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Titus

Author: Paul of Tarsus

Date Written: 67 or 68 AD

 

Paul writes this letter to Titus during his fourth missionary journey about the same time that he writes 1 Tim.  Titus, a Gentile, is one of Paul's missionary delegates who has worked with Paul and has carried some of his letters to their recipients.  Titus is mentioned 13 times in the New Testament.  Paul does not hint at his own location in the letter, but he plans to soon be in Nicopolis which is on the western coast of Greece.

 

Titus holds a position similar to Timothy's.  He is Paul's delegate in Crete, responsible for appointing and ordaining presbyters and bishops.  Because of his position, Paul tells him to quell controversies (1:13) and teach sound doctrine (2:1).  Paul is quite concerned about various theological disputes which have rocked the church in Crete and he hopes that Titus can put an end to them (1:11).  After explaining the qualifications for church leaders and exhorting Titus about the controversies, Paul advises him on pastoring different types of people like he instructed Timothy (1 Tim 5:1).  He instructs Titus how to relate to old women, old men, young women, young men and slaves (Titus 2:2-10).  In the middle of this instruction, he tells Titus to model the good behavior which he is teaching (2:7-8).  His life's continuity with his message is necessary for his effectiveness as a minister of the gospel.

 

To illustrate the difference between human moral action before and after Christ's redemptive work, Paul describes the characteristics of a redeemed person (2:11-13).  He goes on to list the evils that converts indulged in before they became Christians.  As in most of his letters, Paul warns Titus against needless controversies.

 

At the end of the letter, Paul asks Titus to come to him at Nicopolis where Paul plans to spend the winter (3:12).  He gives a couple instructions regarding missionaries' travels and a final greeting (3:12-15).

 

From the detailed instructions about the appointment of presbyters and bishops, we can see the Church was structurally organized from the beginning.  Notably, the lists of qualifications  for bishops in Titus 1:7-9 and in 1 Tim 3:1-7 are very similar.  Paul's focus on "sound doctrine" is key to the letter (1:9, 2:1).  As a central part of his leadership role, Titus must preserve the proper doctrinal teachings and hold firm to the trustworthy word (1:9).  While bad teaching stirs up division (3:10) and upsets families (1:10), good teaching makes Christians sound in faith (1:13).  Titus' role is to appoint leaders, teach Christian doctrine, end controversies, model good Christian behavior and rebuke false teachers.

 

Certainly, Titus had a unique calling, but the lessons Paul teaches him can be applied in many different vocational circumstances.  For example, just as Titus is to pastor different types of people in different ways, so should we relate to people differently based on their personal attributes and circumstances.  Also, we can all learn to model Christian morality (2:7) and strive toward the holiness required of bishops and presbyters (1:5-9).  Also, the letter reveals the level of authority the apostles passed on to their followers.  Certain men like Timothy and Titus were given great responsibility for the structure and spiritual good of the early Church.  Likewise, bishops, priests and deacons are given to the people of God for their own good (cf. Lumen Gentium 27-28).  Titus, like the letters to Timothy, helps us understand the challenges of the early Church and how Paul designated leaders and established order in the Church (1:5).

 

By Mark Giszczak

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December 22, 2014

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Mt 21:23-27

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Mt 21:23-27

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