What does Titus 1 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Titus is one of three Pastoral Epistles written by the apostle Paul, along with 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy. Chapter 1 addresses two major topics: church leadership qualifications (Titus 1:5–9), and dealing with offenders in the church (Titus 1:10–16). Paul addresses the recipient as Titus, a fellow missionary. Paul left Titus in Crete to serve as a church leader with the important task of selecting elders for individual house churches on the island (Titus 1:5).

In the introduction, Paul clearly identifies himself as the letter's author, and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul calls himself a "bondservant" of God, from the Greek word doulos. This term is an important metaphor. One who voluntarily gives up his service, according to someone else's will, is a doulos of that other person. It means committing one's time, energy, and efforts to the benefit of someone else. In this case, it describes Paul's Christian commitment to God, at the cost of his own interests.

Verses 5–9 provide a list of elder qualifications which Titus was to use in selecting or appointing church leaders. This list, along with 1 Timothy 3:1–7, includes the qualifications which have been used to select elders and pastors—church leaders—since New Testament times. They include character, family leadership, and teaching ability. This last trait includes an ability to "rebuke those who contradict" sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

Verses 10–16 speak about false teachers in Crete. These men taught that circumcision was required for Christians (Titus 1:10), upsetting entire families in the process (Titus 1:11). Paul commanded Titus to rebuke them sharply, with the goal that they would be "sound," or accurate, in their faith (Titus 1:13).
Verse Context:
Titus 1:1–4 introduces the letter from Paul to Titus, who was left on Crete in order to oversee the churches there. Paul refers to himself as a “bond-servant,” or “slave” of Jesus Christ. He makes it clear that Titus and Paul share a common faith, and a common Savior.
Titus 1:5–9 explains the requirements of those who lead a church. Elders and pastors must meet these criteria in order to serve in those roles. Paul lists issues such as moral character, control over their family, and an ability to teach the truth. Paul gives a similar, equally important list in 1 Timothy 3:1–7. Also crucial is the ability to confront and correct those who teach false doctrines.
Titus 1:10–16 explains the proper way to deal with false teachers. On the island of Crete, some men taught that circumcision was required for Christians, which caused entire families to fall apart in argument. Titus is commanded to counter these claims strongly—to “rebuke them sharply.” The purpose of this response was to lead people to correct doctrine.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 1 introduces the letter from Paul to Titus. Paul describes the requirements for being appointed a church leader, such as an elder or pastor. The text then transitions into a description of how to “rebuke” false teachers. These are the requirements Paul expects Titus to follow when selecting leaders for the local churches of Crete.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 focuses on the character traits of a church leader, contrasted to the immoral culture of Crete. Specific instructions are given for elders, and a means for dealing with false teachers. Chapter 2 explains the ideal traits of church members, especially in their acts towards each other. Chapter 3 will focus on the relationship between Christians and their surrounding culture.
Book Summary:
The book of Titus is a letter written by the apostle Paul, to a Christian leader on the island of Crete. This is one of Paul’s three Pastoral Epistles, where he offers instructions to younger believers caring for large groups of others. Paul uses the book of Titus to emphasize the importance of selecting church elders carefully. Many of the topics discussed in Titus are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. Though the details of this message are specifically for Titus, and the believers of Crete, they offer insight useful for churches today.
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