I once got to go do Biblestudy on an island for a whole week. I wasn’t one of the lucky college students come to study Mark with a venerable teacher, I was the teacher’s assistant! It was a privilege and a weight because the teacher was aging and had trouble keeping track of his papers. The students were tempted to distrust him because of this and asked me, “What are we supposed to be learning?”
Just tell us!
No, he can’t; he doesn’t lead studies that way and neither will I. Because he prays, you see, he prays that you will see only what you can apply. If he tells you what you aren’t ready to learn it will injure you. So he prays for you to see, and together to see, what God has for you to learn and apply.
The word came alive. I wish everyone could go study the Bible like that for a week on an island. I came away before they did, I had to leave them on the island a day early. But it marked me.
I lived the second half of the gospel of Mark.
I learned of people almost as if I could see them, people long dead came alive to me. Mark, the writer, bless him, and all who were there and afterwards whenever Mark was mentioned in an epistle I had the surprise of finding my friend. The others then became real too, Luke, Timothy, and later Titus.
Titus is on an island, and he receives a letter from Paul. The opening of this letter, from Paul to Titus is second only to the opening of Romans for gorgeous doctrinal content before the salutation (to…). If you haven’t memorized Romans 1:1-7, do that first. But then, come back to Titus!
Let’s dig into the depths next Tuesday, for starters I wanted to reflect on the fact that Titus is left on an island (Crete!) for a good purpose, and Paul seems to dearly love him, since he calls him “my true son in our common faith.”
Galatians 2 mentions Titus:
…I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
He was a Greek! He is called a son, therefore younger than Paul, but loved like a son, thought of as not an apprentice but a son growing into his father’s business. “My true son in our common faith” was not compelled to take on the circumcision, the mark of God’s promise to send a savior to his people.
Titus receives the book from Paul while he is on the island of Crete. There are also mentions of him in other books as being sent to Corinth, and in what is probably the last of Paul’s letters (2 Timothy) he is in Dalmatia. I think that this staying in Crete is his first assignment away from Paul because in the Corinthian mentions he is not called a son but a brother (2:13) and the Corinthians are told to respect him as if he were Paul, he is an equal in the work of the gospel.
Titus, on his island, with work to do, is reading a letter of grace and peace, of instruction and encouragement. He must have been faithful to do what he was told, because he went on to do other things as well. I like to think of him as Paul’s partner in the gospel. He certainly is growing into that in this book!