For an introduction to this series, click here.
October 30, 2007
Titus was another of Paul's proteges. We know from the book that at the time of this writing Titus was working in Crete.
"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." (1:1-4)
I usually don't comment on the greeting, but this one is too good to pass up. Notice Paul's three-fold message in verses 1 and 2: 1) the faith of God's elect; 2) acknowledging the truth which accords with godliness; 3) hope of eternal life. If you notice, these correspond to the three aspects of salvation: justification, sanctification and glorification. These were the three things that Paul preached: that is, the Gospel.
"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (1:5-9)
It's interesting that one of the qualifications for an elder is that his children be believers. I'm not sure I've ever heard that taught before. Other translations do not render it this way: the KJV, NKJV and the HCSB all read, "faithful children." Not that there is much of a difference, but the way the ESV reads is certainly hard-hitting. Personally I don't think these qualifications preclude a single elder, for example. I think the stipulation is that if the man is married he should be a one-woman man and if he has children they should be faithful to the Lord.
"For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled." (1:10-15, ESV)
Once again we have a warning against false teachers. Apparently the Judaizers had found their way to Crete and were leading many people astray. These teachers were not motivated by the Lord or by their love for the people. They were motivated by money. Be careful about any preacher who seems inordinately concerned about money.
Paul quotes Epimenides, a Greek poet, when he describes the Cretans. Paul was not uninformed about the world around him. Obviously he wasn't obsessed with it, like it is easy to do. But the fact remains that he apparently was well-read in secular literature and was familiar with the aspects of the popular culture of his day. Of course it is wrong to let your mind think about nothing but worldly things, but never are we commanded to pull ourselves away from society and not know anything.
I can remember as a young kid walking into Sunday School one time singing a song I had heard in a TV commercial (I don't remember what the song was now, I wish I could). One of the other kids said, "That's a bad song! You shouldn't be singing that!" And then the teacher scolded me a little bit, thankfully not too much. That's what Paul means that to the pure all things are pure. I didn't know it was a "bad" song (it probably wasn't, anyway, at least not sinful). We should be very careful to criticize the motives of someone doing something that is not clearly sin. Sometimes we Christians can impose our dirty consciences on others and ruin someone else's liberty. There's plenty of other examples, of course, but you get the idea.