Titus

Titus 3:12-15 Being Fruitful.

Evidently Artemas or Tychicus were also pastors, because Paul requests that Titus go to him a Nicopolis, where he had decided to spend the winter (v. 12). Only someone who occupied the same role as Titus could go as his replacement, unless Paul knew of someone else who was labouring in this capacity with Titus. Since Paul also advises Titus to “send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste” (v. 13a), it may be that there were a number of men labouring with Titus, who could carry on the ministry without him. In any case, Paul adds that they must be sent not lacking anything. Paul urged the church to support this itinerant ministry.

As concerning helping those in need, Paul also urges Titus to make sure that the “people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (v. 14). Paul had already admonished Titus to be a “pattern of good works” (2:7), so Titus should have been able to back up his words with deeds observed. We are called to be fruitful in character and deeds, whereby we show our true nature, and that we also have something to give to help those in need. Greetings are shared with those who love “in the faith,” and it is all of grace which we continually need to the very end (v. 15).

Titus

Titus 3:9-11 Godly Discipline.

As pointed out many times before in his various letters, Paul warns Titus that there were those attaching themselves to the church who had not put behind them the “foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law” (v. 9a). This does not refer to the law itself, but to the manmade traditions that surrounded the discussions on the law. For this reason these disputes were “unprofitable and useless” (v. 9b). As Paul had warned Timothy, these disputes did not lead to “godly edification” (I Tim. 1:4), which is the intent of the law. These kinds of disputes “only generate strife” (II Tim. 2:23). Those who engage in these kinds of disputes are “divisive” (v. 10).

In this case of a divisive man, Paul gives us a picture of how the church was to exercise discipline. In essence, their procedure followed the principles which Jesus affirmed when one had an issue with someone who claimed to be a brother, but were in the wrong. First one should go to the offender one on one, then if they do not change one must take another witness or two, and if they do not change then one must tell it to the church (Cf. Mt. 18:15-17). This is the same procedure which Paul lays down here (v. 10). If one does not repent after the invocation of these witnesses, this person is not condemned by the church or even the person bringing forth the case, rather the offender is self-condemned (v. 11).

Titus

Titus 3:1-8 Heirs Of Grace.

Paul reminded Titus that being subject to rulers and authorities was also a reminder for the church, because Paul and the other apostles had stressed this point before (Cf. Rom. 13:1-7; I Pet. 2:13-17). Christians are not anarchists. We are called to obey those in authority, because they have been established by God. Laws and rulers may not be ideal, but we still believe in the rule of law, and like our fellow citizens we are to varying degrees free to effect change in the societies in which we live, by lawful means. To be engaged in the betterment of our societies, including the political and judicial branches, is part of “being ready for every good work” (v. 1). So we are reminded to be subject, and to obey, but more than this, we ought to be “ready for every good work,” which includes fulfilling the cultural and dominion mandate of Genesis 1:26-28. With the fall, the great commission is a means of seeing this original mandate fully and completely fulfilled.

Words matter, and what we speak about concerning others matters. We also need to be reminded “to speak evil of no one” (v. 2a). Again, as good citizens, it must be our desire to live at peace with our fellow citizens. Even at those times when we may be forced to obey God rather than men, we are still called to do so as peaceably as we are able, being “gentle, showing all humility to all men” (v. 2c). Our position must be one of humility, because we know that without God’s mercy and grace, we would be still numbered among His enemies. When we were His enemies, we also made enemies, strictly because of our own sin and that of others. Without God man is “foolish, disobedient, and deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (v. 3 Cf. I Cor. 6:9-11). We are humbled because we know that this change happened “when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared” (v. 4c).

It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (v. 5a Cf. Rom. 3:20; Eph. 2:4-9). Works of righteousness is the end in view of this salvation, but it was only possible because of His mercy and love. It is only “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5b), that we can move in a different direction with a new life (Cf. Ezek. 36:26-27; Jn. 3:3). This salvation is a Trinitarian work, since it springs from the Father’s love and mercy, is effected through the ministry of the Spirit, who is poured out on us abundantly, “through Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 6). For the Christian our justification is past tense-effected through His grace. However, the scope of our salvation does not end there. “Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (v. 7). Our salvation involves an inheritance-the resurrection and eternal life (Cf. 1:2; Rom. 8:17, 23-25).

However, our inheritance involves much more than a hope after death. This inheritance involves a witness of the Spirit with our spirit, that we are children of God. The Spirit witnesses to our adoption, and as God’s true children the Spirit enables us to put to death the sinful deeds of the body (Rom. 8:12-17). We also share in the other “firstfruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23). This inspires Paul to share another “faithful saying,” and something which he wanted Titus, and us with him, “to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (v. 8ab). This is the work of the Spirit in and through us, and also part and parcel of our inheritance. “Good works” includes everything “good and profitable to men” (v. 8c). If we are true children of God, the Spirit will both bear witness to this reality and work in and through us to perfect the image of Christ in us, including bringing forth the fruit and works of the new birth (Cf. Jn. 3:3-7).

Titus

Titus 2:11-15 Redeemed By Grace.

“God’s purpose in extending grace to sinners is their salvation (3:4-7; I Tim. 1:9)” (NGSB p.1928). It is God’s grace alone which can bring salvation, and it has appeared to all men (v. 11). Paul does not say that all are recipients, only that it has appeared to all men (Cf. Rom. 5:15). We see this appearing in the change it effects in those who have received it. It teaches “us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (v. 12). Salvation involves denying our sinful desires, and turning to live as the Lord’s redeemed. Again Paul emphasizes that we are to live soberly, that is, we must pay attention to how we live, that our lives would reflect the image of Christ perfected in us. Christ is our sole motivation, because He is our help.

The blessed hope of the resurrection and eternal life awaits us with the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 13). Paul’s testimony concerning the deity of Christ could not be clearer, as also that He alone is our Saviour. Christ has saved or redeemed us by giving Himself up for us as the only payment possible for our redemption-the sinless, spotless offering up of Himself in our place. With Christ there is this turning away “from every lawless deed,” since He has paid the redemption price. Through that same redemption we are empowered to live for Him, a people purified for Himself to become “His own special people” (v. 14b). This is simply another way of saying that we are His covenant people, with a covenant confirmed in His own blood.

Redemption from “every lawless deed,” leaves nothing out. It also speaks to the individual nature of this redemption, but individuals who collectively are His bride. These are the truths which Paul wanted Titus to emphasize, and that which we must continue to emphasize. We all at various times need both exhortation and rebuke, as long as we remain in this life sin must be mortified as a work of His grace. Paul also reminded Titus, and indeed all ministers of the word who follow, that God is the authority behind what is preached, and therefore it should not be despised (v. 15). No doubt some were also tempted to despise Titus because of his age. The point that Paul makes is, the authority does not rest in men, but in God who calls. The change wrought in us makes us “zealous for good works” (v. 14b).

Titus

Titus 2:1-5 Older Men, Older Women, And Younger Women In The Church.

In contrast to the false teachers that Paul has just rebuked, he now instructs Titus in the one task which is a remedy to the former’s infection-namely, sound doctrine (v. 1). Sound doctrine is always the one thing which will guard and protect the church’s health and life. First in order, he instructs Titus what needs to be emphasized with the older men in the church. Firstly, to be sober, besides referring to the obvious point of not being a drunkard, more broadly speaks to a condition of giving serious attention in one’s thinking, attitude, and duties. Secondly, to be reverent speaks to the respect we must have for God and others in the church, especially to those in authority. Thirdly, to be temperate is to practice moderation and self-restraint. Fourthly, there are three things which the older men must be sound in. They are to be sound in the faith, which requires that one give heed to and ascribe to sound doctrine. They are to be sound in love. The Greek word for sound means, wellness, wholeness, or uncorrupted. This is the love the older men are to have for God and others. Finally they are to be sound in patience, which means they need to be steady, spiritually healthy for the long haul that is the Christian life (v. 2).

Paul then turns his attention to the older women in the church. Firstly, as with the older men, they also need to “be reverent in behaviour.” Talk is not enough, this reverence must show itself in one’s behaviour. Again, this respect must be shown to God and others. Secondly, if one does respect others, then they will not slander them. To slander is to bear false witness of another to the detriment of their good name and reputation. Thirdly, just as the older men must be sober, the older women must not “be given to much wine” (v. 3). It is important to note however, that Paul does not say that they must not be given to any wine. Fourthly, they should be “teachers of good things-that they admonish the young women” (v. 4a). It is also important to note here that Paul has a specific emphasis in mind-the teaching of younger women, so he is not contradicting himself when he also said that he does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over men in the church (Cf. I Tim. 2:11-12). Firstly, the older women are to teach the younger women “to love their husbands, to love their children” (v. 4b). Christian love ought to begin in the home, and to be a homemaker is an honourable and necessary calling.

Secondly, as an expression of that love they are to have for their husbands, they are to be “obedient to their own husbands.” As to their character, first of all they are to be discreet, which means to be “careful and circumspect in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense or to gain an advantage” (google). Secondly, they are to be chaste, which is to be “virtuous, pure from unlawful sexual intercourse” (Dictionary.com). The younger women are also to be ‘good’. Again, as teachers of good things, the older women must themselves be good, giving the younger women an example to follow. All of these qualities, character traits, and behavior, have a direct bearing on the attitude and response which people will have toward the word of God. If the behavior of the people of God is not as it should be, those outside the faith will blaspheme the word of God, which is a failure to show it the respect which it deserves. To blaspheme the word of God is to blaspheme His name, which is to blaspheme Him. As Paul noted in his letter to the Romans, to fail to keep God’s word, is to give those outside an excuse to blaspheme (2:24). We ought not to give anyone cause for doing so.

Titus

Titus 1:10-16 Confronting The Insubordinate.

In the previous passage it was seen that the elder/bishop must both “exhort and convict those who contradict” (v. 9). In this passage Paul first carries on with the task of convicting “those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers” (vv. 9c-10ab). It is remarkable that Paul lumps “idle talkers” together with “deceivers.” We know that these are two separate categories, because he says “both.” One might imagine that there may be those who see idle talk as harmless, but Paul evidently saw idle talk as being as pernicious as outright deception. Both are insubordinate. This is the one of two things which he said should not be found in the children of elders-“dissipation or insubordination” (v. 6c). Dissipation speaks to a wasteful expenditure or consumption, and insubordination speaks to an opposition or defiance of all authority.

Idleness with respect to people speaks to those who waste there time on that which is without purpose or pointless. Therefore, these idle talkers, in opposition to all authority, waste there time in pointless or purposeless chatter. Deceivers, on the other hand, while also being insubordinate, do have a purpose behind there activity-to deceive the people of God. Paul draws particular attention to those of the circumcision-those who were teaching that one had to be circumcised in order to be a Christian. These had failed to see the transition from the old covenant to the new covenant administration, and thus they were deceiving others in the church to follow their own deception. This issue in particular was something which would indeed impact “whole households” as Paul warns (v. 11b). In this case it would impact whether covenant boys would need to be circumcised according to the law.

The mouths of both idle talkers and deceivers had to be stopped lest they “subvert whole households, teaching things they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain” (v. 11). Apparently there was some financial motive behind there behaviour, rather than a sincere love for the truth. Paul even refers to one of their own countrymen to bear witness against them (v. 12). Paul is not necessarily saying that this poet is on the same level as a biblical prophet, but he simply refers to this one as someone bearing witness to their own reputation. In fact, Paul calls the words of this prophet as “testimony” against them, which he as a second witness said was true (v. 13a). These persons required a sharp rebuke, with the hope that they might “be sound in the faith” (v. 13bc).

Verse 14 appears to mirror the two categories of insubordinate ones which he refers to in this passage. Those engaged in “idle talk,” were those preoccupied with “Jewish fables.” Those who openly deceived, in particular on the issue of circumcision, were those who were teaching the “commandments of men who turn from the truth.” With the transition to the new covenant, the commandment to circumcise was replaced with the command to baptize. Therefore to command circumcision with the inauguration of the new covenant was to teach what was only now a commandment of men. Both idle talkers and deceivers are those who have turned away from the truth. These are those who are “defiled and unbelieving” for whom nothing is pure, because they have not been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. Their impurity goes to the core of who they are, where even their minds and consciences are defiled (v. 15).

On the other hand, those who have been sanctified by God, having also been justified, have a purity which does go to the core of who they are. For true believers things are pure because they are judged by the truth which they turn to and not away from. A profession that one claims to know God is meaningless if one does not govern themselves according to the truth. Our works will ultimately reveal who we are. As Jesus said, by one’s fruits a person is known (Cf. Mt. 7:16). There is a special judgment for those who profess to know God but live contrary to the truth. Paul calls these people “abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (v. 16b). Abominable is that which is repugnant, causing moral revulsion, detestable, loathsome, or that which the bible would also call unclean. This speaks to the nature of said persons-to their very core.

Being also disobedient speaks to the fruit they bear, or the character which flows out from their natures. Both their natures, or the core of who they are, and their character, or the fruit they bear, show a turning away from the truth. For both reasons these persons are “disqualified from every good work” (v. 16c). For those who are abominable in nature, and disobedient in character and acts, even if they should happen to do some otherwise “good work,” because it is they who do it, it becomes unclean. Only those who have turned to the truth in repentance and faith, are qualified to be engaged in good works which are truly good, done from the motive of God’s glory. Titus needed to engage in teaching that which was in accord with “sound doctrine” (v. 9). This required opposing those who contradict that truth.

Titus

Titus 1:4-9 Qualifications Of Elders/Bishops.

Like Timothy, Titus was a spiritual son to Paul. Together they engaged in missionary work on the island of Crete, where Paul left Titus to carry on the work, but Paul wanted Titus to bring this to a close and to move on. “Specifically, Paul wanted Titus to complete the organization of the churches (1:5-9), to deal with the false teachers who were present (1:10-14; 3:9-11), and to give instructions to the churches on proper conduct (2:1-3:8). When a replacement arrived, Titus was to meet Paul in Nicopolis (3:12)” (NGSB p.1925). Titus was a “true son” in their “common faith.” Titus had proven himself true in his time with Paul, and the faith they shared was a “common faith,” that is, it was a faith based on truth, therefore there were not many subjective definitions of this faith, but it was a faith they all held in common.

As was typical of Paul’s greetings, grace and mercy precede peace, all of which come “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 4). As noted above, Titus was left in Crete so that he could “set in order the things that (were) lacking, and appoint elders in every city,” just as Paul had commanded him (v 5). It seems clear that Paul had in view all the assemblies which combined to be the entire church on the island of Crete. In effect, Paul wanted Titus to set up sessions of elders in all these assemblies which together would form a presbytery. This was one of the things he needed to “set in order.” He then tells Titus what is necessary for one to become an elder in Christ’s church. Firstly, they must be men who are blameless, that is, not open to accusations. Secondly, if married, they must be “the husband of one wife” (v. 6a).

A third thing, related as it is to the second point, if they have children, these children must not be “accused of dissipation or insubordination” (v. 6b). In other words, the condition of one’s immediate family has a direct bearing on the qualifications for being an elder. The fact that Paul again calls for blamelessness, does not mean sinless, but as not being open to the accusation of justifying godless behaviour. The fact that Paul also uses the word ‘bishop’ interchangeably with elder tells us that for him the words referred to the same persons, in this case the word ‘bishop’ referring more to their role as overseers. Elders or bishops must serve as “stewards of God.” As Paul mentioned in his initial greeting, they are bondservants or slaves of God, but also as stewards they are in charge of God’s possessions-in this case the church.

Paul first states what a bishop is not. “Not self-willed,” means not being selfish or self-centred, deciding for oneself what one will do. “Not quick tempered,” means holding one’s anger in check. “Not given to much wine,” means not being a drunkard, for it does not say not given to any wine. “Not violent,” means not giving physical expression to one’s anger. “Not greedy for money,” speaks for itself. A bishop must be content with having his needs met, if not his wants (v. 7). Instead, a bishop needs to be hospitable. Being “sober-minded” means being serious in one’s thought, not superficial or frivolous. Being ‘just’ means treating everyone the same. Being ‘holy’ means being set apart from the world in thought and deed. Being self-controlled sums up all the above-no one can do this for us, but God working in us (v. 8).

Bishops must hold fast, or hold securely and tightly, to “the faithful word as he has been taught” (v. 9a). Before a bishop or elder is qualified to teach, they must be those who have showed themselves willing to be taught from the word. Only those who have been thus taught are able to, “by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (v. 9b). The ministry of the word is always twofold. By sound doctrine the people of God are taught that which is right-this is exhortation. However, the faithful minister of the word must also convict those who have gone astray, such as the false insubordinate “teachers” that Paul will go on to expose (vv. 10ff.). These are people who openly contradict the truth, who must be rebuked lest they lead others astray.

Titus

Titus 1:1-3 Before Time Began.

Paul addresses Titus with his typical greeting. He is a bondservant or slave of God (v. 1a; Cf. Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1). Paul had been bought at a price, and it was his duty to serve the Master. Paul served the Master as an apostle, this is what he was called to do, “separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1c-2). As an apostle of Jesus Christ, he was duty bound to deliver His message faithfully, for an apostle is one sent as an ambassador by their master. His message was not his own, stemming from his own imagination. He expounded from the prophets, and was inspired himself for the revelation of the mystery of the fullness of the gospel in Christ Jesus. The KJV and NKJV state that Paul is thus committed, “according to the faith of God’s elect” (v. 1b). However, the NIV gives a clearer meaning here-“to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.”

Paul had a definite purpose in life. He was “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” God had called and commissioned Paul to “further the faith of God’s elect.” The point is, God uses some to plant the seed of the word, and others to water. In some cases Paul was the sower, and in other cases he furthered or watered what was already there (Cf. I Cor. 3:6). In either case God is the planter, and He plants the seed of salvation only for His elect. Also, His elect are not saved by any other means than the faithful preaching of the gospel, and furthered by the ministry of the word. Furthermore, it is the elect alone who will actually acknowledge “the truth which accords with godliness” (v. 1c). Only the true truth of scripture can change a person’s life. Conversely, if one’s life is not changed, that is, directed to godliness, then the truth has not been truly acknowledged.

The ultimate hope that we all have, as the elect of God, is that of eternal life in His presence forevermore. This is the ultimate promise of the covenant of redemption. This is a promise which God, “who cannot lie,” made “before time began” (v. 2c). This promise goes back to the counsel of the Triune God. “Before time began,” speaks to a number of things. Firstly, this promise was made out of grace and not merit, for it was made before anything, including time, was created (Cf. II Tim. 1:9). Secondly, as already noted, time was created, and then man in a place of time. However, this promise was made before the created order, and thus also the fall, ever came into being. Nevertheless, this promise did come to pass “in due time,” God having “manifested His word through preaching” (v. 3a). Preaching this word is the commandment Paul was committed to, as should we. “As author of the covenant of grace, God is Savior (2:10; 3:4; 1Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10)” (NGSB p.1926).”