A. Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of
Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the
acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of
eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was
committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; To
Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and
peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
A. Who is Titus?
1. A Gentile Traveling
partner of Paul's (Gal. 2:1-3).
a) Not mentioned in the
records of Paul's missionary journeys in the Book of Acts.
b) What we know of
Titus is drawn from this letter together with 2nd
Corinthians, Galatians, and 2nd Timothy.
c) Titus was closely
associated with Paul at Antioch and accompanied Paul and Barnabas
from there to Jerusalem when questions arose concerning whether
Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved.
d) Later, we find Paul
at Troas, disappointed in not meeting Titus (2Cor. 2:13), who had
been sent on a mission to Corinth; but later, in Macedonia Titus
joined him (2Cor. 7:6–7,13–15).
e) Titus was sent back
to Corinth in company with two other trustworthy Christians, bearing
the second epistle to the Corinthians and with the request that he
would attend to the collection being taken for the poor Christians of
Judea (2Cor. 8:6,17).
f) The “brethren”
whom Paul mentioned that took the first epistle to Corinth (1Cor.
16:11–12) are thought to be Titus and another unnamed
g) It is probably in
the interval between the first and second imprisonment of Paul at
Rome, when he and Titus visited Crete. This is where Titus remained
and received this letter written to him by Paul (Titus 1:5).
h) From Titus 1, verse
4, we learn that Paul was instrumental in Titus coming to faith in
B. Purpose of the
1. “For this
reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things
that are lacking, . . .” (Tit. 1:5a).
2. Paul had not
remained in Crete long enough to complete important work which was
foundational to the firm establishment of Christianity there. The
important works which Paul will emphasize to Titus include:
a) FIRST - Establishing
local assemblies with elders having both authority and responsibility
for their oversight (Tit. 1:5-9).
b) SECOND - Correction
of those who were interfering with the progress of the gospel and the
development of the Cretan believers, especially the Judaizers who
were corrupting the gospel through the addition of legalism (Tit.
(1) Judaism was
represented on Crete as Jewish Cretans
were among those specially mentioned as attending the great feast of
Pentecost (Acts 2:11).
(2) Titus was uniquely
positioned to defend the freedoms found in Christ. He accompanied
Paul when he went up to Jerusalem to confer with the Apostles.
becomes a prototype for the Galatians and a test case for the entire
gentile mission of Paul. For though he was a Greek, Titus “was
not compelled to be circumcised” (Gal. 2:3).
c) THIRD - Upholding
sound doctrine by which men and women, both old and young, would grow
in Christian maturity (Tit. 2:1-6).
d) FOURTH –
Exhibiting a pattern of good works commensurate with the fruit of the
Spirit – so that the lives of the Cretan believers would not
undermine their witness to the gospel (Tit. 2:7-15; 3:1-8, 14).
(1) Notice that a
pattern of good works should be the result of sound doctrine. Correct
living should never be disconnected from correct doctrine (orthodoxy
leads to orthopraxy).
(2) Charitable living,
without a foundation of correct doctrine, will always degenerate into
a system of social works which compromises hard gospel truths for the
sake of maintaining relationships. (Love over truth.)
3. Titus was to wait
for other men sent by Paul, and then return to Paul in Nicopolis, a
city in western Greece (Tit. 3:12).
a) Tradition associates
Titus with Crete on an ongoing basis.
is said to have been permanent bishop on the island and to have died
there at an advanced age. The modern capital, Candia, appears to
claim the honor of being his burial place. In the fragment by the
lawyer Zenas, Titus is called bishop of Gortyna (the
chief commercial outpost for Judean interests in Crete [ABD]). Last,
the name of Titus was the watchword of the Cretans when they were
invaded by the Venetians.
4. By now, Titus is no
stranger to the sensitivities and firmness required in order to
establish believers in the faith and correct both errors of doctrine
and practice since he had been sent by Paul to the church at Corinth
on a similar mission (2Cor. 12:18).
C. Paul's Ministry in
1. 4th and
final missionary journey: under centurion escort to Rome (Acts
2. Ship reached Fair
Havens and remained there less than a month.1
3. Later, after Paul's
release from prison in Rome, Paul appears to have returned to Crete
4. Written from
Nicopolis, approximately A.D. 65, some 2-3 years before Paul's final
imprisonment and death.
A. Titus 1:1
1. “Paul, a bondservent of God and an
apostle of Jesus Christ”
a) Two members of the Godhead
(1) Servant of God (the father), the God of his
fathers Whom Paul was already superficially familiar with from the OT
(2) Apostle of Jesus Christ. The son of God Who
Paul was initially unfamiliar with and who rebuked him on the road to
(3) It was Paul’s new understanding of Jesus
as God which he most closely associated with his mandate as an
apostle: a representative or envoy concerning the person and work of
2. “according to the faith of God's elect
and the acknowledgment of the truth.”
a) Servanthood and apostleship are said to be
“according to the faith of God's Elect”
(1) Better translated as “for the faith”
(NASB) or “to further the faith” (NET) “of God's
(2) Paul is describing the purpose
and motivation behind his letter, and ultimately his entire life.
(3) His primary
purpose, when interacting with believers, is to build up their faith
and their understanding and acceptance of truth.
(1) A Biblical truth which has fallen on hard
times in the man-centered Christianity of our day.
(2) Paul understood and experienced election like
(a) Conversion on road to Damascus – he was
zealously opposing the very thing which God had elected him to
(b) Acts 22:14 – Ananias' instructions from
God to Paul Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you
that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the
voice of His mouth. “
(c) “chosen” is [procheirizomai,
middle voice] - “to hand pick ahead of time”
(d) In time past, God Himself
has hand-picked YOU to know His will!
(e) Paul was chosen
in advance, appointed, ordained by God – in complete opposition
to everything Paul was doing at that time.
(3) Notice how Paul,
when writing to the church in Galatia, understands how God's election
works in conjunction with His opportune time:
1:15-16 But when it pleased God,
who separated me from my mother's womb
through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him
among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and
3. “acknowledgment of the truth which
accords with godliness”
a) The word for
has an intensifying preposition to it which denotes coming
to know and appropriate that
which is known.
(1) Acknowledging the
truth must go beyond understanding and agreement so that it affects
how one lives day-to-day.
(2) How does one know
when a person acknowledges the truth in the sense Paul speaks of
(a) Paul gives us a
key: the truth which is known “accords with godliness”
(b) The Greek could be
read: “knowledge of the truth. [Which kind of truth?] The truth
which is for the purpose of godly living.”
(3) A significant and
rapidly growing problem within Christianity in our day: “professors”
who are not “livers”.
(a) Saying “I'm a
Christian” is relatively easy, living it out day-to-day is not
(b) A growing number
within “Christianity” either verbally deny its teachings
or live in such a way that their testimony denies the will of the
very Lord they profess to follow.
i)This is a troubling trend. Christianity would be better off without
such professed followers because they are a perverting influence
which serves to misrepresent the true Work of God.
(c) For the true
Christian, Biblical truth is not complete having been captured in a
creed, doctrinal statement, or by words of any form. Biblical truth
must be incorporated
into the life of the believer before it is the type of truth the New
(d) How else
could Paul write to the church at Corinth (2Cor. 3:2-3): You are
our epistle written in our hearts, known
and read by all men;
clearly you are an
epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the
Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of
flesh, that is, of the
(e) As we'll come to
see, Paul and Titus faced this same issue of inconsistent Christian
living among the believers of Crete as well.
B. Titus 1:2
1. “in hope of eternal life”
a) This service and
apostleship of Paul is motivated not only be the desire to see
believers come to live in a way which is pleasing to God in this
life, but also knowing that the acknowledgment of God's truth by
unbelievers leads to the attainment of eternal life.
2. “which God, who cannot lie, promised
before time began”
a) “promised” is in the middle voice
emphasizing the idea that “God [Himself] promised” - the
promise is as good as the character of its source
b) Paul reemphasizes the surety of the promise of
eternal life by mentioning that it is impossible for God to lie or
mislead to any degree
(1) The Greek reads, “which the not-lying
God promised” or “which the trustworthy God promised.”
(2) This particular word for “trustworthy”
is used only of God in the NT. It is one of several unique attributes
which separates Him from mankind – which mark him as Holy.
(a) Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that
He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said,
and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
c) Paul gives three reasons why the promise of
eternal life is “good as gold”:
(1) The promise is from God Himself.
(2) The promise is from a source which cannot lie.
(3) The promise was a high-priority in the plan of
God by virtue of having been made from the very beginning –
apparently before time itself existed.
(4) The Greek here is somewhat difficult and
reads: “before times of eons” or “before periods of
(a) KJV: “before the world began”
(b) NASB: “long ages ago”
(c) ESV: “before the ages began”
(5) However it may be rendered in English, the
phrase clearly indicates that the purpose of God to provide eternal
life for the elect by way of redemption was a promise in His mind
before creation itself and long before events played out in history.
C. Titus 1:3
1. “but has in due time manifested His
word through preaching”
a) Although the
promise of eternal life is from eternity itself, predating history,
the means by which it was to be attained was manifested within
b) “in due time”
reads literally, “in His own [opportune] time” -
according to God's timetable.
c) The idea here is
very similar to what Paul writes in Galatians where he discusses the
purpose of the Law of Moses prior to the completed work of Christ on
4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth
His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
d) God, being outside
of time, had already determined many things, including the need and
means by which eternal life would be attained by men. His purposes
from eternity are not all played out instantly – He weaves them
into the fabric of history according to “His own [opportune]
e) In other words, God
knows when and how to present what He wants man to know in a way
which is optimal to His purposes.
f) What did God due in
His opportune time? He “manifested His Word through preaching”
(1) He caused His Word
“to be made known,” “to be shown.”
(2) This refers to
what we call Special Revelation – truth which could not be
known by any other means than God revealing it directly to man
through the Scriptures.
(3) We know this
differs from General Revelation because General Revelation is truth
which is available to all men in all ages and this passage tells us
that His Word was not shown or made known until it suited His
(4) We also see here
the idea of “progressive revelation” – that not all
of God's Word was revealed at a single time in history. Instead, it
was given through various individuals in various historical settings
according to His ultimate purpose.
(5) Among the
revelation given by God for our particular age, the age of the
Church, is information specifically given through Paul, revealing
truth which he refers to as “a mystery” –
information now provided by God through Paul which was not revealed
in earlier times. Times which were not “God's opportune time.”
(1) God has chosen to
reveal His Word in two stages: 1) by revealing truth to chosen
individuals (prophets, kings, apostles) who recorded what God
revealed in written form, and 2) by raising up individuals to
proclaim the previously revealed truth.
(2) As an apostle,
Paul was actively used in both of these stages of communication, but
Titus and those of us who follow only operate in the second stage: we
proclaim that which God has already revealed for our age.
(a) As John MacArthur
observes, “We are waiters, not chefs.” We don't cook the
meal. Our business is to take the meal that God has already prepared
and deliver it, unmodified, to the table where it can be eaten by the
people of God.
(3) The two primary
means by which this is done is preaching and teaching.
(a) Although a precise
distinction between preaching and teaching can't necessarily be
maintained, it is helpful to consider them as two somewhat different
categories of communication.
emphasizes proclamation, generally to those who are unfamiliar with
the message being communicated. The initial presentation of the
gospel to those who have not heard would generally occur by way of
(c) Teaching conveys a
more careful and systematic, or deeper, understanding of information
which may have already been communicated in more introductory form.
As such, it is more often the means by which believers who have
already accepted the gospel grow in maturity and sanctification.
(d) Preaching the
gospel over-and-over to people who already know and have accepted it
does not lead to Christian maturity.
(e) On the other hand,
attempting to teach systematic details about God's Word will
generally be ineffective to those who have not first heard the gospel
presentation and come to place their faith in Christ.
2. “which was committed to me according
to the command of God”
a) The word rendered
“committed” here denotes the idea of “having been
b) The preaching of
God's Word was given into Paul's hands by God with the expectation
that Paul would be faithful with it.
c) Paul was not free
to do as he pleased, as a bondservant and apostle, he had also been
entrusted with a commission to preach God's Word.
d) This responsibility
to preach the gospel was something that Paul did not take lightly. He
mentions it when writing to the church at Corinth:
(1) 1 Corinthians
9:16-17 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of,
for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the
gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against
my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
(2) Paul saw his
responsibility as a stewardship: as we all should.
(3) God has given His
Word, it is our responsibility to promote its message, both
geographically and temporally: worldwide and from generation to
(4) This stewardship
includes a responsibility to preserve the understanding - the
proper interpretation of the message.
e) When Paul refers to
his stewardship as being “according to the command of God”,
he is not using a mere figure of speech.
(1) In his defense
before king Agrippa, Paul described his conversion on the road to
(2) Acts 26:15-18 "So
I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are
persecuting. 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to
you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of
the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet
reveal to you. 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as
well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 'to open
their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to
light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may
receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are
sanctified by faith in Me.'
(3) Acts 9:20 -
“Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He
is the Son of God.”
f) Notice how Paul
connects the promise of eternal life with his stewardship and
responsibility to preach God's Word.
(1) Although Paul
understands the Biblical teaching of election, he also understands
that God has chosen to use the preaching of His Word through mere
mortals as a primary means by which people are saved.
(2) As Paul
explained when writing to the church at Rome (Rom. 10:12-14): For
there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over
all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the
name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on
Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him
of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a
3. In summary of the first 3 verses, Paul
understood his stewardship and calling had two primary points of
a) 1 – To preach the gospel so that people
who did not know God could call on the name of the Lord and be saved.
This is his evangelistic ministry to the unsaved.
b) 2 – To build the faith of the elect,
those already saved, such that they would acknowledge the truth in
such a way that it would affect their daily living. So that their
lives would be “living epistles” read by others and the
message which was read would speak “godliness.”
D. Titus 1:4
1. “To Titus, a true son in our common
a) Paul probably
refers to Titus as a “true son” or “genuine son”
because Titus came to faith under Paul's ministry.
b) Elsewhere, in
reference to the faith of Titus, Paul refers to him merely as a
“brother” (2Cor. 2:13).
IV. Points of Application
A. Paul’s election and the subsequent
responsibility he felt to serve Christ and to preach God’s
Word should be a motivating factor in the life of every
believer. We all have been “bought with a [precious] price”
(1Cor. 6:20; 7:23) and are “not our own” (1Cor. 6:19).
1. 2 Timothy 2:4 - No one engaged in warfare
entangles himself with the affairs of [this] life, that he may
please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
B. Like Paul, we too have a stewardship –
to preserve and present God’s message in two primary venues:
1. Preaching the good news of salvation in Christ
to those who have not yet heard or responded (evangelization).
2. Teaching the truths of God’s Word to
believers in order to equip and edify them – building them up
in the faith.
3. In order to do either one effectively, we
ourselves must be equipped and edified in the faith by our own
continued immersion in God’s Word and in fellowship, prayer,
C. Paul’s introduction underscores his
authority to instruct Titus and, through him, the fledgling
fellowship of Christians on the island of Crete.
1. God’s design for the Christian church, as
we shall see in our subsequent study of the book of Titus, involves
an authority structure with plural elders guiding local fellowships.
Christianity outside of these parameters is in disobedience to God’s
a) The modern idea that it can be “just me
and God and the internet” as a way of fulfilling one’s
duty for Christian fellowship is both unbiblical and dangerous.
b) [Talk about the deception such believers often
Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary,
2:1076 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).
Unger, R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos et al., The New
Unger's Bible Dictionary, Revision of: Unger's Bible
dictionary. 3rd ed. c1966., Rev. and updated ed. (Chicago: Moody
ship reached Fair Havens in the latter part of September, and was
detained there by a continuance of unfavorable winds until after
October 5” (Ramsay, p. 322). [Unger, s.v. “Paul”]