The Letter to Titus
After the apostle Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome ended in about AD 61-62, the Lord strengthened the apostle to proclaim the message of the gospel so that all the Gentiles might hear it (cf. 2 Timothy 4:17). During the next five or so years (AD 62-67), Paul was very active, visiting at least Macedonia, Ephesus, Crete, Nicopolis, Troas, Corinth and Miletus (1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 4:13, 20; Titus 1:5; 3:12). As an ‘old man’ (Philemon 9), Paul was concerned that the truth of the gospel be preserved and passed on to future Christians (Litfin 1983:729). For this reason, Titus and Timothy were supplied with letters certifying that they were the apostle’s personal representatives (Hiebert 1957:9). Like the other pastoral letters, the letter to Titus emphasizes the life and leadership of local churches as well as godliness and good works.
Message of the Letter to Titus
The content of the faith that God’s elect shares is a body of doctrine that leads to the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness in hope of eternal life which God promised (Titus 1:1-4). But who will proclaim and teach this? The apostle commands Titus to appoint elders (Titus 1:5-9) who would not only exhort and refute by sound doctrine (Titus 2:1-10; 2:15-3:3, 8), but who would also be a pattern of good works themselves (cf. Titus 2:7, 10). If this is achieved in local churches on a difficult island such as Crete (cf. Titus 1:12), then it can be achieved anywhere else in the world; if the doctrine of God our Saviour can be adorned by individual Cretan slaves, then it can be done by any Christian (cf. Titus 2:9-10). But who provides the power and enablement? It is the grace of God that teaches Christians this as we await the blessed hope and appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ who purifies us (Titus 2:11-14; cf. 3:4-7). What is therefore the responsibility of local churches and individual Christians? Local churches will be powerful only to the extent that God’s revealed truth is proclaimed and demonstrated; believers must adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things through our works (Titus 2:10). Local church leaders must refute and rebuke those who promote false doctrine and ungodliness (Titus 1:10-16; 3:9-11). And other Christians in the local church, what are they to do? ‘Godliness is the intended end product of the gospel’ and therefore church members are to proclaim ‘God’s truth in the world by their godly lives and verbal witness’ (Constable 2016:3, 5).
After considering various alternatives, FaithEquip proposes this chiastic structure for Titus:
A Salutation 1:1-4
B Instructions regarding elders, sound doctrine 1:5-9
C Refute false teachers and their teachings 1:10-16
D Speak sound doctrine to various groups 2:1-10
X The grace of God has appeared 2:11-14
D’ Speak and exhort sound doctrine 2:15-3:3
X’ The kindness and love of God have appeared 3:4-7
DD’ Affirm sound doctrine and good works 3:8
C’ Reject false teachers and their teachings 3:9-11
B’ Instructions regarding other workers, good works 3:12-14
A’ Benediction 3:15
See a detailed study (16 pages) about the letter to Titus on the website of FaithEquip.
Constable, T.L., 2016, Notes on Titus 2016 edition, Sonic Light, accessed 2 August 2016,
Hiebert, E., 1957, Titus and Philemon, Moody Press, Chicago.
Litfin, A.D., 1983, ‘1 Timothy’, ‘2 Timothy’, ‘Titus’, in J.F. Walvoord & R.B. Zuck (eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, pp. 727-767, David C Cook, Colorado Springs.
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