Genuine canonical texts

These three pastoral epistles were accepted as genuine by most of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers.  Some scholars have argued that the letters were certainly accepted as Pauline by the time of Irenaeus (130-202).  They were also included in the Muratorian fragment (170).  Marcion (85-165)’s theology would have been the cause of why he rejected these letters since it was incompatible with certain passages.  Certainly, these letters would be considered anti-Gnostic.  In the mid-second century there was a common belief that these letters were written by Paul.  Does it matter to you when these pastoral letters were written?

Pauline authenticity

However, some scholars believe that Paul himself or one of his writers wrote Titus after his visit to Crete.  This exegesis supposes that after his release from Rome, Paul sailed to Asia, passing Crete along the way.  There he left Titus.  Then he could have gone to Ephesus, where he left Timothy.  From Ephesus, he went to Macedonia, where he wrote the First Epistle to Timothy.  Recent scholarship has revived the theory that Paul used an amanuensis, or secretaries, in writing his letters, possibly Luke for these pastoral letters.  This was a common practice in ancient letter writing, even for the biblical writers.  Thus, the different word usage may be due to a different secretary, Luke instead of Timothy.  Have you ever used different secretaries?

Church organization

These pastoral epistles lay out a church organization concerning the character and requirements for bishops, elders, deacons, and widows.  Some scholars have claimed that these offices could not have appeared during Paul’s lifetime.  In terms of theology, some scholars claim that the pastorals reflect more the characteristics of second century proto-orthodox church thought, than those of the first century.  Could you tell the difference between the end of the first century and the early second century?

Authenticity and dating

Titus, along with the two other pastoral epistles to Timothy, had been regarded by some scholars as being pseudepigraphic, ascribed to one person but actually written by another person.  On the basis of the language and content of these pastoral epistles, some scholars reject that they were written by Paul himself.  They believe that these three letters were written by an anonymous person after the death of Paul.  He pretended to be Paul.  The vocabulary and style of these Pauline letters is different than the other Pauline letters.  They reflect the views of an organized church rather than the emerging community churches at the time of the apostle Paul in the 50s and 60s.  Thus, they date the epistle to Titus, from the 80s CE.  How would you date a document?

Nineteenth century skepticism

Beginning in the 19th century, some German biblical scholars began to question the traditional attribution of this letter to Paul.  The vocabulary and phraseology used in these pastoral letters were often at variance with that of the other Pauline epistles.  Over 1/3 of the vocabulary in these three letters was not used anywhere else in the Pauline epistles, and over 1/5 is not used anywhere else in the New Testament.  At the same time, 2/3 of this non-Pauline vocabulary was used by second century Christian writers.  However, it can be argued that there are similarities between 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians, between Titus and the other travel letters, and between 2 Timothy and Philippians.  How important is vocabulary to you?


Titus was not explicitly mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.  However, Paul noted in Galatians, 2:1-3 that the Greek gentile Titus journeyed to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Paul.  According to 2 Corinthians, chapter 7, Titus was sent to Corinth, where he successfully reconciled the Christian community there with Paul, its founder.  He also took up a collection in Corinth in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, where Paul praised him again.  In 2 Timothy, 4:10, Paul sent Titus to Dalmatia.  Here in this letter addressed to Titus, he was left on the island of Crete to help organize the Church.  At the end to this letter, Paul wanted to meet Titus in Nicopolis.  According to Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339) in the Ecclesiastical History, Titus served as the first bishop of Crete.  Thus, he was a trusted and true friend of Paul.  Do you have a friend in Crete?

My Understanding of Titus

The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of three pastoral epistles, along with 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, in the New Testament addressed to individuals instead of Christian communities.  Thus, Titus, a short three-chapter epistle, is attributed to Paul, as explicitly mentioned in Titus, 1:1.  This epistle or letter usually follows 2 Timothy as the seventeenth book in the New Testament, the twelfth letter of Paul, addressed to Titus.  Did you ever hear of Titus?

Greetings (Titus 3:15)

“All who are with me

Send greetings

To you.

Greet those

Who love us

In the faith.

Grace be with

All of you.”

Ἀσπάζονταί σε οἱ μετ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες. ἄσπασαι τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἡμᾶς ἐν πίστει. Ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν.

Paul said, “All who are with me (οἱ μετ’ ἐμοῦ πάντες) send greetings to you (Ἀσπάζονταί σε).  Greet (ἄσπασαι) those who love us (τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἡμᾶς) in the faith (ἐν πίστει).  Grace (Ἡ χάρις) be with all of you (μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν).”  Paul concluded this letter to Titus by saying that all who were with him were sending greetings to Titus and all the faithful people of Crete who loved them.  He wanted the grace of God and Jesus Christ to be with them.  Do you end your letters or emails with a blessing?

Devote themselves to good works (Titus 3:14)

“Let our people learn

To devote themselves

To good works

In order to meet

The urgent needs.


They may not be unproductive.”

μανθανέτωσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἡμέτεροι καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι εἰς τὰς ἀναγκαίας χρείας, ἵνα μὴ ὦσιν ἄκαρποι.

Paul said, “Let our people (δὲ καὶ οἱ ἡμέτεροι) learn (μανθανέτωσαν) to devote themselves (προΐστασθαι) to good works (καλῶν ἔργων) in order to meet the urgent needs (εἰς τὰς ἀναγκαίας χρείας).  Thus, they may not be unproductive (ἵνα μὴ ὦσιν ἄκαρποι).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word προΐστασθαι, that means preside, rule over, give attention to, direct, maintain, or practice diligently.  Paul wanted Titus to insist these Christians learn to devote themselves to good works.  However, they should practice triage, by taking care of those with the most urgent needs or problems first.  Thus, they would be productive and not merely doing busy work.  Are you productive in your good works, helping those in the most need?

Make sure they lack nothing (Titus 3:13)

“Make every effort

To send Zenas

The lawyer

And Apollos

On their way.

See that they lack nothing.”

Ζηνᾶν τὸν νομικὸν καὶ Ἀπολλῶν σπουδαίως πρόπεμψον, ἵνα μηδὲν αὐτοῖς λείπῃ.

Paul said, “Make every effort (σπουδαίως) to send (πρόπεμψον) Zenas (Ζηνᾶν) the lawyer (τὸν νομικὸν) and Apollos (καὶ Ἀπολλῶν) on their way.  See that they lack nothing (ἵνα μηδὲν αὐτοῖς λείπῃ).”  Paul wanted Titus to send this Christian lawyer named Zenas.  He was not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament canonical writings.  He also mentioned Apollos, who is often mentioned in the various writings of Paul and the Acts.  Apollos was mentioned in Acts, chapter 18:24-28, where he was a recent Christian convert who went to Ephesus.  He had been a Jewish follower of John the Baptist.  He ministered both in Ephesus and then in Corinth in Acts, chapter 19:1.  There was a discussion in Corinth if people had been baptized by Paul or Apollos in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1:12.  The same problem came up later in chapter 3:1-9, about who was planting and who was watering.  All growth came from God.  Paul wanted to make sure that both this Christian lawyer and the Christian missionary did not lack anything that they needed.  Do you provide help to Christian missionaries?