🔼The name Titus in the Bible
The name Titus appears in the Bible only as the name of the young, not-Jewish associate of the apostle Paul. Although the New Testament contains a letter from Paul addressed to Titus, his name occurs most in 2 Corinthians (ten times), twice in Galatians, once in 2 Timothy and once in Titus. Paul calls Titus his brother (2 Corinthians 2:13) and his true son (Titus 1:4).
Titus accompanied Paul on various mission trips, but was finally stationed on Crete (Titus 1:5), where he died as Bishop, as tradition dictates.
Note that Titus was also the name of the son of the deified emperor Vespasian. This Titus would succeed his father as deified emperor but was the general who sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD. Because his financial destitute had forced him to resort to trading, Vespasian had acquired the derogatory nickname Muleteer, which made Titus the Mule's Foal, and the description of Jesus' triumphant entree (Matthew 21:5) quite telling.
Paul commits high treason against the state of Rome by wishing Titus "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior" (Titus 1:4). These phrases are all drawn from Roman imperial theology. Paul makes the point that not the Roman emperor but Jesus is the rightful bearer of these titles.
The name Titus occurs 13 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Titus
The name Titus was one of the most common first names in the old world. It comes from deep antiquity and the technical etymology is obscure. What it actually meant to the people of New Testament times is subsequently also unclear, but depending on creativity and leanings, it may have remembered some Latin speakers of:
- The mythical Titans, the giant ur-gods of the Greeks and Romans.
- The noun titillus, meaning a tickle, from the verb titillo, meaning to tickle.
- The noun titio, meaning firebrand.
- The noun titulus, meaning title, sign or inscription.
Greek speakers may have associated our name to:
- Again the Titans (Τιταν), or even Tityos (Τιτυος, Tituos), the unfortunate infractor whose liver was daily extracted and consumed by an eagle.
- The noun τιτυσ (titus), which according to Liddell and Scott is a rare form of τισις (tisis), meaning penalty, retribution or vengeance.
- The noun τιτθος (tithos), meaning breast.
It's pretty safe to say that there is no single, identifiable meaning to the name Titus in either the classical or the modern world.