Paul begins his letter by stating the basis of his apostleship and ministry before greeting Titus with a benediction. His divine office has laid on him the responsibility of overseeing the pastoral work of the church and hence the necessity of writing this letter. The elaborate introduction serves to inform the intended recipient the conditions qualifying him to write it. After the salutation, Paul reminds Titus why he left him in Crete: to set in order things that are lacking in the church. The first task at hand was to ordain godly and responsible local leaders in the church so that they may fortify the church by sound doctrine.
Did You Know...?
- Apostle (1:1): The word “Apostle” denotes a messenger with emphasis on the sender. In the New Testament, the apostles were witnesses of the resurrected Christ who had been commissioned to preach about Christ.
- Crete (1:5) is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus) with a length of 160 miles and width of about 30 miles. In the southern part of the island is a small bay called Fair Havens where the ship carrying Paul took refuge (Acts 27:8).
- Introduction (1:1-4)
- The purpose of writing this letter (1:1-5)
- The requisites for appointment of elders (1:6-9)
What was Paul’s office in the church?Hide Answer
Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ and bondservant of God (1).
What is the purpose and guiding principle of his apostleship?Hide Answer
1. Establish the faith of the elect (1).
2. Bring people to the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness (1).
What is the basis and ultimate goal of Paul’s ministry?Hide Answer
The hope of eternal life (2).
What is Paul’s point in saying that God cannot lie (2)?Hide Answer
It reinforces the certainty of the promise of eternal life.
How was the hope of eternal life revealed?Hide Answer
Through the preaching of the word (3).
How was the word of God given to Paul?Hide Answer
It was committed to Paul according to the commandment of God our Savior (3).
How do these opening words inspire you to preach the gospel?Hide Answer
These opening words teach us several things which should motivate us to preach the gospel:
1. The gospel is based on God’s unfailing promise, which He issued even before time began. God has determined long ago to give eternal life to believers of Jesus Christ, and His promise will surely come true. Therefore, when we preach the gospel, we can confidently tell others about the message of salvation.
2. God has in due time manifested His promise of eternal life through the ministry of preaching. God’s wonderful plan of salvation is now made available to the world, and we who preach the gospel are bringing people to the knowledge of eternal life.
3. God’s word of salvation was committed to the apostles according to the commandment of God our Savior. Likewise, our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. He has entrusted this most noble mission to us, and He expects us to tell the world about the promise of eternal life.
What was Titus’ relationship to Paul?Hide Answer
Apart from being brethren in Christ and coworkers in their service to the Lord, they had a very close father and son relationship. As seen in Paul’s use of the term “a true son in our common faith,” it is likely that Titus, a gentile believer, had been converted by the apostle Paul.
What was the purpose of Paul leaving Titus in Crete?Hide Answer
To “set in order the things that are lacking and to appoint elders in every city” (5).
The qualities of an elder described in this paragraph touch on two main areas. What are they?Hide Answer
1. Good virtues and sound character (6-8)
2. Holding fast to God’s word in order to exhort and convict those who contradict (9).
What are the general responsibilities of an elder? Do the elders of our church today have the same responsibilities?Hide Answer
1. Act as local ministers and stewards of God to take care of the church (Tit 1:7; 1Tim 3:5).
2. Exhort and convict according to sound doctrine (Tit 1:9).
List the criteria of an elder as mentioned here (7-9) and their importance.Hide Answer
1. Blameless—To be qualified to take care of the church, a person must be beyond reproach so that he can be a role model for believers and give no cause for non-believers to malign the church. It is human nature to judge others and therefore leaders are prime targets to be scrutinized. People reject leaders who do not live up to what they profess to believe.
2. Husband of one wife, having faithful children—the morality of a person is often judged by his/her marital status; hence an elder has to be the husband of one wife. He must also be proven to be capable of managing his own household (children) before he is deemed fit to manage the household of God.
3. Not self-willed—a self-willed person does not do things according to the will of God and has no regard for the interest of others (cf. 2Pet 2:10).
4. Not quick-tempered—the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (Jas 1:19-20). E.g. Moses (Num 20:2-13)
5. Not given to wine—the evils and intoxicating effects of wine are numerous (Prov 4:17; 20:1; 23:20-21,31-32; 31:4-5) and can lead to dire consequences. E.g. Noah (Gen 9:20-21)
6. Not violent —a violent person cannot help anyone but always causes damages (Prov 16:29). Violence also gives him a bad name among the gentiles, causing the name of God to be blasphemed and the church to be discredited.
7. Not greedy for money—the love of money will lead to all sorts of evil and even cause some to wander away from the faith (1Tim 6:9-10)
8. Hospitable—this is an act of love and a requirement of our Lord Jesus (Heb 13:1-2; Mt 25:35).
9. Lover of good—only those who love what is good will pursue what is good (cf. Isa 1:17; Acts 10:38; Rom 12:21; Eph 2:10; Col 1:10; 2Tim 2:21).
10. Sober-minded—a worker of God needs to have a sound mind so that he can make sensible decisions, not rash ones that can adversely affect the church.
11. Just—it is only right that a person given the role of caring for the church knows and conforms to God’s standards (cf. 2Sam 23:3-4). This ensures that he can and will teach believers according to God’s standards and not be found guilty of being hypocritical. As a shepherd of the flock, he must also not show favoritism, which leads to dissension. Rather, he is to be impartial, regarding all believers as members of Christ’s body.
12. Holy—to be holy is not only a requirement of God (1Pet 1:15-16), but it is also a prerequisite of a divine worker (2Tim 2:20-21). God only uses those who have dedicated themselves wholly to God.
13. Self-controlled—this is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22- 23). A person who keeps his will, emotions, and desires in check are better equipped to shun temptations and sin.
14. Holding fast to the faithful word—only if he remains true to the sound doctrine he has been taught will he be able to teach others.
An elder is a steward of God (7). What does this job description suggest?Hide Answer
1. As a steward of God, the elder is a servant (cf. 1Cor 4:1).
2. As a steward of God, the elder is ministering in God’s behalf and is accountable to God (cf. Lk 12:42).
3. As a steward of God, the elder must be faithful (1Cor 4:2).
Considering the criteria of an elder, how can you better equip yourself to minister in the church?