Session 1: Reality Check
Titus had the task of being an apostolic representative. One of Paul’s early converts (1:4), he was a Gentile, evidently from Antioch of Syria. Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem to discuss the nature of the gospel (Gal. 2:1–3). Titus was so vibrant a disciple that the Jerusalem leaders were persuaded that Paul’s law-free gospel was acceptable (Gal. 2:3–5). Titus was with Paul in Ephesus on his third missionary journey and was Paul’s ambassador to the troubled church in Corinth, carrying both the “Severe Letter” and 2 Corinthians (see Occasion for 2 CORINTHIANS).
After Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, he assigned Titus the responsibility of helping the churches on the island of Crete with their doctrinal and organizational difficulties. After this letter was written, Paul sent him to Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10). Titus proved to be a courageous and strong leader.
Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, lying directly south of the Aegean Sea. It is about 160 miles across, with a long history of civilization. In the Old Testament it was called Caphtor, and the Philistine people probably migrated from there to southern Palestine. Paul’s shipwreck adventure occurred after the captain of the ship he was on declined to spend the winter in Crete (Acts 27). Life in Crete was distressing because of the lying and laziness of the people (1:12)
Sound doctrine is crucial as the cure for false teaching. This letter gives the qualifications for elders (also called bishops), but not for other church officers (see 1 Tim. 3). The term “elder” (Greek, presbyteros) refers to the maturity and respect—the character qualities—that church leaders must have and was probably derived from the model of the Jewish synagogues. The term “bishop” (Greek, episkopos) is better translated “overseer” and refers to the ministry responsibilities entrusted to church leaders. This term was probably taken from Hellenistic (Greek) cultural patterns. Titus 2:1–9 catalogs appropriate relationships within the congregation.