A Letter to Titus from Paul
Audience: Paul wrote his letter to Titus
Titus is a short letter of guidance and encouragement to a young pastor that includes great advice on what qualities elders and leaders should have.
The purpose of Paul’s letter was to:
- instruct Titus concerning the character of men to be ordained to lead the Churches on Crete
- To challenge Titus to stand firm against the unchristian character of the Cretans
- To urge Titus to teach sound doctrine to the Churches on Crete
Paul’s letter to Titus is addressed to his co-worker but meant for the people of the community to hear as well.
Paul instructs Titus to appoint godly leaders and oppose predatory teachings.
Paul identifies the teaching that must be opposed: a combination of Jewish observances (such as being circumcised and abstaining from certain foods).
Therefore, in the instructions Paul gives to the members of the community about how to live out their varying stations in life, he stresses how they can and should do what is good. The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people, he says, so that God’s people can live a new kind of life.
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1:16
Titus accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey, during which the apostle sent him to Corinth at least once. Paul clearly held Titus in a position of great respect as a friend and fellow worker for the gospel, praising Titus for his affection, his earnestness, and his bringing comfort to others.
Upon leaving Timothy in Ephesus to minister there, Paul accompanied Titus to the island of Crete, where he intended Titus to lead and organize the island’s churches in their early years of existence.
The churches on Crete were just as susceptible to false teachers as any other church, so Paul directed Titus to establish a group of faithful elders to oversee the doctrinal purity and good conduct of the believers on Crete. Paul exhorted Titus to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), a clear direction that this should be the young pastor’s primary role.
However, Paul also understood that when a body of believers embraces sound doctrine, the result is changed and purified lives that produce “good deeds.” God’s grace is the motivation for all good deeds. Paul gave instructions to Titus about the roles of specific groups of people—older men, older women, young women, young men, and slaves—as well as general instructions to all believers about their conduct. Right living was essential because Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,” saving us “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
Paul had left Titus in Crete to lead the church which Paul had established on one of his missionary journeys. This letter advises Titus regarding what qualifications to look for in leaders for the church. He also warns Titus of the reputations of those living on the island of Crete.
Titus is a personal letter from Paul to a dear friend and co-laborer. Paul obviously visited Crete on his way to Ephesus, and upon his departure requested Titus to remain and strengthen the Churches in every city on the island. The Gospel had obviously spread throughout the island, but there was a great need for someone to “set in order” the things that were wanting. Titus was called on for the task.
Titus had been working with Paul on the island called Crete. Paul did not have time to complete the work himself, so he left Titus to finish it. Titus had to appoint men to lead the churches. Paul reminded Titus about the kind of character that a leader should have.
Many people considered that the people in Crete had bad characters. Paul advised Titus how he should teach different groups of people. These groups were the old people, the young people and slaves. The island of Crete, where Titus was left by Paul to lead the church, was inhabited by natives of the island and Jews who did not know the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul felt it to be his responsibility to follow through with Titus to instruct and encourage him in developing leaders within the church at Crete. As the apostle Paul directed Titus in his search for leaders, Paul also suggested how Titus would instruct the leaders so that they could grow in their faith in Christ. His instructions included those for both men and women of all ages.