A verse-by-verse exegetical commentary on the New Testament Greek textIntroduction
This short letter of Paul to Titus is one of his pastoral epistles probably written at similar time to the writing of first and second Timothy. As with the letters to Timothy, this letter personally encourages Titus to maintain church order and to strengthen sound doctrine against the threat of heresy. Although Titus is not mentioned in Acts (was he a relative of Luke?), he is mentioned in Paul's letters as a trusted member of his missionary team. The Pauline authorship of the letter has continued to face numerous critical questions, particularly due to the stylistic differences evident between the Pastorals and Paul's other letters.
The structure of Titus
Matters of ministry concern, 1:5-3:11
i] The selection and appointment of elders, 1:5-9
ii] A warning against false teachers, 1:10-16
iii] The proper conduct of men, women and slaves, 2:1-10
iv] Faith and Christian living, 2:11-15
v] Living as the church in the world, 3:1-8
vi] Disciplining opponents, 3:9-11
Directives, greetings and prayer, 3:12-15
In epistolography, letter writing, the opening of a letter aligns with the exordium in rhetoric, and the conclusio of a letter aligns with the peroratio. The Pastoral letters present in the form of a letter.
For an expanded outline of the letter see "Context" 1:1-4.
If we accept Pauline authorship, and place the composition of the Pastoral epistles after Paul's release from house arrest in Rome, as recorded in Acts 28:16-31, then Titus would have been composed while Paul was a free man, say between 64 and 66 AD. It is unclear whether Titus is written before, or after First Timothy, but obviously before Second Timothy where Paul indicates that he is in prison facing certain death. Of course, it is possible that Paul wrote this letter prior to his house arrest in Rome, possibly while he was ministering in Corinth during his third ministry journey. See "Dating", 1 Tmothy, Introduction. A traditional view, long held in the Christian church, is that Titus was left in Crete while Paul was on his way to Rome, Acts 27:7ff. With this reconstruction, Paul's letter to Titus was written while Paul was under house arrest in Rome, before his first trial, ie., Titus is a captivity epistle.
If we view Titus as a pseudonymous work of the second century then it presents as a general manual for ministry, less detailed than First Timothy, more focused on the reputation of the Christian church in the wider society than dealing with internal ructions. Taken at face value, the letter presents as instructions to Titus, a Pauline delegate, on organizing the small Christian fellowships (recently) formed in Crete through the evangelistic work of Paul and his missionary team. We are presented with a reaffirmation of the gospel, instructions on the selection and appointment of elders, warnings about the possible intrusion of false teachers, and instruction on exemplary Christian living, particularly as it relates to the standing of the gospel before the wider secular society. So, the letter is a practical check-list for a Pauline delegate / administrator for the proper management of newly-formed house churches.
1 Timothy and Titus
There are strong similarities between these two letter such that it is suggested by scholars that one was used as the source for the other, that Titus was used for the composition of First Timothy, or visa-versa. Other than the introduction, 1:1-4, and the conclusion, 3:12-15, there are only two passages which have no links with First Timothy, namely, 2:11-14, and 3:3-7. On the surface, Titus looks like a redacted version of First Timothy.
Yet, there are significant differences. Titus is being instructed in church-planting, whereas Timothy is being instructed in the ordering of an established church which is troubled by false teachers. For this reason, the letter to Titus is more relaxed and matter-of-fact. First Timothy is inward looking, focused on ordering disorder / heresy, whereas Titus is outward looking, focused on ordering for gospel outreach. In Titus there is a focus on the Christian walk, 1:8, 2:7, 3:1, 8, 14, of Godly behavior that honors the gospel before the world, 2:10.
Although it is widely accepted that Titus is a pseudepigraphic work, it is not unreasonable to hold that both First Timothy and Titus were composed close together, written to separate colleagues found in similar roles facing different situations. This explains the differences and the similarities.
Titus the man
Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts, with the only knowledge we have of him coming from Paul's letters. From Galatians 2:1, 3, we learn that Titus is an uncircumcised Gentile, a key person used by Paul to establish that God's grace is for both the circumcised and the uncircumcised, and this apart from the law. Titus obviously came to serve as one of Paul's associates, being used in the delivery of a stern letter to the Corinthian believers, 2Cor.2:3-4, 13, 7:6-16, and the collection of funds from the Corinthian church for the poor saints in Jerusalem, 2Cor.8:16-24. In the letter to Titus, Paul notes that he left Titus in Crete to evangelize the population there, but is now he is replacing him by Artemas and bringing him to Nicopolis to join Paul there. Later, Paul will send Titus to Dalmatia, 2Tim.4:10. We get the picture that Titus is a more mature person than Timothy, but in truth, we know little of this man Paul calls his "true son" (a convert of Paul??).
Bibliography: Commentaries - The Pastoral Epistles
Barrett, New Clarendon, 1963. Bernard, CGTSC, 1899. D/C, Dibelius and Conzelmann, Hermeneia. Fee, NIBC. Gromacki, Baker, 1 Timothy, 1982. Guthrie, Tyndale, 1957. Hanson, NCB & CBC. Hendriksen, Banner of Truth. Houlden, Pelican, 1976, reprint TPI 1989. Johnson, Anchor. Kelly, Blacks / Harpers 1963. Knight, NIGTC. Leaney, Torch. Leske, ChiRho. Lock, ICC, 1924/52. MacArthur, Moody. Marshall, ICC, 1999. Milne, FOB. Mounce, Word. Perkins, HGT, 2017. Quinn, Titus, Anchor, 1995. Quinn & Wacker, ECC. Simpson, Tyndale Press, 1954. Smith, Know your Bible 10. Stott, BST. Towner, NICNT. Wilson, Banner of Truth.