Titus 1

Titus 1 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

            There are a number of ways to look at the divisions or sections of this chapter.  In his commentary, Kent Hughes’ prefers the follow: 1-10 Crosscurrents of Conduct; 1:10-16 The Place of our Conduct.  George W. Knight III’s commentary prefers: 1:1-4 Salutation; 1:5-9 Qualifications for Elders; 1:10-16 Titus’ and the Elders’ Duty in Regard to False Teachers.  As you read the chapter you should notice some natural divisions. 

            You may also notice the fond affection Paul has for Titus.  Paul refers to Titus as “my true child in a common faith.  You may have someone in your life that loves you and treat you like a member of their family.  Or you may be a lifeline for someone.  You don’t have to be a married person to welcome someone into your life.  Paul, a single man, treated Titus like a son.  What an honor for Titus. 

            Paul left Titus in a tough situation – in Crete, an island full or superstitious people who did not have the best reputation (1:12).  His first order of business is to appoint elders in every town.  These elders are to be blameless or above reproach in relationships v. 6 and conduct v. 7.  There are ways the elder must not be, v. 7 and ways he should be in v. 8. Then in v. 9 comes the aspect of knowing and hold to the faith, able to teach, and able to correct those who contradict the faith. 

            In v 10-16, this advice concerns false teachers.  There will always be those who deceive, who are insubordinate, empty talkers who hurt and upset people.  Both then and now, you can make a decent living that way (v.11).  Paul quotes Epimenides who is mentioned by Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero, and others.  Cretans are not exactly the best people according to Epemenides.   Paul wants Titus to be prepared that Titus’ work in Crete will be opposed and difficult.  Titus needs to prepare leaders who can handle the tension, disappointments, criticism, and plain hard work these elders must endure.  Titus needed solid, godly, grounded men who would be servants first of God and then of others.  This list and general description provides great wisdom to churches looking for leaders.  These verses and I Tim. 3:1ff have served the church well for almost 2,000 years.

            Now to verses 10ff, Titus’ and the elders’ duty regarding false teachers where we read a description of the problem in v. 10 followed by “they must be silenced” in the next verse.  This is a rather sharp and direct call to action for the elders.  The elders need to “28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” as Paul said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-30.  Paul says in Titus 1:13, “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in faith.”

           This is an interesting expression from a man who describes himself as gentle.  In I Th. 2:7, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.”  Yet here Paul tells Titus to be sharp with their rebuke.  It seems to me that there is no right way to correct or rebuke.  One can be so gentle the person doesn’t know what is wrong.  On the other hand, one can be too harsh which leaves a person deflated.  In this case, the people who needed correction were: insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, (10), upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach, (11), liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons (12), people who turn away from the truth (12), those who profess to know God but deny him by their works, detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work (16).”If you have to rebuke people like that, a more direct route is preferred.  

           Not all unbelievers are described this same way.  But notice that we are not to tolerate all things; we should be somewhat intolerant.  If I teach bad doctrine clearly and with conviction, I would hope the elders would be ready and willing to talk to me and thoroughly examine me.  They should do it to protect the flock.  In that case, I “must be silenced” to stop upsetting people.

           Sadly, there will always be those are not like Paul.  Notice how Paul describes himself.  Paul describes himself as a servant of God and an apostle (one who is sent) of Jesus Christ.  This weighs heavily on Paul.  He was called for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of truth.  Paul cared so deeply about true teaching and the growing faith of God’s people.  He knew that this teaching aligns with godly living.  Biblical teaching ushers in godly living and vice versa.  This is how he begins this letter.  Paul said he had “been entrusted by the command of God our Savior” v 1-3.  His teaching did not originate with Paul but God so Paul felt it was also his duty to rebuke those who were trying to tear down God’s Word.

           If you truly believe these truths, hold your faith close to your heart.  If you truly believe, you believe because you have been called and elected (v. 1) and you share in the hope of eternal life (v. 2).  How we long for our friends and family to hold on to this Rock.  Our prayer life should include time regularly spent praying for unbelievers around us to open ears to our expressions of faith.  God bless our church as we continue to look for elders and deacons.  May God give us grace to know how and when to rebuke those in serious error.  And may God preserve His church during our troubled times.