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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Titus

- Titus

by Thomas Constable

Introduction

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Paul may have visited Crete more than once. It seems unlikely that he would have had time to plant a church in Crete on his way to Rome as a prisoner (Act_27:7-13; Act_27:21). One may have already been in existence then (cf. Act_2:11). Perhaps Paul returned to Crete following his release from his first Roman imprisonment. In any case, he had been there and had instructed Titus to remain there when he departed (Tit_1:5).

Evidently Paul wrote Titus after he wrote 1 Timothy and before he wrote 2 Timothy. Tit_3:12 seems to indicate that his plans were more settled than when he wrote 1Ti_3:14. [Note: Philip H. Towner, 1-2 Timothy & Titus, p. 19.]

Titus was a Greek Gentile (Gal_2:3). He had probably become a Christian under the influence of Paul and had become one of the apostle’s protégés (Tit_1:4). Titus had been with Paul since the apostle’s early ministry. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their mission of mercy to the Jerusalem church when Paul was laboring in Antioch of Syria, Titus’ home. This happened before Paul’s first missionary journey (Gal_2:1; Act_11:27-30). Titus was also Paul’s special representative to the Corinthian church during Paul’s third missionary journey. He carried the "severe letter" from Ephesus (2Co_12:18; cf. 2Co_2:3-4; 2Co_7:8-12) and, returning to Ephesus through Macedonia, met Paul in Macedonia (2Co_7:6-16). He was, in addition, the leader of the group of men Paul sent to the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to pick up the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (2Co_8:6; 2Co_8:16; 2Co_8:23).

"Tradition has it that Titus, having become first bishop of Crete, died there in advanced years. His successor, Andreas Cretensis, eulogized him in the following terms: ’The first foundation-stone of the Cretan church; the pillar of the truth; the stay of the faith; the never silent trumpet of the evangelical message; the exalted echo of Paul’s own voice’." [Note: Philip E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 76. See also Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, 3.4.]

Paul left Titus in Crete to set the church there in order (Tit_1:5). However, he planned to send Artemas or Tychicus to relieve Titus so Titus could join Paul in Nicapolis for the winter (Tit_3:12). There were several towns with the name "Nicapolis" in Paul’s arena of ministry. This one was probably the one in Illyricum (parts of modern Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and northern Albania) that lay east of northern Italy across the Adriatic Sea. When Paul wrote 2 Timothy, Titus was with him (2Ti_4:10, Dalmatia being another name for Illyricum). Perhaps Paul also wrote this letter from Nicapolis or maybe from Macedonia (1Ti_1:3) or some other place. A date between A.D. 62 and 66 seems a safe estimate for the time of its composition. [Note: See Donald A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 583.] Zenas and Apollos may have delivered this letter to Titus on Crete (Tit_3:13).

The churches on the island of Crete were unorganized, though there appear to have been Christians in many of its cities (Tit_1:5). Titus’ task of setting the churches in order included dealing with false teachers (Tit_1:10-11). The Cretans had a reputation for being idle and somewhat corrupt (Tit_1:12). These traits apparently characterized some of the Christians as well as the false teachers (Tit_3:14). Part of Titus’ task consisted of motivating them to change.

"Nowhere else does Paul more forcefully urge the essential connection between evangelical truth and the purest morality than in this brief letter." [Note: D. Edmond Hiebert, "Titus," in Ephesians-Philemon, vol. 11 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 424.]

"The dominant theme in Titus, therefore, is good works (Tit_1:8; Tit_1:16; Tit_2:7; Tit_2:14; Tit_3:1; Tit_3:8; Tit_3:14), that is, exemplary Christian behavior and that for the sake of outsiders (Tit_2:5; Tit_2:7-8; Tit_2:10-11; Tit_3:1; Tit_3:8)." [Note: Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, p. 12.]

OUTLINE

I.    Salutation Tit_1:1-4

II.    Instructions for setting the church in order Tit_1:5 to Tit_3:11

A.    The appointment of elders Tit_1:5-9

B.    The correction of false teachers Tit_1:10-16

C.    The conduct of the saints Tit_2:1 to Tit_3:11

1.    The behavior of various groups in the church Tit_2:1-15

2.    The behavior of all in the church Tit_3:1-11

III.    Conclusion Tit_3:12-15

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