Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Titus 1 (web)

Fit for Service

1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,
according to the faith of God's chosen ones,
and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who can't lie, promised before eternal times;
1:3 but in his own time revealed his word in the message
with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior;

1:4 to Titus, my true child according to a common faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

1:5 I left you in Crete for this reason,
that you would set in order the things that were lacking,
and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you;

1:6 if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife,
having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior.
1:7 For the overseer must be blameless, as God's steward;
not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine,
not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain;
1:8 but given to hospitality, as a lover of good, sober-minded, fair, holy, self-controlled;
1:9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching,
that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine,
and to convict those who contradict him.

1:10 For there are also many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers,
especially those of the circumcision,
1:11 whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses,
teaching things which they ought not, for dishonest gain's sake.
1:12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said,
"Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons."
1:13 This testimony is true.
For this cause, reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
1:14 not paying attention to Jewish fables
and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

1:15 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.
1:16 They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him,
being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.

Discussion Questions

vs 1-3 How has the knowledge of the truth led to a godly lifestyle in your case?
How important does Paul view his preaching?
vs 6 What's the difference between blameless and sinless?
What does it mean to be the husband of one wife?
Why must elder's children be well-behaved believers also?
vs 7 How might you summarize these characteristics?
vs 8 Of these characteristics, which are you strongest in?
vs 9 Have you ever been involved in refuting someone who opposes the Bible?
Should such refuting be a part of the Christian life?
vs 10-16 Do you know of examples today of people getting paid for promoting false teachings?
What in particular was the group of the circumcision teaching?
Is it Biblical to characterize population groups, or it that racism and sin?
What kind of "Christian" myths that you've heard should be suppressed?
What kind of commands have you heard from false teachers that should be ignored?


The Truth Leads to Godliness

Titus 1:1
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—

In Rom 1:5 Paul writes, "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name" Entering to a saved condition and subsequently into the family of God through regeneration by the Holy Spirit is conditioned upon faith. Subsequent to that having been saved one grows in godliness by applying one's faith to the knowledge of the truth. And if one's alleged faith does not lead them to godliness it's questionable whether their faith is genuine. Or as Paul says later in chapter 2, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope— the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."  Titus 2:11-14

Far from a fatalistic viewpoint Paul saw the elect's salvation being contingent upon him. For people are elected according to the foreknowledge of God. (1Peter 1:2) God foreknows who will hear and believe. Given that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Rom 10:17 It was necessary for people to hear the gospel to be saved. Consequently people's salvation was dependent upon people like Paul preaching to them. "It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1Cor 1:21 And so also there are people whose salvation is dependent upon whether or not you decide to get involved in the process of bringing them to faith in Christ. Thus Paul also writes, "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." 2Tim 2:10

The correlation between salvation and godliness Paul elaborates on in chapter 2.

Paul Appointed for Preaching the Gospel

Titus 1:2,3 A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior

Christian faith and knowledge is primarily about resting in God's grace. It's about resting in the grace of God. For salvation is a free gift offered graciously and received by faith. Implied is an eternally secured aspect to saving faith.

This is the New Covenant which God prepared beforehand, indeed before the beginning of time. There's an exact parallel passage to these verses in 2Tim 1:9-11 "He has saved us and called us to a holy life— not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher."

"Through the preaching entrusted to me" - Paul, in some sense has a higher status than the other apostles, who had early on limited themselves to ministering to Jews exclusively. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles - which included most of the world. And most of the New Testament letters were Paul's letters. Even the book of Acts is primarily about Paul, written by his traveling companion Luke and continued with him to the end, and who also wrote the gospel of Luke. This not to say that there are contradictions between Paul and the others. For Peter himself in declares Paul writings to be scripture in 2Peter 3:15,16

Organize the Church

Titus 1:4,5  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 straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

We don't actually know the origin of Titus conversion. He was a Gentile. Paul mentions in Galatians that he and Barnabus brought him to the church at Jerusalem to deal with the issue concerning circumcision. The Judaizers wanted Titus circumcised to become a Jews, but Paul wouldn't stand for it. Peter finally sided with Paul and the matter became largely closed. Thus Gentiles don't have to become Jews to become Christians. (The issue may sound funny today)

In Paul referring to Titus as his son it doesn't necessarily mean he brought him to faith. For he said the same of Timothy whom Paul clearly had not himself brought to faith. Rather in both cases I believe he's referring to their relationship. That is, Paul's relationship with Titus was much as a father to a son insomuch as he was discipling him in the ministry, as is also the subject of this letter.

Here he left Titus with a task to accomplish. Paul planted, and he left Titus to organize. Understand that as the church grows, there's greater practical necessity to form some kind of organization. Actually that's true of secular groups as well. However the term "church" often is spoken of in two senses. The Bible commonly refers to "church" as the assembly of believers. So "church" refers to people. But more commonly today and throughout much of the history of post-Biblical Christianity, the term "church" is used to refer to the organization, or to the administrators of the organization. That has led to a lot of misconception over the years.

Note that Titus was to assign elders, not pastors. "Pastor" is a function, not an office. In terms of organization, a board of elders is in some sense safer than having one man in charge - that is rule by committee rather than a dictatorship. However, if you get a bunch of guys together, it is natural for a hierarchy to form. So regarding an elder board, even if everyone allegedly has an equal voice, it's simply human nature that some end up having a greater voice than others. But can't do much about that.

As a final note I find it interesting that these institutional churches didn't start with elders. They hadn't had elders and yet they were reckoned churches. Thus if a church doesn't have elders it doesn't mean it is not a legitimate church. Rather elders are one of many roles which can edify a church.

Elders must be Blameless

Titus 1:6  An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

"Blameless" is not the same as "sinless". This refers his reputation being above reproach.

"The husband of but one wife" would exclude polygamists, not uncommon in those days. More commonly today is the serial form of polygamy in which divorced men remarry. And as Jesus said, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery" Lk 16:18a and thus they are disqualfied from eldership.

"A man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient." Not that its sinful to not have believing children, but a preference for eldership insomuch as children are a reflection on their parents. Even having believing children is not sufficient, if they are wild and disobedient.  "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?" 1Tim 3:4,5 Though one wonders whether God himself would be qualified to be an elder of a church seeing as He says, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." Is 1:2

Elders must have Self-Control

Titus 1:7  For a overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,

Notice that "elder" is synonymous with "overseer". Though many an elder today could be more accurately described as "overlookers".

The attitude of the overseer must be just the opposite of elitism, being not the master of the house, but simply the steward, overseeing the house on behalf of the master. Thus in contrast to being "self-willed", he must be "Spirit led", complying to the Lord's will. He must not be "quick-tempered", prone to angry outbursts, or to the rash decisions that result from such a temperament.

Naturally you don't want a drunkard as a steward.

Historically the religious elite tend to characteristically be prone to violence, greed and pride. For consider the category of people who crucified Christ. The office of institutional leaders tends to both attract such people or to develop such characteristics in people hold such offices. Thus it is very important to assign the best people to such offices. For example it says, "not a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil." 1Tim 3:6 The devil himself is a precedent for those who get corrupted by religious office!

As for greedy, Paul advises the elders in emphasis in this manner, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:33-35 Thus Paul advises elders not to receive payment for their services, but rather to earn their own living to provided for the needy. And elders who demand payment for their services are actually diverting funds which would otherwise have been directed to the needy.

Elders must Live Righteously and Love Others

Titus 1:8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is sober-minded, upright, holy and self-controlled.

In contrast to being greedy, he much be hospitable. Naturally if one is to be characterized as an "overseer", he much spend time with people. Much of that practically involves having people come over his house. When did an elder last invite you over his house?

An elder is one who actually loves what is good, and not simply loves the praise that comes to him from doing what is good. For there are people who "love evil more than good, Lying rather than speaking righteousness." Ps 52:3

"sober-minded", being of a sound mind. Today we might refer to such a person as rational, reasonable.

"upright" or "just" speaks of the person's judicial sense as he will be involved in judging disputes and such.

"holy" kind of goes along with blameless insomuch as it depicts a person taking measures to avoid sin.

As for self-control, a baseline might be established by simply considering their waistline.

Elders must Hold to Right Doctrine

Titus 1:9 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.

In other words, an elder much have fortitude in holding to the message of which the Bible teaches. There are those who don't have this fortitude which reflects deep conviction, esteeming the Word of God above opinions of man. This is particularly necessary among those of religious office, where there is such temptation to become conceited and so modify the message to accommodate whatever pleases people.

The measure of good teaching is not whether it makes people feel good, but rather whether it is in fact sound - conforming to the Bible's intended meaning and application. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2Tim 3:16,17

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2Tim 4:2-4

2Cor 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Silence Apostates

Titus 1:10,11 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach— and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

Basically there are many who replace the Word of God with their own opinion. The cult of the circumcision of whom Paul dealt with extensively in Galatians, appeared to originate in the church of Jerusalem - the church of which was led by Peter, James and John, who, likely due to the prejudice they held against Gentiles at the times, were grossly negligent in allowing this cult to grow in their own church. And it took Paul to come into their church to deal with it himself because men were coming from that church over to his preaching a false gospel. Thus his conviction "They must be silenced!"

The process of doing so may involve confrontation, conflict and intimidation; and you yourself may be viewed as a divisive person in the good that you do. For even fellow Christians will return evil for the good that you intend in doing this kind of thing. But for the sake of the body it must be done.

Be on guard particularly for those who received payment or like benefit for teaching. Not that such is wrong in itself, as Paul also said, "The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." 1Cor 9:14, though that is an option that Paul himself avoided. "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." 2Cor 2:17 And "you know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed— God is our witness." 1Th 2:5 And furthermore over time those who get paid for ministry can't really be sure to what extent the money is affecting their teachings. The case of the cult of the circumcision is even more transparent.

Rebuke Apostates Sharply

Titus 1:12,13 Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith

It's not that Paul was endorsing one of their own prophets, but rather noting how those of their own culture characterize them. Crete is an island off the southern coast of Greece. Paul quoted Epimenides, who was Cretian by birth. It is reported of him, that being sent by his father to his sheep in the field,  he by the way,  at noon,  turned aside into a cave,  and slept fifty seven years. Thus laziness was characteristic of Cretans. But also lying was characteristic of them. And their kind characterized them as evil beasts, driven by their own passions.
By the way, this style of rhetoric is a generalization, and Jesus himself uses such as for example in Mt 23 where he generalizes the characteristic behavior of scribes and pharisees. But this is not to say such is true in every particular case. Yes, the Bible does endorse such rhetoric. You're not lying in using generalizations.
Now, at times we're called to respond gently. But not in this kind of case. In this kind of case, particularly involving those who view themselves with some spiritual authority and are teaching false doctrine, those are to be rebuked sharply. Likewise of elders it says, "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear." 1Tim 5:20 Note even in the gospels how Jesus dealt harshly with the religious elite in comparison with ordinary folk.

Pay No Attention to those who Promote Myths

Titus 1:14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.

Now while it appears these false teachers were primarily unconverted Cretan Jews, there are elsewhere general commands concerning avoiding myths, such as he commanded to Timothy, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly." 1Tim 4:7 and "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work— which is by faith." 1Tim 1:3,4

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:2-4

Along with promoting myths, these also command Christians concerning their way of life. One thing that can help Christians keep themselves from such influence is to be "Berean".  "The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11 Scrutinize everthing in light of the Word of God.

The Corrupt Obsess over Rituals and Regulations

Titus 1:15 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.

Become so familiar with the truth, and look to yourselves, keeping yourselves pure from sin, that when corrupted teaching comes along, you will sense it. This may take the maturity that comes from experience. "Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Heb 5:14

In particular by "pure" Paul was likely referring to the obsession the circumcision has over Jewish customs concerning purification, such as we see also Jesus speaking to in the gospels. In contrast to such regulations Paul says, "'Everything is permissible for me"'but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me'— but I will not be mastered by anything." 1Cor 6:12  And in Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all." Gal 5:1,2

In contrast these Jewish unbelievers are characteristically depraved in their thinking and in their conscience, such as attributing guilt to that which they should not, while not feeling guilty for that which they should. And because of their depraved mind you will find it difficult reasoning with these people.

One's Actions Reflect One's Faith

Titus 1:16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

A person's claim of being a Christian should not soley be the measure as to whether they actually are. For there is a correlation between a person's salvation status and their behavior. Thus, for example, John says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

"unfit" is the same Greek word "disqualfied" as in the following, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ——unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified." 2Cor 13:5,6

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015