Paul's Greeting to Titus

Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1986, Indian Hills Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska

  Bible Study Notes
GR743  - Titus 1:1-4
(July 20, 1986)

The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.


The letter to Titus is one of the epistles of Paul, which, along with 1st and 2nd Timothy, make up the Pastoral Epistles. These letters contain material related to the functioning of the Church and its leaders.

All these epistles have come under attack by liberals as not being genuine letters from Paul. The idea of Paul being the author was first rejected by the German critics in the nineteenth century. However, there is no good reason for such a position, and every indication is that they were written by the apostle Paul.

They were written after Paul's release from the Roman imprisonment which is recorded at the end of the Book of Acts.

This letter is addressed to a man named Titus who was a close and trusted associate of the apostle Paul:

  1. He evidently was converted through the ministry of the apostle Paul (cf, 1:4).

  2. In Acts 15 Paul went to Jerusalem to help resolve the debate over whether it was necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised. Titus, a Greek, was taken along and he was not circumcised (cf, Gal, 2:1-3). So Titus was involved with Paul in some of the most significant doctrinal conflicts.

  3. Titus played a key role in Paul's contacts with the Corinthians. In fact, in Titus 13-4, Paul chose him to bear to the Corinthians one of his more severe letters (cf, 2 Cor, 2:12,13; 7:6,7; 8:6,16,17,23; 12:17,18).

  4. Titus is last mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:10, as having been sent on another mission by Paul.

Paul wrote to strengthen the hand of Titus in the ministry which he had to carry out in Crete. We are not told how the churches in Crete began, but we know from this letter that they were in a deteriorated condition.

The theme of the letter is "godliness" or "good deeds" (cf. 1:8,16; 2:7,14; 3:l,8,l4). This life of godliness is to have an impact on the unbelievers around us (cf. 2:5,8,10).

The first four verses form the introduction or salutation of the book. Paul spends an extended time on his position as an apostle, not for the benefit of Titus, but to put the weight of his authority behind the ministry of Titus.

There are 3 parts to this salutation:

The Writer 1:1-3

I. Paul's Identity 1:1a 1:1

Paul identifies himself in two ways: as a servant and as an apostle.

"A bond-servant of God" (doulos) - Paul saw himself as belonging to God and thus responsible to serve Him in all that he did (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19,20; 1 Pet. 1:18,19). This recognition that we are the servants of Christ is to control us in all that we do (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14,15).

"An apostle of Jesus Christ" - An apostle is one sent with a message as the representative of another. The apostles were a select group appointed by God for the foundation of the church.

II. Paul's Mission 1:1b

Why was Paul a servant of God sent with a message from Jesus Christ? He now elaborates on this important subject. "

For the faith of those chosen of God" - A key area of Paul's mission centered on bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ. He refers to them as "those chosen of God." God in sovereign grace has chosen some among fallen, sinful humanity to receive His marvelous salvation.

These must come to believe in Christ through the preaching of the gospel. Paul saw his ministry as one of bringing the elect to salvation in Christ (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13).

Sometimes we get involved in debating the theological issues involved in the doctrine of election and forget the key responsibility that we have in presenting the gospel so that the elect might believe.

"The knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness" - A person cannot be saved who does not hear and believe the truth of God (cf. Rom. 10:17).

"Knowledge of the truth" produces godliness in the life. The believers at Crete needed to be reminded that the knowledge of the truth brings about a change in the life of a person (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).

This fact begins at salvation and continues on through our lives as believers. This is why we come together to study the Word of God. His truth produces godliness in our lives as we submit to His Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Tim. 4:7,8; 6:3).

God puts no value on knowledge for the sake of knowledge (cf. 1 Cor. 8:1).

III. Paul's Motivation 1:2,3

"In the hope of eternal life" - Paul's life and ministry is based upon the hope of eternal life. This is the focal point of what he is doing (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1 John 3:1-3).

This hope is real and genuine because it is based on the promise of God, who cannot lie. This hope is founded on the absolute reliability of God.

Paul says 3 things about this eternal life:

  1. It was promised by God before time began.

  2. It is now manifested through His Word.

  3. Paul has been commanded by God to preach this message.

"Long ages ago" is literally "before eternal times." This was God's plan before the creation of the world (cf. 2 Tim. 19).

"At the proper time manifested, even His word" - God has now chosen to make His plan known through His Word. It is important to note that you can only learn about eternal life through the Word of God.

Paul then notes that he was entrusted with the proclamation of this message by the command of God. This gives authority to this letter and to Titus who serves at the direction of Paul.

The Recipient 1:4a

"My true child" - Titus was a genuine child in the spiritual sense.

"In a common faith" - It is the same faith as the faith of Paul, which is the same faith as that of the elect in 1:1 So Titus has the authority of the apostle Paul behind him and Paul has the authority of God behind him.

The Greeting 1:4b

"Grace and peace" Where are we in relation to this marvelous truth that God has revealed in His Word?

  1. Do you have the hope of eternal life?

  2. Have you believed the message of the gospel?

  3. Has the knowledge of the truth produced godliness in your life? Are you more like Christ now than you were last year at this time?

  4. Are you involved in the proclamation of the truth that God has revealed?

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.

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