Welcome back to my Greece journey. We traveled through a large portion of Paul’s second missionary journey to Greece and present-day Turkey.
If you missed “Aha” #1, catch it HERE.
It was Day Three visiting the Greek Islands via cruise ship. Never mind the “Medi-cane/cyclone” (a hurricane in the Mediterranean) on its way across our region, when we left port. Yikes! Praying our journey doesn’t go all “Paul-shipwrecked-three-times” on us, as one of our fellow travelers kept reminding us…. Argh! Guess we should have had a clue from Paul’s mentions of the turbulent seas there. Nope, just happy unrealistic tourists!
Sunday morning: looks like the storm went south of us and hit mainland Greece, just rocked us around! Thank you, Jesus!
Overnight, we sailed to Crete, Greece’s largest island; 3,260 sq mi. It is in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is very mountainous with three mountain ranges. Some peaks actually get snow providing a great water source for the island.
We docked in Heraklion (Hercules) Port. We boarded a bus and traveled 90 minutes to Gortyn, the Roman capital of Crete. It experienced prosperity during the Roman era (Jesus time), being a prominent city. It has some excavations today, but certainly only a small part of what once was a larger city. Excavations are expensive and that prohibits them.
What they have unearthed, correlating to the Bible, is the Church of Titus (Titos). This cathedral was built after Titus’ death, as a memorial to him. He was a spiritual leader, referred to as the First Bishop of Crete. He, certainly, had a great presence in this city and is likely the very spot he and Paul visited/stayed on Crete.
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
Titus was a traveling companion of Paul’s; assisting in his missionary journeys. Paul, writing this letter to Titus, explained why he left Titus in Crete. It was to organize the Christians/churches on Crete and encourage the believers.
So, the question arises…
How did Christian converts exist on Crete,
if Paul hadn’t been there before?
Some think Paul’s teaching produced immediate converts and so he left Titus,
There is another possibility!
Acts 2 – The Day of Pentecost
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…..8 “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? …
Acts goes on to name where all the people were from … Cue verse 11…
“…Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
There were Cretans at Pentecost!!!
Has that ever connected for you? It hadn’t for me!
Our precious tour guide, likely in his mid-seventies, who stored more information than a volume of encyclopedias, loaded us with info the entire 3 hour bus trip! Sitting up front was an advantage for me… closer to the info = paying more attention = asking more questions!
He told us Cretan history records there were 2 or 3 Cretans at Pentecost. They came back and evangelized the island. Thus, there was a body of believers on Crete when Paul and Titus stepped foot there!! A church, led by leaders who knew very little, but believed in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Which makes all the more sense that the Book of Titus, records them needing help, direction and leadership. So, Paul left Titus on Crete to grow them in their faith.
Why those individuals were at Pentecost to begin with? Don’t have that answer! Travel must have been far more common in those days than I imagine. They were a long way from home. (644 miles by boat, 1,577 miles by land)
Many pieces in the Bible don’t come together for us, because we are missing pertinent pieces of history. What we have is enough, but it does not record everything.
But, Wow, do I love it when one tiny verse or sliver of info changes my image of how it all happened!!!
There were other things of historical interest on Crete, but I’ll give one more Biblical possibility.
Next to St. Titus Cathedral was a Music School!
Yep, I’m not making it up; they had those back then…. Mind blown…. What!!
Being from a deeply rooted musical family, this perked me up
like Turkish coffee… Yowza…. hair raising experience!
Directly behind the Cathedral which was quite large with a two story altar ( see above), archeologists unearthed a small theatre (pic below). A sign found translated “music school/hall”. They believe the small theatre was for rehearsals and performances.
So, my little inquisitive-self went to wondering….
Since this was right behind the sanctuary, did this school of music train worship musicians?? The guide did not know, but its proximity could certainly lead to a theory. Music has been a part of worship since the beginning, and here, we have the two side by side.
It made me pause for a moment, stare at the stage and consider the importance this community put on music. We did not see another such “school” on our journey.
Maybe, Crete was known for its musicians. Maybe, they believed in excellence in music offerings. I thought of choir rooms/lofts I’ve sat in my whole life. I thought of Hillsong Worship School, where my daughter-in-love attended. Aren’t those modern inventions to aid our worship experiences?
We are close kin to first century Christians, so much more than we realize!
My musical heart settled right in, and sat-a-spell at the Gortyn Music School on Crete!
Who knows, maybe Titus was an awesome musician and encouraged their spirit of worship through music!
Don’t you just love the possibilities??
Still pondering and singing,