To Titus: Titles such as this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that the titles were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the Bible books. For example, the well-known manuscript Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E. contains the title “To Titus” at the end of the letter. Other early manuscripts use variations of this title.
Paul: Or “From Paul.” Paul’s opening, which continues through verse 4, follows a style common in ancient letters. Such letters would typically name the sender and the intended recipient(s) and then include a greeting. (Tit 1:4) In this letter, Paul’s introduction is unusually long (in Greek, one long sentence extends from verse 1 into verse 4). Paul not only names himself but also describes his apostleship and his preaching. Even though Paul addresses this letter to an individual—his coworker Titus—the apostle may have used this longer, more formal introduction because he intended that the letter be read to others as well.—See study note on Tit 3:15; compare study note on Ro 1:1.
a slave of God: Even though a slave occupied the lowest position in society, this phrase does not devalue the person it describes. (See study note on 1Th 1:9.) In fact, Paul, a faithful Christian, considered it an honor to be a lowly servant of the Most High God and of his Son. (See study note on Ro 1:1.) Jesus’ half brother James similarly described himself as “a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jas 1:1; compare 1Pe 2:16; Re 7:3.) And Mary responded to an assignment from Jehovah’s angel with the words: “Look! Jehovah’s slave girl!”—See study note on Lu 1:38.
an apostle: See study note on Ro 1:1.
the accurate knowledge of the truth: Paul here links accurate knowledge with godly devotion and with hope.—Tit 1:2; 2:11, 12; for a discussion of the Greek term here rendered “accurate knowledge,” see study note on Eph 4:13.
godly devotion: See study note on 1Ti 4:7.
a hope of the everlasting life . . . promised long ago: Paul here speaks of a divine promise made “long ago.” (Compare study note on 2Ti 1:9.) He may be referring to the time when Jehovah first purposed that humans enjoy “everlasting life” on earth. Or he may be referring to the time when Jehovah first revealed his purpose for humans. (Ge 1:27, 28; 2:17) When God pronounced his sentence on the rebels in Eden, he did not change his original purpose. (Ps 37:29) At that time, though, he foretold that a special “offspring” would crush Satan, and the Bible later shows that this “offspring” would include humans who would live forever in heaven. (Ge 3:15; compare Da 7:13, 14, 27; Lu 22:28-30.) Paul and other anointed Christians entertained such a heavenly “hope of the everlasting life.”—See study note on Eph 3:11.
God, who cannot lie: To lie would violate the very nature of “Jehovah, the God of truth.” (Ps 31:5) All that Jehovah does, he carries out by means of his holy spirit, which Jesus referred to as “the spirit of the truth.” (Joh 15:26; 16:13) Jehovah is completely different from imperfect humans, for “God is not a mere man who tells lies.” (Nu 23:19) Further, Jehovah stands in contrast with Satan, who is “a liar and the father of the lie.” (Joh 8:44) Paul’s point: Because it is impossible for God to lie, his promises are completely trustworthy.—Heb 6:18.
our Savior, God: See study note on 1Ti 1:1.
Titus: A Greek Christian who worked closely with the apostle Paul. About 49 C.E., Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem, where the circumcision issue was decided. (Ac 15:1, 2; Ga 2:3 and study note) A few years later (c. 55 C.E.), Paul sent him to Corinth to help collect relief funds for needy Christians in Judea and possibly to see how the Corinthian Christians had reacted to the apostle’s first letter. Comforted by Titus’ good report, Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, and Titus apparently delivered that letter. (2Co 2:13 and study note; 2Co 7:6, 7, 13-16; 8:1-6, 16, 17, 23; 12:17, 18) Probably between 61 and 64 C.E., Paul left Titus in Crete to “correct the things that were defective and make appointments of elders.” (Tit 1:5) Paul later requested that Titus join him in Nicopolis. (Tit 3:12) During Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome (c. 65 C.E.), Titus went to Dalmatia. (See study note on 2Ti 4:10.) He likely did so with Paul’s approval; perhaps the apostle even directed him to go. Clearly, Titus was a faithful Christian, an asset to the congregations where he served, and a support to Paul.
a genuine child: In his letters, Paul used this endearing expression only for Titus and Timothy. (1Ti 1:2 and study note) Paul might have introduced the good news directly to Titus. In any case, Paul considered Titus to be his spiritual child. They developed this special relationship by sharing in the ministry in behalf of the congregations. (2Co 8:23) When Paul wrote this letter, he and Titus had known each other for at least 12 years.
May you have undeserved kindness and peace: See study note on Ro 1:7.
Christ Jesus our Savior: In the preceding verse, God is called “our Savior.” Some therefore conclude that Jesus and God are one and the same. It is worth noting, though, that this verse mentions “God the Father” and “Christ Jesus our Savior” separately. Jesus is the one through whom God saves mankind from sin and death, so Jesus too can be referred to as “our Savior.” At Heb 2:10, Paul calls Jesus “the Chief Agent of . . . salvation.” And the Bible writer Jude calls Jehovah “the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord,” showing that God and Christ cooperate together to bring about salvation. (Jude 25) So Paul’s words offer no support for the idea that “Christ Jesus” and “God the Father” are one and the same.—See study note on 1Ti 1:1.
Crete: This is one of the larger islands in the Mediterranean and is located at the southern end of the Aegean Sea, about 100 km (62 mi) SE of mainland Greece. Crete is about 250 km (155 mi) long and 56 km (35 mi) wide at its broadest point. The apostle Paul passed by the island on his way to Rome for his first trial. (Ac 27:7-9, 12, 13, 21) It seems that after his first imprisonment in Rome, Paul returned to Crete, this time to engage in the ministry. On departing, he left Titus to continue the work.—See App. B13; Media Gallery, “Acts of Apostles—Paul’s Trip to Rome and His First Imprisonment There”; “Paul’s Journeys After c. 61 C.E.”
so that you would correct: When Paul left Crete, he entrusted Titus with a challenging assignment. Titus was to correct, or set straight, the things that were defective, or deficient, in the Cretan congregations. There was much important work yet to be done there, as indicated by the content of this letter. Paul’s instructions included directions on how to deal properly with those who refused to cooperate, who undermined Titus’ loving direction, or who even promoted sects.—Tit 1:9; 2:15; 3:10, 11.
make appointments of elders: These words show that Paul had directed Titus to assign or authorize men to take the lead within each congregation. (Heb 13:7, 17) To be appointed as elders, Christian men had to meet the qualifications that Jehovah inspired Paul to list in the following verses. (Tit 1:6-9; see also 1Ti 3:1-7.) Titus, as well as other traveling overseers—such as Paul, Barnabas, and apparently Timothy—was authorized to appoint elders in various congregations.—See study note on Ac 14:23.
in city after city: In ancient times, Crete was famous for its many cities. In fact, centuries before Paul’s day, the Greek author Homer poetically wrote about “Crete of the hundred cities.” (The Iliad, II, 649) The exact number of cities and towns on the island in the first century C.E. is unknown. With the expression “in city after city,” Paul means that Titus was to travel throughout the island and appoint elders in the congregations to teach and shepherd the Christians.—Tit 1:6-9.
a husband of one wife: See study note on 1Ti 3:2.
having believing children: A Christian man must lead his family properly if he is to serve as an elder. Paul said something similar at 1Ti 3:4. (See study note.) Here, though, he adds that an elder’s children should be “believing.” Paul does not imply that a Christian father must force his children to become believers; that would contradict Scriptural principles involving freedom of choice. (De 30:15, 16, 19) Rather, in order to qualify as an elder, a Christian father must give evidence that he has done all he reasonably can to help his children become believers. He would carefully follow Jehovah’s direction to fathers on how to rear children.—De 6:6, 7; see study notes on Eph 6:4; Col 3:21.
debauchery: The Greek word rendered “debauchery” may also be translated “wildness.” It often refers to an extravagant, wasteful, and immoral way of living. (1Pe 4:4) A related Greek word appears in Jesus’ parable of the wayward son who left home to live “a debauched life,” which included squandering his inheritance on prostitutes.—Lu 15:13 and study note, 30.
rebelliousness: One lexicon defines the Greek word Paul uses here as “refusing submission to authority, undisciplined, disobedient.” A Christian man who allows his children to be rebellious and uncontrollable would not qualify to be an overseer.
as God’s steward: Here Paul describes “an overseer” in the congregation as a “steward,” or a house manager. The term “steward” refers to someone who manages, or supervises, his master’s property and cares for those who belong to the household. Paul called the Christian congregation “God’s household” in his first letter to Timothy, where qualifications for overseers are likewise listed. (1Ti 3:15) By describing an overseer as “God’s steward,” Paul highlights an elder’s role in serving those who belong to that household. His work includes taking the lead in teaching both inside and outside the congregation. Such stewards are accountable to their master, God, for how they handle their responsibility.—See study notes on Lu 12:42; 1Co 4:1.
must be free from accusation: See study note on 1Ti 3:2.
self-willed: Or “self-pleasing; arrogant.” A self-willed person is determined to have his way. He stubbornly clings to his own opinion and refuses to consider the views of others. Such an attitude would likely cause him to be uncooperative and insensitive to the feelings of others. If such a man were to be appointed as an elder, he could cause much harm to the congregation.—Compare study note on 1Ti 3:3.
quick-tempered: Or “prone to anger; irritable.” A quick-tempered person is easily provoked. He fails to control his temper, and by frequently responding angrily, he creates a hostile atmosphere, resulting in much harm. (Pr 15:18; 22:24; 25:28; 29:22) By contrast, a man who qualifies as an elder is “reasonable, not quarrelsome.” (1Ti 3:3) He imitates Jehovah, who is “slow to anger.”—Ex 34:6; Ps 86:15.
not violent: See study note on 1Ti 3:3.
but hospitable: By using the word “but,” Paul signals a contrast; he shifts from the negative traits that would disqualify a man from serving as an elder to the positive qualities that an elder needs. Paul thus shows that for a man to qualify as an elder, it is not enough for him to avoid bad traits; he must also set an example by cultivating such virtues as hospitality.—See study note on 1Ti 3:2.
a lover of goodness: Such a person loves all that Jehovah considers to be good. A lover of goodness sees, appreciates, and commends the good in others. He also delights in doing good for others, even going beyond what is required of him.—Mt 20:4, 13-15; Ac 9:36; 1Ti 6:18; see study note on Ga 5:22.
sound in mind: See study note on 1Ti 3:2.
loyal: An overseer who is loyal is unbreakably devoted to Jehovah and faithfully adheres to the principles found in God’s Word. He resolutely stands by his fellow worshippers in times of trial and persecution. Although the Greek word here used can convey the idea of being “holy” or “devout” (as some translations render it), the rendering “loyal” is well-supported. For example, this Greek word often appears in the Septuagint to render a Hebrew word meaning “loyal” or “loyal one.” (2Sa 22:26; Ps 18:25; 97:10) In fact, one reference work says that the Greek word describes “the man who is loyal to God.”—See study note on 1Ti 2:8.
self-controlled: See study note on Ga 5:23.
holding firmly to the faithful word: An elder would adhere to God’s word by the way he teaches and by the way he lives. When teaching before the congregation, he relies, not on his own ideas, experience, or abilities as a speaker, but on “the faithful word,” or “the trustworthy message,” contained in the Scriptures. (1Co 4:6 and study note) In this way, he reaches hearts and motivates his listeners to love and serve Jehovah. (Heb 4:12) Further, by living according to the Scriptural principles he teaches, he avoids any taint of hypocrisy. An elder who holds to this standard helps the congregation remain unified and serves as “a pillar and support of the truth.”—See study notes on 1Ti 3:2, 15.
his art of teaching: See study note on 2Ti 4:2.
encourage: Or “exhort.”—See study note on Ro 12:8.
rebellious men: Paul here refers mainly to certain Jews in Crete who had converted to Christianity. They were stubbornly clinging to Jewish traditions and laws regarding circumcision that were not binding on Christ’s followers. Such “rebellious men” refused to respect authority or to accept direction from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.
profitless talkers: According to one reference work, this expression implies that those men were “using impressive language with little or no solid content of truth.” They were deceivers—successful at fooling the weak or the gullible in the congregations.
those who adhere to the circumcision: That is, some of the Jewish Christians in Crete. From at least the first century B.C.E., there was a Jewish community in Crete. Also, Cretan Jews were among those who heard “the magnificent things of God” on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. (Ac 2:11) Now some Jewish Christians in Crete insisted on promoting circumcision, even though the holy spirit had guided the governing body in Jerusalem in resolving that issue some 12 to 15 years earlier (c. 49 C.E.). (See study note on Ga 2:12.) Titus had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem for that historic meeting.—Ac 10:45; 15:1, 2, 7, 22-29; Ga 2:1, 3.
to shut their mouths: Paul here uses a Greek verb that according to one lexicon means to “‘put someth[ing] on the mouth’ and so control as by a muzzle, bridle, or the like.” Some in the congregation were spreading false doctrine, even “subverting entire households.” Appointed elders had to protect Jehovah’s flock from such men and would need to “shut their mouths” figuratively by preventing rebellious talk from spreading in the congregation and infecting it. The elders could silence them by reproving them severely and if necessary by expelling any who ignored repeated counsel and continued to promote false teachings.—Tit 1:9, 10, 13; 3:10, 11.
their own prophet: Paul likely quotes Epimenides, a Cretan poet of the sixth century B.C.E. The Greek term here rendered “prophet” had a broad meaning and was sometimes used in the general sense of a spokesman or an interpreter. In fact, some ancient Greek writers spoke of Epimenides as a prophet, and others used the same word regarding such men as the poet Homer and the philosopher Diogenes. Paul certainly does not suggest that Epimenides was an inspired prophet of God. (2Pe 1:21) Rather, Paul simply quotes a man whom Cretans respected and would likely accept as a spokesman for their society.
“Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, idle gluttons”: In ancient times, the Cretan people had a reputation for dishonesty. In fact, a Greek verb that literally meant “to act [or “speak”] as a Cretan” was sometimes used to denote lying or cheating. However, Paul is not applying this generalization to faithful Christians in Crete. (Ac 2:5, 11, 33) Rather, he focuses on certain Cretans who were posing a threat to the congregations there. In this context, he speaks of “rebellious men, profitless talkers, and deceivers” who were promoting circumcision and subverting households. (See study notes on Tit 1:10.) So Paul quotes this famous saying to make a strong point: Certain false Christians were actually living up to it.
idle gluttons: The Greek word for “glutton” literally means “belly,” so it is suggestive of a person who focuses on nothing but his appetite. Of course, such individuals were not unique to Crete. (See the study notes on Ro 16:18; Php 3:19.) In quoting this part of the saying, Paul is apparently referring to lazy, inactive people who want to satisfy their greedy appetites without doing any work.
This witness is true: In the preceding verse, Paul likely quotes the Cretan prophet Epimenides, who expressed a commonly held opinion. Paul does not mean that this statement is true of all Cretans, but he alerts Titus to certain troublemakers in the congregations who were apparently behaving as Epimenides described.—See study note on Tit 1:12.
keep on reproving them with severity: Some in the Cretan congregations were contradicting wholesome Christian teachings. They taught their own views, even “subverting entire households.” (Tit 1:9-11) Paul thus urges Titus to “keep on reproving” any who had adopted such false teachings and bad traits. By saying “with severity,” Paul does not encourage Titus to be unduly harsh or tactless. (Compare 2Ti 2:24.) Rather, Titus was to be clear, fearless, and determined when addressing the problem. (Tit 2:15) Still, Titus needed to keep in mind his aim “so that they may be healthy in the faith.” He was to protect the congregation and stop the spread of apostasy.—See study notes on 1Ti 5:20; 2Ti 3:16.
fables: The Greek word myʹthos, which can be defined as “legend, fable . . . fiction, myth,” is here used regarding Jewish stories. The Jews had a rich heritage of true stories found in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures; still, they turned “away from the truth” and invented and spread their own false stories.—See study notes on 1Ti 1:4; 4:7.
commandments of men: Or “commands of people.” This expression echoes the words of Isa 29:13. Jesus applied Isaiah’s words to the Jewish religious leaders of his time, saying: “They teach commands of men as doctrines.” (Mt 15:9; Mr 7:7) Paul may have had in mind some of the man-made restrictions common in Judaism. False teachers promoted such rules, claiming that those rules helped people to lead a godly life. In reality, these rules were in opposition to “the teaching that is wholesome,” which would help Christians to stay “healthy in the faith.”—Tit 1:9, 13; compare Col 2:20-22; 1Ti 4:3-5.
the truth: Paul here refers to the entire body of Christian teachings that had been revealed up to that time.—See study note on Ga 2:5.
All things are clean to clean people: Christians who keep their thinking and actions in line with God’s standards are “clean people.” They know which things God considers morally or spiritually clean and which things he condemns in his inspired Word. (Mr 7:21-23; Ga 5:19-21) They are able to maintain “a clean heart” and “a clean conscience” before God. (1Ti 1:5; 3:9; 2Ti 1:3; Mr 7:15) By saying “all things,” Paul refers to things that God does not condemn. Paul contrasts “clean people” with faithless ones, who are defiled in conscience; to such ones, “nothing is clean.”
They publicly declare that they know God: The false teachers in the congregations in Crete claimed to know and worship God. However, knowing God involves obeying his commands and walking in his ways. (Ps 25:4, 5; 1Jo 2:3, 4) By their works, or their conduct and way of life, these individuals clearly showed that they were, in fact, disobedient to God and did not really know him. In God’s eyes, such hypocrisy was detestable.—Compare Pr 17:15.
not approved for good work of any sort: The Greek word rendered “not approved” means “unfit; unqualified.” (Ro 1:28; 2Ti 3:8) Literally, it conveys the idea of “not standing the test.” In the verses that follow (Tit 2:1–3:8), Paul goes on to explain what kind of good works God wants from those who truly seek to please him.