St. Paul’s Assistant. St. Titus is a great First Century saint. He is best known as one of St. Paul’s earliest converts. After Titus accepted the gospel, he became a close personal friend of Paul, a companion on his missionary journeys, an assistant and private secretary, an ambassador to Christian communities, and finally, a personal appointee to lead the church in Crete.
An Early Convert. Titus was a Greek (Gal 2:3), a pagan or non-Jew, who may have been from Antioch on the Orontes, the capital of the Roman province of Syria. Paul visited Syria during his First Missionary Journey, and they probably met sometime between 37 and 42 AD. After his conversion Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas for the rest of the trip, and once completed, he went with them to the Council of Jerusalem in 48 AD.
The Council of Jerusalem. There was a fierce debate at the Council over Gentile converts and whether it was necessary to follow the Mosaic Law as a precondition for admission into the Christian church, particularly circumcision and observance of the dietary laws (see Acts 15). Paul pointed to Titus as an example of an excellent Gentile convert and argued that he should be able to remain uncircumcised, a recommendation that was eventually accepted.
Mentor Partnership. Paul was the mentor, Titus was the understudy. Paul had great admiration for Titus, and he called him his “brother” (2 Cor 2:13), “partner and co-worker” (2 Cor 8:23), and “my true child in our common faith” (Titus 1:4). Paul boasted to the Corinthians about him (2 Cor 7:13,14). Paul’s heart was heavy when Titus was absent, as when he was away in Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10), but he was greatly encouraged when he was present, as when he returned to him in Macedonia (2 Cor 7:6).
Special Tasks. Paul vigorously challenged the Corinthians to live holier lives and irritated many in the process. Subsequently Titus went to Corinth on a mediation mission, and as a skilled negotiator he was able to restore good will, communication, and harmony. Also, Paul decided that a special collection should be taken up for the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1-4), and Titus implemented the plan (2 Cor 8:6,16).
Final Assignment. Paul appointed Titus the bishop of Crete and directed him to “appoint presbyters in every town” (Titus 1:5). It was a major undertaking to organize local churches and install their spiritual leaders. This was complicated by the number of Jewish Christians who were “rebels, idle talkers, and deceivers” (Titus 1:10). Paul told Titus that “it is imperative to silence them.” This was further aggravated because so many residents were “liars, vicious beasts, and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Titus did much good, but his adversaries had him beheaded in 97 AD.
Modern Devotion. The relic of the skull of St. Titus is enshrined at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Titus on the Island of Crete. He is the patron saint of Crete and regarded by the local church as an apostle.