Following Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment around 62 a.d. he visited Asia and Macedonia as planned (Philemon 1:22, Phil 2:24, 1 Tim 1:3). Around this same time he also made a missionary trip with Titus to Crete where he had briefly stopped off on his imprisoned journey to Rome (Acts 27:7-9). Titus had served with the apostle since before his first missionary journey (Gal 2:1). Like Luke, Titus is never mentioned by name in the Acts record, although Paul refers to him as his “partner and fellow worker” (2 Cor 8:23) who must have been with him in Ephesus on his third missionary journey and who was instrumental in defusing Paul’s crisis with the Corinthian church (2 Cor 7:6,13-14, 8:6,16,23, 12:18). Some have conjectured that Titus was Luke’s brother (see 2 Cor 8:18 and 12:18 where “the” brother may also be translated “his” brother) and it was out of humility and regard for the Jewish-Gentile controversy that these Gentile servants of the cross are not named in Acts.
Paul had left Titus in Crete to “set in order what remains (chapters 2-3), and appoint elders in every city (chapter 1)” (Tit 1:5), while he himself moved on, eventually arriving at Nicopolis (on the northwestern shore of Greece, Tit 3:12) where he expected Titus to catch up to him. The Cretans were notorious for their lying, immorality, and self indulgence; the Cretan poet Epimenides sarcastically remarked that the absence of “wild beasts” from Crete was supplied by its human inhabitants (1:12-13). It was therefore important that Titus “exhort and reprove with all authority” in order that the new believers there be “sound in the faith” (Tit 1:13, 2:15). It is uncertain if Paul was in Nicopolis at the time of writing, or just headed there, perhaps in Corinth, or perhaps even in Asia. Because of similarities with 1 Timothy, it was most likely composed in the same time frame, c. 63 a.d.
Tit 1:1-4 What is a bond servant? Note: of the 130 times the word is translated by the NASB, 98 times it is translated as “slave”, 23 as “bond-servant”, and 6 as “bond slave”. What does it mean to sell ourselves into servant-hood to God? Is our relationship to God best described as that of a bond-slave, or is it perhaps better described as that of an employee, or even a contract laborer? In what two ways does Paul in Tit 1:1 distinguish his apostleship from that of others who merely disguised themselves as apostles (see Tit 1:10, 2 Cor 11:13, Rev 2:2)? What is the key difference between the “truth” presented by those whose faith is real and those whose religion is ultimately only in pretense? See also 1 Tim 4:7b-10. What does Paul say is one thing that God cannot do? See Tit 1:2, Heb 6:18. When did God promise eternal life to man? See NASB text note on Tit 1:2 and also 2 Tim 1:9. When, and by what means, was the manner in which that promise would be fulfilled made manifest to man? See Tit 1:3. Who does Paul say is our Savior in Tit 1:3? Who does he say is our Savior in Tit 1:4? Why is this not a contradiction? In Tit 1:2 Paul says that our hope is eternal life and in 1 Tim 1:1 he says that our hope is Christ Jesus Himself; how are these related? See Jn 17:3. In Tit 1:3 Paul says that his apostleship and proclamation of the gospel was according to God’s commandment; what does this teach us about his choice in the matter? Are we obedient bond slaves like Paul, or are we employees who serve as long as the wages are good but who ultimately are our own masters? What does Paul mean by calling Titus his “true” (genuine, legitimate, lawfully begotten) son? Might there be spiritual sons who are not legitimate? See Is 30:9, Heb 12:8.
1. Corinth was an important sea port between Crete and Nicopolis, and in Tit 3:12 he mentions sending to Titus either Artemas, a name honoring the Greek god Artemis whose magnificent temple was in Ephesus of Asia (Acts 19:35), or Tychicus, who was from Asia (Acts 20:4).↩