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by Rhoderick D. Ice
INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER TO TITUS
This letter was written by Paul after his first imprisonment at Rome and before his second. It was written before Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, but after First Timothy. The summer or fall of 66 or 67 A.D. is probably the time of writing.
Titus was a Greek, a Gentile. He was with Paul at the Jerusalem Meeting (Acts 15:0), although not mentioned by name. Unlike the case of Timothy,
Paul refused to permit Titus to be circumcised (Galatians 2:1-5). Titus is often mentioned in Paul’s Letters, and took the First Letter to the Corinthians. Chrysostom identifies him with the Titus Justus of Acts 18:7, although there is not much evidence. In this Letter, he is left at Crete to put things in order. Crete is a large island, 150 miles long and about 35 miles wide. 2 Timothy 4:10 later places him at Dalmatia when Paul was imprisoned at Rome the second time. In this Letter, we have Paul asking him to come to Nicopolis, which is on the coast of Dalmatia (which is part of Illyricum).
Andreas Cretensis, who lived on Crete in the seventh century, wrote this about Titus. “Titus is related to the proconsul of the island: among his ancestors are Minos and Rhadamanthus. Early in life he obtained a copy of the Jewish Scriptures, and learned Hebrew in a short time. He went to Judea and was present at the Meeting mentioned in Acts 15:0. He became a Christian before Paul did, but afterward became his constant companion.” [I have paraphrased this.]
There were Jews from Crete at Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:11), and some of these brought Christianity back to the island. So the church on Crete would have a Jewish flavor (compare Acts 21:20), When Paul came there and won large numbers of Gentiles to Christ, problems developed with the circumcision party, as it had everywhere else, because they wanted to circumcise the Gentiles and force them to keep the Law. To make the Law more attractive, they went so far as to teach that you could continue to sin without fear of punishment, just so long as you kept up the sacrifices of the Law. This, of course, was just what the weak Christians wanted to hear! Paul tells Titus not to be timid, but to sharply correct these matters, and to put a stop to the false teaching of the circumcision party.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18