The Context of Titus

This is the second lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Titus. In this lesson I’m going to talk about how Titus fits into the overall story of the Bible.

Since the beginning of time, God has had rules that humans need to follow. Throughout history there were times that God added rules or modified rules. There were also times when God rescinded rules. In this lesson I’m going to do a broad overview of all those changes so that we understand where the instructions recorded in Titus fit into the broad set of commands that God expects us to obey.

Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.


This is the second lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Titus. In this lesson I’m going to talk about how Titus fits into the overall story of the Bible. 

In the first lesson I talked about why Titus was originally written and why it’s in the Bible. Titus was originally written because Paul had left Titus in Crete and then Paul wrote a letter to Titus giving him instructions on what he was supposed to do in Crete. Titus was supposed to appoint elders, so Paul listed the qualifications to be an elder. Titus was also supposed to teach, so Paul gave some instructions that Titus was supposed to deliver to the Christians in Crete. Paul gave instructions for elderly men, elderly women, young people, and slaves. He also gave instructions regarding how all people should relate to the governing authorities. 

The reason all this is in the Bible is because all those instructions were not just for the Christians in Crete. They apply to all Christians in all centuries, including us. The qualifications for elders and the instructions to various age groups are things we need to know and observe in the 21st century. 

What I’m going to do in this lesson is talk about how those instructions fit into the overall story of the Bible. Since the beginning of time, God has had rules that humans need to follow. Throughout history there were times that God added rules or modified rules. There were also times when God rescinded rules. In this lesson I’m going to do a broad overview of all those changes so that we understand where the instructions recorded in Titus fit into the broad set of commands that God expects us to obey. 

Let’s start by talking about creation. Creation took place roughly 4000 BC. As part of creation, God created Adam and Eve. When He created them, He gave them some instructions. Those instructions are recorded in Genesis 1, starting in verse 28. As I read this, notice the rules Adam and Eve were expected to follow. 

Gen. 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “ Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it. God also gave Adam and Eve permission to eat plants and fruit. He did not give them permission to eat animals. This tells us Adam and Eve, and their immediate descendants, were vegetarians. 

Shortly after this, God gave them another command that we read about in Genesis 2, starting in verse 15. 

Gen. 2:15   Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

This additional command was that Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat from a particular tree in the garden. As you probably know, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and they ate from the forbidden tree. By doing that they brought sin into the world, they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and over the following centuries man became very sinful. Mankind became so sinful that God brought a flood on the earth and wiped out all humans except Noah and his wife, and their three sons and their wives. The flood took place roughly 2500 BC. 

After the flood, there were only eight people on Earth. God gave them some instructions. Those instructions are recorded in Genesis 9. As I read this, think about how these commands are similar to the commands given to Adam and how are they different from the commands given to Adam.

Gen. 9:1   And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “ Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

6 “ Whoever sheds man’s blood, 

By man his blood shall be shed, 

For in the image of God 

He made man.

7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; 

Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

First, God told Noah and his sons to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. That is very similar to the instructions given to Adam and Eve. Second, God gave Noah and his sons permission to eat meat. That is very different from the instructions given to Adam. Humans were no longer vegetarians as they had been before the flood. Third, God added something very significant. God added the death penalty. God said that if any man murdered another man, the murderer should be put to death. That is something we do not see in the Bible before the account of the flood. 

After the flood, God once again started with a small group of people who were supposed to multiply and fill the earth. They did indeed multiply, but humans continued to be very sinful. 

About 500 years after the flood, there was a man named Abraham. Abraham had a son named Isaac and Isaac had a son named Jacob. God took Jacob and his descendants and set them apart as His own people, the nation of Israel. 

Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt where their descendants lived for 400 years. Around 1500 BC God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. Moses first led the Israelites to Mount Sinai where God said the following to Moses.

Ex. 19:3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

At Mount Sinai God gave the Israelites the Mosaic law. The Mosaic Law was very extensive, much more extensive than the commands given to Adam or Noah. In fact, it takes the entire second half of the book of Exodus and the whole book of Leviticus to record all the precepts of the Mosaic Law.

The plan was the Israelites were supposed to follow this law and be known as the people of God. However, just like all the humans before them, the Israelites rebelled against God. They were sinful. Eventually, towards the end of the Old Testament time period around 600 BC, the Israelites were punished and exiled. 

That brings us to the New Testament. The New Testament tells us about people and events from the first century AD. Jesus was born around 0 AD. In the mid-30s AD Jesus did His public ministry where He traveled around Judea and Galilee, teaching, calling disciples, and performing miracles. Then He was crucified and buried, but He rose from the dead and went back to heaven. Before Jesus went back to heaven, He gave a commission to His disciples. We know this as the Great Commission. Let’s read this commission in Matthew 28, starting at verse 18.

Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Once again, God started with a small handful of men. These men were supposed to make disciples of all the nations and build God’s church. As they did that, they were supposed to teach the disciples to observe all that Jesus had commanded. 

Think about the phrase “observe all that I commanded you.” The New Testament is a record of all the things that Jesus commanded us to observe. The New Testament is more than just commands. There’s a lot of history and theology. But amongst all that content are the commands that the disciples of Jesus, the servants of Jesus, need to observe and obey. 

When the apostles first started building the church, the church was made up exclusively of Jews. However, eventually Gentiles started to become disciples of Jesus and they became part of the church. As that happened, the early church began to debate whether or not Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses. We read about this in Acts 15, starting in verse 1.

Acts 15:1    Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 

Acts 15 is an account of the gathering in Jerusalem to answer this question. Essentially, the answer was no, the Gentile Christians did not have to observe the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders in Jerusalem wrote a letter to put this decision in writing. That letter is recorded in Acts 15.

Acts 15:22   Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas — Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, 23 and they sent this letter by them, 

“ The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.

24 “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls,

25  it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.

28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:

29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

Once again, the answer was the Gentile Christians did not have to obey the rules of the Mosaic Law. However, they certainly did need to obey the commands found in the New Testament. 

Now let’s talk about where Titus fits in all this. Titus is one of the books in the New Testament. Titus contains some of these rules that God expects His disciples to obey. In other words, Titus is one of the books that was written to record the rules and standards of life that God expects Christians to live up to.

Here is a summary of the commands we find in Titus. 

Titus 1:5  For this reason I left you in Crete, in order that you might set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in each city as I commanded you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and having faithful children who are not under charge of debauchery or rebellion.

In the following verses Paul proceeded to give more qualifications for elders. Then in chapter 2, starting at verse 2, Paul gave instructions for elderly men and elderly women. In verse 6 he gave instructions for young people. In verse 9 he gave instructions to slaves. In chapter 3, starting at verse 1, he gave instructions for how all men are supposed to relate to the governing authorities. 

Titus certainly does not contain everything God commanded us to observe, but it contains some of the rules we need to obey. Therefore, it’s important that we know Titus, so that we are aware of all the instructions that God has given us. 

Let me close by giving you something to think about. How well do you know the commands that God gave us in the New Testament? As you think about the New Testament, are you confident you know what it says and what God expects of us? Or are you thinking that you really don’t know if you know how we’re supposed to live? If you’re not confident that you know what the New Testament teaches us about how to live, may I encourage you to devote the time necessary to read the Bible, study the Bible, and get to a point where you know that you know how we’re supposed to live as Christians and as servants of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

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Scripture quotations from Titus taken from a translation by Bible Mountain.

“All other Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (