What is the Purpose of the Book of Titus?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Apostle Paul had several reasons for writing the Book of Titus and here’s a look at some of those very important reasons.

Paul’s Purpose

The purpose behind the Book of Titus is seen in Paul giving Titus instructions about selecting elders. Since the Church at Crete was so new, it was impossible that the candidates could have been well established Christians (Carson and Moo, 583), so the primary purpose was in giving Titus instructions on what he should teach to the younger and older men, to the younger and older women, and how to select church leaders (Walvoord and Zuck, 761). The instructions also included proper behavior for the older women, younger women, slaves, and the church membership in general (Carson and Moo, 584). Paul also writes to rebuke the false teachings of Jewish origin and equates these teachings about the law with foolishness and myths (Carson and Moo, 584).

Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt. c. 1657


The literal translation of the word Crete means “fleshy.” This is appropriate because Paul acknowledged that the churches that resided there were set among what “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own said, the Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (I Titus 1:12). Laziness and gluttony may have been made all the more easy because Crete was the largest and most fertile island of the Mediterranean. That meant little work was needed because the land was so prosperous. In God’s sovereignty, Paul was said to have landed there by the fierce seasonal storms that can suddenly strike, so the island may have had been exposed to the Gospel when Paul was there. Remember the Centurion who was in charge of Paul? That man gave Paul just about as much freedom as he wanted. This may have been evidence that the Centurion believed in God, at least to an extent. He must have believed that God was with Paul. Even though the scriptures don’t say precisely whether Paul landed at Crete, the ship was at Fair Havens for some time and Paul had plenty of time to land there (Acts 27:8, 9).

An Elder’s Qualifications

The qualifications for an elder in Titus are much the same as they are in I Timothy chapter three except that they are not to be new converts. This was impossible in the Cretan churches because most every believer there was new to the Body of Christ. Even so, many of the same qualifications found in I Timothy 3 are also found in Titus 1:5-9. These similarities include that an elder must be blameless. The elder must be a one-woman man or be the husband of one wife. Further, the elder should not be an overbearing person, not given to violence, not be a heavy drinker, be earning an honest living, be self-controlled, be self-disciplined, and be a hospitable man that loves well (Titus 1). The elder needs to hold firm to the truth of God and not deviate from teaching this truth so he is able to oppose false teaching that church members may be exposed to.

Women’s Ministry

When Paul described women’s ministry, he broke it down into expectations for younger and older women. The older women were expected to behave circumspectly and in accord with sound doctrine (Titus 2). This entails that they not be gossipers and not given to much wine since they were role models for the younger women and what “good” really is. The younger women needed the older women’s help in teaching them how to be good wives and mothers. Of course they were expected to abstain from sexual immorality, be in subjection to their husbands, have self-control, and be busy keeping their home well maintained. To God, this is desirable and honorable.

Men’s Ministry

As for the men’s ministry, the advice Paul gave for young women was similar to that given to the young men and included living a life of integrity, having godly speech and living a life above reproach. Paul’s admonition to slaves can be likened to that of employees to employers, but Paul was not condoning slavery, but he did say that they should be in subjection to their bosses (masters) in all that they ask, not just giving eye-service, not talking behind their backs about them, not back-talking to their face, not stealing from them, and prove themselves trustworthy. A good example of the latter would be when the boss is gone, the employee (or slave) should work as if unto the Lord regardless of whether the boss was gone or not, because they really are working for God. This is reflective of Old Testament teaching as in Ecclesiastes 9:10.

God’s Power

Without the grace given by God, there would be no godly behavior in us at all. Godly behavior is only possible by the power of God’s Spirit. Even the power to overcome sin and to avoid ungodly behavior through worldly passions is not of human origin. If that were so, none of us would overcome sin. God’s grace empowers the Christian to have self-control and to be upright in this world that is anything but controlled by God’s grace. We do not have it within ourselves to even have a desire to do good, not to mention being eager to do it (Eph 2:1-5).

Romans 8 Bible Study and Summary


We promote the grace of God when we are subject to those in authority over us. I love how Paul wears his life transparently. For me, B. C, or Before Christ, I was living a foolish life in disobedience and was enslaved by my own passions, pride and pleasures. I plead guilty to these works of the flesh, but today, by God’s grace, I have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. Now I have God’s help in avoiding malice, envy, and anger, and now I focus on promoting love, sharing Christ, and living kindness out in action. Paul reveals that it is only “because of His mercy” and a “renewal by the Holy Spirit” that we can promote God’s grace to others, particularly those who are not believers (Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit enables believers to stay away from vain arguments, quarrels, and foolish controversies that do more harm than good and focus on the gospel message of grace through faith and not through works (Eph 2:8-9). That’s what the bottom line is. Jesus said we must repent and believe (Mark 1:15), for there is no other way to be saved (Acts 4:12, 16:30-31).

D.A. Carson and Douglass J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan Press, 2005).

John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, trans., The Bible Knowledge Commentary – New Testament. (Colorado Springs, CO.: David C Cook, Publisher, 1984).

Here is some related reading for you: Why Every Christian Needs a Mentor

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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