Irenaeus in the second century AD ascribed this letter to Paul. Against this, some scholars have argued that the epistles to Titus and Timothy could not have been written by Paul because: (1) their vocabulary and style differ from Paul’s other letters, (2) they present a more formal and organized view of the church than Paul held, and (3) early Christians welcomed pseudonymous letters written in the name of a famous leader as an honor to him, not as a form of deceit.
In response, we make the following points: (1) An epistle’s style varies according to the author’s situation, the person or group to whom he writes, and the scribe to whom he dictates the letter (Rom. 16:22; 1 Cor. 16:21; 2 Thess. 3:17). (2) These epistles do not contradict Paul’s view of the church. He organized churches under the oversight of elders and with the ministry of deacons (Acts 14:23; 20:17,28; Phil. 1:1). (3) Although some ancient apocalyptic writings, sermons, and histories were pseudonymous, it is not true that ancient Christians wrote and welcomed letters under false names. Paul warned against letters falsely claiming to be from him (2 Thess. 2:2), and early church leaders such as Tertullian (c. AD 160–c. 225) and Serapion (d. AD 211) condemned writings that falsely bore the names of apostles. It would be the worse hypocrisy for this author to pretend to be Paul while declaring the “truth” from God who “cannot lie,” and warning against “deceivers” (1:1-2,10).
In the end, we return to the claims of the Bible itself. The author identifies himself as Paul (Titus 1:1), refers to Titus as his “own son” in the faith (Titus 1:4), and references how Paul left him in Crete with specific instructions (Titus 1:5). He speaks of his plan to stay the winter at Nicopolis, and urges Titus to visit him there if possible (Titus 3:12). Thus this book presents itself as a personal epistle from the apostle to a dear friend and coworker in ministry.
Perhaps about the same time as 1 Timothy, around AD 62-64, between Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome (AD 62) and his imprisonment and execution there (AD 64-67).
The church should be established through solid leadership and a sober lifestyle of godliness produced by the sound doctrines of election, redemption, and regeneration.
To encourage a pastor in leading the church to overcome false teaching and mankind’s inherent tendency to disorder and wickedness.
The Contribution of Titus to Redemptive Revelation
Titus was the man Paul looked to for the most difficult assignments, such as completing the reformation of doctrine and life in the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:6-7,13-15; 8:6,16-17,23-24; 12:18). The church in Crete, a large Mediterranean island south of the Greek mainland, faced a number of challenges. False teachers sought to divide the church’s members with Jewish legalism and traditions (Titus 1:10,14; 3:9-10), perhaps combined with Greek philosophical speculations. The cultural sins characteristic of the Cretans (Titus 1:12) still tugged at their hearts.
In response, Paul directed Titus to deploy godly and well-taught elders in every city and town (Titus 1:5-9). The main core of the epistle then instructs Titus to call the church to a life of sobriety and good works grounded in the sound doctrine of Christ (Titus 2:1-3:11). This epistle is a textbook, of sorts, of the doctrines of grace, covering eternal election unto faith (Titus 1:1-2), salvation by grace alone (Titus 2:11; 3:4), particular redemption unto holiness by Christ’s death (Titus 2:14), human depravity (Titus 3:3), regeneration by the Holy Spirit through Christ (Titus 3:5-7), and Christ’s coming in glory to bless His redeemed (Titus 2:13).
These doctrines are not taught in a merely academic way, but as the spiritual foundation and living root of godliness, “the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Thus Paul wove together doctrine and exhortations to self-control, submissiveness to proper authority, and zeal for good works (Titus 2:2-10,12,14-15; 3:1-2,8). The apostle believed that doctrine encourages rather than discourages godliness.
Rather than repeating the list of kings presented earlier in this Introduction, the following outline will be briefer and more thematic.
- Greetings from an Apostle for the Faith of God’s Elect (Titus 1:1-4)
- Good and Bad Leaders in the Local Church (Titus 1:5-16)
- Charge to Appoint Qualified Elders (Titus 1:5-9)
- Warning against False Teachers (Titus 1:10-16)
- Godliness Formed by the Doctrines of Grace (Titus 2:1-3:11)
- Instructions for a Sober Life in Various Social Groups (Titus 2:1-10)
- Redemption by Christ for Good Works (Titus 2:11-14)
- Exhortations to Sound Doctrine and Meekness (Titus 2:15-3:2)
- Regeneration by the Holy Spirit for Good Works (Titus 3:3-7)
- Teaching for Good Works and Avoiding Heresy (Titus 3:8-11)
- Grace and Personal Directions (Titus 3:12-15)
Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).