Two weeks we began our study in the Epistle to Titus. In the introduction I asked three questions… The first week I asked and answered the questions can churches be led effectively in a day and age where so many spiritual leaders/Pastors of churches have fallen into sin by either abusing their power and authority, living secretive and sinful lives, or depending solely on their abilities, personalities, and gimmicks? Can good churches exist in a culture that so clearly and willingly embraces and celebrates all things ungodly and anti-Christian? And can Christians who live in a highly secularized and sexualized world that is continually vying for you affection, minds, and loyalty do good? I answered these questions in the previous two sermons. Today, I will address the third question as we look at Titus chapter 3.
Titus 3:1 – 11
Vs 1: Keeping the context of the Epistle of Titus in mind, we now can address the question that deals with Christians doing good in a secular and sexualized society. Paul was instructing Titus on how he was to develop and raise up leaders/leaders in the churches of Crete. Crete, much like modern society, was a place who had few morals, but unlike today, was a highly religious culture. There is an unwritten rule, that some call conversation taboo, that suggests two topics people should never talk about if they want to remain friends… Religion and politics. This rule was clearly written after the first century because the Apostle Paul breaks this rule in the first part of Titus chapter 3. In the first century Cretan culture there was a religious dimension to all governmental authority, the modern secular state did not exist. So, it is not surprising that in verse 1 Paul addresses and exhorts Titus to remind the believers of the command to submit to the government and its officers. Note, Paul tells Titus to “remind” the people of Crete to “submit to the governments and its officers.” This “reminder” would imply that there were already teachings regarding religion and politics. In fact, the topic of politics and religion was addressed by Jesus when he was asked by Jewish religious authorities about taxes and allegiance to Rome, to which he responds, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what belongs to God.”
These “governments and its officers” are those who create and implement government. The believers under Titus’s spiritual care are encouraged to live their lives in line with properly formed governing powers, “ready to do what is good.” But not only are they to be submitted, but Paul tells him to instruct them to be obedient as well. Cretans were known for their lack of restraint. Thus, Christian witness, integrity, and the reputation of the church would suffer if believers lived their lives in rebellion to the law. Paul’s command entails that “governments and its officers” are not imposing insurgence against God but generally fulfilling their God-ordained duties. It is important to note that Paul is not indiscriminately ordering Titus to enforce close adherence to civil law no matter what. He is confirming that, under conditions like those in Crete at that time, Christians should be excellent citizens, even in a pagan society. However, sometimes it was necessary to go against earthly authorities when their will goes against the will of God. Christians are called to uphold the divine will of God first and then adhere to earthly leaders. We see this this portrayed in the prophet Daniel on numerous occasions, the Hebrew midwives who hid the children and going against the command of Pharaoh, Paul and Peter refusing to stop preaching the Gospel, and many others.
Vs 2: Now Paul turns to the personal aspects that describes the traits of a Christ-follower. He discourages two negative aspects of how not to live while encouraging two positive traits of a Christ-follower. The negatives deal with how we talk and how we live together in Christian community. He says believers must not be slanderous, which is a word derived from the Greek word blasphēmeō which means to speak against someone or speaking maliciously. He speaks about this conviction in reminding Titus how a transformed is evident in a believer in how we talk and speak to others. The second negative talks about avoiding quarrels. This derives from the Greek word amachos, which is a word that in the New Testament means not disposed to fight, quarrel, or be contentious. A slanderous person is often joined with a hot-tempered spirit and combative conduct. These traits are inconsistent with one who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The positives talk about gentleness and humility. Paul is calling for individuals to have behavior that is free of arrogance and proud haughtiness. He reminds Titus that the godly character of a believer called for in v. 2 should be continually existent in the lives of those Jesus has redeemed and communicated in ways that are situationally and interpersonally fitting, as well as emotionally and collectively genuine.
Vs 3: In light of how people ought to live Titus is instructed to remind the believers to live civilly and selflessly toward others in view of their own spotty, if not varied, past. Paul characterizes the unsavory side of his and his readers’ pre-gospel lives with seven words or descriptive phrases. “The purpose for pointing this out, however, is not to portray unbelievers in unappealing terms but to remind believers of who they were before God’s saving faith on their behalf.
Paul reminds the believers they were once…
Vs 4 – 8: The believers, like all of us who were once unredeemed lived according to the flesh and sin, BUT… This is one of many big “buts” found in the Bible… Once Jesus redeemed us through his kindness, love, and mercy we were saved. He made us clean, and He washed us from our sins and made us new creations and gave us new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. He gave us the Holy Spirit through his generosity. By His grace he made us righteous and so that we can have confidence in knowing that since we belong to Him, we will inherit eternal life. Since this is a trustworthy saying given by a trustworthy God, Paul insists that Titus teach these things so that those who do belong to God will “do good”. This means the believers should have an interest in or to prioritizing the act of doing of good. In this we see that Paul is not shy about repeating the need for active participation in the obligations of faith to be taken seriously as keepers of faith
Vs 9: Paul now returns to the issues from chapter one, by telling Titus to “avoid foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees.” Paul is not ordering Titus to avoid all conflict and disagreement, because this is nearly impossible to avoid in ministry. Conflict is ever present in all ministries and cannot always be avoided. However, Paul does warn against “foolish discussions” and quarrels regarding obedience to the Jewish laws. It is these things that go against the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. There is no need to entertain discussions that may refute or contradict the Gospel message and the grace of Jesus Christ. The truth of grace, salvation, God’s mercy, the Gospel, and various biblically sound doctrines must remain the main thing. He is told to stay away from foolish discussion and disputes over genealogies. Ancestral genealogy is no doubt important in a religion that follows its origins back to the first man and woman, Adam, and Eve. One that values the covenant to Abraham, and the giving of the law through Moses. Christians are the children of Abraham, and some in the church insisted that devotion to circumcision and the law of Moses were necessary for salvation. Paul tells Titus to not engage in these foolish arguments. These things are useless and a waste of time. There was a whole world out there that needed to hear about the grace of Jesus Christ, so Paul tells Titus to avoid these quarrels and discussions because ultimately, they do not direct people to Jesus, in fact they often detract people from him.
Vs 10 - 11: However, Paul does instruct Titus that if there are people in the church who are divisive and quarrelsome that he is to give two warnings to stop, and if they choose not to heed the warnings, he is not to entertain these individuals from that moment on. In many respects He is given a way to resolve conflict and institute church discipline. Divisive people cause division, and the church has no place for people who love to divide and quarrel. A stagnant body of believers focuses on fighting, allows division, and engage in foolish debate because they do not care about the sharing the Gospel thus, they have nothing better to do than to criticize, divide, and argue.
Titus 3:12 – 15
The final four verses include closing directions.
Vs 12 – 13: When Artemas and Tychicus arrive, make his best effort to meet Paul in Nicopolis because this is where Paul is staying for the winter. It is here that they can regroup and enjoy their fellowship. He also adamantly encourages him to support both Zenas and Appollos on their trip. It is possible that Zenas and Apollos are couriers of the letter to Titus. When they reach Crete, Titus and the Christian community are not only to receive the letter from them but also to be proactive about helping them to their next destinations
Vs 14: He restates the purpose of the letter. The people must learn to do good by being generous and supporting one another in their needs. When Titus teaches the people to do good, the end-result should be Christ-centered leadership, sound doctrine that produces churches that are transforming, and people do good by being generous, faithful, unified, grounded in sound doctrine, and Christian witnesses who faithfully proclaim and living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Vs 15: Paul concludes by and passing along greetings and concluding the letter on the same note of grace with which the letter began.
So, the question remains Christians who live in a highly secularized and sexualized world that is continually vying for you affection, minds, and loyalty do good? As you can guess the answer is a resounding yes! How? Well, this is how we take the passage we just read and studied and apply it to our everyday life.
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