Titus 1 - Outline of Titus (Book Notes menu page)

In the order of inclusion in our Bible, this is the last of the three short letters, known as "the Pastoral Epistles," which Paul wrote to encourage and instruct two young pastors, Timothy and Titus. Chronologically, the first letter to Timothy, and this letter to Titus, were probably written at the same time (c. 65 AD), late in Paul's ministry, following his release from his first imprisonment in Rome (c. 64 AD). According to early Christian tradition, during this period, Paul traveled as far west as Spain, and then returned eastward to revisit some of the churches which he had established in Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia. His freedom to travel is evident in both of these epistles (1Tim 1:3; Titus 1:5). Perhaps one or two years after writing those letters, Paul, again imprisoned in Rome, and knowing that he would soon depart to be with the Lord, wrote his second letter to Timothy (c.66 - 67 AD), charging him to serve the Lord faithfully, to the end.

The two earlier epistles (1Timothy and Titus) have many similarities, and share one theme, which is: the necessity of establishing proper order and leadership in the local church. They differ slightly in emphasis, as First Timothy stresses the importance of teaching sound doctrine, while Titus emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with sound doctrine.

1. Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,
according to the faith of God's elect,
and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
2 In hope of eternal life,
which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching,
which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
4 To Titus, [mine] own son after the common faith:
Grace, mercy, [and] peace,
from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Paul identifies himself as...
  • a servant {GK=doulos, bondslave} of God.-
    Once he had been the servant of sin. But he had been bought with a price, and now willingly gave himself to the will of his Master (1Cor 7:23).
  • an apostle {one sent forth} of Jesus Christ.-
    The Lord Jesus Christ had sent him forth with a message, which is...
    • the faith of God's elect.-
      "The faith" to which all of God's chosen people (the elect) adhere, is the Gospel of Christ (2The 2:13,14). There is only one true Gospel, which all of God's people hold in common. Therefore, Paul calls this "the common faith" in v.4.
    • the acknowledging {GK=gnosis, full knowledge} of the truth with is according to {after the manner of} godliness.-
      In other words, the truth of the Gospel, fully embraced, will be evidenced in godly living.
    • in hope {ie., confident expection} of eternal life... promised... manifested... committed unto me...-
      Our natural condition is 'dead in trespasses and sin.' The Gospel meets our need by taking away our sin, and giving us eternal life, in Christ (Eph 2:1-10).
         God's promises are sure, for He cannot lie. But to whom did He make this promise of eternal life, and when did He make it? God made this promise 'before' {GK=propater, lit., forefather} 'the world began' {lit., the times of the ages}. This refers, not to a time prior to creation, when there was no one in need of the promise, but rather, to the promise of a Savior ('the seed of the woman,' Gen 3:15), which God made to Adam and Eve, at the time of their fall. From their disobedience sin and death have been transmitted to all mankind, down through the successive 'times of the ages' (ie., the Dispensations) of human history.
         The fulfillment of God's promise was manifested {made known} through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, which God had commissioned Paul to proclaim.
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith...
During Paul's first missionary journey, he had led Titus, to faith in Christ, and then discipled him as they traveled together. Soon after Paul's first missionary journey, Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1,2; Gal 2:1).
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
As in the other pastoral epistles, Paul includes the word 'mercy' in his greeting, because a man who serves as a shepherd of God's flock, will frequently encounter a treacherous path.
     Note that Paul applies the term 'our Savior' equally to God the Father and God the Son (v.3,4). God, 'who cannot lie' and in whom is 'life eternal,' became a man, to make the way for sinners to come to Him (Joh 14:6). Our salvation is the coordinated work of all three members of the Godhead (Titus 3:4-7). There is only one God, and He is the only Savior (Isa 43:11; 45:21,22).
5. For this cause left I thee in Crete,
that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting,
and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
6. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife,
having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;
not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine,
no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught,
that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
For this cause left I thee in Crete...
There is no other record of Paul's ministry on the island of Crete. However, during his sea transport, as a prisoner enroute to his first imprisonment in Rome, the ship stopped briefly at the port of Fair Havens. Paul sensing that the voyage would be hazardous, had recommended that they winter there. But the ship owner decided on another course, which led to their shipwreck (Acts 27:7-12). Apparently, after his release from prison, he and Titus had returned to Crete to plant churches.
...that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting... as I had appointed thee.
As Paul departed from Crete, he knew that the new churches were not ready to stand on their own. So, he arranged for Titus to remain, to 'set in order' {ie., set right} the things which were 'wanting' {neglected, forsaken}.
     This letter is much shorter than the first letter to Timothy, perhaps because Titus was more experienced in ministry. Titus, having been saved during Paul's first missionary journey, was probably about ten years older than Timothy. By this time, he had considerable ministry experience. About five years prior to this letter, Titus had served as Paul's representative, in dealing with difficult issues in the Corinthian church (2Cor 7:6,7), and in assembling a financial gift, from several churches, to benefit impoverished believers, in Jerusalem (2Cor 8:6,16).
     Before Paul left Crete, he had discussed 'the things that are wanting' in the churches. This letter provides additional instructions and insights.
...and ordain elders in every city.
Paul had 'appointed' Titus to finish building the churches in Crete. The word used for 'appointed' (in v.5) refers, not to the ordination of Titus, but rather to the arrangements and instructions which he gave to him.
     No doubt, there were already some mature believers in these churches, but none had been officially ordained {GK=kathistemi, caused to stand, appointed to position} as the recognized leaders. Paul refers to the ordained men as 'elders' and 'bishops.' These are not two different offices. Both terms apply to the same individuals. 'Elder' {GK=presbuteros, old man, mature man, v.5} refers to the man, while 'Bishop' {GK=episkopos, overseer, v.7} refers to the office and function. The overseers are to 'watch over' the church. Heb 13:17; 1Pet 5:1-5
     It is noteworthy that the NT always speaks of local churches as being governed by a plurality of elders (never under the rule of one man). But each 'elder' must meet certain criteria of eligibility for service.
...if any be... for a bishop must be... (v.6-9)
Paul identifies several qualifying characteristics for a man to be eligible to serve as an overseer. These qualifications are similar to those listed, for bishops and deacons, in 1Timothy 3:1-12. The importance of these qualifications is emphasized, in that the Holy Spirit chose to preserve two lists. Neither list is exhaustive. Not every man who meets these qualifications should be placed in a position of leadership, for not all are called or appointed to this work by God. Ideally, most of these characteristics should be true of every believer. We will touch briefly on the qualifications listed here. There is a more detailed discussion in the Book Notes at 1Timothy 3:1-12.
  • ...blameless...- GK=anegkletos, above reproach, irreproachable (v.6).
  • ...the husband of one wife...- ie., not a polygamist.
    This may also exclude a divorced and remarried man, whose former spouse is still living. (See the Book Notes at 1Tim 3:2)
  • ...having faithful {ie., 'believing'} children not accused of riot {ie., proflicacy, excess} or unruly {disobedient, insubordinate}...-
    As in 1Tim 3:4,5, an elder's ability to rule God's house is tested by the obedience of his children. Here, we see that his children should also be believers, whose lives demonstrate the reality of their faith. Their purpose in living is to make the Gospel known, not the pursuit of fleshly pleasures or the promotion of political agendas through civil disobedience. Prov 28:7
       Through no fault of his own, a godly man may have an unbelieving or wayward child. If so, it may be best that he not serve as an 'overseer' of the church, to avoid dilution or disrespect of his authority in dealing with similar issues in other families.
  • ...blameless {ie., above reproach, (same word as in v.6)}, as the steward {GK=oikonomos, lit., one who rules a house} of God... (v.7)
    The thought here, seems to parallel that of 1Tim 3:5
  • ...not self-willed...-
    A steward has been given responsibility over other servants in the house. But he is still a servant. He is there to serve God and His people, not himself. Apostasy and false teachings arise from self-willed men who assert and advance themselves in disregard of God's Word and Will. eg., Acts 20:29,30; 2Pet 2:10
  • ...not soon angry {ie., not prone to anger}...- Jam 1:19,20
  • ...not given to wine...- Eph 5:18
  • ...no striker {ie., not a brawler, not contentious}...- 2Tim 2:24,25
  • ...not 'given to filthy lucre' {GK=aischros, covetous of base gain}...-
    Those who oversee the flock of God, must serve out of love for God and His people, not for financial gain. 1Pet 5:2
  • ...a lover of hospitality {GK=philoxenos, friendly toward strangers}...-
    An elder must be ready to welcome traveling evangelists and missionaries, to help them in their work. eg., 3Joh 1:5-8
  • ...a lover of good men {GK=philagathos, lit., loving that which is good}...- 1Joh 3:14; 5:1
  • ...sober {ie., of sound mind, sober minded}...
  • ...just {GK=dikaios, righteous}...
  • ...holy {GK=hosios, unpolluted, rightly related to God and man}...- 1Tim 2:8; Eph 4:24
  • ...temperate {ie., self-controlled, self-disciplined}...
  • ...Holding fast {ie., firmly} the faithful {ie., trustworthy} word as he hath been taught (2Tim 1:13)
    ...that he may be able by sound doctrine {ie., healthy teachings} both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
    Elders must be well founded in the Word, and prepared...
    • to exhort {GK=parakaleo, call to one's side) -
      Exhortation is directed toward receptive believers. It includes the teaching, correcting, and discipling of believers, from the Word of God.
    • to convince {GK=elencho, convict, refute} the gainsayers {GK=antilego, to speak against} -
      False teachers, who oppose and contradict God's Word must be confronted and their errors refuted (with the standard of truth, God's Word), both for their own sakes, and for the protection of the flock of God. 2Tim 2:24-26; 4:2-4
10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,
specially they of the circumcision:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped,
who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
12 One of themselves, [even] a prophet of their own, said,
The Cretians [are] alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
15 Unto the pure all things [are] pure:
but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving [is] nothing pure;
but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him],
being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers...
This paragraph reveals:
  1. the reason that godly leaders must be carefully chosen and appointed (v.5-9)
  2. the reason that church leaders must be prepared to confront and refute false teachers (v.9).
...specially they of the circumcision... who subvert whole houses... for filthy lucre's sake.-
During the apostolic era, the predominant false teachers were the 'Judaizers' who sought to bring Gentile believers under the Mosaic Law. This error had been dealt with decisively at the Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31). But the false teaching persisted because its self-willed proponents had not submitted to apostolic authority. Their message was 'vain talk' {idle words} because they did not understand the purpose of the Law (1Tim 1:7-11; 6:3-5). The error which they proclaimed continued to confuse and deceive people, subverting {ie., over turning, over throwing} the faith of whole houses (ie., believing families, assemblies of believers, local churches). The legalistic teachings were financially profitable to the Judaizers as they gained a following. But they were the cause of eternal loss to believers who turned away from the true Gospel, of salvation by Grace through Faith. Many of Paul's epistles address this error (eg., Gal 1:6-9; 3:1-5).
     Titus was very familiar with these issues, because he had been present at the Council in Jerusalem, and because the question affected him directly, since he was a believing Gentile (Gal 2:1-5). The fact that the council did not require Titus to be circumcised, was consistent with their verdict that salvation is not by works of the Law, but by Grace through faith, and that believing Gentiles need not become Jews to be saved (eg., Acts 15:7-19).
     Why then was Timothy circumcised by Paul, a short time later (Acts 16:1-3)? Timothy's mother was a Jewess, which according to Jewish tradition, made him a Jew (even though his father was a Gentile). Paul sought to remove unnecessary obstacles, which might prevent people from hearing the Gospel. Timothy, as an uncircumcised Jew, would have been offensive to Jewish hearers. Therefore, the obstacle was removed, to gain a better hearing (1Cor 9:19-22).
The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts {ie., cruel wild beasts}, slow bellies {ie., lazy gluttons}...
Paul quoted a line from a poem by Epimenides, a Cretan philosopher from the sixth century B.C. This quote, like that at Mars Hill (Acts 17:28), demonstrates that Paul was well educated and widely read.
     In the poem, the 'lie' of the Cretans was that Zeus was mortal [according to the Wikipedia article on 'Epimenides']. Paul was not endorsing the poet's philosophy. Rather, Paul's purpose was to emphasize the fleshly character of the false teachers. The testimony of their own poet was a true description of the natural, unregenerate condition, not only of the Cretans, but of all men. False teachers, who adhere to a false gospel which cannot save, are themselves unregenerate. They speak from the flesh, not for God (Rom16:18; 1Tim 4:2; 2Pet 2:12,15; Jude 1:8-13).
...wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith...
Titus was not to allow such error to fester in the church. He was to severely rebuke {GK=elencho, convict, convince} those who were in error, by confronting them with the truth, with the purpose of restoring them to right doctrine. In doing this, he would also provide an example to the newly ordained elders (v.9).
...not giving heed to Jewish fables {ie., myths} and the commandments of men, which turn men from the truth...
The Judaizers mixed Jewish tradition with the scriptures. God's people must follow His Word, rather than imaginative human speculations (Mat 15:9; 1Tim 1:4-7; 2Tim 4:4)
...unto the pure all things are pure...
The Judaizers sought to bring the Gentiles under bondage to the Law, including dietary restrictions. Jesus spoke to this error in Mat 15:11,17-20. Paul's epistles also address this (eg., Rom 14:14-23).
     This line (v.15a) is sometimes misused by professed believers, to excuse an unrighteous and immoral way of life. However, they fail to see themselves described in the remainder of the verse and chapter.
...but unto them that are defiled, and unbelieving... even their mind and conscience is defiled.
In making excuse for their sin, they demonstrate the impure state of their mind and conscience (1Tim 4:2). The true believer, whose heart has been made pure, by the blood of Christ, will seek to produce good works to His glory (Heb 9:14; 10:22-24).
...they profess that the know God; but in works they deny him...
Does what you 'say' agree with what you 'do'?
True faith in Christ will be demonstrated by works that are pleasing to God.
True believers have a new nature which is characterized by purity of life. 1Joh 3:8-10
     If a man is not born of the Spirit, he will live in the flesh, regardless of his lofty sounding words (Jam 2:18-20; 2Tim 3:5-8; Jude 1:4).
     Christ died, arose, and ever lives to purify us from our sin (Titus 2:14; Heb 7:25). He expects to see the fruits of the Spirit maturing within us.
A professed believer denies {disowns, contradicts} the Lord, through a life that is...
  • ...abominable {ie., detestable}- In the sight of the Holy God, persistent sin is detestable (Rev 21:8,27).
  • ...disobedient {GK=apeithes, unpersuaded, spurning belief}, 2Tim 3:2; Titus 3:3.
  • ...unto every good work reprobate {GK=adokimos, tested but not approved, rejected}, Rom 1:28; 2Tim 3:8.
Paul began this paragraph with the need to confront doctrinal error with the truth. As the paragraph ends, we see that ungodly living accompanies doctrinal error. In the remainder of the letter, Paul instructs Titus, as a pastor, to exhort true believers to live godly lives which are consistent with the Faith which they confess.

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