Personal letter to Titus
From Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles
Titus was a young coworker with Paul, a part of the emissary’s mission team as he planted churches in Asia Minor and Greece. Because of his affection for and trust in Titus, whom Paul described as his “dear son birthed through our shared faith,” Paul often delegated to Titus sensitive and difficult situations.
One such situation was in Crete, an island in the Mediterranean with a reputation for dishonesty and thievery that was a haven for pirates. We can infer from this letter that the church on Crete was in its infancy and needed to be taught the basics about church leadership and foundational doctrine.
The primary message of this letter is that good works come from sound doctrine, the shared faith of believers, and the resulting character that reflects a life lived serving God. In spite of the serious nature of the subject matter and the Cretans’ situation, Paul managed to convey his teachings on leadership, sound teaching, and church order in a warm, conversational style.
Titus is the only book in Scripture where Jesus is specifically addressed as “our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed.” Three times God is identified as the source of salvation, and three times Jesus is referred to as the instrument of salvation.
It is one of the few places where the role that each Person in the Triune has in salvation is isolated: “God our Savior…came to save us…made us completely new through the Holy Spirit…through Jesus the Anointed.”
Do what is good
Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are each in need of redemption, but we cannot achieve it by anything that we do on our own. Rather, it is the work that only God can do that brings us salvation.
Then Paul comes back and commands Titus to remind believers to “be constant in doing the right things.” The last imperative in the book is for all believers to learn to “do what is good.”
A truly devoted follower of Jesus
Paul trusted Titus to appoint elders, to sort out unfinished business, and to set a good example for everyone; the future of the church on Crete rested on Titus’s shoulders.
In this personal look into the work of a young church planter, we find courage, wisdom, and a zeal for serving God. We see what Jesus was looking for when He called a few to follow Him. Here in Titus we find what a truly devoted follower of Jesus looks like.
Paul is ready to defend the truth. He knows it is pure and honorable. He knows that it comes from and leads back to God. In contrast, Paul perceives the constant threat of false teaching that produces chaos, overturns entire families, and is filled with myths and instructions taught by those outside the faith.
This counter-truth is filled with lusts and passions that tear down others, and it results in petty debates over family trees with fights and disagreements over the law. The line is clearly drawn between them. Paul leaves no room to sit on the fence; there is no partial truth — the future of the church is at stake.
At times Paul can be unrelenting. As he challenged Timothy in the two letters he addressed to him, Paul also challenges Titus to live the truth he teaches. People are drawn toward God, not through bold arguments, but by passionate godliness. We must be passionate about doing the right thing. Our actions tell the story.
Our lives are living parables, shouting the mystery of godliness. Paul tells Titus to be bold, to teach with authority, and not to let anyone belittle him. We get a clear picture of a strong, courageous giant of a man. Titus is sent to the people of Crete — a people short on virtue and long on vice — to fashion a church of loving disciples.