THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

The foundations for a NT canon lie not, as some would assert, in the needs or the practices of the church in the second, third, and fourth centuries a.d., but in the gracious purpose of a self-revealing God whose word carries his own divine authority. Just as new outpourings of divine word-revelation accompanied and followed each major act of redemption in the ancient history of God’s people (the covenant with Adam and Eve, the covenant with Abraham, the redemption from Egypt, the establishment of the monarchy, the exile, and the restoration), so when the promised Messiah came, a new and generous outpouring of divine revelation necessarily ensued (see 2 Tim. 1:8–11; Titus 1:1–3).

THE OT AUTHORIZATION

The prospect of a NT Scripture to stand alongside the OT was anticipated, even authorized, in the OT itself, embedded in the promise of God’s ultimate act of redemption through the Messiah, in faithfulness to his covenant (Jer. 31:31–33; cf. Heb. 8:7–13; 10:16–18). Jesus taught his disciples after his resurrection that “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” predicted not only the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection but also that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44–48). Prophetic passages such as Isaiah 2:2–3; 49:6; and Psalm 2:8 spoke of a time when the light of God’s grace in redemption would be proclaimed to all nations. It naturally follows that this proclamation would eventuate in a new collection of written Scriptures complementing the books of the old covenant—both from the pattern of God’s redemptive work in the past (mentioned above) and from the actual writing ministry of some of Jesus’ apostles (and their associates) in the accomplishment of their commission.

THE COMMISSION OF JESUS

God, who spoke in many and various ways in times past, chose to speak in these last days to mankind through his Son (see Heb. 1:1–2, 4). Bringing this saving message to Israel and the nations was a crucial part of the mission of Jesus Christ (Isa. 49:6; Acts 26:23), the Word made flesh (John 1:14). He put this mission into effect through chosen apostles, whom he commissioned to be his authoritative representatives (Matt. 10:40, “whoever receives you receives me”). Their assignment was to “bring to … remembrance,” through the work of the Spirit, his words and works (John 14:26; 16:13–14) and to bear witness to Jesus “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf.Matt. 28:19–20; Luke 24:48; John 17:14, 20). In time, the apostolic preaching came to written form in the books of the NT, which now function as “the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” (2 Pet. 3:2).

Paul and the other apostles wrote just as they preached: conscious of Jesus’ mandate. From the beginning, the full authority of the apostles (and prophets) to deliver God’s word was recognized, at least by many (Acts 10:22; Eph. 2:20; 1 Thess. 2:13; Jude 17–18). This recognition is accordingly reflected in the earliest non-apostolic writers. For example, Clement of Rome attested that “The apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus the Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the apostles are from Christ. Both, therefore, came of the will of God in good order” (1 Clement 42.1–2 written c. a.d. 95).

THE RECOGNITION OF NEW COVENANT SCRIPTURES

As God’s word to mankind, the “God-breathed” Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) is self-attesting, and thus the Canon may be said to be self-establishing. Yet history records that for centuries there were variations in local church practice and disagreements among churches and early theologians about several books of the NT. Such variations, however, are not unexpected, given that the process of recognition involved more than two dozen books that came into being over a period of perhaps 50 years, circulating unsystematically to churches as they were springing up in widely diffused parts of the Roman Empire.

In its deliberations about the particular books that make up the canon of Scripture, the church did not sovereignly “determine” or “choose” the books it most preferred—whether for catechetical, polemical, liturgical, or edificatory purposes. Rather, the church saw itself as empowered only to receive and recognize what God had provided in books handed down from the apostles and their immediate companions (e.g., Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.preface; 3.1.1–2). This is why discussions of the so-called “criteria” of canonicity can be misleading. Qualities such as “apostolicity,” “antiquity,” “orthodoxy,” “liturgical use,” and “church consensus” are not criteria by which the church autonomously judged which documents it would receive. The first three are qualities the church recognizes in the voice of its Savior, to which voice the church willingly submits itself (“My sheep hear my voice … and they follow me,” John 10:27).

The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the earliest Gospels known) gained universal acceptance while arousing very little controversy within the church. If the latest of these, the Gospel of John, was published near the end of the first century (as most scholars think), it is remarkable that its words are echoed around a.d. 110 in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, who also knew Matthew, and perhaps Luke. At about the same time, Papias of Hierapolis in Asia Minor received traditions about the origins of Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels, and quite probably Luke’s and John’s. In the middle of the second century, Justin Martyr in Rome reported that the Gospels (apparently the four)—which he calls “memoirs of the apostles”—were being read and exposited in Christian services of worship.

In 2 Peter 3:16, a collection of at least some of Paul’s letters was already known and regarded as Scripture and therefore enjoyed canonical endorsement. Furthermore, a collection (of unknown extent) of Paul’s letters was known to Clement of Rome and to the recipients of his letter in Corinth before the end of the first century, then also to Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna and their readers in the early second century. The Pastoral Letters (1–2 Timothy and Titus), rejected as Paul’s by many modern critics, are attested at least from the time of Polycarp.

By the end of the second century a “core” collection of NT books—21 of the 27—was generally recognized: four Gospels, Acts, 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, and Revelation. By this time Hebrews (accepted in the East and by Irenaeus and Tertullian in the West, but questioned in Rome due to doubts about authorship), James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude were only minimally attested in the writings of church leaders. This infrequent citation led to the expression of doubts by later fathers (e.g., Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2.23.25). Yet, by some time in the third century, codices (precursors of the modern book form, as opposed to scrolls) containing all seven of the “general epistles” were being produced, and Eusebius reports that all seven were “known to most.”

An unusual case is the book of Revelation, which seems to have been accepted everywhere at first (in the West by Justin, Irenaeus, the Muratorian Fragment, and Tertullian; in the East by Clement of Alexandria and Origen). But due to its exploitation by Montanists and others, it was criticized by Gaius, a Roman writer in the early third century. Several decades later, Dionysius of Alexandria, while not rejecting the book, argued that it could not have been written by the apostle John. These factors led to enduring doubts in the East and to Revelation’s absence from later Eastern canon lists, though its reputation in the West did not suffer.

To complicate matters, many documents were produced in the course of the second century which in some way paralleled or imitated NT books. Many of these made some claim to apostolic authority, and some gained considerable popularity in certain quarters. One or more “Gospels” written in Aramaic attracted interest because of a presumed connection to an original Aramaic Matthew. Other “Gospels” were essentially combinations of the four (i.e., The Gospel of Peter and The Egerton Gospel), a practice that culminated in Tatian’s Diatessaron, a harmony of the four (c. a.d. 172), which was the first form of the Gospels translated into Syriac.

There was a profusion of “Acts” literature, usually following, in novel-like fashion, the fictional exploits of a single apostle (Paul, John, Andrew, Peter). Letters forged in the name of Paul (To the Laodiceans,To the Alexandrians, 3 Corinthians) sought to attract adherents to an assortment of special causes. Works in various genres written to advance unorthodox interpretations of Christianity often borrowed the names of apostles (Apocryphon of John, Gospel of Thomas). In addition, a few writings, probably never intended to be regarded as Scripture, were honored as such by some Christians partly because of assumed authorship by companions of apostles (1 and 2 Clement, The Letter of Barnabas, The Shepherd of Hermas).

By the 240s a.d. Origen (residing in Caesarea in Palestine) acknowledged all 27 of the NT books but reported that James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude were disputed. The situation is virtually the same for Eusebius, writing about 60 years later, who also reports the doubts some had about Hebrews and Revelation. Still, his two categories of “undisputed” and “disputed but known to most” contain only the 27 and no more. He named five other books (The Acts of Paul, The Shepherd of Hermas, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Letter of Barnabas, and The Didache) which were known to many churches but which, he believed, had to be judged as spurious.

In the year a.d. 367 the Alexandrian bishop Athanasius, in his annual Easter letter, gave a list of the NT books which comprised, with no reservations, all 27, while naming several others as useful for catechizing but not as scriptural. Several other fourth-century lists essentially concurred, though with various individual deviations outside of the most basic core (four Gospels, Acts, 13 epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John). Three African synods—at Hippo Regius in a.d. 393 and at Carthage in 397 and 419—and the influential African bishop Augustine affirmed the 27-book Canon. It was enshrined in Jerome’s Latin translation, the Vulgate, which became the normative Bible for the Western church. In Eastern churches, recognition of Revelation lagged for quite some time. The churches of Syria did not accept Revelation, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, or Jude until the fifth (Western Syria) or sixth (Eastern Syria) centuries.

The apostolic word gave birth to the church (Rom. 1:15–17; 10:14–15; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23–25), and the written form of this word remains as the permanent, documentary expression of God’s new covenant. It may be said that only the 27 books of the NT manifest themselves as belonging to that original, foundational, apostolic witness. They have demonstrated themselves to be the Word of God to the universal church throughout the generations. Here are the pastures to which Christ’s sheep from many folds continually come to hear their Shepherd’s voice and to follow him.

THE APOCRYPHA

Larger editions of the English Bible—from the Great Bible of Tyndale and Coverdale (1539) onward—have often included a separate section between the OT and the NT titled “The Apocrypha,” consisting of additional books and substantial parts of books. The Latin Vulgate Bible translated by Jerome (beguna.d. 382, completed 405) had placed them in the OT itself—some as separate items and some as attached to or included in the biblical books of Esther, Jeremiah, and Daniel. In Roman Catholic translations of the Bible, such as the Douay Version and the Jerusalem Bible, these items are still placed in their pre-Reformation positions. In Protestant translations, however, the Apocrypha is either omitted altogether or grouped in a separate section.

HOW JEROME’S VULGATE CAME TO CONTAIN THE APOCRYPHA

In distinguishing the Apocrypha from the OT books, the Protestant translators were not doing something completely novel but were carrying out more thoroughly than ever before the principles on which Jerome (a.d. 345–420) had made his great Latin Vulgate translation of the OT. The Vulgate was translated from the original Hebrew. But a translation prior to the Vulgate, the Old Latin translation, had been made from the Greek OT, the Septuagint (or lxx). At some stage, early or late, additional books and parts of books, which were not in the Hebrew Bible, had found their way into the Greek OT, and from there into the Old Latin version. Jerome retained these in his new translation, the Latin Vulgate, but added prefaces at various points to emphasize that they were not true parts of the Bible, and he called them by the name “apocrypha” (Gk. apokrypha, “those having been hidden away”). In accordance with his teaching—and with the understanding of the OT canon held by Jesus, the NT authors, and the first-century Jews (see The Canon of the Old Testament)—the sixteenth-century Protestant translators did not consider those writings part of the OT but gathered them together in a separate section, to which they gave Jerome’s name, “The Apocrypha.”

Jerome’s reason for choosing this name is not readily apparent. He probably took a hint from Origen, who a century and a half earlier had stated that the Jews applied this name to the most esteemed of their noncanonical books. Origen and Jerome were two of the most distinguished students of Judaism among the Fathers, so it would be natural for them to use the term in a Jewish sense, though applying it to the noncanonical Jewish books that were most esteemed by Christians. Jews would never destroy respected religious books but, if unfit for use, hid them away and left them to decay naturally. So “hidden” came to mean “highly esteemed, though uncanonical.”

Jerome did not actually confine his name “apocrypha” to Jewish books but used it also of noncanonical Christian books, such as The Shepherd of Hermas, which were likewise popular religious reading among Christians. The modern expression “New Testament Apocrypha,” for late works that imitate NT literature, is similar.

HOW THE GREEK AND LATIN TRANSLATIONS CAME TO CONTAIN THE APOCRYPHA

How the Greek OT, and by consequence the Latin OT, came to contain apocryphal items has been variously understood. Codex Alexandrinus (the great 5th-century a.d. manuscript of the whole Greek Bible) was printed and published in the eighteenth century. Because it contained the Apocrypha, the editors in the eighteenth century assumed that the OT of this Christian manuscript had been copied from Jewish manuscripts equally inclusive, and that consequently the Apocrypha must have been in thelxx translation, and in the canon of the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria who produced it from pre-Christian times (though not in the Bible or canon of the Semitic-speaking Jews of Palestine). This hypothesis held the field for a long time, and a further assumption—that most of the apocryphal books had been composed in Greek, outside Palestine—was made to support it.

All the elements of this theory are now known to be false. (1) Leather manuscripts large enough to contain the whole OT did not exist among either Christians or Jews until the latter part of the fourth century. The earlier Christian biblical manuscripts are on papyrus, and extend only to about three of the larger books. (2) The Jews of Alexandria took their lead largely from Palestine, and would have been unlikely to establish their own distinct canon; moreover, their greatest writer, Philo, though frequently quoting from the OT in his voluminous works, never refers to any of the Apocrypha whatsoever. (3) The earliest Christian biblical manuscripts contain the fewest books of the Apocrypha, and up until a.d. 313, only Wisdom, Tobit, and Sirach ever occur in them; other books of the Apocrypha were not added until later. (4) That the Apocrypha was mostly composed in Greek or outside Palestine is no longer widely believed, and Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) itself states that it was composed in Hebrew (see its prologue; much of its Hebrew text has now been recovered). All the Apocrypha except Wisdom and 2 Maccabeesmay in fact have been translated from a Hebrew or Aramaic original, written in Palestine.

The way in which Christian writers used the Apocrypha confirms the above analysis. The NT seems to reflect knowledge of one or two of the apocryphal texts, but it never ascribes authority to them as it does to many of the canonical OT books. While the NT quotes various parts of the OT about 300 times (seeOld Testament Passages Cited in the New Testament), it never actually quotes anything from the Apocrypha (Jude 14–16 does not contain a quote from the Apocrypha but from another Jewish writing,1 Enoch; see note on Jude 14–16; also notes on Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12–13; Jude 8–10). In the second century, Justin Martyr and Theophilus of Antioch, who frequently referred to the OT, never referred to any of the Apocrypha. By the end of the second century Wisdom, Tobit, and Sirach were sometimes being treated as Scripture, but none of the other apocryphal books were. Their eventual acceptance was a slow development. Much the same is true with Christian lists of the OT books: the oldest of them include the fewest of the Apocrypha; and the oldest of all, that of Melito (c. a.d. 170), includes none.

ACCEPTANCE AND REJECTION OF THE APOCRYPHA

The growing willingness of the pre-Reformation church to treat the Apocrypha as not just edifying reading but Scripture itself reflected the fact that Christians—especially those living outside Semitic-speaking countries—were losing contact with Jewish tradition. Within those countries, however, a learned Christian tradition akin to elements of Jewish tradition was maintained, especially by scholars such as Origen, Epiphanius, and Jerome, who cultivated the Hebrew language and Jewish studies. By the late fourth century, Jerome found it necessary to assert the distinction between the Apocrypha and the inspired OT books with great emphasis, and a minority of writers continued to make the same distinction throughout the Middle Ages, until the Protestant Reformers arose and made the distinction an important part of their doctrine of Scripture. At the Council of Trent (1545–1563), however, the church of Rome attempted to obliterate the distinction and to put the Apocrypha (with the exception of1 and 2 Esdras and The Prayer of Manasseh) on the same level as the inspired OT books. This was a consequence of (1) Rome’s exalted doctrine of oral tradition, (2) its view that the church creates Scripture, and (3) its acceptance of certain controversial ideas (esp. the doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, and works-righteousness as contributing to justification) that were derived from passages in the Apocrypha. These teachings gave support to the Roman Catholic responses to Martin Luther and other leaders of the Protestant Reformation, which had begun in 1517.

Because of these controversial passages, some Protestants ceased to use the Apocrypha altogether. But other Protestants (notably Lutherans and Anglicans), while avoiding such passages and the ideas they contain, continued to read the Apocrypha as generally edifying religious literature. The Apocrypha, together with other postcanonical literature (esp. the pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo and Josephus, the Targums, and the earliest rabbinical literature) can be helpful in additional ways. They provide the earliest interpretations of the OT literature; they explain what happened in the time between the two Testaments; and they introduce customs, ideas, and expressions that provide a helpful background when reading the NT.

THE CONTENTS OF THE APOCRYPHA

Individually, the books of the Apocrypha are 15 in number (but some count 14 or 12 by combining some books; see list) and consist of various kinds of literature—narrative, proverbial, prophetic, and liturgical. They probably range in date from the third century b.c. (Tobit) to the first century a.d. (2 Esdras and perhaps The Prayer of Manasseh).

1. First Esdras (Gk. for “Ezra”), sometimes called 3 Esdras, covers the same ground as the book of Ezra, with a little of Chronicles and Nehemiah added. It also relates a debate on “the strongest thing in the world.”

2. Second Esdras, sometimes called 4 Esdras, is a pseudonymous apocalypse, preserved in Latin, not Greek, with two Christian chapters added at the beginning and two at the end. Chapter 14 gives the number of the OT books. First and Second Esdras are not included in the Roman Catholic canon.

3. Tobit is a moral tale with a Persian background, dealing with almsgiving, marriage, and the burial of the dead.

4. Judith is an exciting story, in a confused historical setting, about a pious and patriotic heroine.

5. The Additions to Esther are a collection of passages added to the lxx version of Esther, bringing out its religious character.

6. Wisdom is a work inspired by Proverbs and written in the person of Solomon.

7. Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus, is a work somewhat similar to Wisdom, by a named author (Jeshua ben Sira, or Jesus the son of Sirach). It was written about 180 b.c., and its catalog of famous men bears important witness to the contents of the OT canon at that date. Its translator’s prologue, written half a century later, refers repeatedly to the three sections of the Hebrew Bible (see The Canon of the Old Testament.)

8. Baruch is written in the person of Jeremiah’s companion, and somewhat in Jeremiah’s manner.

9. The Epistle of Jeremiah is connected to Baruch, and sometimes the two are counted together as one book (as in the kjv, which therefore lists 14 books rather than 15).

The Additions to Daniel consist of three segments (10, 11, and 12 in this list):

10. Susanna and

11. Bel and the Dragon are stories that tell how wise Daniel exposed unjust judges and deceitful pagan priests.

12. The Song of the Three Young Men contains a prayer and hymn put into the mouths of Daniel’s three companions when they are in the fiery furnace; the hymn is the one used in Christian worship as theBenedicite (in the Church of England’s services).

As stated before, some authorities count these three books (items 10, 11, and 12) as one book, namely,The Additions to Daniel, and they also count Baruch as one book that includes The Epistle of Jeremiah; in that way, they count only 12 books in the Apocrypha.

13. The Prayer of Manasseh puts into words Manasseh’s prayer for forgiveness in 2 Chronicles 33:12–13. It is not included in the Roman Catholic canon.

14–15. First and Second Maccabees relate the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Hellenistic Syrian persecutor Antiochus Epiphanes in the mid-second century b.c. The first book and parts of the second book are the primary historical sources for a knowledge of the Maccabees’ heroic faith, though the second book adds legendary material. The lxx also contains a 3 and 4 Maccabees, but these are of less importance.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN THE APOCRYPHA

The development of religious thought found in the Apocrypha, going beyond the teaching of the OT, must be assessed by the teaching of the NT. For example, Wisdom 4:7–5:16 teaches that all face a personal judgment after this life. This is consistent with later NT teaching (Heb. 9:27).

Other teachings add doctrinal material foreign to NT teaching, such as the following:

  1. In Tobit 12:15 seven angels are said to stand before God and present the prayers of the saints.
  2. In 2 Maccabees 15:13–14 a departed prophet is said to pray for God’s people on earth.
  3. In Wisdom 8:19–20 and Sirach 1:14 the reader is told that the righteous are those who were given good souls at birth.
  4. In Tobit 12:9 and Sirach 3:3 readers are told that their good deeds atone for their evil deeds.
  5. In 2 Maccabees 12:40–45 the reader is told to pray for the sins of the dead to be forgiven.

The first two ideas find no support in the OT or NT, and the second may be thought to give some support to the Roman Catholic idea of prayer to the saints who have died. The last three tenets are clearly at variance with what the NT teaches about regeneration, justification, and the present life as one’s only period of probation.

The Apocrypha, consequently, must be read with discretion. Though much in it simply reflects Judaism as practiced at a date somewhat later than the OT, and some parts reflect developments in the direction of the NT, there are also certain misleading passages that have historical interest but, in terms of Christian theology and practice, are to be avoided.

AUTHOR AND TITLE

As the first verse states, this letter was written by the apostle Paul to his coworker Titus. In the last two centuries the Pauline authorship of Titus (as well as 1 and 2 Timothy) has been called into question. However, the criticisms in the end cannot disprove Pauline authorship, and the arguments for the authenticity of 1 and 2 Timothy also apply to Titus, providing a good basis for affirming the straightforward claim that the book of Titus was written by Paul. The text clearly claims to be from Paul, its theology aligns with Paul’s other letters, and the difference in style is certainly conceivable given the difference in situation. For more discussion on authorship, see Introduction to 1 Timothy: Author and Title.

DATE

As with 1 Timothy, critics of Pauline authorship point out that the letter to Titus does not seem to fit into the narrative of Acts. There are no accounts in Acts or Paul’s other letters of Paul doing mission work in Crete (Titus 1:5). However, neither Paul’s letters nor Acts claim to be comprehensive in their account of Paul’s ministry. The traditional understanding has been that Titus, like 1 Timothy, was written in the time between Paul’s first imprisonment (Acts 28) and a second imprisonment which led to his death (see Introduction to 1 Timothy: Date). In this case, Titus would have been written in the mid-60s a.d., around the same time as 1 Timothy. This is plausible in light of the strong similarities between the letters.

THEME

The theme of Titus is the inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior. This truth is the basis for its critique of false teaching as well as its instruction in Christian living and qualifications for church leaders.

PURPOSE, OCCASION, AND BACKGROUND

Paul had recently completed a journey to Crete, resulting in the establishment of new churches. In order to see that these churches were properly established (as was Paul’s typical pattern, see Acts 14:21–23), Paul left Titus in Crete. The existence of false teachers (Titus 1:10–16) amid the fledgling churches heightens the intensity of the situation.

The false teachers appear to be the particular occasion for the writing of the letter. Discussion of the false teachers frames the heart of the letter (see Outline). Furthermore, the description of elders (1:5–9) as well as the descriptions of proper Christian living (2:1–10; 3:1–3) appear to be worded for intentional contrast with these opponents. The content of the false teaching is not made explicit (as in 1 Timothy). There appears to be a significant Jewish element to the teaching since the opponents arise from “the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10), and are interested in “Jewish myths” (1:14) and perhaps ritual purity (1:15). Paul’s primary concern, however, is with the practical effect of the false teaching. In spite of their concern for ritual purity, the adherents of the false teaching did not live lives of godliness flowing out of the gospel but instead lived in a way that proved they did not know God (1:16).

This false teaching, which in some way allowed for ungodliness, would have found a welcome home in Crete, which was proverbial in the ancient world for immorality. But Paul expected the gospel, even in Crete, to produce real godliness in everyday life.

In dealing with the false teaching, Paul also provides Titus a portrait of a healthy church. He describes proper leadership (1:5–9), proper handling of error (1:10–16; 3:9–11), proper Christian living (esp. important for new believers in an immoral milieu; 2:1–10; 3:1–2), and the gospel as the source of godliness (2:11–14; 3:3–7).

TIMELINE

Timeline

HISTORY OF SALVATION SUMMARY

Titus is to direct God’s people in the light of Christ’s work. (For an explanation of the “History of Salvation,” see the Overview of the Bible.)

LITERARY FEATURES

In form and content, Titus is readily identifiable as a NT epistle, with sections devoted to salutation, instruction, paraenesis (a body of moral exhortations), and closing. Like 1 and 2 Timothy, this is sometimes called a “Pastoral Epistle” because it is addressed to someone who had pastoral leadership responsibilities, in this case with regard to a number of local churches in Crete. Paul gives directions pertaining to a pastor’s work in a local congregation.

The distinctive rhetorical or stylistic feature of the letter is its concentration. In order to pack in all of the instruction that he can in a letter that is short by NT epistolary standards, Paul writes in a curt and businesslike manner. The authoritative and directive stance of the writer to his recipient is evident throughout. Most of Paul’s advice is phrased in the imperative mood, producing a tone of urgency.

KEY THEMES

1. The gospel by its nature produces godliness in the lives of believers. There is no legitimate separation between belief and behavior.1:1; 2:1, 11–14; 3:4–7
2. One’s deeds will either prove or disprove one’s claim to know God.1:16
3. It is vitally important to have godly men serving as elders/pastors.1:5–9
4. True Christian living will commend the gospel to others.2:5, 8, 10
5. Good works have an important place in the lives of believers.2:1–10, 14; 3:1–2, 8, 14
6. It is important to deal clearly and firmly with doctrinal and moral error in the church.1:10–16; 3:9–11
7. The gospel is the basis for Christian ethics.2:11–14; 3:3–7

THE SETTING OF TITUS

c. a.d. 62–64

Paul likely wrote Titus during a fourth missionary journey not recorded in the book of Acts. Writing from an unknown location, he instructed Titus in how to lead the churches on the island of Crete. The churches there had apparently been founded by Paul.

The Setting of Titus

OUTLINE

  1. Opening (1:1–4)
  2. The Occasion: The Need for Proper Leadership (1:5–9)
  3. The Problem: False Teachers (1:10–16)
  4. Christian Living in Contrast to the False Teachers (2:1–3:8)
  5. Proper living by age and gender groups (2:1–10)
  6. Gospel basis (2:11–14)
  7. Summary command (2:15)
  8. Proper living, particularly with respect to outsiders (3:1–2)
  9. Gospel basis (3:3–7)
  10. Summary command (3:8)
  11. The Problem Restated: False Teachers (3:9–11)
  12. Closing Exhortation (3:12–15)

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TITUS

CHAPTER 1

1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

CHAPTER 2

1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

CHAPTER 3

1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

14 And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

¶ It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.

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