Titus is possibly the first non-Jewish Christian we have recorded by name. Paul took him to Jerusalem about fifteen years after Christ’s death, noting that “even though he was a Greek he wasn’t compelled to be circumcised.” (Galatians 2) They remained friends for decades. He’s mentioned in the middle period of Paul’s life, and the “Letter to Titus” refers to him being “left on Crete”, though Paul only visited this island in the final period of his ministry. Three snapshots of the two men together: from the beginning, middle and end of Paul’s ministry.
Of these, the most revealing snapshot is the middle one. Here we see something of the process of Paul’s heart. Emerging from the most lonely and unstable period of his life, Titus’ friendship became for Paul, emblematic of the friendship of God. He describes the beginnings of this in 2 Corinthians, but it is not until his next letter, Romans, that he explores it in a theological way.
Titus seems to have been working with Paul in Ephesus when troubling news came from across the sea in Corinth. Paul sent his mission-partner with a message, but heard nothing back. Plagued with doubts, weighed by depression, heavy through weariness yet driven by anxiety, Paul set out, unable to rest until he found him. When they did meet he wrote, “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”
Doubtless Titus accompanied the Apostle back to Corinth, helping him settle in the place where he would write his most famous letter “to the Romans.” Here we find God’s unconditional love written of with a depth unsurpassed in Paul’s letters. Through Titus’ friendship, Paul had a tangible experience of God’s friendship, his welcome and grace.
To whom might you show God’s friendship through yours?
This article first appeared in Sunday Link, Redemptorist Publications