Paul, Doctrine, and Scripture: A Very Brief Analysis of the Epistle to Titus

Paul, Doctrine, and Scripture

[Read: Titus]

Paul’s words to Titus concerning his doctrine are pretty strong, and show us that what is of primary concern in this book is the upholding of sound doctrine. The moral commands find their final reason in their relation to the Gospel (in its broadest sense). We see this in the very first verse where Paul states that his apostleship has been given to him for “the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth…” (1:1). Paul was no moralist, he spent himself as he did not to proclaim a message of doing good works, although good works seem to play such a primary role in Titus, but to proclaim the Gospel. He was “entrusted by the command of God our Savior” to preach this Gospel, and to defend it (1:3).

Therefore, after listing the character traits that should belong to an elder he says: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those contradict it.”[1] Titus’ selection of elders was not to be based solely on their upright standing among the congregation or the larger community, but it was also to be based upon the person in question’s commitment to the truth, his ability to teach the truth, and his ability to defend the truth. Similarly, Titus is instructed to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (2:1), and to “show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” in his teaching “so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about [the Christians]…”(2:7-8).

Furthermore, even the women of the congregation are commanded by God to “teach what is good” (2:3b), to “train the young women to love their husbands, [etc]…”(2:3-5a), for the sake of the Word of God not being reviled (2:5b). They were given this task of teaching so that the Word of God (i.e. the teaching of our Lord, but also the Old Testament) would not be reviled by the opponents of the faith. The Holy Spirit reiterates this in verses 9-10, where He, speaking through Paul, tells Titus that the moral behavior of slaves should aim to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

Hence, we see that good works in Titus are all meant to point to the Word of God, which we can infer from the text consists of: (a.)the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (2:11-14),[2] (b.)the work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating God’s elect (3:5-7),[3] (c.)the sending of the Spirit by the Father and the Son (3:6),[4] (d.)God’s work in saving all (types of) men (2:11),[5] and (e.)how the believer should behave in the interim between the Lord’s first and second advent (2:12-13).[6] These are all derived from the Gospel accounts themselves if we examine the content Paul presents here in light of the four canonical Gospels, so the question that now remains to be answered is this: Did Paul consider the canonical Gospels to be Scripture? And the answer is yes, since Paul calls the Words of our Lord “Scripture” in 1 Timothy 5:18.[7]


[1] Cf. Equality and Distinction Between “the Word of God” and “the Scriptures” in the Book of Acts (Parts 1 & 2)

[2] I.e. the content of the canonical Gospels

[3] Cf. Matt 3:8-10, 7:15-20, 12:33-37; Jn 1:13, 3:3-8

[4] Cf. Luke 11:13; Jn 14:16-17 & 26

[5] Cf. Matt 28:18-20; Jn 1:11-13, 3:16, & 12:20-33

[6] Cf. Matt 24:42-51

[7] Cf. Luke 10:7


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