Online Bible Commentary
Hold Firmly to the Trustworthy Message
Titus 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; 4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Titus, who was helping to organize the new churches on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean. After Paul’s two-year house arrest in Rome, he and Titus traveled to Crete and evangelized several towns.
Paul then left Titus there to complete the organization of churches. This letter was written about mid 62 to mid 64 A.D. from the city of Nicopolis, Greece.
The letter was written at about the same time as Paul wrote 1Timothy. This book is one of the three pastoral epistles of Paul. 1 and 2 Timothy are the other two.
Titus was a Gentile from Macedonia. He was led to Christ by Paul. He was a travelling companion of Paul’s at times, as they went about their missionary work.
Paul wrote this letter to Titus to help him with the organization of churches in Crete. Titus was being confronted by Judaizers, Jewish Christians who wanted to enforce some of the Jewish religious traditions, such as circumcision.
Paul begins the letter by writing, through his amanuensis (likely Luke), “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (v. 1a). He is introducing himself as the writer of this letter and giving his credentials as a slave of God and a direct apostle of Jesus Christ.
He follows this with “according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness” (v. 1b). Paul’s words herein come from the faith of all Christians and his knowledge of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which leads to godliness.
Paul continues with “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (v. 2). This godliness leads to the “hope” of eternal life which God “promised” before the beginning of time.
God “cannot lie”. Therefore, this “hope” is not a maybe thing but a sure thing. As Christians we have eternal assurance.
Next, Paul writes “but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (v. 3). The word of God has been given to us through preaching. Paul was anointed to preach the word of God by The Savior, Jesus Himself.
Paul writes “To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 4). He is addressing this letter to Titus, a “true” Christian, and sending a blessing from God the Father and Christ.
Next, Paul writes “For this reason I left you in Crete” (v. 5a). Here he is stating the purposes of Titus’ mission.
Paul continues “that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—” (v. 5b). So, the two purposes for Titus’ mission are to straighten out what was left unfinished before Paul departed and to appoint elders in every city on the island of Crete.
Paul then lays down the qualifications for these elders. An elder was an overseer of the church. Elders were the leaders in the church, doing the work of pastors.
Paul also gave similar instructions to Timothy in his first letter to him. In this letter to Titus, Paul seems more organized in his presentation of these qualifications, as if the letter to Timothy preceded the one to Titus.
Paul gave the same basic fifteen qualifications to each. The fifteen qualifications include four household qualifications, five vices to avoid, and six virtues to exhibit.
Paul writes “if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination” (v. 6). These are the four household qualifications.
They are to be a man, to be blameless, to have only one wife, and to manage his household. Since Paul uses the terms “man”, and “husband”, it is required that the role of an elder, or pastor, is to be filled only by men.
The word “blameless” means to be free from accusation. These are men who are well respected, with good reputations.
These men, if they are married, are not to have more than “one wife”. Polygamy still existed in the culture at the time.
The elder also was to maintain control over the children that still lived under his roof. They were not to be wild and disobedient.
Paul continues by writing “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money” (v. 7). Here, Paul expands on what he meant by blameless by citing five specific vices to avoid.
The five vices to avoid are not to be overbearing, “quick-tempered”, given over to drunkenness, “violent”, or pursuing dishonest gain. They are to be men of good repute.
Paul writes “but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled” (v. 8), These are the six virtues to exhibit.
Paul continues with “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (v. 9). So, Paul concludes this passage with a charge to the elders. The charge is that they must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught.
The methodology for this is two-fold. Using “sound doctrine” elders are to “exhort”, or encourage, the church members and to refute those who oppose it.
Titus, like Timothy in Ephesus, is being opposed by false teachers already. Paul wants to make sure that the new elders do not spread false teaching, as did the established leaders in Ephesus.
He wants to get it right this time. Not only does he want them not to spread false teaching, but he also wants them to be able to successfully refute such false teaching through the use of proper doctrine.