Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Titus Studies|
Who, What, When, Why?
Paul's letter to Titus (for that is what this is – see 1:1 & 1:4) is a letter that raises questions, because it makes mention of a place and a man that are not mentioned in Paul's travels as recorded by Luke in Acts. So who is Titus, and when was Paul on Crete?
Although Titus does not appear in Acts, his name is mentioned by Paul twelve other times in his other letters (use a concordance to look them up). Acts 15:2 speaks of ‘some other believers' who went with Paul up to Jerusalem. Gal 2:1,3 seems to refer to that time and Titus seems to be one of those believers. Titus was a Gentile Christian who sometimes travelled with Paul. If you look up Titus in a concordance, you'll see he ran ‘errands' for Paul – e.g. 2 Cor 8:6,17. It is assumed that Paul's ministry on Crete (1:5) occurred after the end of the things recorded by Luke in Acts.
So why the Letter?
The answer to this is perhaps best served by considering a brief outline of the letter:
From the content of the letter, it becomes obvious that it is still early days in the life of the church on Crete and leaders have not yet been appointed by the apostolic team (1:6), as was their usual practice. Paul speaks there about “straightening out” what was left unfinished, and the implication is that the usual strategy of setting up church leaders and establishing teaching had not happened.
We have, therefore, in this particular letter a unique insight into the early days of a church only recently established where everything is still quite raw and untidy. For a complete contrast, see the Studies on Thessalonians where we see another church in its early days, but a church where the Gospel had come in great power having a dynamic effect. This church seems different. They appear in need of clear teaching and straightening out and have, not outside opposition as in Thessalonica, but inside opposition from people who believe wrong things. These studies show us, therefore, the need for teaching and setting up a leadership structure when beliefs are all over the place! Watch for this in these studies.
Chapter: Titus 1
Passage: Titus 1:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. How does Paul first describe himself? v.1a
2. Why was he called to be this? v.v.1b (2 things)
3. What does that rest upon? v.2a
4. When did God promise this? v.2b
5. What did He bring, when? v.3a
6. How did that come? v.3b
These opening words are some of the most complex of all Paul's greetings in his various letters. Within them there are two goals and two things leading us towards those goals.
First the goals: godliness and eternal life. The purpose of bringing the Gospel is to bring people back into relationship with God. Such people then receive God's Holy Spirit and the rest of their lives are spent in becoming more and more Christ-like (2 Cor 3:18) or godly. The growth characteristic or life goal of the Christian is, therefore, godliness. But this godliness is simply the greater and greater expression of God in us. Because He IS life, a life that has no end, when we become Christians and receive Him, we receive eternal life, which is really seen in its fulfilment in us when our bodies die and we continue to be with God in eternity.
Second, factors that lead us on to these goals. First there is faith, that responsiveness to God. NOTHING in the Christian's life is achieved of value except by faith. Faith is that simple response to God without knowledge, but along the way there is also the knowledge of the truth that comes to us that builds us. That is taught us by our leaders, but is something we come to KNOW as we know God. This has all come to us because God promised it and revealed it through His apostles and now through His word.
Chapter: Titus 1
Passage: Titus 1:4-9
A. Find Out:
1. To whom does Paul address this letter, by what description? v.4
2. Where had he left him and why? v.5
3. What 3 requirements does he give of an elder? v.6
4. What 5 ways does he says an elder must be blameless? v.7
5. What positive things does he require of an elder? v.8
6. What also must he do, to be able to do what? v.9
As we have noted in the Introduction, we are not told in the New Testament how, when or why Paul and Titus has been in Crete. From verse 5 we can infer Paul had also been there, presumably preaching the Gospel, and then had to move on. Yet it was clearly early days for the church there and no structure had been established. Thus it was that Paul left Titus to set up the structure. That structure was to be leaders in each town referred to as elders, overseers or bishops. As there would be just one church in each town such a ‘bishop' was simply a local church leader. Paul had given Timothy similar guidelines (1 Tim 3:1-7) but now lays them out for Titus to follow.
Essentially such a leader should already have a blameless life, so that he cannot be criticised in any way. Thus an elder should be men with a stable marriage and able to lead his children into a knowledge of the Lord. This is the basic foundation that needs to be in place for such a spiritual leader. But more than that, they should have a stable character that is not aggressive, up and down, lacking self control, or even dishonest. To the contrary a leader is to be one who is open to others, going for good, self-controlled, morally upright, holy and pure and leading a disciplined life. Some strong requirements! Finally he must hold onto the Gospel truths and be able to build others up in them.
Chapter: Titus 1
Passage: Titus 1:10-16
A. Find Out:
1. Who does Paul talk about now? v.10
2. What were they doing? v.11
3. How had one of their prophets described them? v.12
4. What did Paul say to rebuke them? v.13, 14
5. How does Paul differentiate between 2 groups of people? v.15
6. How does he say such corrupted people are contradictory? v.16
Paul has just said that the role of an elder is to uphold the truth and refute those who oppose it. Now he speaks about those who oppose the truth.
First he calls them rebellious and then later speaks of those whose minds are 'corrupted'. He specifically identifies the ‘circumcision group' – obviously those who still held to the belief that Christians needed to comply with the Law and be ‘Jewish'. (For Paul's arguments against this see his letter to the Galatians). He also refers to their own prophets who are saying spurious things about the people. In all that he describes their activities: gossiping, conveying untruth (v.10), teaching wrong things (v.11), even for financial gain, & attending to Jewish myths (v.14). Note this is all about perverting the truth. These people claim to know God (v.16) but their actions deny this.
Titus's role therefore, is to raise leaders (v.5) who can silence these people (v.11) by refuting what is being conveyed (v.9). As God's authority there, Titus is to rebuke these people (v.13). He is to provide correction, therefore, by establishing a sound teaching structure in the church, and by speaking powerfully against heresy. Paul himself is shortly going to lay out the teaching programme that Titus needs to apply into this church.
Chapter: Titus 2
Passage: Titus 2:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. What does Paul now tell Titus to do? v.1
2. What is he to teach the older men? v.2
3. What is he to teach the older women? v.3
4. What can they then do? v.4,5
5. What is he to do with the younger men? v.6
6. What is he to do for all? v.7a
7. How is he to shame those who oppose him? v.7b,8
Paul had started by instructing Titus to appoint elders, then he showed the need – the careless living and untruthful teaching that was prevailing there. Now he instructs him on the need for Titus to establish the teaching himself. Do it in accordance with agreed doctrine is what he says. The apostles had agreed it, now follow it.
He starts with the older men. Being older they have come to a point in life where they ought to receive respect. Teach them to earn that respect by controlled lives that exhibit Christian maturity, strong in faith (their God-relationship), love (their human relationships), and endurance (their ability to keep going in the face of opposition).
Then older women. Their temptation is to sit around gossiping and drinking. Teach the opposite, then they can teach the younger women (not you, Titus, avoid temptations!) to be good wives and mothers.
The need of the younger men is to be self controlled (overcoming youthful male passions). In all he does, be an example (deeds as well as words, teachers) and have integrity – honesty in all you say and do – and ensure you give no grounds for criticism. In that way you will shame (silence – 1:11 ) those who oppose you. These are Paul's directions for teaching for Titus to convey to the people here on Crete in the church.
Chapter: Titus 2
Passage: Titus 2:9-15
A. Find Out:
1. What were they to teach slaves to do? v.9,10a
2. Why? v.10b
3. What principle does Paul then state? v.11
4. What negatives & positives does salvation bring? v.12
5. How long are we to do that? v.13
6. What were Jesus' objectives? v.14
7. What things did Paul tell Titus to do? v.15
Having just spoken about the various categories of people to be taught, Paul now mentions a very special group – slaves. In those days it was a common thing for wealthier families to own slaves. It wasn't the time yet for the emancipation of slaves – that would come via Christians later in history when the time was right – so neither Jesus nor Paul speaks about it. Paul recognises this as a common feature of life then and knowing that some people saw slaves as lesser beings, he makes the point that they are included in salvation (possibly radical teaching for some – even as it was later in history!) Slaves, he says, you should live exemplary lives so that when others consider you and see you are a Christian, it will make them more open to the Gospel.
In the verses that follow, Paul again states some of the basics of the Christian life. There are a number of negatives we are to avoid: ungodliness, world passions (v.12), & wickedness (v.14).
The positives that we are to aim for are self control, upright and godly lives (v.12), eager to do what is good (v.14).
Jesus gave himself on the Cross to open up this salvation to us. Now it is for us to live it. This salvation is for anyone whatever their station in life. Everyone of us can receive it, live it, and reveal it to others.
Very well Titus, says Paul, be clear in your mind. These are the things you need to ne teaching the people there in Crete. Encourage God's people and rebuke the rebellious ones and don't let anyone put you down. Be confident in who you are. In these instructions, Paul directs any and every spiritual leader: impart truth, encourage the saints and challenge the interlopers, and rest in who you are!
Chapter: Titus 3
Passage: Titus 3:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. List the things Titus was to remind the people. v.1,2
2. How had they once lived? v.3 List the things.
3. But what had changed that? v.4
4. How had He done it? v.5,6
5. With what result? v.7
6. Why did Paul want to stress these things? v.8
First, in this passage Paul gives a broad call to Titus to remind the people (implying they've been taught it already but have forgotten it!) to be good citizens, obeying the law, being ready to bless the community, speaking well of all, being at peace with others, always showing care and consideration for them and being humble.
Then he gives us a passage that reminds us of what is the experience of all Christians. Initially we were a mess! (that sums up verse 3!) Then God's love was expressed to us, as the Gospel came to us. This was an act of pure mercy, completely undeserved, just an act of love. Then, when we responded to His prompting, He washed us clean and made us new people by the power of His Holy Spirit, who He put within us. This opened the door to a completely new future for us, one with an eternal dimension.
So why does he say all this? Because the outworking of all this is to be changed lives. Real Christians don't stay the same! God brings about that change when we come to Him, and then He oversees us for the rest of eternity, but while we're on this earth at least, WE have the responsibility for working it out, co-operating with God and purposing these changes. We find the same thing in Phil 2:12,13 where Paul tells us to work it out, because God is working it out in us.
Chapter: Titus 3
Passage: Titus 3:9-11
A. Find Out:
1. What is Titus to avoid and why? v.9
2. How is he to deal with divisive people? v.10
3. How does Paul describe such a person? v.11
4. What further instruction did he give Titus? v.12
5. Who did he say to help? v.13
6. How does he sum up the teaching of this letter? v.14
Earlier in the letter Paul has spoken about people who taught wrong things (1:10,11), and had said don't get caught up in legalism and speculation (1:14). Now he repeats that guidance – stay away from such things (v.9) because they don't go anywhere. Such persons wanting to purvey these false wares simply do so for ego-boosting reasons and just cause divisions.
OK, says Paul, warn them, warn them again, and if they carry on, leave them to their own devices and have nothing to do with them. Such a person has a bad attitude and a bad heart. (Observe that there is a great deal of difference between these carping people and someone who is asking questions, genuinely seeking the truth. The latter will not be argumentative, but open to being taught.)
After some domestic directions (v.12 & 13), Paul finishes off (v.14) with a general statement of intent for this church – for them to live good (wholesome and righteous) lives, and profitable and productive lives, so they are providing for themselves and their families, not just sitting around debating and relying on others for provision. This is really a summary of intent for his whole letter.
In the seven studies covering this letter we have seen the following:
As we come to the end of this short set of studies, the following are some of the things we might wish to reflect on:
1. The Frailty of Church Life
The church we are shown in Crete isn't one to put in the publicity brochure for the kingdom of God! Yet the life that is shown here is one that is brutally honest about Christians. This church was a mixture of those who were, no doubt, good honest Christians, and those who were mixed up in their thinking. Some of the people here in Crete, indeed, didn't seem to believe (1:15); in other words their faith level was zero and they lived without really knowing God (1:16). Some of them were more concerned about myths and not doctrinal truth. Some just liked “a good argument”! These may have been the minority (we're not told) but they were upsetting the faith of others (1:11). Although we may wish it wasn't like this, church sometimes is! If we're open to receive anyone who will receive Jesus, then some of those people will come in with mixed up ideas
2. The role of the church
If the above analysis is correct, and this letter suggests that it is, then both the analysis and the letter point to a major role of the church – to straighten out crooked thinking! How does the church do that? Paul shows us: appoint leaders who are men who hold firmly to the Gospel and sound doctrine (1:5,9). The Bible conveys to us sufficient doctrine to enable us to have very sure guidelines about salvation and about the Christian life. We diverge from its teaching at our peril. The church loses its authority when it loses its grasp on the truth of Scripture. Teaching these truths is the primary role of church leaders.
3. More than thinking
This letter is very clear on a further issue that flows out of what has been said above: teaching isn't just about doctrine in the head; it is about living lives that conform to that teaching. Again and again this letter insists that the Christian faith results in living GOOD lives, godly lives, righteous lives, lives that are responding to the Holy Spirit as well as conforming to the word of God. As we come to the end of this letter, may it challenge us to check our lives to ensure they are these sort of lives.