“My partner and fellowhelper”
In thinking about the companions of Paul we need to ask just what is meant by the term “companion.” It means more that just being a mere friend. The term “friend” is sometimes used rather loosely. We talk about a person being a friend when they may be no more than an acquaintance. Paul’s companions were indeed his friends but their friendship led to their cooperation with him in his great lifework. This means they took their orders from him and acted upon his advice. We might call them apostolic deputies. The Apostle Paul had the unique ability to use his friends, getting their wholehearted cooperation, without losing their affection and respect. This is one of the marks of a true leader. Certain other qualities are needed in a leader and they were all combined in Paul.
He knew what he wanted to accomplish and always had a goal in view. He was never indecisive. One cannot expect others to follow if the leader himself does not know where he is going.
He had a genuine interest in all those associated with him. It may be seen from his writings that he had a paternal love and concern for each one, and was interested in their welfare and sought God’s best for them.
He never spared himself. He did not send others on hazardous missions and then sit back in the easy chair himself. He was always ready to do more than he asked or expected of others.
He had discriminating judgment. He could discern what each one was best suited for and give assignments of which they were capable.
Possessing this remarkable gift of leadership Paul had many loyal and dedicated followers. Such an one was Titus, who was given tasks suited to his personality and which those of lesser temperament could not have performed. Paul had great confidence in Titus and often sent him on missions that could not be entrusted to others. Titus was a native of Antioch and Paul addresses him as “mine own son after the common faith” which would seem to indicate that he was led to Christ through the instrumentality of the apostle. It is of interest to note that even though he was closely associated with Paul we do not find him mentioned in the book of Acts. What we know about him we learn from the apostle’s letters.
Titus comes on the scene in Galatians 2:1,3 where Paul is rehearsing something that happened some time prior. After his first missionary journey Paul had returned to Antioch with Barnabas and settled down there for a “long time” (Acts 14:28) carrying on a successful ministry, especially among the Gentiles, and souls were being saved as Paul preached the gospel of God’s grace. But then “certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension with these Judaizers but bided their time until Paul had a special revelation. Then he went up to Jerusalem to settle this issue. He met with the Jewish leaders there and outlined the gospel of unadulterated grace which he had received of the Lord and which he preached among the Gentiles. Paul had not gone up to Jerusalem alone but had taken Titus with him. Titus was to be a test case. The legalists had said that circumcision was necessary in order to be saved. Paul produced Titus as an uncircumcised Gentile who was saved and living for Christ, another indication that he was saved under Paul’s grace preaching. In the face of this indisputable evidence the Jewish leaders, those which were of reputation, had little to say. However, false brethren had been brought in to refute Paul but they were no match for him. He said, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). Paul stood firmly and resisted every effort on the part of these legalists to bring the Gentiles into bondage and rob them of their liberty in Christ. James and Peter and the elders there at Jerusalem were forced to bow to Paul and to issue the decree that the Gentiles were not obligated to keep the Mosaic law and the ordinances associated with it. In spite of this the Judaizers are still on the scene and we should have the courage and boldness of Paul to withstand them. Newell says: “Would that we had grace just as vigorously to defend Paul’s great message today.”
That which occasioned Paul’s letter to the Galatians was doctrine. The Judaizers had come among them and were preaching another gospel, a gospel of works, which was no gospel at all and opposed to the gospel of God’s grace. That which elicited the letter to the Corinthians was immorality and misconduct. The letter Paul wrote in response to this was rather sharp in which he used some strong language and rebuked them sternly. After writing he had some anxious thoughts as to how they would receive the letter. Would they suffer the word of exhortation or would they be angry with him for writing it. Finally he sent Titus, his troubleshooter, to learn their response. Then he could scarcely give himself to other matters as he anxiously awaited Titus’ return. Note II Corinthians 2:12-13 which describes his feelings at this point: “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.” He was so concerned about the state of affairs at Corinth that he could not take advantage of the open door at Troas. It would seem he was to meet Titus at Troas, with the understanding that if Titus could not be there by a certain time they would meet in Macedonia, so Paul went to Macedonia and there they met. We read: “For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (II Corinthians 7:5-6). How it rejoiced Paul’s heart to get the report from Titus that the Corinthians were setting things right in the church and that the brother who had sinned so grievously had repented and been restored to fellowship. The 7th verse of this same chapter attests Paul’s joy at the news: “And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.” Verses 13-16 also speak of his joy and that of Titus also at the manner in which the Corinthian saints were responding.
Having received the welcome news and being comforted thereby, Paul sent Titus back to Corinth with the second letter. Also, there was another piece of business to be dealt with. This had to do with the offering they were taking among the Gentile churches on behalf of the Jews at Jerusalem. A famine had taken place in Palestine and many there were suffering. Paul was greatly concerned about this offering. Though God’s chosen messenger to the Gentiles he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews with a passionate love for his nation, willing to sacrifice himself on their behalf, as stated in Romans 9:3, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” It grieved him much that the Jews had rejected God’s offer of mercy and had relentlessly persecuted him everywhere, and perhaps he thought this offering would cause them to look upon him more favorably. This collection was of much interest to Paul but was a matter of some embarrassment to the Corinthians.
When the project had been presented to them a year before they had made great promises of cooperation but since, perhaps because of the party spirit and other problems in their midst, they had done nothing. Now Titus is charged with the task of getting them to live up to their pledge. The 8th and 9th chapters of the letter he carried (II Corinthians) has to do with this matter and in 8:23 Paul writes: “Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-helper concerning you.” That Titus was deputized to handle this shows the confidence placed in him by the apostle. The task required honesty, integrity, firmness and tact, and Titus was the one man suited for the job.
There is now a blank in the biography of Titus. That he was kept busy serving the Lord may be taken for granted, but where he was during the events at Jerusalem and Paul’s imprisonment at Rome, we do not know. We must turn to the epistle written to him for any further information. We learn from this epistle that Titus was at Crete, an island in the Mediterranean, mostly mountainous with some peaks rising over 8,000 feet. On Paul’s voyage to Rome the ship had sailed along its southern shore. In the period between Paul’s two imprisonments he had resumed preaching. He and Titus were at Crete where souls were saved and churches planted. Then Paul went on to other places and left Titus behind to see that these infant churches were on a solid foundation and setting a straight course. We see here again that Titus was Paul’s man for a difficult job, for the task here was a formidable one. These Cretans were not the easiest folks to work with. They are described as liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons, and Titus is enjoined to exhort and convince the gainsayers, to stop the mouths of the unruly and vain talkers, to rebuke them sharply, to speak the things which become sound doctrine, etc., etc. What an assignment! These Cretans were notorious for their unchastity and untruthfulness and Titus would be hard put in teaching them how God’s children are to live. Apart from the working of God’s Holy Spirit the task would be impossible. It is no wonder that Paul’s letter to Titus is filled with instructions regarding the walk of the believer.
The letters to the two pastors, Timothy and Titus, are quite similar and yet there is a marked difference. The main subject in Timothy is correct doctrine, while the subject in Titus is correct behavior. It is of utmost importance that we should be correctly indoctrinated, but then the walk should follow. And here also we need to rightly divide the Scriptures. Many of the taboos given to believers today are faulty because of this failure to rightly divide. We do not get instructions concerning our walk from Moses in the Old Testament, nor even from the gospel accounts when Jesus was here in the flesh as a minister of the circumcision sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is in the epistles of the Apostle Paul that we have the truth for members of the Body of Christ in this dispensation of grace, and in those epistles we have the highest standard of conduct to be found anywhere in God’s Holy Word. We are saints and we are to walk as becometh saints. We are children of God and we are to live a godly and God-pleasing life. We should be doctrinally correct and then we are told to adorn the doctrine and we do this by living a consecrated, consistent, and Christ-like life.
In the instructions to Titus, and to us, much is said about the believer’s walk and works. In Titus 2:11-12 we learn that the same grace that has brought salvation has now become our teacher, and we are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. We are told to be zealous of good works, to be ready to every good work, and to maintain good works. There is indeed a place for good works, but they are not the root of our salvation but the fruit. The good works do not produce salvation but are the result of the new life in Christ and the inner working of the Holy Spirit. We love and delight in the faithful saying of I Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” We should also take heed to the faithful saying of Titus 3:8, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” Under Titus’ faithful preaching and teaching it is not too much to expect the Christians at Crete were as swift (or slow) as we to heed the admonitions of the Word and to act accordingly. Saint Titus is still revered at Crete and Andreas Cretensis, a former prelate, says that Titus “laid the foundation of the Church in Crete, was himself there the pillar of the Truth and the strong support of the Faith, the unwearied trumpet of the proclamation of the Gospel, and the clear utterance of the tongue of Saint Paul.”
In a closing verse of his letter (Titus 3:12) Paul is about to send Artemis or Tychicus to Crete to relieve Titus. Titus is then instructed to furnish Zenas and Apollos with whatever they might need and to further them on their missionary travel, and then he himself was to come to Nicopolis, where Paul was planning to spend the winter. The last reference to Titus is in II Timothy 4:10, written by Paul shortly before his martyrdom. Here he states that Titus had gone to Dalmatia, which was on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea just north of Illyricum, the farthest of Paul’s travels (Romans 15:19). Dalmatia was a wild country with a rather tempestuous populace, so here again we see Titus taking on another hard and difficult assignment. He was indeed a most industrious friend who could always be depended upon to do whatever was necessary. Paul had many such friends for he himself was a friend. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).