AUTHOR AND TITLE:
Since the Pastoral Letters have been treated previously on the matter of authorship, see 1 Timothy. In the Greek text, Titus is titled ProsTiton, “To Titus.”
Though Titusdb01 is never mentioned in Acts, the many references to him in Paul’s epistles (13 times), make it clear he was one of Paul’s closest and most trusted fellow-workers in the gospel. When Paul left Antioch for Jerusalem to discuss the gospel of grace (Acts 15:1f.) with the leaders there, he took Titus (a Gentile) with him (Gal. 2:1-3) as an example of one accepted by grace without circumcision, which vindicated Paul’s stand on this issue (Gal. 2:3-5).
It also appears Titus worked with Paul at Ephesus during the third missionary journey. From there the apostle sent him to Corinth where he helped that church with its work (see 2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-6; 8:6).
DATE: A.D. 62-67
A recap of the events pertinent to this epistle will help give some idea of a probable date for Titus, though the exact time is unknown. First, Paul was released from his house arrest in Rome (where we find him at the end of Acts). Perhaps because Paul was a Roman citizen and they could not prove the charges, his accusers did not choose to press charges against him before Caesar (see Acts 24-25; 28:30). In essence, then, their case was lost by default, and Paul was freed.
The apostle then visited Ephesus, where he left Timothy to supervise the church, and went on to Macedonia. From Macedonia (northern Greece), he wrote 1 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3). He then visited Crete, leaving Titus there to put in order the remaining matters in the churches of Crete. Following this, Paul went to Nicopolis in Achaia (southern Greece, Titus 3:12).
Then, either from Macedonia or Nicopolis, Paul wrote the epistle to Titus to encourage and instruct him. Afterwards, he visited Troas (2 Tim. 4:13) where he was then arrested, taken to Rome, imprisoned, and finally beheaded. As mentioned previously, it was from Rome, during this second imprisonment in the dungeon that he wrote 2 Timothy. These events took place from about A.D. 62-67.
THEME AND PURPOSE:
Several themes and purposes are seen in this epistle. Paul wrote:
1. To instruct Titus about what he should do to correct the matters that were lacking in order to properly establish the churches in Crete.
2. To give Titus personal authorization in view of the opposition and dissenters Titus was facing (see 2:15; 3:1-15).
3. To give instruction on how to meet this opposition and special instructions concerning faith and conduct, and to warn about false teachers (1:5, 10-11; 2:1-8, 15; 3:1-11).
4. To express his plans to join Titus again in Nicopolis for the winter (3:12). Whether this meeting ever occurred, we do not know. Tradition has it that Titus later returned to Crete and there served out the rest of his life.
The theme is to show how the grace of God that has appeared to us in the saving life and death of Christ instructs us to deny ungodliness and to live righteously and soberly as a people full of good works that are in keeping with the doctrine of God (2:10-3:9).
Important issues discussed in the letter include:
- Qualifications for elders (1:5-9),
- Instructions to various age groups (2:1-8),
- Relationship to government (3:1-2),
- The relation of regeneration to human works and to the Spirit (3:5), and
- The role of grace in promoting good works among God’s people (2:11-3:8).
In this short epistle, the concept of:
Two other key words are:
Good deeds are not to be the product of human ingenuity or dead religion, but the work of God’s grace through faith in the power of God as manifested in Christ, the Savior.
1:5. 5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set in order the remaining matters and to appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
2:11-13. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
3:3-7. 3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But “when the kindness of God our Savior appeared and his love for mankind, 5 He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”
Undoubtedly, chapter 2 is key because of its emphasis on relationships in the church (2:1-10) and how a proper understanding and focus on both Christ’s first and second coming (the blessed hope) should impact the life of the church.
CHRIST AS SEEN IN TITUS:
Again, as is so consistent with the teaching of Paul, we see how good works or the conduct of the Christian is so connected with the person and work of Christ, past, present, and future.
In this book we see:
- The deity (2:13) and
- Redemptive work of the Savior (2:12).
Here Christ Jesus is emphatically described as “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (2:13-14).
The phrase “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” is one of the christologically significant texts affected by the Granville Sharp ruledb02. According to this rule, in the article-noun-kaiv-noun construction the second noun refers to the same person described by the first noun when
(1) neither is impersonal;
(2) neither is plural;
(3) neither is a proper name.
For more discussion see Wallace, Exegetical Syntax, 270-78, esp. 276.fn69
- I. Salutation and Opening Greetings (1:1-4)
- II. Ordination of Elders in the Church (1:5-9)
- III. Offenders in the Church (1:10-16)
- IV. Operation in the Church (2:1-3:11)
- A. Duties for Titus (2:1-10)
- B. Directions Regarding God’s Grace (2:11-15)
- C. Demonstration of Good Works (3:1-11)
- V. Final Instructions and Greetings (3:12-15)