letters to surfers

Question : Based on Titus 1:5 do you agree that Paul was released from imprisonment in Rome and went on to Crete and Spain?

Answer by Robert Brow   (www.brow.on.ca)   July 2000

The book of Acts ends with Paul still imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28:30-31).

Based on a reference to Paul's defense and delivery from "the lion's mouth" (2 Timothy 4:16-17, see also 4:6-7) and the statement that he planted churches in Crete (Titus 1:5), some think that Paul was released and went on further missionary journeys to Spain (as he hoped in Romans 15:24, 28).

But there is no evidence for this apart from a statement by Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215 AD) that Paul traveled "to the limit of the west."  Writing from Alexandria Rome is a long way to the west (see Romans 15:19).

A far simpler explanation is that when Paul "set sail from Ephesus" (Acts 18:21) during his second missionary journey he took a ship to Crete (a brief overnight sail) with his companion Titus (2 Corinthians 7:6-7, Galatians 2:1). After planting churches there, he left Titus to organize them with their own elders (Titus 1:5, as in Acts 14:23). He then sailed across to Caesarea, went up to Jerusalem, then returned to his base in Antioch before setting out on the third journey (Acts 18:22- 23).

Obviously in his Acts chronicle of Paul's life Luke left out an account of what happened in many places (evidenced by the countless beatings, imprisonments, and three shipwrecks listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Planting churches in the numerous towns of Crete (Titus 1:5) would have been a necessary part of Paul's claim to have evangelized the whole area from Jerusalem to Illyricum (Romans 15:19). And the names listed in the Pastoral Epistles all fit the period of the second and third missionary journeys (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 3:9-20, Titus 3:12-13). They are very unlikely to refer to further journeys after the imprisonment in Rome at least fifteen years later.

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