I, II Timothy & Titus – The Good Fight of Faith

Key Verse: Titus 1:5
“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.”

a. Date Written

  • AD 62 – 64.

b. The Recipent

  • Titus (meaning honourable)
  1. His name is mentioned 15 times in the NT and found only in 3 other Pauline epistles (2 Corinthians, Galatians and 2 Timothy). He was a Gentile who was converted by Paul (Titus 1:4), probably during Paul’s ministry at Antioch (Acts 11:25, 26 – about AD 38 – 46).
  2. Paul and Barnabas took him to Jerusalem early in Paul’s missionary during the time of the Gentile controversy, as a test case to see if the church leaders there would require that Titus be circumcised (AD 48). The fact that he was not compelled to be circumcised but was accepted helped Paul later on to defend the faith against the heresy of the Judaizers (Galatians 2:1-3 cf. Acts 15).
  3. Titus also traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey.
  4. Much later, Titus was with Paul in Ephesus during the latter’s third missionary journey. From there, Paul sent Titus, his trusted associate to Corinth with the so-called severe letter (or tearful letter) accompanied by a few unidentified “brothers” (2 Cor 7:6, 7 : 12 -14, 12: 16-18). It was called a tearful letter because of the various problems in Corinth like party politics, moral problems, Christians taking each other to court, marriage, difficulties arising from living in a city full of temples to various gods, the organization of worship and the intellectual problems with life after death.
  5. After that, Paul had expected Titus to meet him at Troas but Titus did not (2 Cor 2:13) . He eventually met up with Paul in Macedonia, where good news about how most of the Corinthians responded to Paul’s letter was relayed (2 Cor 7:5 – 7, 7:13). It was in response to this good news that Paul wrote the letter now known as 2 Corinthians, which Titus delivered to Corinth with two unnamed “brothers”. In Corinth, Titus helped to organize Paul’s faltering collection project (2 Cor 8: 16 – 18, 22) for the poor saints at Jerusalem who were affected by the famine in Judea. Titus was also chosen by the churches to accompany Paul to Jerusalem with the money collected (2 Cor 8:19).
  6. The next we hear of Titus is that Paul and him came to the island of Crete and laboured there for a short time. Paul then left him there to continue the work (Titus 1:5). Paul may have been in Macedonia when he wrote the Epistle of Titus to Titus some time later, to inform him that he had sent a replacement to take over Titus’ work, so that Titus could join him at Nicopolis.
  7. By A.D. 67, Paul was imprisoned a second time in Rome by Emperor Nero and martyred shortly after that. Titus could had been with Paul for a time during the imprisonment, and then he was sent to Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10).

c. Historical Background

  1. The Church at Crete
    a. Crete was a mainly mountainous island in the Mediterranean lying across the south end of the Aegean Sea. It is about 250 km long and its breadth varies from 11 km to 56 km. It is about 5 and a half times Singapore’s length and 2 and one third breadth. Anciently, it was the home of the powerful Minoan civilization dating back to about 2000 BC and was already a legendary at the dawn of Greek History. 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 (1 Samuel 30:14). Daring sailors and famous bowmen, with a very bad moral reputation.
    b. Cretans are mentioned among those present at Pentecost (Acts 2:11) and later the island is named in the account of Paul’s journey to Rome (Acts 27:7-13, 21).
    c. The origin of the Cretan church is not known. They had already existed for some time when Paul visited them. But the condition was discouraging when he found them.
    i. The churches were not adequately organized.
    ii. There were false teachers in their midst.
    iii. They were adversely affected by the low moral standards in Crete.
    d. The character of the people is as described in Titus 1:12 ‘One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”‘.
    e. Therefore, the church in Crete needed a strong Christian leadership (Titus 1:5)
  2. The purpose of Paul’s letter
    It is to instruct Titus on the following:
    a. to complete the organization of the churches (Titus 1:5-9)
    b. to deal with the false teachers who were present (Titus 1:10-14; 3:9-11)
    c. to give instructions to the churches on proper conduct (2:1-3: 8)
    d. to meet Paul in Nicopolis, when the replacement sent by Paul arrived in Crete (Titus 3:12).
  3. Characteristics and Themes
    Like 1 Timothy, Titus is noteworthy for its information on church organization. It provides a lengthy description of the qualifications for the office of bishop and elder (1:6-9), as well as important evidence that the terms “bishop” and “elder” refer to one rather than two distinct offices (1:7).
    Also like 1 Timothy, Titus exhibits a strong concern for sound doctrine (1:9, 13; 2:1, 2) and contains two marvelous theological meditations on the grace that God has extended in Jesus Christ (2:11-14; 3:4-7). These include affirmations of the Second Coming of Christ (2:13), the substitutionary atonement of Christ (2:14), regeneration by the Holy Spirit (3:5), and justification by grace (3:5, 7). Titus also affirms the deity of Christ in a striking manner – the title “Savior” is applied freely, and in the same contexts, to both God (1:3, 2:10; 3:4) and Christ (1:4; 2:13; 3:6) and 2:13 speaks of “our great God and Savior, “Jesus Christ”.
    Paul’s concern in this letter for sound doctrine is balanced by an emphasis on proper Christian conduct. For Paul, the two clearly go hand in hand. In particular, he stresses the quality of sober-mindedness (in the Greek, 1:8; 2:2, 4-6, 12) and the importance of doing what is good (2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14).

d. Interpretive Difficulties

  • Paul describes the false teaching on Crete as something that had come from within the church (1:10, 16). It was characterized by a concern with Jewish myths (1:14), genealogies and quarrels about the law (3:9), and human commandments (1:14). The false teachers came from a narrowly Jewish-Christian perspective (1:10) and sought leadership positions for financial gain (1:11). They had been effective in leading people astray and were divisive (1:10; 3:10).
  • Virtually everything that Paul says in Titus about the false teaching on Crete has parallels with what he says in 1 and 2 Timothy about that in Ephesus. It is not clear why this should be the case. There is no reason to believe that there was some sort of direct link between the two false teachings, or that everything being taught in one place was being taught in the other. On the other hand, the false teachings in the two areas may have been similar manifestations of a more general syncretistic movement in the Roman Empire at this time.

e. Book of Titus

This book is the shortest of all the pastoral epistles but it is rich in doctrinal and practical values.

Outline of the book, “TITUS”

  1. Salutation (Chp 1: 1- 4)
  2. Organizing the Churches on Crete (1:5-16)
    • a. Why Paul left Titus on Crete (1:5)
    • b. Qualifications of Elders (1:6-9)
    • c. Dealing with False Teachers (1:10-16)
  3. Instructing Various Groups (Chp 2)
    • Instructions for Titus and Those Under His Care (2:1-10)
    • The Theological Basis for Christian Living (2:11-14)
    • Concluding Charge to Titus (2:15)
  4. Instructing on Doing What is Good (Chp 3:1-11)
    • Initial Charge (3:1,2)
    • Human Depravity Without Christ (3:3)
    • The Sinner’s Experience of the Grace of God (3:4-7)
    • Final Charge (3:8-11)
  5. Conclusion (3:12-15)

f. Paul’s Final Remarks to Titus

Titus 3:12“When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.”

After setting the Cretan churches in order, Titus is to be replaced by Artemas or Tychicus. He was to rejoin Paul in Nicopolis, in western Greece as Paul had decided to spend his winter there.

a. Nicopolis [pictures of City of Nicopolis and monument in Nicopolis]

The city of Nicopolis which Paul intended to pass the winter could be in Epirus. It is located in the peninsula 8km North of Preveza, prefectural capital of Epirus in South West Epirus. This city was built by Augustus Caesar in 30 BC in honour of a victory at Actium. This site was chosen given the site’s good winter location and its geographical position in Paul’s travels. Paul may have intended to start a church on the west coast of Greece at that time since such had not been done during his missionary journeys recorded in Acts.

b. The last notice of Titus is in 2 Timothy 4:10, where it is said that he had gone from Rome to Dalmatia (Yugoslavia). He could had rejoined Paul and was with him when Paul was arrested and accompanied him to Rome.

c. Nothing definite is known of Titus’ subsequent history.
(According to Halley’s Bible Handbook:

“Tradition says that that Titus became a bishop of Crete and died peaceably at an advanced age.”