Updated: Jul 21, 2019
"I think we must get rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom."
-Ralph Waldo Emmerson
Slavery is a mark; not only on our country's history, but on the whole of humanity. From the earliest pages of history we see people enslaving other people - one image-bearer placing fetters on another image-bearer. Yet the One who's image humans bear never intended for us to be slaves, He created us for freedom.
In the pages of history we see some people were born into slavery - it was their heritage. In reality slavery is the heritage of us all. Since the fall of man we have all been born into slavery to sin - it has become our heritage, the image of God within us marred beyond recognition. David states in Psalm 51:5:
"For I was born a sinner - yes, from the moment my mother conceived me."
Paul often reiterates this truth in his letters. In the final verses of Romans 7 he explains how this heritage of slavery can be overcome:
"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin at work in me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." Romans 7:21-25
And in Romans 6:22 Paul declares:
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."
It's this concept of slavery to God Paul has in mind in Titus 1:1 when he calls himself a "slave of God." The Greek word used here is doulas and it describes a person who has been born into slavery. By calling himself a doulas of God, Paul is stating that through salvation; through spiritual rebirth, he has been born into slavery to God - it is his new heritage. And so it is for every image=bearer who turns from sin and accepts Christ as Savior, we are born into slavery to God, we die to self and what we want and we commit ourselves fully to God and what He wants. Being a slave of God is something all Christ followers are, but the second description Paul gives for himself was reserved for a select few. An apostle was someone who had been with Jesus, who was personally chosen, taught, and called by Him; someone who had witnessed the resurrected Christ up close and personal! Paul was not one of the original disciples to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection, in fact in 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul calls himself one "born at the wrong time" ( www.bible.com/111/1co.15.8.niv ). Paul's encounter with Jesus came on the road to Damascus ( www.bible.com/111/act.9.1-9.niv ) Jesus personally chose and called Paul to take His message of salvation to the Gentiles. This is the work of slavery Paul committed his life to and this is the reason for his letter to Titus.
The first few verses of Titus are the salutation. Where we would simply write: "Dear _______..." ancient salutations were much longer. They always stated who was writing the letter, what position they held that gave them the authority to write the letter, followed by a short description of the reason for writing, the name of the person the letter was written to, and finally some form of the words grace and peace.
We've already covered Paul's title and authority found in verse one, but this verse also holds the key to the aim of Paul's ministry. When he states: "I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives", Paul is saying the whole of his ministry is salvation and sanctification.
Is this your aim when you tell others about Christ? Are you sharing the message of salvation? How can you help others know God's truth? Write down one way you feel God leading you to join Him in His work of sanctification.
Titus 1:2-3 contain rich truths about God we do not want to overlook. First is the fact that in Christ our hope is a sure thing. We tend to use the word hope as something without true possibility. Biblical hope is a sure thing, a positive assurance. When God says He will do something we can put our hope in His word; we can confidently believe He will do it. Closely related to this fact is the fact that God is a Truth-Teller. Remember last week we stated that lying is the one thing God cannot do! Finally, these verses make it clear God is not confined by time. In verse 2 we see time in chronon which shows a sequence of events - we have eternal life through Christ whom God promised and planned to send before the world began. The chronology of events was already set in place - God existed, God created, man sinned, God set in motion His plan of redemption.
In verse 3 we see time as kairois which means an appropriate or proper time. Though God had planned from before chronon time to send Christ, at kairois time He sent Him. God's view of time is not our view. We would do well to remember that God's blessings come in His way and in His kairois - His proper time.
The final observation I would like to make about Paul's salutation is found in verse 4. As mentioned, the words grace and peace usually found their way into the salutation of ancient letters. These terms may seem mutually exclusive to us. We are always looking for peace - peace from strife in our own lives and relationships and peace for the world at large. However, do we offer grace to those who are causing the strife? Are we searching for grace with as much fervor? Humanly speaking grace is the granting of a favor without expectation of anything in return. Biblical grace is the "freely given, unmerited, undeserved favor and love of God." Spiritually speaking we can never have true peace until we have accepted God's gift of grace, His favor of forgiveness. Grace must come before peace. Have you found true peace? If not, will you accept God's gift of grace today? ( go to www.pleasingaromaministries.com/issues-of-the-heart for a guided prayer for salvation.)
Can you see how rich God's word truly is? We've uncovered so much from digging deep into just these few verses! I love it, so let's continue!
With verse 5 begins the meat of Paul's letter. He begins straight away with the business at hand. Titus must complete the work he and Paul had begun and appoint elders in all the churches. The Holman Christian Standard Bible uses the phrase "set right what was left undone". The Greek word for set right was actually a medical term meaning to set a broken bone back in its proper place. When someone breaks a bone the setting it back process is painful but the pain must be endured if the bone is to be set back so that it can eventually work properly again. The same is true in our spiritual lives, both individually and corporately. When something is left undone in our spiritual development we fall prey to false beliefs. Correcting these can be painful as we lay them before God and ask Him to guide us. We must endure the pain of adjusting wrong attitudes or the pain of saying goodbye to relationships and activities that are not God honoring. When a whole body of believers is spiritually underdeveloped the pain of adjustment is multiplied.
This leads to the second charge to Titus: appoint elders in all the churches. In our study so far we've learned a little about the Cretan belief system and their reputation of being liars, gluttons, and rebellious people. Paul did not want this type of person leading the churches so he gave Titus a list of 17 qualifications for elders; 11 with positive connotations and 6 with negative.
Take time to read verses 5-9 and list these qualifications. I made my list in the margin of my Bible titled "Elder Qualifications" with two columns marked +/-.
For an deeper study of elder qualifications read Acts 20:28-35; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4. Compare these lists with Titus 1:5-9: Which qualifications are listed in all four passages? What qualifications are different? What are the negative things listed? How can you avoid these in your own life? Make a master list of all the qualifications placing the Scripture references beside each. Which of these characteristics are present in your life? Which do you need to ask God to develop in you? Though we are not all called to preach, teach, or lead within the church as our life's work, in reality we all lead someone, sometimes without even realizing it. Therefore, we should all ask God to develop the positive qualifications in us and guard us from developing the negative ones.
Gathered manna from Titus 1:1-9 is:
Godly leaders should be models of goodness, grace, and godliness.
The remainder of Titus 1 speaks to the characteristics and rebuke of false teachers. Many of these false teachers were Jewish believers who were legalistic minded rather than grace minded. These Judaizers thought they were the only people qualified to interpret Scripture, in so doing they added many of their own traditions; many times raising these human traditions to the same status as God's Law. Such teachings led to asceticism; the belief that severe self-denial to the point of self-mortification would help one attain a higher spiritual state. Paul wanted the Cretan believers to avoid such beliefs so he advised Titus to silence these people by sharply rebuking them. The Greek word used here for sharply is apotomos. It is made up of apo, which means "off", and tomos, which means "cutting", as with a knife. Paul was telling Titus to cut off these false teachers by sternly disapproving of their teaching in public. His hope was that this public reprimand would produce repentance, rebuttal, and return to sound doctrine in them all the while building the faith of the body of believers.
In verses 15-16 Paul speaks of the state of the heart before God when he says: "To the pure all things are pure but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure." The Greek word for pure here is kathara and it refers to being ritually cleansed or made pure. Only Jesus makes us pure. These false teachers claimed to know God; however, they were teaching religious tradition over real relationship. This is the action in their lives that denied Christ. They were still slaves to sin. Paul wanted them to be set free and become slaves of God.
Where in your spiritual life are you practicing religion over relationship? How can you remedy this today?
Gathered manna from Titus 1:10-16 is:
Purity in our belief system is not optional and false teachers must be silenced.
Gathered manna from Titus 1 is:
A real relationship with God is shown in our lifestyle.
I hope you've enjoyed this study of Titus 1!
Until next time,
God keep and bless you,
1) Continue with May's Scripture Reading and Writing Plan. Subscribe to my email list to receive your copy. You can do that here www.pleasingaromaministries.com/lets-connect
2) Read through chapter one again and mark any repeating words, this helps establish the theme of the passage.
3) Make the chart of elder qualifications and prayerfully answer the questions listed in each section of this teaching.