Bible Study: Titus 3:8-15

This post will conclude the devotions over Titus.  Paul will give his closing remarks and salutations.  He will be going to Nicopolis and wants Titus to eventually meet him.  Before Titus receives word from Paul to make his journey, he is to remain busy at Crete.  Besides preaching and modeling a Christian example, Paul uses this final section to tell Titus that the people need to “maintain good works.”  He does this twice in his salutation.

Titus 3:8-15

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

Good Works

The early congregations did not have a designated sanctuary and operated primarily out of the believer’s home.  However, that did not stop them from one of the Church’s greatest contributions.  Their good works were what we call today charities and the promotion of social justices.  It is one thing to preach against sin.  It is another thing to practice holy love.  If our holiness decreases our involvement with the care of unbelievers and the healing of the world’s pain, we are pursuing the wrong view of holiness.

Bible Study: Titus 3:1-7

Paul now brings us back to earlier points made in Titus 1:1-3.  That is, to Christ and the Gospel.  Paul would have Titus to remind the believers at Crete that our beliefs impact our behaviour.  If we have believed in Christ for salvation and understand the great abundance of kindness that has been given to us, then we ought to behave in a certain way.  We act gracious to those in authority above us in government, our unbelieving and believing neighbor, and we pursue a holy life in public and in private.

Titus 3:1-7

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The kindness of God

God’s kindness to us is freely given.  We do not deserve it, and it is not given to us because of the type of people we already are.  It is not by works of righteousness where God shows appreciation to us for being good already. Rather, the kindness of God is that he gives us a bath.  We are washed, born again, and made new by the Holy Spirit.  God’s kindness goes beyond making us His adopted but outside heirs.  God’s kindness makes us His actual family.  He makes us into new people. Thank God for His unmerited kindness.

Bible Study: Titus 2:11-15

Hope and holiness are two distinguishing marks of the Christian’s life.  In the passage we see before us, Paul reminds Titus that salvation is to all people.  Every person is given an opportunity to know Christ at some time or another.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides us with a blessed hope, the glorious appearing of God and His Son.  Christ gave Himself for us, and this provides us with a guaranteed confidence.  Hopeful people live different than those without hope.  Hopeful Christian have a lifestyle of holiness.  Paul shares that in pursuing holiness, we should live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

Titus 2:11-15

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Sober

Clear-mindedness is Paul’s word to Titus.  Holiness can only be pursued by those with a mind made pure by the work of the Holy Spirit and maintain that clarity.  Drunkenness and a drug-induced “high” are not part of the Christian experience for pursuing holiness.

Righteous

Righteousness can be a tough word to define.  Two words though have been widely-accepted as synonymous, “faithfulness” and “justice.”  In other words, Paul is encouraging Titus to pursue holiness with faithfulness to God’s standard and to be just.  Holy and hopeful Christians will seek to spread that hope and relationship with Christ to others regardless of their state.  Being just (righteous) requires us to look out for those around us.

Godly

This is another word that is hard to define.  It has been polluted by legalism.  Instead of a legalistic approach to this word, it conveys a high sense of spirituality or piety.  A hopeful and holy believer will seek God through spiritual disciplines.  What spiritual disciplines?  Look at the following incomplete list for an idea.

  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Bible reading and study
  • Corporate worship
  • Giving
  • Singing
  • Serving
  • Simplicity
  • and much more.

Bible Study: Titus 2:1-10

In light of Paul’s writing in Titus 1:10-16, Paul then gives one simple piece of instruction. That is to teach sound doctrine.  Titus was leading this group of new believers, and they were going to make an impact in Crete.  Titus’ work was teaching the people God’s Word.  His message to the believers focused on their examples before one another and the world.

Titus 2:1-10

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Taught and caught

The saying about learning is most things are “caught, not taught.”  I would argue that it is both.  Even with culture, it is both taught and caught.  Terminology, symbols, and behaviors are first taught through speaking, and then they are caught by example.  One approach without the other will leave people lacking in either substance or application.

Church leaders must exhibit soundness in their teaching.  Pastors must seek to preach God with clarity and wholeness.   They must then practice what they preach.  Lead by example and word.  Paul’s teaching to Titus is that wherever we are, whether old or young, male or female, married or single, free of a slave, we lead with a godly example.

Bible Study: Titus 1:10-16

Paul has a sense of humor.  Even in the middle of a lesson on ministry, Paul finds a way to use tongue in cheek humor to get his point across.  He uses it to encourage Titus to know the people he is ministering to and the philosophies they hold.  For present day pastors, it is important to understand those that we minister to as well.

Titus 1:10-16

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

The false teachers

One of the groups that Paul identifies in Crete that teach false doctrines.  A common phrase for that day, “mouth must be stopped” seems to be a strong medicine.  It means to show these teachers to be what they are.  Let the people know about the lies that they share and they will stop listening.  Hence, the pastors preaching must be filled with right teaching so that the people may discern what the truth of God is.

The false teachers that Paul specifically points out are the traveling Judaizers.  These people taught things such as circumcision were required for salvation.  Others taught similar ideas; that particular initiation ritual had to be performed for people to obtain specialized knowledge.  Paul’s point here is not identifying the particular doctrines or how to defend against them.  Instead, Paul is only asking Titus to be aware of where a majority of his problems will come from.

The people

The second group of people that Paul identifies is the inhabitants of Crete.  The Cretians had a disciple stereotype.  This is where Paul’s humor comes into play.  He quotes one of their philosophers, “the Cretians are always telling lies.”  The joke comes in when Paul says, “This Cretian is telling the truth” (this is called the Epimenides paradox).  Paul is helping Titus to understand the culture of the people around him.  To effectively minister to the people, Titus needed to know how they thought and how they lived.

At times, pastors and other church leaders can give into the temptation to use programs that are modeled after churches.  While it is not wrong to learn from other congregations, a major misstep is usually taken.  That is the failure to understand the culture and problems that were being addressed in those other churches for such programs to be used.  Without knowing the people in our Churches and communities, all efforts will be fruitless or minimal at best.

Bible Study: Titus 1:5-9

How should Christian leaders behave and think?  The pastoral epistles give lists that are foundational for the qualifications many churches places upon pastors.   If we were to answer the question and summarize these qualifications in one word, it would be “blameless.”  In fact, blameless is the first quality noted for bishops in Titus and First Timothy.

Titus 1:5-9

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”

Ordain

Recently, I had the honor to conduct the ordination service of my denomination.  Ordination is a beautiful thing.  It is recognition by the Church that God has placed a called to ministry and charges them with the authority and responsibility to carry out that calling.  Paul’s word’s to Titus, remind us that while pastors are people just like us, they have a major call upon their life, unlike any other calling out there.

Pastors, elders, bishops

The Bible uses these words interchangeably.  Though they describe the same office in the church, they do contain various nuances.

Pastor – this word comes from both the Hebrew and the Greek.  It speaks to the shepherding qualities of the pastor.

Elder – this word is sometimes translated as a presbyter.   It notes that someone that presides over a community.

Bishop – this word is the basis for Episcopal.  It is closely related to “Elder” as it focuses on the person who cares for a community or group.

Be blameless

Many of the qualification for the minister deal with being in the public eye.  A daunting task for leaders is that they are constantly under scrutiny and are always being observed.  Even more, the scripture points out in 1 Timothy that the family of the leader is watched as well.  Regardless, being blameless is still the summary of the requirements here.  Why should we be blameless?  As pastors, we lead by example and that requires a high degree of faithfulness to God’s call.

How does one remain blameless and what are are they blameless from?  To not have someone call foul on you is hard, especially when we live in a society where good is called evil and evil is called good (Isaiah 5:20).  First, we are to be blameless before God.  Second, we are to be blameless before men at being blameless before God.  We are to seek God in all things.  That takes care of the first.  In the second, when we are before men, we should seek to use wisdom and behave in a God-pleasing manner, always.  If we are accused of anything as ministers, let us be charged with something that shows we are serving God faithfully.