Major Themes of the Book of Titus

William Arnold III

This article is intended to demonstrate that the message of the epistle to Titus is an emphasis on sound doctrine and on good works. I will first show some occurrences of the theme of sound doctrine, followed by what doctrine Paul mentions in each occurrence. Then I will give some other examples of the doctrine that Paul gave to Titus followed by a few hindrances to sound doctrine which he told him to avoid. After this I will show where Paul stresses the need for good works, followed by the means to achieve them and then some things to avoid. Finally, I will attempt to draw a brief conclusion as to my findings.

Throughout this epistle Paul strongly emphasizes the need to teach sound doctrine. His first reference is in the list of qualifications he gives for an elder. Paul instructs Titus to appoint an elder who is "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught." He then refers to this as sound doctrine. (1:9) He uses the word sound five times in this epistle. Here, in reference to bishops, then in reference to the Cretans (1:13), to Titus himself (2:1), to the older men (2:2), and finally to the younger men (2:8).

Bishops Ė He states what they must be and what they must not be. He tells how a bishop must conduct himself, as well as how he should conduct his family. Paulís reasoning for this is so that the bishop may encourage believers and convince unbelievers by sound doctrine.

Cretans Ė Now he says that the Cretans need to be rebuked for being liars and lazy. He then says that this should make them sound in the faith.

Titus Ė Paul exhorts Titus to teach what is harmony with sound doctrine. In addition to these five charges, he gives him some other examples of what he wants him to teach. (2:11-14 & 3:4-7).

Older Men Ė He encourages the older men to be sound in faith, in love and in endurance. (I think a direct correlation to Paulís common theme of faith, love and hope - I Cor. 13:13, etc., hope being the basis of oneís endurance.)

Younger Men Ė Here Paul tells Titus to use soundness of speech as an example to the young men so unbelievers will have nothing bad to say about the Christians.

Some other points of sound doctrine that Paul gives to Titus are: the universality of Godís grace (2:11), the power of Godís grace to enable believers to live a godly life (2:12), the second advent of Jesus Christ (2:13), manís redemption (2:14), salvation an act of Godís mercy (3:5), salvation being appropriated by means of the new birth (3:5), justification (3:7) and the inheritance of eternal life (3:7).

In preaching sound doctrine, there are also some things Paul instructs Titus to avoid, such as: deceivers (1:10), Jewish myths (1:14), foolish controversies, genealogies, and arguments about the law (3:9) and heretics (3:10).

Paul also emphasizes the need for good works. He uses the word good 11 times in this epistle. He instructs Titus to be an example of good works (2:7) and uses this word in connection with bishops (1:8), as a lack of good works with the Cretans (1:16), with the older women (2:3), with the younger women (2:5), with the slaves (2:10), with the church (2:14), with the people {Cretans} in a positive way (3:1,14) and with believers in general (3:8).

Paul both stresses the need for good works and gives many practical examples of what good works are to the people. Now although he tells them that it is only by the grace of God that good works are possible (2:11,12), he does show that a level of human involvement is necessary in motivating the believers. He states the need for teaching (1:11;2:3,12), preaching (1:3), speaking (2:1,15), reminding (3:1), admonishing (2:4), exhortation (1:9;2:6,15) and rebuke (1:13;2:15). There is a tremendous call to action in the epistle to Titus. This is a book requiring people to "do."

Paul also gives Titus some examples of bad works, which should be avoided, such as: alcoholism (2:3), stealing (2:10), ungodliness and worldly passions (2:12), the despising of others (2:15), malice, envy and hate (3:3) and slander (2:3;3:2).

I conclude therefore that the main themes of the epistle to Titus are sound doctrine and good works. However, in many places they overlap because they are really connected. Right theory will produce right action. So the theme could be summed up as knowing and doing what is right.

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