the Second Week of Lent
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People's New Testament People's NT
by Barton Johnson
INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE TO TITUS.
The Epistle to Titus was written before the Second, and there is good reason to believe, after the First Epistle to Timothy. It belongs to a period when Paul was not a prisoner, and can hardly be assigned to that portion of his life which is covered by the historian of Acts. There is not in Acts any allusion whatever to a visit to Crete, or to churches in that great island, a fact that cannot be accounted for except by placing his Cretan missionary tour after his first imprisonment. It is probable that churches had been planted before his visit, as in Rome and many other places; that after his first letter to Timothy he returned to Ephesus, and from thence passed into the island. When he left, as the work of organization was left incomplete, Titus remained in order to "set in order the things that are wanting" (Titus 1:5), and afterwards Paul wrote to him to give further instructions concerning the work. Hence the date of the letter will be somewhere from A. D. 65 to 68.
Crete is a great island, stretching one hundred and fifty miles from east to west, but only about thirty-five miles in width, mountainous but fertile, and had in 1867 a population of 210,000, mostly Greeks. It is closely connected with early Greek legend and history, and although under Turkish rule, is in full sympathy with the Kingdom of Greece. Its modern history is mainly a record of resistance to the Turkish power.
Titus, to whom the letter is addressed, was a Greek. He attended Paul to Jerusalem at the time the question of Gentile Christians was considered (Acts 15). Paul refused to allow him to be circumcised (Galatians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 7:5-16). He bore Paul's first letter to Corinth, and is often referred to in the epistles, although his name is not mentioned in Acts. From 2 Timothy 4:10, we learn that he was in Dalmatia, at the time Paul wrote from his prison, and we find (Titus 3:15) that Paul bade him come from Crete to Nicopolis, which is on the same coast as Dalmatia. It is still claimed in Dalmatia that he was the missionary of that region.
The genuineness of the letter, like that to Timothy, was never questioned until a recent period, but every objection made by the rationalistic critics of the German school has been satisfactorily answered, and there is no reasonable ground for doubt that all three of the Pastoral Letters belong to the last years of the great apostle's life.