Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
(a) Paul. The Apostle Paul wrote three pastoral letters. The first two were sent to Timothy; the third was sent to Titus. These letters were probably written from a Roman prison around A.D. 64.
(b) A bond-servant of God. When Paul and the apostles identify themselves as servants of God they are saying, “We are the sons of God who serve in the manner in which Christ served,” meaning they served others (2 Cor. 4:5). See entry for Rom. 1:1.
(c) An apostle; see entry for 1 Cor. 1:1.
(d) Those chosen of God are the elect or the church.
in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
(a) The hope of eternal life; see entry for Tit. 3:7.
(b) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
(a) Titus is the mystery man of the New Testament. We know he travelled and worked with Paul, because Paul mentions him in several letters, but he is not mentioned in the book of Acts or anywhere else. Titus was an uncircumcised Greek convert of Paul’s (Gal. 2:3). Like Timothy, he travelled with Paul and was entrusted with appointing church leaders. While Timothy worked in Ephesus, Titus worked on the island of Crete (Tit. 1:5).
(b) My true child. Paul was a spiritual father to Titus.
(c) Grace and peace. The apostle of grace began all of his letters with this gracious salutation. See entry for Rom. 1:7.
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
(a) For this reason. The letters to Timothy and Titus contain instructions for appointing church leaders. Given their similarities, they were likely written around the same time.
(b) Elders. Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders and gave him instructions on how to appoint overseers (Tit. 1:7). Thus, an elder is an overseer. There is no difference.
From Philippians 1:1, we learn that a church is served by overseers and deacons. An overseer, or elder, is responsible for leading the church, a role they fulfil primarily by setting a good example, by teaching and praying for the sick (Tit. 1:9, 1 Pet. 5:1-3, Jas. 5:14).
namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
(a) Any man. The addition of this gender-specific terms, which are not in the original text, has led some to conclude that women cannot be elders.
When talking about who can be an overseer, Paul deliberately used gender-neutral language. A more accurate translation of his words would be, “If anyone is above reproach.” Paul was not opposed to women in leadership and he named and praised several women who led churches. See entry for 1 Tim. 3:1.
(b) The husband of one wife. Paul was not disqualifying unmarried or divorced men from eldership, nor was he ruling out women. He was saying don’t appoint polygamists or philanderers. A man who had multiple wives, or who acted like he had multiple wives, was a faithless man. Such a man could not possibly be trusted to care for the bride of Christ. “Instead, recruit reliable people. Choose those who are faithful, not philandering; steady, not shifty; loyal, not lascivious.”
Further reading: “If a woman can’t be a pastor, she can’t be a husband, right?”
They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
They profess to know God. Paul is not describing backsliders (the word is not in the Bible) but unbelievers who denied God.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.