RPM, Volume 18, Number 30, July 17 to July 23, 2016

Introduction to the New Testament

By Louis Berkhof

Table of Contents:

The Gospels in General
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The Acts of the Apostles The Epistles in General
The Epistles of Paul
The Epistle to the Romans
The First Epistle to the Corinthians
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians
The Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle to the Ephesians
The Epistle to the Philippians
The Epistle to the Colossians
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Pastoral Epistles
The First Epistle to Timothy
The Second Epistle to Timothy
The Epistle to Titus
The Epistle to Philemon
The Epistle to the Hebrews
The General Epistle of James
The First General Epistle of Peter
The Second General Epistle of Peter
The First General Epistle of John
The Second and Third General Epistles of John
The General Epistle of Jude
The Revelation of John

The Epistle to Titus


The contents of this Epistle may be divided into three parts:

I. Instruction regarding the Appointment of Ministers, 1:1-16. After the opening salutation, 1-4, the apostle reminds Titus of his past instruction to appoint presbyters, 5. He emphasizes the importance of high moral character in an overseer, in order that such an office-bearer may maintain the sound doctrine and may refute the opponents that mislead others and, claiming to know God, deny Him with their words, 6-16.

II. Directions as to the Teaching of Titus, 2:1—3:11. Paul would have Titus urge all the different classes that were found in the Cretan church, viz, the elder men and women, the younger women and men, and the slaves, to regulate their life in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel, since they were all trained by the saving grace of God to rise above sin and to lead godly lives, 2:1-14. As regards their relation to the outer world, Titus should teach believers to subject themselves to the authorities, and to be gentle towards all men, remembering that God had delivered them from the old heathen vices, in order that they should set others an example of noble and useful lives, 3:1-8. He himself must avoid foolish questionings and reject the heretics, who refused to listen to his admonition, 9-11.

III. Personal Details, 3:12-15. Instructing Titus to join him at Nicopolis after Artemus or Tychicus has come to Crete, bringing with him Zenos and Apollos, the writer ends his letter with a final salutation.


1. Like the other Pastoral Epistles this letter is also of a personal nature. It was not directed to any individual church or to a group of churches, but to a single person, one of Paul's spiritual sons and co-laborers in the work of the Lord. At the same time it is not as personal as II Timothy, but has distinctly a semi-private character. It is perfectly evident from the Epistle itself (cf. 2:15) that its teaching was also intended for the church in Crete to which Titus was ministering.

2. This letter is in every way very much like I Timothy, which is due to the fact that the two were written about the same time and were called forth by very similar situations. It is shorter than the earlier Epistle, but covers almost the same ground. We do not find in it any advance on the doctrinal teachings of the other letters of Paul; in fact it contains very little doctrinal teaching, aside from the comprehensive statements of the doctrine of grace in 2:11-14 and 3:4-8. The former of these passages is a locus classicus. The main interest of the Epistle is ecclesiastical and ethical, the government of the church and the moral life of its members receiving due consideration.

The Person To Whom The Epistle Was Written

Paul addressed the letter to "Titus mine own son after the common faith," 1:4. We do not meet with Titus in the Acts of the Apostles, which is all the more remarkable, since he was one of the most trusted companions of Paul. For this reason some surmised that he is to be identified with some one of the other co-laborers of Paul, as ~. i. Timothy, Silas or Justus, Acts 18:7. But neither of these satisfy the conditions.

He is first mentioned in Gal. 2:1, 3, where we learn that he was a Greek, who was not compelled to submit to circumcision, lest Paul should give his enemies a handle against himself. From Titus 1:4 we infer that he was one of the apostles converts, and Gal. 2:3 informs us that he accompanied Paul to the council of Jerusalem. According to some the phrase ho sun emoi in this passage implies that he was also with Paul, when he wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, but the inference is rather unwarranted. He probably bore I Corinthians to its destination, II Cor. 2:13, and after his return to Paul, was sent to Corinth again to complete the collection for the saints in Judaea, II Cor. 8:16 if. Most likely he was also the bearer of II Corinthians. When next we hear of him, he is on the island of Crete in charge of the church(es) that had been founded there. Titus 1:4. 5. and is requested to join Paul at Nicopolis, 3:12. Evidently he was with the apostle in the early part of his second imprisonment, but soon left him for Dalmatia, either at the behest, or against the desire of Paul. The traditions regarding his later life are of doubtful value.

If we compare I Tim. 4:12 with Titus 2:15, we get the impression that Titus was older than his co-laborer at Ephesus. The timidity of the latter did not characterize the former. While Timothy went to Corinth, so it seems, with some hesitation, I Cor. 16:10, Titus did not flinch from the delicate task of completing the collection for the saints in Judaea, but undertook it of his own accord, II Cor. 8:16,

17. He was full of enthusiasm for the Corinthians, was free from wrong motives in his work among them, and followed in the footsteps of the apostle, II Cor. 12:18.


1. Occasion and Purpose. The occasion for writing this Epistle is found in the desire of Paul that Titus should come to him in the near future, and in the condition of the Cretan church(es), whose origin is lost in obscurity. Probably the island was evangelized soon after the first Pentecost by those Cretans that were converted at Jerusalem, Acts 2:11. During the last part of his life Paul visited the island and made provision for the external organization of the church(es) there. When he left, he entrusted this important task to his spiritual son, Titus, 1:5. The church(es) consisted of both Jews and Gentiles, 1:10, of different ages and of various classes, 2:1-10. The Cretans did not have a very good reputation, 1:12, and some of them did not believe their reputed character, even after they had turned to Christ. Apparently the errors that had crept into the church(es) there were very similar to those with which Timothy had to contend at Ephesus, though probably the Judaeistic element was still more prominent in them, 1:10, 11, 14; 3:9.

The object of Paul in writing this letter is to summon Titus to come to him, as soon as another has taken his place; to give him directions regarding the ordination of presbyters in the different cities; to warn him against the heretics on the island; and guide him in his teaching and in his dealing with those that would not accept his word.

2. Time and Place. Respecting the time when this Epistle was written there is no unanimity. Those who believe in the genuineness of the letter, and at the same time postulate but one Roman imprisonment, seek a place for it in the life of Paul, as we know it from the Acts. According to some it was written during the apostles first stay at Corinth, from where, in that case, he must have made a trip to Crete; others think it was composed at Ephesus, after Paul left Corinth and had on the way visited Crete. But the word "continued" in Acts 18:11 seems to preclude a trip from Corinth to Crete. Moreover both of these theories leave Paul's acquaintance with Apollos, presupposed in this letter, unexplained, 3:13. Still others would date the visit to Crete and the composition of this letter somewhere between the years 54-57, when the apostle resided at Ephesus, but this hypothesis is also burdened with insuperable objections. Cf. above p. 249. The Epistle must have been composed in the interval between the first and the second imprisonment of the apostle, and supposing the winter of 3:13 to be the same as that of II Tim. 4:21, probably in the early part of the year 67. We have no means to determine, where the letter was written, though something can be said in favor of Ephesus, cf. p. 639 above.

Canonical Significance

The Church from the beginning accepted this Epistle as canonical. There are passages in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Barnabas, Justin Martyr and Theophilus that suggest literary dependence. Moreover the letter is found in all the MSS. and in the old Latin and Syriac Versions; and is referred to in the Muratorian Fragment. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian quote it by name.

The permanent value of the letter is in some respects quite similar to that of I Timothy. It has historical significance in that it informs us of the spread of Christianity on the island of Crete, a piece of information that we could not gather from any other Biblical source. Like I Timothy it emphasizes for all ages to come the necessity of church organization and the special qualifications of the office-bearers. It is unique in placing prominently before us the educative value of the grace of God for the life of every man, of male and female, young and old, bond and free.

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