Good morning church! We are starting a short little letter this morning by the name of Titus. Just so you are aware, we will move through this book quickly as much of the material is similar to what we saw in 1 and 2 Timothy.
Titus 1:1–4 (NKJV)
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,
2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
This letter has the common New Testament beginning, in that the Author first identifies himself, followed by credentials, and then a declaration of who it is written to, followed by a greeting. So, a similar scenario, as to our last two letters as 1 & 2 Timothy, along with the letter to Titus make up what are called the Pastoral epistles. Letters from Paul, an older, more seasoned brother in the faith, a senior pastor, to younger pastors, Timothy and Titus.
However, the value of the letters is not limited to those serving in pastoral ministry. As we know, Paul instructed that his letters be read to the churches. So we aren’t just reading someone else’s mail here, these things are written here, so we know that just like there is when it comes to marriage, God has a blueprint for what things are supposed to look like when the Saints gather together for corporate worship.
And in the same way that we as Christians don’t just get to decide what our intimate relationships are going to look like based upon how we feel, or what we think is right. When we gather together here in this church, we are not just doing things the way we do them, because all of this is a demonstration of my preferences. We worship, because the Bible instructs us to and God is worthy of that. We give, because we are instructed to give with a joyful heart as a part of our worship, so if you can’t give joyfully, don’t give, but I promise you by the Word of God, that it is you that is missing out. We give priority to the Word of God as we are instructed to teach these things, to share and uphold sound doctrine, not just popular positions or shared political leanings, or even ethics and popular morality…we teach and acknowledge the Truth of the Bible.
If we look back on the ministry of Paul, we see some mentions of Titus in his other letters, so we can know a little bit more about the man than what we can discern from reading this letter written to him. Two things before we dig deeper into that, as far as a timeline goes, we just completed 2 Timothy and I emphasized strongly, that those were Paul’s final words, or his last words, and how that gave proper emphasis to the things that are written there. And now we turn the page and find another letter written by the Apostle Paul, so what is up with that?
These letters in the New Testament are not placed in our Bible’s in chronological order. So Titus was written before 2 Timothy, probably around the same time as 1 Timothy, as we find similar things on Paul’s heart and mind, along with the assignments given to these younger men. So from a historical, time stamp consideration, we would have 1 Timothy, then Titus written very closely together, followed by 1 Peter, Hebrews, and then 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, Jude…lets see, I said two things before we look into Titus, not chronological…and can’t remember so, second thing is read Isaiah 46 & 47 for Wednesday evening.
You guys will remember all of the difficulties that Paul had with the church in Corinth. Communion was a mess, when they would gather for their love feast before, some would hog all the food, others would consume all of the wine, getting drunk, and leaving none for the others. When they would gather for worship, it was like a spiritual gifts talent show, everyone wanted to speak in tongues at the same time, there was no order, no waiting upon the Lord for an interpretation.
There was fighting and sowing discord within the church. Christians were suing each other, taking one another to the public courts. All kinds of sexual immorality was present, not just outside of God’s blueprint for marriage, but one young man was in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife and the church basically applauded it or had the attitude that love covers a multitude of sin, and we are under grace, so anything goes. We know these things from the letters we have in here.
Consider if you had to write a very difficult message to someone you love, who would you have deliver that? What kind of temperament and qualities would you want that person to have? There is some evidence that Titus was involved in that. At least as being the one who reported back to Paul, how the letter was responded to. There is an interesting verse in 2 Cor 2 that shows us a little bit of the value that Paul placed on his relationship and ministry partnership with Titus. We read 2 Cor 2:12-13
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
Skipping ahead in the same book, chapter 7, starting in the 5th verse, Paul here is talking about the response reported to him following the first letter he wrote to the Corinthians. 2 Cor 7:5-8
5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. 8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Skipping down to verse 13, 2 Cor 7:13-16
13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.
Moving forward to chapter 8, Paul here is talking to them about the offering that they had agreed to collect for the struggling church in Jerusalem. Paul is basically bragging on the generosity of the churches in Macedonia, so these guys would follow through with what they said and not be embarrassed. He writes in 2 Cor 8:5-6
5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.
Skip down to verse 16, 2 Cor 8:16-17
16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord.
Titus wasn’t just following orders, he loves you guys. A couple of more verses, 2 Cor 8:23
23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.
Chapter 12 verse 18, 2 Cor 12:18
18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
In the book of Galatians, which is all about grace, we see in the second chapter, Gal 2:1-3
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Unlike Timothy who was half Greek and Half Jewish, right, we read his mother was a Jew and Father a Greek, Titus was a Gentile, and being such, didn’t get circumcised, and Paul didn’t compel him to, as some were doing at the time. Paul was emphasizing that there was no need to first become Jewish and then convert to Christianity. Salvation is a gift of God, for by grace we are saved, not by any works, including circumcision. Finally, last week, we found that Paul and Titus were still partners in ministry, even as we get to the last letter written by Paul. 2 Timothy 4:10
10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.
So Titus was a faithful partner with Paul in the ministry, a brother, walking in the same spirit, in the same steps. He was a gentile, saved by the grace of God, he loved the people he served, and got sent to Dalmatia where those white dogs with all the spots that work on fire trucks are from. There was like a 101 of them in Dalmatia, ok, that parts not true. In Titus, Paul continues his praise for him by saying he is a true son. Back to verse one, Titus 1:1-4
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,
Paul calls himself here a bondservant, but the word that he uses is doulos, which was a form of slavery that indicated not just indebtedness, but ownership. The first we read of this principle is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus in chapter 21. The idea there being you have become someone’s servant due to a debt that was owed, that you did not have the ability to pay off, so you became their slave for an agreed upon period of time. However great the debt, if you were a Hebrew and owed another Hebrew the length of servitude, had to end after 6 years, or when the debt was paid in full the shorter of the two.
If however at the end of the time of your debt, you came to the realization, slave or free, I’ve never had it so good, I don’t really want to leave the house of my master, I love my master, then we read Exo 21:5-6
5 But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.
That is what Paul is saying of himself. I am filled with gratitude, Jesus paid a debt for me that I could never pay, I love my Master, so I now belong fully and forever to Him, and He is an apostle, or special messenger or ambassador, according to the faith of God’s elect doesn’t mean he is doing this by the power of someone else’s faith…the idea is this Gospel this great news, that we Christians, God’s chosen or God’s elect hold, acknowledging the truth of our belief, that too is what Paul is pledged to.
Theologically, he covers quite a bit here in this greeting. Starting in eternity, before time began Titus 1:2
2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
God promised eternal life and God cannot lie, you and I presently have eternal life. We will at some time, pass from this life to the next, but out spirit, our soul does not just turn to dust, but we live on for all of eternity, the question is whether that will be in eternal glory in the presence of God, or an eternity, forever separated from the presence of God. What determines that, is what we do with Jesus, according to the promise of God. Who said whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.
3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; 4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
Notice in verse 3 he acknowledges God as our Savior and after extending, not just grace and peace, but grace, mercy, and peace, because we have to have mercy with our pastors, he says from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, this is a great place to take anyone that questions the deity of Jesus as this shows the Bible presents Him as God. In verse 5 we find out where Titus is serving…Titus 1:
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—
Titus is in Crete which is a small Island off the coast of Greece, so probably a little different than our island community, of Marsh Island here in Old Town, his job was to set things in order, if you look at God’s blueprint for the church, and looked at what was going on in Crete, there were some things that were lacking. He was first to appoint elders in every city. Not take a popular opinion poll from among the people, but as the overseer, he was to appoint other elders.
Now your bible might say something in the paragraph title like qualifications of elders, or qualifications and duties of elders. Remember that those additions are added by the editors in an attempt to help the reader, they aren’t inspired by the Holy Spirit. I mention that because I think sometimes we can look at these as achievements to aspire to, and there is some danger in that. There is a risk of pride, I think when we ourselves, look at a list and say I did it! I’ve worked very hard for this, I achieved something that other men haven’t so now, I am up here, and the common folk are down here.
The other danger is maybe that the church starts looking at the qualifications and sometimes putting the pastor or elders on some type of pedestal, or wanting to knock them down if they ever think they see a mismatch. I personally like to look at these lists as the qualities we see in a man. When ever we lay hands on someone as a deacon or an elder, I always explain that it is a work that we believe we have seen the Lord do in their lives. We watch and observe it over time, and then we simply acknowledge what God has done. So the qualities that he lists here that Titus should be looking for as he considers who to appoint to the position of elder begins in verse 6. Titus 1:6-8
6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,
Vs. 6 NLT translates this as faithful children not accused of being wild or rebellious. It is interesting that in 1 Timothy, it addresses some of these things with the emphasis being upon how the elder rules or manages his household and that he is responsible for keeping order, where here, it is more the idea of considering the qualities observed in a man that is the kind of leader, example, and Dad that his kids want to be like. One that attracts his children to follow Jesus like he does with his life. Not the kind of man that if you grow up in his home, your desire is to rebel against the church and reject the God that he serves. Now as kids become adults they can exercise free will just like we can, but these are the qualities we look for in our leaders here.
Vs. 7 blameless does not mean sinless, although they should sin less than before they knew Jesus, but it does have the idea of no accusations stick to them. There are some men that if we said we were praying about recognizing them as a leader, you would say, what? No way! He’s a thief, or he’s a bully, or abusive to his family. He likes the Yankees. But we look for the qualities listed here, and everyone should be like, well of course, he is a man of God, he is a steward of God, or one who tends to the stuff of another. A servant.
That is not a goal that most men aspire to, but in the Kingdom of God, that is the deal. Jesus said....Matt 20:25-27
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—
So, as pastor, if you guys want to snap your fingers at me and call me slave boy, that really is the deal. You don’t have to be disrespectful about it, but the leaders, the elders are the servants of all. ...And they are not to be self-willed Titus 1:7
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,
or all about their will being done, and getting what they want. Not quick tempered. I think in Timothy it said, not a striker! Not given to wine, not controlled by it, or not to drink more than they should. For me personally, I don’t want it to be any part of my life. I don’t want to get a call on a sunny Saturday afternoon, or late on a Friday night, and not be able to serve you, or to give good biblical counsel because I’m not of sound mind, or to have someone in the church see me drinking and think they then have that liberty as well and it becomes destructive to their family. So not drinking at all makes the most sense in my life, but the qualities we are to look for is that they man is not given to wine. If he is, is may lead to the next one, not violent, …not greedy for money..verse 8
8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
Verse 9 is so important. I have seen churches recognize men with money as elders, men that are powerful leaders as elders, men of influence as elders, those things are insignificant qualities compared to knowing the Word of God. Why? Because he must be able to hold fast to it, AND he must be able to exhort and convict those who contradict. Those who contradict who, or what? Him? No, those who contradict the truth of God’s WORD and he must be able to do that by sound doctrine, by knowing the Word that he has been taught and learned. OK, picking up the pace here...
10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
Whole households, remember the churches were often home churches, like our Growth Groups, he goes on about the character of these Island folks as described by their own people. Verse 12. Titus 1:12-14
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
Correct them with the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word. Titus 1:15-16
15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
These guys are religious atheists. Paul is not saying that all things, even sinful things are pure. But those things that are permitted by Scripture, or that we may have liberty with, food restrictions and the like those things are pure, but to the legalist nothing is pure. They profess to know God, but their life tells a different story. NLT They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;
Titus you are to be different from them, you are to teach sound doctrine. And the things which are proper, meaning not just the facts or thoughts, but how to live it out and what it should look like.
Reverent - serious about their faith and worthy of respect. Self controlled. Now, I don’t want to pick on any of our old men this morning, among whom I count myself as I’m more than halfway to 100. If you don’t think that qualifies me, so what!?! I’m kidding, but by doing so am trying to demonstrate something…old men generally, by nature become grumpy old men, even my old dog, is becoming grumpier and grumpier. He’ll hear something outside and bark or grow out of protest, but won’t even bother to lift his head to see what it is, it just bugs him.
Well older men, filled with the Holy Spirit of God aren’t to be like my dog, but rather temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patients...
Old Women, listen up, you’re next here....Titus 2:3-5
3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
They are to do this being teachers of good things by the Word of God, that is why it says likewise, not just by their own examples…Rather than struggle through breaking each of these down in verse 6, we will look again to the NLT where it reads Titus 2:5
5 to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.
Now it looks like the young men are getting off easy here, or Paul just has very little hope for them, he just says…Titus 2:6
6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
NLT says to live wisely, the Living Bible reads - Urge the young men to behave carefully, taking life seriously. That is closer to the truer sense of the meaning and challenge enough for most young men. And then to Titus himself, Paul says, you need to live this testimony out brother. Titus 2:7-10
7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
Fidelity - honesty
Adorn - we are to wear it, it should be what people see on us and in us, in all things. This chapter ends with an awesome description of God’s Amazing Grace.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Vs. 14 Gave - He did it voluntarily, and it was His whole self that He gave.
I like NKJV here as the KJV said His own peculiar people, not that I’m offended by that. But years ago, some Christians used that as an excuse for some weird things, justifying their weirdness and saying God was making them a peculiar people. And they were just weird. Verse 15 very important for us all to see.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Let no one despise you…no I think this is different from what Jesus said…if the world hates you, understand that they hated me first.
This is instruction to a pastor saying speak these things exhort, encourage and cheer on and rebuke or correct and do it will all authority, now what would cause others to despise someone that was doing that? Hypocrisy, not backing up their words with the way that they are living their life. We all fall somewhere in these chapters, old men, old women, or young women and young men. All of us are to be looking for the blessed hope of Jesus returning by the amazing grace of God, and we are to be telling everyone, and living lives consistent with our message so that it will be heard and received. May God help us.
Grace, mercy, and peace!