How to Read Titus

The Book of Titus


Planting a garden requires the right tools. And so does interpreting the Bible. But instead of shovels, rakes, and weeders, we use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application. 

Titus warns and equips the church against false teachers.  This video from The Bible Project provides an overview of the book. The goal of this post is not to replace your personal study of the Bible. Rather, it is to help you navigate the structure of Titus, discover what it teaches, dive into how it fits into the rest of the Bible, and look at how it applies to your life. Use these questions as a guide as you watch this video.  



Now that you have an overview of Titus in mind, you can apply what you know to interpret specific passages in Titus. Read Titus 1:1–4. Utilize observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application to dissect the meaning of this passage. Use the ideas from the videos to inform your answers to the following questions about Titus 1:1–4.  

Titus 1:1-4 (ESV)

Greeting

1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began3and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

4To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Observation asks the basic question: who, what, where, and when. It examines the passage at a surface level—the characters, events, themes, culture, and genre. Observations may seem obvious at first, but they open the door to the meaning of any part of the Bible. Be careful to not jump ahead to interpreting the observations, or assigning them meaning. Just list them. 

Example:  God never lies.

Observe: As you read the passage, what observations did you make about Titus 1:1–4? (Consider the author, time period, background information, cultural aspects, genre, themes, and actions of the characters. Also, take note of any information offered in the video.)
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Where an observation determines what the passage says, interpretation takes the next step to find out what the passage means. We’ve asked what the passage says about God and humanity, and now we ask what that means. Look at the themes and ask what they mean as well.

Example: (Observation) God never lies. (Interpretation)  What God says about eternal life with Him through Jesus is true, because He doesn't lie about His promises.

Interpret: What is significant about each of the observations you made above? What is the main message of Titus 1:1–4? How does its message connect with the main message of all of Titus? (Think about what this book teaches about God and humanity and what that teaching means, as well as the meaning of the themes. Consider insights from the video as well.)
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Contextualization looks at how the passage fits into the rest of the book and into the story of the Bible. It connects the themes that pop up throughout the story of Scripture and sees how the book fits into the biblical narrative. 

Example: The promises God makes throughout Scripture hold true. God has continued to keep the promise He made to Noah (to never flood the earth again), to Abraham (to make him into a great nation), to David (to bring forth a savior from his descendants). We know that Jesus will fulfill His promise to return, set all things right, and usher us into eternity with Him.

Contextualize: What themes does Titus 1:1–4 seem to establish? How do those themes connect with the rest of the book of Titus? What themes would you say have potential to carry forward into other books of the Bible? What themes connect back to the Old Testament?
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Application asks, “So what?” It considers how the meaning of this passage applies to our day-to-day lives. The point of reading Scripture isn’t to become puffed up with knowledge, but to be transformed. Ask God to show you how you can specifically put the truths from this book into practice. Brainstorm ways you can live out what you learned throughout your day.

Example: Because the assurance that we have about God's truthfulness, I can place our hope in His promises—especially His promises of eternity. When jobs feel pointless, friends pass away, or illness prevails, I place my hope not on my present circumstances but on the hope of Jesus' return. My pain here is fleeting. It doesn't even compare to what He has prepared for us in eternity. When life spirals into chaos, I can stand on the firm foundation of hope in the God who keeps His promises.

Apply: How does the truth from Titus 1:1–4 affect you and your relationship with God and others? What are some specific actions you could take to live out the truths found in this book this week? If you're having trouble coming up with an application of this particular passage, how could you apply the main message of Titus to your life this week?
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The last step in reading the Bible helps wrap everything up. We take the time to summarize the main message and implications of the book. As you summarize what you learned, it solidifies what God taught you through this video.  

Share: Now that you’ve spent time learning about Titus, how would you explain the main points of this book to a friend? If you were going to explain what you learned to a friend, what would you say? What would you be sure to include? Why?
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Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be like weeding a garden. You can find great joy in learning about God through His Word. Read through Titus this week. As you study, use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application as a guide. Take the next step and put what you learn into practice. 


To learn more about The Bible Project, click here.