It has been a while since the last blog entry. I’d like to share with you some lessons from the book of Titus.
Today, I will be covering Titus 1:1-4. You just may want to pull out your Bible and follow along with me.
For those who know me personally, this will be a review of a study I did some years ago. Hopefully, the review will be refreshing and a reminder of things the LORD said to you at that time; a reinforcement of things learned, or perhaps, some new things will be opened up to you, since some time has passed.
In Titus 1:1-4 we find the opening greeting to this Epistle.
When you receive a letter from an old friend, perhaps your mind awakens to memories of your past times together.
Memories can sometimes really snowball! One memory leads to another, perhaps warming the heart; reminiscing on how it came to be that you became friends…and the bonds that impacted the friendship that you now have.
You have things in common with this old friend; things you agree on together or maybe it is something you share based on a common interest you have together.
And, although much time may have passed since you have been in contact with this old friend, when you reconnect again, it is as if no time has passed. You pick up again, just as if it were yesterday that you had been in touch with each other.
Titus, is such a letter. It is a letter from one friend to another friend.
As we read Titus 1:1-4, let us see what we might learn about who wrote the letter; to whom it was written; discover the relationship between these two friends and find out…who is Titus?
From verse 1 we learn who it is that has written the letter. It is Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul further identifies himself as a servant of God. Paul tells us, he was called to be an apostle for the express purpose of leading people to trust in Christ; in His truth…”which is after godliness”.
Let’s delve into who Paul is a little further by cross-referencing to I Corinthians 9:17. As we turn there in our Bibles, we learn why it is that Paul does what he does. It says here “a dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto (him) me”. A “dispensation” infers a “stewardship” responsibility.
Lest, you get the wrong idea of Paul and perhaps think him a boastful man, a man filled with pride, if we look further into Scripture, we will find that Galatians 2:7 affirms Paul’s words. Here we learn that the Gospel was committed to Paul for the Gentiles, in particular. We find yet further confirmation of Paul’s calling to be an apostle to Jesus Christ in I Timothy 1:11 where we see God’s Word of the Gospel being committed to Paul’s trust. He is to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher to the Gentiles.
So, we have met Paul, who is writing the letter and now…why is he writing the letter?
C.C. Ryrie gives us this as the reason for Paul writing the letter to Titus: “Paul was commissioned to further the faith of God’s elect so that they might acquire full knowledge of the Christian faith.”
We see from verse 1, Paul explains he has been called to help people come to a “knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness”. The elect are believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have been saved by faith, Eph. 2:8-9, you are part of the elect. Paul’s heartbeat is for believers to not just have the knowledge of God’s Truth, but to apply this knowledge of God’s Word to their lives, that their lives might lead to proper living before a Holy God.
Time to stop for a moment…and ponder this for ourselves. Is Paul’s heartbeat OUR heartbeat? Is it our personal goal to take the knowledge of God’s Word: that is, that which we’ve heard, the knowledge we have read and studied, and allow it to lead us to a progressive refining of the Potter’s vessel? Matthew 5:8, Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Pure in heart” – What is purity? Oswald Chambers has said this about purity: “Purity is not innocence, it is much more. Purity is the outcome of sustained spiritual sympathy with God. We have to grow in purity.” He says, “if the spiritual bloom of our life with God is getting impaired in the tiniest degree, we must leave off everything and get it put right.” (My Utmost for His Highest, March 26).
Purity is a character trait of the believer and without purity, we will not see or hear God in our lives.
James 2:14-20 is a familiar passage that clearly tells us that if we say we believe God’s Word, our lives, our ‘works’ will be manifest; they will be seen. The question what we must ask ourselves is, are we bearing His fruit or have we come to a place of complacency and are ‘at ease in Zion’? If there is ‘no fruit’, and perhaps we are not bearing fruits of righteousness, we need to do some introspective examining and see what it is that hinders the cause of Christ?
Having met the writer of the letter, let us look now to the one receiving the letter, Titus. Who is Titus?
Galatians 2:3, tells us Titus was a Greek. There is no Scriptural data that Titus was a convert of Paul’s, but some commentators indicate that Titus may have been his convert.
Paul calls Titus, “my own son after the common faith…” verse 4. This intimate reference to Titus does give us an indication that Paul’s relationship to Titus was one of affection. Ryrie says, “son”, literally means as his child.
Paul’s reference to Titus, “my true son” not only speaks of their closeness, but also of Paul’s trust in Titus to carry on for him, a work that Paul had begun. Why this relationship? Some of the following references may help us to understand this more clearly.
2 Corinthians 2:12, 13 – Paul has arrived in Troas to preach the Gospel and he was well received, however, Paul has no peace; Titus was not there. The background on this is that Paul had sent Titus with a ‘harsh’ letter to Corinth and he hadn’t yet heard how the letter had been received. Paul left there for Macedonia.
2 Corinthians 7:5-7 – We find in verse 5, Paul is filled with spiritual anxiety. In verse 6, God comforts Paul by bringing Titus to Macedonia. In God’s goodness, he sent Titus, the key to Paul’s being comforted with the good news of the Corinthians having accepted Paul’s severe letter.
2 Corinthians 8:6, 16-17, 23 – We get a fuller picture of the situation. Titus had a difficult job to do in a troubled church at Corinth; yet, verse 17 tells us he is diligent (“being more forward”) and undertakes the difficult task. Paul’s response to Titus is found in verse 23, where his response to Titus is “he is my partner and fellow-helper…”.
2 Corinthians 12:18 – And here we see it! Titus and Paul are cut of the same spiritual mold and the same heart. Paul speaks of Titus as a brother: one who will not take advantage of them or profit off of them; one whose spirit is one with Paul’s spirit and one whose Christian ‘walk’ is the same as Paul’s walk.
And one more…in 2 Timothy 4:10 – In this letter to Timothy, Paul is at the end of his life and ministry; he names Titus among his lifelong friends.
Paul, it seems not only considered Titus to be a man he could trust, he also sent Titus to do ‘hard’ things; things that would place Titus on the front lines of controversy. Titus appears to be a bold witness for the Lord; not afraid to stand, thus, Titus was a man Paul could trust. We will see the importance of this trust as we continue in Titus and see the major task before Titus, as this study develops.
Friendships are often strengthened during times of difficulty. Also, during times of duress, we are aware of the conviction and surrender of one another to the Lord. In our difficult times, will our spiritual fruit be seen by others? Is our spiritual goal to be counted trustworthy with the things the Lord places in our lives? We may, with hindsight and self-examination, see the Lord’s working in us and His ever-presence with us, especially when He has carried us over the sharp precipices of difficulties in our lives. And, as important as friendships and bearing one another’s burdens may be, ultimately our priorities lie with being trustworthy before the Lord…to Him alone!
Titus was sent a second time to Corinth on yet another difficult mission: i.e., the collecting of money for the poor in Jerusalem from a divided church. This collection had been started at an earlier time, but now the collections had begun to lag. Titus was Paul’s representative, wherever Paul sent him; a man that was highly trusted and evidently a man that accomplished the mission assigned to him.
Would that this could be said of us as believers in Jesus Christ; as women, who are called to be God’s woman.