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Introduction to the Epistle of Titus


I. Writer


         Paul the apostle (1:1). According to the records of the Bible, Paul was formerly called Saul (Acts. 13:9), an Israelite, of tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1), a Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil. 3:5) considering parentage. Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, at the feet of the famous teacher Gamaliel, educated according to exactness of the Jewish law (Acts. 22:3). Afterwards, he became to live a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of the Judaism (Acts. 26:5) and was zealous for God and persecuted the assembly (Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:6). However, he did it ignorantly, in unbelief (1Tim. 1:13). One day, when he intended to go to Damascus to seize Christians, the Lord Jesus manifested to Him on his way (Acts. 9:1-5). He became a Christian henceforth and was called to be an apostle (Rom. 1:1). The apostleship of Paul was mainly towards the Gentiles (Gal. 2:8). He went out to preach for tree times east to Jerusalem and west to Rome and his tracks were found in all satrapies of the Roman Empire. He established many churches and made the groundwork for the preaching of the gospel of Christianity all over the world today. He wrote altogether thirteen epistles in the New Testament, thus becoming the main exegete of the truth of Christianity.


II. The Time and Location the Book was Written


         When this epistle was finished, Paul had not arrived at Nicopolis (3:12). And therefore we could conclude that it must be finished after he was released from the Roman prison for the first time. At that time Paul worked in various places in the province of Macedonia and he planed to winter at Nicopolis and meet Titus and then turned to meet Timothy at Asia (1Tim. 3:14; 4:13). From this we could infer that this epistle and the first epistle of Timothy were written at the same time. And it was probably between A.D. 64 and A. D. 65. It was written in a certain place in Macedonia and probably it was Philippi.


III. The Recipient


         The name of Titus was not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, however, Paul mentioned him many times in his epistles. Titus was an uncircumcised Greek (Gal. 2:3) and his home was at Antioch. He, representing the church in Antioch, went to Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas to attend the Jerusalem conference (Acts.15). Here Paul called him “a true son in our common faith” in this epistle (1:4), showing that he was guided by Paul to believe in the Lord. He was also Paul’s fellow-worker and Paul once sent to the church in Corinth with epistles which he wrote with severe wording and many tears and were lost nowadays (2Cor. 2:3-4, 13; 7:6). Later Paul wrote the first and second books of Corinth which still existed at present and sent Titus to carry them to Corinth (2Cor. 8:6, 16-17).

     When Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome, he went to Crete with Titus and left him alone there to set in order the things that are lacking (1:5) and charged him to come to him at Nicopolis (3:12). Probably when Paul was arrested again, Titus went to Rome with Paul and was sent by him to Dalmatia for the need of work (2Tim. 4:10). After that, the name of Titus was no longer mentioned in the Bible. According to the traditional saying of the church, he went back to Crete and finished his life there.

     From Titus’ being sent to Jerusalem, Corinth, Crete and other places, we could know that Titus was a brave and promising fellow-worker of Paul who was greatly used by him. Because the conditions in these places were quite particular and they need to face many difficulties in their work.


IV. The Motivation for Writing the Epistle


         At that time Titus was laboring for the Lord in Crete. And Crete was the most corrupt place in the world at that time. It was quite difficult to shepherd the church there. The reasons why this epistle was written are as follows: 1) directing Titus how to appoint the elders (1:5-9); 2) charging him to rebuke those who followed heresies in order to keep the faith (1:10-16); 3) charging him to teach believers to live a sound life so as to glorify the word of God (2); 4) asking him to come to meet him at Nicopolis (3:12).


V. The Importance of This Book


        The epistle of Titus is the briefest epistle in Paul’s epistles, except the epistle of Philemon. However, in the aspect of the contents, “although the spadger is small, it is completely of the available”. The main theologies, such as bibliology, the theory of deity, Christology, salvation, the morals of Christian life and etc., have been condensed into the brilliant words by the pocket and nuclear way. Moreover, the pastoral principles are quite copious and the personal touch is quite deep. It is a “pocket and practical pastoral handbook” suitable for various ages.

VI. General Description


         The central message of this epistle is “the truth which accords with godliness” (1:1). “Godliness” and “the truth” interact with each other and are equally important. They penetrate the whole epistle. Preachers should not only be sound in the faith (1:13; 2:1) but also in all things show themselves to be a pattern of good works (2:7-8). As for the overseers and believers in the church, they should also pay attention to holding fast to the faith (1:9; 2:3) and walking blamelessly (1:6-8; 2:2-6, 9-10; 3:1-2, 8).


VII. Special Points


  This epistle has the following features:

1) The beginning of this epistle is quite particular which describes Paul’s commission from God in detail. It makes a foundation stone for the remaining contents of this epistle and it is the “common faith” to all those who serve God (1:1-4).

2) This epistle has brief and clear narrative, aiming at the features of heresies in the island of Crete. It gives us the quite precious data to defend the faith (protect Christianity) (1:10-16; 3:9-11).

3) This epistle stresses on the “sound” doctrine and teachings and “good works” which accord with “good things” again and again. It gives us the best examples of “matching one’s words with deeds” (1:6-9; 2:1-10; 3:1-2, 14).

4) This epistle makes brief and profound description of the truth of the salvation repeatedly and it concentrates on the main points to give us the best “general doctrine of Christianity” (2:11-14; 3:4-7).


VIII. Key Verses


         In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (Tit. 2:7-8).

     “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:4-5).


IX. Key Words


         “The truth which accords with godliness” (1:1), “His word” (1:3), “common faith” (1:4), “the faithful word” (1:9), “sound doctrine” (1:9), “the faith” (1:13, 14), “sound doctrine” (2:1), “good things” (2:3), “the word of God” (2:5), “the doctrine of God our Savior” (2:10).

“Blameless” (1:6; 2:8), “sound” (1:13; 2:2), “sound” (1:9; 2:1), “sound” (2:8).

“A lover of what is good” (1:8), “every good work” (1:16; 3:1), “good things” (2:3), “good works” (2:7), “good works” (2:14), “good works” (3:8, 14).


X. Outlines of the Book


The Ministry and Messages of God’s Workers

I.  The ministry of God’s workers (1)

  A. the source and aim of the ministry of God’s workers (1:1-4)

  B. the positive ministry of God’s workers------appointing the right leaders of the church (1:5-9)

  C. the negative ministry of God’s workers------rebuking those who preach heresies (1:10-16)

II. The messages of God’s workers (2:1-3:11)

  A. preaching sound doctrine to different believers (2:1-15)

  B. teaching believers to walk worthily of the salvation in the society (3:1-8)

  C. teaching believers to avoid those who depart from the truth in the church (3:9-11)

III. Epilogue and greeting (3:12-15)


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren