The Latter Epistles -Titus 1

Paul, 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 — in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.  An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.  Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.  Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group.  They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”  This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.  To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

  • Titus 1:1-16

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

On ‘God’s elect’: “See Eph. 1:4, 5.  Those who have been graciously chosen for salvation ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4), but who must exercise personal faith prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  God’s choice of believers always precedes and enables their choice of Him (cf. John 15:16; Acts 13:46-48; Rom. 9:15-21; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:8, 9; 2:10; 2 Pete. 1:1, 2).”
On ‘the truth’: “Paul had in mind gospel truth, the saving message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:3, 4; 2 Tim. 2:25).  It is that saving truth that leads to ‘godliness’ or sanctification (see Titus 2:11, 12).”
On ‘God, who does not lie’: “Cf. 1 Sam. 15:29; Heb. 6:18.  Because God Himself is truth and the source of truth, it is impossible for Him to say anything untruthful (John 14:6, 17; 15:26; cf. Num. 23:19; Ps. 146:6).”
On ‘put in order’: “Titus was to correct wrong doctrine and practices in the Cretan churches, a task that Paul had been unable to complete.  This ministry is mentioned nowhere else.”
On ‘dishonest gain’: “False teachers are always in it for the money (1 Tim. 6:4; 1 Pet. 5:2).”
On ‘minds and consciences’: “If the mind is defiled, it cannot accurately inform the conscience, so conscience cannot warn the person.  When conscience is accurately and fully infused with God’s truth, it functions as the warning system God designed.  See 2 Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 1 Tim. 1:19, 20.  False teachers are corrupt on the inside (“mind and conscience’) and the outside (‘works’ and ‘disobedient’).  Cf. Matt. 7:15, 16.”

  • John MacArthur, One Faithful Life

Titus 1:2 ‘God cannot lie’: “The scriptural idea of God forbids that he should lie. It is utterly inconsistent with the Holy One, whose kingdom is over all, that he could lie.  God is too wise to lie.  Falsehood is the expedient of a fool.  Only a shortsighted person lies.  For some present advantage the poor creature who cannot see the end as well as the beginning states what is false, but no wise person who can look far into the future ever thinks a lie to be profitable; this person knows that truth may suffer loss at first, but in the long run she is always successful.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Titus 1:4 ‘Grace and peace’: “The Lord came to Gideon and told him he was to lead his people in victory over the Midianites.  That’s like God telling a housewife to stand up to her abusive husband or a high school student to take on drug peddlers or a preacher to preach the truth to a congregation of Pharisee.  ‘Y-y-you-b-b-better get somebody else,’ we stammer.  But then God reminds us that he knows we can’t, but he can, and to prove it he gives a wonderful gift.  He brings a spirit of peace.  A peace before the storm.  A peace beyond logic …  He gave it to David after he showed him Goliath; he gave it to Saul after he showed him the Good News, he gave it to Jesus after he showed him the Cross.  And he gave it to Gideon.  So, Gideon, in turn, gave the name to God.  He built an altar and named it Jehovah-shalom, the Lord is peace (Judges 6:24).”

  • Max Lucado, The Great House of God

Titus 1:13-14 ‘rebuke Cretan liars’: “This was bad soil, but it had to be plowed, sown; and, with an Almighty God at the back of the gospel plower and sower, a fruitful harvest came even in Crete.  We need not be afraid of the adaptation of the gospel to the lowest of the low.  It in any quarter of the town the people are more sunken in vice than anywhere else, there the gospel is to be carried with more prayer and more faith than anywhere else.  Depend upon it; God can bless his Word anywhere.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

My Thoughts

I could have repeated similar things said by Rev. MacArthur here that were said in 1 Timothy 3 regarding the qualifications of overseers, elders, etc.  Most of this is similar, but I included the concept of dishonest gain and Rev. MacArthur’s comments.  What may be lost as we look at these attributes of a good leader and find ourselves falling short is that Paul tells both Timothy and Titus to seek people to be leaders who will uphold the Gospel and drive out false doctrine.  Why are our mainline denominations so screwed up these days?  The doctrine is screwed up by having leaders who are either struggling as a Christian or who have little or no faith, little or no knowledge of Jesus Christ, and do not answer if the Holy Spirit even speaks to them.  This could be deacons, elders, or the pastor.  It is hard to think that someone can make it through seminary and not believe, but it happens.  Then some church, that has already lost their way, will gladly hire them to preach.  From what I am told, some seminaries tend to produce such non-believing pastors.  And before you think me to be ultra-judgmental, the seminary can fill a student’s mind full of knowledge, and the student can regurgitate it.  But do they know Jesus in their hearts?  And if you have people who teach in the seminary of like-hearts (as opposed to like-minds), they misinterpret Scripture as they teach it to the next generation.

But, if we believe in God, we know truth.  I have touched on the Post-Truth Era in a few posts.  We are in the midst of Post-Truth because we are ignoring God, the author of Truth.  (See MacArthur’s and Spurgeon’s comments above.)  Real Truth is not relative or based on circumstances.  Many argue against the fact that we are in a Post-Truth Era, usually those who are lying to you at the time.  But can you really trust anything that the media says?  It is either published without doing a thorough fact check or it is given through a filter of the owning company’s agenda, not reporting some things while overemphasizing others.  I hope I am in Heaven before the sports is reported in such a manner.  I can hear it now, “The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the USC Trojans in the national championship by thirty points, but maybe not.  Many of the scoring plays are being investigated and USC has filed a lawsuit against the officials of the game.  Who cares anyway!  They’ll split the proceeds to build new practice facilities and incinerators for burning books.  At least both schools have their priorities in the right order.”

But what Rev. MacArthur stated about minds and consciences is true.  We cannot have our mind hear the truth from our conscience unless we fill our mind with the Truth from God’s Holy Word.

The Max Lucado quote refers to “Grace and Peace” which is offered in Titus 1:4, but then Rev. Lucado goes far afield by mentioning how Gideon, David, and Saul needed and received God’s Grace and Peace.  What about poor Titus?  The Apostle Paul cannot crack the nut, which is the people of the isle of Crete, so he hands the job over to Titus.  Titus and Timothy may have been Paul’s star pupils, but if the “master” cannot do it, why send the pupil?  But Paul was not the Master, and the Master worked through Titus to accomplish what Paul had failed to accomplish.  Grace and Peace, indeed.  Paul wished blessings upon Titus, and Titus received an ample share of both.

And to illustrate why Crete was such a difficult place in which to work, Titus 1:12 says that Cretans are liars, evil, brutish, slothful, and gluttons, according to one of their own prophets.  That clearly covers two of the seven deadly sins and the “evil brutes” might actually touch on the rest.  But oddly, someone who has lost their way entirely can be more easily convinced of being on the wrong road than someone who has, what they think is, an innate sense of direction which never fails and even when they also have a GPS that, unknown to them, is tuned into the wrong satellite.  In other words, the Pharisee on Crete would lie, be a lazy glutton, etc., but would never think that he needed Jesus due to his strict following of Pharisee rules, but the guy on skid row knows that he needs something.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. If you were on a search committee at church, responsible for finding people who meet these qualifications, would you fit the criteria?  Why or why not?
”2. Of the qualities in verses 8-9, which do you desire to develop in yourself?  How can your group help you to develop them?

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

The author of the first question flips it, putting the focus onto the search committee instead of the ones being sought, but flip it back and figure out how to select people who are not perfect but come close.  Also, when you approach the candidates, how do you approach their refusal to accept the nomination, as they know that they do not meet the exacting criteria?  And why do I ask?  If you come close to the requirements in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you will be all too aware of your shortcomings.  To gladly accept the nomination would indicate an unawareness of one’s own sin, and thus not worthy of leadership.  Yet, how often are church meetings run by such people?

As for the second question, the second part pertains to the small group studies that the Serendipity Bible study is designed for, at least the one that I have.  Substitute “Sunday school class” or “close Christian friends” for the “group”.  And as I have said before, others may know your best and weakest qualities better than you can see them in a “spiritual mirror.”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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