Overview of Titus for New Testament Reading
Strong leadership is crucial in the church of Jesus Christ. If there is to be a continuance of gifted men of God in the church, Christ Jesus must be our Savior and the Head of all things, which leads us to good deeds and spiritual success. This is Paul’s message to Titus, a Greek, who was probably converted under Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. He had become Paul’s special representative on the Isle of Crete (Titus 1:5) and needed instruction on how to properly care for the flock of believers with which he had been entrusted. Paul, knowing that he would not always be there to build, encourage, discipline, and teach, spent valuable time teaching young men of God, like Titus, in the work of the Lord. Above all the Apostle Paul urged young leaders like Titus and Timothy to center their lives and preaching on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and to train others to carry on the mission of extending God’s Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:2). Titus was a model in the continuing effect of discipleship and was given to the elders of the church in Jerusalem as a living example of what Christ was doing among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1-3). Titus was a traveling companion of Paul’s and one of his closest friends as he learned to be a mature Christian and responsible leader (2 Corinthians 7:5-16). Therefore, this book serves as a pastoral letter to advise in the God-given task of supervision for church leaders and Christians in general. This letter was written at approximately the same time as 1 Timothy making it right around the year 64 AD.
Salvation- Titus 3:3-8 is one of the clearest passages in the Bible on what it takes for a person to be saved by a loving God. Living a good life will not pay for one ounce of sin, which all of us have committed. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, which transforms us from a life filled with evil to one of good deeds. We are saved by faith to serve Him, not the other way around. So good deeds are stressed as a result of an exchanged life, Christ’s righteousness for our own way. He lives in us and does the good work through our surrender to His Holy Spirit.
Character- Titus’s responsibility in Crete was to appoint elders so that they could maintain proper organization and spiritual discipline. Therefore, Paul listed numerous qualities needed for leadership in the church beginning with their leadership in their homes. The people God uses exhibit self-control, spiritual and moral fitness, and exemplary moral character. Who you are is just as important as what you can do.
Church Relationships- People of every age and group have a lesson to learn and a role to play. Church teaching must relate to various groups. Older Christians are to train and lead and be examples to younger Christians. Treat relationships with other believers as an outgrowth of your faith.
Citizenship- Christians should be good citizens in a society, not just in the church. Believers need to obey the God given authorities and work honestly. Your community life should reflect Christ’s love as much as your church life does.
Paul begins with an extended greeting and introduction in this epistle as he outlines the leadership progression from his own ministry (1:1-3) to Titus’s responsibilities (1:4-5) to those Titus would appoint and train (1:5). Paul then dives straight into an extended list of pastoral qualifications (1:6-9) and he contrasts faithful elders with the false leaders and teachers (1:10-16).
As chapter two commences, Paul emphasizes the importance of good deeds in the life of a Christian by telling Titus how to relate to the various age groups in the church (2:2-6). He urges Titus to be a good example of a mature believer (2:7-8) and to teach with courage and conviction (2:9-15).
In Chapter 3, Paul discusses the general responsibilities of Christians in society (3:1-2), before giving God’s clear plan for salvation (3:3-8). He then warns against divisive arguments (3:9-11) before concluding with a few matters of itinerary and personal greetings to the believers (3:12-15).
This is a brief book, but it has great significance in the disciple making process that Christ Jesus commanded His followers to do before He went back with His Father in Heaven (Matthew 28:19-20).
Titus 1:5- “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.”
Titus 3:4-7 “4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
*Notes from this overview were aided by:
New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2147-2148.
-Paul gives an extended greeting to Titus, who is his “true child in a common faith (Titus 1:4).” This letter was written for the purpose of 1) extending the proper doctrine of eternal salvation based on faith and 2) teaching in the church to gain that knowledge of the truth by command of God (Titus 1:1-3). Paul announces his common grace and peace from the Lord as he ends his introduction (Titus 1:4).
-The first order of business in the body of this pastoral epistle (letter) is instruction on putting things in proper order and appointing elders in the congregation of Crete. Qualifications for oversight include: being above reproach, the husband of one wife, believing children, unstained by charges of debauchery (sinful, wicked, corrupt, depraved, dishonest) or insubordination (rebellious, disobedient), not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, and not greedy for material gain (Titus 1:5-7). On the positive side they are to be hospitable, lovers of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holding firm to proper teaching and doctrine, able to teach, and able to rebuke false teachers who contradict sound doctrine in the faith (Titus 1:8-9). *Application* The qualifications for church leadership are numerous and should serve as a guard for the truth and knowledge of the Holy One. Make sure that your church holds these prerequisites in high regard to follow the Bible’s directions for overseers. Slacking in this area will have disastrous effects on the local body of Christ. These areas serve as a buttress to guard against corruption and ineffectiveness in God’s Kingdom on earth.
-Paul goes into the problems that the church is experiencing in Crete now with Titus. Insubordination, empty talking, and deception, evil, laziness, and shameful gain, especially of the circumcision party (legalists, Judaizers, the outwardly religious crowd) is denounced (Titus 1:10-12). In fact, Paul addresses Titus to sharply rebuke these for the purpose of straightening out their faith from the ancient Jewish myths (man-made traditions concerning what salvation is all about) and things that turn people from the truth. He says that “to the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Titus 1:15).” Correct those that profess to know God, but deny Him by their works. These kinds of people Paul says are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work (Titus 1:16). *Application* Church discipline is a theme of this last paragraph. Sometimes a sharp rebuke is needed and the only thing that will bring correction to false belief systems that are contrary to the true and accurate way of the Lord. We cannot make up our own standards of righteousness and religion. Conformity to the ways of God through faith in the work of Jesus Christ is the only true path, and that path is narrow (Matthew 7:13-20, Luke 13:23-28). Contrary to popular opinion, the New Testament (Covenant) is just as strict in following God correctly as the Old Testament (Covenant). Abide in Christ for salvation! Don’t be defiled. Have a pure heart (Psalm 73:1, Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 10:22).
Verses to Memorize- Titus 1:5, 15-16