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by Joseph Benson
EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO TITUS.
TITUS was originally a Gentile, and converted to Christianity by St. Paul, as appears from the apostle’s calling him, (Titus 1:4,) “his own son after,” or according to, “the common faith;” though the particular time of his conversion cannot be ascertained. The earliest account which we find of him (for Luke does not once mention his name in the Acts) is in Galatians 2:1, where the apostle informs us he took him with him from Antioch to Jerusalem, to attend the council that was held there, to consider of the question concerning the circumcision of the converted Gentiles, fourteen years after Paul’s own conversion. At which time, it appears, the Judaizers in Jerusalem urged the necessity of having Titus circumcised; but Paul would not suffer him to submit to that rite, that he might not seem to abridge the liberty of the Gentile converts. Some years after this, the apostle sent him to Corinth, as appears from 2 Corinthians 2:13, where his piety and disinterested and zealous preaching of the gospel procured him a kind reception. Coming from thence to Paul, in Macedonia, he brought him such intelligence, concerning the state of the Corinthian church, as gave him the highest satisfaction. And, as Titus had expressed a particular regard for the Corinthians, the apostle thought proper to send him back again to them, that he might edify them by the exercise of his ministry among them, and excite them to finish, without delay, the collection for the poor saints in Judea, which they had begun during Titus’s former visit to them, 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2Co 7:15 ; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16-17; 2 Corinthians 12:18. The apostle, it appears, at the same time made him the bearer of his second epistle to them. After this, we hear no more mention of him till he is spoken of, in this epistle, as having been with Paul in Crete, where, it appears, the apostle had preached the gospel with great success; (probably after his first, and before his second, imprisonment at Rome;) Christian churches having been formed in several cities of that island. To which success, it is probable, the labours of Titus had contributed no little, and that he was therefore much beloved by, and had great authority over, the new converts there. On this account, and also because the apostle knew his fidelity and ability for such an office, not judging it proper to remain in the island himself, he left Titus there to superintend these churches, and regulate their affairs. This circumstance shows the high esteem and great affection which the apostle had for Titus; as does also the manner in which he speaks of his discharging the commission he gave him to the Corinthians, and his terming him his “brother, partner, and fellow-helper,” in his second epistle to the members of that church, 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 8:23.
Although learned men have thought it probable that this epistle was written during the apostle’s last progress through the Asiatic churches, some time before his second imprisonment at Rome, and, consequently, that it was the last of his epistles, except the second to Timothy; yet nothing can be certainly determined, either as to its date or the place from which it was sent; for, though the spurious postscript supposes it to have been written from Nicopolis, yet the contrary is plainly intimated, Titus 3:12: as the apostle does not say, I propose to winter “here,” (which would have been most natural, if he had resided there when he was writing,) but “there;” which shows he was at that time in some other place. It is plain, however, Titus was at Crete when he received it; being left there, as has been observed, to settle the churches in that island, and ordain elders to minister and preside in them. Accordingly, the greatest part of the epistle is taken up in giving him directions for the more successful discharge of this office among the Cretans; and particularly for his behaviour toward those corrupt Judaizing teachers, who endeavoured to pervert the faith, and disturb the peace of the Christian church everywhere.
This epistle is very similar, as to its tenor and style, to the two epistles to Timothy, and they cast much light upon one another; and are worthy the serious attention of all Christian ministers and churches in all ages. This has four parts: I. The inscription, Titus 1:1-4. II. The instruction of Titus to this effect: 1. Ordain good presbyters: (Titus 1:5-9:) 2. Such as are especially needful at Crete: (Titus 1:10-12:) 3. Reprove and admonish the Cretans: (Titus 1:13-16:) 4. Teach aged men and women; (Titus 2:1-5;) and young men, being a pattern to them; (Titus 2:6-8;) and servants, urging them by a glorious motive: (Titus 2:9-15:) 5. Press obedience to magistrates, and gentleness to all men; (Titus 3:1-2;) enforcing it by the same motive: (Titus 3:3-7:) 6. Good works are to be done; foolish questions avoided; heretics to be shunned; Titus 3:8-11. III. An invitation of Titus to Nicopolis, with some admonitions, Titus 3:12-15. IV. The conclusion, Titus 3:15.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29