Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)

Preface to the Epistle of

Paul the Apostle to Titus

It is strange, that of a person who must have attained considerable eminence in the Christian Church, and one to whom a canonical epistle has been written by the great apostle of the Gentiles, we should know so very little. That Titus was a frequent companion of St. Paul in his journeys we have evidence from his epistles; and although this was the case, he is not once mentioned in the book of the Acts of the Apostles!

That he was a Greek, and brought up in heathenism, we learn from Gal_2:3 : “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be Circumcised.” As he was uncircumcised, he was neither a Jew nor a proselyte of justice, and probably was a mere heathen till he heard the Gospel preached by St. Paul, by whose ministry he was converted to the Christian faith; Tit_1:4 : “To Titus, my own son, (γνησιῳ τεκνῳ, my genuine son), after the common faith;” which words sufficiently indicate that St. Paul alone had the honor of his conversion. That he was very highly, and consequently deservedly, esteemed by St. Paul, is evident from the manner in which he mentions him in different places: “I had no rest in my spirit till I found Titus, my brother;” 2Co_2:13. “Nevertheless, God, that comforteth those who are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you: therefore, we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all; and his inward affection is more abundant toward you whilst he remembereth how with fear and trembling ye received him;” 2Co_7:6, 2Co_7:7, 2Co_7:13, 2Co_7:15. “But thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you;” 2Co_8:16, 2Co_8:23. “Did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? 2Co_12:18.

Though St. Paul’s preaching the Gospel in Crete is not expressly mentioned anywhere, yet it may be plainly inferred from Tit_1:5 : “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city.” It is supposed that this was some time in the year 62, after the apostle was released from his first imprisonment in Rome. But not being able to spend much time in that island, he left the care of the Churches to Titus, and sailed into Judea in the beginning of 63, taking Timothy with him. Having spent some time in Jerusalem, he proceeded to Antioch, comforting and establishing the Churches whithersoever they went. From Antioch he set out on his fifth and last apostolical journey, in which he and Timothy traveled through Syria and Cilicia, and came to Colosse in Phrygia, early in the year 64. On this occasion it is supposed he wrote his Epistle to Titus, in which he desires him to meet him in Nicopolis, as he had intended to spend the winter there; Tit_3:12. From Colosse he went with Timothy to Ephesus, where he left him to regulate and govern the Church; from thence he passed into Macedonia, and probably visited Philippi, and different Churches in that province, according to his intention, Phi_2:24; and thence to Nicopolis, where he intended to spend the winter, and where he had desired Titus to meet him. See above.

Whether Titus ever left Crete we know not; nor how, nor where, he died. Some traditions, on which little dependence can be placed, say he lived till he was 94 years of age, and died and was buried in Crete. He appears to have been a young man when intrusted with the care of the Churches in this island. In such an extensive district, an aged or infirm man would have been of little service.

Crete, where Titus was resident, to whom this epistle was sent, is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; it lies between 22 and 27 long. E., and between 35 and 36 lat. N. According to Strabo, it is 287 miles in length; Pliny makes it 270, and Scylax 312. Pliny also states that its greatest breadth is 55 miles; and, as its length was so disproportionate to its breadth, it is called, by Stephanus Byzantinus, the long island. It has the Archipelago to the north, the African sea to the south, the Carpathian to the east, and the Ionian to the west. It is now generally computed to be about 250 miles long, about 50 broad, and 600 in circumference. It was anciently called Aeria, Cthonia, Curete, Idaea, and Macaris; but its most common name was Crete. Of it Homer gives us the following description. Odyss., lib. xix. v. 172-179: -

Κρητη τις γαι εστι, μεσῳ ενι οινοπι ποντῳ,
Καλη και πιειρα, περιρῥυτος· εν δ ανθρωποι
Πολλοι, απειρεσιοι, και εννηκοντα ποληες.
Αλλη δ αλλων γλωσσα μεμιγμενη· εν μεν Αχαιοι,
Εν δ Ετεοκρητες μεγαλητορες, εν δε Κυδωνες,
Δωριεες τε τριχαικες, διοι τε Πελασγοι.
Τοισι δ ενι Κνωσσος μεγαλη πολις· ενθα τε Μινως
Εννεωρος βασιλευς Διος μεγαλου οαριστης.
Crete awes the circling waves, a fruitful soil;
And ninety cities crown the sea-born isle.
Mix’d with her genuine sons, adopted names
In various tongues avow their various claims.
Cidonians, dreadful with the bended yew,
And bold Pelasgi, boast a native’s due:
The Dorians plumed amidst the files of war,
Her foodful glebe, with fierce Achaians, share.
Cnossus, her capital of high command,
Where sceptred Minos, with impartial hand,
Divided right; each ninth revolving year
By Jove received in council to confer.

Though in the above quotation Homer attributes to this island only ninety cities, εννηκοντα ποληες , yet In other places he gives it the epithet of ἑκατομπολις, hundred cities. And this number it is generally allowed to have had originally; but we must not let the term city deceive us, as in ancient times places were thus named which would rate with villages or hamlets only in these modern times. Few places in antiquity have been more celebrated than Crete: it was not only famous for its hundred cities, but for the arrival of Europa on a bull, or in the ship Taurus, from Phoenicia; for the Labyrinth, the work of Daedalus; for the destruction of the Minotaur, by Theseus; for Mount Ida, where Jupiter was preserved from the jealousy of his father Saturn; for Jupiter’s sepulchre; and above all, for its king, Minos, and the laws which he gave to his people; the most pure, wholesome, and equal, of which antiquity can boast.

Their lawgiver, Minos, is said by Homer to have held a conference every ninth year with Jupiter, from whom he is reported to have received directions for the farther improvement of his code of laws; though this be fable, it probably states a fact in disguise. Minos probably revised his laws every ninth year, and, to procure due respect and obedience to them, told the people that he received these improvements from Jupiter himself. This was customary with ancient legislators who had to deal with an ignorant and gross people, and has been practised from the days of Minos to those of Mohammed.

According to ancient authors, Crete was originally peopled from Palestine. Bochart has shown, Canaan, lib. i. c. 15, col. 420, that that part of Palestine which lies on the Mediterranean was by the Arabs called Keritha, and by the Syrians, Creth; and the Hebrews called its inhabitants Kerethi כרתי or Kerethim כרתים which the Septuagint have translated Κρητας. Thus Eze_25:16, we find והכרתי את כרתים vehicratti eth Kerethim, which we translate I will cut off the Cherethims, translated by the Septuagint και εξολοθρευσω Κρητας, I will destroy the Cretans; and Zep_2:5 : “Wo unto the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites, (גוי כרתים goi Kerethim, The nation of the Kerethim;”) παροικοι Κρητων, Sept., The sojourners of the Cretans. That these prophets do not speak of the island of Crete is plain from their joining the Kerethim with the Pelishtim as one and the same people. “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will stretch out my hand upon the Philistines, and will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the seacoast;” Eze_25:16. “Wo unto the inhabitants of the seacoasts, the nation of the Cherethites; the word of the Lord is against you: O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee;” Zep_2:5. Accordingly it appears that the Kerethim were a part of the Philistines. The Kerethim in Palestine were noted for archery; and we find that some of them were employed by David as his life guards, 2Sa_8:18; 2Sa_15:18; 2Sa_20:23; 1Ki_1:38; 1Ch_18:17; in all which places they are called, in our translation, Cherethites; but the Hebrew is כרתי Kerethi, which the Chaldee paraphrase renders קשתיא kashtia, or קשתייה kashtaiyah, archers. See the Targum of Rab. Joseph. It is very likely that the Kerethi or Kerethim of Palestine had their name from their successful use of their favourite instrument the bow, as by it they destroyed many; for כרת carath, in Hebrew, signifies to destroy or lay waste; and hence the paronomasia of the prophet, quoted above, Eze_25:16 : “I will cut off the Cherethims (והכרתי את כרתים literally, I will destroy the destroyers.”)

Idomeneus, who assisted Agamemnon in the Trojan war, was the last king of Crete. He left the regency of the island to his adopted son Leucus, who, in the absence of the king, usurped the empire; the usurper was however soon expelled, and Crete became one of the most celebrated republics in antiquity. The Romans at last, under Quintus Metellus, after an immense expenditure of blood and treasure, succeeded in subduing the island, on which he abolished the laws of Minos, and introduced the code of Numa Pompilius. Crete, with the small kingdom of Cyrene, became a Roman province; this was at first governed by proconsul, next by a quaestor and assistant, and lastly by a consul. Constantine the Great, in the new division he made of the provinces of the empire, separated Crete from Cyrene, and left it, with Africa and Illyria, to his third son Constans. In the ninth century, in the reign of Michael II., it was attacked and conquered by the Saracens. About 965, the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, in the following century, defeated and expelled the Saracens, and reunited the island to the empire, after it had been under the power of the infidels upwards of 100 years. It remained with the empire until the time of Baldwin, earl of Flanders, who, being raised to the throne, rewarded the services of Boniface, marquis of Montferrat, by making him king of Thessalonica, and adding to it the island of Crete. Baldwin, preferring a sum of gold to the government of the island, sold it to the Venetians, a.d. 1194, under whose government it was called Candia, from the Arabic Kandak, a fortification, the name which the Saracens gave to the metropolis which they had built and strongly fortified. In 1645, in the midst of a profound peace, it was attacked by the Turks with a fleet of 400 sail, which had on board an army of 60,000 men, under the command of four pachas, to oppose whom the whole island could only muster 3, 500 infantry, and a small number of cavalry; yet with these they held out against a numerous and continually recruited army, disputing every inch of ground, so that the whole Ottoman power was employed for nearly thirty years before they got the entire dominion of the island. In this long campaign against this brave people the Turks lost about 200,000 men! Since about the year 1675, the whole island has been under the government of the Turks.

The island of Crete is perhaps one of the most salubrious in the world. The soil is rich, and it produces no ferocious or poisonous animal. The present number of its inhabitants may amount to about 350, 200, of whom about 200 are Jews, 150,000 Greeks, and 200,000 Turks. This is a large population for a place under Turkish despotism; but had it the blessings of a free government, it could support at least treble the number.

The island is divided into twelve bishops’ sees, under the patriarch of Constantinople; but though the execrable Turks profess to allow to the Christians the free exercise of their religion, yet they will not permit them to repair their churches. It is only by the influence of large sums of gold, paid to the pachas, that they can keep their religious houses from total dilapidation. The Mohammedans have indeed converted most of the Christian temples into mosques. In Candia, the metropolis, they have left two churches to the Greeks, one to the Armenians, and a synagogue to the Jews. Candia is about five hundred miles from Constantinople. Is it not strange that the maritime powers of Europe have not driven those oppressors of the human race from this and every inch of Christian ground which they have usurped by treachery and violence, and which they continue to govern by despotism and cruelty?

Many have observed the affinity that subsists between the First Epistle to Timothy and this to Titus. Both epistles are directed to persons left by the writer to preside in their respective Churches during his absence. Both epistles are principally occupied in describing the qualifications of those who should be appointed to ecclesiastical offices; and the ingredients in this description are nearly the same in both epistles. Timothy and Titus are both cautioned against the same prevailing corruptions; the phrases and expressions in both letters are nearly the same; and the writer accosts his two disciples with the same salutations, and passes on to the business of his epistle with the same transition.

For example: -

Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith - as I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, etc.; 1Ti_1:1-3.

To Titus, my own son after the common faith - for this cause left I thee in Crete; Tit_1:4, Tit_1:5.

If Timothy was not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions, 1Ti_1:4;

Titus was also to avoid foolish questions and genealogies, Tit_3:9; not giving heed to Jewish fables, Tit_1:14.

If Timothy was to be a pattern, (τυπος), 1Ti_4:12; so was Titus, Tit_2:7.

If Timothy was to let no man despise his youth, 1Ti_4:12; Titus was also to let no man despise him, Tit_2:15.

This verbal consent is also observable in some very peculiar expressions, which have no relation to the particular character of Timothy or Titus.

The phrase πιστος ὁ λογος, it is a faithful saying, occurs thrice in the First Epistle to Timothy, once in the second, and once in that to Titus; and in no other part of St. Paul’s writings. These three epistles were probably written towards the close of his life, and are the only epistles written after his first imprisonment at Rome.

The same observation belongs to another singularity of expression, viz. the epithet sound, (ὑγιαινων), as applied to words or doctrine. It is thus used twice in the First Epistle to Timothy, twice in the second, and thrice in the Epistle to Titus; besides two cognate expressions, ὑγιαινοντας τῃ πιστει, sound in the faith, and λογον ὑγιη, sound speech. And the word is not found in the same sense in any other part of the New Testament.

The phrase God our Savior stands in the same predicament. It is repeated three times in the First Epistle to Timothy, and thrice in the Epistle to Titus; but does not occur in any other book of the New Testament, except once in the Epistle of Jude.

Similar terms, though intermixed with others, are employed in the two epistles, in enumerating the qualifications required in those who should be advanced to the station of authority in the Church; compare 1Ti_3:2-4 with Tit_1:6-8.

The most natural accounts which can be given of these resemblances, is to suppose that the two epistles were written nearly at the same time, and whilst the same ideas and phrases dwelt in the writer’s mind.

The journey of St. Paul to Crete, alluded to in this epistle, in which Titus was left in Crete to set in order the things which were wanting, must be carried to the period which intervened between his first and second imprisonment. For the history of the Acts, which reaches to the time of St. Paul’s imprisonment, contains no account of his going to Crete, except upon his voyage as a prisoner to Rome; and that this could not be the occasion referred to in this epistle, is evident from hence, that when St. Paul wrote this epistle he appears to have been at liberty; whereas, after that voyage, he continued at least two years in confinement.

It is agreed that St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy from Macedonia; and that he was in these parts, i.e. in the Peninsula, when he wrote the Epistle to Titus, is rendered probable by his directing Titus to come to him in Nicopolis. The most noted city of that name was in Epirus, near to Actium; but the form of speaking, as well as the nature of the case, renders it probable that the writer was in the neighborhood of this city when he dictated this direction to Titus.

Upon the whole, if we be allowed to suppose that St. Paul, after his liberation at Rome, sailed into Asia, taking Crete in his way; and that from Asia, and from Ephesus its capital, he proceeded to Macedonia, and, crossing the Peninsula in his progress, came into the neighborhood of Nicopolis; we have a route which falls in with every thing. It executes the intention expressed by the apostle of visiting Colosse and Philippi, as soon as he should be set at liberty at Rome. It allows him to leave “Titus at Crete,” and “Timothy at Ephesus, as he went into Macedonia;” and he wrote to both not long after from the Peninsula of Greece, and probably the neighborhood of Nicopolis; thus bringing together the dates of these two epistles, and thereby accounting for that affinity between them, both in subject and language, which has been above pointed out. Though the journey thus traced out for St. Paul be in a great measure hypothetical, yet it is a species of consistency which seldom belongs to falsehood, to admit of an hypothesis which includes a great number of independent circumstances without contradiction. See Paley’s Horae Paulinae, p. 321

Taken from "Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible" by Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)