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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – The Recipient (1:4)
The Recipient (1:4)

Paul wrote this letter to Titus. Although our knowledge of him is limited, it seems that he became a coworker of Paul's at an earlier time than Timothy (Gal 2:1, 3). He was a Gentile and may have come to faith through the apostle's ministry (as Tit 1:4 suggests). Paul found him well qualified to handle difficult situations, such as representing him in the Corinthian church (2 Cor 2:3-4, 13; 7:6-16; 8:16-24). When he received this letter, his situation was similar, for he had been deployed by Paul to establish and strengthen the church in Crete.

Crete is an island in the Mediterranean located south of the Aegean Sea. What we know of the church on Crete comes from this letter. Paul set foot on the island as a prisoner, en route to Rome (Acts 27:7-17), but the initial planting cannot be attributed to that brief visit. If Paul was personally involved in the initial Cretan mission, he probably did so within the period of release from his first Roman imprisonment. On the other hand, if his coworker(s) carried out the work by Paul's direction, the church may have been established on the island prior to his imprisonment (see introduction). In either case, the task assigned to Titus—to complete and put in order what was unfinished (1:5)—suggests a church (probably house churches in most of the districts) considerably younger and less organized than the church in Ephesus.

For all the Cretan believers to see (compare 3:15), Paul at once associates himself closely with Titus and validates his ministry. As with Timothy, true son establishes Titus's legitimate connection with the apostle's ministry. Paul's language may indicate that he himself played a part in bringing Titus to faith (see 1 Tim 1:2 notes). The further reference to our common faith reveals that their faith in Christ formed the basis of their personal and working relationship. The readers were to understand that Titus worked among them as Paul's delegate; they were to regard him (and his authority) as they regarded Paul.

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