Titus 1

Historical Background

"Sent from: Paul, possibly in or near Greece.
Sent to: Titus, directing the Church in Crete.
Date: Probably between A.D. 63 and 66.
"Titus was an early convert from the Greek world who became a trusted associate in Paul's missionary work and direction of the Church...
"Out of many inevitable conflicts over the gospel, Titus's trial at the Jerusalem Council stood out. Jewish brethren teaching circumcision insisted that Titus become a full Jewish proselyte in addition to becoming a Christian. But Paul would not even consider such a compromise for a Gentile (Gal. 2:3), and Titus was not 'compelled to be circumcised' (Gal. 2:3). Further presiding or missionary assignments surely followed, though there is no record of such service. But Titus emerges as a seasoned assistant in disciplining the Corinthian branch of the Church. The story is found here and there in 2 Corinthians. Paul had expected to meet Titus to hear his report in Asia Minor (2 Cor. 2:12-13) but crossed to Northern Greece, where his fears were replaced with the comforting news that the branch as a whole had repented (2 Cor. 7:7). Titus obviously had done his work with courage and capacity, but Paul goes further to show another critical ingredient in his success-his love for the people that he sought to help. 'And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, and the fear and trembling with which you received him' (2 Cor. 7:15, RSV). Paul says literally that Titus was not covetous toward the Corinthians-that he sincerely worked for their interests and not his own (2 Cor. 12:18).
"...The opening chapter of Titus shows that confused conditions in Crete demanded strong leadership and that Paul had complete confidence that Titus would measure up to the task. Some five years earlier, Titus had well earned Paul's solid description of him as 'my partner and fellow worker' (2 Cor. 8:23, NKJB)." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 341-342.)

Titus 1 Introduction

The Pauline epistles to Timothy and Titus have similar purposes and messages. Both were regional authorities, leading under Paul's direction. Both had been converted by him early in the Christian Era, and Paul loved to them as sons. Timothy was Paul's, "own son in the faith" and "my dearly beloved son," while Titus was called, "mine own son after the common faith." (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4) The timing and circumstances of each epistle are similar-local authority is being challenged, local congregations need to be set in order, the qualities and requirements of bishops are set forth, and practical advice is given for priesthood leaders. A review of the following similarities suggests that these two epistles may have been written about the same time. J. Lewis Taylor writes, "1 Timothy and Titus were written possibly between the time of Paul's first and second imprisonments in Rome, between A.D. 62 and 66; whereas 2 Timothy was written when his death was imminent, about A.D. 67 or 68." (J. Lewis Taylor, "New Testament Backgrounds: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus," Ensign, Apr. 1976, 57)
1 Timothy
1 Tim 1:2
"my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ"
Titus 1:4
"mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
1 Tim 1:3
Protect against false doctrines
Titus 1:10-11
Beware of false teachings and deceivers
1 Tim 1:4
"Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions"
Titus 3:9
"Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law"
1 Tim 3:1-7
"A bishop then must be blameless..."
Titus 1:7-9
Bishops virtues and qualities again listed
1 Tim 6:1-2
Servants should be subject to their masters
Titus 2:9
"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters"
1 Tim 2:1-3
Be thankful for and pray for kings and those that are in authority
Titus 3:1
"Be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates"
1 Tim 2:9-10; 5:14
Counsel for women
Titus 2:3-5
"teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands"
1 Tim 4:11-12
"These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth"
Titus 2:15
"exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."

Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life... promised before the world began

"Covenant-making and covenant people have been in the Lord's plan since the very beginning, even before the world was formed. Several scriptures teach us that mankind was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ while yet in the spirit world before birth into mortality. Even before the earth was formed, the Father's plan of salvation was explained to us. Paul wrote to Titus, his fellow laborer in the gospel, that God, who cannot lie, promised eternal life even 'before the world began' (Titus 1:2). That such promises were made to man in pre-mortal times is also stated in D&C 132:63. We also believe that in pre-mortal life, 'the sons [and daughters] of God shouted for joy' at the prospect of eternal life (Job 38:7), and that some of those spirits were foreordained to perform certain work in mortality (see Abr. 3:22-23; Alma 13:3-7; D&C 138:53-56). We also read that a third part of the spirits were cast out with Lucifer because they would not accept the plan of salvation (see D&C 29:36-37; Moses 4:1-4). We are informed in D&C 132:5-11 that all of the promises and covenants of the gospel were instituted by the Father 'before the foundation of the world.' Therefore we must conclude that gospel covenants have existed from the beginning and that anyone who has accepted the gospel at any time has had a covenant relationship with God." (Robert J. Matthews, "Our Covenants with the Lord," Ensign, Dec. 1980, 34-35)

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete

"After many years of Titus's proving and growing, Paul assigned him to direct the work in the branches on the large island of Crete. His choice obviously rested on Titus's faithful experience but no less on the 'earnest care' for the Saints that continued in 'the heart of Titus' (2 Cor. 8:16, RSV). The opening chapter of Titus shows that confused conditions in Crete demanded strong leadership and that Paul had complete confidence that Titus would measure up to the task...
"On his Roman voyage Paul inched around the eastern point of Crete and sailed slowly past the high cliffs of the southern side of that long island (Acts 27:7-8). While debating about whether to winter there, he no doubt learned more about Crete and its people. The decision was made to put in to a harbor in Crete protected from winter gales, but sudden winds overruled and forcibly sped the apostle west to shipwreck at Malta (Acts 27:12-15). But after Roman release, he evidently revisited Crete. He 'left' Titus in Crete 'that you might straighten out what was left unfinished' (Titus 1:5, NIV), which opens a clear possibility that Paul first labored with Titus there and built up Church membership but not the full Church organization. Missionary work there would resemble that in Greece, inasmuch as early migrations to Crete had established cities with the same proud traditions of the mainland. Moreover, there were Jewish groups in the major centers of the island...
"When Titus was assigned to 'set in order' or 'straighten out' Church affairs, a great part of his job was to choose strong bishops or presiding elders: 'Appoint elders in every city as I commanded you' (Titus 1:5, NKJB). The Church had been in Crete long enough to have branches in many cities, but it was under attack of the 'gainsayers,' an archaic King James term meaning literally those 'speaking against' or 'opposing.' They were so combative that Paul said not to continue to debate with them-'after the first and second admonition' they were to be ignored (Titus 3:10). In this verse the opposer is a 'heretic,' which word ties to the 'heresies' Paul opposed in the Corinthian and Galatian branches (1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20). All these words adapt the Greek for 'divisions,' and Paul used 'heretic' in that exact sense of a believer causing factions within the faith. At the end of Paul's life these reorganized Christians were everywhere. In Crete there were 'many unruly' (Titus 1:10) or 'many insubordinate' (Titus 1:10, NKJB), the latter translation exactly mirroring the Greek. The apostates would not stay in the ranks or submit to authority. In 1 Timothy such conditions were rampant around Ephesus as Paul directed Timothy to take vigorous measures to defend the faith. An island might be thought to be immune to such trends, but identical conditions in both places show that apostasy was the major problem everywhere at the end of Paul's life. So he wrote Titus not merely to have bishops appointed but to ensure that men would be called who would face the cross fire of the most dangerous enemies of the apostles-the rebels against their teaching and authority.
"Priesthood organization is clearly behind the letter to Titus, though not as obviously as in 1 Timothy. Direction by the general authority is evident in Paul's assignment of Titus to Crete, and regional authority is evident in Titus's appointment of the elders to direct congregations as bishops." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 344 - 345.)

Titus 1:5 that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city

Charles W. Penrose
That there was a divinely appointed ministry in the Church established by our Savior must be evident to every mind open to the truth, on reading the New Testament; also that it was essential to the Church, and that without it there can be no true Church of Christ on earth... Without these divinely ordained and inspired men, holding this holy priesthood, the work of the ministry cannot be performed acceptably to God, neither can the Church be perfected. They are absolutely necessary until all shall come to the unity of the faith and a knowledge of the Son of God. (Handbook of the Restoration: A Selection of Gospel Themes Discussed by Various Authors [Independence, Mo.: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1944], 132-133)

Titus 1:7-9 a bishop must be blameless

Gordon B. Hinckley
I stand in humble gratitude and respect and admiration for the bishops of this Church. In the most dire of circumstances, I watched them in La Lima, Honduras. I spoke with them, shook their hands, loved them. How thankful I am for these men who, without regard for their own comfort, give of their time, of their wisdom, of their inspiration in presiding over our wards throughout the world. They receive no compensation other than the love of their people. There is no rest for them on the Sabbath, nor very much at other times. They are the ones closest to the people, best acquainted with their needs and circumstances.
The requirements of their office are today as they were in the days of Paul, who wrote to Timothy:
(quotes 1 Tim. 3:2-3 and Titus 1:7, 9).
All during the years of my childhood and youth, even until the time I was ordained an elder and came home from a mission, I had only one bishop. He was a remarkable man. He served for 25 years. We knew him, and he knew us. We always addressed him as "Bishop Duncan," and he always called us by our first names. We had great respect for him, an almost awesome respect. But we had no fear of him. We knew that he was our friend. His was a very large ward, and how very well he served his people.
I spoke at his funeral. Next to my own father, he probably had the greatest influence on my young life. How grateful I am for him.
Since then, I have had a number of bishops. Without exception, every one of them has been a dedicated and inspired leader.
Now let me say a few words directly to the bishops who are with us this night. And much of what I say to you might be echoed to the stake presidents and others in similar callings. I hope you know that I carry in my heart a great feeling of love for you. I know that your people love you. Tremendous is your trust. In calling you, we have placed in you our total confidence. We expect you to stand as the presiding high priest of the ward, a counselor to the people, a defender and helper of those in trouble, a comfort to those in sorrow, a supplier to those in need. We expect you to stand as a guardian and protector of the doctrine that is taught in your ward, of the quality of the teaching, of the filling of the many offices which are necessary.
Your personal behavior must be impeccable. You must be a man of integrity, above reproach of any kind. Your example will set the tone for the direction your people follow. You must be fearless in denouncing evil, willing to take a stand for the right, uncompromising in your defense of truth. While all of this requires firmness, it must be done with kindness and love. ("The Shepherds of the Flock," Ensign, May 1999, 52-53)

Titus 1:9 that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers

The bishop has the sobering responsibility to make sure correct doctrine is taught in his ward. In most wards, this is not much of a problem. However, some class discussions get out of hand and false doctrines need to be corrected. This is as necessary today as it was in Titus' work as Bishop on the isle of Crete. The following story is illustrative.
Before LeGrand Richards was called to serve as an Apostle, he served as a bishop in a university ward near the University of Utah. The ward was full of pseudo-intellectuals and college professors who had liberal and unorthodox ideas about the doctrines of the Church. Bishop Richards was uncomfortable with the tone and teachings in Sunday School. The following is an example of the bishop's responsibility to exhort the gainsayers by sound doctrine:
"The ward was in close proximity to the University of Utah, and because of divergent views propounded by some of its educators and other men of influence, ward unity suffered over the issue of orthodoxy versus liberalism. A common question among members was 'Are you a fundamentalist?' Shortly after the new bishopric was sustained on January 23, 1938, Bishop Richards attended the Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class. There the issue was freely discussed-and, of course, not resolved before the lesson period was concluded. The teacher asked the bishop if they had his permission to continue the discussion the following Sunday. 'By all means,' Bishop Richards replied, 'but I should like to have the last ten or fifteen minutes to address the class.'
"The next Sunday brought a lively class discussion of such 'controversial' issues as that the vision of Joseph Smith is not provable; that the Book of Mormon was not literally translated from golden plates; and that Christ was the Savior, not because he hung upon the cross but because he taught saving principles. The interchange of opinions and talk was terminated in time to allow Bishop Richards to address the class.
"'The things I have heard in these two weeks of free discussion are not Mormonism,' he told the group. 'Now, as long as I am bishop of this ward, we are going to teach fundamental Mormonism in this building. That means that Joseph Smith indeed received a vision of the Father and the Son (and it is provable by personal testimony), that he did indeed translate the Book of Mormon from the golden plates which he received from the Angel Moroni.' He continued, 'In that book, we read of the vision shown to Nephi by the angel, of Mary with child, of the child growing to manhood, of his choosing twelve apostles, and of his being crucified for the sins of the world. Now, that is Mormonism.'
"The power of the bishop's office was upon him when he challenged: 'Now, if any of you do not approve of fundamental Mormonism, why don't you go and organize a church of your own and teach what you want to. There are so many churches now teaching the precepts of men that one more won't matter.' He then turned to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, who was in attendance as a member of the ward, and said, 'Now, if I have said anything of which you do not approve, please correct me while the people are here.' Elder Merrill responded, 'I approve of every word you have said.'
"It was a sober class that filed out of the room. Some were jubilant. Lester F. Hewlett, who would shortly become president of the Tabernacle Choir, reported to President Grant that day that he had shed tears of gratitude that the Lord had sent them a man who could hold his own with the liberals." (Lucile C. Tate, LeGrand Richards: Beloved Apostle [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 192.)

Titus 1:10 there are many unruly... and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision

There were Jewish groups throughout the entire Roman Empire and on the island of Crete. Wherever Paul went, there were Jews and Jewish synagogues in which to preach. Many converted to Christianity but found it difficult to let go of the cultural elements associated with the Law of Moses. They tried to require all Gentile converts to live by their religious traditions. In doing so, they misunderstood the power of the atonement of Christ-trusting in individual righteousness instead of God's merciful plan of salvation.

Titus 1:12-13 a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true.

Paul does not agree with the statement of this false prophet. His heart is full of charity; he does not have such a negative view of his fellowmen. When the epistle says "This witness is true," Paul is saying that he knows such false prophecies have been among them. With a tone if incredulity, Paul wants Titus to set things straight. The Christians of Crete could not spread the gospel to their neighbors if they really thought all the non-members were lazy liars. The tone of self-righteousness was alarming to Paul.

Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure

Heber C. Kimball
To those who are pure, all things are pure, but to those who are impure, all things are impure. Again, when you are pure, righteous-without sin, you think, many times, that everybody else is without sin. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 163.)

Titus 1:15 unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure

"The person who is bothered by evil thoughts may see others as being evil... Some people... look so hard for faults and evil that they can see them in almost everything. As with projection, the faults lie in the eye of the judge more than in the person being judged. The apostle Paul recognized that faults may lie in the mind of the perceiver as much as in the person being perceived. (Rom. 14:14; Titus 1:14.) Similarly, President David O. McKay noted, 'It is a deplorable fact that the eye of the gossip and the slanderer sees not only no good in others, but sees `evil where no evil exists.` Ofttimes, many evil, vicious things that are circulated exist only in the imagination of ignorant and evilthinking minds.' (Instructor, June 1960, p. 178.)" (Kenneth L. Higbee, "Judge Not," Ensign, Sept. 1973, 9)

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him

Orson Pratt
The great apostasy of the Christian church commenced in the first century, while there were yet inspired apostles and prophets in their midst; hence Paul, just previous to his martydom, enumerates a great number who had "made shipwreck of their faith," and "turned aside unto vain jangling;" teaching "that the resurrection was already past," giving "heed to fables and endless genealogies," "doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof came envyings, railings, and evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness." This apostasy had become so general that Paul declares to Timothy, "that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;" and again he says, "At my first answer, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me;" he further states, that "there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers," "teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." These apostates, no doubt, pretended to be very righteous; for, says the apostle, "they profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." Near the close of the first century, the apostasy had become so universal that only seven churches throughout all Asia, Africa, and Europe, were considered worthy of being either reproved or blessed by the voice of revelation. (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 139 - 140.)