Titus 3


‘Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.’ Titus 3:1-2

Paul reminds Titus to remind the people about how they are to live, He says, to remember to live as a Christian should. This is something we all need reminding of from time to time, especially when it comes to those in authority over us. We should have respect for those who have authority over us and be ready to do whatever is good, in light of what Christ did for us, Titus 2:11-14.

We’re to be subject to rules because Jesus was subject to the Father, John 3:16, we also need to be obedient to those in authority, Romans 13:1-10 / 1 Peter 2:13-21.

Just like Titus was to teach the older men, older women, younger men, younger women and the slaves, Titus 2:1-10, it’s all about setting a Christ-like example to those around us, here it’s those in authority.

Christians should always be ready to do whatever is good, Galatians 6:10 / Ephesians 2:10 / Colossians 1:10 / Hebrews 13:21 / 1 Peter 3:15. Paul here is telling Titus that they should always be ready to do good towards anyone in authority, Matthew 17:24-27.

Christians shouldn’t slander anymore, that is, they shouldn’t be abusive to those in authority, Philippians 4:8. They should be peaceable, Romans 12:18 / Hebrews 12:14, considerate, put others before yourself, Philippians 2:4 and gentle towards everyone, 1 Timothy 3:3 / 1 Corinthians 6:11 / Ephesians 2:1-5 / Ephesians 5:8 / Colossians 3:7 / 1 Peter 4:3.

‘At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.’ Titus 3:3-7

I love Paul’s honesty here, as he includes himself in this list of sinfulness. This is humility, humility is seeing it was God working in us. He asks us to remember what we were once like. Just as there were seven Christian virtues given in Titus 3:1-2, there are seven negative qualities listed here.

We were ‘foolish’ because we’ve now come to realise that we’ve been sinning against God. We were ‘disobedient’ because we’ve now come to realise that we’ve been sinning against God, Luke 1:17 / Titus 1:16.

We were ‘deceived’ by our own thoughts of salvation, our own desires for the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21. We were enslaved by all kinds of evil lusts and pleasures, Luke 8:14 / 1 Timothy 5:6.

We lived in malice and envy, we wanted to hurt others because we were jealous of them and what they had, Ephesians 4:31.

We were hated and we hated one another, which means that our lives were so sinful and so full of self, that we got to the stage where we hated ourselves and those around us hated us even more.

I love the word ‘but’ because it shows the contrast between the way we once lived and how we should live now because of God’s kindness and love towards us. A person can truly change when they begin to understand what God has done for us and if they become a Christian they could look back at their own personal spiritual journey and be amazed at how God has transformed their lives, 1 John 4:19 / 2 Corinthians 4:15.

We couldn’t save ourselves, it’s all about God’s love for us, it’s all about His grace and mercy. We couldn’t do anything to save ourselves, not even our good works, can’t save us, Romans 5:8 / Romans 3:20 / Galatians 2:16 / Ephesians 2:8-9 / 2 Timothy 1:9.

There’s only one way to receive God’s grace and mercy which is by ‘the washing of rebirth’. After a person hears the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the natural response should be to do what Jesus did physically, in a spiritual manner. Jesus died, was buried and rose again and so anyone who wants to receive God’s grace and mercy must do the same spiritually, Romans 6:3-6.

Baptism is the point when the person comes into contact with the blood of Christ which washes them clean of their sins and is the point in which they receive the ‘gift’ of the Holy Spirit Himself to dwell in them and help them live a life which pleases the Father, John 3:3-5 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 22:16 / Ephesians 5:26 / Colossians 2:12 / 1 Peter 3:21.

Although the Holy Spirit was poured out only on the apostles on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:16-17, later all those who were obedient to the Gospel received the Holy Spirit as a gift from God, Acts 2:38-39.

What Paul is saying here is that anyone who hasn’t been born again, that is baptised, then they haven’t been justified before God, Romans 8:23, and has no hope of eternal life with Him. We shouldn’t never underestimate the significance of baptism, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15-16 / Galatians 3:27 / 1 Corinthians 6:11 / Ephesians 5:25-26 / John 3:5 / Acts 2:38 / 1 Peter 3:12 / Matthew 3:16 / Romans 6:3-5.

‘This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.’ Titus 3:8

Coffman has the following to say about ‘this trustworthy saying’. This is not a formula for introducing either a hymn or a proverb, despite the widespread prejudice to that effect. See under 2 Timothy 2:13, above. This is merely Paul’s equivalent of the ‘Amen, Amen’ sometimes used by Jesus. Scholars cannot agree upon whether it should be applied here to what precedes, or what comes after.

Many refer it to the epic pronouncement in Titus 3:5-7; but Hervey was sure that: Here the faithful saying can only be the following maxim: ‘That they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works,’ the words, ‘these things I desire that thou affirm confidently,’ being parenthetically added to give more weight to it. Scholars who insist upon applying it to the foregoing ‘affirm that it is ungrammatical to refer it to the following.’

But as Conybeare said, ‘This objection is avoided by taking ‘that’ as a part of the quotation,’ as Hervey did, above. Perhaps the biggest objection to construing it as a reference to the preceding is that there is no agreement on ‘what part’ of the preceding is meant.

The faithful saying is reminding us all Christians need to continue to do the good works which God has planned for us to do, Galatians 6:10 / Ephesians 2:10, whilst remember that we don’t do these good works for our salvation but because of our salvation, Titus 2:14 / 2 Corinthians 4:15 / James 2:14-26.

Remember Paul told the Philippians to work ‘out’ their salvation, not work ‘for’ their salvation. If we remember this trustworthy saying, it can only do us and everyone we meet good.

‘But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.’ Titus 3:9-11

We don’t know what these ‘foolish controversies’ were, maybe it has something to do with Jesus being the Christ, we simply don’t know. As we know ‘genealogies’ were important for the Jews, that’s why the Bible is filled with them and if anyone wanted to serve as a priest, they had to be able to prove their Levitical lineage before serving.

Again, we don’t know exactly what they were ‘arguing about and quarrelling’ about but it had something to do with the Mosaic law. It’s possible they were arguing about the importance of circumcision, hence these false teachers were possibly promoting it.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of times people want to get involved in useless debates which amount to nothing. There are some things that some would call ‘salvation issues’, but there always seems to be a lot of debate about ‘matters of opinion’, things which have no bearing on our salvation. Sadly, some people make these matters of opinion a matter of salvation, 1 Timothy 1:4 / 2 Timothy 2:14.

Paul says to avoid these things, because they are ‘unprofitable and worthless’, in other words, they are a waste of time and nothing good can ever come out of them. To put it simply, if the Scriptures don’t mention a particular topic that goes against the basic principles taught in the Scriptures if it’s an opinion, then then they’re not worth arguing about.

I’m sure that Paul himself would have experienced this kind of thing on his travels, hence why he’s so serious about it, when warning Titus.

Anyone who just goes on and on about a matter of opinion and tries to put their beliefs on others needs to be warned and warned again, Romans 16:17-18 / Matthew 18:15-18 / 2 John 1:10, because all they’re doing is causing division within the Lord’s church.

Paul says ‘have nothing to do’ with trouble makers like this, because they are warped and sinful not only in their thinking but also in their behaviour. They’re basically trying to steal the real freedom we have in Christ, Galatians 5:1.

As a result of ‘majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors’, they do nothing but condemn themselves by their thinking and behaviour, Matthew 23:23-24.

I’ve personally witnessed this kind of thing happening, where a brother insisted that the whole church should fast because we’re commanded to. Even after studying with him and showing him that nowhere does Jesus command that Christians should fast, he continued to push his views on the church. The result was the joy, just got sucked right out of the place very quickly.

Paul reminds Timothy to stay on course, he’s to focus on the Word of God. We have to have nothing to do with people who want to cause division and have false teachings. This isn’t just for our own spiritual benefit but for the benefit of the whole church.

‘As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there. Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.’ Titus 3:12-14

Notice the people Paul mentioned here in his final greeting to Titus Tychicus who was from Colossae, Colossians 4:7 / Acts 20:4 / Ephesians 6:21 / 2 Timothy 4:12, he was with Paul at the time of the writing of his letter to Titus.

What’s more interesting, is that he also mentions, Artemas, Zenas, and Apollos, as someone once pointed out to me, these are all names of famous pagan deities. Artemas is from Artemis, the famous guardian goddess of Ephesus, Apollos is from the well-known sun god and Zenas is from Zeus.

We know nothing at all about the two Christians, Zenas and Artemas but their names tell us little about their background. We know a few things about Apollos.

We know that he came to Ephesus, Acts 18:24, he knew and taught the Scriptures really well, but only taught about John’s baptism and so a couple named Priscilla and Aquila ended up teaching him the way more adequately, Acts 18:26. After being more equipped to teach, he went on to vigorously refute any Jews who opposed him, Acts 18:28.

He’s mentioned over and over again in 1 Corinthians and must have been a very influential speaker, 1 Corinthians 1:12 / 1 Corinthians 3:3-6 / 1 Corinthians 3:22 / 1 Corinthians 4:6 / 1 Corinthians 16:12.

Paul wanted Titus to come to Nicopolis, a place in Macedonia, before winter, why? We can’t be certain, but some believe that Paul’s arrest and final imprisonment came soon after what was written here, 2 Timothy 4:21.

Paul wants Titus to help Zenas and Apollos on their journey to Nicopolis, this would probably be some kind of financial assistance, or supply them with food, water and other supplies they may need.

Notice again that Paul reminds Titus that God’s people must ‘devote themselves to doing what is good’, Titus 1:8 / Titus 2:7 / Titus 2:14 / Titus 3:8 / 2 Corinthians 2:15. Paul is giving us the idea that the Christians in Crete were very good at ‘talking the talk’, but not much good at ‘walking the walk’.

There are ‘urgent needs’ to be met but because they’re not meeting those needs, their lives have become ‘unproductive’, Titus 1:16 / 1 Timothy 2:10 / 1 Timothy 5:10 / 1 Timothy 6:18 / 2 Timothy 2:21.

‘Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.’ Titus 3:15

We don’t know who was with Paul when he sent his greetings, but we do know his greetings were for those who loved them in the faith, which may suggest that there were others, possibly those false teachers, who didn’t love them as they appear to hold a different faith, Romans 14:1-2 / Jude 3.

Paul ends by saying grace be with you all which was a common final greeting of Paul, 1 Timothy 1:21 / 2 Timothy 4:22. Paul asks them to receive the greatest blessing of all, the grace which comes from God and oh, how we still need it today.


People often speak about the church in Corinth and some Christians say, ‘they wouldn’t like to be a part of that congregation’, others say, ‘if the Corinthian church existed today, they would disfellowship them and have nothing to do with them’.

I don’t believe the church which met in Crete was much better than the church in Corinth, they had their problems like most churches have their problems. The church in Crete appears to be very lazy, disorganised, had a really bad reputation and everyone from the old to the young needed to be trained in matters of importance.

They needed good spiritual leaders in place, the old men, old women, young men and younger women and the slaves all needed to be reminded of the Gospel of Christ of which they professed.

The false teachers needed to be dealt with and Titus himself needed to be careful about what he taught and how he lived so that he too, could be an example to those around him.

Most of all, the Cretans needed to learn to appreciate their salvation, if they did this, they would certainly be more active in their good deeds. They would come to realise that Christians don’t work FOR their salvation, they work BECAUSE of their salvation, they work out of appreciation of what God has done in their own lives, Ephesians 2:10 / 2 Corinthians 4:15.

‘Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work OUT your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.’ Philippians 2:13-14