v1-4: Paul's greeting to Titus may be described as the most doctrinal of all his greetings. It seems that doctrine was a key issue in Crete, to where Titus had been sent. This letter was written about the same time as the first letter to Timothy, A.D. 62-65.
v1: The truth that leads to godliness; see 1 Tim 6.3.
Paul had been called to serve God as an apostle. This meant the promotion of faith and knowledge of the truth. See also 1 Tim 2.2, where a similar phrase is used.
v2: Faith and knowledge rest on God's promise of eternal life. He cannot lie (Heb 6.18), for He is perfect. We are the recipients of His unfailing promises. God made the promises in eternity past, for eternity future; such unlimited power provides confidence for us.
v3: At the right time, this glorious salvation was revealed in Jesus Christ (Eph 3.2-3), and was proclaimed through the apostles. Notice that preaching is the primary means by which the gospel is to be spread. Paul urged both Timothy and Titus to continue in this.
v4: Titus is not mentioned in Acts, but appears in 2 Cor 8.16-24 and Gal 2.1-4. He had shared with Paul in serving God. He was a Greek, and was loved and valued by Paul.
v5: Titus was given a specific task, to remain in Crete, to set things in order (1 Cor 11.34; 1 Thess 3.10), and to appoint elders.
Titus, like Timothy, had an apostolic ministry, working in Crete with specific aims, before moving on elsewhere. It seems that the particular problems in Crete required apostolic input.
In Acts 14.23, Paul appointed elders. The teaching of 1 Tim is that the local church ordinarily appoints elders. They provide the main leadership in a local church. Titus was directed to appoint elders in "every town," to lead the churches.
v6-8: As in 1 Tim 3, the chief qualification for elders is that of godly character. His household must reflect God's order, and provides an illustration of the prospective elder's character. He is entrusted with God's work; such an important task demands godly character.
v9: He must hold firmly to the message which has been taught. As in 2 Tim 2.2, he has been taught by others, and must be able to teach others also. He must hold sound doctrine (2 Tim 2.15). And he must exhort and refute those who contradict the truth. This is consistent with the comment that the letter has a strong doctrinal emphasis; the elders had a responsibility to maintain good doctrine in the churches.
v10: The problem of false teachers, "especially those of the circumcision group." Titus would have had to address some of the same difficulties faced in Galatia (and addressed in the letter to the Galatians). These false teachers were rebellious, idle talkers, deceivers; they would fail the test of eldership.
v11: In the church, they must be silenced. They had affected whole households, perhaps teaching secretly in people's houses. They therefore undermined established leadership. Paul insisted that false teaching, carried by those of ungodly character, undermined individuals and households, and therefore damaged the church.
They were also greedy; Ezek 22.27; 1 Tim 6.5.
v12: One of the false teachers had a particularly low view of the Cretans themselves.
v13: Rebuke them sharply, not to destroy, but to restore them.
v14: False teachers gave heed to Jewish fables, confusing and contradicting O.T. truth. They taught the commands of men rather than the commands of God.
v15: Compare 1 Tim 4.3-5. Legalism was taught by "the circumcision group."
We can preach the gospel to those described as "liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons", for it does not make us like them. Paul seems to answer an error which would keep Christians from blessing those of doubtful character.
v16: The false teachers profess to know God, but their lives were not consistent with this, "by their actions they deny Him." Such is the shame of such religious people, that their lives are not consistent with the claims of their lips.