A Bible Study

A.     Introduction

B.     Occasion/Purpose of the Letter

C.     Theological Value

D.     Summary

I.        Salutation

II.     Concerning Elders and Errorists in Crete

III.   Concerning the Natural Groups in the Congregation

IV.  Concerning Believers Among Men Generally

V.     Conclusion


The letter is addressed to "Titus, my son in our common faith" (1:4) which shows a close relation between Paul and Titus. We can also see that Titus is a comparatively young man when Paul wrote to him when we look at 2:6-7.
Other than the letter addressed to him, there is little reference to Titus. We know that he is very close to Paul although his name does not occur in the book of Acts.
Chronologically, we first hear of Titus in Galatians 2:1-3. When Paul went from Antioch to discuss "his" gospel with the leaders at Jerusalem he took Titus, an uncircumcised Greek, a worthy specimen of the fruits of Paul's ministry to Gentiles.
At Jerusalem, Paul's position that Gentiles are not under the Mosaic law was vindicated when Titus was not compelled to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5). We hear of Titus next during Paul's third missionary Journey and his ministry at Ephesus. 2nd Corinthians reveals that at this time Titus was a faithful coworker in the Gospel. On more than one occasion Paul sent Titus to Corinth on important missions.
A year before the writing of 2nd Corinthians, Titus is sent to enlist the Corinthians in participating in the collection for the Judean saints (1st Corinthians 16:1-4; 2nd Corinthians 9:2; 12:18). Shortly after writing 1st Corinthians, Paul again sent Titus to Corinth to help straighten out the tangled affairs in that church and to counter the work of opponents to Paul.
The plan was for Titus to return to Troas where they would continue more missionary work (2nd Corinthians 2:12,13) The failure of Titus to return as planned caused Paul much anxiety. Paul terminated the work planned for Troas, and when instead into Macedonia, hoping to soon meet Titus.
Eventually, Titus appeared in Macedonia with the news that his difficult mission was successful (2nd Corinthians 7:5-7). Cheered by this change in the life of the Corinthians and in the congregation Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian congregation and sent it back with Titus with the instruction to complete the collection (2nd Corinthians 8:6,7, 16-22)
When Paul wrote him, Titus was working on the island of Crete. "I left you in Crete" (1:5) indicates that Paul had been there or had sent him there. Paul knew of the conditions of the local churches and is writing words of encouragement. We see that Paul hopes that soon a replacement will arrive so that they can continue with more missionary work (3:12)
The last we hear from Titus is in 2nd Timothy 4:10 where Paul informs Timothy that Titus has gone to Dalmatia. This implies that Titus may have been with Paul during his Roman imprisonment for some time but is now working at a new location as the Lord has called him.

Occasion/Purpose of the Letter:

The external occasion for the letter was the trip through Crete planned by Zenas and Apollos (3:13). The internal occasion for writing was Paul's concern to strengthen the hand of Titus as his personal representative in Crete in carrying out a difficult assignment.
Because of the conditions in Crete, Paul knew that Titus would face opposition (1:10-11; 2:15; 3:10) His aim is then to reinforce Titus' authority in working among the churches in Crete.

Theological Value:

In Titus, Paul stresses worthy Christian conduct and insists that Christian conduct must be based on and regulated by Christian truth. Nowhere else does Paul more forcefully urge the essential connection between evangelical truth and the purest morality than in this brief letter. The regeneration work of the Holy Spirit is the experiential basis for Christian conduct (3:3-7).


After the salutation (1:1-4) Paul deals with the qualifications to be looked for in church officials (verses 5-9) then goes on to condemn the false teachers who were undermining the work in Crete (verses 10-16).
In chapter 2, Paul gives Titus advice on how to handle the situation there. He lays down rules for Christian behavior, with special reference to the aged (verses 1-3) younger people (verses 4-8) and slaves (verses 9-10).
The closing verses (11-15) of that chapter reflect a more theological emphasis in the discussion that, continued into chapter 3, covers the implications of Christian living in the community (verses 1-2). Then comes a reminder of the transformation wrought by the gospel through the appearance and work of the Savior (verses 4-7).
An admonition on good works (verse 8; cf.14) and false teachers (verses 9-11) follows, and the brief Epistle concludes with personal messages and consul, and with the benediction (verses 12-15).

I.        Salutation (Titus 1:l-4)

A.     The writer (1:1-3)
In the salutation, Paul the writer wants to give not only his authority to give the letter but also the purpose of the letter. The letter is written for the preservation and furtherance of Paul's message which is a link between godliness and daily life.
To his name Paul lists two credentials..." a servant of God" and "an apostle of Jesus Christ" which marks Paul's office and makes him one of God's servants. The word "and" is not to show that servant and apostle are equated but the "and" is giving additional information. Paul is a servant and furthermore he is Christ's apostle.
"God's elect" are those who have responded to God's call through the gospel. The Bible's teaching on "election" is only for the believer. It assures faithful, often struggling believers that their salvation is all of God from the beginning to the end.
"The hope of eternal life" is the basis on which the Christian faith and all Christian service is built. This hope of eternal life is not just a pious aspiration but it is sure because it is built on the sure words and promises of God. Like election it all rests with God.
It is God who promised us glory "before the beginning of time" which literally means "before time eternal." As William Kelly has put it, "It was promised within the Godhead when neither the world nor man yet existed." The promise is rooted in the eternal purpose of God for man.

B.     The Reader (1:4)
"My true son in our common faith" reveals the intimate relation between writer and reader. By using the word "son" one would gather that Titus was a convert to the Christian faith through the ministry of Paul. This relationship also assured that when Titus spoke in Crete it was the position of Paul.

II.     Concerning Elders and Errorists in Crete (Titus 1:5-16)

A.     The Appointment of Qualified Elders (1:5-9)
We first see why Titus is in Crete. Paul left him there to finish up what Paul had started. Probably Paul's time spent in Crete was rather brief. We can't see Paul coming to Crete in Acts 27:7-9 or before and we simply must say that Paul went to Crete following his imprisonment in Acts 28.
Titus' task is to see that things are set in order, Titus is to be involved in this process, he is not just to give out orders to others. What is this unfinished business? From the body of the letter we see it involves...
first, organization (1:5)
second, unchecked false teachers (1:10-11; 3:10)
third, instruction in doctrine and conduct (2:1-10; 3:1-2)
Paul saw this need. Titus is now to complete the work.
Paul starts with two domestic qualifications. "The husband of one wife" has been debated for centuries. This phrase does not say that one must be married and it seems improbable to prohibit a second marriage. (cf. 1 Timothy 5:14; Romans 7:2-3; 1st Corinthians 7:39) He must be the husband of only one living wife.
Since older men would be chosen for leadership, it is also assumed that the elder would have children. The latter must believe, sharing their father's faith. If children remain pagans, it would throw into question the father's ability to lead others to the faith.
In a series of positive and negative points, Paul lists what type of person he is looking for.

1. overbearing-arrogantly disregarding interests of others in order to please self

1. hospitable-a lover of strangers

2. quick tempered-readily yielding to anger

2. one who loves what is good-an ally and zealous supporter of good in all things

3. given to wine-addicted to it, an alcoholic

3. self-controlled-in control of mind and emotions to act rationally & discretely

4. violent-ready to assail an opponent

4. holy-personal piety, an inner attitude of conforming, knowing what is God pleasing

5. pursuing dishonest gain-using the office to profit in an underhanded and shameful way

5. upright-just, conforming one's conduct to right standards


6. disciplined-having inner strength also listed in Galatians 5:23 as one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit

Doctrinal fitness is also a must. He must be known to "hold firmly to the trustworthy message" clinging to it despite the winds of the false teaching and open opposition that is going on in the world today.

B.     The Refutation of False Teachers (1:10-16)
"These are many rebellious people" is a general statement. The worst offenders were of Jewish background but they were not the only ones. Others were gnostics who were trying to get into the churches with their misguided teachings.
Paul uses three terms to describe these "many" false teachers. First, they are " rebellious" refusing to give to any authority. Second, they are "mere talkers" impressive in speech but accomplishing nothing constructive. Third, they are deceivers, gifted in duping people and leading many astray.
The quote in verse 12, "A certain one of them, their own prophet" shows that the quoted verdict came from one Crete resident who had intimate knowledge of his own people and was esteemed by them as a "prophet."
Paul was willing to accept this evaluation in order to underline the authority of his own Judgment. Paul can't be charged with just being "anti-Cretan." The people of Crete must now either admit to the truth of Paul's verdict of them or brand their own prophet as a liar.
Paul's aim is to lead these people to a position where they "will pay no attention to Jewish myths" and also to reject the demands of others who put demands on Christians that should not be. This is found in the quote of rejecting the teachings of those who give "demands of those who reject the truth." Titus must fight those who give extra revelation to the faith and those who teach Christians to live beyond what Scripture clearly teaches.
The words that Paul thus gives to Titus are how to fight against such false teachers. Paul sees the close connection between false doctrine and evil character. Paul's words here are for true Christians to "put their faith in their actions" and to live by what they preach. Here we begin to see the purpose of one's works or conduct to show and to prove that the words and teaching that we have is good, right, and true.

III.   Concerning the Natural Groups in the Congregation (Titus 2:1-15)

A.     Instructions for the Different Groups (2:1-10)

1.      The instructional duty of Titus (2:1)
The opening " you" is emphatic. It is contrasting Titus with false teachers. Here again Paul is driving at the point that correct doctrine must result in good behavior.

2.      The instruction of different age groups (2:2-6)
The term "older men" denotes age. The senior male members are named first as natural leaders. Four qualifications are insisted upon at this point:

a.       temperate-meaning "clear headed"

b.      worthy of respect-revealing a personal dignity that invites honor and respect

c.       self-controlled-possessing self mastery in thought and judgment

d.      sound in faith, in love, and in endurance-meaning Christian healthiness of heart and mind.

"Likewise" indicates that the same kind of deportment is expected of older women. The basic demand is that they be reverent in the way they live. The women must fulfill a positive role. By personal word and example they must teach what is morally good, noble and attractive.
Paul now lists seven characteristics that must be commended to such:

a.       To love their husbands

b.      and children

c.       To be self-controlled

d.      and pure

e.       To be busy at home

f.        and be kind

g.       To be subject to their husbands (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24)

The requirement for the young men is brief but comprehensive. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

3.      The Personal example of Titus (2:7-8)
In concluding instructions to the different age groups, Paul reminds Titus that his own conduct must confirm his teaching. Two qualities, integrity and seriousness must characterize his work of teaching.
Titus must also demonstrate "soundness of speech that cannot be condemned." The content of his "speech" must have two characteristics. First, it must be sound, conforming to healthful doctrine (2:1) a demand made on Elders (1:9) as well as members (1:3; 2:2). Such soundness will insure the second characteristic--that is, "can not be condemned."

4.      The instruction to the slaves (2:9-10)
Paul's ethical instructions are now addressed to a distinct social group. Slaves formed a significant element in the apostolic church and the welfare of the faith demanded that they too accept their spiritual responsibility as believers. Paul here makes no distinction between slaves who had Christian masters and those who did not. (cf. 1st Timothy 6:1-2)

B.     The Foundation for Godly Living (2:11-14)
Verses 11-14 unfold the meaning of "God our Savior" in verse 10. Paul could not think of Christian truth and conduct apart from God's grace. He speaks of the manifestation of God's grace (verse 11) the Christian's present training by grace (verse 12), the expectation of Christ's return (verse 13), and the aim of Christ's redemptive work (verse 14).

C.     The Restatement of the Duty of Titus (2:15)
As the apostolic representative in Crete, Titus must "not let anyone despise" him, look down on him, or belittle his message. Since this letter would be read in the churches, the remark was intended as much for the Cretans as for Titus himself.

IV.  Concerning Believers Among Men Generally (Titus 3:1-11)

A.     Their Obligations as Citizens (3:1-2)
The duty of believers is "to be subject to rulers and authorities." This demand for obedience to the government is found in other New Testament letters (Romans 13:1-7; 1st Peter 2:13-17) but the known turbulence of the Cretans made it particularly appropriate here.
Believers also have obligations to pagan neighbors. Negatively, they must "slander no one" and "to be peaceable" is another negative demand, as is " to be non-fighting" refusing to engage in quarrels and conflicts. The Christian must not adopt the arts of the agitator.
Positively, he must be considerate gentile or yielding, not stubbornly insisting on his rights but acting in courtesy and forbearance.

B.     The Motives for Such Godly Conduct (3:3-8)
Paul advances three supporting motives; their own pre-Christian past (verse 3) the saving work of God in believers (verses 4-8a) and the necessary connection between Christian truth and conduct (verse 8b)

1.      The motive from our past (3:3)
The remembrance of our past should be a powerful motive for gentleness and consideration toward the unsaved. It is salutary to remember our own past moral condition when dealing with the unsaved in their degradation.

2.      The motive for our present salvation (3:4-7)
"But" introduces the familiar contrast between what we once were and now are. (cf. Romans 6:17-23; 1st Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:2-12) The marvelous salvation that we now know must motivate our dealings with the unsaved. This beautiful summary of the whole gospel mentions the manifestation (verse 4), the basis (verse 5a), the means (verses 5b,6) and the results (verse 7) of our salvation.

3.      The necessary connection between doctrine and conduct (3:8)
"This is a trustworthy saying" clearly looks back to the doctrinal statement in verses 4-7 as a unified whole and stamps it as worthy of full approval.

C.     The Reaction of Spiritual Error (3:9-11)
In reaction to matters contrary to the teaching insisted on in verse 8 are described as "foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law."
All such things Titus must avoid, deliberately shun and stand aloof from because they are both unprofitable as well as useless. They produce no spiritual benefits and lead to no constructive results. This must be taken to heart for in many cases these are the things that can cause all of the problems!
The adjective "divisive" is found only here in the New Testament. It characterizes what is a self-chosen opinion or viewpoint; because of their insistence on their opinions devoid of a true spiritual basis. The dissidents stir up divisions.
Such a person Titus must warn by faithfully and lovingly pointing out his error. If a second effort to deal with him proves ineffective, let Titus have nothing to do with him. He should refuse further to bother with him. Further efforts would not be a good stewardship of his time and energies and would give the offender an undeserved sense of importance!

V.     Conclusion (Titus 3:12-15)
Verse 12 announces Paul's plans for the future as they concern Titus himself. Another worker would be sent to replace Titus in Crete. Zenas and Apollos are almost certainly the bearers of this letter. Zenas the lawyer appears only here. His name is Greek, but could have been a convert from Judaism. If he were of Jewish origin, "lawyer" could mean that he had been an expert in the Mosaic Law; if a Gentile it means he had been a Roman jurist. Apollos was an Alexandrian Jew converted at Ephesus and ministered at Corinth.
Titus need not worry nor should he carry the burden alone. By appealing to the churches for further funds, he had an opportunity to train them in the practice of doing what is good.
All of the workers with Paul joined in sending their greeting. They are left unnamed, since Zenas and Apollos would orally indicate and identify them to Titus.
The "you " is plural in the Greek. Titus is to convey Paul's greeting to all. It suggests that Paul expected the letter to be read in the various churches.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +


R.C.H. Lenski the Interpretation of St. Paulís Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus, and to Philemon, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN © 1961 pp. 887-947

Paul Kretzmann Popular Commentary of the Bible New Testament Vol. II, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO ©Pp. 419-432