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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Titus, one of the apostle Paul’s chief lieutenants, was a Greek, born probably in Antioch or its neighbourhood, and converted to Christianity perhaps by the Apostle himself (Titus 1:4). He was among the earliest Gentile leaders in the Christian Church, and it has been suggested, not without plausibility, that the question of Gentile circumcision was first raised when he, along with others, was brought into the Church. In any case, Paul chose Titus to go with him to Jerusalem in order that the question might be decided by the apostles on appeal to a concrete case. Titus was almost certainly not circumcised (Galatians 2:5).

Henceforth he is a leader under Paul in work which made him well known to the churches of Galatia (Titus 2:1). When affairs had reached a dangerous climax in the church of Corinth during Paul’s sojourn in Ephesus, Timothy was first dispatched by the Apostle to restore peace; but he failed, and Titus was then sent. Paul was confronted with a revolt of one of his important churches, the seriousness of which may be estimated by the tension of the Apostle as he awaited news of the mission of Titus (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5-6). Titus was quite successful: the rebellious element was suppressed. As a result of his service, there sprang up between Titus and that church a deep affection, and he championed them in the matter of their liberality towards ‘the saints’ at Jerusalem, claiming that they would not be behind Paul’s favourite churches of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16-19).

Titus was evidently a man of stronger character than Timothy, and may have been sent further a field on more independent missions; but nothing is known of his later activity apart from the Epistle addressed to him by St. Paul. It may be reasonably assumed that historical material lies embedded in this letter; and, if so, Titus continued to be Paul’s ‘partner and fellow-helper’ (2 Corinthians 8:23) until the end of his life, and retained his confidence as one who was able to carry out difficult tasks to the Apostle’s liking (Titus 1:5). Crete, to which Paul took Titus, must have been in itself one of the hardest fields to evangelize (Titus 1:12-13), and the appearance of the false teachers, who seem to have gained a foothold after Paul left, made a strong hand all the more necessary. These teachers were men ‘of the circumcision’ (Titus 1:10; Titus 1:14), who possibly made use of the fact that Titus was an uncircumcised Greek to undermine his authority. Paul does not fear, as he does in the case of Timothy, that Titus will yield to pressure; but he may have dreaded that, not being a Jew, he would pay too much heed to the prestige of Judaism, and attach a fictitious importance to these Jewish teachers and their fables (Titus 1:10-16, Titus 3:9). He, therefore, bids him make short work of unruly men and exercise his own authority (Titus 2:15, Titus 3:10). His position in Crete is similar to that of Timothy in the churches of Ephesus-a representative of the Apostle holding a local commission. His function is that of an apostle, such as we find it in the Epistles, and cannot be identified with that of the monarchical bishop.

Paul at the end of his life’s work turns towards his disciple, though no reason is given in Titus 3:12; but, as the churches of Crete need a, present director, he promises to send Artemas or Tychicus to relieve Titus and permit him to join the Apostle in Nicopolis.

Jülicher thinks that Titus may have been the first Greek missionary to Crete and Dalmatia (PBE3 xix. 800). No reliance is to be put upon the later ecclesiastical tradition, which, working upon the Epistle, calls him the first bishop of Crete (Eus. Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.) III. iv. 6).

Literature.-See under Timothy and Titus, Epistles to; A. Jülicher, article ‘Titus,’ in PRE [Note: RE Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche.] 3 xix. 798-800.

R. A. Falconer.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Titus'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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