Titus: An Effective Minister
The most successful missionary in the Bible, possibly of all time, was the Apostle Paul. A member of the Jewish secret police, he planned to investigate the synagogues in Damascus, Syria. On the way, he was intercepted by the Lord Himself! He continued into Damascus, but with more peaceful intentions.
After converting to Christianity from Rabbinic Judaism, he began to work with the church in Antioch, about 200 miles north of Damascus. The Antiochian church sent Paul on missions throughout the Anatolian peninsula and even into Greece later.
Paul’s main traveling companions were Barnabas and Silas, but along the way through Anatolia and the Balkans, he picked up a number of young men whom he trained up to become ministers, evangelists, and missionaries in their own right. Some of those young men included Timothy, Aristarchus, Philemon, Gaius,—and Titus.
Tonight, I want to look at what kind of man Titus was and what made him such a successful minister of the Gospel.
Who was Titus?
We have very little information about a lot of the minor characters of Scripture, which makes for some interesting character studies, but Titus is discussed in several places.
You may recall that Paul wrote a letter to Titus, which we have preserved for us in Scripture as the Book of Titus. Surprisingly, of the thirteen mentions of Titus in the New Testament, the Book of Titus only accounts for one!
Most of what we know about Titus comes from the book of 2 Corinthians.
Here’s what we know:
Paul picked up Titus at some unknown point and began training him, probably very early on. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas after the first missionary journey, so they may have met then. (cf. Gal 2:1–3)
While on his third missionary journey, Paul wrote some letters to the church in Corinth. Any time they sent letters, a messenger had to carry the letter. Paul sent Titus to carry one of those letters. (cf. 2 Cor 7:13–15)
Eventually, Titus met back up with Paul somewhere in Macedonia (Northern Greece), and reported that the congregation was faring well.
During this time, Paul was working on a project to send charity aid to the churches in Jerusalem from the churches in Greece. The purpose was to show solidarity as brothers and sisters—to heal the divide between the Jewish and Gentile Christians. Some of the congregations that agreed to participate in Paul’s project included Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth.
Paul sent the letter of 2 Corinthians back with Titus, explaining that Titus was in charge of collecting the funds himself.
After that, we have a period of silence on Titus. Paul ended up taking the funds to Jerusalem, but he was imprisoned while there, and eventually sent to Rome.
After coming out of Roman prison, Paul took Titus to the island of Crete, where Paul tasked him with fixing the issues in their congregations. Paul eventually wrote the letter to Titus, explaining what he needed to accomplish.
Later, in Paul’s final letter, he says that although Titus was with him in Rome, he had made his way to Dalmatia (southern Croatia), where he was presumably preaching the Gospel.
That’s Titus for you! So what can we learn? His ministry was about the same length as Paul’s. He was incredibly successful.
To be an effective minister, be hard-working.
One of only things we know Titus did was work with the Corinthians after delivering 1 Corinthians.
“But God, who comforts the humbled, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to repentance. For you were made to have godly sorrow, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For godly sorrow produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world brings about death. For behold what earnestness this very thing—this godly sorrow—has brought about in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be manifested to you in the sight of God.
For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame, but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. And his affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling.” (2 Cor 7:6–15)
In the letter known as First Corinthians, Paul had to rebuke the church for all kinds of major issues. He feared they would not repent. When Titus brought them Paul’s letter, he was able to work with them through those problems and help turn them on the right track. This was incredibly difficult work.
The Corinthian church was very troublesome and hard to work with, but they were willing to listen. Titus still had his work cut out. Yet when Titus returned, Paul could say he had confidence in the Corinthians “in all things” (2 Cor 7:16 NASB)
Later on, of course, Paul left him with the Cretan churches to resolve their issues. The Cretans weren’t much better than the Corinthians.
“For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of dishonest gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said,
‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.‘
This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their works they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:10–16)
In short, Titus was a ministerial “fixer.” Paul entrusted him to do some of his most difficult tasks. Titus was willing to engage in some difficult, dirty, hands-on church work. Other ministers and Christians might only sign up for the easy parts, but Titus was different. He was willing to get his hands dirty and work hard for the Lord.
If we want to be effective ministers for the Lord, we have to be hardworking, unafraid of the difficulties that may lie in store.
To be an effective minister, be faithful.
Paul had a great number of men he worked with. On his First Missionary Journey, he worked with Barnabas, Silas, and Luke. On the Second, he met Priscilla and Aquilla, Timothy, and Apollos. By the Third, he had begun to work with Aristarchus, Epaphras, Archippus, Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, Tychicus, Onesimus, and many others whom he could call his “fellow-workers”.
Titus was the treasurer for the Judean Relief Fund. Why was Titus chosen?
I believe there are two main reasons, closely related.
The first reason is that Titus was a faithful Christian. In Titus 1:4, Paul called him “My true child”. He knew that Titus would behave as a Christian and that his loyalty was to God.
When Paul wrote of Demas, Hymenaeus, and Alexander—three men he once worked with closely—he did not consider them as faithful. Rather, they had betrayed their calling and turned away from Christ. By contrast, Titus remained strong and faithful to God.
This seems really obvious doesn’t it? How can you claim to be a minister of the Gospel or a man of God if you aren’t faithful to Him? Yet we hear often of preachers, elders, deacons, or otherwise involved members who lived a secret life of sin.
Only a servant of God who truly serves God will be effective in his service.
To be an effective minister, be trustworthy.
I believe the second reason why Paul chose Titus is because he knew he could trust Titus. Paul was very good at delegating work, appointing preachers to fill his shoes after he left. He knew who could be entrusted with what kind of work.
“We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself…” (2 Cor 8:18–19)
Although Titus was not alone in his task and worked alongside with a few other brothers, he (and they) must have been extremely trustworthy to be given this responsibility. Titus had proven his reliability and integrity in his previous work with the churches.
Consider the contrast with Judas, who was the treasurer for the disciples, yet used to embezzle funds for himself (John 12:5–6).
A minister can only be effective who is honest and trustworthty.
To be an effective minister, be positive.
We already established that Titus did some amazing work with the Corinthian church. I want you also to think about what kind of demeanor that must have required. Paul, Apollos,—and Titus—had to maintain a level of positivity to work with those folk!
Paul believed they could become what they needed to be. He believed that Christ would “also confirm [them] to the end, beyond reproach in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8).
Titus had the same overwhelmingly positive attitude. In fact, after working with them, Titus came away overjoyed! In 2 Corinthians 7:13, Paul said “his spirit has been refreshed by [them] all.”
It takes a lot of positivity to deal with issues and problems.
An effective minister has to be hardworking, honest, positive, and faithful to God. That doesn’t just apply to me as the paid minister—it applies to each of us as God’s servants.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” (Eph 4:11–12)
We are all called to “the work of service,” or, “ministry.”
Are you an effective minister?