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Week 1: Titus 1:1-4 THE CHARACTERS
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
"From" is implied in the address of this letter - From Paul, to Titus.
The arrangement of his servanthood and his apostleship is of great interest to me. His servanthood was listed first and so it should be. We are servants first and then God may separate us to other works within the church. All should be servants, but there will be pastors, teachers, workers etc. within the servants of God at a particular location.
He uses the servant idea in Philippians 1:1 as well, but in his other books only calls attention to his apostleship in the introductions. Why he did this in Philippians and Titus would be information only Paul and God would have, but it may relate to those that he was writing to - he may have known that they also knew of servanthood in a practical way, while other recipients may not have come to that knowledge as yet. This reasoning may falter when applied to Timothy, one that seems to have been serving God under Paul’s own hand.
We see the apostle set forth his apostleship as well as his servanthood. He truly was a servant, even unto qualifying as a zealot in the good sense of the word.
Apostle is an office or designation of the twelve, as well as a few others in the Scripture. It was a designation of one that was accepted as an authority by other Christians - an authority from Christ Himself. The term relates to being sent or appointed and sent. These people were sent by Christ on a specific mission and ministry.
Paul means small or little and most agree that it may well have related to his physical stature, however it would relate to ego and his feeling of self importance - or lack there of - this we know from his servanthood. One with a large ego seldom submits to anyone for anything.
"according to the faith of God’s elect,"
"Faith" is the normal word for faith and relates to a sound belief in something or someone. In this case the faith of God’s elect - it seems the faith of Christians was the basis of Paul’s apostleship in some manner. "Elect" is the normal term translated elect and means chosen, or picked out. God, before time chose or elected some, and those elected have faith, faith in the God that elected them.
This faith is not because God elected them, though many would disagree with me here, but because that THEY BELIEVE the God that elected them. Many believe that God elected and the elected received faith so that they could believe. In reality faith is believing and it comes from within the individual - it is not something zapped into the elect. (Young translates "elect" as "chosen")
The question comes to my mind as to why the faith of the elect relates in anyway to Paul’s apostleship. Since Paul and the others were appointed by Christ, why would the faith of others relate to the appointment?
The Net Bible probably has the right thought when it translates "according" as "to further the faith" of the elect. Paul was an apostle to go teaching and instructing the elect about the salvation that their election has brought to them. I don’t think this does disservice to the text and it fits much better than according. If you think about it a little, why would God elect or choose some to salvation and then base apostleship on the faith of others. Indeed, in other books Paul declares clearly that he is an apostle by Christ not by man. Galatians 1:1 is a fine example of what I have just mentioned. "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)"
"and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;" "Acknowledging" is related to precise and correct knowledge.
Truth is the opposite of false or what is also opposite, a lie. That which is true and based on truth. This is a concept America has thrown out the door. We have no basis for truth in this country. The lie, the innuendo and the falsehood are accepted as truth. In the 2004 campaign there were falsehoods thrown from one end of the country to the other and no one seemed to care, no one seemed embarrassed to use them, and what was worse, no one held the liars accountable. No one demanded facts, no one demanded proof and no one seemed to care what was said, only that it was said.
The term "after" is the same term translated "according" in the earlier phrase.
"Godliness" is translated both "godliness" and "holiness", thus we should be able to gain a clear picture of the concept. Someone that is not living in sin, someone that is living for God, and someone that is normally without sin.
There is a sidelight of truth in this phrase which should be noted in our day. Truth which is after godliness indicates that nontruth is after ungodliness.
Many there are today in Christian circles that use the lie as if it were truth and truth as if is were a lie. John 8:44 ("Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.") tells us that Satan is the Father of lies and we know that God is the source of all truth. Relate this to Corinthians where Paul tells us light and darkness have nothing to do with one another and you wonder how any believer can mix the stuff of God with the stuff of Satan.
Whats more, you are left to wonder how they get away with it. Why do Christians allow other believers to lie to them? Why does God allow them to continue on in their falsehood?
Now, specifically, this phrase refers back to Paul’s apostleship. Just how does "and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;" relate to apostleship? In the specific sense acknowledging of the truth speaks of the Gospel. Had Paul not responded to the Gospel when confronted with it, he would not have become an apostle.
I can hear the backbiters screaming already. How could Paul not respond to the Gospel - he was elect, he could not "not respond" is the cry I can almost hear. I respond with "free will" is in the works though a further scream would be raised, "There is no such thing as free will!" they would cry. "If Paul could have refused His election, God would not be sovereign!" would be the next cry of anguish.
Well, in my mind if man has no free will, then God is not sovereign. A sovereign God is one that can do anything He wants to do and what He wants is fact. Free will is not against the sovereignty of God as they assume, it works beautifully with it in my mind. God in His foreknowledge - oh more cries of anguish - foresaw all that would respond to the Gospel and elected or chose them. This does not negate nor even diminish His sovereign will, it indeed enhances it in my mind. He is free to allow man to have free will and still do as He pleases. Now, that is sovereign!
Free will is simply doing what we want. This is acceptable to all those that would reject my thoughts. They realize we choose to sin, we choose many things in our lives FREELY, but they cannot tolerate that same freedom in salvation. Seems a radical idea that God would grant us freedom to do as we please except when it comes to salvation - that we have to be saved, and that we have no choice in the matter.
Some would suggest that the lost elect are regenerated before they are saved so that they can respond to salvation when it is presented to them. This is closer to the truth, and allows for "free will" in their minds, but to me this doctrine does damage to the sovereignty of God. He can’t do what He wants to in the elect’s life unless he forces the elect to do as He desires. This does not fit will with Scripture in my mind.
I think with my line of thought we have full sovereignty of God and full free will without damage to either and we include foreknowledge as the easy meaning of the term implies instead of twisting it to mean something a little different. I don’t mean to demean those that reject my thought, but I do see a lack of faith in the Word on their part when they eliminate foreknowledge and free will because the teaching does disservice to their belief system.
A belief system must rise from the whole of the Scripture, not just the parts that fit the system that we try to impress upon the Scripture. If the Word speaks of election, predestination, free will, foreknowledge and all the other items, we are responsible to find a system that fits ALL those items presented not just the majority and reject the rest (as the author ducks into his bomb shelter to get away from the incoming blast of the opposition :-). I do not demean those that I have mentioned, for me, for the most part, find them more knowledgeable of their system, more precise about there thinking, and more confident of their belief than most on the other side. They are a people that know what they believe and have a tremendous confidence in that belief. I just respectfully suggest that they may be incorrect.
I find it sad, however, that many of them conclude that I am lost because I do not agree with their system - they would say I disagree with God’s salvation plan and thus am lost. I find this sad, in that they lose a great fellowship with many believers and sad that they reject some of Christ’s brothers and sisters over a belief system.
I find more commonality with them as believers than I do with the normal Bible believer today, because the Bible believers of our day are so off into their own system of worship that they seldom worry about doctrine. Yet, I cannot participate in their internet boards because I do not agree with their confessions.
That alone says a lot about where their priorities are. I agree with the Bible, but because I don’t agree with their confessions (made by man) I cannot participate in discussion with them. This also is sad to me.
1. Verse one ended with the word godliness. Let’s take a moment with that word. It is defined in the Lexicon as piety before God, piety meaning living correctly. The Webster’s dictionary puts it this way, "A religious life; a careful observance of the laws of God and performance of religious duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands;...." Since we are no longer under the law we know this not to be correct but following Gods commands is certainly what we are to be about.
It is following what God has said. Is that all? Most likely, but within that is a tremendous amount of territory. A major part of it would be not doing what He tells us not to do as well.
Godliness is the opposite of godlessness and holiness is the opposite of sinfulness. Thus a Godly life is a sinless life, it is an obedient life, and it is a separated life - I know that word brings shudders to the backs of so many Christians, but separation from sin is part of godliness no matter how you twist and rationalize the Word of God. You might read I Timothy four if you need an example of the outworking of all this.
Godliness demands an obedient life. Godliness demands a sinless life. Godliness demands a committed life. Godliness demands a servant’s life. Godliness demands a truthful life.
Do you get the truth of this? If you aren’t godly, you are ungodly, if you are untruthful you are a liar, if you are not holy you are unholy. We can’t be on both sides of the fence, either/or is the choice and we must make it.
2. Barnes uses an interesting line of thinking that we might consider. "It is the purpose of God to save his people, but he does not mean to save them as infidels, or unbelievers. He intends that they shall be believers first--and hence he sends his ministers that they may become such."
Barnes introduces the fact that we are not saved completely in this life. He had to change us from lost to His people, then at a point in time He will complete that process. Those that die before the end will go through changes that will adapt them to life in the heavenlies, but in the end time when all is completed we will all be united with him in eternal life.
Now, whether Paul had any or all of this in mind in this passage, I would say none of it, but I thank Barnes for introducing us to that great truth of our salvation in process - even though it is done in God’s mind.
3. A point to ponder. Paul uses "servant of God" however, usually he used "servant of Christ" as do the other apostles (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Judges 1:1) I wondered if there was a reason that he chose a different phrase here. In James 1:1 James uses both phrases to describe himself.
The question arises, is there a difference between a "servant of God" and a "servant of Christ?" I assume that there is a distinction since two writers use them both to describe themselves and James uses both in the same verse - but just what it is remains to be seen. I will give you a chart and you can fill it in when you do the study on your own. I will give you a few possibles to consider.
I am going to make an assumption relating to this. Being a servant of God is that commitment given to God in general to live a godly life before Him, while I would take it that to be a servant of Christ would be the more practical of how you live that godly life before God. One is the mental while the other is the physical.
SERVANT OF GOD SERVANT OF CHRIST
1. Commitment to serve Serving by way of good works
2. Commitment to worship Glorifying Christ in our speech before man
3. Commitment to witness Talking with people about the Lord
4. Desire to love and grow closer Study of the Word and applying it to life
4. Paul is his Roman name, and Saul is his Jewish name. In Acts 13:9 we see that Saul was also called Paul. It was at this time he started using his Roman name rather than the Jewish. I assume that there might have been two reasons for the change. All Christians and Jews knew who Saul was - he was the great persecutor of Christians. For this reason he may have wanted to distance himself from his former self for the sake of the Gospel. The second possibility might be so that he would relate more quickly with the Gentile people he wished to evangelize. It better fits that ministry as well.
5. We mentioned that Paul was first a slave, and secondly an apostle. The sequence seems to be important to him; however the sequence may well be important to God as well. Only a servant relationship with God can bring about the uplifting to an office by God. Had Paul not become a servant, he would never have been an apostle.
A related line of thought is that the word servant is backed by the Old Testament concept of one falling into debt and becoming a slave to the man he owed money to. At the end of seven years the slave was free to go, but many knowing the safety of their life as a slave in a terrible culture to make a living, opted to submit themselves to their master for life as a slave. It was a complete and free choice for them to make. This actually gave them a real freedom in knowing that they would always be cared for and would always have someone looking after them.
What is your status as a "free to make your choice" Christian. Have you made a choice to be a servant, or are you out there on your own doing it your own way? Servitude is the path to service. If you desire to serve God then there is a step that you must take to achieve that goal.
Servitude also demands that you will be set aside and God’s will taken as your way of life. You can’t serve God while doing your own desires.
Another thought - all of us are gifted, but many in the church today are not using their gifts, and some don’t even know what their gift is. Might this be part of the problem? Would God bother informing you of your gift if you aren’t willing to use it for Him? Would he open an opportunity for you to use your gift before you are within His Will for your life? Doubtful.
This thing of servanthood is a big step and many in the church today don’t even know it is on the table, because they are untaught in the Word that we are supposed to be proclaiming.
6. I might draw your thoughts to the purpose of preaching. It is for the edification and training of the saints. It is never a proper activity just for the sake of preaching the Word, it should be preached for the purpose of changing lives. That should be obvious, but I am not sure it is in many churches today.
For your further study on the term "apostle" Keathley states: "As used in the New Testament, it had both a broad or general use, much like our term "missionary" or "messenger" (cf. Acts 14:14; Philippians 2:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; and 2 Corinthians 8:23), and a more technical or special use as used of the 12 apostles and Paul (Matthew 10:2; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:26; Acts 2:37; Romans 1:1; Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:7-9; Titus 1:1; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6)."
7. Paul uses this thought of "entrust" or "committed" in 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:12. It is a high honor for us to be entrusted with the Gospel. God has chosen man to be his messenger. He could have hired skywriters, or His own advertising agency to do the job, but God chose mankind - believers to share the Gospel and to disciple those that come to Christ.
In case you haven’t considered it, that is Almighty God placing faith in mankind - that same mankind that thumbed their nose at Him in the Garden. He chose redeemed man to place His faith in. That tells me one of two things. God has a tremendous reserve of faith, or regenerated man is supposed to be very trustworthy. Both concepts are worth further consideration.
8. Revelation 13:8 states "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
This is related to verse two. Two refers to the fact that God promised salvation before creation, and here in Revelation we see that the Lamb, Christ, was also slain from the foundation of the world. Both the gift and the basis of the gift were completed before creation - in God’s mind, not in reality. The Word came later as man began to record it, and Christ’s death at the proper time.
Now, why is this important? Go back to your understanding of salvation in the Old Testament. It is my contention that the Old Testament saints were not regenerated on the spot of salvation, but only AFTER the cross. This is why they did not receive the Holy Spirit as we; this is why they were contained in Sheol as shown in Luke 16:1-31, instead of being ushered into the presence of God as we are at death.
For further on this you can read my work on regeneration but for now, understand that ALL things are completed in God’s mind, but not in time. Many misunderstand this great truth and assume that regeneration happens at God’s time table - any time and anywhere - even in the Old Testament. This is not possible if the Lamb has not been slain in time. Only after the cross could the Old Testament saints be united with the Father.
This is also why the Old Testament talks about the covering of sins, while the New Testament speaks of the removal of sin. The Old Testament saints sins were only covered over until Christ’s blood could remove them. This, to me, is proof positive that my thinking is correct. Sin could not be completely dealt with until the fact of the cross was done - even though all sins are washed away or removed from before the foundation of the world in God’s mind.
8. We spoke of the truthfulness of God earlier. This is what theologians call the "Veracity" of God. It is one of his attributes that most seminarians and Bible college students study. I might interject that this does not allow for Christ telling half truths as some missions and missionaries go around the country saying to give credence to their illegal activities on the field. Half truths are lies and God does not lie.
Keathley states that this phrase could be translated "the without deceit God." I really like that statement. He is without deceit, and He cannot enter into deceit. Simple - he IS truth.
This was probably a dagger to the Cretan’s heart if any of them read this letter. In verse twelve Paul says "One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretans are always liars, evilbeasts, and slow bellies."
For your further study I have included this section from my theology below.
GOD IS TRUE
Another term you may run into in this study is veracity. Veracity is ".....devotion to the truth: TRUTHFULNESS....." (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)
God is called the true God. John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
God is called the God of truth. Psalms 31:5, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth." Isaiah 65:16, "That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth, because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hidden from mine eyes."
Strong tells us, "In virtue of His veracity, all His revelations to creatures consist with His essential being and with each other. In virtue of His faithfulness, He fulfills all His promises to His people, whether expressed in words or implied in the constitution He has given them. (Strong’s SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY)
Ryrie mentions that God is consistent with Himself. This illustrates truth. We are true to ourselves when we are ourselves.
"True" can be used of the character of an object as well as the knowledge about the object. A gun barrel can be true or straight. We can also know about a gun barrel and know of its true or straight nature.
A man can be a true scientist by nature, but we may know nothing about the man except lies that someone has spread about him. We can know him to be true in nature because of his credentials but not know Him truthfully because we know only of the gossip.
God is the true God for He matches the true God that is revealed in the Word. We can know there is a true - real - God, yet not know Him, or know much about Him. We need to understand BOTH!
God is the truthful God, for His knowledge conforms to His nature, or more exactly IS true knowledge. He is completely accurate, and there can be no inaccuracy.
All truth extends from Him and all truth conforms to Him. He is the ultimate standard of truth for He is truth. (Psalms 31:5, Psalms 119:126-128, Psalms 119:160.)
God’s truth is related to many of His other attributes and characteristics. I will just list these for your further study.
Truth and light. Psalms 43:3
Truth and kindness. 2 Samuel 2:6
Truth and goodness. Exodus 34:6
Truth and uprightness. Psalms 111:8
Truth and righteousness. Jeremiah 4:2
Truth and peace. Jeremiah 33:6
Truth and grace. John 1:17
Truth and life. John 14:6
You will see that truth is defined in many ways as you live and learn. For example, Mary Baker Eddy stated that if something was real, then it was truth. The fallacy of this can be illustrated in the fact that Hitler was real but he wasn’t truth.
1. God is total truth so there is no lie within Him. Every promise and every Word are truth and to be trusted implicitly.
2. By a bit far off application, we might run along the following lines for a moment. When we ask the Lord what He wants us to do in a certain instance and He tells us, there is never any need for us to question His answer for one split second. We know He wouldn’t josh us! He is totally and completely HONEST, AND HE WILL NEVER LIE OR MISLEAD US!
3. He will respond to us in all that is truth in the manner of our worship and prayers. John 4:24, Psalms 145:18.
4. His judgments will be entirely based upon truth. No one can trick Him into letting them into heaven or out of hell. Psalms 54:5, Romans 2:2.
5. The holiness and truth of God should dictate our ethics as men and women of God! I fear ethics are out the window in the ministry today. I would like to illustrate this in a number of ways so you will know what some good ethics are.
a. I was waiting in the office of a large evangelical church in Oregon. I could hear the business manager and the church secretary arguing. They were not heated, though voices were being raised. The high level of volume forced me to hear that the secretary thought that the church board should operate with business men of the community, in a manner consistent with Christian ethics. The business manager stated flatly that they should not operate with Christian ethics. That business manager knew little of proper ethics.
b. I have observed and heard of many pastors that leave a church in a small town and start another church in the same town. When on deputation, I had a meeting in a town of four hundred people with two fundamental Baptist churches. There is no need for two churches, two buildings, two budgets, two pastors. What a waste of God’s money.
c. Most churches have a clause in their doctrinal statements and bylaws requesting that the pastor leave if he finds himself in a doctrinal difference with the congregation. There are men who remain, and continue to teach wrong doctrine. Some actually lead the congregation off into their false doctrine.
d. I have observed a pastor moving into an area and encouraging disgruntled people in a church to split, and then assuming the pastorate over their new church. (There were no doctrinal differences involved.)
e. Accepting a church they know they have differences within doctrine and practice without telling them.
f. Candidating in three churches at one time and then choosing the best one that call’s you. I have seen this more and more in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
g. Flying to one church to candidate and candidating at another while you are there on the other people’s money.
h. Accepting a church in one fellowship of churches while planning to take it into another fellowship.
I. Counting churches in your fellowship when the church hasn’t had any association in years. When on deputation I found an address for a church in a fellowship directory. I was able to set up a meeting with the pastor. Upon arrival at the church the pastor asked me where I had heard about his church. I told him of the directory. He stated that the church hadn’t been with that group in more than ten years.
j. Setting up a candidate appointment and calling two days before your date to speak and telling them you have accepted another church.
I trust that pastors, missionaries, and Christians in general will consider how they live their lives. I feel confident in saying that I believe God is embarrassed with His people, in this generation. Many Christians are less than truthful in their personal lives.
May we strive for the holiness and the truth of God in our personal and church lives.
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
When my father was on his death bed, I spoke to him again of his eternal status with God. He, for the first time, explained to me his belief. He had tried to live a good life all his life and he was hoping that he had done enough good to get into heaven. He was hoping to make it on his good deeds. This is not God’s method of saving people as much as I would have loved to see my father in heaven. We spoke of the true Gospel for a time as we had before, but he never acknowledged to us verbally of his acceptance.
"In hope" - I really hope I make it. No, this is not the thought of the passage. The word used here, carries the thought of expectation of something rather than a healthy desire to see something come to pass.
The author of hope is He who is its foundation - a rephrase from a Lexicon. Also, the author of hope is the provider of that hope. Ah, here I cannot disagree with my reformed brethren. It is all of God and all for His glory!
Eternal is one of those terms some like to redefine to fit their belief system. Eternal is just that - eternal - just as God is eternal, so will our life with Him be. It is never ending, it is without end, it is eternal, if you will. It can never mean that it will last only a few years, a few eons, a few whatever, it will continue to exist for all time, all eternity. Nor, is this meaning that we are eternal, as in pre-existing before our birth. We have eternal life from the point of salvation - eternal and never ending.
Those that teach that we lived in some existence before with God make fools of themselves with their teaching. If you have always been, why would you need to come to earth in the flesh to always be?
This life is given at the moment of salvation, it is permanent and it is never retracted. It will continue whether you desire it to or not, it will continue for all who have believed on the Lord and placed their faith in Him.
"Life" is the normal word for life - one having breath - one that is living. Eternal is the emphasis here, eternal life, living - eternally continuing in existence in some manner similar to what we are in now. Though glorified, we will be similar to what we are today I would suspect. While we are continuing on in living, the lost will continue on in the death, in that terrible state of pain and suffering.
There is a line of thought that needs to be covered at this point. ALL, are now, since the cross eternal beings, the problem is that some are eternal beings in Christ headed for life, while others are eternal beings outside of Christ and headed for death - not annihilation, but eternal, everlasting death. Read the last part of Luke sixteen for a brief hint of the terribleness of this state.
All are eternal beings, the difference is the cross, the difference is Christ, and the difference is confession of Him as your Savior - I trust if you hear only these words from this study, hear them and act upon them.
"Cannot lie" is one of the clearest statements of the truthfulness of God. How much clearer could this truth be made? He cannot lie, He cannot remove Himself from the truth and indeed He is truth. This same God has promised eternal life to those that will receive His son’s work on the cross.
He, the One that is truth, promised us eternal life. Now, refer back to that term "hope" and consider it a moment. It is a surety of what will come based on the God that cannot lie. We have this hope of an eternal life with Him - a surety - a fact to be fulfilled and surely it will be fulfilled.
"Before the world began" is kind of a mouthful and Paul didn’t even explain it. Do you suppose he knew that Titus already knew what that meant? I’d guess this was the case. Paul had really taught Mr. Titus Theology 101 and maybe up and through theology 405. He didn’t take six pages to elaborate on this grand doctrine, thus Titus must have passed his theology course.
Many have suggested that "in hope of eternal life" relates to the fact that we have to work and work and hope and hope that we will gain eternal life. This is not the teaching of this verse and you have to totally ignore the plain literal interpretation of Scripture to use it in this manner.
Not so according to those that believe in eternal security. If God makes us His child, then we are his children and we are not able to become an unchild.
I spoke to a pastor of a Nazarene church in Wyoming about security and he felt that you could lose your salvation if you really worked at it. Others feel that if you don’t work at salvation you can’t gain it.
Both ends of the spectrum are in error when you understand the teaching of salvation as a gift - grace from God. You don’t work to keep a gift that has been given freely, nor do you work to gain a gift that is given at the discretion of the giver. Once on an internet board someone posted the question "Is it really a free gift." I responded, "if it ain’t free it ain’t a gift," and of course he responded with illustrations attempting to discredit the clear false hood of his question.
If it is a gift, it is free, and if it is free it is a gift. If I have to do something or pay something for it then it can no longer be considered a gift, but a purchase. It amazes me to see how many fail to see the pure logic of the statement.
If you just can’t resist digging into this topic further, see my theology under security.
The next thought of Paul contradicts the thought of works to gain salvation. God - who can’t lie - promised eternal life before the foundations of the world! The two ideas (working for something promised as a gift before the creation of the world) are inconsistent.
If God promised eternal life, then there is nothing man can do or not do for that salvation. The eternal life is presented for the taking, not the working and worrying.
He planned it before creation, He promised it before creation, and he instituted it before creation. The outworking of the plan has continued on since and will ultimately be completed in the end times. How arrogant the person that says after understanding all this, that they must work and squirm to gain this gift, and keep working and squirming to keep it once they have gotten it. My question. How much working and how much squirming does it take to gain eternal life? How do you know when you have done enough? When do you switch from gaining it to keeping it by your works?
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
’Manifested" means simply that His Word was shown forth or given forth to man. The idea is that it is there for viewing, for inspection, and for consideration. It is not crammed down anyone’s throat, it is given forth for all to see.
In downtown Salem, OR, and I would guess many other cities, they have a round cork board, called a kiosk, where anyone in the community can post anything they want. We won’t talk about what an eyesore it is, but it is there for the thought of communication of information. Anyone can tell anyone about anything that they want to. They are making manifest their ideas and thoughts to all that will walk up and take a snoop. All residents of Salem are not forced to line up and inspect every sheet, nor are they required to even get close to it, but it is manifested to anyone that is interested.
Now, the modifier "in due times" is of note, for all that have lived did not enjoy this manifestation. The Old Testament saints before Moses had nothing, and after Moses for many they only had the Pentateuch or the first five books of the Bible. Notice that the word was made manifest through preaching. The early church did not have the written word either, but they did have the preaching of the apostles. In this case the Cretans were given the Word through Paul’s preaching.
There is a significance to this idea of "in due time." The Word has been revealed in a progressive manner. Some had only a little bit of revelation, while others had more, and finally many of us enjoy God’s complete revelation.
From a purely logical and human standpoint, I would have hated to have lived after the time of the prophets. I would have read some of those prophecies and wondered for years what it all meant. The same, I’m sure was true after the revelation of John. Imagine reading the book of Revelation in the first or second century. What a load of questions a person would have to ask. The real frustration would have been that there was no one to ask these questions of, nor anyone to gain your answers from.
"Preaching" is simply the communication from one announcing to one listening. Back to downtown Salem, if they wanted to be really cute in their communications they could hire someone to read aloud all those communications to all that would pass by. It would certainly help the visual clutter, but it would not do well for the noise factor.
Preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word. We hold this to be the hallmark of our worship services, but you might want to look at the book of Acts and see how much preaching was going on in the early church. When Paul was around, they had preaching sessions (We won’t talk about how long some of them were - it might give preachers today some ideas :-) From a reading of Acts the time of gathering of believers centered on other than preaching. I assume when there was someone qualified to teach that it was done, but I’m not sure they went for Sunday school and eleven o’clock worship services. They consumed their time in prayer, fasting and fellowship.
Just crossed my mind - can you envision a gathering of Christians in the book of Acts being interrupted from their prayer, fasting, and fellowship to rise and mill around the sanctuary greeting one another? Okay so that doesn’t relate a whole lot to the passage, but then I just had to say it. Then again maybe it should relate.
"Committed" is not the dedication that we relate the word to, but it is something that is committed to someone - placed in trust with another. It is a related word to the term translated "faith" in the New Testament. It is something that Christ entrusted Paul with to do. In that respect, Christ committed it to Paul. He was very committed to doing that work, but the commitment was from Christ and it was based on His belief in Paul.
Now, let us take that one step further. He relied on Paul to proclaim the Word, and in truth He is relying on us in the same way to proclaim the Gospel to the lost. II Corinthians tells us that we are ambassadors of reconciliation - we are those proclaimers that are to go forth into the world proclaiming the claims of Christ. The question comes - are we as committed to that job as Paul was to his?
"Commandment" is not only something commanded but has the idea of the command coming from someone with the authority to command. Paul knew his preaching was a direct order from God and He was committed to doing it to the very best of his ability - as we should be committed to being witnesses for Christ.
"In due times" refers specifically to the fact that it was on time - in God’s time table everything is done and occurs at the time specified in His overall plan of the ages.
As historians and theologians consider the timing of Christ’s entrance upon history, they find that there was no better time for Him to have been born. All of history was right for His appearance and the ultimate spread of the Gospel. The Roman Empire covered most of the world which allowed for the Gospel to spread easily. The roads were good for the time, for easy travel. There was basically one language in all countries - Greek. The spiritual climate was corrupt and the population was looking for a "something" that answered their spiritual needs. There was one government that allowed easy access to all countries. There was also a peace throughout the empire which allowed for free travel and preaching.
No, this was not accidental; it was the culmination of God’s plan in the bringing of the savior into history. There are no accidents. Daniel pictures God in the process of raising up and tearing down nations for His purpose. He, indeed, raised up the Roman Empire at just the right time to bring about these needed changes in history, man and time to bring His Son to the earth to work out redemption for mankind.
The spread of the Word was determined to be by the preaching of the Word. God has designated His people to be the bearer of His Good News. He has no other way for the Word to go forth, except by the preaching of His people.
The obvious application of that knowledge is that every one of us should be sharing the Word in some manner. Some by preaching, some by teaching, and ALL by witnessing. If you are not involved in spreading the Word, then you are not involved in the work God has told you to do. You are in rebellion against His wishes.
To Titus, [mine] own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Titus means nurse or someone that is gentle. Now there are some that would argue that a nurse is always gentle, but NORMALLY they are and this would give insight into Titus character I would think.
Paul labels Titus as his son in the faith. "Son" can relate to a begotten son so this is a close relation that the two men had. It is seldom that this sort of relationship develops so if you have such a bond with another man, you should develop that friendship as much as you can. It will be beneficial to both of you.
Paul goes on to declare that they have a common faith. They have all things spiritual in common, and they are close as a father and a son. I suspect that the common faith is what brought the relationship into existence. It seems to me that oft times age disappears when spiritual things are common.
I fear this is one area of the church where we really fall short of what would be best. The aged have so much to teach the young and the young are not interested in listening to the old folks. In my mind there should be some planning along this line in churches today. The youth need to get to know some of the aged - they would find them more fascinating than they would expect, and all the while some of the wisdom might rub off.
A pastor from the Chicago area told me that his church put together a social time for the youth groups and the senior citizens. Both groups found it very enjoyable and the pastor said that the youth finally realized that the "white hairs" were people too. It was a grand success for the two groups and a great gain for the church.
"Grace" normally is defined as favor extended to one not worthy of favor. The word is used in that way but it is a much broader word. It can relate to enjoyment, of pleasure, of thanks and other variations. In this context I would guess Paul wanted to extend a greeting to Titus that would set him at ease as he started to read this letter.
It is seemingly a simple prayer verbalized, requesting that God would extend grace, mercy and peace to Titus in light of all that he had to do at Crete. Indeed, as the letter continues, it seems that Titus will need just these qualities from some source to work with the people he is going to be working with.
"Mercy" is to show kindness or goodness toward one that is afflicted. This should have encouraged Titus in light of coming verses. "Peace" would have added to this. Peace is that which is absent in wartime. Paul has just asked God to grant Titus mercy and peace - I have to wonder what Titus was thinking at this point in time.
Paul calls upon the Father as well as Christ for this assistance for the man he has set in charge in Crete. The term "Savior" is the Greek word from which we gain our theological term Soteriology, the study of salvation. Paul sets forth Christ as The Anointed one, as God - man, as the Lord, and as Savior. He is God, He is God’s Anointed One, He is Jesus born of Mary, He is Lord over all, and most of all He is Savior of all that will have Him as such.
A few further thoughts on the son aspect. There are some things that a Father ought to do for his son, either before the Lord or his son by birth. The parent will have a primary responsibility in all of these areas and may well become the spiritual aspect of his son’s life as well; however the person that leads another to the Lord has a responsibility to do as much as he can without causing interference in the true family relationship.
NURTURE: (Ephesians 6:4)
EDUCATION: (Deuteronomy 6:7)
DISCIPLINE: (Hebrews 12:5 ff)
ENJOY: (Psalms 127:5 and others)
Don’t avoid this responsibility either in your physical children or in your spiritual children. Those you lead to Christ ought to be discipled and nurtured in their spiritual walk if at all possible. Imagine the joy Paul had knowing that this young upstart Titus was now trained and ready to minister to peoples needs. It must have been of great joy.
I have seen similar joy personally in a couple of men that I followed in their pulpits. It wasn’t because I had been trained by the men, but that I was going to be assisting in training people they had been teaching. Both had stepped out of their pulpits to retire, and they had left the church men to seek temporary assistance. I was called as interim. When I told one of the men that I was taking his old post he was overjoyed. The other man the first time I preached he was in attendance, he was beaming, amening, and was over joyed with the pick of his men. We should never be prideful over the training we give, but we can certainly take joy in knowing that we have.
The application that is present here is the free gift of salvation that brought Paul unto the Lord and then Titus. That same salvation is available to all that will accept it.
Many declare that they are happy and at peace without God, but I really do not believe that true peace and happiness can come without God. Peace is God’s gift to us as we accept Him.
Peace does not mean the super spiritual high with the ear to ear smile with pearly white teeth, but is the inner peace that allows us to go through all sorts of trials and problems with the assurance that God is with us and that He is caring for us.
We have been introduced to the main characters though some real characters are yet to be introduced. Paul the apostle has given a great responsibility to Titus - a responsibility to set a church in order.
Week 2: Titus 1:5-9 THE JOB
PURPOSE OF THE LETTER:
5. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
"Cause" is normally translated as it is here, but it comes from a word relating to "speak reproachfully" built into the word - maybe indicating the mind set of the Apostle at the time - speaking of the Cretans and those things wanting in the church. One must wonder.
Paul tells Titus that he is there to set things in order, ordain elders in every city. Seems to be two items of labor, which most likely are intertwined, but still distinct.
"Set things in order" probably included the need for leaders and the ordination of elders would have been needed, thought I would think there was further order needed. Had Paul only wanted elders, he would have stopped at telling Titus to ordain elders. The training of men to be elders would also have been needed.
What other items might have been on the apostle’s mind in the thought of "order?" I would suggest that he wanted Titus to set up constitutions and doctrinal statements, but that would be pressing today’s standard upon the Cretan church. There probably was a certain amount of sorting out of the believers as to maturity level, of doctrinal correctness, but I’d guess the majority of this thought would have been correcting problems of organization, and people problems.
There may have been some lifestyle issues that needed to be dealt with as well. Certainly today there are within the church. The church life style is not too much removed from that of the world in most cases today.
"Ordain elders" brings us to a topic that many have problems with. Actually, two problems. The first being ordination and the second being elders. Let’s deal with these one at a time.
Ordination: The term used here simply means to set into office, or appoint. It is not some big procedure to bring about a potluck followed by a seven o’clock service where a bunch of old guys "approve" of a young guys schooling.
If you look at the qualifications coming up in the text, little is said of education, but is mostly about life style and character. Today’s ordination is far from what it was in the early church and far from what it should be.
Normally, today a bunch of pastors come together to question the man’s belief system and/or tear it down. There seldom is any checking of the character, nor the lifestyle of the man in question. Seldom are the church leaders involved in this process. In some cases the church leaders are purposely excluded as if they are not related in any way.
In my mind, ordination might run along this line. When you have need of a man to fill a leadership role, you look around your church and see if there are any that would fit the qualifications listed for us in Scripture (I Timothy and Titus). If there is someone that qualifies, has a proper life style and seems to fit, then consider him and have him consider the position. Open the process to the congregation if he is desirous of the office and see if all concur about his qualifications/lifestyle. If all seems appropriate, then ordain him.
Now, just what ordain should entail is the question. It could be as simple as appointing him to the position at a regular service of the church, to a service committed to the ordination, to include challenge, description of the office/qualifications for the congregation, prayer and commitment. It seems open to what the church would desire.
In a case where there is no one in the congregation that is qualified/desirous, then go outside the church. Seek input from other congregations. When it comes to knowing if the person is qualified, have the church leaders interview him, send out letters to his home church, to his employer, to his neighbors and see if he really lives what he believes. If all looks good, install him for a trial period so you can evaluate his qualifications/lifestyle. Then proceed to the ordination when all is confirmed.
I recently watched a thread on an internet board on this subject. I watched for awhile and finally asked for a Biblical basis for ordination. Of course Acts was brought up - when Saul was separated and ordained. I posted back that the text did not mention a council of men questioning/badgering the candidate and that I did notice fasting was a part of the process - I pointed out that most ordinations include pot lucks rather than fasting.
We are far from Biblical in our process of choosing leaders these days even though most deny it and assert how Biblical they are. If you are recognizing the qualifications in a person, if they are called of God, you have prayed and fasted over the subject, then ordain them and kick them out into the ministry they are called to. That process contains nothing about a board of pompous pastors trying to trip up a young man that seriously wants to serve his Master.
Some would ask if I have been to an ordination. My answer would be that I have been in attendance at two. The first was my own, when my church board, which had known me and watched me mature for years, met with me and asked me some questions about the doctrinal statement they had requested. They knew me, they knew what I believed, and they knew my calling, they had been praying about the subject and they ordained me. Now, some would say I am not properly ordained, and that is probably true as far as the "church" is concerned, but I rely on the fact that I was Biblically ordained.
The second ordination I went to was to a minor acquaintance that invited me to be on his board. I arrived and because I wasn’t a pastor or man of renowned I was not asked to sit with the pastors. In fact I was not even recognized by the ordination council as being there or being a part of the council when they were introduced.
The council began the questioning. Many of the questions were sent to the candidate prior to the meeting and his responses were in the hands of the rest of the council. I had not seen them. The council president became infuriated with one point of the man’s doctrine and rather than keep his silence which is the norm as president, he blurted out his disdain for the man’s comments.
All this time the elders of the church were sitting behind me - also not introduced.
The schedule by the way was the council in the afternoon followed by a pot-luck and then the ordination service. Seemed rather obvious the conclusion to the council was totally forgone.
The council finally drew their questioning to a close, though they did not ask the man of his call from God, nor his call to this church nor much of anything about his character or qualifications for the office. The president stood, asked for the elders of the church to leave, and they voted on the man.
It seems in Acts the elders of the church did all the work and did the ordaining.
I am not sure why they did not ask me to leave - the vote was taken and the man was able to enjoy the pot luck.
That was the last ordination I attended and the last I desire to attend if arranged by today’s church. I decided if I wanted to see sanctimonious people playing their silly games, I could go to most any lodge and see similar goings on. Not that there aren’t some good Biblical ordinations going on today, but they are few I would guess.
Elders: I won’t take time to try to prove this point, but I believe that there should be multiple elders in every church. These men should be from the congregation. A paid pastor might be brought in if needed, but he should go through the procedure listed above. He should be evaluated for qualification/lifestyle.
If you list the terms, elder and elders you will find that the plural is used in a majority of cases in the New Testament. There are some cases that might indicate one elder, but the majority of usages are plural, not singular. If you look to the Old Testament you will find that multiple is usually the case as well.
There is a movement today that says that multiple elders are the norm and that all of them should be paid elders - as in from outside the church. I would challenge anyone to give Biblical basis for this concept.
I think if you do a word study on elder/elders you will come to the thought of multiple elders in each church. There is safety of decision when you have multiple people considering an issue. You also have a multiple set of ideas to consider and evaluate.
Now, in the context, we are speaking of selecting, evaluating and ordaining men to the office of elder in each of the churches. In my view Titus was to ordain multiple elders in multiple churches. Others would reject this thought for the idea of ordaining AN elder in multiple churches. Either way Titus was to set himself about setting leadership in the churches of Crete.
"In every city" indicates only that there were more than one church already existing on the island, and all were in need of leadership.
We might take note of Paul’s habit of planting churches and then returning later to set up leadership. I have often wondered if this lapse of time was for the congregations to consider their members and select those they thought fit the qualifications for the office.
Acts 14:21 "And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and [to] Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."
Barnes mentions that Homer told of a hundred cities on Crete. No doubt many were small, but it is possible that there were many churches that needed the assistance of Titus.
I have mentioned that FASTING was a part of this ordination process. We might have to do a word study on that to see what it is before getting into the ordination process. Not many today have a handle on what fasting is.
Be sure to notice that there is no requirement of schooling, ordination council, nor is there a specific age mentioned. The thought is to ordain elders of proper stature to watch over the believers in the different cities.
The fact that he was to ordain elders - plural - in every city indicates the plurality of elders in a church. Paul had evidently started the churches in the different cities and would not have had time to plant multiple churches in every city he visited.
The lack of mention of appointing deacons is of interest. The churches may have already had them in place at the time, or more likely in my mind, Paul was leaving this to be done when the elders were appointed. It would be properly their place to call for deacons as there was a need in the church for them.
Paul must have planted the churches and then moved on as he did in the book of Acts when he planted churches on the way out on his journey and appointed elders on the way back. This would give time for the congregations to see the natural leadership emerging from within the body of believers.
Some might suggest that it was not Paul that planted the churches, to which I would respond, this is quite possible, but why would he feel it his responsibility to see to the needs of leadership by sending Titus?
Before we move on there is an important item to observe. Paul wanted Titus to ordain elders in verse five, while he mentions "bishop" in verse seven. The two terms seem to refer to the same office. The term bishop is "episkopos" and the term elder is "presbuteros" - two completely different words. Episkopos relates to oversight, of seeing to it that what needs to be done is being done. Presbuteros relates to age or elder, one of age. It would seem that the idea of elder would relate to the maturity while the word bishop would relate to the office itself rather than the person. The point being - we don’t have two offices mentioned here.
Gill has a paragraph relating to some historical letters that were sent to churches on Crete in the second century from a bishop in Corinth. It might interest history buffs.
Let’s move onto the qualifications set forth for elder.
1. I think there are two important lessons to be learned from Titus and the present state of the church in Crete.
a. A solidly founded church may decline into oblivion. I almost used the word "will" instead of "may" because very few churches and organizations I have watched over the years fail to fall into the decline mentioned. I have watched many churches go from being sound fundamental churches into wishy washy barely sound groups that fall for most anything that comes along.
Sound doctrine is the only key to stopping this decline and we are seeing more and more pastors speak of doctrine and theology with disdain. How sad, to know the Word calls us to sound doctrine while church leaders run doctrine down as being "intellectual" and "useless."
I have also noticed that oft times these churches decline in the tenure of one man. One church, of which we were a part, called a man that had some personality problems (anger) and some poor concepts of whom to associate with. The church was allowing men to fill the pulpit that had vastly differing doctrinal positions before the man was taken home. The church went from a strong witness in the small town to just another of the many churches available to the townsfolk.
b. A solidly founded church may decline into oblivion, and it is not necessarily the founders or the following pastor’s fault. Here we have the Apostle Paul founding churches, and we have his personal delegate setting the churches in order, yet over two thousand years or so there is little vestige of the original left.
This is not the fault of the founder, or the founder’s delegate. It is the fault of time and decisions made over time. As you study the Roman Catholic Church, you will find that their great divergence from correct doctrine came from little minor decisions that were made along the way. A small compromise here and another there. It is not unlike many of the decisions being made in our American churches. We are making small changes that may or may not be Biblical that will affect things further down the road.
The blame may be on the shoulders of some of the leaders or upon the congregation, depending on the situation. The blame rises from a poor institution of verse nine - sound doctrine was found unimportant at some point in the church’s life.
2. The fact that Paul did not appoint elders himself would indicate that there were none that were qualified at the time he was on the island. This would indicate for us the need for maturing enough to be qualified. It also indicates a very important item. DO NOT APPOINT MEN THAT AREN’T QUALIFIED JUST TO GET THE OFFICE FILLED. So many have the attitude in church leadership that anyone will do as long as it is a warm body. Not so. Qualifications are listed in two books to be sure that the men are QUALIFIED.
I suspect that this was true most of the time when Paul was starting churches - in fact this is probably why he so often returned to visit churches to appoint elders.
3. In Acts 20:1-38 we have another proof text relating to the office of elder. In verse seventeen he called for the elders or "presbuteros" and in verse twenty-eight he calls the same men "overseers" which is the term episkopos. Thus elders, biships and overseers are the same people/office, just different aspects of that one person/office.
Verse twenty-eight is a neat verse, if you are a pastor or teacher see to it that you contemplate it for a while. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." A charge to be taken very seriously.
This passage also indicates a plurality of elders in each church. Note, in verse seventeen, elders/plural and church/singular. Referring back to Crete and the plurality of elders to be appointed, it would require for Paul to have started multiple churches in each town/city for the plural to fit and there is no indication that this was his accomplishment.
Plurality of elders - men from the congregation - qualified - to be ordained as elders. That is the Scriptural method. Many and varied are the methods actually used in today’s church.
The Acts passage points out that the one really that does the calling is the Holy Spirit, rather than a congregational submission of the most popular men to the deacons for consideration as is the case in many churches today.
It seems that the Holy Spirit should give the man the desire, then he would share his desire with the congregation, and the congregation then would seek to find out if he is qualified. If the man has been with the church for a long time, then they probably already know if he is qualified or not. This process eliminates the popularity, status and position aspect from the equation and puts the process on a spiritual level where it ought to be.
4. The term "blameless" has been interpreted by a few to mean blameless all their lives. I have questioned a man that held this and I told him that I had been a drinker in the Navy, and wondered if that would disqualify me from being an elder. His reply was a definite yes. His thought was someone that had never done anything that could be used to accuse him.
I think this goes far and above the real meaning of the word. I rather doubt that the man lived up to his own standard. I think that the standard should be high for leaders, but that is not a standard any honest person could meet. The point to me would be that they have lived an adult/saved life that was blameless.
5. Philippians 3:10-14 is a key reference to understand in the context we are considering. We are not perfect in this life, thus we must not hold the elder to the "perfect" standard, but see him "nearly perfect" if you will. One that normally does, and fervently attempts to adhere to all these qualifications. A slip now and then might be acceptable in the areas where testimony is not affected, but in the area of marriage, and sobriety, I think perfect would be the standard. In the other areas I also feel that a "near perfect" be the standard as well.
I went through a process set up to seek to know the qualifications of myself and others for the office of elder. I found in my own mind I did not qualify in one area. I set myself aside for a year while working on that area.
The elder is the visible standard in a church for young people to look up to - to model their lives after, thus a GOOD model is required. Also the man is the leader and if he is less than the standard it will be hard for the people to respect and follow him.
6. I don’t think that I mentioned one position in relation to the "one woman man" requirement for the elder. I mentioned that singles would fit with care given to propriety, that widowers that were remarried would fit, but I didn’t mention that is was definitely a bar against a man with more than one wife. Two wives would certainly disqualify a man from the office.
Some suggest that barring divorced/remarried men from the office is hard in light of our current society. This is similar to the question of whether a woman can lead if there are no qualified men available (such as on the mission field).
My answer to both is that if we are to find substitute answers due to lack of someone present, might I suggest the following. If my wife goes away for a couple months to care for a relative and I have no one to relate to sexually, may I substitute someone for my wife that is not available? I don’t think so, not on the moral side of things and the safety side of things. I would be out of bounds morally and in deep trouble with my wife.
Why do we substitute anything for a failure to do what is Biblical? I have discussed ordination with people and the fact that what we have today is really not Biblical. I have suggested that we ordain people we know - not outsiders. One man asked how in the world we would know if they are qualified. I suggested talking to one another, fellowship on a spiritual basis not on the usual news, weather and sports. His reply was, well we don’t do that today. In short he was saying we don’t do what we need to do to do what is Biblical so we set up a system that is not Biblical to do what is not Biblical to fit our current society.
I hope you find this as ludicrous as I!
Another passage that relates is Matthew 19:10 when Christ was speaking of the subject of divorce and that it seems to be for life, the disciples seemed to understand the requirements of marriage for life as difficult. "His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with [his] wife, it is not good to marry."
The Bible has a standard and it may well be difficult to live up to it, but it is still there and it is still required. Just because it is difficult, we have no authority to change it for our own convenience or ease.
7. I hate to keep harping on this do’s and don’ts thing that some pastors abhor, but here we have another list from God via Paul. These don’ts are in the negative, not the positive. Not all rules need to be positive.
When teaching the board of the school did not like the student hand book because it was too negative. They required the faculty to revamp twenty some years of work from the negative to the positive. It did read nicer but it was not a necessary labor that summer as the rules were the same whether couched in positive terms or not and they were still negative, in that they couldn’t do the same thing as before.
We, as believers have a specific way of life to lead and the sooner we adopt it as our lifestyle the sooner we will be pleasing God to the fullest.
8. You might look at this list and wonder why Paul listed some of these qualifications. Wouldn’t some of these fit under normal Christian life? Yes, they would, but in the church we seem to have to spell out in great detail what we mean. I mentioned the college student handbook. The length of this work was due to the fact that the students loved to see just how far they could stretch any given sentence and its meaning.
When a rule was written, the faculty had to consider well what all the ways around the simple letter of the law would be, so that they could add in those comments needed to let the student know that not only is the letter of the law law, but all rationalizations and work arounds that they might come up with are also law.
Besides, these elders were coming out of paganism, in many cases, and they did not have the Christian standard as a pattern of life as they grew up. They were learning these things and putting them into practice as they learned of their new life in Christ. Titus was to look for men that had already instituted these principles into life.
There is the side note to this, that Paul had been teaching these basic principles of Christian life to the new converts. Give you any ideas of how to assist new converts in your church? How will they learn of these principles unless they are taught them? They may pick them up by reading the word, but they should be taught them early so that they know what the Christian life is like and how it is to be lived.
9. In relation to filthy lucre, Keathley comments about false gain, "With reference to the false teachers, it would mean adopting a form of teaching for the purpose of material gain." Now, just think of that for a bit - anyone teaching in the church for the purpose of material gain - I know this relates to the prosperity gospel folks that are getting rich on the backs of the poor in their congregation that hope to one day get rich also, but does it ever relate to others in the church? I suspect so. Anyone, even a pastor that is in it for the money is automatically disqualified from the position.
When I told my father I was going to Bible College, he spoke wisely from his denominational background, limited as it was by saying, "Well, there is good money in that." I was appalled at his attitude, but I fear it wasn’t too many years before I saw the same attitude in the Fundamental circles in which I was involved.
The purpose of the elder is to minister, and if money comes along, that is cream on the top of all the blessings of ministry. I have read long threads on inter-net forums where pastors were discussing at length what they were getting, or not getting from their churches, and the discussion was not all that pleasant if they weren’t satisfied.
Many had their mind made up as to what they were owed and since they were not getting it they were pressuring the board for more. In light of the fact that the Bible does not discuss a full time paid pastor, they have no grounds to stand on except the worldly system that they seem to follow.
Yes, the Word speaks to the elder being given double honor, but that does not mean a pay check in particular. I would assume, given the situation in history, that it meant honor, as in respect, not cash.
10. Keathley lists the following verses in relation to hospitality and I include them for your further study. Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Peter 4:9.
11. Again, in relation to hospitality, would it be a great kindness for a church to provide a bedroom, and bath for visiting missionaries to use during the week when traveling. It couldn’t take a lot of money to work this into your building plan. Of course if one of those believers with the huge houses with extra bedrooms and baths could volunteer to have the missionaries instead... I know of many older people that have lots of extra room in their homes. Add a private exit for them to the outside so you don’t have to have them coming through the main house if you don’t want the interruption, but hospitality is the norm for the believer, not the sometime I will do it attitude that many display today.
12. In relation to the "holding fast" to the word, I wonder what that hold fast means. Can you hold fast to something you don’t know? Can you hold fast to something you don’t hold in high regard? Can you hold fast to something you can’t defend? I don’t think so. To properly hold fast to the word you need to study it, know it, and defend it. Many elders today couldn’t defend their belief if they were asked to; much less get into a serious conversation with someone that opposed his beliefs.
We are not teaching our leaders the Word, we are not teaching our adults the Word, and we are not teaching our children the Word. If we don’t get started on this our children will never be able to "hold fast" to the Word.
In our present world where humanism is the norm for the lost segment of our society, and where lack of morals is held as the moral standard by the lost world around us, how much more important is it for us to know the Word in a way in which we can share it and its message with these that do not know of its truth.
Our country has lost its moral footing, it has decided against God, and has chosen the pleasure of the day as their guide for life. They are the field white unto harvest and we are the workers, if we would only learn enough of the Word to give them the message that we hold so dear.
I have seen the nation do a real turn around in the last few years, and the turn is near complete - totally away from God as a nation. Do you realize the implications of a nation having to legislate what marriage is? Do you realize that Sodom and Gomorrah had made homosexuality an acceptable norm for their society - and are we not in the process of doing the same. I fear the United States is seeking more than fire and brimstone, and I also fear I may see it in my lifetime - and I am an old duffer already!
6. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Barnes suggests that not accused and unruly relates to the man’s children; however Gill takes it to relate to the man. I think Gill is the better line of thought.
THE ELDER IS TO FOLLOW SOME DO’S AND DON’TS! This can’t set well to those that preach that we must live by grace, not rules. I have to wonder how they view this list of do’s and don’ts that Paul set forth.
THE ELDER MUST BE IN CONTROL OF HIS OUTWARD LIFE:
He must be blameless. Why? Because he is a steward of God. He is a steward watching over the church’s activities as well as the church’s people. You can’t be a good steward if you aren’t a right living believer!
If any be blameless = not just without blame, but unreproachable, not someone against which any can accuse of blame. In our society this will be hard as churches are not filled with totally honest, upright people. If there is a "beef" between two people it might well come to the surface as a "blame game" - these cases will be hard to sort out, but they need to be worked through.
This requires good ethics in business, in life, and in recreation. Keeping yourself clean of all accusation. This is the same Greek word that Paul used in his list of qualifications in I Timothy three.
The husband of one wife = Now until the last generation this seemed to mean one woman type man, a man that was committed to one woman for life. In recent years we have seen this redefined to include all sorts of ideas including "one woman at a time type man" thus allowing for divorced and remarried men in the position.
Since they are to be blameless and remarriage is adultery I don’t see the thinking - a person living in open sin, must never be placed in a place of leadership.
This does not mean a single person could not be an elder, though there would be a real need of wisdom in how he conducted his ministry. It does not mean that a widower, nor a widower that gets married are to be exempt from the office either.
What Paul wanted were stable men that were blameless.
Having faithful children - this requirement might bring some discussion. Are we talking about "believing" children, or children that appear to be consistent with the family’s standard and way of life?
This is a word that is related to the word that is used of faith unto salvation, so I would suggest that Paul was talking about believing children. Now, this would need to be understood as somewhat variable. A man with a two month old baby should not be barred, nor should a man that has a child that professes salvation. Unless a child has demonstrated a lack of understanding of salvation or a life that is counter to one that is a believer the father should not be removed from consideration. Nor does it bar a man that has no children.
It only refers to men that have children - these children if old enough must be believers.
A number of commentators suggest that the parent can’t make a child come to God and this is true, but it does not change this seeming requirement that Paul sets forth. These suggest only that the father is faithful in his parenting. Now, I don’t know how much of a Greek scholar Paul was but I’d guess he could have figured out how to say that, if that is what he meant. The passage relates faithful to the children not the parent. These commentators call back to the Timothy passage, but then again we are not told that these are the same lists. It is quite probably that they aren’t meant to be exactly the same. If they were to be the same couldn’t, Paul have said, "See my work on Timothy for the list that I gave him - that was tongue in cheek - that is what most modern day commentators do to their readers.
Not accused of riot = Not sure this isn’t closely related to the first qualification. The word used means riot or excess. Riot isn’t an easy thing to get involved in today, but an application might run along the lines of protests that are out of order, or maybe union strike lines that are out of control. Being involved in anything that is out of control? Well if you are into anything that seems to be causing problems for other people, then I would say you should not be involved in it.
Even anti-abortion protests might well be considered riot if they get into shouting/pushing matches with other people.
I guess it comes back to the first qualification - blameless - if you can do something without being accused of something, then you are okay.
Or unruly - this relates to anyone that is not subject to those that are over him. This might be an employer, a church leader, a government official or anyone else that the person is to be subject to.
I once heard a deacon of a church state numerous times that he WOULD NOT obey a simple traffic law (because it was a stupid law). This, in a very minor point, is being unruly.
In 2004 the wise and all consuming government of Oregon decided that all twenty miles an hour speed limits zones at schools that were in normally thirty miles an hour zones would be enforced at the twenty level twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Now, if the school zone was in a thirty five miles an hour normally zone the school zone speed of twenty miles an hour would only be enforced if the lights were flashing - normal school hours.
From my observation at least one percent of the traffic decided to obey this new law. I don’t know how many times I was nearly rear ended while slowing for the zone. The city busses seldom abided by the law. In this context, in my mind an unruly man would be one that failed to obey the new law - no matter how ludicrous it was. We are called by God to obey the government placed over us. Glad there was no prohibition to letters to the editor and to the legijesters that made the law.
If a person is not above reproach, they cannot be a proper witness to those around them. The church leader must be even more circumspect in life if he is going to represent Christ and His church in a proper manner.
THE ELDER MUST BE IN CONTROL OF HIS INWARD LIFE:
Not self-willed = I am not sure if this relates to letters to the editor about dumb laws or not - might be close. The elder must be able to control himself and his emotions. This seems to be a state of mind, in that it can have the thought of being arrogant. We all know what an arrogant person is like to deal with so we can imagine what is going on in their mind with themselves - kind of stuck on themselves so to speak.
One of the things I learned while on the faculty of the Bible Institute where I taught was that some were self willed. They were the ones that wanted their own way no matter what they had to do to get their way. The board, after we left, determined what their agenda was going to be, and changed the constitution to allow what they wanted to do - no matter if the constitution was to be changed in those areas or not - indeed, the constitution had a clause stating that it could not be changed, though they did it anyway.
I am not sure what goes on in the minds of men to give them so much self importance as to allow them to feel they are above the rules.
Not soon angry - this is simply what it says, someone that is quick to react in anger is not one that is ready for the office of elder. It does not say that anger is never present, but not soon at it. Someone that is slow to become angry would be a good way to put it.
I think the reason for this one is that if you are quick to anger you go off at most any time, while if you are slow to anger, you will probably be through the trouble before your anger surfaces. Indeed, anger is not a real productive emotion in most cases of life. Anger is not wrong in and of itself, but is wrong when it controls us, consumes our time, or is detrimental to ourselves and/or others.
I might mention that the word "not" is the same word in these verses. It is nothing special, but it does indicate "not" rather than anything else someone might rationalize into use.
I may be coming off as a little cynical, but I have seen men dance around these qualifications for years and find that the qualifications of Paul are being ignored in many cases in the church these days.
Not given to wine = I don’t think this relates to total abstinence since the Old Testament suggests giving drink in some cases, and since the New Testament is clear that we are not to be drunk - as opposed to drinking now and then.
Given to wine in our own society in America should read, DON’T DRINK, not because drink is forbidden in the New Testament, but because of your testimony before the world, because of your example to your children and your example to the church youth/children. A little drink seems impossible to the average American, we do everything up biggy time here so a little drink with our egos usually ends up being a lot drunk rather than a little drink.
If looking for an elder I would look for non-drinkers, so that the witness of the church would not be hindered. I think that, while the qualifications for elder are elsewhere listed as things ALL Christians are to do, with the exception of teach - the elder should have these qualities intact, in their lives on an ongoing basis. I also think the elder should be a cut above, as in above reproach and in most communities that does not include drink.
No striker = When I was in the Navy, I returned home for leave one time. I was out with some of my friends and found myself in an unwanted confrontation with a young man that was bent on trouble. He punched me in the face; I grabbed him by the neck and pounded his face. I left for my ship shortly after. A friend in the Marines arrived home a few days after I left. He heard from many many quarters about the sailor that had put a young punk in the hospital. My fifteen-second fight was the talk of several towns for many days. At least my first and only fight ended well - I guess - glad I wasn’t up for elder. Church leadership should not have this sort of life before the church or the community.
Defending yourself is not wrong, but walking away from disputes is always the preferable. Defense to protect oneself and family is proper. God has placed us in the position of caring for our family and this would be part of that caring.
Not given to filthy lucre - this means not desirous of base gain, not greedy of money. "Given to filthy lucre" is actually only one Greek word. This phrase kind of gives the idea that filthy lucre is okay, you just aren’t given over to it. Not quite the thought of the word. Not greedy or eager for money. You know, that wringing your hands with avarice awaiting your lotto ticket winnings.
Money is not wrong, nor is having money, but the greed, the time consuming want, the I gotta have it attitude seems to be out of place for an elder. Not too good a place for any Christian to be either. To think about money, to plan on how to gain money, to concentrate on money is just a waste of time in reality. God provides all that we have and/or need. He will supply if you are to have riches.
This is a real fly in the ointment of the prosperity gospel people that teach God wants us all rich. I heard a man on television that had bilked Christians out of millions of dollars say that God wanted to bless him, thus what he did was not wrong - that all those complainers and people trying to put him away were of the Devil trying to stop God’s work in his life.
If God wanted all people rich He would have issued pass books at the time of our salvation prayer.
THE ELDER MUST BE IN CONTROL OF HIS SPIRITUAL LIFE:
But a lover of hospitality = Now, this is one that is really missed in the church today. I was holding meetings across the western half of the United States over a five-year period. Only when attending mission conferences was I offered a place to stay. I think I could count on one hand the times I was offered housing.
I will say, though the food was fantastic and the fellowship was great when I was offered meals, which was almost all the time.
I don’t say these things to complain, as it was well with my personality and way of living at the time. However, I say it for all those missionaries that go on trips and have meetings Sundays and Wednesdays, but nothing between. Where do you expect them to hang their hats? I trust you make facilities available to them. I would guess they wouldn’t even mind air mattresses on the church floor.
Consider your hospitality to traveling believers. Consider well your hospitality to your fellow church members. There are churches where we have never been invited into another member’s home. This ought not to be. This is where we will gain the fellowship that we are to have with one another.
A lover of good men - this just has to relate to the company that we keep. When I was a teenager, my folks did not always like the company I kept. This is the Biblical basis for a parent being concerned for the company that his child keeps. This is one of the responsibilities of parenting. The teen-ager probably won’t like it, but it is the way God desires it to be.
How are your friends? Can you say that they are GOOD men? Are you assured of their good intentions toward you, your family and your God? If not, is it not time to make some changes in your friendships?
A man that has good friends, friends that do good because they are good, are the type of men you want in the office of elder. A man that generates friends and "good" for the benefit of the church.
Sober - this means of sound mind, sane in senses, self controlled in all areas, or temperate. Okay, so a flighty sort of guy won’t make the cut, a person that can’t control his feelings is not fit, and a person that struggles to control his feelings/emotions should not serve as elder.
The "leaders" of the church must be stable individuals that can lead the rest of the flock to calm pastures when the need arises. When trouble strikes, one that does not control himself will assist in the congregation loosing control.
I was asked to interim pastor a church years ago in which their founding and long time pastor had just resigned. The congregation was in a minor panic as to whether the church would even survive or not. A few weeks after I started, I was introduced by one of the leader’s wives to another couple as the man that saved their church. My how ego inflating that could have been, but I knew I had done nothing but come on Sunday mornings to speak and met with a couple of prayer groups once a week.
All that I could supply was some stability. The board took over and found me to do the speaking, they had split up most of the pastoral duties among themselves and they found someone to fill the pulpit on a regular basis. This "saved the church" in the woman’s eyes. Adding a stabilizing presence in my own eyes. Stability is key in a strong church life.
Many years ago I did a dissertation on church change. I researched and dug and scrapped for all sorts of ideas as to how you can bring about church change. I found that there were only two real principles that needed to be followed. Preach the Word on a regular basis, and communicate as much as possible with the congregation. These two simple rules will bring good stability in most church change - as long as the change is of sensible principle.
Just = One of the many usages in the Lexicon that I really like is "wholly conformed to the will of God" - now that is rather a stiff standard, but it is the standard set by God via Paul’s letter. God wants - ONLY - righteous, or holy men of God leading His people.
Simple - why would he want someone living in sin leading His people into sin? He would not! He wants holy men leading the rest to holiness of life. Sorry, if I don’t think this is true in many churches today. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the subject to most church goers today.
Holy - this seems to compliment what I have just said about "just."
Just is the action end of holiness, you might say, when I am just I am doing all that is required of me and not doing any of what I am not supposed to do.
Holy is the result of this just action. Because I am just, I will be holy - without sin - free from sin. Just would be the keeping straight while holy would be the resulting state of being. The two will go together, for you can’t be just and not be holy, nor can you be holy if you aren’t just.
Temperate - this word indicates we are to be in total control of ourselves. It is control over one’s being, one’s mind, and one’s actions. Now, that relates well to the drink issue. They are finding that it takes very little drink to start affecting your driving. When you are affected in your driving you are not in total control.
One of the aspects of this word is "mastering" your being. I’d guess this might relate to all sorts of appetites and habits that we find so easy to pick up now and then. I could list smoking, over eating, over exercising, over indulgent in television, addiction to pornography, alcoholism and probably many more.
God wants men that control themselves in leadership so that they can assist in controlling the church properly.
THE ELDER MUST BE IN CONTROL OF HIS PREACHING LIFE:
Verse nine sets the standard for the elder’s preaching life. "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
I have labeled this "preaching life" which may be a little strong as we understand preaching today. This is not the public pulpit ministry, though that would be good for ALL elders, but it relates to any of his interactions with congregation or outsider. These are essentials for him.
To follow up my comment on all elders preaching publicly, I spoke with a pastor that was considering leaving the church he had founded and pastored over many years to plant another church. I asked him jokingly how his board felt about it. He laughed and said "Oh, they wouldn’t care one bit, they all can preach and they would just fill in the hole." He had discipled his men in such a way that they all were capable preachers, in fact they often filled pulpits for area pastors when that needed to go on vacation or to meetings etc.
Holding fast - this is a broad word but very specific in content - it means to cling to, cleave to, keep oneself directly opposite of another, hold, retain, withstand and endure. We might get the picture that elders are supposed to be the sticky note of all sticky notes. The elder is supposed to be the super glue that holds the steel worker to the girder. The elder is supposed to be the aerodynamic design that glues the race car to the track.
Why? The direct context is what they have been taught and hold to sound doctrine. If we don’t hold to the sound doctrine as a leader, then the congregation will not see the importance of it either.
I had a professor in Bible College that was strongly against divorce/remarriage - well for a number of years - until he met a pretty lady that his self control failed him on - he suddenly found Biblical basis for divorce and remarriage. Not to be surprised, many of his congregation soon followed in his footsteps into sin. The pastor left sound doctrine and what an example he set for his congregation.
The elder is to hold fast the "faithful word" - THE WORD OF GOD is to be adhered to, not rationalized away. God gave the Word to be our guide not our multiple choice guide to life.
Hath been taught - this is the Greek word "didache" which means "that which is taught." To the church history student the word has a strong meaning. There was an early church document set forth called the "Didache" which spelled out some strong principles of life that were surely to be followed. It was a very strong statement of living for the day.
The leaders of that early church wanted to teach their people how to pattern their life.
Sound doctrine - this should be split into two sections. "Sound" is actually a verb meaning "be sound" or "be wholesome" or be "of good health," thus the elder is to live their doctrine. They are to teach their proper doctrine.
Doctrine is the normal word for teaching or "that which is taught." Might we say LIVE WHAT YOU PREACH? I think that is a good turn of the phrase. This "sound" is also a present tense so it means that you are supposed to ALWAYS LIVE WHAT YOU PREACH.
Exhort - this is a word that is related to the word "paraklete" which is used of the Holy Spirit. It relates to comfort, admonish, and exhort another. The idea of the Holy Spirit is someone that is called along side - as to assist.
In the area of doctrine it would relate to using the Word to encourage, or comfort one that has a need and that has come to you for assistance. It might relate to sorrow, or sin or whatever someone might need.
Convince - this word has more the definition that we usually relate to exhort. It means to convince, rebuke, reprove etc. It is using the Word to show that there is something wrong in another’s life. This can be done from the pulpit or the Sunday school lectern or on an individual basis.
Gainsayers - this is an interesting term. It is actually a verb in the present tense. The word has the idea of gainsay, set one self against another, to disobey, to speak against, or contradict. It is translated "shall be spoken against" in Luke 2:34. In our text it would be that the elder is to be able to exhort and convince those that are actively speaking against - the Word would be the assumption or at least speaking against the Christian way.
The Net Bible translates it as follows: "He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it." I think there may be a little interpretation included here with the translation, but it gives the thought of the verse.
Week 3: Titus 1:10-16 THE PROBLEM
Why have all these qualifications? Because of the following series of cultural/social characteristics evident in the area of the church.
Take a moment and describe your own neighborhood. Make a list of qualities of the people that are around your area. I will just list some of mine so you have an idea. Drug dealers, drug addicts, homeless people, multiple families living in one house, robbers, crass, slobby, garbage collectors, sloppy, loud, obnoxious and generally self centered to the point that no one around them matters in any way. I think you get the point.
Now, as in Paul’s day there are people in my neighborhood that are quiet, upright, honest, hard working, trustworthy and all those good traits. The key is getting these qualities into church leadership rather than those that will cause harm to the church.
Paul moves on from the qualifications for leaders to the why, the reason that strong leadership is needed. He describes the Cretans from what he knows of them, most likely his first hand experience while out planting churches.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
1. In verse twelve Paul uses one of the good methods of argument. If you can make the opposition prove that it is wrong, then you have the strongest argument available. Years ago in college we had a physical science professor that had assembled a vast number of quotes from evolutionists that proved evolution incorrect. Their comments told of the many gaps and holes in their own theories, to the point that few should be able to believe in a system that is so weakly constructed.
The thought of liars is not unique to the Cretans. The American scene is quite similar. I question almost everyone I have dealings with today, be they Christians or lost people. I have had as many Christians lie to me as lost people. Lying is a standard of practice in our country today. I would like to take time to illustrate and prove this for you.
A study of high school students in the US in 1992 revealed that almost all had cheated or lied in some area of life. One of the questions on the questionnaire was to find out if they had lied on the questionnaire, and most of the students stated that they had.
Today we have internet businesses that serve College and high school instructors. The teacher can submit a copy of a research paper from a student and see if the student has plagiarized. Many to most students today go to the internet and find someone else’s work and submit it as their own for a grade. This is not an uncommon thing, it is the norm.
A Sunday school teacher asked his all believer teen class if there were any areas of life where it was all right to lie. They came up with five areas where it was okay to lie. I don’t remember the five points, but remember thinking at the time that those five points cover any area or situation of life, and these kids thought it okay to lie.
When Christians lie, we place ourselves on the Devil’s turf. We are using his tactics according to John 8:44.
2. In verse thirteen we saw the sharp rebuke to keep someone on track Biblically. It is not wrong, indeed, if more people would do it there would be fewer problems in the church. When the board of a Bible Institute in the Midwest began to be less conservative than the faculty, the board created a situation where the entire faculty was forced by their conscience to resign. To my knowledge very few, if any raised a voice of opposition. There were a few of the students that took a stand and I wrote a letter of protest. To my knowledge there was little done to confront the board with their wrong action. The alumni did not raise protest, nor did the supporters. One mission organization that the school belonged to did remove the school from their organization. The board continued on and changed the constitution which had a clause that stated the constitution could not be changed.
Rebuke those that you know are going away from the Biblical position! You may receive flack at the present, but when all is done you will have been in the right and God will know of your action.
3. In verse fourteen we see the Jewish fables and commandments of men. Again we are right where the cults of our day are at. The man in charge begins to set his own thought as the commands of God and you automatically have trouble. Some of these men have built harems, while commanding no marriage for the rest of their people. Suicide is a commandment of man and NOT OF GOD!
4. Many are the pastor and people that have told me over the years that I am "negative" and I have responded to each of them that I teach the Word of God and some of it is totally negative. This passage is one of the reasons a pastor/teacher should be negative. Paul is negative, why in the world should we put a positive spin on something that he meant to be negative? It isn’t Paul alone; we are dealing with God the Holy Spirit and His inspiration. How dare we attempt to make something negative into a positive. Had God wanted positivity, He was capable of communicating that to Paul.
Yes, Paul’s comments don’t fit well into our politically correct society, but then neither does the outward sin that surrounds us. We ought not to stand still for the overt worldliness that surrounds us. We should at least attempt to keep our children and young people out of it - well for that matter keep ourselves out of it.
I do not understand how Christians can have the filth that they do in their homes in the television, nor the total violence of some of the computer games. We are to be citizens of Heaven, not of this world; we should be attuned to Him and His things not the Devil and his ways/things. Believers subject themselves and their children to some of the vilest language imaginable in the name of entertainment. I’d call it indoctrination into the ways of the world.
Negative? Me? Yep!
5. In verse fifteen we saw that "defiled" was a perfect tense and that it had the idea of polluted by something. I would be remiss to not draw the implications of this verse to your attention. We, as lost people were polluted by sin. We were impure because of this pollution. We were also not believing as those mentioned in the verse.
Not only were we not believers in God, in Christ, nor in Christ’s work on the cross, we were polluted. We had a double whammy upon us. We were polluted by the sin nature passed down to us by Adam. We also failed to believe God and His Word.
There are two items here to be overcome. The pollution and the unbelief. When the person is confronted with the Gospel there are some things that need to be done. We need to turn from our doubt to belief in God. This is imperative. When this happens all that is needed to straighten our beings out before God is done. We are given a new nature, we are loosed from the sin nature of Adam, and we are set in motion as pure agents of God.
This suggests very strongly that ALL believers should consider all things pure. Not just the leaders, not just some, but all believers should see purity as the standard.
I would also be remiss to not point out that the perfect tense that Paul used might well point out the fact that their condition is permanent and unchangeable. There are two sides to the passage. The lost or non-believer is unchangeable, but those of us that were lost but now are saved were changeable. We however were just as the lost in our lost condition.
Yes, this passage may well picture election and some of its ramifications.
6. The passage relating to the professor really tugs at my heart - imagine the shock, the sorrow and the loss that these will feel at the judgment when they are declared hell bound. Thinking that they were right with God, trusting that they had done what was right, and thinking that they KNEW Him.
Oh, so many are in the proverbial boat. I am reminded of Michelangelo’s work on the judgment - there is a portion where the ferryman is beating the lost off the boat to the shore of hell. The expressions on the faces of lost men must give some indication of the thoughts of those that were so sure, yet were so wrong.
Oh, is not the urge to witness to some of those folks around you not growing. Some of those self-righteous souls that know they are heaven bound, yet that are really bound for hell’s shore.
Not only might this relate to the professing Christian, but to anyone that professes knowing God. It would include the Mormon, the Jehovah Witness, the Muslim and those working their way to heaven.
I especially am reminded of the Muslim. Many of those in the cults have rejected God in His truth, to accept their false God, but the Muslim believes most certainly that the God of Abraham is the God that he follows. He has a sure belief in the God that he has been following, yet he does not believe in the Messiah that can save. He is lost and does not know it.
I trust the truths of this passage sink into your minds and bring about some changes therein.
7. Verse fifteen states "but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving [is] nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."
What a condemnation. Paul was certainly putting a positive spin on these folks wasn’t he? Well, this is the state of man without God, it is the state of man just after Adam sinned and it will be the state of natural man until he ceases to exist at the coming of the end.
Only Christ can make a change in this and that is the message that we have to give, that is the message we have been commanded to give, and it is the message that we ought to be giving.
This answers the question many asked in the early 2000’s, just how can religious men - Muslims believe in God and yet hack off the head of an innocent man? They are by God’s estimation "defiled" and their conscience is "defiled" which makes them lost in their own minds - nothing God has set forth in His word has any meaning to them. They follow a false God, they follow a false book and they follow a false sense of righteousness.
I would be quick to suggest that the use of the Muslim here is for illustrative purposes only - they are in the news - it is their holy war that we hear about. We could just as well insert the term "Christian" in the above paragraph because many professing Christians have lopped off heads in the name of the Lord. The name we give these people is not relevant, the key is that they are lost and reprobate and we need to change that status via the Gospel if possible, otherwise we should avoid them and maintain our purity before the Lord.
8. Let’s consider "vain talkers" for a moment. Just how might this apply to our own day?
Barnes suggests that these are those that are quick to speak of their spirituality and can always give reason for their beliefs, but fail to put shoe leather to their faith. They seldom get to the mechanics of living the spiritual life. They seem on the surface to be spiritual, but underneath are void of good works.
Another breed, in my mind, would be those that give super credence to knowing big names and those that go to the big seminars and conferences. They speak as though they have been in the presence of the angels at times. One pastor after returning from a conference began to talk about the main, big name, speaker and started to use his full name, then interrupted himself and said, "Well, I’ve met him now so I can call him ____ ." inserting the speakers’ first name.
I have to wonder if gossip wouldn’t fit into this category as well. The idle prating of people about others and their problems, often called prayer requests, might also be included in the "vain" area.
James 1:26 mentions: "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain." I might suggest this verse may relate to the comment about the prayer requests. Thinking one self spiritual and speaking of things he ought not, "deceiveth his own heart" - in short he thinks he is doing well before God, but in reality he is failing miserably.
I’m not sure Gill was clear in his statement concerning vain talkers, "who deliver out in their discourses empty, trifling, superficial, and frivolous things; which have no solidity and substance in them, nor do they tend to edification; only great swelling words of vanity, vain jangling and babbling about things to no profit." I think he was super clear, in fact I’d say crystal clear.
9. This idea of stopping the mouths - just how do we go about that in the church today. First off, be sure your constitution has a clause in it that any member of the church is willing and will abide by church discipline. Then proceed with the Matthew eighteen formula; go in person, go with witnesses, if these don’t work take them before the church. Now, the key to this is to be sure you aren’t involved in the same sort of prating and chatter. Be sure that you are on solid ground as to the one you wish to accuse. Be sure you have a good Biblical basis for your comments.
Now and then you may need to stifle someone in a service or class. There are some that love to attempt to confuse and twist the track of the class session. If they become disruptive, you need to somehow stop it with as much love as you can, but abruptness may be the need.
There might be application in this for the family. One of the spouses might get off track spiritually and start to mislead the children. If this happens, the spiritual spouse needs to somehow stop what is going on. This will be a very touchy subject but should be taken up for the benefit of the family.
Barnes mentions Matthew 23:14 in this context "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation." Wow, I’ll bet they called him negative in his own day!
Barnes goes on with his gentle, loving, laid back approach (NOT!) "The word is used here in the sense of severity, meaning that the reproof should be such as would be understood, and would show them plainly the wickedness of such traits of character, he was not to be mealy-mouthed, but he was to call things by their right names, and not to spare their faults. When men know that they are doing wrong, we should tell them so in few words; if they do not know it, it is necessary to teach them, in order to convince them of their error."
10. The fact that Paul knew of the writings of the Cretans is of note to me. He had somewhere come into knowledge of one of the writers of the local people. He had tucked away that information for future use.
It behooves the preacher of today to know those that he would reach. Know of their background, know of their writers, and know of their leaders. This will allow you to know the people themselves, for the aforementioned items often mold those that live in that surrounding.
This will take some time - time to read, time to hear from those you want to reach, and time to think about what you read and hear to bring it to proper usage.
Just a minor example, my wife is taking community college courses. I sit in the common area to study while she is in class. I hear students talk so I gain knowledge of their mindsets, I see literature on the tables so I can know some of the goings on around campus, and I read the school literature/papers left laying around so I can know of the atmosphere that the students are in. This information may or may not come into play in my interactions with students, but it is valuable to know where they are coming from before I try to tell them where they are going if they don’t change their ways.
11. The thought that the Cretans were all liars, is of interest. This was their very nature; indeed it was true of all pagans of the time, but truer of the Cretans. Not unlike our own day in America. You never know if someone is telling you the truth, nor do most of them care if you know they aren’t telling you the truth. Verbiage is the important thing, not truth.
Even among Christians one wonders when talking to people if they are being honest and truthful. We have already seen application to the "vain talkers" idea among Christians and this is what we are talking about. Just how honest are we with one another.
A very minor application is your answer to the normal question "How are you today." Are you honest in your answer? I often wonder if anyone cares how you are, as many times I am honest and up front about how I am and there is no response - just a change of subject. This may be why many of us are less than honest - nobody really cares how we are.
12. Barnes pulled no punches when speaking of the stomach issue. "Slow bellies. Mere gormandizers. Two vices seem here to be attributed to them, which indeed commonly go together--gluttony and sloth. An industrious man will not be likely to be a gormandizer, and a gormandizer will not often be an industrious man. The mind of the poet, in this, seems to have conceived of them first as an indolent, worthless people; and then immediately to have recurred to the cause--that they were a race of gluttons: a people whose only concern was the stomach." The term "gormandizer" that Barnes uses means "A greedy voracious eater." according to Webster.
The idea of slothfulness might be something we might consider. Just what is slothfulness? Webster says of slothful "a. Inactive; sluggish; lazy; indolent; idle. He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster. Proverbs 18:1-24." One definition related that slothfulness led to sleep.
There is a proverb that speaks of the sloth and his bed. I told one of my classes that I always wondered if I were a sloth, as I felt like the sloth in the proverb, but that when I read the next verse I knew that I wasn’t a sloth. Proverbs 26:14 " [As] the door turneth upon its hinges, So doth the sluggard upon his bed. 15 The sluggard burieth his hand in the dish; It wearieth him to bring it again to his mouth." I always am ready and able to eat.
I sometimes wonder about the full time paid pastor and his activities. I have known some that are involved in very small churches that have very little going on. Some of them have only one service to prepare for and they have little if any calling to do. Just where is their time spent? A pastor in this situation should never take advantage of the situation to slothfulness. Missionaries may well be tempted to the same problem. They often have no one looking after their activities and it is easy when thousands of miles from their supporters to just linger along with little effort.
Acts 17:27 ff speaks of us being God’s offspring. This should be in our minds as we are being stewards of our Lord’s time and effort - how are we living our lives before Him? Are we being good stewards of the time He has given us or are we being slothful? An evaluation is encouraged.
13. Relating to things pure, consider Romans 14:14; Romans 14:20 "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that [there is] nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him [it is] unclean. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed [are] pure; but [it is] evil for that man who eateth with offence."
This does not mean that all we can think of to do is going to be considered pure - definitely not. Let’s consider just what this phrase means. Barnes relates this to foods and the prohibitions of the Jews versus the freedom of the believer to eat all things. I am not sure this is the meaning, in that Paul could have articulated that much better if it were the case.
If my thinking on the corruptness of the lost is true, and that they are judged according to their works, this may relate to what the pure phrase is speaking of - possibly all the pure things the saved do are credited to their account. We know we all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to have our works judged.
Though this truth is Biblical, I don’t think that this is the case here in Titus. I suspect that Paul is just declaring that the spiritual see things correctly while the lost are completely otherwise.
Life Application Bible states of this verse "Some people see good all around them, while others see nothing but evil. What is the difference? Our souls become filters through which we perceive goodness or evil. The pure (those who have Christ in control of their lives) learn to see goodness and purity even in this evil world. But corrupt and unbelieving people find evil in everything because their evil minds and hearts color even the good they see and hear. Whatever you choose to fill your mind with will affect the way you think and act." I feel this is a little simplistic but may have some validity by way of application.
Matthew 15:10-11 "And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of themouth, this defileth a man." is suggested by some as what Paul is speaking of - we as believers know this, but the lost do not understand this truth. (Romans 14:14-20 Titus 1:16 are suggested as relating also.) See also 1 John 2:4 "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."
It seems best to tie this statement to the context of verses fifteen and sixteen - good works. The pure are involved in all good works while the defiled can do no good works. The pure stand in stark contrast to the lost. They are totally opposite in life, in eternal status, and in standing with God. There could be no further distinction between them than exact opposite.
This extends to all parts of life, physical, mental and spiritual. The pure see all they do as pure, while ... we know the rest.
14. Relating to the lost and their corruptness, Barnes feels that not only is this their condition, but that all their evil is adding to their corruptness. This is a truth that we don’t hear often. The Bible states that the lost will be judged according to their works. Revelation 20:12 is very clear on this. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Not that they aren’t all lost, but that there is some system of punishment that is based on their works. Some will have a greater condemnation than others. How this will work out in reality we aren’t told, but the fact is that it will be worked out in God’s way in God’s time.
Every sin that they commit will be on their account. They will be sorrowful for every single indifference, every single breaking of God’s laws, and every single abuse of God’s people. What a terrible thought this should be to the lost as well as to the believer.
15. In verse eleven Keathley suggests that "families" may refer to the degradation of the family unit. That the false teachers were teaching false doctrine that was hindering proper family life. He suggests that the second chapter may indicate this, in that, Paul began to lay out some principles of personal relationships. This may be true. At any rate families were being adversely affected and the process needed to stop.
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
"Unruly" is a good translation of this word, it relates to not being subject to the authority. This could mean to school authority, parental authority, employer authority, legal authority or Spiritual authority.
They are people that will need strong leadership because they don’t naturally want to follow or be under anyone else.
The term translated "vain talkers" speaks to worthless or useless talk. Someone that engages mouth with or without brain being engaged. Someone that verbalizes their rambling thought life. I don’t know that the word carries this thought or not but since it is translated vain talkers, I have to wonder if part of it isn’t the thought of their self-important verbalizations, that they think everyone in the world needs to hear. You may have run into someone like this, they verbalize their every thought for all to hear - they seem to feel that the whole world needs to know of their every thought due to its being very very important.
The "deceiver" is one that plays with another’s mind to bring to deception. Now, that could include some car salesmen I have met over the years. It could relate to the convincing of someone that false doctrine is correct. Anyone that is trying to convince someone of something that is not true.
Well, that most likely includes the lie. We will see this later as "liar" is one of the terms used in a later verse.
Again, we see the need for strong and moral leadership in the churches. New converts that are normally liars and deceivers are going to be coming to the church and they will be an influence upon the other believers. Leaders will have to be on their toes to curtail these people and their activities.
Paul even goes so far as to specify that a particular group is the worst offender and these are - those of the circumcision. He undoubtedly is referring to Jews that were living on Crete. He knew them for what they were - he knew their lifestyle and their way of life, he knew their very character and it was not good.
How disheartening it must have been for Paul, a Jew by birth, a Jew by training to have to say such things about his people, about people he may have worked within his earlier years, people that should have known better - these people were raised to honor the Old Testament, but he knew them to be living as pagans from the sound of his evaluation.
We have an interesting phrase here. The word translated "mouth" and the word translated "be stopped" are the same Greek word. The term has the idea of muzzling an animal that is out of control if you want a great word picture. The use of the term indicates, "you must bridle the mouth of those that have their mouths bridled. As if they can cause trouble even if they are muzzled - people that REALLY MUST BE STOPPED FROM SPEAKING THEIR LIES. The term for "must" is a strong word indicating it really needs to be done.
The next phrase "subvert whole houses" is also very strongly put. The "whole" has the idea of "every whit" or every portion, every little bit of, while the term "houses" can be translated household. These people can "subvert" or destroy complete households if left unchecked.
As the Gospel can completely revolutionize an entire household, so can false doctrine do the same thing. The why of this might be important to consider for a moment.
If a parent is convinced of something, they are obviously going to attempt to turn the entire family to that view point because they know it is true. My wife ran into a woman that didn’t believe in "proselytizing" so I told my wife to tell her that if she really believes that she has the truth, and that those that do not are going to spend eternity in hell, then isn’t it our moral obligation to tell them of what we believe.
It is quite like seeing a house on fire. You know that the people inside are going to die if they aren’t warned, thus it is your moral obligation to yell fire, call the fire department and assist the people in any way possible. To do less would show you as uncaring, inhuman and probably in legal trouble for not assisting, thus if we have the way to heaven and we fail to give that information to others we are spiritually corrupt - in my mind at least.
So, one that is convinced of some false doctrine, will enter into great efforts to convince the entire family of the same.
Now, if that isn’t a basis for a pastor using his pulpit and lectern to warn his people of false teaching and false teachers, and false philosophies, I don’t know what it is. Many pastors don’t want to be negative; they feel that if you give the truth, they will recognize the false when it comes along. This is true, but don’t count on it. Many mainline Christians are now Mormons due to the fact that they didn’t see the lie to be false, but accepted it as truth.
More than one Christian young person has been engulfed in cults due to their lack of teaching/warnings in Sunday school, church and youth group meetings. WE MUST WARN, WE MUST TEACH, AND WE MUST TRY TO PROTECT or we are not doing our people right.
These deceivers are teaching what they ought not; they are talking to people and trying to convince them of the validity of their falsehood.
On the one hand this must be frustrating to the deceiver - to have to try to convince someone that falsehood is truth. It should be much easier to show truth to be truth - well it should be, but it seems in today’s society truth is the negative, and false is the norm. To convince otherwise, you must over come all that society sets forth as good. The false, in America, is becoming "truth" all too quickly. The Democratic Party has been spewing forth falsehood as if it was truth and no one in the media has called them on it. I rather suspect that Republicans have done some of the same, but I have not seen it done with the viciousness and ranker of the Democrats.
Guess that is one reason I am proud to be an independent, I only wish we had a candidate.
Paul says that they "ought not" teach these things. "Ought" is a word that indicates something that must be done, it is right to do it, while the word "not" is the flat out DON’T DO IT - the thought being you absolutely should not do it. Even though they think it a must, they should not be doing it.
We see the motivation for these people - money. They teach their false doctrine for gain. How terrible to deceive to make a living. Yet, many today do just this. This is certainly in the negative, in the area of false teaching, but I think there is strong warning in it for those that are in the business of teaching Godly principles - don’t teach for gain, teach because it is right and proper with no thought to gain. If gain comes along, that is fine, but that should never be the basis for your ministry.
Some suggest that "I have a family to think of." Okay, think of them, get a job and support them while ministering. If God wants you out of that job then he will provide income from the congregation, but don’t EVER minister for money, minister because you want to serve God. You have the truth directly from God, which should be the only incentive that you need. It is your moral obligation to share truth with those that need it. How dare we put the giving of truth subject to the financial gain we might need or desire.
Most of the modern day cults fit into these verses. They are headed up by men that are in it for the money and the glory. They have little concern for their people which is seen in the immorality, poor feeding, long hours etc. that they subject their followers to.
So, pastor how does your congregation sound now? This is quite a bunch of people and Paul isn’t even done yet. The list just keeps going on.
One of themselves, [even] a prophet of their own, said, The Cretans [are] alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Paul quotes one of their own prophets to condemn them. He isn’t just being mean spirited, he is just telling it like it is - they are liars. Gill and others name the prophet as "Epimenides" (a prophet and poet from about six hundred years earlier) and reports that the Cretans believed him to be inspired. Thus an inspired prophet of their own calls them all liars - guess Paul would be safe in calling them the same. Both Barnes and Gill relate the liar idea to the fact that the Cretans told the world the God Jupiter was buried among them, which was widely held to be a lie among the pagans of the world. See Gill for more on this if you are interested.
They don’t lie for advantage, they lie all the time. Not unlike many in America. Many lie whether the lie is needed or not, they just say what comes to mind. The truth often would be better, but a lie is quicker to some in our society.
Not only are they always liars, they are always evil beasts. The word is translated properly - a beast. Evidently they were ready to pounce on another at any time to produce evil for the person.
Slow bellies could be translated slow lumbering fat people. The word bellies can relate to someone that is morbidly overweight and we know how slow some of those unfortunate folks are.
Bellies can be used of one that is all belly - this is so very descriptive - one must wonder how Paul would describe our own society. We are fast trying to out do the Cretans in the weight department.
Remember this is their own prophet’s accounting of his people not Paul’s. Paul was just making his case to Titus. In the next verse he tells Titus that it is the truth, thus sticking his foot into his mouth for sure if the Cretans were anything like the United States. (I don’t think for a minute they were :-) In the present day America we can’t call people slow bellies; it would be so terribly unkind and out of character for a good American. We would call them "gravity challenged" but never slow bellies.
I am not one to talk to loudly, but I have to wonder if the overweight preachers of our country haven’t given some sense of over eating being okay. Not to suggest that our attitude in some circles about pot lucks might not be at fault. We tend to raise the praises of pot lucks a little too much for healthy living.
The direct context might suggest that Paul is speaking to the spiritual overweight. I think that the terms used indicate the prophet was speaking to the eating habits, while Paul may have been turning the phrase to mean that they are overweight and out of control on their foolish doctrine.
Paul tells Titus to rebuke them sharply that they would be sound in faith - wow - rebuke and do it sharply! Paul seems to be on a bit of a serious bent here. Rebuke them sharply, abruptly, and give them a really loud wake up call. Rebuke has a little thought of shame to the one rebuked, because of his error and his need for rebuke. This rebuke is meant to bring about conviction and change of life.
Now, Paul seems to contradict the current thinking about sin. We don’t confront people, but if we have to we do it with great love so that we don’t hurt their feelings. Nope, that is not the thought of the text. Indeed, that philosophy is why so many believers live in sin today. They know that no one will rebuke them so why worry about it.
Now, if they knew the pastor or one of the elders was going to come to them and "rebuke sharply" I’d guess the outward sin in the church would be immediately curtailed, or the numbers in the church would drop dramatically. Ooops, maybe we just hit upon another reason why "rebuke sharply" isn’t a normal way of life in the church today.
The reason for this rebuke is so that they will be sound in the faith. They will know truth and live within truth rather than living in a lie called comfort zone.
Again, this sound faith gives rise to the need of the person knowing what sound faith is, how to assure themselves that they are living soundly, and if they aren’t, how to bring themselves to be living correctly. Again, Paul hits the negative side of the question - this idea of not giving time to the false and the untruthful. Concentrate on the faith, not the falsehood that surrounds you might be the line of thought.
I know of many that are sound in faith, but they toy with the false of our society. They tinker with what they know to be untrue; they listen to the television spokes people that have been proven to be false teachers, even if they have some good to them. This is how we get ourselves into trouble folks. There is no way you can listen to Charismatic preachers and guests on television all week and not have it affect your Christian life, your Christian belief, and your Christian witness.
We have people that enjoy reading the liberal writers of our own day as well as the past. They enjoy toying with the false teaching of these men, and don’t realize that it most likely is affecting their own thinking and belief system.
Giving heed seems to have the thought of giving touch to, bringing a ship to land, of giving attention to something. He speaks directly to the Jewish fables, commandments of men that turn from the truth. Indeed, anything you give ear or mind to that turns you from the truth of the Word is to be rebuked sharply. Not only are you increasing risk to yourself, but to your spouse, to your children and their children. You are not alone in life; you have a responsibility to all around you to keep yourself from that falsehood of the world. The truth is to be our master and our life.
If you remember in 2 Timothy 1:15 some had turned away from the apostle, this is the same word, a turning from one thing to another. In both cases we see a turning from truth to that which is false. See also 1 Timothy 1:3 for a very similar passage. "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]."
Unto the pure all things [are] pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving [is] nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
The two words translated "pure" are the same word, it simply means pure or can mean purified by fire. The thought is of something that is without blemish - those that are pure see all things as pure. The "[are]" is actually a word that means indeed or verily. The pure see all things indeed as pure - a little surety in their thought might be the suggestion.
What does this mean is the next problem. What is Paul getting at? He has just blasted the Cretans and false doctrine and he switches completely and talks of the pure people seeing all things as pure.
The next part of the verse gives reason for his comment. He is contrasting what should be true of believers, with those outside the faith. To the non-believer nothing is viewed as pure. I think this is quite evident in the 2004 presidential campaign. Nothing has been off limits to the advertising and the spinners. They will attach anything in any way they want whether there is truth in what they say or not. The evil bent of some of these people is evident. Comparing the Bush administration to Hitler - how much stupidity are we to accept folks?
I have seen staunch Democrats that are disgusted with their own party for the way they have acted this time around.
Relating to "defiled" have you ever inadvertently put a new red shirt in with some white clothes? The result is usually a red shirt and as many pink items as there were white. This is the thought of this word "defiled." It is something that has been stained, ruined by a pollutant. Like the white clothes, the defiled is a permanent case. The term "defiled" is a verb and it is in the perfect tense which means it is defiled permanently.
We will see the implications of this in the application section. Suffice it to say these defiled ones will not be changing nor will their attitude toward the purity of things.
To the non-believer, nothing is pure. Let’s consider what Paul is speaking of. The pure, see all things pure, while the non-believer sees nothing as pure. What are the things that Paul is speaking about?
The following verse mentions works and belief system. The previous context was related to false doctrine, so I would assume that Paul is talking about beliefs, or doctrine or belief system. There is nothing pure in the way of belief to the lost, while the pure should see all Biblical doctrine as pure.
The verse goes on to say that the condition of the lost is "even their mind and conscience is defiled." Not a pretty picture. This pictures well the pollution that we have already mentioned. The sin nature from Adam polluted every part of us and something drastic needs to be done to remedy that condition.
The mind is that which stores our knowledge and our memory, it is that part of us that allows us to think and to consider and to choose. The conscience is that part that allows us the moral choices, between right and wrong.
Some would suggest that the person that is lost is totally corrupt, that their moral choice is limited to wrong only. I would suggest you consider this before you buy into this line of thinking that leads to a whole bunch of other doctrines that may not be Biblical. Have you not seen some people that choose to do right now and then? Do not some lost people live morally upright lives? I think you would have to answer yes to both.
The conscience is "polluted," but it can make proper choices some of the time if it wants. Back to the pink shirt - it is still a shirt, even though it is polluted with the dye of pink.
The word "defiled" here is the same word as we discussed earlier, and it too is in the perfect tense.
"They" would relate back to the Jewish people in my mind. They profess to know God, but by their works they deny Him.
The knowing of Him is in the perfect tense. They are even, it seems, trusting in him, but they deny Him in reality. How sad, to think you intimately know God but in fact do not know Him at all and by your works are denying Him.
Ouch! And if that isn’t a distinct possibility in the church today - well anyway I will let you contemplate that one on your own.
They make profession, they declare they know Him intimately, yet by their lives deny His existence. The professing Christian in a nut shell. Pastor, beware of these folks. Remember what Paul has said of them. They view nothing as pure - their works will be empty to defiled. Do you not want to assist them to remedy their lives, or if not that help them to move on out of your congregation - after all they are wolves in sheep’s clothing!
By his works or by his life the person denies God. A person knowing God would live like a child of the king rather than a brother of the pigs in the pen. Not only are they denying God but they are abominable and disobedient - not qualities of an obedient son of God.
The American Standard Bible translates the phrase "unto every good work reprobate." as unfit for any good deed. It seems that they are not available for good works. They are not usually involved in good works, and they seem to be unable to do good works.
Verse sixteen may be the key to a question that plagues people in our day. Let me illustrate the person for you, by telling you of a person that I once met. He told me that he was a believer; he told me that he knew the Lord, but in his life, he drank, smoked, and swore like a sailor. No offence to the Navy - just the way he was. He would stand around telling dirty jokes after work and make fun of the ministry and ministers. When talking to me the language was quite a little better and he seldom drank in front of me.
I have no idea if he was a believer or not, but based on this verse, I have the Biblical right and responsibility to question him about the reality of his salvation. He professed, but his works seemed to be reprobate or worthless for God. He did some good things for people outside of our work place, but the majority of the time he was living like a reprobate - lost person rather than a child of the King.
When wondering if a person is a Christian you need to understand several things, including their testimony and their living. If they have a good testimony of salvation, but live a life of a pagan, you may question their salvation. Not judge them, but question, beware of them and their testimony. God will be the Judge, but we need to evaluate people now and then. There is the possibility that the person is saved and has not started to grow. Others may have grown but just gotten away from holy living.
It is our place to exhort those that say they are believers and challenge them to good living lest they disgrace God.
Gill says of "knowing God" "That there is a God; that there is but one, only, true, and living God, the God of Israel, as professed by the Jews; and that this God is Father, Son, and Spirit, as believed by the Christians:" I’m not quite sure we can go quite that far from the text even though it might well be true. Since these seem to be Judaizers it might be true, but the way Paul speaks of them I rather doubt that they are even saved (verse fifteen especially).
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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Titus 1". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany