Summary: An in depth look at Titus, Paul's partner and fellow worker in the faith.
When we survey the later part of the book of Acts we find a faithful band of men and women who traveled the ancient world preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the center of this sojourners and pilgrims was the apostle Paul, the tireless workhorse of the early church. But Paul didn’t work alone. He was not an army of one. He was not a one man show. Instead he surrounded himself with people he called “his partners and fellow workers.”
Some of Paul’s “partners and fellow workers” that Luke mentions are well known to most Bible students, such as: Barnabas, Silas, Pricilla and Aquila, Timothy, Apollos and Aristarchus. While others, such as Gaius, Secundus, Sopater, Tychicus Trophimus, and Erastus are not as well known. But there is one “partner and fellow worker” that Luke never mentions and that’s Titus. Titus was always there, tirelessly working behind the scenes, go where he was needed, saying what needed to be said and that’s why Paul would call him “my partner and fellow worker” (2 Corinthians 8:23). Titus is only mentioned twelve times in the New Testament which has lead him to be an overlooked man of the faith. There’s a lot to be learned from Titus. For our lesson we will examine his work with the early church and then learn four lessons from his life that will help strengthen our faith today.
Titus’ Witness in Acts 15
“Certain men” came from Jerusalem teaching that unless Gentiles were “circumcised and keep the Law” they could not be saved (Acts 15:1, 5, 24). Paul and Barnabas had no small dispute with these false teachers because they were troubling the souls of the Gentiles with their teachings (Acts 15:2). To resolve why these teachers had come from Jerusalem teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law, the church at Antioch “determined that Paul, Barnabas and certain others of them should go to Jerusalem… about this question” (Acts 15:3).
From Galatians 2:1, 3 we learn that Titus was part of the “certain others” that went up to Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas. Titus was the perfect witness for Paul to take to Jerusalem to show that Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised or keep the Law in order to be saved. Even though Titus was Greek, a Gentile converted from Paganism by Paul, he was righteous before God because of his faith and not by physical circumcision and the works of the Law (Acts 15:11; Galatians 2:21). After the meeting of the apostles and elders of Jerusalem, it appears that Titus returned back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
Titus’ Work at Corinth
Titus’ work with the church at Corinth took two forms: first gauging the Corinthian response to Paul’s letter and the second the collection for the Judean saints.
Gauging the Corinthian Response: While in Ephesus, Paul learned of problems within the Corinthian church from some of Chloe’s household (1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:1) and from a letter the church had sent him (1 Corinthians 7:1). To address these problems Paul sends a rather strong letter (1 Corinthians) to the church, not the intending to shame them but warn them (1 Corinthians 4:14). Along with this letter Paul sends Timothy to encourage them to correct their problems and live as Paul would live in service to Christ (1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10-11 cf. Acts 19:22). Without any word from Timothy, Paul was eager to gauge their response to his letter so he sent Titus to Corinth with instructions to met him in Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). When Titus was delayed in arriving in Troas (perhaps because he had to persuade the Corinthians to receive Paul’s letter and repent), Paul left the productive field of Troas and went into Macedonia because his spirit would have no rest until he received word from Titus. Paul finally met Titus in Macedonia. It was there that Titus brought joy to Paul’s heart by his coming and by bring news that the church at Corinth had zealously received his letter, sorrowed and mourned over their sins and repented (2 Corinthians 7:6-12). Titus was refreshed and joyful over the Corinthian’s repentance (2 Corinthians 7:13-15).
The Corinthian Collection: In addition to Titus’ reporting that the church had repented he also tells Paul that they had yet to completed their collection for the needy saints in Judea (2 Corinthians 8:10-11). Paul sends Titus, along with others, back to Corinth to encourage the church to complete the collection that they had previously begun with Titus’ encouragement (2 Corinthians 8:6). From Romans 15:25-26 we learn thatTitus was able to encourage the Corinthians to complete their collection.
Titus’ Work at Crete
Titus accompanied Paul on an unrecorded fourth missionary journey that occurred between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments (Acts 28:30-31; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 4:16-18). Their travels took them to the island of Crete were churches were established in several cities. Paul’s instructions were for Titus to “set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). Such as: