Similar to the Apostle Paul’s two letters to Timothy, the apostle gave personal encouragement and counsel to Titus; a well-trained young pastor who faithfully faced opposition from ungodly men within the churches. Titus passed on that encouragement and counsel to the church leaders he appointed in Crete (1:5).
In contrast to Paul’s letters to the churches in Rome and Galatia, the Epistle of Titus does not focus on explaining or defending doctrine. Paul had confidence in Titus’s theological understanding and convictions. This was evidenced by Paul’s trust in him with such a demanding ministry.
Except for the warning about false teachers and Judaizers, the letter gives no theological correction. This suggests that Paul had confidence in the doctrinal grounding of the church members; even though they were new believers.
Doctrines this 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); (5) the regeneration and renewing of believers by the Holy Spirit (3:5); and (6) multi-generational holiness (2:1-10).
God and Christ are regularly referred to as Savior (1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6), as is the Gospel 2:11–14. The major thrust of the epistle was equipping the churches of Crete for effective evangelism. Godly leaders were required to not only shepherd believers under their care (1:5–9), but also to equip Christians to evangelize their pagan neighbors. Cretans had been characterized by one of their own citizens as liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (1:12). This characterization exists today.
In order to gain a hearing for the gospel among the people, the believers’ preparation for evangelization was to live righteous, loving, selfless, and godly lives (2:2–14). This was in contrast to the debauchery of the false teachers (1:10–16). How believers in Christ behaved before governmental authorities and unbelievers was also crucial to their testimony (3:1–8).
Several major themes throughout Titus 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).
“Paul wrote this epistle to him; and yet perhaps not so much for his own sake as for the people, that the endeavors of Titus, strengthened with apostolic advice and authority, might be more significant and effectual among them. He was to see all the cities furnished with good pastors, to reject and keep out the unmeet and unworthy, to teach sound doctrine, and instruct all sorts in their duties, to set forth the free grace of God in man’s salvation by Christ, and withal to show the necessity of maintaining good works by those who have believed in God and hope for eternal life from him,” explains Puritan Matthew Henry.
I encourage you to begin reading the Epistle of Titus. We begin our expositional study of the epistle when next we meet.
Soli deo Gloria!
The His Word Today Weekly Podcast begins Monday, September 5 featuring expository messages from the Epistle to the Ephesians.