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References: 2 Corinthians 2:23, 12:18; Galatians 2:1,3; Book of Titus; 2 Timothy 4:9
Heart of the Story: Information on Titus is pieced together from various books in the New Testament and from early New Testament tradition. He was a true New Testament pastor.
Role of Pastor in New Christian Church:
In the budding Christian church, the closest equivalent to the Jewish synagogue priest was the pastor. In New Testament scriptures pastor, overseer, and elder were used interchangeably. The pastor was the spiritual leader in a local church or congregation. Often the pastor had authority by virtue of his experience and age. He was an overseer in the sense that he supervised, inspected, and examined the doctrine in the local church and in the church members. As elder he officiated at church worship.
Paul’s plan was for each town to have a church, congregation, and pastor (elder). The ability to teach was the distinguishing mark of a pastor in the new Christian church. Teaching included a sure knowledge of what was right and wrong (sound doctrine) and the ability to refute error or rebuke those who contradicted sound doctrine.
Titus met and was converted by Paul early in Paul ministry, possibly when Paul and Barnabas preached in Antioch (circa 44-45 AD). Titus was a Greek. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to attend a Church Council meeting. In Jerusalem, the Council acknowledged that Titus – and thus all Gentiles – didn’t need to be circumcised to be accepted as followers of Christ and members of the Christian church.
Titus in Corinth and Crete
Titus stands out as a pastor as well as Paul’s fellow minister. He was given the challenging task of delivering Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. Paul was concerned that the Corinthian church was divided because some of its powerful members were arrogant. He wanted members to drop their one-upmanship and work together to advance the good news of Christ, build up the faith in weak members, and effectively witness to unbelievers.
Paul feared how the Corinthians would reaction to his letter; however, Titus did a masterful job of interpreting Paul’s letter and Paul’s concerns for Corinth church. Through Titus’ efforts the Corinthian church responded by longing for Paul’s presence, mourning over their sins, and zeal for Paul’s ministry (2 Corinthians 7:5-9). Titus labor with the Corinth church took longer than either Titus or Paul anticipated. Titus didn’t join Paul at Troas as planned, but joined him later in Macedonia.
Between Paul’s house arrest and his final imprisonment in Rome, Paul completed a fourth missionary journey where he possible went to Spain and most definitely to Crete (circa 62-64 AD). Titus was with Paul when Paul visited Crete. Paul’s normal pattern when establishing new churches was to appoint church elders. For some reason Paul’s pattern to appoint elders in each church wasn’t or couldn’t be followed in Crete; thus, Titus remained on the island when Paul left. His job was to bring order to the new congregation
Titus had an up-hill battle as he attempted to establish and pastor the churches on Crete. Cretans were described as liars, evil beast, and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12). Throughout the ancient world Cretans were known for their immoral lives. Almost immediately false teacher rose in the individual churches to include Jews who advocated circumcision for Gentile converts and those who obsessed on Jewish myths. Titus traveled among the infant churches to organize them, appoint elders and refute false doctrine.
Paul wrote his letter to Titus in 63-64 AD from Nicopolis, a port city northwest of Athens. In the letter, Paul urged Titus to come to him in Nicopolis. Probably, Titus did meet Paul in Nicopolis, but didn’t remain with Paul. In his second letter to Timothy Paul recorded that Titus was in Dalmatia.
Titus was a true pastor; he was able to reconcile the quarrelsome Corinthians and establish viable churches among the dishonest Cretans. The last we hear about Titus, he is establishing the Christian church among the aggressive Dalmatians.
Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth 3/14.