The Epistle to Titus
The contents of this Epistle may be divided into three parts:
I. Instruction regarding the Appointment of Ministers, 1: 1-16. After the opening salutation, 1-4, the apostle reminds Titus of his past instruction to appoint presbyters, 5. He emphasizes the importance of high moral character in an overseer, in order that such an office-bearer may maintain the sound doctrine and may refute the opponents that mislead others and, claiming to know God, deny Him with their words, 6-16.
II. Directions as to the Teaching of Titus, 2:1—3: 11. Paul would have Titus urge all the different classes that were found in the Cretan church, viz, the elder men and women, the younger women and men, and the slaves, to regulate their life in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel, since they were all trained by the saving grace of God to rise above sin and to lead godly lives, 2:1-14. As regards their relation to the outer world, Titus should teach believers to subject themselves to the authorities, and to be gentle towards all men, remembering that God had delivered them from the old heathen vices, in order that they should set others an example of noble and useful lives, 3:1-8. He himself must avoid foolish questionings and reject the heretics, who refused to listen to his admonition, 9-11.
III. Personal Details, 3:12-15. Instructing Titus to join him at Nicopolis after Artemus or Tychicus has come to Crete, bringing with him Zenos and Apollos, the writer ends his letter with a final salutation.
1. Like the other Pastoral Epistles this letter is also of a personal nature. It was not directed to any individual church or to a group of churches, but to a single person, one of Pauls spiritual sons and co-laborers in the work of the Lord. At the same time it is not as personal as II Timothy, but has distinctly a semi-private character. It is perfectly evident from the Epistle itself (cf. 2:15) that its teaching was also intended for the church in Crete to which Titus was ministering.
2. This letter is in every way very much like I Timothy, which is due to the fact that the two were written about the same time and were called forth by very similar situations. It is shorter than the earlier Epistle, but covers almost the same ground. We do not find in it any advance on the doctrinal teachings of the other letters of Paul; in fact it contains very little doctrinal teaching, aside from the comprehensive statements of the doctrine of grace in 2: 11-14 and 3:4-8. The former of these passages is a locus classicus. The main interest of the Epistle is ecclesiastical and ethical, the government of the church and the moral life of its members receiving due consideration.
THE PERSON TO WHOM THE EPISTLE WAS WRITTEN
Paul addressed the letter to “Titus mine own son
after the common faith,” 1:4. We do not meet with Titus in the
Acts of the Apostles, which is all the more remarkable, since he
was one of the most trusted companions of Paul. For this reason
some surmised that he is to be identified with some one of the
other co-laborers of Paul, as ~. i. Timothy, Silas or Justus,
He is first mentioned in
If we compare
17. He was full of enthusiasm for the
Corinthians, was free from wrong motives in his work among them,
and followed in the footsteps of the apostle,
Purpose. The occasion for writing this Epistle is found in
the desire of Paul that Titus should come to him in the near
future, and in the condition of the Cretan church(es), whose
origin is lost in obscurity. Probably the island was evangelized
soon after the first Pentecost by those Cretans that were
converted at Jerusalem,
The object of Paul in writing this letter is to summon Titus to come to him, as soon as another has taken his place; to give him directions regarding the ordination of presbyters in the different cities; to warn him against the heretics on the island; and guide him in his teaching and in his dealing with those that would not accept his word.
2. Time and Place. Respecting the time when
this Epistle was written there is no unanimity. Those who
believe in the genuineness of the letter, and at the same time
postulate but one Roman imprisonment, seek a place for it in the
life of Paul, as we know it from the Acts. According to some it
was written during the apostles first stay at Corinth, from
where, in that case, he must have made a trip to Crete; others
think it was composed at Ephesus, after Paul left Corinth and
had on the way visited Crete. But the word “continued” in
The Church from the beginning accepted this Epistle as canonical. There are passages in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Barnabas, Justin Martyr and Theophilus that suggest literary dependence. Moreover the letter is found in all the MSS. and in the old Latin and Syriac Versions; and is referred to in the Muratorian Fragment. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian quote it by name.
The permanent value of the letter is in some respects quite similar to that of I Timothy. It has historical significance in that it informs us of the spread of Christianity on the island of Crete, a piece of information that we could not gather from any other Biblical source. Like I Timothy it emphasizes for all ages to come the necessity of church organization and the special qualifications of the officebearers. It is unique in placing prominently before us the educative value of the grace of God for the life of every man, of male and female, young and old, bond and free.