What was the purpose for the Book of Titus? What are the applications for us today in Titus?
The author is undoubtedly Paul as he opens by writing “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth…To Titus, my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:1a, 4). Paul wrote the Book of Titus around the same time he wrote 1st Timothy but certainly before he wrote 2nd Timothy (AD 67) so the date of Titus is likely around AD 66, or about one year before Paul was martyred. Titus was apparently like Timothy and was a spiritual child of Paul’s as he had led him to saving faith in Christ which is why Paul wrote “To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4).
Titus had been left on the island of Crete to pastor the church and needed guidance on choosing church leadership, and teaching sound, biblical doctrine so Titus’ mentor, the Apostle Paul, wrote him a letter (Titus) and in it, he gave thorough instructions on how to choose a pastor based upon biblical principles (Titus 1:5-9) but could also be applicable for the qualifications of deacons as Paul gave Timothy in 2nd Timothy 3:1-13. More than this, Paul had concerns about the teaching of sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)and maybe that’s why he sought to find sound men grounded in the truth (Titus 1:5-9) because so many were not (Titus 1:10-16) as “there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10) and “upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11) or doing it just to make money. The hard part for Titus was that he had to “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1: 13).
The Focal Point
Paul’s focus was clear. Give Timothy some help in establishing good, solid Christian leaders in the church but Paul also wanted Titus, like Timothy, to make sure to stick to sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). This meant that Titus has to rebuke and correct any false doctrines he heard and sharply rebuke those who taught it. The desired outcome for Paul was always the same, “that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13b). Paul would instruct Timothy in person to; keep teaching biblical doctrine, choose godly pastoral candidates, rebuke error and the ones teaching it, and pray for those rebuked “that they might be sound in the faith” and “to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1).
An elder was considered a pastor and every pastor was an elder but not every elder was also a pastor. Paul wanted Timothy to know how to select pastors for the church at Crete so he wrote that the person must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:6-9). You can have all of these other qualifications as a pastor but if you don’t rebuke those who contradict it, you’ve failed. The Word must be held onto at all costs. And the man should be able to instruct or teach and only then, ensure its sound doctrine. This is very close to the very same qualifications that Paul gave Timothy in finding biblically qualified pastors in 1st Timothy 3.
The Book of Titus is a short but powerful book and must have been an immense help to the young pastor Titus. It gave him his priorities to stick to Scripture, attack the falsehoods, rebuke those who taught error, and to find pastors that God would see as useful for the body of Christ, whether it be on Crete or in your own neighborhood. This book is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. If you have had a time in your life where you’ve repented and trusted in Christ, then you can probably understand most of this book but if you’re not saved, then you first need to repent and trust in Christ. Only then will the Advocate come and teach you the Scriptures (John 15:26).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.