The Letter of St Paul to Titus.
Titus was born of Greek parents. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to the Council of Jerusalem. He was uncircumcised, and although at the Council Judaizers insisted that he submit to this rite Paul refused to permit it. Titus is addressed in this letter as “Beloved son”, probably because he was converted to the faith by the apostle. From this letter we learn that Paul entrusted Titus with the organisation of the church in Crete. In his letter the apostle gives him counsel and instructions to guide him in his episcopal office.
Instructions for Titus’ Task in Crete.
1. The unusually long and formal introduction to this letter matches the ‘semi-official’ nature of its contents. Is it the thought of Cretans and their lies that makes Paul dwell on the dependability of a God ‘who does not lie’? The promise of an eternal life which he holds out is utterly reliable. Titus 1:1-4.
The Appointment of Elders.
2. (For the qualification of church leaders see 1 Timothy 3.) The requirement that any leader of the church must hold firm to ‘the trustworthy message’ leads straight into a description of those who flout this. They are rebellious talkers and deceivers, teaching what they should not teach. The situation is so bad it calls for a really strong line – a sharp rebuke to those who propound ‘Jewish myths’ (pointless speculations based on the Old Testament) and others who reject the truth. Titus 1:5-16.
Some Specific Moral Instructions.
3. The way Christians behave can discredit, or reinforce, the Christian message. Paul’s instructions throw no flattering light on the Cretan temperament. They were a naturally belligerent, argumentative people, uncontrolled, resentful of authority and partial to the bottle! But the Christian life calls for discipline, obedience and respect for others. Titus himself must set the example. Slaves must try to please, not answer back or steal from their masters. Those who have trusted in God and found salvation will be eager to do what is good. Titus 2:1-10.
The Basis of the Christian Moral Life.
4. Once, says Paul, we were all slaves to passion and pleasure. But that was before we discovered the loving kindness of God, who saved us and renews us by his Holy Spirit, giving us the ‘hope of eternal life’. Titus 2:11‑ 15.
General Instruction for believers.