern Europe.
That’s Titus. This week, I’d like to look at the letter that Paul wrote to him while he was in Crete. You can read the letter in five minutes. Its just three chapters, forty-six verses. Its Paul’s letter to a pastor, and God’s letter to me and you.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.