Titus has been mentioned in a number of letters, such as in 2 Corinthians 8:23, and was a protégé’ of Shaul, traveling with him and also being sent as a messenger. He was working with the congregation in Crete when this letter was sent to him.
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This is one of those letters that some scholars believe was NOT written by Shaul, but possibly from someone using his name or from notes he had scribed. The time of the letter is around 63-65 A.D., which would be the time Shaul was a prisoner in Rome. However, at the end of the letter Shaul asks Titus to come to him in Nicopolis, where he intended to winter. Either Shaul was very optimistic about having his case heard and being set free (which I do not get from any of the other letters he wrote during this period), or maybe this is why it is thought he didn’t write this, rather that someone else did from notes he may have made before he was imprisoned in Rome.
The letter is simply a reminder of how Titus should choose the leadership for the congregation that was being set up there. Apparently, it was still in its formative stages.
The message is very similar to what he wrote Timothy with regards to choosing upright people, those who did not have a bad reputation, were self-disciplined, and who hold firmly to the Good News that was given to them.
Shaul tells Titus to be aware of, and watch out for, the reputation that the Cretans have. Even today, the term “Cretan” is a slur, indicating a baseless and vile person, with no understanding. Shaul quotes one of their own prophets, a man named Epimenides, who called his own people liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12; the name of the prophet is not mentioned in the letter but in a footnote of the NIV Quest Study Bible).
Shaul also warns against what he calls the “Circumcision group”, who were the believing Jews that insisted anyone following Messiah must undergo B’rit Milah in order to be able to become a member of God’s family. We hear a lot about these believing Jews in other letters, as well (Romans and Galatians, for two).
In light of the problems Titus is facing from both the believing Jews and the Cretans, who were known universally to be stubborn and argumentative, Shaul advises Titus to aways teach sound doctrine so that it can be used against the wrong teachings and false doctrine that was being used against him.
Titus is also told to ensure the members of the congregation always obey the legal authorities, which he says elsewhere, in order that the populace may see believers in Messiah as upright, and not have anything to hold against them. He especially warns against getting involved in useless arguments, such as over genealogies and controversial topics: if someone is being divisive, he is to be warned twice, then abandon that person and have nothing to do with him as he is self-condemned.
A bit of history: we do not hear anything else, really, about the Cretan believers. It is likely that being on an island, isolated from other believers and surrounded by non-believers (who were not the easiest people to get along with), that congregation was not able to survive.
The last letter in the New Covenant attributed to Shaul is Philemon, but I am not going to discuss that one because it is a personal request from Shaul, which really doesn’t add much except to demonstrate Shaul’s ability to lay a guilt trip on someone.
I will conclude this teaching series in my next lesson.
Until then, l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!