Category: Pastoral Epistles|Titus|Titus 2

Stevens, “Paul as the Originator of Women Teachers within Religious Circles”

An essay focusing on Titus 2:3–5 has recently been published:

Chris S. Stevens, “Paul as the Originator of Women Teachers within Religious Circles.” Pages 149–64 in Gods, Spirits, and Worship in the Greco-Roman World and Early Christianity. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Adam Z. Wright. Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity 23. London: T&T Clark, 2022.

A preview is available on Academia. The first paragraph of the essay provides an overview: “Contemporary debates concerning the roles of males and females within the local church have diverted from the positive elements concerning corporate roles for all members within the Christian community. Taking a step back and addressing this important issue is important for contemporary theological debates, especially concerning the position of women within the local church. The focus of this chapter is to help situate female involvement within the Christian community with principal attention given to the largely ignored text of Tit. 2:3–5.”

The preface to the volume also summarizes the essay: “Chris Stevens explores in what ways Paul promoted (or held back?) women in teaching roles. He examines Tit. 2:3–5, which he regards as understudied, and reviews some of the cults centered on female deities or cults, whose memberships were mostly female, such as that associated with Dionysus, as well as interesting figures such as Hypatia. He also reviews the limited roles of women in Second Temple Judaism. In light of this backdrop, Stevens concludes that far from holding women back, which was all too common in late antique societies, Paul was a ‘radical originator of women teaching within the religious community.’”

History of Baptist Interpretation of Titus

After about a 5 year hiatus, the Journal of Baptist Studies has relaunched with a new website and an issue devoted entirely to the history of interpretation of the letter to Titus among Baptists. The Journal of Baptist studies is a peer-reviewed journal, published electronically and edited by Anthony Chute and Matthew Emerson. There is no charge for accessing the journal.

Here is the table of contents for the current issue (not including the book reviews):

Baptists, Pastors, and Titus 1: A History of Interpretation

By Ray Van Neste……………………………………………………………4


The Legality of Slavery in the Sight of God: Baptists and Their Use of Titus 2 to Defend Slavery

By Jeff Straub………………………………………………………………36


Reception History of Titus 3 in Baptist Life

By Anthony Chute………………………………………………………….64


Selected Baptist Bibliography on Titus

By Matthew Y. Emerson ……………………………………………………91


I think this issue will be of interest to scholars working on the Pastorals even if they are not Baptists. The essays trace the way one group of Christians have interpreted and applied this letter over the years. The focus is not simply on academic writing but how the texts were applied in the life of the church.

In my essay I was intrigued to find shifts in the way Baptist leaders interpreted references to plurality of pastors/elders, the use of alcohol, and the ‘believing” or “faithful” children in Titus 1:6.

I am interested in any thoughts readers have on these essays. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

The manuscript . . .

The manuscript for my commentary, Reading Paul’s Letters to Individuals: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, is officially in the mail to Smyth and Helwys.

S&H expects the commentary to be available in October, just in time for SBL. Maybe I’ll need to go to Boston after all.

This is the commentary that Glenn Hinson was supposed to write, then Marty Soards. Both ended up not filling the contract. Then Hulitt Gloer wrote a manuscript, but was not able to finish it for health reasons.

So in January–you may recall–the editor of the series, Charles Talbert (who was my doctorfather at Baylor) asked if I could finish Gloer’s manuscript.  And I’ve spent the last few months doing so.

I’d originally hoped to have 300 – 325 double spaced pages, and ended up with 425: OUCH! Did I type all that stuff?

What’s innovative or fresh about the commentary? Two things, off the top of my head:

First, it is a scholarly commentary, interacting extensively with primary sources (Philo and Josephus, especially) and cutting-edge secondary sources (e.g., Bruce Winter’s work on the new Roman woman), BUT the exposition is aimed at preachers and teachers. This would be the first commentary I would recommend for people who want to preach these letters.

Second, this is the first commentary on the Pastorals to take into account the role that succession plays in these letters.

Good Friday Thoughts from the Pastorals

Here are a few selections that point to Christ as our Saviour. These seem appropriate to meditate and consider today. The translation is my own.

1Ti 2.1-7

1 First of all, then, I encourage supplications, prayers, petitions, and praises to be made on behalf of all men, 2 on behalf of kings and all in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 who desires all people to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who sacrificed himself as a ransom on behalf of all, the witness at the proper time. 7 Into this I was appointed herald and apostle—I speak the truth, I do not lie—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Titus 2.11-15

11 For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men; 12 instructing us, after we renounce impiety and worldly desires, to live self-controlled, justly and godly in this present age; 13 looking forward to the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and deliverer of us, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself on behalf of us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. 15 These things speak and exhort and set forth with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Titus 3.1-7

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be prepared for all good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all courtesy to all men. 3 For we too were foolish, disobedient, deluded, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our lives in malice and envy, loathsome, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and benevolence of God our Saviour appeared, 5 not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us through washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that being justified in His grace we become heirs according to the hope of life eternal.

The Pastoral Epistles in First Clement, Part I

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]

The discussion of First Clement in The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers lists four areas of potential reference to the Pastoral Epistles. The readings range from a ‘c’ rating to a ‘not classed’ rating.

The instance under discussion today is the ‘c’ rated reading.

1Cl 1.3 || Titus 2.4-5

(3) ἀπροσωπολήμπτως γὰρ πάντα ἐποιεῖτε, και τοῖς νομίμοις τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπορεύεσθε, ὑποτασσόμενοι τοῖς ἡγουμένοις ὑμῶν καὶ τιμὴν τὴν καθήκουσαν ἀπονέμοντες τοῖς παρʼ ὑμῖν πρεσβυτέροις· νέοις τε μέτρια καὶ σεμνὰ νοεῖν ἐπετρέπετε· γυναιξίν τε ἐν ἀμώμῳ καὶ σεμνῇ καὶ ἁγνῇ συνειδήσει πάντα ἐπιτελεῖν παρηγγέλλετε, στεργούσας καθηκόντως τοὺς ἄνδρας ἑαυτῶν· ἔν τε τῷ κανόνι τῆς ὑποταγῆς ὑπαρχούσας τὰ κατὰ τὸν οἶκον σεμνῶς οἰκουργεῖν ἐδιδάσκετε, πάνυ σωφρονούσας. (1Cl 1.3)
(3) For you did everything without partiality, and you lived in accordance with the laws of God, submitting yourselves to your leaders and giving to the older men among you the honor due them. You instructed the young to think temperate and proper thoughts; you charged the women to perform all their duties with a blameless, reverent, and pure conscience, cherishing their own husbands, as is right; and you taught them to abide by the rule of obedience, and to manage the affairs of their household with dignity and all discretion. (1Cl 1.3)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (28-29). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

4 ἵνα σωφρονίζωσιν τὰς νέας φιλάνδρους εἶναι, φιλοτέκνους 5 σώφρονας ἁγνὰς οἰκουργοὺς ἀγαθάς, ὑποτασσομένας τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν, ἵνα μὴ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ βλασφημῆται. (Tt 2.4-5, NA27)
4 so that they might encourage the younger women to love their husbands, love their children, 5 to be sober minded, pure, fulfilling their household duties, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed. (Tt 2.4-5, my own translation)

The surrounding context in Titus (Tt 2.1-8) also has similar concepts to those mentioned in the first portion of 1Cl 1.3, particularly the bits about older men and “the young”. Also note the similar idea of submitting to leaders; this idea is familiar in First Timothy, both to governmental leaders and also to overseers and elders.

The striking portion of 1Cl 1.3, compared to Tt 2.4-5, has to do with lexical similarity in the passage describing the charge to the women. The Oxford committee highlights several items. The following list has text from Clement on the left and text from Titus on the right; translations are on alternating lines.

  • ἁγνῇ συνειδήσει -> ἁγνὰς

  • pure conscience -> pure/good

  • στεργούσας καθηκόντως τοὺς ἄνδρας ἑαυτῶν -> φιλάνδρους

  • cherishing their own husbands -> love their own husbands

  • ἔν τε τῷ κανόνι τῆς ὑποταγῆς ὑπαρχούσας -> ὑποτασσομένας τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν

  • to abide in the rule of obedience -> being subject to their own husbands

  • οἰκουργεῖν -> οἰκουργοὺς

  • manage affairs of the household -> fulfilling household duties

  • πάνυ σωφρονούσας -> σώφρονας

  • all discretion -> to be sober minded

Between the two passages there is a concentration of similar ideas, particularly the concept of managing the house. The editors of the Oxford committee find this the strongest point:

The Committee is inclined to think that correspondence of phrases, and especially of οἰκουργεῖν and οἰκουργοὺς, cannot well be accounted for by chance, and makes it probable that the one writer is dependent on the other: they have, therefore, with some hesitation, decided to place the passage in Class C. (51).

This is followed by one committee member’s note that he posits a common source document between the two; some sort of “manual of directions for the moral life” (51). But the lists don’t read like other such lists. How is this known? There is a similar list in Philo De Execr.:

ὄψονται καὶ γυναῖκας, ἃς ἠγάγοντο κουριδίας ἐπὶ γνησίων παίδων σπορᾷ, σώφρονας καὶ οἰκουροὺς καὶ φιλάνδρους ἑταιρῶν τρόπον ὑβριζομένας (Philo, Rewards 139)
Borgen, P., Fuglseth, K., & Skarsten, R. (2005). The Works of Philo : Greek Text with Morphology (Rewards 139). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
They will also see their wives, whom they married in holy wedlock for the purpose of propagating legitimate children, their modest, domestic, affectionate wives, insulted like so many courtesans. (Philo, Rewards 139)
Philo, o. A., & Yonge, C. D. (1996, c1993). The works of Philo  : Complete and unabridged (Rewards 139, p.677). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Here there are some common elements with the lists in 1Cl and Titus. But the list in Philo is the result of evil (cf. De Execr. 138-142); listing the qualities of the wives to remind the men of what they are losing as a result of what they’ve done. The context in 1Cl and Titus is completely different in that it is positive. The agreements between 1Cl and Titus are greater in number, adding items like purity/conscience and being subject to their own husbands.

I think it is likely that the list in Philo is not related but coincidental. It is interesting that Titus uses vocabularly like that of Philo. Again, Philo listed first, Titus after:

  • σώφρονας -> σώφρονας

  • οἰκουροὺς -> οἰκουργοὺς

  • φιλάνδρους -> φιλάνδρους

The second listed similarity is a bit deceptive; read the words carefully. They are not the same. However, Philo’s οἰκουροὺς does show up in variant readings of this verse (Sc, D2, H, Byz) but οἰκουργοὺς is the better attested reading (cf. Jerome Quinn, The Letter to Titus, [Anchor Bible] p. 121; also J.K. Elliott Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, pp.181-182.).

Given that Philo pre-dates Titus and 1Cl, neither Titus nor 1Cl could have possibly influenced Philo. I have not seen any special studies on similarities between Philo and Paul (though if you have references, please leave them in the comments to this post) so I can’t make any judgment on if Paul could have been influenced by Philo, or if it was part of the first century Jewish mileu to use words and concepts like this in the description of women. And there’s always sheer coincidence.

My own dating of the Pastorals puts them in Paul’s lifetime (I think Paul is responsible for them via amanuensis); my dating of First Clement is to the 90’s. Thus, by dates alone, it is possible for Titus to have influenced First Clement given the 25-30 year span between the two of them. First Clement was written from Rome by the church at Rome. Given Pauline authorship, Titus was likely written from Rome. Paul died in Rome, so any copies of his letters he had at his death could very possibly end up in the hands of the church at Rome.

I think the concentration of ideas in Titus that show up here in First Clement may be more than coincedence. The little we know about the provenance of both letters makes it possible that Paul’s letters, even the pastoral letters, would be known to the church in Rome. But I’m not inclinded to rule out coincidence or even rule out appealing to a common mileu at present. I’m more interested in examining other potential parallels before making that call.

Next up: 1Cl 2.7; 24.4 || Titus 3.1; 2Ti 2.21; 3.17; 2Co 9.8.

The Pastoral Epistles in the Epistle of Barnabas, Part V

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]

Ep.Barn. 14.5 and Titus 2.14 have some commonalities.

Ep.Barn. 14.5 || Titus 2.14

(5) ἐφανερώθη δὲ ἵνα κἀκεῖνοι τελειωθῶσιν τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν καὶ ἡμεῖς διὰ τοῦ κληρονομοῦντος διαθήκην κυρίου Ἰησοῦ λάβωμεν, ὃς εἰς τοῦτο ἡτοιμάσθη, ἵνα αὐτὸς φανείς τὰς ἤδη δεδαπανημένας ἡμῶν καρδίας τῷ θανάτῳ καὶ παραδεδομένας τῇ τῆς πλάνης ἀνομίᾳ λυτρωσάμενος ἐκ τοῦ σκότους, διάθηται ἐν ἡμῖν διαθήκην λόγῳ. (Ep.Barn. 14.5)
(5) And he was made manifest in order that they might fill up the measure of their sins and we might receive the covenant through the Lord Jesus who inherited it, who was prepared for this purpose, in order that by appearing in person and redeeming from darkness our hearts, which had already been paid over to death and given over to the lawlessness of error, he might establish a covenant in us by his word. (Ep.Barn. 14.5)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (312, 313). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

14 ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον, ζηλωτὴν καλῶν ἔργων. (Tt 2.14, NA27)
14 who gave himself on behalf of us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. (Tt 2.14, my own translation)

These texts have slight lexical commonalities and, therefore, some topical similarity. First, previous to the common material, Ep.Barn. notes Christ’s “appearing in person”. Titus 2.13 also notes “appearing”, but there it is the “appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. One passage focuses on Christ’s person, the other on His glory. The end is the same (focus on the appearing of Christ) but the means are different.

Our NT passage here (Titus 2.14) also focuses on Christ’s person, using the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτὸν. Thus we know it is “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” who gave himself. Ep.Barn. also uses a pronoun (though here the personal pronoun, αὐτὸς) to refocus and emphasize the one received: the covenant-inheriting “Lord Jesus”, the one who was “prepared for this purpose”. In both texts Jesus Christ himself is the one given to a special, prepared people.

This special people that Christ is being given over to is lawless and in need of redemption. The word translated “lawlessness” in both texts is ἀνομία. Additionally, both texts use the verb λυτρόω (Ep.Barn. an aorist middle participle, λυτρωσάμενος; Titus a future indicative, λυτρώσεται) for “redeem”. In both texts, the problem (ἀνομία) is the same, and the solution (λυτρόω) is the same.

Note, however, that Tt 2.14 may echo Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8]. The language is similar and the verb is exactly the same: 

8 καὶ αὐτὸς λυτρώσεται τὸν Ισραηλ ἐκ πασῶν τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτοῦ.
8 and he himself will redeem Israel from all of its lawlessnesses. (Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8])

Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8] may therefore lie at the root of both texts; or it may lie at the root of Titus 2.14, which may in some loose way influence Ep.Barn. Either way, direct dependence is unable to be proven though the confluence of lexical and topical similarities may indicate some loose affinity between the two.

The Oxford committee further notes:

Here the idea of Christ preparing for Himself a special people, by redeeming it from ἀνομία, is present in both writings in rather similar language, and so far strengthens the presumption created by Ep.Barn 1.3-6 || Tt 3.5-7, 1.2. (14).

The earlier noted affinity (Ep.Barn 1.3-6 || Tt 3.5-7, 1.2) brings to light the idea of the spirit being “poured out” on men, creating a “hope for life” that is present in both texts. This hope has ground in Christ’s own sacrifice, the price of redemption being paid. The two parts do go together, but whether or not these two texts are dependent in this presentation cannot be said. Christ’s death redeems sinners, and the giving of the spirit (a result of his death was the gift of the spirit, see here) and the resultant hope of life (the spirit is present as a temporary deposit after Christ’s resurrection, just as he promised, which gives us hope of his return) are foundational and necessary pieces to the whole of Christianity.

It is not surprising that two Christian texts would make these statements. What is surprising, however, is the commonality of language between the two. There may be some influence, or the two may both have some influence from both common liturgies/creeds/hymns and the LXX, but direct influence of Titus on Barnabas is not likely. Might the author of Ep.Barn. known of Titus, and might he have read it? Sure. Might he have been influenced by that exposure? Perhaps. But his using of Titus as direct source in areas of Ep.Barn. isn’t very likely, in my estimation.

Next up: Pastoral Epistles in the Didache

Towner on the context of Titus

[an aside: I sometimes wonder if, when mentioning a scholar or work on the PE, we shouldn’t immediately tag the author with a short, 3-5 word description of his/her view of authorship]

In his new commentary (NICNT), Philip Towner (authorship: Pauline via a free amanuensis) introduces what is (at least to me) a new argument regarding the context of Titus.  He points to local Cretan mythology regarding Zeus as a deified / ascended Cretan king (thus born on the island, NOT on Olympus), etc., and how Cretan portrayals of Zeus are of a long-haired young man, with all the impulsiveness and lusts of youth.

These myths, Towner argues, provide the backdrop for reading Titus.  And the first interpretive key to the letter is 1.2b, hO APSEDHS QEOS.  From there, Towner reads the letter as polemically engaging the Cretan views of Zeus AND empire and emperor (“appearing,” descriptions of God’s character, etc.)

Has anyone other than Towner read Titus on this basis?  Has anyone critiqued this reading, beyond a brusque and reactionary “the PE are pseudonymous, Towner thinks they’re Pauline”?


Why the Pastoral Epistles?

Sometimes I’m asked why I have an interest in the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve been fascinated by them for a long time. Here are some reasons:

  • 1Ti 4.12-16:

    Let no one treat you with contempt due to your youth, but you yourself become an example of the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. Until I come occupy yourself with public reading of Scripture, with encouragement, and with teaching. Do not neglect the gift in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elder council. Practice these things, be immersed in them, so that your progress might be visible to all. Take pains with yourself and your teaching, persist in them: for in doing this you will deliver both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4.12-16, my own translation)

    I can remember reading these verses in Junior High and being astounded by the whole “youth” thing. Here Paul was telling someone perceptibly younger but still in a leadership position to stick to his guns and do the job he was entrusted with. That’s always stuck with me.

  • If you ascribe to Pauline authorship (and I do) then these are the last things we have from the mind of Paul. It’s his views on stuff nearer to the close of his ministry than the start of it. It isn’t systematic, but it does provide insight. How did Paul’s views develop over time? How did he see the church?
  • These are, ostensibly (though see this post and comments) letters to people, not to churches.
  • The Pastoral Epistles (and First Timothy, in particular) touch on some hot-button issues. You know: role of men and women in the fellowship, how to discern and handle false teachers, God desiring “all people to be saved” … you get the gist.
  • Titus 2.11-15:

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men instructing us, so that having renounced impiety and worldly desires, we might live self-controlled and justly and godly in this present age, looking forward to the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and deliverer of us, Jesus Christ, who gave himself on behalf us, so that he himself might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. These things speak and exhort and set forth with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Tt 2.11-15, my own translation)

I treasure these words; they are both humbling and motivating. They remind me that I am saved, that Jesus Christ is the source of my salvation, and that He will come again to take us home. Marana tha!

There is more, but those are the biggies.

Updates and News

As you’ve likely noticed, there have been several changes here at

The biggest change is that there is now more than one blogger. In addition to Rick Brannan (yours truly), Perry L. Stepp, Lloyd Pietersen and Ray Van Neste have agreed to begin posting to

Perry is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Kentucky Christian University. He’s recently had a book published by the Sheffield Phoenix Press, Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle. He’s also presented papers at SBL in the Disputed Paulines group. It’s great to have him aboard.

There will likely be at least one more blogger added to the team; more information on that in a future post.

Lloyd is a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies  at the University of Bristol. Here’s some further information on Dr. Pietersen from his web site:

Dr Lloyd Pietersen obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield. His thesis has been published as The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity (JSNTSup 264; London/New York: T & T Clark International, 2004). He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol and is co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament Seminar at the British New Testament Conference.

Ray is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies and Director of the R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He is also author of Cohesion and Structure in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 280; Lonon/New York: T&T Clark International, 2004). And he has his own personal blog too.

What is this site all about, then?

Well, it’s about the Pastoral Epistles. Folks who blog here have a more-than-average interest in the Pastorals. We’ll blog about stuff like:

  • Quick reviews of books, articles, chapters, etc. that we read that have to do with the Pastorals. The same book or article may be discussed by multiple authors on the site.
  • Extended reviews.
  • Reviews of or interaction with conference presentations or papers.
  • Interaction with other web sites, blog posts, etc. that mention things that primarily or tangentially refer to the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Thoughts, musings and whatnot. We’ll feel free to use the blog as a scratch pad of sorts as we think through topics or exegetical points having to do with the Pastoral Epistles.
  • Whatever else seems interesting to us, as long as we can relate it back to the Pastorals.

If you’re familiar with the older site, it is still available at Content may or may not migrate over to the new site.

Anyway, thanks for your support of the site. Please bear with us while we get the place set up. And please do update your RSS / Feed reader links. The new link is You can use this in any feedreader/aggregator or online tool such as BlogLines.

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