1: Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
- Something to be mindful of, though I have not specifically mentioned this until now is that these letters were written to be read in congregations. Paul had actually been to Crete at some point before this, and had left this young man Titus behind to set up the churches as they should be according to the Holy Spirit. Paul’s name would be known by those on Crete, and this letter was meant to convey that apostolic authority (and therefore the authority of God Himself) to Titus for that work, and to leave no question that Titus was supported by the Apostle and by the Lord. For this reason, we see Paul list his credentials.
- Bond-servant of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ. The word for bond-servant is the Greek word doulos, meaning slave. Originally, it was the term for the lowest station of slave, and figuratively was used as one who has given his own will over to another. This is the only place that Paul uses this particular term. He normally says that he is a doulos of Christ, but this may have some specific application to the false teachers that we will come across in the text of this letter – it is generally accepted that these particular false teachers are in fact Judaizers, bent on conforming those in the church to strict adherence to the law of Moses, starting with ceremonial circumcision. This is a term that these people will understand.
- Paul, like many Jews in that culture, grew up with two names. His Jewish name was Saul, after Israel’s first king, a name of some honour. By rights, he could identify as a trained scholar, having studied under the great Gamaliel, a Pharisee himself and one of the strictest sect. He was also born in Tarsus, and well-versed in Greek culture, and its ancient writings. I have heard him described as having the educational equivalent of two PhDs in today’s terms. The name Saul of Tarsus would have been known to these men. But Saul as we know had another name – Paulos – by which he became known as after his own salvation on the Damascus Road. And because of that conversion, the name of Paul also was well-known to everyone. Because Paul ONLY applies this term to himself here, he may have been identifying himself to these false teachers as the bond-slave of God, invoking the Old Testament name of the God of Israel “lay down the Law” for them, so to speak.
- And an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The word apostolos simply means “one sent on a mission.” This was the very thing that YHWH had for Paul to do – to be the messenger sent from God with His Word to the Gentiles.
- For the faith of those chosen of God. Nothing new here, faith = pistis, the God-given opinion or firm persuasion that God became a man to die for us to redeem us to Himself. Chosen = eklektos, or chosen, sometimes translated as “elect.” I won’t get into this a whole lot here but that’s a theological term that relates to predestination, as seen in the New Testament, particularly in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 among other places, and it isn’t just Paul that talks about it. We can get into this another time, though. Maybe in our study of Romans whenever we get there.
- The knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness. Just to say it, if you know the truth as a Christian, it should be moving you toward godly behaviour. If you are not moving toward that godliness, you should as Paul said in another place, examine yourselves to see if you are really in the faith.
2: in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
- In the hope of eternal life. I need to give a scriptural definition here, because the meaning of the word “hope” has changed over time. These days, it is something that you wish to take place, though it may or may not. The biblical definition of hope comes from the equivalent Greek word elpis, which is always used in the New Testament as a “favorable and confident expectation,” according to Vine’s. It is not a faint fuzzy wish for something that might or might not occur, but is instead the joyful anticipation of a guaranteed event or occurrence. In this instance, it is used to describe the certainty of our future with God – eternal life in its full manifestation that is already the believer’s possession.
- Which God, who cannot lie. God, by His own nature is truth. He cannot lie, it is against His nature. Lies are someone else’s department. Jesus addressed his children in the Gospels. He told them they were of their father the devil. We are to be secure in the knowledge that everything that is true comes from Him. Why?
- [He] promised [eternal life] long ages ago, according to the grammatical construction. Long ages ago? Although it doesn’t say specifically, it is my opinion that this refers to eternity past, and I think I stand with the majority of commentators on that.
3: but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,
- But at the proper time manifested, even His word. Think about this! At the right time, God made evident and available, His truth, the message about Him and His plans for those He has chosen since before the beginning of time. And where do we learn all of this “monumental truth,” as Dr. John MacArthur calls it? In His word, the Bible, our holy writ, the Scriptures.
- The proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour. Paul here is referring to that bond-servant of God reference from verse 1, informing the false teachers or anyone else that wished to be a problem for the young Titus, that He was the servant of “God our Saviour,” Paul uses this phrase 5 times. It is a specific phrase that is identifying the entire Godhead as being involved in the work of salvation. I’m not going to go into great detail here for sake of time. Moving on.
4: To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
- My true child in a common faith. The sense of the Greek here regarding Titus is that he is a “genuine” child. Child here is the Greek word teknon, meaning small child of either gender. Paul here is telling us that he led Titus to Christ. The word for “true” here can also be translated as “legally begotten.” His genuine child. Common faith = koinos, the root of koinonea, our word for fellowship or sharing. It is an object or ideal that is common between us. Faith of course, is our favourite Greek word, pistis, that God-given persuaion or opinion that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of redemption to God for us!
- Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour. Paul’s common greeting was always to convey grace, that unmerited and undeserved favour of God, and peace, that state of complete well-being in the knowledge of that grace that God is in sovereign control (and that sovereignty is the most basic idea of Christianity by the way). Who is it form? God the Father – first person of the Trinity, and Christ Jesus our Saviour – second person of the Trinity and the one responsible for our salvation by his death on the cross.
5: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
- Here is the reason for the writing of this letter – the work of the Church in Crete. Titus has been appointed by Paul to perform that specific work. This letter is to be read to the churches that Titus visits because it conveys the apostolic authority of Paul (therefore the authority of the Risen Christ Himself) to Titus for that work.
- That work was to set in order what remains, that is finish the administrative details of setting up these individual fellowships, and to establish leadership in each place. Paul here even gives us evidence that he and Titus have had a previous discussion of these things, “as I directed you.” Paul immediately launches into qualifications for those leaders.
6: namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
- This whole idea can be summed up with the first thing Paul mentions. Such a leader of the church MUST be above reproach. The Greek word for this is anenkletos, one who cannot be called to account. Blameless, so that nothing can be laid to his charge as the result of public investigation. This is not in the sense of acquittal, but the absence of any charge or accusation. Then Paul lists off the areas where there should be an absence of accusation.
- Husband of one wife. Literally, “one-woman man.” This does not disqualify those who have undergone divorce, by the way. Jesus acknowledged that there were permissible grounds for severing the marriage relationship. It does not disqualify singles either. The phrase is only saying “one woman at a time” in this phrase, but still requiring all the other qualifications of Christianity. Complementarians here make the case that women ARE the wives, and therefore cannot be in church leadership. Egalitarians respond to this by saying that Paul is speaking as we often do today in that he is speaking more generally and only using male examples because Paul is a man. Either way, the qualification is most clear – only one intimate and proper relationship at a time.
- Having children who believe. Commentators are split on this. Some say that this includes adult children, some say it is used in the literal sense, actual children. I personally side with the second. The Greek here is the word teknon, a child of any gender. If this had been intended to include adult children, I think the word huios (adult offspring of any gender) would somehow have been interjected into the text. Some say that this is only in passive voice, so it only means that they submit to their parent. Again, I think that this means that they follow their parents instructions regarding Christ at least until the age of accountability, which is admittedly different for each individual child. You have to understand ancient culture to understand this point. In both Hebrew and Gentile cultures, children were considered to be adults by age 13. It is what the ceremony of Bar mitzvah is all about – it is introducing the new young man into the adult world. Take that for what it is worth, but at a certain point, a child begins to develop a mind and will of their own, and from that point, they are accountable to God for their own actions. The concept of youths being children is a more modern idea, coming about as a response to child labour in Europe during the industrial revolution in my opinion. At any rate, if a man has unruly children in church, he is disqualified.
- Not accused of dissipation or rebellion. There is an argument that this should be attached to believing children in the Greek, but it is unclear from what I understand about the Greek. It is my belief that this is an independent clause referring to the leadership candidate. Dissipation = asotia, unsavedness. This is a compound word that results from the prefix that indicates the negative, a, and the word sotia, derived from soteria, the word we translate as “saved.” If someone can bring a legitimate accusation of a leadership candidate’s salvation, that would disqualify that individual from leadership, would it not? Likewise, so would an accusation of “rebellion,” the Greek anupotaktos, not subject to rule. There were men like this in the churches. John names one in his third letter – Diotrephes. Not a man you would want in leadership.
- By way of personal comment, I have seen a lot of disqualified people in the pulpit over the years, and it resulted in every case in real problems in the church, problems like in Corinth, the most worldly church one could attend back in the day. We MUST return to holding our leadership to a much higher standard than at present.
7: For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,
- The Greek for overseer is episcopos, which literally “overseer” or “one who watches over,” like a shepherd. The next two verses talk about the qualifications of this overseer, or as I like to read it, pastor. It gives two lists – what the pastor must not be, and what the pastor must be. The first is that “above reproach” requirement we saw in verse 6. No one should be able to rightly even allege wrongdoing in a pastor. You don’t have to like him, although it certainly makes his job in your church easier. You have to understand, he may work in your congregation, but he doesn’t work for you. He works for the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, and has to give answer to Him for your soul. That’s his stewardship, as it says here. This individual must NOT be:
- Self-willed = authades, self-pleasing, from autos “self” and hedomai, “to please.” This is an individual who is dominated by his own self-interest, who is inconsiderate of others, and as a result, who will arrogantly assert his own will. It is considered to be the opposide of “gentle.” Such an individual is considered to be one who is so far overvaluing any determination at which he himself has once arrived that he will not be removed from it. Pastor, don’t be like that.
- Quick-tempered = orgilos, prone to anger, quick to anger, irascible. This is a person that flies off the handle for such silly reasons, you find yourself wondering where the storm came from. The opposite is patient, or slow to anger.
- Addicted to wine = paroinos, literally “alongside the wine.” This does not mean the pastor cannot drink wine. But you have to understand the wine was very weak. It was cut with water by 8-10 times, and was little more than water. It had little to no intoxicating effect. You could, however, if you drank enough fast enough, become drunk. According to Vine’s here, this use of the word probably has a secondary sense in addition to this, that of the effects of over-indulging in drink such as abusive brawling, hence the next word.
- Pugnacious = plektes, a striker, in the sense of those who fight. A brawler. This was in fact a common way in the days this was written to settle disputes. If you didn’t agree, you could just punch the other fellow’s lights out and be right. Actually, I think this is still practiced in places. The pastor must NOT conclude disputes this way. He should be able to patiently talk to the other person. This might mean the pastor receives the occasional beating, by the way. Jesus said they hated Him, and for that reason would hate us.
- Fond of sordid gain = aischrokerdes, greedy of base gain, or greedy of filthy lucre. For men like this, it is all about the mammon. They get rich by fleecing the sheep, or by tickling the ears of people that desire to have them tickled. The phrasing used today is, “you have to plant your seed of faith.” This is a code phrase for “send me your money.” And the bigger the seed, the bigger your harvest will be apparently. Beloved, people are taken in by this tripe every day. If your pastor is bilking you out of your money to pay your bills, there is something grade-a wrong with your pastor.
8: but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
- And here is the list of what the pastor MUST be.
- Hospitable = philoxenos, literally “loves strangers.” Hospitality is learned at home or with friends, but true hospitality is seen with strangers, particularly those that cannot pay you back. One of those things our church started to do a couple of years ago was to invite low-income or no-income people to our meal fellowships. We even offered a take-out service for those that didn’t want to sit with the religious folks. We fed about 70 people plus take-out each time.
- Loving what is good = philagathos. It literally means what it says, that pastors are to love what is good. What does this mean? I think we can find this in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” The pastor must just love what is good. It isn’t the newspaper, I can tell you that firsthand.
- Sensible = sophron, of sound mind, self-controlled. Wait, the phrase “self-controlled” is also in this verse. We’ll look at that in just a moment. The pastor must be one that is able to control himself, in his conduct, his speech, his desires, taking every thought captive to Christ at all times.
- Just = diakos, the state of being right or having right conduct whether judged by the divine standard or by the standard of men. These are men that no matter what it might mean, pursue what is right and just for all people, even at their own expense. And what they do is always right and fair for all.
- Devout = hosios, righteous or pious behaviour. It can be said that our actions can often drown out the noise of what we say we believe when the two ideals are not in alignment. Our words, what we say, must be backed up by our actions. In fact, our very lives must reinforce what we say we believe, and even more for the pastor – we are to be examples for the flock to follow.
- Self-controlled = enkrates, “one that exercises self-control,” or temperate, moderate behaviour. As much as “sensible” or sophron deals with the mind and thoughts, this deals with putting those thoughts and ideals into personal practice. I very much get the idea that the pastor is to be in control of himself at all times, especially when he is not in church.
9: holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
- The final MUST have requirement? To hold fast to the faithful word. To adhere to the teaching of Paul, and more specifically, of the Holy Spirit. Now, I noticed something while I was reading this. These are the qualifications for the faithful pastor. If you flip them around, you have all the qualifications of a false teacher. But we are to be teachers of the truth. And there is a point to all of this adherence.
- The faithful pastor, in adhereing to all of these things, in walking in all of his qualifications, both the positive and the negatives above, will be able to do two things:
- Exhort in sound doctrine. The word “exhort” is parakaleo, that coming alongside to help with real help, not just platitudes. It is considered to be the strongest form of encouragement there is. It is the kind of help that when a brother has no place to stay, instead of sending that brother to the homeless shelter, says “come stay at my place while you get on your feet. As long as it takes.” Some of us know the practicality of that from both ends. We can come alongside to help. You know who else does that? The Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus called Him the paraklete, the One that comes alongside to help. This is nothing more than imitation of God.
- Refute those who contradict. As good as the strong encouragement is, sometimes, no matter what you do, someone will insist on holding to wrong teaching. It is the job of the pastor to refute, or elencho, that is, convict, confute, or refute, usually with the suggestion of putting the erring person to shame. That shame is important by the way. It isn’t so we can feel good about ourselves by putting someone else down. It is instead to show them the folly and error of their doctrine or way so that God may have mercy and give them the opportunity to turn to the truth! Compare 2 Tim. 4:2, “reprove.” It is the same word and same mission.
10: For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
- And what makes this so important? Well, it seems that there is opposition. If that surprises you, you haven’t been at enough of these bible studies. Resistance to faith and the truth abounds. Paul tells us that there are MANY rebellious men. And it isn’t just men anymore.
- The chief characteristic of these rebellious ones is that they are “empty talkers” and “deceivers.” Empty talkers is the Greek word matailogos, and is a derivation of two words, mataios, vain, idle, and lego, to speak. So they speak, but they really have nothing of worth to say. Deceivers is phrenapates, literally a mind-deceiver. This implies that they use logic to deceive, by the way. Logic is not always of God because it is logical. Logic can be infernal and still be logical. Think of the arguments for the theory of evolution – they are exceedingly logical on the surface. A great number of people over about 300 years now have worked very hard to see to it that they have a logic of their own. But as Christians, we should know that it is wrong, and that it fails in its first causes. It is in specific violation of the second law of thermodynamics, but this is just an example and you can get a hold of me if you want the whole story.
- Paul has some very specific rebels against the truth in mind, however. Paul now begins to address the Judaizers, the party of the circumcision. These are the men that his angry letter to the Galatians was written to address. Think about this. Some of these men are probably sitting in the congregation while this letter is read aloud to the gathering. What must they have been thinking, hearing themselves called “vain, idle talkers” and “mind-deceivers?” It must have hurt. An additional note – Paul likely knew that it would – and he wrote it anyways. We need to speak the truth on all occasions, regardless of peoples’ feelings on it, and regardless of the consequences of that speaking.
11: who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
- Paul, through his letter here to Titus, being read aloud in the congregation, is instructing that these false teachers “must be silenced.” Although here he talks about the reasons they must be silenced, we must think about how we should do that. The first way is to take away their platform. Don’t give such individuals a place to promulgate their false doctrine. Today that means we shouldn’t let them speak in our churches or at our conferences. Don’t buy their books. Don’t listen to their radio and/or TV shows. Will that happen? Probably not, but I can dream. The second way is to overwhelm them with the truth, just as Paul is suggesting in verse 10. Make such a strong and true case that the false teachers simply cannot reply. This can be summed up by the phrase “know the Scriptures and teach them shamelessly, without apologizing to them for it. Show how foolish their worldview is. What I mean is this – one of my oldest daughter’s counselors once told me that there are no absolutes, and couldn’t understand why I was laughing. When she asked me why, I simply asked her a question – “Is that absolutely true?” To her intellectual credit, she got both the point AND the joke.
- Now why do these men need to be silenced? They upset family life. The kids hate the parents, the parents hate each other, and everyone hates themselves (though they do it in the name of self-love). They teach falsehood that will cause people to turn away from God, and then spend all eternity in conscious suffering away from the presence of God – all for the sake of “filthy lucre” from verse 7.
12: One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
- Paul is actually quoting what to him was an ancient reference. He is quoting a fellow known as Epimenides of Knossos, an ancient Cretan philosopher. He lived in the 6th century BC, and was most famous for the statement Paul is quoting, and which he affirms in the next verse.
- To address what Paul said here, I will give you an idea of what kind of liars the Cretans actually were. The island of Crete, they insisted, holds the tomb of the immortal Zeus. This is a problem, because Zeus, as a god in the ancient world was not mortal and could not die. Worse, the Cretans claimed the Zeus was actually IN his tomb! That’s the level of liar that lived on Crete, according to Epimenides.
13: This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,
- And Paul AFFIRMS IT! “This testimony (about the Cretans being liars, not about the tomb of Zeus) is true!” And Paul’s instruction to Titus on that is to reprove them so that they might be “sound” [hugiano] or rather healthy in the faith. This is the word where we get our English word for hygiene! Tell them off so that they clean up their act, basically!
14: not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
- Paul is being very clear here. The “gospel” of the Judaizers (which really isn’t a gospel at all) is a myth. At its root, this set of Jewish myths is all about control and recognition of the Jews. Their intellectual argument is still around in various forms today. The logic goes like this – Moses gave the Law, and it is obedience to God’s law that brings salvation. There is even strong Old Testament support for the idea if you want to misinterpret scripture. Hello…false teachers…of course they want to misinterpret scripture! The only way a Gentile could seek salvation according to the was to place themselves under the Mosaic Law, beginning for men with circumcision.
- Now – can you imagine being one of these men sitting in the congregation while this letter is read out? I mean, the jig is up! You would either have to change your mind (the meaning of the word repent) or leave! It would seem to be up to you if you continued to hold onto your precious myths and self-invented commandments and traditions or not. And if you did, Paul wanted NO obscurity about it – you would be turning away from God and the truth found in Christ.
15: To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
- Think about what Paul is saying here. There is NO MIDDLE GROUND. You are either in one camp or the other. You are either pure and all things are pure, or not. That word Pure is the Greek katharos, or free from impurity. Unmixed, without blemish, spotless. Speaking figuratively, it speaks of one that has been ENTIRELY cleansed from every sin into which he may fall, in the Old Testament Levitical sense of a cleansed leper. The disease would have to be GONE! We get our English word catharsis from it, though this has a different meaning today.
- The other option is defiled and unbelieving. Stained and disagreeing. Nothing is pure. Both your reason and conscience stained by sin, and unable to cleanse itself or choose the cleansing of the blood of Christ. The condition is known as reprobate. And the important thing here, remember, is that there is NO middle ground, it’s one or the other. And because Paul is speaking in the negative about false teachers, these men that must be silenced, there is very little natural likelihood that they will turn without the imparted grace of God to make it so.
16: They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
- You see, though these Judaizers profess faith in Christ, they try to warp Christians into circumcising themselves and make it about the works that they do and not the free gift of God by grace through faith. This flies in the very face of the work of Christ, the perfect man, on our behalf. Our salvation by grace through faith is either a free gift or it is not. You cannot say you have faith in Christ and then try to earn it or worse tell others they have to do something, anything, to earn it. According to Ephesians 2:8, 9, that is not the truth. It says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” In saying that salvation must be earned, you speak a lie according to Scripture. And in lying about salvation, you make yourself detestable. Say you are a Christian all you like – your lack of Christianity is evident by your actions. And if you will not be obedient to Christ, you become worthless for any good deed.
- What has become clear to me (and should have become clear to these false teachers the Judaizers) over the years is that ritual and ceremony and legalism cannot and will not save you. God saves you. Nothing else does. Nothing else CAN. This was the very things that the Pharisees did that Jesus took them to task for. They ritualized everything. It isn’t like they weren’t doing what they were told, but over time, those rituals were twisted to mean things that God never intended. And Jesus called them out on it more than once. No one knew this better than Paul – he WAS a Pharisee – of the strictest sect! And HE knew that salvation was a free gift.
That’s the end of the chapter, but to conclude, I must say that it need not be so, that we profess to know God but by our deeds deny Him or His power. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God saw our lost estate because of sin. Our first parents sinned and broke fellowship with God, and we all have been cursed with that ever since. Sin is defined as any violation of God’s holy standard whether in thought, word, or deed. Because God IS love, and He loved us, He became a man. God the Son, the creator of the universe, became a man, and lived among us. He lived about 33 years, living perfectly under the Law, and then He laid His own life down as a sacrifice on our behalf because we could not. He was condemned for our sins on a Roman cross, where He died the most painful death imaginable, all to pay the price for OUR wrongdoings. And when He died, Scripture records this – that temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom – it was a work of God, not man – and that the way to God was now open for all those that He called to Himself. That free gift is given to all who will repent (turn from) of their sin and make Him their Lord, believing that He paid the price on their behalf. The even better news is that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day showing that not only had we been set free from the penalty of our sin, but that we had been set free from its power as well, and someday when He returns to earth, we will be delivered from its very presence.
Is God calling you to repentance now? Call out to Him and He will answer.
And that’s Titus 1!