Paul And Titus
INTRODUCTION: Titus is not mentioned in the gospels or in Acts, so the only scriptural sources for the scant biographical information on him are Paul's New Testament letters. It is interesting to compare the references to Titus in Paul's letters, to related biographical sections about Paul in Acts, to glean additional information. This study will provide a fairly detailed introduction to Titus, to be a companion to the series of separate Bible studies that will cover the letter that Paul wrote to Titus. The name Titus is of Latin origin, but I could find no other significance aspects from scripture about his name. Use this link to transfer to the first chapter of the letter to Titus.
NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible [WEB].
A - WERE GENTILE CHRISTIANS REQUIRED TO BE CIRCUMSCISED?
“1 ¶ Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!" 4 But Peter began, and explained to them in order, saying, 5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. It came as far as me. 6 When I had looked intently at it, I considered, and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ’Rise, Peter, kill and eat!’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered into my mouth.’ 9 But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, ’What God has cleansed, don’t you call unclean.’ 10 This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11 Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea to me. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying to him, ‘Send to Joppa, and get Simon, whose surname is Peter, 14 who will speak to you words by which you will be saved, you and all your house.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. 16 I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ’John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?" 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!"”
19 ¶ They therefore who were scattered abroad by the oppression that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews only. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. 22 The report concerning them came to the ears of the assembly which was in Jerusalem. They sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch, 23 who, when he had come, and had seen the grace of God, was glad. He exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near to the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and many people were added to the Lord. 25 Barnabas went out to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. It happened, that for a whole year they were gathered together with the assembly, and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
“1 ¶ Now in the assembly that was at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
“26 From there they sailed to Antioch, from where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled. 27 When they had arrived, and had gathered the assembly together, they reported all the things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith to the nations. 28 They stayed there with the disciples for a long time.”
COMMENTS: Acts chapter 11 verses 1 through 18 indicate that Peter was among the earliest men to see the saving grace of God extended to Gentiles. This happened when Peter was called from Joppa to Caesarea by the Lord in a vision. After that, Jews in Jerusalem complained about Peter being with Gentiles, but Peter provided an answer that satisfied them at that time. Peter declared that he had six brothers with him at Caesarea (who could corroborate his description of events), and that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit. Verse 18 states the final response, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!"”
Verse 19 of chapter 11 begins a separate description of events relating to the scattering of Jews following the death of Stephen as described in Acts chapters 7 and 8, before Paul's conversion. Peter's experience in Joppa may have taken place around the same time period. Though most of the Christian Jews spread the gospel only among Jews, Some Gentiles at Antioch received the word of the Lord from Jewish Christians who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene before Barnabas and Paul were there. It is possible that Titus was among those early Gentile converts to Christianity at Antioch.
It was only after word reached the assembly at Jerusalem that they sent out Barnabas to Antioch, and when he saw the grace of God, he was glad. Barnabas then went to Tarsus and brought back Paul with him and they stayed in Antioch for a full year. It is interesting to note that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, and the church there was a mixture of Jews and uncircumcised Gentiles.
From the passage in Acts 13 we know that Paul (known as Saul) and Barnabas were sent out by the church at Antioch to spread the gospel. Then in Acts 14, when they returned from that first "missionary journey" they told of the success of the gospel among the nations (also translated as Gentiles) and then remained at Antioch for a long time.
B - PAUL, BARNABUS, AND TITUS TRAVEL TO JERUSALEM
“1 ¶ Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved." 2 Therefore when Paul and Barnabas had no small discord and discussion with them, they appointed Paul and Barnabas, and some others of them, to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. 3 They, being sent on their way by the assembly, passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. They caused great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the assembly and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." 6 ¶ The apostles and the elders were gathered together to see about this matter. 7 When there had been much discussion, Peter rose up and said to them, "Brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the nations should hear the word of the Good News, and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, testified about them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just like he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you tempt God, that you should put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are."”
“13 After they were silent, James answered, "Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has reported how God first visited the nations, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 This agrees with the words of the prophets. As it is written, 16 ‘After these things I will return. I will again build the tabernacle of David, which has fallen. I will again build its ruins. I will set it up, 17 That the rest of men may seek after the Lord; All the Gentiles who are called by my name, Says the Lord, who does all these things.”
“22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole assembly, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers. 23 They wrote these things by their hand: "The apostles, the elders, and the brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: greetings. 24 Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law,’ to whom we gave no commandment; 25 it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell."”
“1 ¶ Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2 I went up by revelation, and I laid before them the Good News which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately before those who were respected, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 This was because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who stole in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; 5 to whom we gave no place in the way of subjection, not for an hour, that the truth of the Good News might continue with you. 6 But from those who were reputed to be important (whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God doesn’t show partiality to man) - they, I say, who were respected imparted nothing to me, 7 but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcision 8 (for he who appointed Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision appointed me also to the Gentiles); 9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor - which very thing I was also zealous to do. 11 ¶ But when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before some people came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy; so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they didn’t walk uprightly according to the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live as the Gentiles do, and not as the Jews do, why do you compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews do?"”
“36 ¶ After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let’s return now and visit our brothers in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas planned to take John, who was called Mark, with them also. 38 But Paul didn’t think that it was a good idea to take with them someone who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and didn’t go with them to do the work. 39 Then the contention grew so sharp that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas, and went out, being commended by the brothers to the grace of God.”
COMMENTS: The position that circumcision was not required for Gentile believers was not one easily accepted by all Jewish believers in Jerusalem, even though Peter had presented the case that it was not required for the Gentiles at Caesarea, emphasizing that they had received the Holy Spirit, and God "made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith." Barnabas also had not made circumcision a requirement for the Gentile believers when he first arrived at Antioch as sent by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from the first missionary journey together. The question about Gentile circumcision developed into a strongly disputed topic at Antioch when some men came down from Judea saying the Gentiles must be circumcised after the custom of Moses in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had a strong disagreement with them. The church appointed Paul, Barnabas, and some others to take the question to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. They passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria (territories not noted for having Jews), declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, which caused great joy to all the brothers. But when they arrived at Jerusalem some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed (i.e. Jewish Christian) rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
After a period of discussion Peter reminded them of the experience he had with Gentiles at Joppa, not seeing any requirement for them to be circumcised. James reinforced the testimony of Peter with a passage from Isaiah that brought the assembly to agreement that circumcision was not required for Gentile believers. They wrote a brief letter that Paul and Barnabas took back to Antioch, accompanied by Silas and Judas who would verify the letter by testimony of mouth. The apostles did not include in their discussion the importance of circumcision of the heart that could only be performed by the LORD as verified even by Moses. Deuteronomy “30:6 Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.” Paul eventually dealt with circumcision of the flesh and of the heart more thoroughly in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans, but more detail of that would be better suited to a separate Bible study.
Titus is mentioned in the above passage from Galatians, and we learn from that reference that he was an uncircumcised Gentile. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, and this seems to be the same event as described in the passage from Acts chapter 15 starting at verse 1 that includes "and some others of them." Titus would have fit well that "others of them" description, and would have been a direct representative of the Antioch Gentiles, if he had been at Antioch when Barnabas had first been sent there by the Jerusalem church. At that time Barnabas brought no requirement for the Gentile believers to be circumcised. Some commentators believe that Paul personally led both Timothy and Titus to the Lord, but that possibility is not necessarily unquestionably supported from scripture. Since the point in time and the mechanism for Titus to become a Christian is not clearly specified, it is not of critical importance either way. The text does clearly state that Titus was not compelled by the apostles at Jerusalem to be circumcised when he arrived with Paul and Barnabas.
Verses 14 and 15 in Galatians indicate that later Barnabas had even been drawn to Peter's act of separating himself from the Gentiles when Peter visited Antioch at some later date. In a separate description, Barnabas had a dispute with Paul about Mark that was so sharp, Paul took Silas on his second "missionary journey" and Barnabas took Mark on a different route. . After that, there is no mention in Acts of Paul and Barnabas being together, so this adds a little more credence to the idea that Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem after the first missionary journey, but before the second one. Paul was acquainted with many believers who were not necessarily named in various passages about Paul when they may have been among his companions. Titus may have been one of those men, starting very early in Paul's missionary ministry.
C - PAUL HAD PLANNED TO MEET TITUS AT TROAS BEFORE VISITING CORINTH
1 Corinthians 16
“1 ¶ Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise. 2 On the first day of the week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, I will send whoever you approve with letters to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it is appropriate for me to go also, they will go with me. 5 ¶ But I will come to you when I have passed through Macedonia, for I am passing through Macedonia. 6 But with you it may be that I will stay, or even winter, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now in passing, but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 ¶ Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brothers.”
“21 ¶ Now after these things had ended, Paul determined in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 Having sent into Macedonia two of those who served him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.”
2 Corinthians 1
“12 ¶ For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we write no other things to you, than what you read or even acknowledge, and I hope you will acknowledge to the end; 14 as also you acknowledged us in part, that we are your boasting, even as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. 15 ¶ In this confidence, I was determined to come first to you, that you might have a second benefit; 16 and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and to be sent forward by you on my journey to Judea.”
2 Corinthians 1
“23 But I call God for a witness to my soul, that I didn’t come to Corinth to spare you. 24 Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are fellow workers with you for your joy. For you stand firm in faith."
2 Corinthians 2
"1 ¶ But I determined this for myself, that I would not come to you again in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorry, then who will make me glad but he who is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, so that, when I came, I wouldn’t have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy would be shared by all of you. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be made sorry, but that you might know the love that I have so abundantly for you.”
2 Corinthians 2
“12 ¶ Now when I came to Troas for the Good News of Christ, and when a door was opened to me in the Lord, 13 I had no relief for my spirit, because I didn’t find Titus, my brother, but taking my leave of them, I went out into Macedonia.”
COMMENTS: Paul had been in Corinth for more than one and a half years for his first visit there as recorded in Acts chapter 18, and Silas and Timothy had joined him there from Macedonia, thereby having become known by the Corinthians. At the end of his stay, He traveled by ship with Priscilla and Aquilla to Ephesus on the western coast of Asia Minor. As Paul closed his first letter to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 16), he asked them to save, as they were prospered, so there would be no need for a collection when he came. Paul said he planned to visit them, but first he would stay at Ephesus until Pentecost. He asked them to receive Timothy warmly if he came to them, but he did not mention Titus at all. In chapter one of his first letter to the Corinthians Paul had stated that he had learned from those of the household of Chloe, that there were contentions among them, and he had given them some stern warnings through the rest of the letter. There is no other mention of Chloe in all of the New Testament.
Paul had quite an impact in Ephesus among idol worshippers, but soon after, that led to a dangerous uproar. Before the unruly gathering of the Ephesians developed, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia and Achaia, not specifically mentioning Corinth as a destination. Paul planned after visiting Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem and he said he "must also see Rome" (see Acts 19:21-22). In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians (see verses 12-16) Paul expresses his confidence and affection for the Corinthians, and that he had anticipated that after his visit they would send him forward on his journey to Judea.
Paul tells the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 1:23 through 2:4) that he purposed not to see them in person again to spare them, (from what he would say about their need of repentance) and he emphasized that "Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are fellow workers with you for your joy." There were some very strong parts of Paul's first letter that were difficult but necessary for him to write. He wanted the Corinthians to know that he had abundant love for them and the strong language was necessary as speaking the truth in love as a matter of exhortation. This quotations captures Paul's feelings, "2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you should be made sorry, but that you might know the love that I have so abundantly for you.” Paul then told the Corinthians that at Troas he had no relief for his spirit, because he didn’t find Titus, his brother, so he continued into Macedonia. Titus was an uncircumcised Gentile believer, but Paul refers to him as a brother, and we can understand that he meant a brother in Christ.
D - TITUS JOINS PAUL IN MACEDONIA BRINGING COMFORT BY HIS REPORT
2 Corinthians 7
“5 ¶ For even when we had come into Macedonia, our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side. Fightings were outside. Fear was inside. 6 Nevertheless, he who comforts the lowly, God, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, while he told us of your longing, your mourning, and your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For though I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it. For I see that my letter made you sorry, though just for a while. 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you were made sorry to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world works death. 11 For behold, this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you. Yes, what defence, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and vengeance! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter. 12 ¶ So although I wrote to you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be revealed in you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore we have been comforted. In our comfort we rejoiced the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him on your behalf, I was not disappointed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth. 15 His affection is more abundantly toward you, while he remembers all of your obedience, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 I rejoice that in everything I am confident concerning you.”Acts 20
“1 ¶ After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those parts, and had encouraged them with many words, he came into Greece. 3 When he had spent three months there, and a plot was made against him by Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia. 4 These accompanied him as far as Asia: Sopater of Beroea; Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians; Gaius of Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 But these had gone ahead, and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas in five days, where we stayed seven days.”
COMMENTS: Paul's own words in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 while he was in Macedonia waiting to hear from Titus were, "fightings were outside, fear was inside." Though Paul does not explain any causes, part of these feelings may have been the concern about the affects of his first letter to the Corinthians, as he expressed in that passage. But he was refreshed by the report brought to him by Titus with the gracious words from the believers in Corinth. He said that he rejoiced even more by the joy that Titus felt as his own spirit had been refreshed by the Corinthians. Just as Paul had spoken all things to the Corinthians in truth, so in anything he had boasted to Titus on their behalf, Titus found to be true.It cannot be determined from the passages in both 2 Corinthians and in Acts whether Titus joined Paul in Macedonia before Paul traveled into Greece for three months as recorded in the Acts 20 passage above, or after Paul left Greece under threat, and returned to Macedonia. In either case, Paul decided not to visit the Corinthians at that time, but instead sent Titus with his second letter to them. The passage from Acts 20 gives a brief word about Paul's trip from Ephesus to Macedonia after the uproar had ceased, and also indicates the brief time in Achaia. It does not mention anything about plans to go to Corinth. The list of companions with Paul as he left Macedonia to go into Asia does not include Titus, but he was likely still in Corinth where he had delivered Paul's second letter.
E - LIBERAL GIVING FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHER SAINTS
2 Corinthians 8
“1 ¶ Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia; 2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace. 7But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace. 8 I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 I give a judgment in this: for this is expedient for you, who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do, but also to be willing. 11 But now complete the doing also, that as there was the readiness to be willing, so there may be the completion also out of your ability. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have. 13 For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, 14 but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that there may be equality.”
In chapter 8 Paul sets the believers in Macedonia as an example because their sharing was not out of material abundance or a sense of requirement, but it was even beyond what could be expected of those with limited resources, even in poverty. Paul characterized the desire of the believers in Macedonia as "begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints." Paul then told the Corinthians that he urged Titus to build upon the relationship he had established with the Corinthians, as he carried Paul's encouragement them to share in the grace of giving generously. Paul said his letter was not speaking by way of commandment, "but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love."
F - PAUL COMMENTS ON THE CONFIDENCE TITUS HAD IN RETURNING TO CORINTH
2 Corinthians 8
“16 ¶ But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he indeed accepted our exhortation, but being himself very earnest, he went out to you of his own accord. 18 We have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Good News is known through all the assemblies. 19 Not only so, but who was also appointed by the assemblies to travel with us in this grace, which is served by us to the glory of the Lord himself, and to show our readiness. 20 We are avoiding this, that any man should blame us concerning this abundance which is administered by us. 21 Having regard for honourable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 We have sent with them our brother, whom we have many times proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest, by reason of the great confidence which he has in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for you. As for our brothers, they are the apostles of the assemblies, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show the proof of your love to them in front of the assemblies, and of our boasting on your behalf.”
2 Corinthians 9
“1 ¶ It is indeed unnecessary for me to write to you concerning the service to the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast on your behalf to them of Macedonia, that Achaia has been prepared for a year past. Your zeal has stirred up very many of them. 3 But I have sent the brothers that our boasting on your behalf may not be in vain in this respect, that, just as I said, you may be prepared, 4 so that I won’t by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia and find you unprepared, we (to say nothing of you) should be disappointed in this confident boasting. 5 I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brothers that they would go before to you, and arrange ahead of time the generous gift that you promised before, that the same might be ready as a matter of generosity, and not of greediness.”COMMENTS: Paul further explains to the Corinthians that he did not need to urge Titus for this trip, because Titus had a personal affection for the believers at Corinth. Paul was sending another brother with Titus, who was apparently well known, even though he does not mention his name. There seems to be a designed precaution to have more than one person handling the valuables collected that are to be distributed to others, so as to minimize any accusations that part of it may be retained for personal use by those who collect.
In chapter 9, Paul states that it is indeed unnecessary for him to write to the Corinthians concerning the service to the saints, for he said he knew their readiness, of which he had boasted to those in Macedonia, that those in Achaia had been prepared for a year past. That zeal had stirred up very many of them in Macedonia. Paul therefore sent some brothers ahead to the Corinthians to arrange ahead of time the generous gift that they had promised before, that the same might be ready as a matter of generosity, and not of greediness. For if Paul should come with some from Macedonia, and they were found unprepared, Paul and the Corinthians themselves would then be disappointed before the Macedonians.
G - PAUL PLANS A THIRD TIME TO VISIT CORINTH
2 Corinthians 12
“12 Truly the signs of an apostle were worked among you in all patience, in signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For what is there in which you were made inferior to the rest of the assemblies, unless it is that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong. 14 Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I seek not your possessions, but you. For the children ought not to save up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less? 16 But be it so, I did not myself burden you. But, being crafty, I caught you with deception. 17 Did I take advantage of you by anyone of them whom I have sent to you? 18 I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus take any advantage of you? Didn’t we walk in the same spirit? Didn’t we walk in the same steps? 19 Again, do you think that we are excusing ourselves to you? In the sight of God we speak in Christ. But all things, beloved, are for your edifying. 20 For I am afraid that by any means, when I come, I might find you not the way I want to, and that I might be found by you as you don’t desire; that by any means there would be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, whisperings, proud thoughts, riots; 21 that again when I come my God would humble me before you, and I would mourn for many of those who have sinned before now, and not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and lustfulness which they committed.”
COMMENTS: As Paul writes his second letter to the Corinthians, he has abandoned his plans for the second visit to Corinth. He states that he will plan a third time to visit. It is not clear whether the plans for the second visit were cut short due to the threat on his life in Greece; or whether he simply did not have enough time because of the unexpected series of events, and a later report than he had anticipated from Titus. It had been his desired plan to be in Judea after the Macedonia and Achaia journey.
Paul again expresses some concern as he asks in the letter whether he had taken advantage of the Corinthians by anyone that he had sent to them. He was not excusing himself to them, but said he was, in the sight of God, speaking in Christ for their edification. Paul did not want to return to Corinth and find strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, etcetera. Paul said God would humble him before them is those who had sinned had not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and lustfulness which they had committed. As Titus delivered this letter to the Corinthians, it may have placed him in the position to face some questions the Corinthians would probably have from the mixture of tone in Paul's letter.
H - TITUS GOES TO DALMATIA
2 Timothy 4
“9 ¶ Be diligent to come to me soon, 10 for Demas left me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus when you come, and the books, especially the parchments.”
COMMENTS: This is a very vague reference to Titus for several reasons, beginning with the fact that Dalmatia is mentioned only in this passage in all of the New Testament, and Paul offers no explanation for why Titus went there, or whether he had been there before. Paul says this about Illyricum in Romans 15, “19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God’s Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ; 20 yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another’s foundation. 21 But, as it is written, "They will see, to whom no news of him came. They who haven’t heard will understand."” This passage in Romans is also the only mention in the Bible of Illyricum, which was an area somewhat north of Macedonia, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, and Dalmatia was within that territory. Demus was said to have left Paul for "this present world," and had gone to Thessalonica. The names of Crescens and Titus follow in the same sentence, but it is not at all apparent that they were leaving for the same reason as Demus. Any of the three cities mentioned could have been areas where Paul desired further ministry to take place. We do know that Paul's letter written to Titus gives further evidence that he was a faithful fellow worker for the gospel.
--- Reflections in prayer ---
By searching out these passages Lord, I have gained a much deeper appreciation for your love and saving grace that you have extended to me as a Gentile. It also has become clearer to me that it was your plan to include Gentiles in your Kingdom, even from the Old Testament, but that was very difficult for the Jews to accept. They had the covenant of circumcision and many of them believed that was a prerequisite for all Gentiles to be saved. How wonderful that after your resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit to endwell the believer, Jew and Gentile were brought together in the body of Christ. The required circumcision was of the heart, to be performed only by the LORD, even as it had been written of by Moses in Deuteronomy. Titus is a wonderful example of a man whose biography is in the background and not easily followed in the pages of scripture, and yet he is very important as a Gentile believer who did not convert to Judaism either before or after he was saved to eternal life in Christ. I praise you Lord for the security I have personally as a Gentile believer. May my life give evidence that I have the circumcision you performed in my heart, and that I am sealed by your Holy Spirit. Amen and amen.
Published 21 March 2012