Titus is only mentioned a few times in the New Testament, and he’s mentioned the most in the book of II Corinthians. He is in the salutation of chapter 1:1. He is someone Paul obviously holds in high esteem. In Titus 1:4, Paul calls Titus a son in his faith. Paul feels an affinity and kinship in their faith. In II Corinthians 8:23, Paul calls Titus his partner and fellow worker. In Galatians 2:1, Paul refers to Titus as a traveling companions, and this is possibly referring to the events of Acts 11-12 when Paul and Barnabas take issue with teachers who were trying to impose Jewish customs upon new Christians. Finally, Galatians 2:3 refers to Titus as someone who comes directly out of pagan traditions, and Paul uses him as an illustration of the gospel’s power to save. Paul and Titus have gone through much together, and Paul sees Titus as someone upon whom he can rely.
Titus’ Work With Corinth
II Corinthians 1 opens with Paul and Timothy greeting the saints of Corinth, and Titus is associated with doing work with the Corinthian Christians. In chapter 8:23, Paul calls Titus a worker for their benefit, and, back in verse 6, we Titus gathering funds for needy saints in Jerusalem. This may have preceded the events of I Corinthians (see I Corinthians 16:1), and Paul encourages him to finish this work. II Corinthians 7:6 seems to record another trip by Titus, and this is to Paul from the Corinthians. He calls Titus a comfort, and he’s grateful for the news brought by Titus of Corinth’s repentance. He relies on Titus to assess the effects of his first letter to these brethren. Verses 13-14 record Paul even boasting to Titus about Corinth’s potential.
In II Corinthians 2:13, Paul speaks of anxiety over not recently seeing Titus regarding news from Corinth. Chapter 7:6 describes Titus’ arrival as comfort from God, and Paul and his companions rejoice at his arrival. Paul had stuck his neck out for the congregation in Corinth – a congregation that had previously dealt with class discrimination, tolerance of sin, secular conflict, and sectarian leanings. This is the setting into which Paul sends Titus, telling his companion of the potential Corinth displays despite their shortcomings.
Titus’ Attitude Toward Corinth
Is the congregation at Corinth on with whom we would gladly worship? Paul would. Barnabas would. Titus would, but we will not. Many times, we give up on each other too quickly. Again, II Corinthians 7:13 speaks of the joy these brethren give to Titus. They refresh his soul. Verse 15 tells of Titus’ encouragement in their obedience, and chapter 8:22 calls Titus confident in Corinth. He demonstrates attitudes and qualities that we would do well to emulate in our work with fellow Christians.
- Titus builds on the good. We use bulldozers to clear land, but we have to build skyscrapers. We have to build on the good we find in others. We cannot dwell on tearing down. II Corinthians 8:21 records Paul saying that their focus is on the honorable. There was much negative about Corinth, but Titus builds instead of destroys.
- Titus works toward completion. The journeys involved in Titus’ work were not easy. He overcomes hardships to continue and finish the work set upon him. He could have given up, citing the difficulty of his tasks, but he doesn’t. He endures to complete his work.
- Titus is earnest as Paul. The Corinth congregations, as far as we can tell, starts in Acts 18. Paul sets up the congregation, and Titus could have seen the issues in that congregation as somebody else’s problem. He has no investment in Corinth. It’s Paul’s baby, but Titus takes up the mantle to help with these brothers and sisters as earnestly as if he had helped build the congregation.
- Titus takes initiative. Titus volunteers to help according to II Corinthians 8:17. How many needs do we fill grudgingly or resentfully? Titus shows no resentment in the things Paul asks of him.
- Titus deepens his love for the unlovable. Christian love is not reciprocal. Ours is a love that is given freely regardless of the response. We could call Corinth an unlovable group, but Titus demonstrates love toward them in the work he does with them and in the joy he takes in their efforts.
Can we call ourselves Titus? We can learn to look for and build upon the good in others. We can stick with our work in Christ toward its completion. We can help others deal with their problems, for they are our problems too. We can take the initiative to help others and fill responsibilities where needed. We can show the love of Christ even when others may not love us back. Titus shines as an example to us, and we should strive to be like him in how we interact with those outside the flock, other Christians, and other congregations.
lesson by Tim Smelser