From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

 Jeremiah 47:4 Amos 9:7

In classical Greek times Crete had many city-states, but they played relatively little part in mainstream Greek history. It had become a center of piracy before the Roman occupation in 67 B.C. Under the Romans it became part of a double province Crete with Cyrene, under a governor with the title “proconsul,” who ruled the island and the opposite coast of North Africa from the Roman capital Gortyna. This had already been among the cities to whom the Romans had appealed a century before for fair treatment of their Jewish minorities ( 1 Maccabees 15:23 ). Cretans were among those listed as present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:11 ), and the gospel may first have reached the island through them.

Paul made his voyage to Rome as a prisoner on a Roman grain ship. The voyage followed the route south of Crete, which gave partial shelter from the northwest winds and avoided the peril of the lee shore on the north coast, while still involving the need to beat up against largely adverse winds. The journey had already been very slow, and it was getting dangerously late in the summer sailing season. The ship doubled Salmone, the eastern cape of Crete, and with difficulty reached Fair Havens, a small anchorage near the city of Lasea ( Acts 27:8 ). There the emergency council called by the centurion and shipmaster overruled Paul's advice, and a risky attempt was made to reach Phoenix, a regular port for servicing the grain ships, some 40 miles further west along the coast. The gentle south wind gave way to a violent northeaster (Euroclydon,  Acts 27:14 ) when they came out of the shelter of Cape Matala (Loukinos) into an open bay, and the ship was driven helplessly, managing only some emergency action in the lee of the offshore island of Cauda, and thence to shipwreck on Malta.

The only other references to Crete in the New Testament are in the epistle to Titus. Paul had left Titus in Crete to exercise pastoral supervision over the churches there ( Titus 1:5 ). The character of the people is described in a quotation from a prophet of their own: “Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies” ( Titus 1:12 ), words attributed to the Cretan seer Epimenides, who was also credited with having advised the Athenians to set up altars to unknown gods (compare  Acts 17:23 ).

It is a problem to know when Paul (or Titus) visited Crete, apart from Paul's voyage as a prisoner. It is difficult to fit the occasions of the Pastoral Epistles (to Timothy and Titus) into Paul's life as recorded in Acts. The most satisfactory answer to this difficulty still seems to be that which argues that Paul was released from his two years' imprisonment in Rome ( Acts 28:30 ), and undertook further travels in the East which can only be traced in these epistles. At this last period of his life he may have focused his work on establishing and strengthening the churches throughout the Greek East.

Colin J. Hemer

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

an island in the Mediterranean, now called Candia,  Titus 1:5 . Nature had endowed this island with all that renders man happy; the inhabitants, likewise, had formerly a constitution which was renowned and frequently compared with that of the Spartans; but at this time, and even long before, all, even laws and morals, had sunk very low. The character of this nation was mutable, prone to quarrelling, to civil disturbances and frays, to robberies and violences. Avaricious and base to a degree of sordid greediness, they considered nothing as ignoble which gratified this inclination. Thence arose their treachery, their false and deceitful disposition, which had passed into a common proverb. Even in the times of purer morals they were decidedly addicted to wine; and their propensity to incontinence was frequently censured and noticed by the ancients. Religion itself was one cause of the many excesses of this nation. Many deities were born among them; they also showed their tombs and catacombs, and celebrated the feasts and mysteries of all. They therefore had continually holydays, diversions, and idle times, and one of their native poets (Diodorus calls him Θεολογος gave them the testimony which Paul found to be so true,  Titus 1:12 . Jews also had established themselves among them, who according to all appearance could have improved here but very little in morality. The Apostle seems to have considered them a more dangerous people than the inhabitants themselves.


כרמיל ,  2 Chronicles 2:7;  2 Chronicles 3:14 , the name of a colour. Bochart supposes it to be the cochlea purpuraria, or purple from a kind of shell-fish taken near Mount Carmel. But as the name of the mount is said to mean a vineyard, one may rather suppose the colour to signify that of grapes; like the redness of the vesture of him who trod the wine-press,   Isaiah 63:1-2 . What our version renders crimson,   Isaiah 1:18;  Jeremiah 4:30 , should be scarlet.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Crete, now Candia . 158 miles long, from cape Salmone on the E. ( Acts 27:7;  Acts 27:12) to cape Criumetopen on the W. beyond Phoenice. Its breadth is small. (On its connection with the (See Cherethim .) It abounded with Jews in the apostolic age; hence, "Cretans" were among the witnesses of the effusion of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost ( Acts 2:11). Paul's ship was constrained by contrary winds off Cnidus to sail under the lee of Crete "over against Salmone"; having passed which with difficulty the ship reached Fair Havens near Lasea. Thence it made for Phoenice to winter there, but was driven by a sudden gale from the N.E., sweeping down from the region of mount Ida, to the island Clauda, from whence it drifted to Melita or Malta ( Acts 27:13-16).

Paul visited Crete between his first and second imprisonment at Rome, and left Titus to "set in order the things wanting, and to ordain elders in every city" ( Titus 1:5). (See Titus .) In  Titus 1:12 he quotes Epimenides a Cretan poet. Crete was without wild beasts; the poet's sarcasm was that beastly men supplied their place: "the Cretians are always (not merely at times, as all natural men are) liars, evil beasts, slow bellies." "To Cretanize" was proverbial for to lie, as "to Corinthianize" for to be dissolute. In Crete was the fabled birthplace of Jupiter, king of the gods. They themselves are called "bellies," since it is for their bellies they live ( Philippians 3:19). Christianity won its triumphs for truth and holiness even in such an unpromising soil. In the middle ages the cathedral of Megalocastron was dedicated to Titus.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

In Old Testament times the Mediterranean island of Crete was known as Caphtor. It was at one time the homeland of a people who, in the early days of the Old Testament story, sailed east and settled on Canaan’s Mediterranean coast, where they became known as the Philistines ( Deuteronomy 2:23;  1 Samuel 30:14;  Jeremiah 47:4;  Amos 9:7; see Philistia ; Cherethites ).

The New Testament mentions Crete in the account of Paul’s eventful voyage to Rome. While the ship was moving from one Cretan harbour to another, a fierce storm came up and blew the ship out to sea ( Acts 27:7-21).

Possibly the first people to take the gospel to Crete were Jews who were converted on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:11). Churches were established in Crete, but they later became troubled by various disorders. A national characteristic of the Cretans was that they readily accepted anything that made life easier and more enjoyable, and this created problems in their churches. The people accepted false teaching very readily ( Titus 1:10-16).

When Paul visited Crete towards the end of his life, he had to deal with this problem. There were serious disorders in the churches, but Paul was not able to stay long. Therefore, when he moved on to other parts, he left Titus behind to continue the work of guiding and strengthening the churches ( Titus 1:5; see Titus, Letter To )

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

A large island, now called Candia, in the Mediterranean, originally people probably by a branch of the Caphtorim. It is celebrated by Homer for its hundred cities. Being surrounded by the sea, its inhabitants were excellent sailors, and its vessels visited all coasts. They were also famous for archery, which they practiced from their infancy. The Cretans were one of the three Grecian proverb cautioned-Kappadocia, Killicia, and Krete. In common speech, the expression, "to Cretanize," signified to tell lies; which helps to account for that detestable character which the apostle has given of the Cretans, that they were "always liars," brutes, and gormandizers, and Epimenides, and Cretan poet, described them,  Titus 1:12,13 .

Crete is famous as the birthplace of the legislator Minos; and in the Bible, for its connection with the voyage of Paul to Rome,  Acts 27:1-44 . The ship first made Salmone, the eastern promontory of the island, and took shelter at Fair Havens, a roadstead on the south side, east of cape Matala. After some time, and against Paul's warning, they set sail for Phenice, a more commodious harbor on the western part of the island; but were overtaken by a fierce wind from the east-north-east, which compelled them to lie to, and drifted them to Malta. Paul is supposed to have visited Crete afterwards, in connection with one of his visits to Asia Minor,  1 Timothy 1:3   Philippians 1:22 . Here he established gospel institutions, and left Titus in the pastoral charge,  Titus 1:5 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Crete. The modern Candia . This large island, which closes in the Greek Archipelago on the south, extends through a distance of 140 miles between its extreme points. Though exceedingly bold and mountainous, this island has very fruitful valleys, and in early times, it was celebrated for its hundred cities.

It seems likely that a very early acquaintances existed between the Cretans and the Jews. Cretans,  Acts 2:11, were among those who were at Jerusalem at the great Pentecost . In  Acts 27:7-12, we have an account of Paul's shipwreck near this island; and it is evident from  Titus 1:5, that the apostle himself was here at no long interval of time before he wrote the letter. The Cretans were proverbial liars.  Titus 1:12.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Crete ( Kreet ), now Candia. A large island in the Mediterranean sea, midway between Syria and Italy. It is about 140 miles long by 35 miles wide. The people were proverbially liars,  Titus 1:12—a character they are said still to bear. "Homer dates all the fictions of Ulysses from Crete, as if he meant to pass a similar censure on the Cretans." Cretans were at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost,  Acts 2:11; Paul was shipwrecked near the island, and he left Titus there as the first pastor and superintendent, who was "to ordain elders in every city" of the island.  Titus 1:5. It is now under the tyranny of the Turks.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Titus 1:12 Acts 2:11 Acts 27 Titus 1:5

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(n.) A Cretan

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

krēt ( Κρήτη , Krḗtē , ethnic Κρῆτες , Krḗtes ,  Acts 2:11;  Titus 1:12 ): An island bounding the Aegean Sea on the South. It stretches from 34 degrees 50´ to 35 degrees 40´ North latitude and from 23 degrees 30´ to 26 degrees 20´ East long. With Cythera on the North and Carpathos and Rhodos on the Northeast, it forms a continuous bridge between Greece and Asia Minor. The center of the island is formed by a mountain chain rising to a height of 8,193 ft. in Mt. Ida, and fringed with low valleys beside the coast. There are no considerable rivers; the largest, the Metropole, on the South, is a tiny stream, fordable anywhere. An island of considerable extent (156 miles long, and from 7 to 30 miles broad), in several districts very fertile and possessing one or two good harbors, it seems marked out by its position for an important role in the history of the eastern Mediterranean. But never since an age which was already legendary when Greek history began has Crete occupied a dominating position among the powers of the surrounding continents. Internal dissensions, due in ancient times to the diversity of races inhabiting its soil (Eteocretans - the original inhabitants - P elasgians, Acheans, Cydonians and Dorians), and in modern times to the fact that a large minority of the population has accepted the Ottoman religion along with Ottoman government, have kept Crete in a position of political inferiority throughout the historical period.

1. Early History

Mt. Ida in Crete was famous in Greek legend as the birthplace of Zeus. The half-legendary, half-historical King Minos was said to be the son of Zeus, and to have derived from his father the wisdom to which, by a type of myth common in Greek lands, the constitution of the Cretan cities was ascribed. Minos was accepted as a historical personage by Thucydides and Aristotle, who say that he was the first dynast in Greece to establish dominion on the sea. One of his exploits was the suppression of piracy in Cretan waters, a feat which had to be repeated by the Roman Pompeius at a later period. Aristotle compares the Cretan institutions with those of Sparta; the island was said to have been colonized by Dorians from Peloponnesus ( Politics ii.10). The most important cities in Crete were Knossos (whose palace has been excavated with fruitful results by Mr. Arthur Evans), Gortyna, near the Gulf of Messara, and Cydonia, with its river Iardanus. The excavations of Mr. Evans at Knossos and of the Italians at Phastos (near Fair Havens) prove that Crete was a center of Mediterranean civilization in an early age. In the Homeric poems, Crete is said to have contained an hundred cities; at that period the Cretans were still famed as daring sailors. In the classical age of Greek history they never held a leading position. They are mentioned chiefly as traders and mercenary soldiers, skilled especially in archery. During the Hellenistic period Crete remained free. Demetrius Nicator made the island his base of operations before his defeat at Azotus in 148.

2. The Jews in Crete

In 141, the Cretan Jews were influential enough to secure the patronage of Rome. They were being oppressed by the people of Gortyna, and appealed to Rome, which granted them protection. In strengthening the position of the Jews, the Romans were copying the Seleucid policy in Asia Minor; both the Seleucids and the Romans found the Jews among their most devoted supporters in their subject states. This interference of Rome in the interest of her future partisans paved the way for her annexation of the island in the following century. From this date, there was a strong and prosperous body of Jews in Crete, and Cretans are mentioned among the strangers present at the Feast of Pentecost in  Acts 2:11 . Its alliance with Mithradates the Great, and the help it gave to the Cilician pirates gave Rome the pretext she desired for making war on Crete, and the island was annexed by. Metellus in 67 bc. With Cyrene on the North coast of Africa, it was formed into a Roman province. When Augustus divided the Empire between the Senate and himself, Crete and Cyrene were sufficiently peaceful to be given to the Senate.

3. Later History

They formed one province till the time of Constantine, who made Crete a separate province. The Saracens annexed Crete in 823 ad, but it was recaptured for the Byzantine Empire by Nicephorus Phokas in the following century. From the 13th till the 17th century it was held by the Venetian Republic: from this period dates its modern name "Kandia," which the Venetians gave to the Saracen capital Khandax, and afterward to the whole island. After a desperate resistance, lasting from 1645 to 1669 ad, Crete fell into the hands of the Turks, who still exercise a nominal suzerainty over the island.

4. Crete in the Old Testament

In  1 Samuel 30:14;  Ezekiel 25:16 , and  Zephaniah 2:5 , the Philistines are described as Cherethites, which is usually taken to mean Cretans. The name is connected with Caphtor and the Caphtorim ( Deuteronomy 2:23;  Jeremiah 47:4;  Amos 9:7 ). The similarity between the river-names Jordan and Iardanos (Homer Odyssey iii. 292) "about whose streams the Kydones dwelt," has suggested that. Caphtor is to be identified with Cydonia; or possibly it was the name of the whole island. Tacitus believed in an ancient connection between Crete and Palestine; the Jews, he said, were fugitives from Crete, and derived their name Iudaei from Mt. Ida ( Hist . v.2). Crete is mentioned in connection with the campaign of Demetrius Nicator, referred to above, in 1 Macc 10:67. See Caphtor; Cherethites .

5. Crete in the New Testament

Crete owes its connection with Pauline history to the accident of a gale which forced the ship carrying Paul to Rome to take shelter on the South coast of the island. In the harbor of Myra, on the coast of Lycia, the centurion in charge of Paul transferred him from the Adramyttian ship which had brought them from Caesarea, to a ship from Alexandria in Egypt, bound for Ostia with a cargo of grain. The fact that the centurion was in virtual command of the ship ( Acts 27:11 ) proves that it was one of the vessels in the imperial transport service. Leaving Myra they came opposite Cnidus with difficulty, against a head-wind. The ordinary course from Cnidus in good weather was to steer straight for Cythera, but on this occasion the West or Northwest winds made this route impracticable, and they sailed under the lee of Crete, whose South coast would shelter them from a Northwest gale, and afford occasional protection from a West gale. They passed Salmone, the Northeast corner of Crete, with difficulty, and worked round the coast to Fair Havens, a harbor somewhat to the East of Cape Matala. The great Feast fell while they were at Fair Havens; in 59 ad it was On October 5, in the middle of the season when the equinoxes made sailing impossible. Paul advised the centurion to winter in Fair Havens, but the captain wished to reach Phoenix, a harbor farther to the West, where ships from Egypt were accustomed to put in during the stormy season. It was decided to follow the captain's advice; but on its way to Phoenix the ship was struck by a Northeast wind called Euraquilo, which rushed down from Mt. Ida. The ship was carried out to sea; it managed to run under the lee of Cauda, an island 23 miles West of Cape Matala, where the crew hauled in the boat, undergirded the ship, and slackened sail. On the fourteenth night they were driven on the coast of Malta, and wrecked.

The narrative does not state that Paul landed in Crete, but as the ship lay for some time at Fair Havens ( Acts 27:8 ,  Acts 27:9 ) he had plenty of opportunity to land, but not to travel inland. The centurion gave him permission to land at Sidon. Paul left Titus in Crete ( Titus 1:5 ); tradition made the latter its first bishop, and patron saint.

6. The Cretans

Cretans were present, as noted above, at the Feast of Pentecost (  Acts 2:11 ). Paul's estimate of the Cretan character ( Titus 1:10-16 ) was the one current in antiquity. Paul quotes ( Titus 1:12 ) a well-known line of the Cretan poet Epimenides (who lived about 600 bc) on the mendacity of the Cretans. The sentiment was repeated by Callimachus ( Hymn to Zeus 8). Other ancient witnesses to the detestation in which the Cretan character was held are Livy xliv.45, and Plutarch Aemilius section 23.


Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul  ; Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen , 320-30. On Crete in Greek and Roman times, consult e.g. Grote, Holm, and Mommsen. A succinct account of the prehistoric archaeology of the island is given in Burrows, The Discoveries in Crete , and Bailkie, The Sea Kings of Crete .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, now called Candia, and by the Turks, Kirid. It is 160 miles long, but of very unequal width—varying from thirty-five to six miles. It is situated at the entrance of the Archipelago, having the coast of the Morea to the south-west, that of Asia Minor to the north-east, and that of Libya to the south. Great antiquity was affected by the inhabitants, and it has been supposed by some that the island was originally peopled from Egypt; but this is founded on the conclusion that Crete was the Caphtor of , etc. and the country of the Philistines, which seems more than doubtful. Surrounded on all sides by the sea, the Cretans were excellent sailors, and their vessels visited all the neighboring coasts. The island was highly prosperous and full of people in very ancient times. The chief glory of the island, however, lay in its having produced the legislator Minos, whose institutions had such important influence in softening the manners of a barbarous age, not in Crete only, but also in Greece, where these institutions were imitated. The natives were celebrated as archers. Their character was not of the most favorable description; the Cretans or Kretans being, in fact, one of the three K's against whose unfaithfulness the Greek proverb was intended as a caution—Kappadokia, Krete, and Kilikia. In short, the ancient notices of their character fully agree with the quotation which St. Paul produces from 'one of their own poets,' in his Epistle to Titus , who had been left in charge of the Christian church in the island:—'The Cretans are always liars (eternal liars), evil beasts (literally “brutes”), slow bellies' (gorbellies, bellies which take long to fill).

Crete is named in . But it derives its strongest Scriptural interest from the circumstances connected with St. Paul's voyage to Italy. The vessel in which he sailed, being forced out of her course by contrary winds, was driven round the island, instead of keeping the direct course to the north of it. In doing this, the ship first made the promontory of Salmone on the eastern side of the island, which they passed with difficulty, and took shelter at a place called Fair-Havens, near to which was the city Lasea. But after spending some time at this place, and not finding it, as they supposed, sufficiently secure to winter in, they resolved, contrary to the advice of St. Paul (the season being far advanced), to make for Phoenice, a more commodious harbor on the western part of the island; in attempting which they were driven far out of their course by a furious east wind called Euroclydon, and wrecked on the island of Melita (Acts 27).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [12]

mountainous island in the Mediterranean, 160 m. long and from 7 to 30 m. broad; in nominal subjection to Turkey after 1669, it was in perpetual revolt. The rising of 1895 led to the intervention of the great powers of Europe, and the Turkish troops having been withdrawn in 1898 under pressure from Great Britain, Russia, France, and Italy, Prince George of Greece was appointed High Commissioner, ruling on behalf of these powers. Turkey still retains the nominal suzerainty.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Crete'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.