Crete in the Bible had a profound effect on individuals at the time. Crete is a vast island bordering the Greek Archipelago on the south, stretching 140 miles. Although very large and rugged, this island has exceptionally fruitful valleys and was formerly well-known for its one hundred cities.
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How Did Crete in the Bible Look Back on Paul’s Day?
Titus is given the directive by the apostle Paul to “make right what was neglected. And, as I ordered you, to select elders in every town” (1:5). A literate audience would be familiar with the claim made by the renowned Greek poet Homer. Who, doubtless using poetic hyperbole, described Crete in the Bible as “Crete of the hundred cities” (Homer, Iliad 2.649).
Many of Crete’s cities were linked by the sea as well as by roadways on land along its lengthy coastline. In the Hellenistic era, there were about forty settlements. In the Roman period, records of about 20 such cities existed, each of which had magistrates and issued its coins.
The Minoan civilization is widely regarded as the first known civilization in Europe. Had its headquarters on the island of Crete between 2700 and 1420 BC. Gortyn appears to have performed the cult of Augustus and Roma in the first century AD. At the same time, Knossos is known to have practiced the cult of the deified Claudius. There are at least 18 places where the worship of the God of healing, Asclepius, is recognized.
The Cretan Zeus and the Christian God square off in a gods’ war.
Let’s begin with Greek mythology, which differs from the well-known Olympian “seat of the transcendent gods” theology (seen in movies and Marvel/DC comics) and helps to shape Cretan civilization. Cretans saw Greek gods as ordinary mortals who had undergone a divine transformation via acts of compassion and gifts to humanity. It was a theology that came from below, not from above.
They believed that most gods, including Zeus, the supreme “man-turned-god,” were born on their island and buried there. They considered Crete in the Bible the center of the gods’ adoration.
Because of how deeply ingrained Cretan mythology was, churches in Paul’s day were fusing their conception of the Christian God with popular ideas about the Greek gods, especially Zeus. Given that Zeus was the type of “man-turned-god,” this was terrible news. It has been said that he enjoyed seducing ladies in any way possible. Even by acting the part of a god to get his way.
He once pretended to be a husband to entice a woman into bed before turning to deception when seduction failed. In a nutshell, the Cretans made Zeus immortal because he was a liar and a womanizer.
Crete in the Bible and the only God
Paul set out to disprove the notion that the Christian God was created in the likeness of Zeus. Or any other lowercase gods, taking into account the surrounding context. He used the comparison between the three-in-one God and Zeus. The liar wonderfully expresses that the God revealed in Jesus is entirely apart from Zeus.
Second, Paul offers a sophisticated “God-become-man” Christology, subverting the Cretan “man-become-god” theology (a fancy word for the study of Jesus). He purposefully challenges this traditional lie by asserting that Jesus came among us from above and not below. It insists on Jesus’ deity and is a top-down Christology (much like the Gospel of John).
God’s Will Is the Will of the People
God wasn’t made in Zeus’ likeness, but the Cretans undoubtedly were! Because of how dishonest, obnoxious, and promiscuous the populace was, Crete in the Bible acquired a reputation for immorality in antiquity. Being a “kretizo,” or Cretan, meant lying. Tell them to quit “scrutinizing” the next time they try to deceive you. Additionally, its violent males frequently worked as mercenary troops for the highest bidder.
At the same time, their ladies embodied what was described as “the new Roman woman.” These well-off ladies who had been “emancipated” had more advantages than their Greek counterparts.
The issue is that to be a disciple of Jesus. One must gradually assume his likeness rather than the “deity of the day.” However, Paul learns from a rumor that Cretan Christians resembled Zeus more than Jesus. Still, they demanded that non-Jewish Christians be circumcised and obey the Torah. These leaders supported the moral principles of Crete since they were also profoundly ingrained in the Cretan culture.
By appropriating the aphorism from the ancient Cretan poet Epimenides that “Cretans are always liars, vicious creatures, and indolent gluttons,” Paul indicts these leaders.
Grace Prepares Us For Engagement, Not Assimilation
Without the revelation (or “epiphany”) of God’s grace and loving compassion in the person and work of Jesus. The ethics Paul is urging the Cretan Christians to adopt would be impractical.
The grace of God, also in the Crete in the Bible, saved all people. We are now instructed to live godly, righteous, and sensible lives in the present while anticipating the blessed hope and the glorious return of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself up for us to purify us from all unrighteous deeds and to prepare a people for His possession who are zealous for Him.
Conclusions about Crete in the Bible
The moral of this story from Crete in the Bible is that people can change for the better thanks to Jesus’ atoning act and the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. You can change today, just as the Cretans could change back then. You can stick with the culture you were raised in and continue to worship the current false gods.
Whether you reside on the island of Crete or in the city of Portland, Oregon, the gospel, according to Paul, is potent enough to change someone into a new creation that becomes an agent of change within a culture.
To accomplish this, you don’t have to reject culture or engage in a culture war. In reality, avoid doing either of those things and assimilate modern ideals resembling Cretan values. Instead, God’s grace can teach (literally, “educate”) you to follow Jesus’ moral and ethical teachings in the world while being enabled by the Holy Spirit.
By demonstrating the beauty of the news about our rescuing God to the outsider, you will be performing redemptive theology for them.