First Timothy and Titus have several points of correspondence, such as concerns for healthy church leadership (1 Tim 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9); the necessity of opposing false teaching (1 Tim 4:1-4, 6:3-12 and Titus 1:10-16, 3:8-11); and relational norms for the church (1 Tim 5:1-2, 6:1-2 and Titus 2:1-14). Even so, there is much that is unique to each letter. Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the needs in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3); his letter to Titus was specific to the situation on the isle of Crete (Titus 1:5). Paul’s concern for Timothy was to fight heresy in the church (1 Tim 1:3-11; 4:6-10; 6:3-16); his concern for Titus was that Titus help the church in Crete to get off on the right foot. Paul encouraged Titus to instruct the believers of Crete concerning the obligations that accompany the blessings of the gospel. Paul’s exhortations to Titus reflected his understanding that in Christ and the coming of the Spirit, God fulfilled Old Testament prophesies concerning the last days.
(1) In Titus 2:13, Paul described the glorious appearing of Christ in language the prophets used to describe God’s glory on the day of judgement. Isaiah announced the day of the Lord’s servant, when He would appear to gather His people (Isa 49:5). Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would appear with glory and power on the day of judgement (Isa 66:14-15). In Daniel 7, the prophet received a vision of the kingdoms that would rule the earth. At an appointed time, One like a son of man approached to receive authority from the Most High and rule for Him. Daniel noted the glory of the appearing of the son of man, stating that He came with the clouds of heaven to approach God’s throne (Dan 7:13-14). Paul wrote that the believers on the isle of Crete were to practice the good works of the gospel because of what Christ had done for them and because they looked forward to the day of His return. Paul portrayed Jesus in light of Old Testament descriptions of God on the day He would judge the earth but also directly stated Jesus’ deity by calling Him God and Savior (Titus 2:13).
(2) In Titus 1:16; 2:14; 3:8, 14, Paul noted the importance of good works that would be visible to the world, reflecting the imagery of Deut 4:1-8. Moses spoke to Israel on the plains of Moab, as the people prepared for the conquest of Canaan. He reminded Israel that God had chosen them and established them as His people to do the good works of the law in the Promised Land so that all nations would see His glory and want Him as their God (Deut 4:1-8). All of this was based upon the Exodus event—when God had redeemed His people from Egypt. The new community under Titus’s care was founded upon Jesus Christ’s act of self-sacrifice and the promise of His glorious return. Paul commanded the redeemed people of Christ to devote themselves to do good works that would testify of God’s greatness to the watching world.
(3) In Titus 3:5-6, Paul described the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation with the language of Ezek 36:24-37:14. In Ezekiel 36-37, the prophet foretold the day of God’s grace upon His people, when He would awaken them by His Spirit. Ezekiel noted that the Lord would sprinkle Israel and Judah with pure water so that they would be pure (Ezek 36:25). He said that the Lord would put His Spirit within His people so that they would obey Him (Ezek 36:26-27). Paul wrote that though rulers and authorities may have been thought “foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another” (Titus 3:3), the Cretan believers themselves had once walked the same path. Nonetheless, God’s goodness and love were poured out on them in Christ and by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3-7). God saved the Cretans by the washing and regeneration from the Spirit. Paul wrote, “This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:6-7).