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Paul's Letters To Titus And Philemon

It is a striking fact that Titus is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as accompanying Paul on any of his journeys. We learn from Galatians 2:3 that Titus was a Greek, and that he was with Paul and Barnabas when they visited Jerusalem, and laid before those of repute the gospel preached among the Gentiles. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions Titus no less than nine times, and in one instance refers to him as my fellow-worker" (2 Cor. 8:23).

It would seem that Paul had recently visited Crete and left Titus there with the charge that he should "set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city" (1:5). To assist Titus, the qualifications of the elders or overseers are clearly set out.

It has been suggested that the letter was sent from Ephesus just before the apostle set out for Nicopolis, where he intended to winter, and Titus was asked to join him there (3:12).

When the apostle Paul completed the letter to the Colossians, and was about to send it by the hand of Tychicus, he wrote a remarkable letter to a wealthy citizen of Colossae, Philemon by name, about a runaway slave. How grateful we are that this personal letter has a place in the canon of Scripture. It reveals some aspects of the apostle's character which may not have been apparent to us otherwise. It has been said that it is the letter of a Christian gentleman, kindly, courteous, tactful, not too proud to beg a favour, and yet maintaining the dignity of his position as an ambassador of Christ. The recipient could not resist its appeal.

We are not at present dealing with the subject matter of the letter, but considering when and where it was written. Epaphras, who was from Colossae, must have spent much time with the apostle in the prison-house discussing the well-being of the church in that city and the individual saints who comprised it. The names of Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus would often be mentioned, and then the remarkable case of Onesimus, who had probably robbed his master Phi lemon, and later found his way to Rome itself.

The letter to Philemon was the sequel. The apostle writes as "Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus". The story of the runaway slave is told simply, and with telling effect. While Tychicus delivered the apostle's letter to the elders at Colossae, Onesimus made his way over ground he knew so well to the home of his master Philemon, and handed over the letter addressed to him. As master and slave confronted one another, it must have been a touching scene, and we leave them, thankful on our part that the letter which brought them together again has an honoured place in the New Testament.