This week we will look at another book in the New Testament that does not get a whole lot of attention. Here we get a chance to see Paul in the mode of a mentor and Titus learning the ropes so to speak. We do not know much about of the work of Titus. We do know that he was a Gentile who Paul took to Jerusalem with him. The new attitude in the church at that time and the Gospel itself allowed him with the agreement of the Jerusalem Council to not require circumcision. We know that he was a hard worker in the missionary field and Paul left him in Crete to finish the work he had begun there. Paul writes to counsel Titus concerning the work he had left him to do. Paul is very specific in his instructions. For those of us in the Pew this little letter is not one of the better known books, nor one we would ordinarily spend time with. Paul strongly believed that for a church to grow the people had to mature in the faith. He believed that three things were important and were the purpose of his Apostleship. The presence of and promotion of faith, knowledge and hope, the balance of which should be sought in all preaching and pastoral instruction. This being a blog we will not attempt to do a commentary, there being a great number of those out there already. Just a few points that make this book qualify for inclusion in my little gems, often overlooked and little read books of the Bible. Paul had some habits, if you will, that were common to him when summoning one of his followers to a task. The first four verses of Titus are a good example of those.
He always established what was he own right to speak and laying down the foundations of the gospel. He is an Apostle with a mixture of humility and pride. His whole life and being had been submitted to his to serving. He considered himself a slave of God which is in turn serving Christ. He chose the title of slave of God which gave him the right to take his place in the succession of past great prophets who served God. He wanted Titus to understand that if he was to be a messenger of Jesus Christ he must become a slave to God’s will in his life. It was not his own mental abilities or moral strengths that gave him authority, it was the authority of Christ, for whom he spoke.
He wished for Titus to know that the message of an Apostle is grounded on the hope of eternal life. The Christian gospel does not offer an intellectual creed, not even a moral code. It offers life through Jesus Christ. He shares with Titus that it is his duty to awaken faith in men and women. A faith which has as its foundation absolute trust in God. When we live our life in that kind of trust, we can then attend to our duty of offering others the opportunity to welcome God into their lives.
It will be Titus’ duty to also equip others with knowledge. To be sure our faith may not only be a response of our heart but it also must rule our minds. Emotion is an ever-changing thing but our Christian life must be a process of loving Christ more and more every day. The result of this faith and knowledge will lead us to living a truly Christ centered religious life. As I wrote earlier Paul was very direct and to the point. The letter continues on with Paul conveying to Titus the importance of rectifying any short comings of the new Church in Crete. Paul writes to Titus what Elders must not be and then follows up with guidelines to Titus, what Elders must be. Paul warns Titus of the false teachers of Crete, He even goes so far as to list one by one the characteristics that describe these false teachers.
All this and we have read through only the first eleven verses! There is no need to go any further to make my point. Point being, as a layman in the pew I know of no better example of the character of the Apostle Paul, his intent and unquestioned love and obedience to his calling than that which is stated in his own written words, in the very first chapter and verse of Titus. He proudly states that he is … the slave of God and the envoy of Jesus Christ.
Can we say that about our lives as we live them in these days? Titus is a letter that all the Church should read. It is as applicable today for us as individuals and I believe the church as a whole. Are we truly…the slave of God and the envoy of Jesus Christ.
Life is Good,
This weeks reference materials: Commentaries : Adam Clark / William Barclay