3 “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. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:3–8 (ESV)
Crete remains one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, measuring 160 miles long by 35 miles at its widest, lying south of the Aegean Sea. It had been briefly visited by Paul on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:7–9, 12–13, 21). He returned there for ministry and later left Titus to continue the work, much as he left Timothy at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). It was then that Paul went on to Macedonia. Paul probably wrote to Titus in response to a letter from Titus or a report from Crete.
What are the biblical themes contained in the Epistle of Titus? Like 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul gave not only personal encouragement but also godly counsel to a young pastor who, though well-trained and faithful, faced continuing opposition from ungodly men within the churches where he ministered. Titus was to pass on that encouragement and counsel to the leaders he was to appoint in the Cretan churches (1:5). The Epistle of Titus remains a practical manual for pastors today.
With the notable exception of Paul’s warning about false teachers and Judaizers, the epistle gives no theological correction. This strongly infers that Paul had confidence in the doctrinal maturity of the church members there, in spite of the fact that the majority of them were new believers. Doctrines that Titus epistle affirms include: 1) God’s sovereign election of believers (1:1–2); 2) his saving grace (2:11; 3:5); 3) Christ’s deity and second coming (2:13); 4) Christ’s substitutionary atonement (2:14); and 5) the regeneration and renewing of believers by the Holy Spirit (3:5).
God and Christ are regularly referred to as Savior (1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6), and the gospel is so emphasized in 2:11–14 that it indicates the major thrust of the epistle is that of equipping the churches of Crete for evangelism. This preparation required godly leaders who not only would shepherd believers under their care (1:5–9), but also would equip those Christians for evangelizing their pagan neighbors.
Citizens of Crete had been characterized by one of their own as liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (1:12). In order to gain a hearing for the gospel among such people, the believers’ primary preparation for evangelization was to live among themselves with the unarguable testimony of righteous, loving, selfless, and godly lives (2:2–14) in marked contrast to the debauched lives of the false teachers (1:10–16). How they behaved with reference to governmental authorities and unbelievers was also crucial to their testimony (3:1–8).
Several major themes repeat themselves throughout Titus. They include: work(s) (1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 5, 8, 14); soundness in faith and doctrine (1:4, 9, 13; 2:1–2, 7–8, 10; 3:15); and salvation (1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6).
Please continue reading the Epistle of Titus. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!