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Article Info:
published: 3/17/04
updated: 8/14/14

The Book of Titus

Facts and summary

Titus is the seventeenth book of the Christian New Testament. The author is traditionally understood to be the Apostle Paul. Titus is three chapters long and is sometimes grouped together with 1 and 2 Timothy as a "pastoral epistle." It is believed to have been written between 63-65 A.D. from Corinth. The original recipient was Titus, a Gentile convert of Paul who worked with him at Ephesus during his third missionary journey and later in Crete. Titus was in Crete when he received this letter. The purpose of Titus is to provide Titus with authorization, support in dealing with opposition, instructions in faith and conduct, and warnings about false teachers. Its teaching emphasis is on "doing what is good," summaries of Christian doctrine.

Ignatius (Tralles, 3) uses "behaviour" (katasteema), in the New Testament found only in Titus 2:3. Clement of Rome quotes it, Ep. ad Cor. 2 Irenaeus, i. 16, section 3, calls it Paul's epistle. Theophilus (ad Autol. iii. 14) quotes it as Scripture. Justin Martyr in the second century alludes to Titus 3:4 (Dial. contra Tryph. 47). Compare Clem. Alex. Strom. 1:350, and Tertullian Praescr. Haer. 6.

Time and place of writing

Paul wrote this epistle on his way to Nicopolis, where he intended wintering, and where he was arrested shortly before his martyrdom A.D. 67. The tone so closely resembles 1 Timothy that if the latter, as appears probable, was written at Corinth the epistle to Titus must have been so too, the epistle to Timothy shortly after Paul's arrival at Corinth, the epistle to Titus afterwards when he resolved on going to Nicopolis. The bearers of his epistles to Ephesus and Crete respectively would have an easy route from Corinth; his own journey to Nicopolis too would be convenient from Corinth.

Seeds of Christianity may have been carried to Crete shortly after the first Pentecost by Peter's hearers (Acts 2:11). Paul doubtless furthered the gospel cause during his visit there on his way to the hearing of his appeal to Caesar, before his first imprisonment at Rome (Acts 27:7), etc. He visited Crete again after his first imprisonment, probably on his way to Miletus, Colosse, and Ephesus, from which latter Alford thinks he wrote to Titus; thence by Troas to Macedon and Corinth (2 Tim. 4:20), the more probable place of writing the epistle to Titus; thence to Nicopolis in Epirus.

Titus in his missions for Paul to Corinth had probably thence visited Crete, which was within easy reach. He was thus suited to superintend the church there, and carry on Paul's work by completing the church's organization. Paul in this epistle follows up the instructions he had already given by word of mouth. Paul's visit to Crete may possibly also have been from Corinth, to which he in that case would return.


The Pauline doctrines of the grace of God providing the atonement in Christ (Titus 2:10-13), free justification (Titus 3:5-7) producing holiness of life by the regenerating and renewing Spirit, and expectancy of Christ's coming in glory, are briefly but emphatically put forward. The abruptness and severity of tone, caused by the Cretan irregularities, are tempered by a loving and gracious recognition of our high privileges which flow from the grace of "God our Saviour." As the Father is nowhere said to "give Himself for us," and as ONE Greek article binds together "the great God" and "our Saviour" (Titus 2:13, "the glorious appearing of Him who is at once the great God ceded our Saviour") Jesus must be God.

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