Were Titus and Luke Brothers?

Titus and Luke Brothers

We were studying people of the Bible in a small group recently and were looking at Luke. We were sharing information that we knew about the man and his gospel. During the course of the discussion, someone mentioned that they had heard that Luke and Titus were brothers. I had never heard that before and it is likely that you haven’t either. So, I decided that I would dig in and find out if it was true.

Let’s begin with some basic information about each of them.

Titus

Titus was the Gentile traveling companion of Paul (Gal. 2:3) and the recipient of the New Testament letter bearing his name. It is possible that Paul actually led him to faith in Jesus because he calls him “my true child in our common faith” (Titus 1:4 HCSB). Titus and Paul connected early his ministry and he accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1), probably on the visit to raise money for the famine relief (Acts 11:28–30).

Titus seems to have been intimately involved in Paul’s missionary activities:

  • He was known to the Galatians (Gal. 2:1, 3).
  • Hew was a huge help to Paul who called him “my partner and coworker” (2 Cor. 8:23 HCSB).
  • He was entrusted with delivering Paul’s severe letter (2 Cor. 2:1–4) to Corinth and correcting problems within the church there (2 Cor. 7:13–15).

Titus, during one of the missionary journeys, remained in Crete to oversee the church (Titus 1:5). According to church tradition, Titus was the first bishop of Crete.[1]

Luke

Luke wrote both the Gospel that bears his name, but also the book of Acts. He too was a close friend and traveling companion of Paul, who called him “loved” (Col. 4:14). Luke describes their travels in Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–15; 21:1–18; 27:1–28:16. Many scholars believe Luke wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts while in Rome with Paul during the apostle’s first Roman imprisonment. Apparently, Luke remained nearby or with Paul also during the apostle’s second Roman imprisonment. Shortly before his martyrdom, Paul wrote that “only Luke is with me” (2 Tim. 4:11).[2]

Early church fathers Jerome (ca. a.d. 400) and Eusebius (ca. a.d. 300) identified Luke as being from Antioch. Antioch seems to be on his mind frequently as well given his many references to that city (Acts 11:19–27; 13:1–3; 14:26; 15:22, 35; 18:22). Luke eventually landed in Philippi, staying behind to lead the young church while Paul went on to Corinth during the second missionary journey (Acts 16:40).

Paul identified Luke as a physician (Col. 4:14) and distinguished Luke from those “of the circumcision” (Col. 4:11). Additionally, early sources indicate that Luke was a Gentile, and church tradition claims he was Greek. We know nothing of his conversion or early life. An early source supplied a fitting epitaph: “He served the Lord without distraction, having neither wife nor children, and at the age of 84 he fell asleep in Boeatia, full of the Holy Spirit.”[2]

Were they Brothers?

Now that the historical information about them is out of the way, we can get down to answering our question–Were they brothers?

Titus’s name is mentioned often in four of Paul’s letters (Gal. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6-7,13-14; 8:6,16-17, 23; 12:17-18; Tit. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:10), but surprisingly, his name does not appear in the Book of Acts. William Ramsay, a British classical scholar, suggested that Titus was a relative of Luke.[3] This could be the reason why Titus is not mentioned in Acts because it demonstrates Luke’s great humility. In fact, he does not even mention his own name in either his gospel or Acts. Others have concluded that this means that Luke and Titus were brothers.[4][5]

Alexander Souter says that “Titus, in fact, becomes the authority from whom Luke acquires most of his information about Paul’s doings prior to the period at which he himself became acquainted with him.”[4] He makes a connection between the two because their names appear together in 2 Tim. 4: 10-11. He also suggested, “the brother” mentioned in 2 Cor 8:18 and 12:18 could be Luke.

A. T. Roberton suggests that it is possible that in 2 Cor 8:18 “the brother” is equivalent to “the brother of Titus,” who was just mentioned, meaning Titus’ brother.[6] If that is the case, Paul came into contact with Luke at Philippi on his way to Corinth during his second missionary journey. This would explain why Titus’ name does not appear in Acts, since Luke, who is the author of the book, is his brother.

William Barclay notes that, “It is rather an odd fact that Titus is never mentioned in Acts; but we know that Luke wrote Acts and often tells the story in the first-person plural, saying: ‘We did this’ or ‘We did that’, and it has been suggested that in such passages he includes Titus with himself.”[7]

Robert Utley mentions that it would have been an act of “cultural impropriety” on Luke’s part to include a family members name in his writing. Also, this would mean that Titus would have been Luke’s major source of information about Paul’s life and ministry and, therefore, like Luke, would not be named.[8]

Of course, all of this is speculation because Paul could have just meant another unnamed “brother” in the Lord. Regardless of if they were family or not, Barclay concludes that “certainly Titus and Luke have a family resemblance in that they were both men of practical service.”

Conclusion

So were they brothers? We really cannot definitively say that there were or that they were not. There seems to be some evidence that they might be related, but there is no definite proof of this. We can definitely say that they were brothers in Christ. However, until we get to heaven, we may never know if they were blood relatives.

Footnotes

  1. Daniel C. Browning Jr., “Titus,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1601.
  2. T. R. McNeal, “Luke,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1056–1057.
  3. William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1896), 390.
  4. Alexander Souter, “A Suggested Relationship between Titus and Luke” Expository Times, 1906-1907a-b, 18: 285, 335-336.
  5. E. P. Boys-Smith, “Titus and Luke” Expository Times, 1906-1907, 18: 380-381.
  6. A.T. Robertson, “Luke, the Evangelist,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), eds. James Orr, John Nuelsen, Edgar Mullins, Morris Evans, and Melvin Grove Kyle (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939), found at ISBE online.
  7. William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 262–263.
  8. Robert James Utley, New Testament Survey: Matthew–Revelation (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 2000), 115.
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