OBSERVE: This letter to Titus opens with a greeting, which identifies the writer as Paul. Paul indicates that Titus is to appoint elders in the towns of Crete and lists qualifications for the office of bishop. These instructions lead into a description of the corrupt people whom the bishops will need to refute. The letter then provides a moving summary of the gospel and its consequences for human behavior. Titus is encouraged by Paul to declare these things in a manner that is both authoritative and tactful. This leads to a second summary of the gospel message, one that provides a personal testimony to the salvation that Paul and Titus share in Christ. Titus is to insist on this message and avoid anything that causes division.
INTERPRET: Titus is never mentioned in the book of Acts, but his name does appear in the letter to the Galatians and the second letter to the Corinthians. Titus was one of the first gentiles to be attracted to the Christian faith. Like Timothy, Titus became one of Paul’s emissaries, visiting churches as his representative and serving as something of a troubleshooter; dealing with difficult situations. Paul entrusted both Timothy and Titus with significant roles in shaping and leading the early church.
This Letter from Paul to Titus is the third of the Pastoral letters. It presumes that Paul and Titus had been ministering together in Crete but that Paul has left, entrusting in Titus to continue the work. Paul knew that in order for the church to grow; he would need to place trusted leaders in strategic places in order to grow the common faith for the common good of everyone.
APPLICATION: Titus was a gentile Christian, possibly from Antioch. Paul regarded him a traveling companion and his trusted co-worker. Titus was the man for the job in Crete to complete the task at hand; by setting a Godly standard and appointing faithful leaders. In doing so, Titus needed to be strong in leading how the church remained faithful to the gospel and wise in leading how the church connected with the world around them.
The church today also needs to be strong and wise. We are to be strong in remaining faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without this unshakeable foundation; we too will be overcome by the ways of this world. However, we are also to be wise and tactful with how we approach the world around us. We are not to be fully against; nor fully alike. We are not to wage culture wars; nor are we to assimilate. We are to allow the gospel to transform our lives so that the gospel can then transform the lives and communities around us. We are to be in the world; but not of the world. The church should never be an isolated fortress or a defenseless sand castle. The church is to be a lighthouse to the nations; in both word (truth) and deed (love).
PRAYER: Heavenly Father; empower and guide your church with your Spirit; so that we will not be conformed to this world. Transform us by the renewing of our minds; so that we may be wise and tactful in sharing your glorious truth to the world around us. AMEN.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.