September 20, 2015.
Daily Reading: Titus 1-3.
Background: Paul’s epistle to Titus is included in the three pastoral letters, letters that Paul wrote to leaders of churches, and is believed to be written around 64 AD. Though we don’t know much about how Paul first met Titus, we do know that he went with Paul on his third missionary journey (see II Corinthians 2:12–13, 7:5–7, 13-15, 8:16-24) and Paul speaks about taking Titus with him on a journey with Barnabas (see Galatians 2:1-10). From this last passage, we know that Titus was a Gentile convert. Titus was left in Crete by Paul in order that he might lead and guide the young church there, and this is Paul’s letter to encourage and instruct Titus in his endeavors with the church in Crete, and to fight against false teaching.
Concepts and Connections.
Qualifications and reason for elders: In opening his letter to Titus, Paul signs with his usual fashion, addressing who he is and exalting Christ who made him who he is. Paul sees Christ as manifested through the preaching of the word. Then he jumps right into what he is writing about. Paul has left Titus in Crete so that he could appoint elders in every town to lead the congregations of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul gives qualifications for the men that Titus was supposed to choose (such as the qualifications he gives to Timothy, see I Timothy 3:1-7) and notes that this was what remained to be put in order. It is interesting to note that Paul left this charge to a young Greek Christian to appoint elders in every town. Through his endorsement of both Timothy and Titus, Paul shows that just because someone is young doesn’t mean they can’t be effective and proficient leaders amongst God’s people. The qualifications for elders are laid out here, and then Paul gives a reason to appoint elders: to protect the flock from the false teaching that was apparently going on in Crete. There were empty talkers going around, upsetting the faith of whole families through their teaching, which was from the motive of getting gain. Paul notes that a large part of the problem are those of the circumcision party, who would require Gentile Christians to be circumcised to be in accordance with the law. This was a major false teaching that Paul had to deal with quite often in his ministry (see Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians). Paul wants men who are able to teach healthy doctrines, not those who pay attention to Jewish myths and false commands. Note that these people professed to know God but they denied Him through their works. We can say good things all day, but if our actions don’t match our words, they mean nothing. Paul ends with some pretty strong words against these false teachers.
Sound doctrine by groups: After giving Titus instructions about choosing elders, Paul turns to sound doctrine that should be present in different groups in the congregation. He speaks to older men, older women, young men, young women and to bondservants, noting that each should live their lives holy in their own right, using their position and role to glorify God in their situation. Throughout the passage, there is an overall charge for the people of God to live their lives in a way that they might be blameless before men, so that the word of God isn’t reviled by the world. Those outside the church should see our actions and note that we are different than the world, in a way that is holy, loving and compassionate, so as to spark intrigue of the love of Christ that dwells within us. We have received the grace of God, power to overcome ungodliness and worldly passions, that we might live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, ever waiting on our Savior to return and redeem our souls completely before our Father. This is our blessed hope. Titus is told to be a leader here, by teaching these things that Paul has given him, and not letting anyone disregard him. Paul gives him the authority to rebuke and guide the people of God in Crete.
Peacekeepers: In this last section, Paul gives Titus instructions and reminders about how to teach the people of God to live in their day to day lives. The overall idea behind all these teachings is, in essence, to be peace keepers. Paul tells them to be obedient to the governing officials, to be ready for every good work, not to quarrel, but to be gentle and show courtesy to everyone. He reminds Titus that they once were in sin, slaves to various passions and pleasures with malice and hatred, but they had received salvation according to the mercy of Christ, through the washing of regeneration (baptism) and renewal of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:37-41, Romans 6:1-11). Now that they were raised to live lives anew for Christ, their focus was to be set on good works, things that were excellent and prosperous for people. They are told to avoid controversies and quarrels about the law, and warn those who cause division, having nothing to do with them if they continue to do so. Division is a horrible thing among the people of God, and the Lord is not pleased by our division. The divisive person here is called warped and sinful, and is self-condemned. These are strong words. After giving instructions for Christian living, Paul closes out with some final personal instructions and greetings, and then wishes the Christians in Crete grace in farewell.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 9-12.
Grace be with you all.