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The Epistle to Titus
Titus 1:1-16 and Titus 2:1-15
The Epistle of Paul to Titus carries with it some very striking "admonitions which will be found most helpful to us. Titus was a young man whom Paul left in Crete for the fulfillment of a definite spiritual task for his Master.
Titus had found anything else than smooth sailing. Difficulties had beset him on every hand.
1. The people among whom Titus labored. In chapter 1, Titus 1:12 , we read that "The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts," and gluttonous. This was the statement of one of their own prophets, and Paul said that the witness was true.
Perhaps, as Titus saw the vulgarity and weakness of the Cretians, he despaired of ever being able to accomplish anything spiritual in so vile a locality.
We, too, are sent to labor among men dominated by the lower passions of the flesh, or driven along by the baser desires of the mind. The Cretians are not the only liars, nor are they the only people who may be properly called "evil beasts." There are plenty of men all about us who may be likened to bears and tigers. Some even partake of the nature of creeping things, and of the beasts which wallow in the mud and mire of the swineherd.
God has said that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. All men may not have sinned equally, but all are equally sinners.
2. The people whom Titus was commanded to make elders and leaders in the churches in Crete were to be people of highest spiritual culture. They were to be aged men, and aged women, young men, and young women, also servants, against whom there could be no reproach, but who contrariwise were people taught of God in His Word, and made ready for any good work. As Titus looked about him to secure such Christians for service, he found himself at a loss, and perhaps he despaired of ever performing that to which he was sent.
3. The arrival of Paul's Letter. It was, doubtless, at just such a moment as this that Paul's Letter arrived enforcing the instructions which had already been verbally given to Titus. Perhaps, as the young servant began to read Paul's Letter, he said to himself, "It may be very well in the churches where Paul has been, to appoint bishops who are blameless and not self-willed, not soon angry, nor given to wine, but it cannot be done in Crete." Titus, no doubt, said within himself, "The Apostle has no idea of conditions upon this island." Then, as Titus read Paul's Letter, he saw that Paul did know, because Paul described the Cretians perfectly, and acknowledged their villainy.
4. How it could be done. With the command of sobriety, temperance, love, patience, discretion, and sincerity on the part of saints before Titus, he was almost ready to throw up his hands in despair when he read in Paul's Letter: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11 ).
It was over against the corruption of the Cretians that Paul cast the grace of God.
Titus was right. There was no power in human relationship, neither was there power in the Cretians to change themselves into the high ideals of Christian manhood and womanhood which Paul demanded. This, Paul knew. However, he also knew that the grace of God was, and still is, sufficient.
Paul went so far as to say that the grace of God would teach the Cretians how that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
It will be most interesting in view of the moral conditions in Crete, and the high ideals demanded of them upon the basis of their salvation, to study this Epistle in somewhat of detail. Whatever we do, let us never lower the Gospel to the ideals and conceptions of a godless race. Let us rather believe in the power of the Gospel to change the vilest heart into the most beautiful expression of holy living. Remember this: When John G. Paton went to the New Hebrides Islands he found men in depths as deep as those described of the Cretians, but the Gospel transformed those islands of black faces into white-hearted believers.
I. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON ELDERS (Titus 1:5-6 )
Elders were to be selected from among the Cretian churches, and appointed to the service of those churches. The work of the elders was to be that of the spiritual oversight of the saints. In many churches those who hold the position of elders are called "pastors," and another Scriptural name is "deacons." In the churches of our day, elders, or deacons, we fear, do not always hold to the standards set forth by the Holy Ghost through Paul in his Church Epistles.
1. The elder was to be blameless. The word does not mean sinless. To be sinless means to be without sin. To be blameless means to be without fault. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we read these striking words: "And the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." He who would be a leader in the house of God must know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and true holiness. He must "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Let us remember how the Bible says, "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." God never asks unclean hands or feet to do His service.
2. The elder was to be the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly. The Bible herein demands not only blamelessness on the part of the elder, but blamelessness on the part of his children. The basis on which this demand is made is this: He who is unable to command his own children aright will find himself unable to command the house of God.
The responsibilities of the father do not end in the life which he lives, but in the lives which his children live. We are responsible for ourselves, but we are also responsible for them. God said of Abraham: "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." The duty of the parent is not to bring up his children in the way they want to go, but in the way they should go.
3. The bishop was to be blameless as a steward of God. We pass for a moment from the elder to the bishop. The bishop was in place of authority and leadership in the church, a step higher than the elder. An elder might be a bishop, however. The bishop was an overseer in charge of spiritualities. He was to be blameless in his stewardship. He was to be neither selfwilled, nor soon angry. He was not to be given to wine, neither was he to be a striker, that is contentious. We might say he was not to be a fighter. He was not to be given to love of money, here called "filthy lucre," but he was to be a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate. In addition to these things, he was to hold fast the faithful Word as he had been taught.
What a marvelous array of spiritual attainment we have here. Our young people may feel prone to consider the elders, the deacons, and the overseers of their own churches by the side of these Divine commands. Perhaps, you will find some of them, at least, who fall far short of God's standards. If this is true, neither excuse the church on the one hand, nor the church leaders on the other hand. God's Word is written to be obeyed, not to be memorized. If elders and bishops do not come up to God's demands, they should refuse to serve the churches; and the churches should refuse to permit them to serve.
II. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON THE AGED MEN (Titus 2:1-2 )
God did not see fit to group all the church members together. He rather separates the disciples into various groups or classes. We have now before us the "aged men." There are several things demanded of these. They are to be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in love in patience. Let us take the first three statements together.
1. The aged men were to be sober, grave, and temperate. A little farther on in Titus 2:1-15 we read that the grace of God teaches us to live soberly. The word does not mean solemnly as though we were demanded to rid ourselves of all of the joy of the Lord. The word does demand sobriety. It is telling the aged men that they should not be given over to frivolity, to revellings, and such like. They should be grave, remembering that "life is real, life is earnest." They should not think of life as a joke.
They were to be temperate. The word may include what it usually means today: the opposite of drunkenness. However, we should be temperate in all things, and given to excess in none.
2. The aged men should be sound in the faith and in charity. Once more we group two words together. The "faith" has to do with "doctrine." It is not enough to be saved. We must know the Truth. Men who are aged are supposedly matured. They are ripe in thought. They are not running off on tangents, or fanaticisms. They are not carried about by every wind of doctrine, but they are built up and established in the faith.
Not only were they to be sound in their doctrine, but they were to be sound in their love. We may be right without being kind; we may be true without being tender. We may be grounded in the faith without being gentle in our spirit. As we become older we are likely to become charred by severity. The older men have never been given the privilege to shelve their love one for another.
3. The aged men should be patient. God knows the human heart. He knows that as people get older they become more and more dogmatic in their demands. They have reached a place of sobriety and of soberness, and of gravity which has a tendency to impatiently frown upon the lighthearted and seeming thoughtlessness of youth. These things grieve the Spirit of God, God wants the aged to be sober and grave, but He wants them also to be filled with love and patience.
III. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON AGED WOMEN (Titus 2:3 )
As we study the words delivered by the Spirit of God to the aged women, we cannot fail to see that God fully realizes the natural tendency of the flesh.
1. The aged women in behavior should BECOME holiness. We take it that this expression means that their behavior should be an ornament to their holiness. Holiness is a wonderful word. It stands for the very highest in godliness, for God is holy. However, here is a very startling thing: aged women should adorn holiness. They should so live that they will make holiness the more beautiful and the more sublime. Surely such a standard as this could not be given to the women of Crete from any natural accomplishment. It must have been that these aged women had met God, and had known His power,
2. The aged women should not be false accusers. We have somehow, or other, always linked the critical tongue and the accusing lips to aged women. If this were true, it would be true to their shame. Aged women who are Christians must not be false accusers. Let us mark well the adjective. It is all right for the aged women to see the shortcomings of the younger women, but they must be very careful not to falsely accuse them. To the contrary they should be helpers to those younger than themselves.
3. The aged women should be teachers of good things. It is not enough to be good. We must help others to be good. It is not enough to be right; we must teach the right. The aged women should not only practice good things, but they should proclaim the good things which they practice.
The younger women and the younger men have, perhaps, rather enjoyed the Apostle's charge to the aged men and the aged women, but he is now going to speak to the young men and the young women. If we have felt the justice of the statements to the elders, let us see if God is not just as clear in His statements to the younger.
IV. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON YOUNG WOMEN (Titus 2:4-5 )
1. The young women are to be sober. Here is something that was demanded of the aged men. Does God desire to put old heads on young shoulders? Not at all, but He does demand that young women should not be given to worldly living. In another chapter we read that she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. Young women must walk in sobriety of spirit and thought. They must think of life as more than a flitting moment of pleasure. They must be sober.
2. Young women are to love their husbands and their children. The highest ambition and the deepest yearning of the heart of a young woman should be for her husband and her children. The Lord explains here to the young women the solution of a happy life. We read that when Enoch reached a certain age he walked with God and begat sons and daughters. Family life is not to be shunned by the young woman, but it is to be her ideal.
3. The young woman must be discreet, chaste, and a keeper at home. The word "discreet" has to do with conduct. The word "chaste" has to do with character. "Keeper at home" has to do with her environment.
The young woman is to be discreet in her actions toward others, and particularly toward other men. As long as she was unmarried, and had not yet made her vow to a man she was at liberty, but now that she is married she must walk in discretion, giving the world no opportunity to berate her fidelity.
She is to be chaste; that is, she is to be clean, pure in thought, in word, and in deed. "Chaste" also carries with it the thought of cleanliness and propriety in her attire. She should not be slovenly and careless in dress any more than she should be in life.
She should be "a keeper at home," because her home is her paradise, her Eden. Her first duty is to her husband and to her children. She cannot be running around in the streets, attending clubs, and allowing some one else to be caring for her home and her children.
4. The young woman is to be obedient to her husband, otherwise, the Word of God will be blasphemed. The word "obedience" carries with it the thought of giving honor and deference to her husband. She is not to berate him, and to cry out against him, but to recognize in him the head of the home.
V. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON YOUNG MEN (Titus 2:6-8 )
Perhaps the young men have enjoyed listening to what God had to say to the young women, but now is the time for the young men to sit up and take notice, for God has something to say to them. We are sure that they will agree that statement by statement the Lord has spoken right relative to themselves.
1. Young men are to show themselves a pattern. They are to be models not to things evil, but to things good: models in good works; models in doctrine. In this Scripture there is no recognition of that oft-heard statement that a young man must have his fling. God gives young men no place for "sowing wild oats." They should be strong and overcome the wicked one. They should, in the church, be a pattern of good works, a model by which the old men, old women, and the young women may fashion themselves. God realizes that young men are active, energetic, and therefore He would harness all of this energy into what He calls "good works."
2. Young men in doctrine are to be uncorrupt, grave, and sincere. God never permits a man to believe as he lists, any more than He permits him to live as he lists. The aged disciple, John, wrote about the sons and the daughters of his beloved Gaius, and of the one whom he called "the elect lady" as "walking in Truth." Young men need to know the Truth. The Truth will make them free.
3. Young men are to be of sound speech that cannot be condemned. They are to weigh their words. They are to use sentences which will glorify God. Too many young men are given to jesting, to uncouth and unclean language. They forget that their conversation is in Heaven. Young men who are Christians should use words which will be "as apples of gold and pitchers of silver." "Whatsoever things are pure," and holy, and of good report, whatsoever things are filled with virtue and with praise, such things should be the gist of their thoughts and of their conversation.
VI. THE BIBLE DEMANDS UPON SERVANTS (Titus 2:9-10 )
Perhaps we thought that servants would not even be recognized by the Lord when He marked off the various groups in His Churches. God, however, does recognize the servants, for with Him there is no respect of persons. Thus the man who holds the place of servitude among his fellows is recognized by the Lord, and is given a place of honor.
1. Of the servant God demands fidelity and obedience to his master. The servant is to seek to please his master in all things. He is to serve obediently, not answering again. He is not to purloin, but to show all good fidelity.
We wonder if God inadvertently is not writing unto all of us who are servants to Him. We, too, as servants, should be obedient to our Master, even to Jesus Christ. We should seek to please Him, never answering back.
2. Servants may adorn the doctrine in all things. We spoke a while ago about aged women in their behavior becoming holiness; here is a stronger statement. Servants may adorn the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news from a far country. Paul said that the Gospel which he preached was not after man, and he neither received it but by the Holy Ghost. The Gospel was divided into three outstanding messages: (1) The message of Christ crucified; (2) The message of Christ risen and ascended; (3) The message of Christ coming again. It was of this Gospel that Paul said, "I am not ashamed." It was this Gospel which Christ commanded us to preach to every creature. Think of it! Think of it this Gospel! The Gospel which is called "the glorious Gospel": this Gospel the servants may adorn by their beautiful lives, by their submission to their masters, by their meekness of spiritual fidelity in action. Thus they may make the Gospel more beautiful.
It seems that that which is round could not be "rounder"; that which is perfect could not be more perfect; that which is holy could not be more holy: and yet the Gospel which is the supreme statement of all that is beautiful and glorious in God's love and compassion toward men may be decorated by the faithful lives of His humblest saints.
HOLY SPIRIT'S INFILLING
Standing on the deck of a ship in mid-ocean, you see the sun reflected from its depths. From a little boat on a mountain lake you see the sun reflected from its shallow waters. Looking into the mountain spring not more than six inches in diameter, you see the same great sun. Look into the dewdrop of the morning, and there it is again. The sun has a way of adapting itself to its reflections. The ocean is not too large to hold it, nor the dewdrop too small. So God can fill any man, whether his capacity be like the ocean, like the mountain lake, like the spring, or like the dewdrop. Whatever, therefore, be the capacity, there is opened up the possibility of being "filled with the fulness of God."
Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost before he did his miracles as the wire is full of electricity before you turn on the light. As occasion required, the Holy Spirit worked through him to perform these wonders. Major D. W. Whittle.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Titus 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29