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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Titus, Epistle to

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Paul's letter to Titus, who was pastor of the church on the island of Crete.

Authorship Paul, “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,” (2 Timothy 1:1 NIV) wrote this epistle to Titus, whom he described as “my true son in our common faith” ( 2 Timothy 1:4 NIV).

Date The Epistle to Titus was written after Paul's first imprisonment in Rome. The approximate date is A.D. 63. It was written after Paul left Crete, but before he reached Nicopolis (2 Timothy 3:12 ). It is difficult to determine the actual place where Paul wrote, though Rome and Corinth have been mentioned by various scholars. See Titus .

Purpose Paul wrote to encourage and instruct Titus in the face of opposition. This letter from the apostle would strengthen Titus' ability to minister because it would be received with the authority of Paul (2 Timothy 2:15 ). Titus was to admonish the people to hold “sound doctrine” and to be “sound in faith” (2Timothy 1:9,2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:1-2 ). This theme of sound or healthy doctrine was also prominent in 1,2Timothy. See 1Timothy.


I. Salutation (2 Timothy 1:1-4 )

II. Instructions Concerning Elders and False Teachers (2 Timothy 1:5-16 )

III. Instructions Concerning Christian Conduct (2 Timothy 2:1-15 )

IV. Instructions Concerning Believers in the World (2 Timothy 3:1-8 )

V. Concluding Instructions (2 Timothy 3:9-15 )

Overview, Chapter One: Paul wrote that a genuine knowledge of the truth leads to godliness in the life of the believer (2 Timothy 1:1 ). Titus was to “straighten out” what was left unfinished. His first duty was to appoint elders. The qualifications listed in 2 Timothy 1:6-9 are similar to those mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 . False teachers threatened the church. He mentioned the “circumcision group” (1 Timothy 1:10 NIV), a reference to converts to the Christian faith from Judaism who apparently taught that the rite of circumcision was necessary to be a complete Christian. This group of teachers and all who sought to lead the people astray were corrupt in their minds and detestable in their actions ( 1 Timothy 1:15-16 ).

Chapter Two: Paul urged Titus to teach “sound doctrine” to correct the false teaching. Proper teaching would lead to proper conduct in the lives of believers. Titus was to be an example to all (1 Timothy 2:7 ). His teaching was to be characterized by “integrity,” “seriousness,” and a “soundness of speech” (1 Timothy 2:7-8 NIV), so that the false teachers could “have nothing bad to say about us” ( 1 Timothy 2:8 NIV). The basis of godly living is “the grace of God that brings salvation” ( 1 Timothy 2:11 NIV). Evidence of receiving God's grace and salvation is a transformation of one's life. The anticipation of the return of Christ is called “the blessed hope” ( 1 Timothy 2:13 NIV). The hope of His return should motivate us to godly living.

Chapter Three: Paul reminded the believers “to be subject to rulers and authorities” (1 Timothy 3:1 NIV). The subjection is to be voluntary because the institution of government was created by God. The believers were to treat all persons with consideration and humility. Paul reminded them of their past and of God's kindness and love. His kindness and love were “supremely manifested in the appearance of our Savior” ( 1 Timothy 3:4 NIV)

Our salvation is not because of “righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (1 Timothy 3:5 NIV). Salvation is likened to the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” ( 1 Timothy 3:5 NIV). The washing of rebirth is a metaphor of a divine inner act. This act is symbolized by believers' baptism. Renewal refers to the “making new” by the Holy Spirit. Rebirth takes place at salvation, and that renewal is a lifetime process. All of this results in our justification or being declared righteous and in making us heirs with Christ of eternal life.

The letter concludes with some practical instructions for Titus. Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollos probably delivered the letter to Titus (1 Timothy 3:13 ). See Apollos; Circumcision; Holy Spirit; Paul; Salvation .

Mark E. Matheson

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Titus, Epistle to'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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