Paul writes to his disciple and son in the Lord with instruction to establish order in the churches of the region. Titus is to go from town to town and “appoint elders in every town”. But not just anyone was qualified to be an elder so this was a challenge for Titus to find those that were not only willing, but also “able both to exhort with sound instruction and to reprove those who speak against it”. For Titus, his charge was to be an example and to “exhort with sound instruction”, raising up people where that was needed.
Titus was Greek so had no connection to the Jewish faith or traditions unlike Timothy whose mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. This is why “The first reference to Titus in the New Testament occurs in connection with the controversy over whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised as well as baptized. The Judaizers were evidently bringing pressure to bear on Paul to circumcise Titus, whom he and Barnabas had brought with them to Jerusalem.12 A little later Paul did circumcise Timothy, as a concession to the demands of the mission.13 But the case with Titus was different. It was a question now of principle, not policy, since ‘the truth of the gospel’ was at stake. In consequence, ‘we did not give in to them for a moment’,14 he wrote, and Titus was ‘not … compelled to be circumcised’.15”1
Paul is now writing to Titus who he has left in Crete with responsibility for the church. And while “Cretans were among those listed as present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11), and the gospel may first have reached the island through them”,2
Titus was faced with overcoming the culture of the region. It is said that “The national character of the Cretans was low in the extreme, as EPIMENIDES, quoted in Tit 1:12, paints it. LIVY [History, 44.45], stigmatizes their avarice; POLYBIUS [Histories, 6.46.9], their ferocity and fraud; and [Histories, 6.47.5], their mendacity, so much so, that “to Cretanize” is another name for to lie”3
In the Hope of Eternal Life
God has “disclosed his message in Titus 1:3 which in Titus 1:2 is “the hope of eternal life” which is part of the “common faith” in Titus 1:4. Paul described the message this way in
Acts 17:30–31 Therefore although God has overlooked the times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man who he has appointed, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
and then the way of faith in
Romans 3:21–22 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified about by the law and the prophets—22 that is, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. For there is no distinction,
Exhort With Sound Instruction
But Titus is not there just to preach the gospel, Paul has left him with the responsibility “that what remains may be set in order and you may appoint elders in every town” in Titus 1:5. And this was no small task because “Crete was an island of many cities. Homer called it ‘Crete of the hundred cities’. It was Paul’s principle that his little churches should be encouraged to stand on their own feet as soon as possible”4 and while there was urgency to establish leaders, there was also a requirement for service that they are living their own life well, that they are hospitable and gentle, and that they are strong and articulate enough to reprove when necessary as he says in
Titus 1:6–9 If anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not ⌊accused of dissipation⌋ or rebellious. 7 For it is necessary for the overseer to be blameless as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, prudent, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast to the faithful message according to the teaching, in order that he may be able both to exhort with sound instruction and to reprove those who speak against it.
The Grace of God Has Appeared, Bringing Salvation
Titus has heard Paul deliver the message, the gospel of the kingdom, Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, seated in authority at the right hand of God. But now he must find men to appoint as leaders and Paul give him this simple direction in
Titus 2:1 But you, speak the things which are fitting for sound instruction.
There is a place in the Kingdom for men, and many will be “Older men” for Titus, and for women and for slaves. But it is not just in words that Titus is to exhort people, it is also in behaviour in
Titus 2:7–8 concerning everything showing yourself to be an example of good deeds, in your teaching demonstrating soundness, dignity, 8 a sound message beyond reproach, in order that an opponent may be put to shame, because he has nothing bad to say concerning us.
When the accuser comes our way, let us not have left any reason for their accusations to stick.
Renewal by the Holy Spirit
People Must Learn to Engage in Good Deeds
- Titus 1:1–4 In the Hope of Eternal Life
- Titus 1:5–16 Exhort With Sound Instruction
- Titus 2:1–15 The Grace of God Has Appeared, Bringing Salvation
- Titus 1:1-16
- Titus 2:1-15
- Titus 3:1-15
- 1. Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 170–171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 2. Hemer, C. J. (2003). Crete. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 365). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- 3. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 430). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 4. Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, p. 263). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.