Lesson 133: Titus

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

In Paul’s epistle to Titus, a local leader of the Church in Crete, Paul exhorted him to use sound doctrine to teach and correct others. Paul also counseled Titus to teach the Saints to be righteous examples, to have hope of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and to continue in good works. (Note: In preparation for this lesson, it might be helpful to review the principles at seektruth.lds.org.)

Suggestions for Teaching

Titus 1

Paul exhorts Titus to use sound doctrine to teach and correct the Saints and others in Crete

Invite students to think of a time when they heard someone speak against the Church or its doctrine.

  • What is an appropriate way to defend the Church and its doctrine when someone speaks against it?

Invite students to look for truths as they study the book of Titus that can help them know how to appropriately defend the Church and its doctrine when someone speaks against it.

Invite students to locate the island of Crete on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul.” Explain that near the end of Paul’s life, Paul wrote a letter to Titus, who was serving as a Church leader in Crete. Titus had been converted by Paul several years earlier, and after his baptism he had served with Paul in various assignments. In his epistle, Paul encouraged Titus and counseled him about his calling.

Summarize Titus 1:1–6 by explaining that Paul testified of the hope he had for eternal life because of God’s promises in our premortal existence. Paul also explained that he had sent Titus to the island of Crete to set the Church in order there. One duty Titus had was to call men to serve as bishops.

Invite students to read Titus 1:7–8 silently, looking for characteristics that a bishop should have. You may want to encourage students to mark what they find.

  • According to these verses, what characteristics should a bishop have? (You may need to explain that self-willed means obstinate or arrogant and that “filthy lucre” refers to money that is obtained through dishonest or otherwise unrighteous means.)

  • Why do you think these characteristics are necessary for bishops to have?

Invite a student to read Titus 1:9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for another characteristic bishops should have. Explain that “sound doctrine” refers to true doctrine.

  • What is another characteristic that bishops should have?

  • What do you think it means to “[hold] fast” to the word of God?

  • According to verse 9, why is it important for bishops to hold fast to the word of God? (To be able to use true doctrine to encourage others to live the gospel and to refute “gainsayers.” A gainsayer is someone who speaks against or denies an idea [in this case, the truthfulness of the gospel]. Gainsayers can be both members and nonmembers of the Church.)

  • What can we, like bishops, do as we hold fast to the word of God? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we hold fast to the word of God, we will be able to use true doctrine to encourage others to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and to refute those who oppose it. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the power that true doctrine has in helping individuals live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Boyd K. Packer

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. … That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

  • According to President Packer, why is it so important to study and learn true doctrine?

Divide the class into groups of two or three. Invite each group to work together to answer the following questions and to write their answers in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Consider writing the questions on the board.

  1. 1.

    What can we do to be ready to teach true doctrine so we can encourage others to live the gospel? (See Alma 17:2–4.)

  2. 2.

    What are some examples from the scriptures of times when someone taught true doctrine to a person who expressed doubt or animosity toward the Church or its doctrine? (Include at least one example of a time when someone repented because he or she was taught true doctrine.)

  3. 3.

    When has learning true doctrine helped convince you or someone you know to more fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ?

After sufficient time, invite several students to report their answers to the class. After they report, explain that while true doctrine can help us to encourage others to live the gospel and refute those who oppose the Church, not all people will receive the truth. Because all individuals have agency, they can choose to accept or reject the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Invite students to think about the scripture mastery passages they have learned so far this year.

  • Which scripture mastery passages could be especially helpful to encourage others to live the gospel?

  • Which scripture mastery passages could help refute those who oppose the Church?

Encourage students to continue to master key scripture passages so they will be prepared to teach true doctrine to others.

Summarize Titus 1:10–16 by explaining that Paul taught Titus that bishops needed to rely on true doctrine because there were many deceivers and false teachers among them. He counseled Titus to rebuke the false teachers so they would forsake their errors and “be sound in the faith” (verse 13). Paul also explained that those who are defiled profess that they know God but deny Him by their works.

Titus 2

Paul counsels Titus to teach the Saints in Crete to live true doctrine

Invite a student to read Titus 2:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else Paul instructed Titus to do with true doctrine.

  • What else did Paul instruct Titus to do with true doctrine? (Teach it to the Saints in Crete.)

Write the following words on the board: Men, Women, Young Women, and Young Men.

Invite the young women in the class to read Titus 2:3–5 silently, looking for Paul’s counsel about how older women should live and what they should teach younger women. Invite the young men to read Titus 2:2, 6–8 silently, looking for Paul’s counsel about how older and younger men should live.

Note: If questions arise about the meaning of women being “obedient to their own husbands” (verse 5), you could refer to the material in the lesson for Ephesians 5–6.

  • According to Paul, how should older men live? older women? young women? young men? (Write students’ responses on the board under the corresponding heading, or ask students to come to the board to write their answers. You may need to help students understand what some words mean. For example, sober means calm or serious, temperate means self-controlled, and to have gravity means to be respectful.)

  • What is the meaning of the phrase “in all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works”? (verse 7). (To be a good example of living the gospel.)

  • Based on Paul’s counsel to Titus, what are followers of Jesus Christ supposed to do? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Followers of Jesus Christ are to be good examples for others.)

Invite students to think of an older member of their ward or branch who has been a good example of living the gospel and being dedicated to it. Ask a few students to share about the person they thought of and to explain how that person’s example has helped them.

Invite students to select one of the behaviors listed on the board and to set a goal to better incorporate that behavior into their lives so their good example can bless others.

Summarize Titus 2:9–10 by explaining that Paul counseled Titus to teach Church members who worked as servants to be honest and agreeable in their dealings with their masters. By being honest and agreeable, these Church members would honor the Lord and set a good example for their masters.

Invite a student to read Titus 2:11–15 aloud. Ask this student to also read Joseph Smith Translation, Titus 2:11 (in Titus 2:11, footnote b). Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the grace of God makes possible for all people and what Christ did for all of us.

  • What does the grace of God make possible for all people?

  • According to verse 12, what should the Saints do to access the grace of God?

  • What do we learn from Paul’s teachings in verse 14 about what Jesus Christ did for us? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: Jesus Christ gave Himself for us so that He could redeem us and purify us. Consider inviting students to mark the phrases in verse 14 that teach this truth.)

Point out that “a peculiar people” (verse 14) refers to the Lord’s treasured people, whom He has purchased or redeemed (see 1 Peter 1:18–19; 2:9) and who covenant to keep His commandments (see Exodus 19:5–6).

Titus 3

Paul tells Titus what the Saints in Crete must do after they are baptized

Summarize Titus 3:1–2 by explaining that Paul counseled Titus to teach the Saints in Crete to obey the law of the land and to be gentle and meek in all their relationships with others.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Titus 3:3–8. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul said about how the gospel of Jesus Christ had changed him and the Saints in Crete.

  • According to verse 3, how did Paul describe himself and the other Church members before they learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

  • According to verses 5–6, what changed the people?

  • According to verse 7, what would happen to the people as a result of the change brought about by the grace of Jesus Christ?

Invite students to consider how they have been changed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • According to verse 8, what did Paul counsel the Saints to do after they were changed and baptized?

Summarize Titus 3:9–15 by explaining that Paul advised the Saints to avoid contending with divisive people. Paul also requested that Titus come visit him in Macedonia.

Conclude by testifying of the truths identified in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Titus 1–3. Resources for addressing difficult questions

“It is neither unusual nor undesirable for students of the gospel to have questions about the Church’s doctrine, history, or position on social issues. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency acknowledged, ‘It’s natural to have questions. … There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions’ (‘Come, Join with Us,’ Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 23). It is important, therefore, for teachers to learn how to respond appropriately to students’ questions. Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy has taught, ‘Our approach to students with doubts can be crucial in how they choose to respond’ (‘A Pattern for Learning Spiritual Things’ [Seminaries and Institutes of Religion satellite broadcast, Aug. 7, 2012]). When teachers follow the practices of listening, testifying, inviting, and following up, they are more likely to help students maintain faith and find answers to their questions” (seektruth.lds.org).

Titus 2:1–12. The effect of “sound doctrine”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the value of teaching the doctrine of the gospel:

“Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching” (“Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79).