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Survey of the Book of Titus

Author: Titus 1:1 reveals that the apostle Paul is the author of Titus.

Date of Writing: The approximate writing date is AD 66. Based on comprehensive documentation of Paul's missionary journeys, the location of writing was determined to be Nicopolis in Epirus.

Purpose of Writing: Titus is one of the Pastoral Epistles that Paul wrote, in company with Paul's letters to Timothy. Titus was the pastor of the church in Crete, which Paul had originally established (Titus 1:5). The book of Titus contains advice on what leadership qualifications Titus should be looking for in church leaders that he appoints, an outline of sound doctrine, and instructions on how to live and grow in faith and be ready for every good work. It also mentions the negative stereotypes of Cretans (Titus 1:12). Finally, Paul also requests that Titus come to see him in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12).

So, the ultimate purpose of the writing was to give Titus some advanced discipleship in his role leading the church in Crete.

Key Verses:
"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you" (Titus 1:5).

"For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:7–9).

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:11–14).

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3–7).

Summary: In Paul's greeting to Titus, we see the warmth of their spiritual father and son relationship: "To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior" (Titus 1:4). On the island of Create, there were two primary groups of people—native Cretans and Jews who had not yet learned of Jesus Christ (Titus 1:12—14). Paul left Titus in charge of the church at Crete, so the book of Titus was a letter of encouragement with instructions for Titus on appointing elders in the church (Titus 1:5–9) and instructions on further discipleship for both men and women (Titus 2:1–10). Paul also encouraged Titus, Zenas the lawyer, and Apollos to come and visit him in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12–13).

Connections: In the book of Titus, as in other Pauline Epistles, Paul warns the church leaders about Judaizers who attempted to instruct that works, particularly portions of the Mosaic Law, were also necessary to obtain salvation (Titus 1:10–11). They falsely taught that salvation was not merely a gift of grace (see Ephesians 2:8–9). In this book, Paul says they their voices need to be stopped and that their false teaching was selfishly motivated: "They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach" (verse 11).

The list of qualifications for an elder in Titus 1 is similar to that given to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3. Of course, other Pauline Epistles also summarize the gospel (e.g., Titus 2:11–14; 3:3–7; Ephesians 2:1–10; Colossians 2:9–15; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 15:3–7), warn against false teachers (e.g., Titus 3:9–11; Galatians 5:1–15; Colossians 2:8, 16–23), and provide instructions for Christian living and discipleship (Titus 2:1–10; 3:1–2, 8; Galatians 5:16—6:10; Colossians 3:1–25).

Application: For church leaders and all those who seek to follow Christ, Titus provides clear instructions on how to live a godly life, including things and people to stay away from. We are to seek purity and live our lives in accordance with our faith in Christ. People may claim to know Christ, but there is no good in such a claim if their actions do not line up: "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work" (Titus 1:16). Paul closes his letter with a warning to avoid foolishness and division: "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Titus 3:9–11).

Part of our responsibility as Christians is to look after our own faith and continue examining our lives to make sure they line up with Christ's instructions (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paul reminds us that God "saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5–6). Through the Holy Spirit at work in us, helping us to discern good from evil, we can continue becoming Christians who honor Christ with every facet of our lives.


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