Titus notes

⎯⎯   Bulake’s Notes  ⎯⎯

Topic Discussion 1:   Titus : The Reason of Paul’s Ministry



Paul has 2 young disciples: Timothy and Titus. Timothy’s father is Greek and his mother and grandmother are Jewish. Titus is a Greek.         

Paul brought Titus to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-4) and Titus met many brothers there. However, Paul didn’t force him to be circumcised to show the Gentiles have freedom in Christ as well as the Jews.

Titus accompanied Paul in many of his mission trips. In 2 Cor 7:6, 13-14, He was sent by Paul to Corinth to encourage the local believers. He also brought to Paul the joy that Corinthian Christians are longing and zealous for Paul. In addition, Titus was also sent to collect the donations from Corinthian Christians to the poor in 2 Cor 8:6-24.

Titus final ministry was in Crete island of Greece. This was after Paul’s release from the Roman prison where Paul was held for 2 years. In Crete Paul and Titus share the Gospel to the local people and started churches. So when Paul left Crete, he set Titus to be in charge of the churches and appoint elders. (Titus 1:5)

The last place that Titus was mentioned in the Bible is 2 Tim 4:10, which is also Paul’s last book before his martyrdom. Titus went to Dalmatia which is Albania nowadays for mission.

The book of Titus was written by Paul after the book of 1 Tim. Paul encouraged and instructed Titus on how to lead the local Christians. According to church history, later on after Titus’ mission work in other parts of Europe, he went back to Crete and served there for the rest of his life.

Nowadays there are about 57% Muslims in Albania and 17% Christians (Catholics and Orthodox). In Crete there are about 95% Christian Orthodox.


Therefore, Paul does all his ministry because of the people that God has chosen. He is to strengthen their faith, and to add to them knowledge of truth according with godliness.

God’s elect: 

Namely the elected Christians who have salvation. In the 4 books of Gospel, this phrase is mostly used to describe the end days before Jesus comes back (Mat 24:22,24). The closest use to this verse in Titus, is in:

Paul also stressed his purpose of ministry, which is to help the elected Christians to keep their faith to have the salvation, as well as the eternal glory.

Why the knowledge of truth has to accord with godliness?

If our knowledge of truth does not produce godliness (holiness, being like God), then it is of no use. The books that mention this word “godliness” the most are:

The book that mentions eternal life the most is “John”.


Topic Discussion 2:   Titus: True Child


Topic Discussion 3:   Titus: Elders




        Surprisingly, the #1 character of an elder is not of the knowledge or behavior, but of his family.

Truly, one can easily mask himself before his friends or brothers at church, but not before his own family. The family stays with him 24/7, and it is the closest thing to a person second to God. No matter how others think who he is, his family knows the true person.

By these 2 factors, one can already get a true picture of what kind of Christian this man truly is.

        There is also a major emphasis on the elder having self-control:

Self-control is the last part of the spiritual fruit in Gal 5:22-23. In another word, one cannot have self-control without the help of the Holy Spirit. In 2 Pe 1:5-8, the paragraph of spiritual growth, self-control is the following step of faith, virtue, and knowledge. It also connects the three with steadfastness and godliness.

In Prov 25:28 it says: “ A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Thus the self-control is the guard and defending walls of a person, without which we will be easily broken into by Satan’s temptations and attacks.  

1,2 Tim and Titus are the three books mentioning self-control the most: 1 Tim 2:9, 15, 3:2; 2 Tim 1:7, 3:3; Titus 1:8, 2:2, 5, 6, 12. The objects of this character are:

Basically, it is a must-have character of all people (maybe except children since they have not developed such discipline).

As we may imagine that elders will spend most of their time in managing the church, there is a heavy duty on them of teaching and apologetics, which is not commonly seen today at church. Today most of this work is assigned to the pastor, and elders only show up in the church meetings of votes. However, in the NT times, there is not a clear distinguishment between an elder and a pastor. As an elder might have his own profession and a pastor might be a full time preacher, both of them have the responsibility to pastor, and to teach the word.

Last but not least, the eld must have a good public reputation:

In 1Ti 3:7  it also says: “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

Even though we know inside church we are all sinners, we still have the responsibility to show good testimonies to the outsiders. If elders are considered as the overseers of a church, they have more responsibility on this. For a common believer to have a bad testimony, people might say:”He is not a good Christian”. But if an elder shows a bad testimony, then people will say:”The Christians are like that!”.  It will be way more destructive.

Interestingly, as an elder is considered mostly as the manager or board member of a church, the #1 capability is not mentioned here: skills of management. All the characters required in Titus are about the soundness of their faith and spiritual life, but there is no requirement of skills of management. This is never seen in a regular cellular institute, which always requires at least an MBA degree for the managers.

However, this has been explained in the Bible, not in the NT, but in OT. In Numbers 11:16-29, God asked Moses to select 70 elders to manage the affairs in Israel. God descended from the cloud and  “take some of the Spirit that is on you (Moses) and put it on them”. Therefore, the presence of the Holy Spirit on a person is the #1 significant thing of being eligible for an elder.


The #1 standard of evaluating a Christian, is the comments from his/her family members. No matter how spiritual a person can appear at church, he/she cannot fool the family members. In some sense the family members are the ones who function very similar to God: watching a person closely 24/7 (except God can read our hearts).  

Topic Discussion 4:   Titus: Cretans - liars, beasts, gluttons



It is amazing that such harsh comments on Cretans {liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons} are from a Cretan prophet.

More amazingly, Paul echos this prophet: “This testimony is true. Therefore ...”.

Paul has given instructions to rebuke the Cretans, to make them sound in the faith. And he points out the aftermath if not doing so: it is equivalent to denying God.


It is usually not politically correct to comment on a nation or a people group like this prophet or Paul. However, Bible from the very beginning is not politically correct when it starts to say: “Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ” and “Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

If we only use good words to describe a nation or a people group, such as:

then there is NO need of Christ anymore. Only when we understand a people group’s sinful nature, can we start to talk about salvation to them, such as:

Only when a nation or a people group recognize their sins, can they start to repent and change, just like this Cretan prophet.

Although we don’t see this action very often in today’s churches, it is still of great significance to warn people in sins, and to evoke their fear towards God.

Clearly, it is better to rebuke people rather than seeing them being excluded from salvation. In other words, rebuke can be an action of love, that one person is worried about another person’s spiritual wellbeing so much that he/she is willing to risk their friendship to point out the danger to the friend.  


Of course any people group would have their own particular sinful character. As mentioned previously, Chinese are covetous for fortune, Muslims are hostile to all non-Muslims etc. When we bring the Gospel to a nation or people group, we need to have the discernment not only to discover their merits, but also their sins.

Usually this is the hard part. We are afraid to lose a person’s friendship. Or we just want to avoid conflicts. That is why we never rebuke a brother or sister for their wrong doings. I know Rachel and GuanTing actually are very good on this point. They clearly warned Rebecca and Hui when they were dating non-believers (although neither listened). I will need to learn from them as well.

Topic Discussion 5:   Titus: Teach, Urge, Show



There are 3 actions that Paul told Titus to carry out to 4 different groups:


It is proper for Titus, a young brother, to teach old men and women, and urge young men. So that the old women will be able to teach young women, which is not a job designed for young brothers. As Walter Henrichsen has said, he does not reach out to sisters, “that’s the wife’s job”.

In contrast with older women who have particular commands on their behaves (do not get drunk, do not slander etc.), there is no such command to older men. The commands to older man are more to their character: dignify, self-controlled, sound in faith, love etc. Therefore it is obvious that older men in a church, should be like the keynote, which sets the tone for the church. People are not to look for what they do, but what type of people they are.

Most women love to talk and it is never a sin. Indeed they should not talk about slanders, but they are not forbidden to talk. Instead, they are asked to teach and train others in the church. As an old sister once said:”There needs to be a grandma in every church.”. Nothing can be better than some comforting words and a bowl of hot soup from an old sister. And no one will feel offended if he is rebuked by an old sister who always care for him. The old sisters can also be a good example to younger sisters for their gentleness, obedience, and wisdom.

The commands to younger women are the very virtue of a godly young sister or wife: love, purity, obedience etc..

It is amazing how many times the word “self-controlled” appear in this paragraph. It is the direct command to old men, younger women, and younger men. It is also the indirect command to older women on slander and drinking. However different from others, this is the only command to younger men. For young men, we know they have passion, execution ability, and willingness to do anything for God.

However, they can also be subject to various temptations: sexual immorality, anger, laziness, and eagerness to to show off. Therefore Paul only set this one advice to the young men, which is the most important thing for them.


        I remember Lee always told us: respect cannot be demanded. It has to be earned.

This is true in both the church and family. The best way to earn respect is to through the demonstration of my own life: whether I care about other brothers or sisters outside of Sunday, whether I stick with the Bible principles in making choices, whether I pray enough for people who asked me to pray etc.

These characters need to be built on a daily basis, instead of several preparations before Sunday’s meeting. This is what I need to improve since it is easier for me to prepare a Bible study based on my previous knowledge, but it is hard for me to have a quiet time with God everyday.  

Topic Discussion 6:   Titus: Godly Life in the Present Age



These 4 verses have a focus on the “Godly Life”:


All true Christians have a hope, that one day they will be lifted up and ascended to heaven. Also it is known that comparing with the eternal life, our present life is as short as a snap of a finger. So what is the point of having a godly life in this short period of present age?    

It is true that God Him alone can defeat Satan easily. If He does so then the Bible will end at Gen 3:1 with the destroy of the serpent, and everyone else lives happily ever after.

However, what God wants is a much more glorious victory: that humans, the creature which is so easy to betray God, to fall under sin, to go after worldly desires, uses their own free will to choose to return to God, to fight against sin, and to pursue holiness. In this way the lowest and weakest creature - humans, will defeat the strongest and most powerful creature - Satan. And all is done by their own free will.

When you see a sinful man willing to die for Jesus, you realize this is probably the most difficult thing in the world, and just for this reason it brings the highest glory to God. As Napoleon once commented on Jesus:

Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him...

Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted.

If right after we receive Christ as our savior, we will be lifted up to heaven, then it saves lots of struggles and pains for us to live in this world according to Jesus’ standard.

However, this would be like a newborn baby who never grows up. It is true that a newborn does bring so much joy to a family, but for himself there are so many limitations: he cannot eat all kinds of delicious meals, not able to communicate with other people, not able to use his hands and legs freely, not able to enjoy music, arts, or all types of knowledge, not able to enjoy marriage or any other fulfillments. We going to heaven without an abundant life (John 10:10) is just like this.

In addition, if we just go to heaven like this, than we are no more than a bunch of lottery winners. Others (angels, heavenly authorities) may say we are lucky to be elected by God through salvation, but we don’t deserve anything more:

While it is true we cannot earn our salvation, yet we know all those things above have to be earned by ourselves.

Jesus has us live in this “crooked and twisted generation”, because He wants us to shine as light in the world, so that all who have not known Him, will have a chance to believe. Also through our hardware in sharing the Gospel, we help God to bring those who have been elected into His kingdom.

It is also true that God can use His power to convert all people in one second. However, He so loves to have us participate in His works, that: “Amo 3:7  For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”



When we say “Godly”, we usually think of many standards or behavior issues: the 9 fruit of the Holy spirit,  the characters in 2 Pe 1:5-8, the love in 1 Cor 13 etc. However, In my perspective, the word “Godly” starts with God. If we don’t have a close relationship with God, then all the efforts will be in vain.

I used to get up early and pray for my spiritual growth. Basically the growth involves the characters mentioned above. Yet I did not spend my quiet time to just be with God, and just enjoy His presence with me. God is not just a trainer or officer who urges us to grow all the time. He should also be our best friend and most loving father.

Therefore I plan to practice this every morning by just spending time with Him, chatting with Him, and enjoy His presence. After time I then pray for my and other people’s prayer requests.

kk Comments: These are good reflection on why we have to be trained in this world, bearing suffers and pains. It is because we have to deny ungodliness and worldly desire, which already exists among us before we are born. The new-born baby is a good example. Maybe we think the new-born would be innocent and happy, but God wants to give us the best--the strength and power to overcome sin and be with Him again. I suspect the happiness of it should be greater than happiness of knowing nothing like baby.

For our own good part, living sensibly, righteously, and godly is also assurance that we have a good relationship with God.

Topic Discussion 7:   Not because of works done by us



This sentence describes the reason of salvation, which does not depend on our own good works, but only on God’s mercy.

Washing (baptism) is the outward ritual to make a statement of one person’s re-birth. However, the Holy Spirit is the true source of renewal.


The Holy Spirit comes through Jesus. That only after Jesus died on the cross, can we the believers die with Him and re-born with Him. Only after Jesus went up to heaven, can the Holy Spirit be sent down to stay inside us.

Another thing that Jesus has brought to us through his death and resurrection, is the eternal life guaranteed to each believer. Not just that, we now can be called heirs of God, which is “children” of God, instead of slaves or enemies of God.

Once a person is saved by this free grace, the next natural step he/she will take, is to devote him/herself to good works, which is also the original purpose of God:

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


It is a little bit strange, that here Paul did not say Jesus saved us by His “cross”, but by “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”, which is usually considered as sanctification.

Firstly, the washing of Jesus is different from the washing of John the Baptist. John baptizes with the “baptism of repentance” (Acts 19:4, Mat 3:11). But Jesus baptizes with “the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mat 3:11). Therefore it is clear that 1) Jesus’s washing is to have a person reborn, while John’s is to let the person realize his/her sins; 2) the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit are one concept, which is to give a new life to that person.

Then why does not Paul say Jesus saved us by “cross” but by this renewal of the Holy Spirit?

This is because the salvation consists of two parts:

What Jesus has accomplished on the cross, is to pray our debt to God. After that, we are not held for sins and will not have to be put to eternal death for them.

But only being debtless cannot fulfill the complete salvation. God wants much more than that. He wants us to be reborn and to be as holy as Him. Thus the renewal of the Holy Spirit is necessary.

Therefore one cannot really draw a clear line between salvation and sanctification. Actually, at the very moment salvation is granted to a person, does that person’s sanctification start. And without the sanctification by Holy Spirit, we can never be sure that we’re saved.

The idea of Christians should do good works is through the letters of the apostles. This critical concept was mentioned again and again in those letters (mostly at the end):

In Titus, Paul asked Titus to remind the Christians that in the past, they were hopeless sinners; and at present, they have been saved by God’s grace; in future, they have the hope of becoming God’s heirs. This past, present, and future identity change, will be an encouragement for the Christians to do good works.

But why is doing good works so important to Christians? Aren’t we already saved and guaranteed for the eternal life? I think there are (at least) these following reasons:

  1. This is the plan of God so that we can glorify Him (Eph 2:10)
  2. It proves that we have faith and salvation (Jam 2:14-17)
  3. It is a good testimony to the non-believers (Mat 5:16)
  4. So that we will not feel ashamed when Jesus returns (1 The 5:21-23)
  5. So that we can have eternal reward (Rom 2:6, Rev 22:12)


The #1 thing I should do at home is to love my wife. This is also the most effective testimony to all other people around me.

Also I should be a spiritual leader at home to find out God’s will in all important decisions of my family, and the first one to implement God’s will.

        I should work faithfully and not waste time on entertainment.

        I should always be ready, patient, and happy to help my colleagues.

        I should also be obedient to my advisor.

I should demonstrate God’s love by shown care, thankfulness, and humbleness to strangers. This includes the waiters at a restaurant, pedestrians on the street, and janitors.

I felt that I am not doing well on this part. I am usually kind to the waiters. But often I don’t take time to chat with janitors in my office building, while even the non-believers in my office do. Also when I have to rush to a place I do not stop my car to let go of the pedestrians first.

kk Comments: very good observations and interpretation about good works. But what is the relationship between statement and good works? Why does Paul mention to be careful to devote?  

Topic Discussion 8:   People who stir up division



Division (schismatic or heretic, αἱρετικός, G140) is mentioned only once in the Bible. However, its synonyms appear a couple of times in both NT and OT, which is a serious sin in the Bible.

1 Cor 11:18-20, Paul mentioned that there are divisions among the church people;

2 Cor 12:20, Jud 1:19, it is also used in a similar way;

Rom 2:8, people who stir up division is also referred to as “those who are self-seeking”, implying their conducts that cause fraction;

Gal 5:20, Phi1:17,2:3 also has a similar usage by calling self-ambitious people the dividers.

From the above verses, we can conclude:

  1. division = self-ambitious (Phi 1:17, 2:3, Gal 5:20)
  2. The seriousness of the sin of division, is equal to the sins of  (2 Cor 12:20, Gal 5:20):
  1. The men causing division is considered as “follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (Jud 1:19).

From these observations, we see that causing division is an evil deed before God. It is generated from self-ambition (to make oneself a figure to be worshipped by other people). Doing so is a sign of having no Holy Spirit, in other words, having no salvation.

        People who stir up division do not have many chances to repent. It is just two opportunities.

As we have mentioned previously in Jud 1:19, such as person is considered as having no Holy Spirit, thus is self-condemned. “Warped” here means this person is off the right way, in another expression: heretic, which is the very meaning of the division’s original Greek word: αἱρετικός.


Firstly, division usually has a seemingly legitimate reason: different groups of people are fighting for the truth (or the correct teaching): 1 Cor 1:10-25. Num 16:1-3

However, essentially, it is for people’s own pride (Rom 2:8). Humans always want to be admired, acknowledged, and even worshipped. It is true outside and inside of church.

It is often seen that every division has a leader, who wants to replace the current one. Maybe the person does not have this intention in the beginning. But as time goes, he will gradually be changed.

        Stirring up division has two grave results:

In 1 Cor 15:50, “nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable”. We are the perishable, and worship from men can only be attributed to the imperishable God. No human can receive “worship” without being corrupted. Even angels cannot.

Phi 2:1-11 is the perfect answer. Division origins from the desire of being elevated, being worshipped. But if everyone “in humility count others more significant than yourselves” and “taking the form of a servant”, there will be no self-idolatry anymore. There can still be disagreements, but there will be no divisions.

This requires a pure heart that does not seek for one’s own good, but others and God’s. The more we have, know, and own in faith, the more we should become like children and servants at church.  



⎯⎯   Kevin’s Notes ⎯⎯

Topic Discussion 1: Titus Outline

Key theme:

Faith & Practice

Belief & Behavior


paraenesis (for advice and exhortation to continue in a certain way of life)


1:1-3 opening, general Christian doctrine: hope of eternal life promised by God

1:4 opening, related to Titus

1:5-9 qualities of good elders

1:10-16 qualities of false teachers

2:1-5 older men and older women ways of living by faith

2:6-10 younger men guidance to practice faith

2:11-14 devine base behind the doctrine

2:15 summarize the exhortation

3:1-2 the guidance to live in secular world with outsiders or unbelievers

3:3-7 Gospel basis of living the way with unbelievers

3:8 summarize the exhortation

3: 9-11 coveat

3: 12-15 close exhortation

Topic Discussion 2: Pugnacious

Titus 1:7-8

For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, nod fond of sordid gain,

But hospitable loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.


Paul claims that the elder must be above reproach. He only mentioned five sins we should avoid. They even don’t include prideness and sexual immorality. Among five negative characters, pugnacity is the only one I cannot recall in other books of Bible.


These five sins, in many ways, do not look as harmful as some sins like prideness, envy, and adulteries. So one of reasons I think Paul listed them here is they are easy to ignore. For example, sometimes it is hard to separate self-willed and obedient to God-will, and it is easy to go from being angry to quick-tempered, drinking wine to be addicted to wine, covet things to fond of sordid gain, because God does not forbid to be angry, drink wine, and covet. But over all, pugnacity is the most difficult one to discern, because the line between being pugnacious and emotional is blurred. Also, being pugnacious is not always against some key principles of Christian life. For example, one could be pugnacious against others but still love others. In fact, being pugnacious is encouraged in a lot of culture, especially for men. We sometimes use the word “competitive” or “tough” to describe it in a positive way. But to be above reproach, Paul characterized it as something we should avoid.


 I could think some arguments to support being pugnacious in today’s society. First, it shows one’s strength and toughness. Second, it protects you from being hurt or taken advantage by others. Third, it helps to concentrate and improve the performance. We could see a lot of pugnacious people in a lot of highly combative sports, like basketball, football, and we often praise and admire them. Unfortunately, through Christian perspective, being pugnacious is below reproach for Christian leaders. Recently, I find myself has a tendency to be pugnacious, especially has a tendency to argue with people. I met this problem when I talked gospels to non-believer friends, talked some important topics with Christian friends, or simply argued some nonsense topics with friends who would also like to argue. I originally just want to speak what I think, but when arguments come, I often fall to defend myself, even I am wrong. If I want to develop something above reproach, being pugnacious is the first thing I need to pay attention to.

However, sometimes I do need that passion to make me focus and think quickly. Pray to God that help me to know the difference between being passionate and pugnacious, and keep me out of pugnacity in His standard.


Topic Discussion 3: In the Hope of Eternal Life

Titus 1:2-3

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior.


Hope of eternal life:

  1. God promised long aged ago
  2. God cannot lie
  3. at the proper time manifested

It is the first time and only time Paul used the phrase “hope of eternal life”.


To support the validity of hope of eternal life, Paul provides three evidence:

God promised long aged ago:

Hope has been created

God cannot lie:

The Creator has credibility

At the proper time manifested:

It is related to now, us

Paul points out these three points to persuade us that the hope of eternal life exists and it is related to us. The hope of eternal life could strengthen our training on earth.


“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever die”. This is one of the best scripts in Shawshank redemption. After watching the film when I was in high school, hope becomes the best source that motivates me in every aspect of my life. But later I realized it was not enough to achieve the success. Then I started doubting the strength of hope. Gradually, the strength of hope fades away. When I was in college in 2008, I listened a few of Obama’s speech. His eloquence brought my attention to the word “hope” again. I was deeply touched by the time and recalled the strength of hope I experienced after watching Shawshank. It lasted for a while, and then it is gone. Maybe hope is a good thing, but it is too short.

After reading Paul’s letter, I suddenly realized the thing that determines strength of hope is not itself, but the object of hope. What I have been hoping along all these years is about personal success: school, jobs, relationship, etc I am in position to judge that those things are wrong to hope, but they do not provide endogenous strength that long lasting. They are exogenous, and they may not provide you with the long term happiness, even if one achieve them. If God cannot lie and He really promise, eternal life with Him should be the best thing we could ever have, and it should inspire every strength of ourselves to achieve it. That is hope.

Then the problem is that it is hard to picture eternal life through this life. One thing I experience is the depravity of myself because of sins. Therefore, I could imagine having eternal life with God probably means I am no longer suffered from depravity and desperate anymore. But it only makes me feel I want to go to see Him immediately, not enough to cope with frustrations in this world. Thus, having a whole picture of eternal life, and experiencing it in this life, are essential to have a joyful heart and be obedient in this world. I should diligently find the tangibility of eternal life and be encouraged and powered by the hope for it. Of course, it is all by God’s grace.