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3 - The Titus Touch

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The Titus Touch – Titus 1:4-5

Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on May 4, 2008

www.goldcountrybaptist.org

I want to begin by telling you about a missionary friend, someone I consider to be a true ministry friend from afar. I don’t have a close personal relationship with this man, but I do consider him to be a great personal example and encouragement of the godly commitment of a fellow pastor. 

He is also a young pastor, although I don’t know his exact age, he is very mature spiritually. He hasn’t had all the formal training, but he has a lot of hands-on experience in difficult ministry and controversies in the church. He may not have the academic degrees that would impress the world, but he has the dedication and the heart of a true servant-leader that God looks for.  If you were to talk to him, I think you would be impressed with his genuineness and godliness.

This brother in the Lord was saved under the ministry of a very well-known minister, an evangelist and preacher who you would all recognize if I said his name. He was not only converted under the teaching of this evangelist, but he was also personally discipled by him and ministered under his tutelage for some time.

This young pastor according to all who know him, has great people skills, but more importantly, unimpeachable integrity. He is someone you can count on, a clutch player every coach would want on his team and every pastor would want on his staff.

He has an unusual knack for dealing with problems in churches, and for being a great encouragement and comfort to others when they are spiritually downcast.  He's one of the few who can really walk the tightrope of church problems without falling into the errors on either side, someone who can deal with false teachers, divisive members, and different ethnic groups.

One thing I appreciate about him is his earnestness and his affection for God's people.  He is just one of those refreshing people, who revitalize you when you're around them, who brings a smile to your face, someone who endears himself to you. 

He's on a missionary assignment right now which I believe is his first on his own - the island where he is serving is pretty remote, it's a difficult place where the church is very weak and the native people are notorious for their wickedness.

He's not really a traditional church-planter per se, but his ministry is more of a church-strengthener.  His primary focus is finding godly men who can lead the church so he can get out of the way, but in order to get the church where it needs to be, he needs to help teach them the principles taught by Paul and the NT writers

This man I’m telling you about I’ve never actually met in person, I’ve only met him on the pages of the Bible. This man lived in the first century and his name is Titus, and this book that we’re studying was named after him and written to him.  I want to introduce you to him today ... let's turn to Paul's letter to this man and see what lessons God might want us to learn from the life and labor of Titus.

Titus 1:4-20 (NASB95)
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,

9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

We’re going to look mainly at verse 4-5 in detail today, but when you read the whole rest of the chapter it helps you see the flow and context of Titus the man and his mission on the island of Crete.

-         As v. 12 says, the people on this island describe themselves as all liars and lazy beasts and gluttons (that’s not what their outside enemies call the Cretans, the Cretans admit it!)

-         Not only liars and lazy, but legalists were there, including those of the circumcision (see end of v. 11)

This was a difficult situation. How is a man of God or woman of God to handle a difficult situation? Titus gives us a good example.

You can tell by reading this first chapter that Titus was in a difficult circumstance. He truly had his work cut out for him. This was no easy assignment or task for the faint of heart or someone seeking an easy 9-5 job or a fun or enjoyable ministry.

Today the island of Crete is a place where some choose for a holiday at sea, but for Titus this was no vacation on an island.

-         Verse 9 says there were those doctrinally contradicting that needed to be refuted

-         Verse 10 describes the many deceivers (3:3 “deceived”) who are rebellious men and empty talkers

-         Verse 11 says they are disturbing entire families with their deviant teaching that needed to be silenced (suggesting this is going on in the churches and needs to be addressed)

-         Verse 15 describes the people as defiled

-         Verse 16 describes them as denying God, detestable, disobedient even though they profess to know God

-         2:5 suggests that there may have been some dishonoring of God’s word by women not fulfilling their god-given feminine roles, and there was a real need for discipleship among younger men and women by those with greater maturity of the same gender

-         It seems some were disregarding Titus (see 2:15)

-         3:9 says some were debaters and disputers about the Law

-         3:10 says there are divisive people that need to be warned

 

In summary, you have doctrinal errors to be refuted, deceivers who are many as well as those who are deceived, there is disturbing of entire families, defiled consciences plague the people, there’s detestable, disobedient ones among professing believers who are denying God, there’s a discipleship lack that’s contributing to dishonoring of God in gender roles, there’s disregarding of authority, debaters, disputers, and divisive people to be dealt with.

 

This is not a ministry opportunity where when you ask for volunteers you have to tell everyone not to raise their hands at once. There wasn’t a big waiting list. A search committee would not get many resumes if they advertised this position online.

This is a tough task in a tough environment. This is not a job for Mr. Rogers to come and take off his shoes and sweater and just smile and relax. Spiritually speaking, this is not the place for a weak man to come with a weak message for a weak church.

This is the place for strong men of God, giving and living strong doctrine. The need of the hour is for strong men with strong family life, men with strong personal character, men strong in God’s Word, to give a strong message with strong conviction and grace.

That’s exactly the big idea of this chapter. That was the need addressed in Titus 1. The need is still the same in our day – God inspired these words not only for the 1st century, but for the 21st century. Not just in Crete but in California and our country as well.

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you

 

Today we’re going to get to know Titus, the man and his mission, beginning with the mission. Verse 5 really summarizes the mission and in some ways summarizes the main point of the whole book.

 

The historical setting is Crete, as verse 5 says, and we’re going to spend some time on the historical context today because context is always critical to understanding and applying scripture. We’re going to spend most of this message introducing ourselves to Titus and Crete, not primarily for mere information, but to aid our interpretation. And we need to take the time to study the original setting to help us get the original meaning, which is always what we want. The key starting question is not “what does this mean for me,” but we need to start with “what did Paul mean when he wrote this and what did it mean to Titus when he received it and read it.” And of course, we also want to know what did God meant and intended when He inspired it, knowing that others would also be reading this letter, beginning with the early church in Crete.

Titus 3:15 “All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

So we know that all Scripture is profitable and has applications for God’s people of any time, but we must always remember the original reader and writer and so let’s look at the background.

SEE SLIDE SHOW

 

SLIDE 1 – Paul’s 3rd missionary journey (Titus written after)

Crete is roughly equidistant from Europe, Africa, and Asia and because of its strategic position, many nations in past millennia wanted to claim it as their own. In the 20th century it has been a part of Greece, except for a period of German occupancy during WWII.

 

SLIDE 2 – Modern map

Crete is situated approximately 60 miles SE of Greece and 110 miles SW of modern Turkey. In 2003, its population was about a half a million. The length of the island is approximately the distance from Sacramento to Reno, to put that in a little perspective, and of course there weren’t any highways and there were mountains and rugged terrain that made travel more difficult then, so it would take some time for Titus to do what verse 5 says.

 

SLIDE 3 – SATELLITE PHOTO

Crete is an island (also called Candia today) that is one of the largest in the Mediterranean, some 140 miles long and up to 35 miles wide in some places, a lot less in others.

SLIDE 4 - LANDSCAPE

You can see in the background that there is a lot of agriculture as the land is fertile and it always has been. You’ll notice in some ways Crete looks a little like parts of California.

Some of its mountain peaks are at elevations about 8,000 feet,  which is comparable to some of the peaks around Lake Tahoe.

But the spiritual terrain was even more rough and tough to navigate. We already read the true reputation of Cretans in verse 12 “liars, lazy gluttons, evil beasts” and you can read a number of ancient writers who were not even Christians who were very disgusted at the detestable deceitful character of Cretans.

It’s been said “"the moral level of its inhabitants was deplorable. Their ferocity and fraud were widely attested; their falsehood was proverbial; the wine of Crete was famous, and drunkenness prevailed." 

Into this ungodly mission field Paul had planted Titus to organize the church ("appoint elders in every city") and to "speak and exhort and reprove with all authority" (Titus 2:15).

SLIDES 5 & 6 – WIND IN NT TIMES (CF. ACTS 27)

The wind was strong around here, as we learn in Acts 27 where Paul’s ship gets blown off and shipwrecked here. But it was not only ships that would get blown in, the various winds of doctrines and ideas and beliefs and religions would also get blown in, causing immature Christians to be tossed to and fro (cf. Eph. 4)

One writer said Crete ‘is located south of the Aegean sea at a strategic navigational point in relation to the winds (Acts 27.7) for the maritime trade. Its location and importance for trade meant it would be influenced by philosophies and religious teaching from all parts of the Mediterranean world. The people were adherents to a number of religions and cults, including the worship of Zeus … Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite’ (I. Howard Marshall, ICC, p. 150-51)

Its history was legendary, as the supposed birthplace of Zeus and its people associated a number of the gods of Greek mythology here, along with the minotaur legends (half-bull, half-man monster).

If we go back in biblical history, many scholars associate the O.T. Cherethites and the Caphtorim from the Hebrew scriptures as the people from this island, the probable original home of some of Israel’s arch-enemies, the Philistines. If so, it’s a neat picture of Paul, Rabbi Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, named after Israel’s King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin who fought against the Philistines - Paul the saved Israelite is extending God’s forgiveness and grace and salvation to his ancestor’s enemies.

SLIDE 7 – RECONSTRUCTION OF TRAVELS WITH TITUS IN NT

 

Verse 5 gives us some insight that Titus was a companion with Paul but was left in Crete (#5 on map), and that Paul had directed him to finish the unfinished business of some remaining matters, beginning with appointing biblically qualified elders, which the rest of chapter 1 is devoted to. Paul’s mission work or church-planting work isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts, but it may be that Paul was released after his imprisonment at the end of Acts and that visit was the historical background to this book.

There’s a #1 in the top right corner representing Jerusalem. That’s where we have the first mention of Crete in the NT where Acts 2 tells us there were Jews from Crete in the audience on the day of Pentecost. It’s quite possible if not probable that some of the 3,000 saved on that day returned to Crete. They were part of those in Acts who devoted to the apostle’s doctrine and then returned to the home and were the first to introduce Christianity to the island.

 

Look at Titus 3:12 – this tells us that the mission on Crete was not to be permanent, but that Titus was to return to be with Paul at Nicopolis as soon as he could (SEE #6, MIDDLE OF SLIDE)

Look at 2 Timothy 4

At the end of 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes during his Roman imprisonment that he had sent Titus to Dalmatia (which is modern day Yugoslavia). SEE #7 ON LOWER LEFT OF SLIDE

2 Timothy was written last of Paul’s letters and you can tell by the language as he awaits what he believes will be his execution in Rome:

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NASB95)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Then in verses 13 and 20 he speaks of something left behind:

13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments …

20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.

This word for “leave” is different than the word “sent” in v. 12. This word for “I left” is the same Greek word Paul only uses one other time in his epistles in Titus 1:5 when he says he “left” Titus on Crete. So this helps us understand that Paul did not just ship Titus off to the island, Paul was there with him for awhile and then intentionally Titus was left behind. Tradition says this was a mission not recorded in Acts that Paul and Titus did together after he was released from his Roman imprisonment (post-Acts 28).

This is the setting of Titus 1:5, which is the purpose statement of the book. The second half of the verse gives us two overarching reasons Paul left Titus in Crete that sum up the book:

-         Appoint elders in every city (chap 1 devoted to this)

-         Set in order what remains (chaps 2-3 give some examples)

Verse 5 also gives some indication that Titus was well-trusted by Paul, trusted enough that he would give put such a difficult and delicate assignment in his capable hands.   

As one writer said: ‘When a job is hard, there are basically two kinds of people. With one you say, “The job is really hard, so we can’t send him.” With the other you say, “The job is really hard, so we must send him.” Titus seemed to be of the second kind.’[1]

In verse 4 Paul calls him “my true child in a common faith”

Of course this doesn’t mean his biological child – it doesn’t seem that Paul had any physical children. The key phrase is “in the common faith” – this is Paul’s son in the faith, his “spiritual son.”

Paul’s calling him “son” or “child” indicates:

-         Titus was relatively younger (although spiritually mature, some have suggested he was in his 30s)

-         more importantly, the term “child in the faith” indicates Paul’s personal connection with him as a spiritual father.

-         Paul certainly personally discipled Titus and helped him grow in the faith as his mentor and example (I have heard some of the men here speak of Pastor Dale as their spiritual father in the faith, and that’s a beautiful thing)

-         many believe God used Paul as the human instrument in the conversion of Titus

-         the ancient writer Philo used this same word for helpers of ruling shepherds

-         when Paul calls someone his “son” in the faith (which he only does with 2 other men that we have recorded) it also seems to express endearment and intimate friendship. He called many his brothers, but only a few his beloved sons

 “True child” means legitimate as opposed to illegitimate, or as opposed to the word for a child born out of wedlock. Titus was Paul’s genuine or authentic son in the faith, his dear son, who Paul had felt a responsibility to nurture and grow and train in the faith and who is now ready to go into the world on his own.

When Paul says “common faith” that speaks of not Titus’ lesser role or inferiority – it expresses equality. They were both on equal footing in the arena of faith. In fact, Paul wants the Cretan churches to know that Titus comes with full apostolic support and authority and that what this letter says is God’s absolute truth.

To get to know Titus more, we need to turn to 2 Corinthians 7

Paul had already mentioned Titus almost 10 times in his other letters. This letter to Titus was probably written in the early to mid 60s AD. Titus is only one of 3 people in the N.T. who have a book named after them.

But he's not so well-known, in fact he is not mentioned at all in the book of Acts by name, so we don't know as much about him as most other key players in the early church.  He is often overlooked and overshadowed by the more well-known Timothy, and relegated a much smaller number of pages in books or commentaries on the so-called “Pastoral Epistles” (Timothy/Titus)

But it’s not just the famous N.T. characters we are to learn from, it is also the faithful men, or I should say, it is especially the faithful men that God wants us to learn from their lives and labor, those who served outside the limelight in difficult places like Titus.

2 Corinthians 7:5-15 (NASB95)
5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed [or “downcast”], comforted us by the coming of Titus [Kent Hughes said ‘he had the Titus touch’ – may be those who have the same touch and blessings and comfort to others for their joy];

7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. 8 For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation …

13 For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. 15 His affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling.

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NASB95)
1 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, 5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God 6 So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well

16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. 18 We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, 20 taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:18 (NASB95)
18 I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

Guzik: “2 Corinthians 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 12:18 both say that when Titus was sent to Corinth another brother was sent with him, described in the former passage as ‘the brother who is famous among all the churches,’ and commonly identified with Luke. It has been suggested that Titus was Luke’s brother” [and that’s why Acts doesn’t mention]

REFER TO SLIDE OVERHEAD

#2 - Titus with Paul at Ephesus on Third Tour; sent to Corinth, possibly bearing letter now known as 1 Corinthians, c. A.D. 57 (2Cor. 12:18)

#3 - Titus meets Paul in Macedonia; precedes him to Corinth, probably bearing letter now known as 2 Corinthians, c. A.D. 57 (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6, 13; 8:6, 23).

#4 - Titus supervises relief collections at Corinth (1 Cor. 16:1–3; 2 Cor. 8:6).

#1 – Why is Jerusalem on this map of Titus’ life?

 

Acts 15:1-12 (NASB95)
1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” 12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

This is the critical doctrinal event in the early church and it had to do with salvation by grace alone through faith alone vs. the legalists and those of the circumcision. And who did Paul and Barnabas bring to Jerusalem (v. 2)?

Galatians 2

1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you …

9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised ...

16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified …

20 … I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

The life of Titus has been summarized this way:

‘Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to attend the Council of Jerusalem, during which the issue of Judaizing was settled once and for all (Acts 15; Gal. 2:1–3). Titus, in fact, was Paul’s model of a born-again, Spirit-filled Gentile convert, who had no need to identify himself in any way with religious Judaism, either through circumcision or obedience to the Law of Moses (Gal. 2:3–5). This young Gentile elder was therefore well acquainted with the arguments of the Judaizers that he later had to deal with on Crete (Titus 1:10, 14) and well understood the church’s official position on and arguments against their false gospel.

Because Titus had been associated with Paul for many years before beginning his ministry on Crete, it is unlikely that any of the doctrines and standards mentioned in this epistle were new to him. As noted above, he had spent a year or so with Paul ministering to the church at Corinth, the prototypical problem church of New Testament times. He was twice in charge of gathering a collection from that church for poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:6, 22–24). He later returned to continue the ministry there at Paul’s request, delivering the apostle’s second letter to them (2 Cor. 8:16–19). He knew firsthand the trials and disappointments of leading a group of believers who were immature, selfish, factional, and worldly. The very fact that he was entrusted with such assignments indicates Paul’s great confidence in his doctrine, his spiritual maturity, his leadership, his dependability, and his genuine love for those he shepherded.’[2]

But having great respect from men or even a great resume would not be enough for Titus to minister. Look back at Titus 1:4:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

This is similar to many of Paul’s greetings. In later centuries, some of the manuscripts added the word “and mercy” here, along with the word “Lord” to match Paul’s intro to Timothy’s letters.

Mercy of course is closely related to “grace” – the rich N.T. word “grace” refers to God’s amazing undeserved kindness to sinners. The marvelous, infinite matchless grace of God, that is freely bestowed on all who believe.

When Paul writes to Christians “grace to you” or similar expressions, of course they already possess saving grace, so this is a wish for sustaining grace.

In the context of the letter, Paul’s mention of “grace” also has some bearing on the legalists who distort and even deny grace. God’s grace would be necessary for Titus personally and for the churches to more deeply understand grace so that the error of the legalists could be counteracted.

“Peace” here is the NT equivalent of shalom, the Jewish greeting and wish of well-being. It’s not the absence of any difficulty, but a spiritual and inner harmony and well-being and calm that is the result of God’s working in the heart.

Biblical peace like a river can attend our way even when sorrows like sea billows roll, as the song says. God’s peace is not based on our circumstances, but it’s the heart that can say ‘whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say “It is well, it is well with my soul.”’

Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB95) 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Biblical peace is only possible after God’s grace and must be preceded by grace, and so it is fitting that it’s always “grace and peace” in that order.

Unbelievers are naturally enemies of God, and it is only by God’s saving grace that we can be at peace with God, and the peace expressed here by Paul includes peace for any difficulty of life.

Greetings with “grace and peace” are standard to Paul and became common among early Christians. Both words also became common names among young girls in the early church as well.

Titus 1:4 goes on to say this grace and peace is “from God the Father” which reminds us that both only come from God. And both God the Father and God the Son are paralleled here – notice now “Jesus our Savior” in v. 4 is used interchangeably with “God our Savior” in v. 3. This is a high Christology, a high view of Christ and His deity that is to undergird Titus in his ministry among some false teachers who would downplay Christ’s deity.

The Emperor who had conquered Crete might refer to himself with this same title “Savior” but the people of this island needed to remember there is really only One Savior. God says in Isaiah 43:11 “I am the LORD and there is no savior besides me.” If there is no savior besides Jehovah, and Jesus is savior, then Jesus is Jehovah.

In light of the historical context, these words have fuller meaning. Paul is not just giving Titus a standard greeting to say hi or to be polite, and he’s not just throwing out Christian clichés or slogans with the words “grace and peace.”

Titus would need this “peace from God the Father” that Paul mentions. He needed divine peace to preserve him in protective calm when equilibrium is needed among those disturbing the peace of churches, among spiritual storms on this island. The strong winds not only blew in ships in these harbors, like we read in Acts 27, but various winds of doctrine.

How can a man of God or woman of God handle a difficult situation like Titus was in? The “grace” Paul mentions in verse 4 is not merely a word or a wish, but grace from God is the only way Titus could do what God called him to and it’s the only way you or I can ever do what God calls us to. This is a reminder that God’s grace is not only essential, but is sufficient for whatever circumstances God has for us.

Christians all appreciate saving grace, but I don’t know if we think enough of daily grace or sustaining grace. God’s grace not only gets believers out of hell, but His grace is what gets us out of bed, and allows us to do anything, every step of the way.

As John Newton sang ‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.’ That’s trusting in daily and future grace.

 

We often think of the expression of grace and peace is especially Pauline or being a NT expression, but I haven’t read any writers that make the connection between this blessing in Paul’s letters and Numbers 6, a passage well-known to the Jews.

Numbers 6:22-26 (NASB95) 22 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: 24 The Lord bless you, and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ [NT = “grace to you and peace”]


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[1] David Guzik, Enduring Word Commentary.

[2] MacArthur, J. (1996). Titus (p. x). Chicago: Moody Press.

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