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ST. PAUL'S EPISTLE TO TITUS.
The History of Titus, collected from Paul's Epistles. Although Titus was a person of such eminence among the first preachers of the gospel, that St. Paul wrote to him the letter in the canon of scripture which bears his name, for the purpose of directing him how to discharge the duties of his office, his name is not so much as once mentioned by Luke in his book of the Acts. His history therefore must consist of such particulars as are related of him, in the apostle Paul's epistles, where indeed he is often mentioned with great respect, and of such probable conjectures as these particulars naturally suggest.
That Titus was converted by Paul, appears from his calling him his genuine son by the common faith, Tit. i. 1. Yet at what time, and in what place Paul converted him, he hath no where told us. They who think Titus was a religious proselyte before his conversion, are of opinion that he was converted at Antioch, soon after Paul and Barnabas came to that city from Tarsus, as mentioned Acts xi. 25.-But others, supposing him to have been originally an idolatrous Gentile, conjecture that his conversion happened in some of the countries of the Lesser Asia, through which Paul travelled in the course of his first apostolical journey; the history of which is given, Acts, chapters xiii. xiv. What is certain is, that Titus was with Paul in Antioch before the Council of Jerusalem; and that having distinguished himself after his conversion, by his piety and zeal, he was one of those whom the church of Antioch sent to Jerusalem, to consult the apostles and elders concerning the circumcision of the converted proselytes, fourteen years after Paul's own conversion; that is in the year 49, Gal. ii. 1, 2.-When the messengers
from the church of Antioch came to Jerusalem, the apostles, elders, and brethren assembled ; and after reasoning on that question, decreed that it was not necessary to circumcise the converted Gentile proselytes. Nevertheless, the Judaizers in Jerusalem zealously endeavoured on that occasion, to have Titus circumcised. So the apostle insinuates, Gal. ii. 3. where he saith, Not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.Here it is proper to remark, that the Jews called all the idolatrous Gentiles Eames, Greeks : for in their manner of speaking, Jews and Greeks comprehended the whole of mankind. See Rom. i. 16. note 3. According to this interpretation of the appellation, from the apostle's calling Titus a Greek, it may be inferred that before his conversion he was an idolatrous Gentile. The same thing appears likewise from the attempt of the Judaizers to force him to be circumcised. For after the decree of the Council was passed, freeing the converted proselytes from obedience to the law of Moses, if Titus, before his conversion, had been one of that denomination, the Judaizers could not with any shew of reason have insisted on his circumcision. Yet, as the Council had determined nothing respecting the converts from among the idolatrous Gentiles, some of the zealous Judaizers, who by stealth introduced themselves into the private meeting, in which Paul explained to James, Peter, and John the gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, when they found out that Titus before his conversion was an idolater, might insist to have him circumcised, on pretence, that he was not freed from circumcision by the Council's decree. But this attempt, to subject a Gentile convert to the law of Moses, Paul resolutely withstood, that the truth of the gospel might remain with the Gențiles, Gal. ii. 5.
After the Council, when Paul and Barnabas, accompanied by Judas and Silas, returned to Antioch, to give the brethren an account of what had happened at Jerusalem, Titus, I suppose, returned with them; and, from that time forth, seems to have accompanied Paul in his travels, as one of his assistants. For when the apostle set out from Antioch, to visit the churches which he had gathered among the Gentiles in his first apostolical journey, and to confirm them by delivering to them the de:
crees of the Council, Titus went with him all the way to Corinth, and laboured with him in the conversion of the inhabi. tants of that city. This appears from 2 Cor. viii. 23. If any inquire concerning Titus, he is my partner and fellow-labourer in the gospel towards you. The reason is, the apostle before he wrote to the Corinthians, having not visited them since their conver. sion, the fellow-labouring of Titus with him towards the Corinthians, must have happened at the time they were converted. If this reasoning be just, we must suppose, that after the Council, when Paul set out from Antioch with Silas to visit the churches, Titus either went with them, or was sent away before them with the apostle's letter to the Galatians, which I think was written from Antioch soon after the Council. See the Preface to Galatians, sect. 2. In that case, when the apostle went through Galatia with the decrees, he may have met Titus, and have taken him along with him. Or, during his eighteen months abode at Corinth, he may have sent for Titus, to come and assist him in converting the Corinthians.
After the apostle had planted the gospel in Corinth, he went to Jerusalem. But whether Titus abode at Corinth, or accompanied him to Jerusalem, is not said. This however we know, that he came to the apostle, as many others did, during his long residence at Ephesus, mentioned Acts xix. 10. For, by him he sent his first epistle to the Corinthians, which was written in Ephesus about the time of the riot, of Demetrius. This service the apostle assigned to Titus, because being well known to, and much respected by the Corinthians, on account of his former labours among them, he hoped he might have influence in composing the disturbances which had taken place in their church. On his return from Corinth, Titus met the apostle in Macedonia, and gave himn such an account of the good disposition of the Corinthians, as filled him with joy, and induced him to write them a second letter, which he employed Titus likewise to carry. At the same time, he requested him to excite the Corinthians to finish their collections for the saints in Judea, which they had begun during Titus's former visit to them. In prosecution of this design, Titus abode at Corinth till the apostle himself came and received their collections, and the collections of the other churches in Achaia. On that occasion, Paul spent three months at Corinth, Acts xx. 3. then set out for Jerusalem, taking Macedonia in his way. His companions, in his journey to Jerusalem, are mentioned, Acts xx. 4. and though Titus is
not named as one of them, it does not follow that he was not of the number. He is not said by Luke to have been with the apostle in Macedonia, in his way to Corinth. Yet, from the apostle's sending him from Macedonia to Corinth with his second epistle to the Corinthians, we learn that he was one of his chief assistants at that time. Wherefore, notwithstanding Luke, in his account of the apostle's return from Greece, hath not mentioned Titus among those who accompanied him to Jerusalem with the collections, he may have been one of them; and having gone with him to Jerusalem, he may have ministered to him during his imprisonment there, and in Cesaræa ; nay he may even have sailed with him to Rome. These, however, are only conjectures : for from the time Titus delivered the apostle's second letter to the Corinthians, in the year 58, we hear nothing of him till the year 62, when he was left by the apostle in Crete, to set in order the things that were wanting, and 10 ordain elders in every city, Tit. i. 4.
The leaving of Titus in Crete, is supposed to have happened some time in the year 62, after the apostle was released from. his first confinement in Rome. In the letters which he wrote about that time to the Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and the Hebrews, having promised to visit them, we may believe, that when at liberty to fulfil his promise, he sailed in spring 63. from Italy for Judea, accompanied by Titus and Timothy. In their way, touching at Crete, they went through the cities, and preached the gospel to the idolatrous inhabitants with such power and success, that great numbers of them were converted. See sect. 2. of this Pref. However, although the apostle's success was so great in Crete, and his converts were not formed into churches, he did not judge it proper to remain in Crete ; but committing the care of the disciples there to Titus, with an order to ordain elders in every city, he sailed into Judea in spring 63, accompanied by Timothy. The brethren in that country being greatly distressed by the troubles which preceded the war with the Romans, the apostle, if he heard in Crete of their distress, might think it necessary to hasten his visit to them. Accordingly, as soon as he landed in Judea, he and Timothy went up to Jerusalem, and spent.some time with the Hebrews, after which they proceeded to Antioch; and in their progress through the churches, comforted and established them.--From Antioch, the apostle set out on his fifth and last apostolical journey, in which he and Timothy travelled through
Syria and Cilicia, then came to Colosse in Phrygia early in the year 64. And seeing he had desired Philemon to provide him a lodging in Colosse, it is reasonable to think he abode there some time. On that occasion, as Benson and others conjecture, he may have written his epistle to Titus in Crete, in which he desired him to come to him at Nicopolis, because he proposed to winter there, Tit. iii. 12.-From Colosse, the apostle went with Timothy to Ephesus, where having inquired into the state of the church in that city, he gave the Ephesian brethren such exhortations as he judged necessary, then departed to go into Macedonia, leaving Timothy at Ephesus, to charge some teachers not to teach differently from the apostles, 1 Tim. i. 3.
In passing through Macedonia, the apostle, no doubt, visited the Philippians, and the other brethren in that province, according to his promise, Philip. ii. 24. After that he went forward to Nicopolis to winter there, as he proposed ; being accompanied by Erastus and Trophimus, who, it seems, had joined him, either at Ephesus or in Macedonia.- In the beginning of the year 65, while the apostle abode at Nicopolis, taking into consideration the weight of the charge which he had devolved on Timothy, he wrote to him that excellent letter in the canon, called, The first epistle to Timothy, in which he taught him how to discharge the duties of his function properly. It seems, that at parting with Timothy, St. Paul had promised to return soon to Ephesus from Nicopolis, 1 Tim. iii, 14. But he was disappointed in his resolution. For not long after writing his letter to Timothy, Titus came from Crete to Nicopolis, according to the apostle's order, Tit. iii. 12. and gave him such an account of the state of the churches in that island, as determined him to visit them immediately ; so that laying aside his purpose of returning to Ephesus, he left Nicopolis early in the year 65, accompanied by Titus, Trophimus, and Erastus: the latter of whom went no farther with him than to Corinth, 2 Tim. iy. 20.-At his arrival in Crete, he no doubt visited the churches, and rectified the disorders which had taken place in them. But while employed in that work, hearing of the persecution which Nero was carrying on against the Christians in Rome, on pretence that they had set fire to the city, (See Pref. to 2 Tim. sect. 3. last paragr.) and judging that his presence in Rome might be of use to the brethren in their distress, he resolved to go thither. I suppose the apostle sailed for Italy with Titus, in the end of summer 65, leaving Trophimus sick at Miletus, a city of Crete,