When we come to understand the great dividing line of Acts 28:28 and the significant difference between what God was doing in the Acts period and what God is doing today, we come to understand how important it is to determine if a book of the Bible is a book written before or after that great dividing line. If a book was written before the dividing line, the truths which are contained in it, though profitable for us (II Timothy 3:16,) are colored by the Acts period in which they were written. As such, they contain things that were truth for that day, but which are not truth for this day. The books written after Acts 28:28, however, provide for us God’s word to people living today on matters related to our lives and our walks before the Lord. We have been examining the books of Paul to see which side the various books of his fall in relationship to this important dividing line. Thus, we come to the book of Titus, and our consideration of upon which side this book falls.

Now most have concluded, since we have no record of Paul visiting Crete in the Acts period, that the visit he mentions to Crete in verse 5 was one that took place after his release from Rome, and therefore after the two years mentioned in Acts 28:31. However, others have argued against this idea. These usually insist that Ephesians and Colossians were the last books of Paul written, and insist these these only were written after that great dividing line. Therefore, they wish to make it that Titus was written earlier, and that it is not a book that contains truth from this side of the dispensational dividing line. So, we must examine the book to see whether or not this might be true.

First of all, we must keep in mind to whom this book of Titus was written. Of all Paul’s letters, only the book of Ephesians was written to all believers of today without exception. All the other letters after the dispensational divide, including Colossians, were written to specific believers or groups of believers living at that time. Titus is no exception. In Titus 1:4, we read:

4. To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

Thus, this book was written to the man Titus, Paul’s companion and fellow laborer. He was the one Paul sent on his behalf into Corinth, as we read about in II Corinthians 2, 7, 8, and 12, wherein Paul says many good things of this man and shows how dear he was to him. In Galatians 2, we learn that Titus went with Paul on his second visit to Jerusalem. We also learn from this passage that he was a Greek, and uncircumcised, but that he was not compelled to be circumcised by the apostles at Jerusalem. We next see him here, Paul having left him in charge in Crete. The last time we see Titus, he has left Paul, apparently against Paul’s wishes, and gone to Dalmatia. Apparently, for all his good character, he did not stick with Paul to the end. Yet this book was written before the time when he left Paul, and Titus was still Paul’s loyal helper at this point.

Since this book is written to Titus, some of the words and instructions are specifically to him, and refer to the situation in which he found himself at that time. However, as we said regarding the books written to Timothy, since his experience then was the same in many respects with what we go through, I believe we can learn many lessons and many important truths from what God wrote as instructions to this man.

Now as I already alluded to above, our first proof that Titus does not appear to fit in the Acts period comes from Titus 1:5.

5. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—

We read of no journey of Paul to Crete in the Acts period. While we cannot say for certain that every action of Paul in the Acts period is recorded in Acts, still it seems unlikely that such a major event would have passed unnoticed. However, there is no record of Paul’s movements and actions after the Acts period ended other than what we can gather from the books written during that time, and so there is plenty of room for such a trip to Crete in the post-Acts period.

Now let us consider the statement from Titus 2:11.

11. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,

The words “that brings salvation” are all a translation of a single Greek word, soterios. This word is an adjective, and means “salvation-bringing.” Thus, the salvation-bringing grace of God has appeared to all men. The words “all men” here could better be translated “all mankind.” The words “has appeared” are a translation of the Greek word epephane, which means “has blazed forth.” The idea is of a divine intervention, and the Greeks often used it for the interposition of gods or goddesses to help mankind. So the idea expressed in this verse is that the salvation-bringing grace of God has blazed forth in a divine intervention towards all mankind.

Now we know that God’s salvation-bringing message was available only to a limited number of individuals in the Acts period. As Paul himself said in Acts 13:26, “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.” So the salvation-bringing grace of God had not yet blazed forth in a divine intervention towards all mankind at this point. Yet in Ephesians 3:2, we learn of a dispensation of the grace of God which was given to Paul to reveal it to us. This dispensation is an administration of pure grace, wherein God shows his unmixed love and favor towards all mankind. When God sent forth this grace to act towards all mankind, that was the beginning of his exclusive work in grace. In the Acts period, He might show grace towards one but government and fairness towards another. Yet in this dispensation, He only shows forth grace.

So when did God’s salvation-bringing grace blaze forth in a divine intervention towards all mankind? There can be no doubt but that it was at the same time that God’s dispensation of grace began, which was at the beginning of His present work at Acts 28:28. Yet Titus mentions this grace being sent forth. Therefore, Titus must have been written after it was sent forth. Titus must have been written during this dispensation of grace, and after Acts 28:28.

Finally let us consider Titus 3:12.

12. When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

Again, Nicopolis is a place that is never mentioned in the book of Acts. In fact, there is more than one city by this name, since it means “City of Victory,” and many conquerors would rename a city this after they made a conquest of it. We do not even know which “Nicopolis” Paul meant, therefore. However, these events do not seem familiar from the record of Acts, and this again points to the fact that these were activities of Paul after the close of the history recorded in the book of Acts.

In closing, consider the similarity of Titus to the book of I Timothy, which we have already examined, and concluded it belongs to the period of time post Acts 28:28. Titus is so similar to it that it makes it very likely that this book was written after that time as well. Otherwise, it is hard to imagine Paul writing such similar messages, one before the dispensational change, and one after. The similarity of these two books points to Titus being in the same time period as I Timothy, that is, the dispensation of grace.

So we conclude that Titus was written after the dispensational dividing line.

Advertisements