THE LETTER TO TITUS



1. Who wrote the Letter to Titus?

What does Titus 1:1 indicate about the author of the Letter to Titus?

Titus 1:1 indicates that Paul was the author of the Letter to Titus.
 

2. To whom was the Letter to Titus written?

What does Titus 1:4 indicate about the intended reader of the Letter to Titus?

Titus 1:4 indicates that Titus was the intended reader of the Letter to Titus.


3. When was the Letter to Titus written?

3.1. What was Titus' situation when Paul wrote to him, according to Titus 1:5; 3:12?

It seems that Paul and Titus traveled together to the island of Crete, and Paul then left Titus in Crete to put in order what was left unfinished and to appoint elders in every city. Titus was to wait in Crete until Paul sent Artemas or Tychicus to him, after which he was to join Paul in Nicopolis.

3.2. If Titus' journey to Crete can be correlated with information about the itinerary of Titus from other New Testament sources, it might be possible to date the Letter to Titus. The following is a list of references to Titus in Paul's letters (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13-14; 8:6, 16-19, 22-23; 12:17-18; Gal 2:1, 3; 2 Tim 4:10). (Oddly, the Book of Acts never mentions Titus.) Reconstruct what is known of Titus' life from the available data.

Titus was a gentile who had an early association with Paul, even before his first missionary journey; he traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when they brought famine relief money to the believers in Judea (Gal 2:1, 3). Much later, Titus was with Paul in Ephesus during the latter's third missionary journey, because Paul sent Titus to Corinth with the so-called "severe letter" (or "tearful letter") accompanied by some unidentified "brothers" (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13-14; 12:16-18). Paul expected to meet Titus in Troas, but did not (2 Cor 2:13). He eventually met up with Titus somewhere in Macedonia, where he received good news about how most of the Corinthians responded positively to the letter (2 Cor 7:5-7, 13). It is in response to this good news that Paul wrote the letter now known as 2 Corinthians, which Titus delivered to Corinth with two unnamed "brothers"; in Corinth, Titus helped to organize Paul's faltering collection project (2 Cor 8:16-18, 22). It seems that Titus also accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection money, being chosen by the churches to do so (2 Cor 8:19). When Paul is imprisoned in Rome for the second and final time, Titus is working in Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10).

3.3. According to what is known of the life of Titus from references to him in Paul's letters, does Paul ever travel to Crete with Titus, as Titus 1:5 presupposes? If not, how do you account for this?

Nothing is said Paul's other letters of a visit to Crete by Paul with Titus. It follows that Paul must have gone to Crete with Titus later in his life, after most of his letters had been written. Probably, he wrote the Letter to Titus after his release from his first Roman imprisonment.

3.4. According to Acts 27:7-8, Paul stops in Crete while being transported to Rome as a prisoner. Could this be the journey to Crete with Titus presupposed by Titus 1:5?

Paul's time in Crete when traveling to Rome to stand trial is not likely the journey to Crete with Titus presupposed by Titus 1:5. Paul was not in Crete long enough, nor was he at liberty to move around the island. Besides, there is no evidence that Titus was even with Paul on his journey to Rome.

3.5. It has been argued that Paul wrote the Letter to Titus during the end of his third missionary journey, perhaps on his way to Jerusalem. On this hypothesis, while they were spending the winter in Corinth (1 Cor 16:6; Acts 20:2-3), Paul sent Titus to Crete, in order to do what he describes in Titus 1:5. The fact that Paul sent no greeting from Titus to the Romans in the conclusion of his Letter to the Romans (16), which he wrote during this time, implies that Titus was no longer in Corinth; it is possible that he was no longer in Corinth because he had gone to Crete. Thus, when he says that he left him behind, Paul means only that he did not take Titus with him to Jerusalem, contrary to the original plan (2 Cor 8:19), because it was requisite that he remain in Crete due to the pressing needs of the churches there. In other words, such a statement does not mean necessarily that he actually accompanied Titus to Crete and then left him there.

      This hypothesis, however, has several fatal weaknesses. First, the clause "I left you in Crete" (apelipon se en Krêtê) more naturally is interpreted to mean that Paul was with Titus in Crete and then left him there to go somewhere else. A parallel to this usage occurs in 2 Tim 4:20: "Trophimus I left in Miletus sick." The natural interpretation of this statement is that Paul was with Trophimus in Miletus, but had to leave him there because the latter had become ill. Paul also uses the same verb to describe how he left behind his cloak and some scrolls with Carpus in Troas when he was in the city (2 Tim 4:13). If one interprets Paul's statement "I left you in Crete" as implying that he was with Titus in Crete, then Paul must have written after his third missionary journey, because he did not go to Crete before that time. It is also arguable that Paul's instructions to Titus "Greet those who love us in the faith" (Titus 3:15) implies that Paul was known to the Cretans, which could only be true if he had recently been to the island. Second, Paul instructs Titus to come to him in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12), but there is no evidence that Paul went to Nicopolis or even planned to go there before his first Roman imprisonment. At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul was set on going to Jerusalem, not Nicopolis. Thus, it is probable that Paul went to Nicopolis only after his first Roman imprisonment.


4. Where was the Letter to Titus written?

According to Titus 1:5, Paul has recently left Titus in Crete, and, according to Titus 3:12, he plans to spend the winter in Nicopolis. Is it possible to pinpoint Paul's whereabouts at the time of the writing of his Letter to Titus?

It is not possible to pinpoint Paul's whereabouts when he wrote the Letter to Titus. All that one can say is that Paul was anywhere but Nicopolis, since he referred to it as his destination, implying that he was not there.
 

5. What is the Letter to Titus?

Outline of the Letter to Titus

A. 1:1-5

This represents the introduction of the letter; there is a salutation but no thanksgiving or prayer. Paul does, however, digress after his identification as the author, speaking about the nature of his apostleship.
 

B. 1:6-3:11

This represents the main body of the letter.

1. 1:5-9

Paul gives to Titus the criteria by which he is to choose elders and overseers.

2. 1:10-16

Paul tells Titus that he must be active in resisting false teachers in Crete, who upset whole families and teach for monetary gain; they are identified as being "those from the circumcision group," implying that they were Jews who advocated that gentile believers be circumcised. Because they are morally less than sterling ("Cretans are always liars, evil animals and lazy gluttons"), Paul tells Titus to rebuke the Cretans, in order that they not pay attention to Jewish myths or to the commandments of those who reject the truth. Paul then condemns the false teachers.

3. 2:1-10

Paul gives Titus regulations for Christian behavior. He tells Titus to teach what is according to sound doctrine. Then he instructs Titus to tell the older women to be reverent in behavior and the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be upright and to be submissive to their husbands. The younger men are to be self-controlled, and Paul tells Titus to show himself as a model of good works. Titus is to instruct slaves to be submissive to their masters.

4. 2:11-14

Paul says that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation and giving training in renouncing impiety and worldly passions and in the present age to live in a self-controlled, upright and godly manner, while believers wait for the coming of Christ.

5. 2:15-3:2

Paul gives a series of practical instructions for Titus.

6. 3:3-7

Paul contrasts Christianity and paganism. Whereas previously they were helpless sinners, the savior saved believers not according to any works done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit. They are justified by grace and heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

7. 3:8-11

Paul gives Titus a series of closing admonitions, especially on how to deal with false teachers.

8. 3:12-14

Paul gives some practical instructions to Titus.
 

C. 3:15

This represents the conclusion, including greetings and a benediction.
 

6. Why was the Letter to Titus written?

Based on the contents of the letter, what was Paul's purpose in writing the Letter to Titus?

Paul wrote the Letter to Titus to instruct Titus on how to deal with the situation in Crete. He gave him advice on how to choose elders and overseers and on how to deal with false teachers; he also gave Titus practical instructions to transmit to the Cretan believers. Paul also wrote to tell Titus to meet him in Nicopolis and to send Zenas and Apollos on their way (Titus 3:12-13).

 

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