Titus 1

1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,

Unlike our way of beginning a letter with the name of the recipient, the letter to Titus begins with the name of the sender, which was the customary form in first-century letter writing. Paul, the author, identified himself as a “bond-servant” (doulos) and an “apostle” (apostolos). The term “bond-servant” (slave) was a designation given to the great men of God of the Old Testament. As a “bond-servant” Paul was not his own and was committed to doing the will of his master. The term “apostle” means one who is sent and emphasizes the fact that Paul’s authority came from One greater than himself. Paul used three phrases to express the aim of his apostleship. First, “for the faith of those chosen of God.” Paul was committed to sharing the gospel to the end that people would be saved. Second, for “the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Paul also was committed to equipping believers with “the knowledge of the truth” and encouraging them to apply that truth and so live their lives in a manner pleasing to God. Third, “in the hope of eternal life.” Paul lived and labored with the conviction that his life and ministry had eternal significance.

1:3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior;

This “hope of eternal life” was manifested at the proper time in the person of Jesus and proclaimed through the preaching of the Apostle Paul. God sent His Son into the world “at the proper time.” The time was proper for several reasons. First, practically everyone in the known world spoke Greek thus making it easier to communicate the gospel message. Second, people could travel in safety throughout the Roman Empire over of a network of good roads because the world was at peace. Third, people were looking for answers to life’s bigger questions and were receptive to the message of salvation. God entrusted the message of salvation to Paul who preached it faithfully.

1:4 to Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Paul’s letter was addressed to Titus, a Greek believer (Gal. 2:3), who was a dear and trusted friend. Paul referred to him as “my true child,” a term that suggests the possibility that Titus was converted to faith in Christ by Paul. Titus is mentioned by name in 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 2 Timothy. Although Titus is not mentioned by name in the book of Acts, he accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Gal. 2:1-10) to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) where he was “Exhibit A” that the Jewish rite of circumcision was not necessary for salvation. Titus also was a trustworthy individual who assisted Paul in dealing with the troubled church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 8:6,16,23; 12:18). He was highly regarded by Paul who referred to him as “my partner and fellow worker” (2 Corinthians 8:23). “Grace” (God’s unmerited favor) and peace (the result of a proper response to God’s grace)” come “from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Savior.”

1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,

At the time of this writing, Titus had already proved himself to be a valuable asset to Paul and to the work of ministry. He proved his worth in very awkward and difficult situations. First, as a young convert, Titus was submissive enough to accompany Paul and Barnabas to the Jerusalem Council where the status of his conversion as an uncircumcised Gentile was the topic of discussion (Gal. 2:1-10). Second, Titus was courageous and diplomatic enough to deliver Paul’s second and very severe letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 7:6-7). Third, Titus was honest enough to play a key leadership role in collecting the offering for the Jerusalem church (2 Cor. 8:6-24). For these reasons Paul felt confident in charging and authorizing (“as I directed you”) Titus with the responsibility of setting in order the things which he was unable to complete in Crete “and” appointing “elders” in every city. The office of “elder” corresponds to the modern-day role of pastor. This was an urgent assignment because of the active opposition from the Judaizers (Titus 1:10).

1:6 namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
1:7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,

Paul listed the qualifications that were to be met before a man could be chosen as an elder or “overseer.” An elder must be a man “above reproach.” He must be a man of integrity who lives his life in a manner consistent with the will of God. An elder’s family life must give testimony to his ability to govern others in spiritual matters. His children must not be unbelievers or unruly prodigals. An elder must manage the affairs of the church with the understanding that, as a steward, he is accountable to God. He must not be “self-willed” or unwilling to listen to or regard others. He must not be “quick-tempered” or inclined to outbursts of anger. He must not be “addicted to wine” or behave like a drunken man. He must not be “pugnacious” or given to violence of action or speech. He must not be “fond of sordid gain” or eager to serve or use his office solely for the sake of making money.

1:8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

On a more positive note, the overseer must be “hospitable,” willing to open his home and heart to strangers or those in need of safe lodging. Hebrews 13:2 stresses the importance of hospitality: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The overseer must also be a lover of good in people and things. He must love people in Christ and for the sake of Christ. He must be “sensible” or levelheaded. He must be “just (committed to doing what is right), devout (committed to living a life pleasing to God), and self-controlled (committed to living a disciplined life).” In addition, an overseer was to be a doctrinally stable man capable of exhorting and defending the flock.

1:10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,

The need for qualified godly leaders capable of teaching the flock and defending the faith was important because of the active opposition of “those who contradict” (verse 9). The word “many” suggests that the opposition was large enough to be of concern. Paul used three negative terms to describe the opposition. First, “rebellious men” or men who rejected the authority of the Gospel and the church’s leaders, even as the children in verse 6 rejected the authority of their parents. Second, “empty talkers and deceivers,” or men whose impressive rhetoric deceptively led people away from the truth of the gospel. Third, “those of the circumcision” or Jewish converts who insisted that the observance of Jewish ceremonial laws was necessary for salvation. The word “especially” suggests that the Judaizers were the chief source of opposition.

1:11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.

The need for appointing qualified godly leaders was urgent because of the destructive impact of the opposition. They were “upsetting whole families.” Their teaching of things they should not teach had a harmful impact on family life. It is possible that these false teachers stealthily did their work house to house. These false teachers were also motivated by a shameful lust for profit. They extorted money from those they deceived. Paul declared that these false teachers “must be silenced” or “muzzled” by godly leaders qualified to exhort in sound doctrine. They were to be exposed and silenced by the powerful presentation of the truth.

1:12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

Paul used the words of a 6th century B.C. Cretan philosopher and prophet named Epimenides to accentuate his description of the false teachers. They were “empty talkers and deceivers” (1:10) who taught things they should not teach (1:11) and so were “liars.” They were “rebellious men” (1:10) who upset whole families (1:11) and so were “evil beasts.” They were motivated by a desire for “sordid gain” (1:11) and so were “lazy gluttons.”

1:13 This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith,
1:14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

Paul declared that the words spoken by Epimenides were an accurate description of the false teachers. Paul thus demanded that Titus reprove them severely to the end that they completely abandon their false doctrines and “be sound in the faith.” The term “the faith” refers to the body of Christian truth or the gospel, which the false teachers contradicted. As opposed to “the faith,” the false teachers were fascinated by “Jewish myths” or fables about the Old Testament that had no basis in fact. They also were fascinated by the legalistic “commandments of men who turn away from the truth.” These commandments had no divine authorization.

1:15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.

Paul’s concluding remarks in the first chapter indicate that the false teachers were concerned about the observance of Jewish ceremonial practices such as dietary rules (commandments of men). Paul declared that those who are pure by virtue of their faith in Christ do not need to observe such practices. In addition, those “who are defiled and unbelieving” cannot be made pure by keeping such rules and regulations. The minds and consciences of those who held that the observances of such practices were necessary for salvation and Christian living were “defiled.”

1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.

These false teachers professed to know God but denied Him by their actions. Their observance of religious rules, rituals, and regulations did not make them acceptable in the sight of God. Instead, these things marked them as “being detestable” in God’s sight, “disobedient” to the truth of the gospel, and “worthless for any good deed.” These religious men were far from the God they professed to know through their teachings and deeds.

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