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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Reading through Titus

The Address ( 1, 1–4 )

The address follows the usual Pauline pattern, but here it consists of a greeting only. It is slightly more elaborate than Paul's usual greetings but exhibits many of the features of Paul's thinking. As in the other Pastorals, the author emphasizes the apostle's role in the spread of the worldwide mission of Christ. This mission is now entrusted to Paul's “child,” Titus, a fellow worker encouraged through this letter to insure the continuing line of good pastors and to preserve the faithful teaching of Christian life. The great dangers that face Titus and the church of Crete are the false teachers and those who would corrupt the Christian message.

The Body of the Letter ( 1, 5–3, 11 )

Pastoral Charge ( 1, 5–16 )

Verses 5 through 9 are parallel to the instruction of 1 Timothy 3, 1–7 . Paul is an itinerant preacher who, nevertheless, is keenly aware of the need for stabilized leadership, especially to protect the church against heretical or false teaching. Therefore, the instructions given to Titus concerning the administration of the church at Crete are related first to the appointment of trustworthy and reliable pastors for the various duties required for the growth and development of the church there.

One of the important offices was that of presbyter (elder, v. 5 ), a term that in meaning is quite close in this letter to episkopos (overseer or bishop, v. 7 ). The two statements seem to be about the same people, as they could also be in 1 Timothy 3, 1–7; 5, 17–20 . The main function of the bishop was apparently the overseeing of the financial or material matters in the church. Again, as in Philippians 1, 1 , it is difficult to translate episkopos accurately, since the title “bishop” has such different connotations today. This bishop is God's “steward,” entrusted with the distribution of goods and accountable to the members of the community. Therefore his own life ought to be exemplary. He must not only avoid excesses but also represent a model Christian life in his own family. As in 1 Timothy 3, 2–13 , the description of the virtues of officeholders is taken from typical descriptions in literature on virtue.

Leaders of the church are to offer an alternative example to that of the false teachers who preach for personal gain, living off the community and seeking personal recognition and recompense. These kinds of accusations against one's opponents are also part of traditional rhetoric and should not be taken at face value. The conduct of the presbyters or bishops should, however, be above reproach. Primary among the false teachers are the Judaizers who continue to advocate observance of some aspects of the Jewish Law, a custom that was attractive to some Christians for many centuries. The writer stoops to an ethnic slur by quoting an earlier author to the effect that Cretans are by their very nature prone to deceit, dishonesty, and laziness, thus making them all the more susceptible to falsehoods ( 1, 12 ).

Teaching the Christian Life ( 2, 1–3, 11 )

Titus is encouraged to hold on to sound faith in teaching, while resisting pressures from all sides. Since the imagery of moral preaching often depicted the church as the new family, its members are here taught to relate to one another as older and younger people would in a well‐ordered family in which respect dominates. Groups singled out include older men and younger men, older and younger women, slaves, and those in authority. Christians must not act in accordance with the world around them. Yet they must survive in an alien world. Paul's instructions focus on how to survive in this world while offering an alternative lifestyle and developing integrity as Christians. The domestic role for women is reinforced. The author reminds them of their duties to be examples within the marital context. Likewise slaves are directed not to rebel against the control of their masters ( 2, 9–10 ). The author urges them to fidelity and kindness within the context of slavery. Citizens were also inclined to see Christianity as an alternative to obedience to a corrupt state. The author of Titus advocates exemplary citizenship based on the status of Christians as already justified and relying on the mercy of God. Paul summarizes his advice to Titus, reminding him to avoid controversies and to maintain his integrity in the true faith. The false teachers disturb the community and its ministers. Paul exhorts to vigilance and constancy.

Conclusion ( 3, 12–15 )

The final lines include very specific travel directives and recommendations for travelers passing through Crete. Titus is told to come with an assistant whom he will send, to join Paul at Nicopolis, a common city name; probably the one in western Greece is intended. Mediterranean Sea travel shut down from November 10 to March 10, and a traveler thus had to “winter” somewhere waiting out the passage of those months. Paul closes with personal greetings. The final greeting “grace be with you all” is the simplest of closing forms. Some manuscripts add “of the Lord” or “of God” and “Amen,” which are closer to the usual elaborations of Paul himself.

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