To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (Titus 1:4)
Titus is perhaps the most important early church leader “not” to be mentioned in the book of Acts. This is strange when we realize he was with Paul and Barnabas when they traveled to Jerusalem to debate the issue of circumcision and the role of Gentiles in the early church (Acts 15).
Here is Paul’s account of the Jerusalem trip, which he shared later in his book to the Galatians: “Fourteen years later 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.” (Gal 2:1-3)
It is a mystery why Luke didn’t mention Titus in Acts, especially since as an uncircumcised Greek, he would have been a controversial figure. Some have suggested there were always other people with Paul and Barnabas when they traveled, but if they didn’t have a significant role they weren’t included in the record.
However, Paul mentioned Titus often and called him his “true son”, suggesting he had been led to Christ by the apostle. Paul trusted Titus with important ministry tasks, such as the spiritual oversight of the misguided Corinthian church. “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.” (2 Cor. 7:6-7)
As our study continues, we will learn more about the heart of Titus and his relationship with Paul, but one thing becomes clear from the beginning: Paul was preparing Titus as a leader to meet the growing needs found in the first century church, and as one of many who would form the second generation of workers after the apostles were gone.
For this reason the study of Titus (and Timothy), always causes us to reflect on the importance of growing leaders in the church. It reminds us those of us who have been around a while won’t be around forever, and it is imperative we train others to take our place.
Perhaps the church is one of the few places where we experience such joy in the process of replacing ourselves. And from what I can tell, this process continues until the day we see Jesus in person. Maybe it is one of the reasons He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Dear God, help me be a mentor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.