Epistle to Titus
|Part of a series of articles on|
|Paul in the Bible|
|Books of the
|Acts of the Apostles|
1 Corinthians · 2 Corinthians
Galatians · Ephesians
Philippians · Colossians
1 Thessalonians · 2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy · 2 Timothy
Titus · Philemon
Hebrews · James
1 Peter · 2 Peter
1 John · 2 John · 3 John
|New Testament manuscripts|
The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles (along with 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy) traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle and is part of the New Testament. It is addressed to Saint Titus and describes the requirements and duties of elders and bishops. Some consider it, along with 2 Timothy, to be Paul's final instructions to early church leaders before his final departure.
Not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Titus was noted in Galatians (cf. Gal. 2:1, 3) where Paul wrote of journeying to Jerusalem with Barnabas, accompanied by Titus. He was then dispatched to Corinth, Greece, where he successfully reconciled the Christian community there with Paul, its founder. Titus was later left on the island of Crete to help organize the Church, and later met back with the Apostle Paul in the Nicopolis. He soon went to Dalmatia (now Croatia). According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical History, he served as the first bishop of Crete and remained there in his old years. He was buried in Cortyna (Gortyna), Crete; his head was later removed to Venice during the invasion of Crete by the Saracens in 832 and was enshrined in St Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy.
Scholars are not unanimous about the authenticity of the pastoral epistles. Titus is usually one of the three Pastoral epistles attributed to Paul. Titus has a very close affinity with 1 Timothy, sharing similar phrases and expressions and similar subject matter.
The author of Titus identifies himself as "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ." According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, "Paul's authorship was undisputed in antiquity and was probably written about the same time as the First Epistle to Timothy, with which it has many affinities."
Scholars who believe Paul wrote Titus date its composition from the circumstance that it was written after Paul's visit to Crete (Titus 1:5). That visit could not be the one referred to in the Acts of the Apostles 27:7, when Paul was on his voyage to Rome as a prisoner, and where he continued a prisoner for two years. Thus traditional exegesis supposes that after his release Paul sailed from Rome into Asia, passing Crete by the way, and that there he left Titus "to set in order the things that were wanting." Thence he would have gone to Ephesus, where he left Timothy, and from Ephesus to Macedonia, where he wrote the First Epistle to Timothy, and thence, according to the subscription of this epistle, to "Nicopolis of Macedonia", from which place he wrote to Titus, about 66 or 67.
However, works written under a false name would have been very problematic since the early church clearly excluded from the apostolic canon any works they thought to be pseudonymous. While critics point to the common practice of pseudonymous writing in the ancient world, they usually fail to point out that this practice, though common in the culture, was not common in personal letters, and was categorically rejected by the early church (cf. 2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17; also Muratorian Canon 64–67; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.12.3). Tertullian (c. a.d. 160–225) wrote that when it was discovered that a church elder had composed a pseudonymous work, The Acts of Paul (which included a purported Pauline letter, 3 Corinthians), the offending elder "was removed from his office" (On Baptism 17).
Opposed to Pauline Authenticity
The Pastoral epistles are regarded by some scholars as being pseudepigraphical. On the basis of the language and content of the pastoral epistles, these scholars today doubt that they were written by Paul and believe that they were written after his death. The early Church did not agree. Critics claim the vocabulary and style of the Pauline letters could not have been written by Paul according to available biographical information and reflect the views of the emerging Church rather than the apostle's. These scholars date the epistle from the 80s CE up to the end of the 2nd century. The Church of England's Common Worship Lectionary Scripture Commentary concurs with this view: "the proportioning of the theological and practical themes is one factor that leads us to think of these writings as coming from the post-Pauline church world of the late first or early second century".
One of the secular peculiarities of the Epistle to Titus is the reference to the Epimenides paradox: "One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars'." The statement by a member of a group that all members are liars is a famous logic problem, applicable also to Psalms 116:11.
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- William Paley Horae Paulinae (1785)
- Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 385ff
- "It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia." —Authorized Version subscription after Titus 3:15
- Note: Sources that say Nicopolis was in Epirus are technically correct, but Epirus had become part of Macedonia (Roman province) in 146 BCE. In 110 CE under Trajan it became a province in its own right, separate from Macedonia and Achaia. The expression "Nicopolis of Macedonia" in Paul's timeframe is valid.
- Raymond E. Brown. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible, p. 662
- Houlden and Rogerson (2001). Common Worship Lectionary: a Scriptures Commentary. London: SPCK. p. 18.
- Titus 1:12-13
Online translations of the Epistle to Titus:
- Online Bible at GospelHall.org
- Early Christian Writings: Titus
- Titus – King James Version
- Bible: Titus public domain audiobook at LibriVox Various versions
Exegetical papers on Titus:
Epistle to Titus
Books of the Bible