Titus, a young pastor, faced the unenviable assignment of setting in order the church at Crete. Paul advised him to appoint elders, men of proven spiritual character, to oversee the work of the church.
But elders are not the only individuals in the church required to excel spiritually. Men and women, young and old, each have their vital functions to fulfill if they are to become living examples of the doctrine they profess. Throughout his letter, Paul stresses the necessary, practical working out of salvation in the daily lives of both elders and the congregations they serve. Good works are desirable and profitable for all believers.
This emphasis had special importance to Titus, for he had been assigned a very difficult ministry on the island of Crete. Paul cited a local commentary about the Cretans that called them, “always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” and warned Titus, “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith .… ” (1:12, 13). He also warned Titus about those who “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (1:16).
Yet how was Titus to help these struggling believers to obey the righteous commands of God? Should he condemn them? Threaten them? Force them to obey through coercion or some other harsh means? No. Paul knows only one force that could turn the tide: grace. It is only “the grace of God that brings salvation,” Paul insists, that teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (2:11, 12). Our Savior Jesus Christ died on the cross “that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (2:14).
This third pastoral epistle is simply titled Pros Titon, “To Titus.” Ironically, this was also the name of the Roman general who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70; later he succeeded his father, Vespasian, as emperor.
Themes: God saves us by His grace to live in a way that honors and pleases Him.
Authors: The apostle Paul.
Date: Probably written around A.D. 63–65.
Structure: After a brief greeting (1:1–4), Paul gives instructions about church leadership (1:5–9), gives a warning about false teachers (1:10–16), describes a healthy church (2:1–3:11), and finishes with some miscellaneous instructions and a farewell (3:12–15).
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Tt.