Titus – Faith that lives
Letter of encouragement to Titus and also a letter to validate Titus’ authority to the Cretans
Titus 1 (Amplified New Testament)
P AUL, A bond servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to stimulate and promote the faith of God’s chosen ones and to lead them on to accurate discernment and recognition of the Truth which leads to godliness,
2 [Resting] in the hope of eternal life, which the ever truthful God Who cannot lie promised before the time began.
3 And [now] in His own appointed time He has made known His Word and revealed it as His message through the preaching entrusted to me by command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child according to a common faith: Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) and [heart] peace from God the Father and the Lord Christ Jesus our Savior.
I. Proclaim the Word and live holy lives (Tit_1:1-4)
This formal greeting is more than the opening part of the letter. It is a statement of the place of the Word of God in the life of the local church.
· Paul was a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ… his purpose was to promote faith, and accurate truth… “faith” is what Jude calls “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jud_1:3). It is that deposit of truth that God gave to Paul (1Ti_1:11), and which Paul in turn had given to Titus and Timothy.
· His ministry was not apart from the church but tied directly to it…
· One of the problems in Crete was an abuse of the grace of God. The people argued, “God has saved us by grace, so we are free to sin.”
o Paul answers this teaching from the start by defining the faith as the “truth which leads to godliness.”
o It means practical holiness in one’s daily life
Later, in Tit_2:11-15, Paul explains that grace saves us and also disciplines us to live dedicated lives. The person who uses the doctrine of grace to excuse sins either is not saved or does not understand what grace really means.
The message Titus was to preach: God saves sinners by grace and sanctifies believers to live holy lives…
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set right what was defective and finish what was left undone, and that you might appoint elders and set them over the churches in every city as I directed you.
6 [These elders should be] men who are of unquestionable integrity and are irreproachable, the husband of [but] one wife, whose children are [well trained and are] believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and disorderly conduct.
7 For the bishop (an overseer) as God’s steward must be blameless, not self-willed or arrogant; he must not be quick-tempered or given to drink; he must not be greedy for financial gain;
8 But he must be hospitable (loving and a friend to believers); [he must be] a lover of good people and good things, sensible, discreet, upright and fair-minded, a devout man and religiously correct, temperate and having self-control.
9 He must hold fast to the trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it [showing the wayward their error].
II. Organize the Church and set the right example (Tit_1:5-9)
We do not know who founded the church in Crete, but we do know that Paul left Titus there to organize it and remedy the weaknesses that existed. There was definite opposition to Titus’ ministry, and there is the suggestion that he wanted to resign. “But that is why I left you there,” Paul writes. “If there were no problems to solve, the church would not need you!”
- As long as Christians are in this body of flesh, there will be problems in our churches.
- When these problems arise, the answer is not to hide them, or for officers to resign and find a new church. The answer is to face them honestly and prayerfully and settle them according to the Word of God.
- “Set right” in Tit_1:5 is a medical term meaning “to set a broken bone, or straighten a crooked limb.” The church is a body, and the pastor must occasionally be a “spiritual physician” and set some bones.
- Titus was not to select the elders; he was to ordain those whom the churches had chosen. Of all the qualification, two stand out:
- “Faithful children” in Tit_1:6 means “believing and well-trained children.”
- The pastor must know the Word for two reasons: (1) to be able to minister to the saints and (2) to be able to refute the false teachers.
As Pastor, Titus was expected to set the standards high, and to expect the people to follow his example…
10 For there are many unruly men who are vain, empty and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others. [This is true] especially of those of the circumcision party [who have come over from Judaism].
11 Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting disreputable gain.
12 One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, hurtful beasts, idle and lazy gluttons.
13 And this account of them is [really] true. Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply [deal sternly, even severely with them], so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error,
14 [And may show their soundness by] ceasing to give attention to Jewish myths and fables or to rules [laid down] by [mere] men who reject the Truth.
15 To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled, corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are polluted.
16 They profess to know God, but deny and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable, unbelieving, disobedient, disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work of any kind.
III. Refute False Teachers and maintain the balance of grace (Tit_1:10-16)
Wherever Christ sows the good seed (believers), Satan follows with counterfeit seed and false teachers. There was, in Crete, a group of people who contradicted the teachings of Paul and taught instead Jewish legalism and the traditions of men…
We must constantly beware of false teachings. When we mix Law or Tradition with grace, we end up with false doctrine. Paul describes these teachers as empty and misleading talkers, self-deceivers and deceivers others. They “mentally distress” the people of God, and subvert the church.
· Paul even quoted a famous poet, Epimenides, who described the Cretians as liars, ferocious beasts, and “idle gluttons”!
· In fact, the people of Paul’s day invented a new word out of the name “Cretan” that meant “to lie, to speak like a Cretian.”
The deceptions of false teachers haven’t changed much in 2,000 years—two types of deceptions are common:]
1. Imposing dietary laws and severe self-denial
2. Loose living
· One forces a legalistic approach to grace that follows either OT Law or lists of legalistic guidelines
· The abuses grace by using it to support own sinful practices—“To the pure, all things are pure — so what I am doing is not wrong.”
Paul rejected both views as heretical.
· Over the problem of clean and unclean foods, (1Ti_4:2-5) he is teaches that the believer who knows the Word of God receives all foods as clean; the unbeliever (and the false teacher) has a defiled mind and conscience and therefore sees nothing as pure.
· In fact, instead of the impure foods defiling the heretic, he defiles the food!
· Moral purity is not a matter of diets; it is a matter of a clean heart and a good conscience. Jesus taught this in Mat_6:22-23; see also Rom_14:14.
How was Titus to treat these false teachers? Was he to unite with them and try to see their point of view? No! He was to stop their mouths (Tit_1:11) and rebuke them sharply (Tit_1:13). After all, their teachings were upsetting (subverting) entire families (Tit_1:11). And their motive was simply to gain money; they did not wish to honor the Lord.
Tit_1:16 sums up the situation: these false teachers professed one thing and practiced another; they denied Christ by their works; they were detestable and rebellious; (i.e., they were reprobates).
· We have false teachers attacking the church today. It is one thing for people to hold to a false doctrine because of ignorance, and quite another for them to hold it and teach it as God’s truth.
· Ignorant people should be pitied and patiently taught the truth; deliberate false teachers should be rebuked and rejected. Once the church compromises on the truth, the truth will be swallowed up in lies.
· False doctrines lead only to spiritual sickness in the body of Christ.
1. Live holy lives
2. Live good lives worthy of example
3. Maintain the balance of grace