Survey of Titus

The letter to Titus was probably written from Macedonia. Titus was on Crete (1: 5). There was much that needed to be done on Crete about the selection of elders and the formalization of the church. The structural changes needed were more than cosmetic. The congregation of the Lord's church that has been in existence for many years but does not yet have elders (shepherds, bishops, overseers) has a serious defect (Titus 1: 5).

The tone of the letter seems less personal than that of I and II Timothy. Titus was a young preacher, but not one with as close ties to Paul as the young man Timothy. Paul's directions to him seem more professional but nevertheless inspired and accurate. These letters to young preachers were personal but not private.

The letter to Titus and the two to Timothy were not referred to as "pastoral epistles" until the early 1700s. "Pastor" comes from a Latin word that means "shepherd." Evangelists such as Timothy and Titus were called euanggelistes in Greek. The office of preacher was never the office of elder. Elders were referred to as episkopos, poimen, or presbuteros depending up whether the administrative, counseling, or experiential characteristic of the person was being emphasized. Elders were collectively the leadership for the local congregation, not the pulpit preacher. God was too wise to deliver His people to the foibles of one-man rule. Elders are always spoken of in the plural--no one-man elderships. Congregations that could not identify two or more men to provide leadership were to remain scripturally unorganized rather than to become unscripturally organized. Read some church history from the second and third century about how the grasping for power by men who would be super-elders resulted in the division which plagues the church to this day. See how Ephesians 4: 11 differentiates the office of elder (bishop, overseer, shepherd) from evangelist. A Greek-English dictionary such as that in E-Sword is helpful.

The letter is similar to the letters to Timothy in that it emphasizes church order and sound doctrine. ". . . teach what befits sound doctrine" was Paul's charge to him.

The qualifications for elder given in Titus 1: include an additional feature of having believing children. Some discussion has been made over whether that could mean one child or if it must mean two or more. Certainly having two believing children answers the question completely. Scholars of the Greek contend that the word in the Greek text would most accurately be translated "progeny" in English and that a man could be recognized as an elder if he had only one child who was a believer and all of the other qualifications were in place. Elders must be solid in the faith and able both to teach and to correct those who would teach false doctrine. The confrontation of false doctrine was the first chore facing the new elders in Crete (1: 10-16).

The second chapter begins with an exhortation to Titus to teach sound doctrine. The mention of it admits the possibility that it is possible to teach things other than sound doctrine. When sound doctrine is taught, older men and older women and younger men and young women find their places and roles.

Verse 11 is a key verse which, along with Galatians 1: 8, 9 and Revelation 22: 18, 19 warn against anyone who would add to the Bible. God's word is inspired (II Timothy 3: 16, 17) and in its purity is able to save man. Bible-tampering is among the most serious crimes that man can commit. The Gospel was once for all delivered during the first century.

Titus 3 is an exhortation to be active in good works. The Lord's church must be busy in evangelism, edification, and benevolence.

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Sid Womack, webmaster

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