Q&A: Overview of the Book of Titus

Overview of the Book of Titus

Question

Overview of the Book of Titus

Answer

Overview of the Book of Titus

Author: The author is the Apostle Paul.

Purpose:

To encourage Titus to complete the organization of the Churches on Crete, counter the effects of false teachers there and instruct believers in proper Christian conduct.

Date: A.D. 62-64

Key Truths:

  • The Church must be organized with qualified leaders.
  • False teachers must be resisted.
  • Special responsibilities exist for specific groups in the Church.
  • Some general responsibilities are to be shared by all believers.
  • All Christian conduct must rest on God's saving work in Christ.

Author:

The apostle Paul wrote Titus. See "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Author."

Time and Place of Writing:

Titus was most likely composed during Paul's fourth missionary journey, which took place after his first imprisonment in Rome, and it probably dates to between A.D. 62 and 64. Paul may have been in or on his way to Nicopolis in Epirus (western Greece) when he wrote Titus (Tit. 3:12). See "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Time and Place of Writing."

Original Audience:

Titus was a Gentile Christian who was probably converted by Paul (Tit. 1:4). The New Testament provides little information about him, and he is not mentioned in Acts. Paul took him to Jerusalem early in his missionary labors. While in Jerusalem Paul refused to have Titus circumcised (Gal. 2:1-3). Titus apparently traveled with Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and later on what may have been part of his fourth (see "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Time and Place of Writing"). He was Paul's trusted associate, and Paul counted on him in delicate situations, such as that in Corinth (2 Cor. 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18). Titus later served as Paul's representative on the island of Crete (Tit. 1:5) and in the province of Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10).

On an earlier leg of Paul's fourth missionary journey, Paul and Titus were involved in missionary activity on Crete, an island in the Mediterranean Sea whose inhabitants were known for their less-than-exemplary behavior (Tit. 1:12). When Paul departed, he left Titus behind to continue the work (Tit. 1:5).

Purpose and Distinctives:

Paul wrote to encourage Titus to bring his ministry on Crete to a close. Specifically, Paul wanted Titus to complete the organization of the Churches (Tit. 1:5-9), deal with the false teachers who were present (Tit. 1:10-14; 3:9-11) and give instructions to the Churches on proper conduct (Tit. 2:1-3:8).

Like 1 Timothy, Titus is noteworthy for its information on Church organization. It provides a lengthy description of the qualifications for being an overseer/elder (Tit. 1:6-9) and important evidence that the terms "overseer" and "elder" refer to one office rather than to two distinct offices (Tit. 1:5-7).

Also like 1 Timothy, Titus exhibits a strong concern for sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9, 13; 2:1-2) and contains two theological meditations on the grace that God has extended in Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:11-14; 3:4-7). These include affirmations of the second coming of Christ (Tit. 2:13), Christ's substitutionary atonement (Tit. 2:14), regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5), and justification by grace (Tit. 3:5, 7). Titus also affirms the deity of Christ in a striking manner: The title "Savior" is applied freely and in the same contexts, to both God (Tit. 1:3; 2:10; 3:4) and Christ (Tit. 1:4; 2:13; 3:6), with 2:13 speaking of "our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Paul's concern for sound doctrine was balanced by an emphasis on proper Christian conduct. For Paul, the two clearly went hand in hand. In particular, he stressed the quality of "self-control" (Tit. 1:8; 2:2, 5, 6, 12) and the importance of doing "what is good" (Tit. 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14).

It is difficult to determine in detail the nature of the false teaching on Crete. Paul described this false teaching as something that had come from within the Church (Tit. 1:10, 16). It concerned Jewish myths (Tit. 1:14), genealogies and quarrels about the law (Tit. 3:9), and human commandments (Tit. 1:14). The false teachers represented a narrow Jewish-Christian perspective (Tit. 1:10) and sought leadership positions for financial gain (Tit. 1:11). They had divided the Churches and led a number of believers astray (Tit. 1:11; 3:10).

Virtually everything that Paul wrote in Titus about the false teaching on Crete parallels what he said in 1 and 2 Timothy about that in Ephesus (see "Introduction to 1 Timothy: Purpose and Distinctives"). While there is no reason to assume a direct link between the fallacious teachings in Ephesus and Crete or to assume that every idea being taught in one place was also being promoted in the other, the false teachings in the two areas may have been similar manifestations of a more general tendency to mix Christian faith with forms of Jewish syncretism. (See "Introduction: Purpose and Distinctives" for both Colossians and Ephesians.).

Notes from the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Dr. Richard Pratt, ed. (Zondervan, 2003).

Introduction Material:

The Epistles of the New Testament

Copyright:

Copyright, Authors, and Theological Editors of the SORSB

Answer by Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.

Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr. is Co-Founder and President of Third Millennium Ministries who served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and has authored numerous books.