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Titus Chapter One


I. Content of the Chapter


The Ministry of God’s Workers

I. The source, aim, means and provision of the ministry of God’s workers (v.1-4)

  A. the source------God and Jesus Christ (v.1a)

  B. the aim------for the faith, the acknowledgement of the truth and the hope of eternal life (v.1b-2)

  C. the means------through preaching (v.3)

  D. the provision------grace, mercy and peace (v.4)

II. The positive ministry of God’s workers (v.5-9)

  A. setting in order the things (v.5a)

  B. appointing the appropriate elders (v.5b-8)

  C. enabling them to exhort men by sound doctrine (v.9)

III. The negative ministry of God’s workers (v.10-16)

  A. exposing and rebuking those who preach the heretical teachings (v.10-14)

  B. knowing the nature of those who preach the heretical teachings (v.15-16)


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Tit. 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,

   YLT: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the choice ones of God, and an acknowledging of truth that according to piety,”

   Meaning of Words: “according to”: for the benefit of…, for, encouraging, protecting, promoting, in compliance with, agreeing to, about.

   Literal Meaning: Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” “a bondservant of God” refers to the one who serves God according to the will of God. “An apostle of Jesus Christ” refers to the one who is sent by Jesus Christ. The former word “bondservant” is the bondman with humble status, however, the latter word “apostle” is the appellation with authority before men.

“According to the faith of God's elect” “God’s elect” refers to the Jews in the narrow sense and those who have the true faith towards the true God in the broad sense and here it should refer to the latter. “The faith of God's elect” refers to the faith of Christians. The true faith refers to receiving Christ’s being and doing, i.e. receiving the riches of Christ and all that He has accomplished for us.

“And the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,” in the original refers to “the acknowledgment of the truth which conforms to godliness” which refers to the thorough comprehension of the right truth and which enables men to have performance of godly life (See 1Tim. 6:3).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The status of preachers is both noble and humble. They show their outstanding dispositions and missions through their humble service (See Matt. 20:26-27).

2) The mission of preachers is to enable those who have been elected by God to have faith, increase exceedingly in faith (2Thess. 1:3) and abound more and more in the truth knowledge (Pill. 1:9-10).

3) The acknowledgement of the truth and godliness complement each other and run parallel. The acknowledgement that is unable to make men have godliness is only the vain logic.

4) After one has been saved, he must be taught to know the truth. To preachers, preaching and teaching are throughout their life and therefore believers’ hearing and learning are throughout our life.

5) The one who has received the words of eternal life must live the godly life. The truth faith does not exist in ones brain or heart merely and it must be manifested in one’s life.


Tit. 1:2 “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

   YLT: “upon hope of life age-during, which God, who doth not lie, did promise before times of ages,”

   Literal Meaning: the preposition “in” in the beginning of this verse means “upon”, “because of”, and “for” and it indicates that Paul’s apostleship was appointed for the “hope of eternal life”.

  The “hope of eternal life” (in the Chinese Union Version, “hope” and “eternal life” are put in the beginning and the end of the sentence) shows that “eternal life” is the substantial content of “hope”. “Eternal life” refers to everlasting life, i.e. the life of God and such life is incorruptible (2Tim. 1:10) and therefore it will last forever. God has promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Jesus Christ (John. 3:16). Every one which believes on Him shall have everlasting life (John. 6:40). Today believers’ enjoyment and experiences of such eternal life are only the foretaste and assurance of eternal life which we shall inherit and fully enjoy in future. And today we haven’t enjoyed eternal life abundantly. And therefore, it is a “hope of eternal life” from this angle.

  And such “hope of eternal life” is build up upon the firm foundations because: 1) it is promised by “God who cannot lie” and His promises are faithful and reliable (2Cor. 1:20); 2) it is promised “before time began” and it will never be influenced by conditions happened in time.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The three functions of God’s true servants: a) initiating and promoting the faith of God’s elect; b) increasing believers’ acknowledgment of the truth so as to manifest godliness more; c) helping believers to hold fast to the hope through their enjoyment and experiences of eternal life.

2) What Christians preach to men is not a series of beautiful logic of life or a system of philosophy but a life of God and a gospel concerning eternal life.

3) The hope of eternal life is not only the motive power by which preachers serve the Lord but also the glad tidings that they preach.


Tit. 1:3 “but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

   YLT: “(and He manifested in proper times His word,) in preaching, which I was entrusted with, according to a charge of God our Saviour,”

   Meaning of Words: “due time”: its own time.

   Literal Meaning: but has in due time” is to in proper times. All great events in God’s plans shall take place according to the time that He has ordained (See 1Tim. 2:6; 6:15).

“Manifested His word through preaching” “preaching” refers to the work of preaching done by God’s servants. “His word” refers to God’s word. God reveals His will in “His word”------the Bible and only through the men that He used and preaching will such will be manifested.

“Which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;” “God our Savior” indicates that God is our Savior (See 1Tim. 2:3; 4:10) and He is the source of our salvation. “Committed to…according to the commandment” means that preaching the gospel is not the voluntary work or that men desire to do something for God but that God entrusts the responsibility to men (1Cor. 9:17).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The will that God desires that all men should be saved has been established “before time began” (See v.2). However, it cannot be fulfilled until the fullness of the time was come (Gal. 4:4). It is the principle on which God works and we believers should also learn to wait for His time in everything.

2) God’s servants should regard preaching the gospel as our responsibility, i.e. our right.

3) Strictly speaking, every Christian should be a preacher, however, only those who have received the commission before God clearly will have the burden and are willing to preach the gospel.


Tit. 1:4 “To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

   YLT: “to Titus -- true child according to a common faith: Grace, kindness, peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour!”

   Meaning of Words: “Titus”: dignity; “mercy”: grace.

   Literal Meaning: To Titus, a true son in our common faith:” “common faith” refers to the faith that all believers have (See 2Pet. 1:1). “A true son” refers to the spiritual son who is born through the gospel.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.” “The Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” indicates that Christ Jesus is the executor of the salvation and He is the Savior of us who have been bestowed grace.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) How glorious and honorable it is to preach the gospel for the Lord and serve the Lord in the church! May the Lord rise more “Titus”s (it means “dignity”) in the church.

2) Grace is a gift. It is impossible for men to have mercy on their own because men do not have any merits which make us be worthy of grace.

3) Grace is the source of peace and peace, the result of grace. It is impossible for a man to desire for God’s peace if he has not asked for God’s grace.

4) “Mercy” is the root of various kinds of blessings. And those who have received God’s mercy shall have the effects of “peace” in their life.

5) Without God’s mercy, we cannot have the true peace. If we do not have the peace in the hearts, it shows that we haven’t truly known and received God’s mercy.

6) We should not look for peace besides God. The short cut to having the true peace is the obedience to the will of God.

7) Believers’ “peace” is neither related to the objective environments nor influenced by external things.

8) “Mercy” is God’s generosity to men; “peace” is believers’ state towards God. The more faith believers have towards God, the more we shall enjoy mercy; the more we submit to God, the more we shall feel peaceful.


Tit. 1:5 “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you--

   YLT: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that the things lacking thou mayest arrange, and mayest set down in every city elders, as I did appoint to thee;”

   Meaning of Words: “the things are lacking”: being destitute, being short of, defect; “set in order”: straighten further, arrange additionally, correct; “elders”: the aged, seniors.

   Literal Meaning: For this reason I left you in Crete,” this sentence shows that Paul had once visited Crete with Titus and left for some reason. And he left Titus there. This case must take place after Paul was released from his being imprisoned in Roman for the first time.

“That you should set in order the things that are lacking,” “the things that are lacking” refers to the things which one wants to do but has not done yet. “Set in order” refers to arranging the unfinished works properly and completely.

“And appoint elders in every city as I commanded you--” “every city” refers to various kinds of different places. It shows that the administrative system of the church was separated from each other for locality at that time. “Appointing” refers to designating officially before all the Saints. “Elders” refers to “bishops” in the church (See v.7). Elders stress on the features of their status and generally speaking, they are more advanced and sophisticated in the age and the spiritual experiences. And therefore they are called the elders. And bishops stress on the nature of their work and they are those who direct and supervise various kinds of men and things, i.e. those who rule the church (See 1Tim. 3:5).

  Here “elders” are plural. Appointing the plural elders in every city means that there should be more than two elders in a local church. And the appointing of the elders is done through apostles and workers authorized by apostles apparently. But actually it is the Holy Spirit that sets the elders (Acts. 20:28) and they are only the executors of the will of the Holy Spirit.

  According to the New Testament, the duties of the elders are as follows: 1) ruling the church (1Tim. 3:4-5; 5:17); 2) guarding the truth (Tit. 1:9); 3) shepherding believers (Acts. 20:28; 1Pet. 5:2); 4) doing the service of praying and laying on of the hands (1Tim. 4:14; James. 5:14).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Those who bear the duties of the church are not selected secretly but are separated openly. And the honor of the church is handed over to them publicly.

2) When you entrust works to others, you have to give them the clear instructions and teachings, otherwise, the commission is insufficient.


Tit. 1:6 “if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.

   YLT: “if any one is blameless, of one wife a husband, having children stedfast, not under accusation of riotous living or insubordinate --”

   Meaning of Words: “blameless”: there is no need to be trailed.

   Literal Meaning: if a man is blameless,” “if” does not refer to the probability but a fact. “Blameless” indicates that there is not obvious defect which could be taken advantage of by others to attack him, however, he is not perfect.

“The husband of one wife” It does not mean that only family men are qualified but that one lives a holy life and does not have any love affair (please see the note in 1Tim. 3:2).

“Having faithful children” if the children have not believed in the Lord, the work of the elders will be influenced greatly.

“Not accused of dissipation or insubordination.” Here it refers to the children instead of the elders. If one is unable to train his own children well, it shows that he is unable to rule the church and therefore it is unsuitable to appoint him as the elder (See 1Tim. 3:4-5).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The principle of choosing and employing men in the church is not the items of duties but the qualities of their own life.

2) Every servant of God should discern the inner characters of men by the spiritual insight and seek for and discover the outstanding persons in the church. And then it conforms to the way of knowing one's subordinates well enough to assign them jobs commensurate with their abilities.

3) If the family members of the elder do not have the same mind with him or even do not agree with him on his service to God in the church, he will be unable to lead the whole church effectively.


Tit. 1:7 “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,

   YLT: “for it behoveth the overseer to be blameless, as God's steward, not self-pleased, nor irascible, not given to wine, not a striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

   Meaning of Words: “bishop”: see from above; “self-willed”: self-pleasing, look for his own satisfaction; “quick-tempered”: irascible.

   Literal Meaning: For a bishop, as a steward of God,” “bishop” and “elder” are synonyms. The elder refers to one’s status and bishop refers to his work. The elders’ nature of work is God’s steward who rules the house of God (the church).

“Must be blameless” here it retells “blameless” (See v.6) and it does not mean that the bishop and the elder are two different kinds of persons. In v.6 it specially refers to the blamelessness in the life and in this verse it specially refers to the blamelessness in the characters.

“Not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine” “not self-willed” refers to taking others’ feelings into consideration; “not quick-tempered” refers to being slow to anger; “not given to wine” please see the note in 1Tim. 3:3.

“Not violent, not greedy for money” “not violent” refers to not threatening or oppressing others by fleshy ways; “money” (in the Chinese Union Version there is “unrighteous” before money) it describes that those who are greedy for money make money unscrupulously.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The elders should be enlightened and willing to listen to others’ opinions. They should not walk randomly, adhere to their own ideas stubbornly, or ignore others’ opinions.

2) The elders should have unselfish characters, as it becomes Saints. They shall be able to bear the responsibility of managing the church.


Tit. 1:8 “but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

   YLT: “but a lover of strangers, a lover of good men, sober-minded, righteous, kind, self-controlled,”

   Meaning of Words: “sober-minded”: sound in mind, calm.

   Literal Meaning: but hospitable” in the ancient times, there were not many inns and travelers who were away from their houses relied on the accommodations provided by warm-hearted ones (Gen. 18:1-5; 19:1-3).

“A lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,” “A lover of what is good” refers to loving doing all kind things; “sober-minded” refers to the calm and steady attitude of dealing with things; “just” refers to not showing partiality to men; “holy” refers to the attitude of being separated to God; “self-controlled” refers to being able to control oneself and watch constantly. 

The seventh verse shows the conditions that a bishop should not have in the negative aspect and the eighth verse shows the conditions that a bishop should have in the positive aspect. 

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Leaders of Christians should make an ambition to please God and live out the life which is acceptable to God.

2) Every spiritual leader should set his mind on serving God and being a holy servant who is separated from others.


Tit. 1:9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

   YLT: “holding -- according to the teaching -- to the stedfast word, that he may be able also to exhort in the sound teaching, and the gainsayers to convict;”

   Meaning of Words: “exhort”: beseech, console, advise, call near, encourage; “convict”: convince, persuade; “contradict”: dispute, deny.

   Literal Meaning: holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught,” The elders themselves must hold fast the faithful word of God and teach others according to the word of God.

“That he may be able, by sound doctrine” “sound doctrine” refers to the right teachings.

“Both to exhort and convict those who contradict” “those who contradict” refers to those who withstand or doubt about the truth.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) There is the triple aim of appointing elders: a) holding fast the truth; b) exhorting everyone by sound doctrine; c) convicting those who contradict the truth, i.e. false teachers.

2) It shows that the elders are guardians of the truth in the church and they bear the responsibility of keeping the truth. If some teachings that do not conform to the truth occur in the church, the elders must perceive them and point out the error of them.

3) The leaders of the church must teach and build up believers by sound doctrine well and point out and rebuke those who attack the truth.


Tit. 1:10 “For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,

   YLT: “for there are many both insubordinate, vain-talkers, and mind-deceivers -- especially they of the circumcision --”

   Meaning of Words: “deceive”: deceitful thoughts.

   Literal Meaning: For there are many insubordinate” “insubordinate” refers to not listening to the word of God and being unwilling to receive others’ correction.

“Both idle talkers and deceivers” “idle talkers” refers to the groundless idle talk which is showy without real worth. “Deceivers” refers to giving men wrong impression and misleading them to have wrong conclusion.

“Especially those of the circumcision” “the circumcision” refers to those who fervently advance the ceremonies and regulations passed down from their ancestors in Judaism.


Tit. 1:11 “whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.

   YLT: “whose mouth it behoveth to stop, who whole households do overturn, teaching what things it behoveth not, for filthy lucre's sake.”

   Meaning of Words: “subvert”: overturn, overthrow.

   Literal Meaning: whose mouths must be stopped” in the original means “letting them be put on respirators” or “stopping the mouths of the livestock”.

“Teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain” refers to saying things which they ought not for the sake of money (See 1Tim. 5:13).

“Who subvert whole households” the whole sentence indicates that their teachings overturn many families.


Tit. 1:12 “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’”

   YLT: “A certain one of them, a prophet of their own, said -- `Cretans! always liars, evil beasts, lazy bellies!'”

   The Background: Cretans are always liars” in the ancient times, the appellation of “Cretans” was used the Greeks as another name of liars, showing that Cretans were famous for their being good at lying.

   Literal Meaning: One of them, a prophet of their own” “a prophet of their own” refers to a sage named Epimenides.

  Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” “Evil beasts” is used to describe their brutality and fierceness; “lazy gluttons” refers to being gluttonous and lazy and insatiably avaricious. 


Tit. 1:13 “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

   YLT: “this testimony is true; for which cause convict them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,”

   Meaning of Words: “sharply”: severely, harshly; “rebuke”: expose, tell a fault; “sound”: pure, wholesome, healthy.

   Literal Meaning: This testimony is true.” It indicates that Paul had the same feeling with the comment in v.12. Thus it can be seen that how arduous it is to work for the Lord in Crete.

“Therefore rebuke them sharply,” “rebuke them sharply” refers to pointing out their faults without reservation.

“That they may be sound in the faith,” “the faith” refers to the objective faith.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Those who like “contradicting” (See v.9) and “idle talkers” (See v.10) have been infected with the illness of logic and therefore they become unhealthy in the faith. Dealing with such ones, we must expose them strictly and point out their faults.

2) Dealing with those who advocate heresies in the church, we should not swallow an insult, or be resigned or afraid of getting into trouble. We should fight for the truth boldly.

3) Those who preach heresies have loopholes to exploit and spread the harmful teachings because the church is short of the true spiritual leaders.


Tit. 1:14 “not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.

   YLT: “not giving heed to Jewish fables and commands of men, turning themselves away from the truth;”

   Meaning of Words: “commandment”: command, instruction, mandatory command.

   Literal Meaning: not giving heed to Jewish fables” “fables” refers to the unbelievable tales made up by men. Here fables specially refer to the fictitious stories which are spread among the Jews and are not according to the Bible.

“And commandments of men who turn from the truth” “men who turn from the truth” refers to those who advocate or follow heresies. “Commandments” refers to the regulations and laws made by the heretical teachers concerning foods and the outside cleansing (See Col. 2:21-22; 1Tim. 4:3).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The two features of the heretical teachers are: a) their words are groundless and incredible.

2) All those who follow heresies must turn from the truth (See Is. 29:13; Mark. 7:6-9).


Tit. 1:15 “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

   YLT: “all things, indeed, pure to the pure, and to the defiled and unstedfast nothing pure, but of them defiled even the mind and the conscience;”

   Meaning of Words: “defile”: contaminate.

   Literal Meaning: To the pure all things are pure,” “the pure” refers to those who have been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord (Heb. 9:14; 1John. 1:7). “All things are pure” indicates that every creature of God is good (1Tim. 4:4).

“But to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure;” “those who are defiled and unbelieving” refers to those who do not believe in the Lord whose original states are dirty essentially before the Holy God. “Nothing” refers to everything related to them. “Nothing is pure” indicates that everything becomes defiled and impure because of them.

“But even their mind and conscience are defiled.” It indicates that they have lost the ability to discern good and evil.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) What truly defiles men is not “the thing” but the evil heart of men and the evil heart of unbelief (See Mark. 7:19-20; Luke. 11:39-41).

2) The regulations of pureness of ceremonies are insignificant and only the purity of hearts is important (See Matt. 23:25-28).


Tit. 1:16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

   YLT: “God they profess to know, and in the works they deny, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work disapproved.”

   Meaning of Words: “disqualified”: untested, substandard, worthless, disapproved.

   Literal Meaning: They profess to know God,” “profess” refers to calling oneself or declaring oneself to be.

“But in works they deny Him,” it indicates that their walkings obviously deny the will of God.

“Being abominable, disobedient,” “Being abominable” refers to being detested by God; “disobedient” refers to being unwilling to obey God.

“And disqualified for every good work” it means that the result is that they are unable to do good and contrarily do all kinds of evil.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The one who truly knows God must “be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Tim. 3:17).

2) The inner qualify of men decides the value of their outer behavior. When one is disconnected with God internally, his outer behavior will be rejected by God naturally.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Various Appellations to the Word of God

I. The acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness (v.1)

II. The commandment of God our Savior (v.3)

III. Our common faith (v.4)

IV. The faithful word (v.9)

V. Sound doctrine (v.9)

VI. The faith (the truth) (v.13-14)


The Background and Tactics that Paul left Titus in Crete

I. The background:

  A. the moral standard of many people in that area was very low:

1. in the church there are many insubordinate…who subvert whole households…for the sake of dishonest gain (v.10, 11)

2. in the society: Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons (v.12)

  B. heresies prevailed in that area:

1. the teachings of Jewish false teachers------Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth (v.14)

2. the Gentile Gnosticism------both idle talkers and deceivers (v.10)

II. The tactics: 

  A. appointing the elders who are strong and have good testimony in churches in various places (v.5-9a)

  B. exhorting and convicting those who contradict,…rebuking the heretical teachers sharply (v.9b, 13)


The Conditions for Bishops

I. In the aspect of the moral life (v.6; 7-8):

  A. blameless

  B. not self-willed

  C. not quick-tempered

  D. not given to wine

  E. not violent

  F. not greedy for money

  G. hospitable

  H. a lover of what is good

  I. sober-minded

  J. just

  K. holy

  L. self-controlled

II. In the aspect of the family life (v.6b):

  A. the husband of one wife

  B. having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination

III. In the aspect of the spiritual life (v.9):

  A. holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught

  B. he may be able, by sound doctrine, to exhort men

  C. he may be also be able to convict those who contradict


The Features of False Teachers

I. Insubordinate (v.10a)

II. Idle talkers (v.10b)

III. Deceivers (v.10c)

IV. For the sake of dishonest gain (v.11a)

V. Teaching the wrong things randomly (v.11b)

VI. Subverting whole households (v.11c)

VII. Evil beasts, lazy gluttons (v.12-13)


The Way to Deal with False Teachers

I. Rebuking them sharply (v.13)

II. Not giving heed to their fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth (v.14)

III. Knowing that they are defiled and unbelieving and their words do not match with their deeds (v.15-16)


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren