Titus and St. Paul had worked together to evangelize parts of the Island of Crete. When the apostle left Crete to go spread the saving message of Jesus to other places, Titus remained to organize the Christian converts and help them form a solid community.
Like his letters to Timothy, St. Paul is very pastoral in his advice and counsel to Titus. He exhorts Titus to remain ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉrm in the unwavering truth of Christ (Titus 1:10-16; 2:1). The apostle also spends time giving Titus advice about how discern which men are worthy to be ordained to the priesthood (Titus 1:5). Because the call to priesthood (i.e. to be an 'elder') is a sacred vocation, this discernment should be done very carefully. St. Paul instructs Titus to evaluate a candidate's character and family when considering someone for ordination (Titus 1:7-8). The reason for this is simple: people will learn about Christ through the lifestyle and actions of Christian leaders. Holy leaders will do much to further Christ's kingdom. Poor leaders will do much to hinder the cause of Christ. Spirit-led discernment and wisdom are essential.
While this is especially true for priests and bishops, it is true for all Christians. St. Paul reminds Titus that all believers should be faithful and holy in word and action (Titus 2:7; 3:1-14). We are called to be Christ to all people whether they are fellow Christians or not (Titus 2:2-10; 3:1-2).
Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in this letter:
- We can have great conÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉdence in the saving promises of God: 'Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who never lies, promised ages ago (Titus 1:1-3).'
- Pursue holiness in all things: 'Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech (Titus 2:7).'
- Avoid mean-spirited interactions: 'Speak evil of no one . . . avoid quarreling (Titus 3:2).'
- The grace of Christ is the key to salvation: '[Christ] saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justiÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉed by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life (Titus 2:5-7).'