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Sunday School, Book of Titus, part 1….

I am not very proud of my effort on this lesson. For some reason I did not make an effort to put much of it in my own words. Sorry. I plan to do better on my next presentation.

 The book of Titus was written by the Apostle Paul somewhere between A.D. 62-64. Along with 1 and 2 Timothy, the three letters are traditionally called “The Pastoral Epistles.” Titus is mentioned by name 13 times in the N.T. In this epistle we have a fine picture of the New Testament church in its full function in the community as an organization. The book is close to or is related to 1 Timothy. 1 Timothy deals more with sound doctrine and Titus deals more with the divine order for the local church.  

The ideal church, according to Titus, (1) has an orderly organization, (2) is sound in doctrine, and (3) is pure in life, ready to every good work. This is the picture of the New Testament church that this epistle to Titus presents to us. In Timothy the emphasis was upon the need for sound teaching in the church. In Titus the emphasis is put upon the importance of God’s order for the conduct of the churches. In fact, Titus 1:5 is the key to the entire epistle: “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.” Titus was to set things in order in the churches in Crete.

In chapter 1 Paul says that the church is to be an orderly organization (see Titus 1:5). In chapter 2 he emphasizes that the church is to teach and preach the Word of God: “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). He says that the church must be doctrinally sound in the faith. And then in chapter 3 we see that the church is to perform good works: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1). In other words, the church is saved by grace, is to live by grace, and is to demonstrate her faith to the world by her good works.

It would be very difficult today to find a church that is using all three of these prongs, that is stressing all three of these tremendous emphases. Some will emphasize one, while others emphasize another. Let’s look at each one a little more closely:

First of all, the church is to be an orderly church. Everything, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, should be done decently and in order (see 1 Cor. 14:40). Sometimes you don’t find much order in a church, and often the reason is that there are a few officers who are trying to run the whole thing. Such a church is in real trouble and is a heartbreak to its pastor. The church is to be an orderly church, not run by a couple of deacons.

Secondly, in many churches you will find that there is no emphasis at all upon sound doctrine. Just teach and give out the Word of God. Rather than build an organization—that is, a lot of buildings—build into the lives of men and women. If Pastor’s have built on a church instead of the people, it may be wrecked by others later on after they have left. That will be a real heartbreak to a pastor unless he has before him the goal of building into the lives of men and women. That should be the emphasis in any church. The love for and of people.

Finally, a church should be ready for every good work. Sometimes we fundamentalists put such a great emphasis on doctrine (although I don’t think we overemphasize it) that we do underemphasize good works. A church should be engaged in good works. Many Christian organizations are so concerned with getting in the finances to carry on their program that they become more interested in getting people to give than in helping those people. A lot of folk need help—not just spiritual help but also physical help. We need to do things for people, to help them with their physical needs.

A church could have people who go out and visit shut–ins; they could read to them, sew for them, and do many other helpful chores. That’s a lovely thing to do. We can go and sit down and talk with lonely people like this, which is a much–needed ministry today.

This is only a brief resume of this epistle to Titus. Liberalism has attempted to emphasize the third chapter which deals with good works, forgetting the two chapters on order and doctrine which precede it. Until a church has all three of these aspects that Paul has outlined, it has no claim to be called “a New Testament church.”

McGee, J. Vernon.

 

Chapter 1 verse 1. Notice the word servant. It really means bondservant, which from the O.T. we know it to mean that the slave has, by freely choosing to do so, to stay with his master for life. Paul is going to give instructions and so Identifies himself as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Think about this, this is how God is communicating with His church, through the writings of the Apostle Paul. Wow. “According to the faith of God’s elect.” Paul does not say “for the faith,” but “according to the faith”—in other words, according to the norm or standard of faith which is set for God’s elect today. Whether you are saved or not does rest on what you believe. Tell me what you think of Jesus Christ; tell me what you believe about His death on the Cross and what it means to you; tell me what you believe about His resurrection and what it means to you; tell me whether you believe the Bible to be the Word of God. With this information I think I can deduce whether you are a child of God or not. This is the norm, you see: “According to the faith of God’s elect.”

“God’s elect”—this is the way Paul speaks of saved people. He is not discussing the doctrine of election at all. J. Vernon McGee.

“And the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” Better translated, “the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.” If the truth that you have does not lead to godliness, there is something wrong with your faith!

 

Verse 2. “In the hope of eternal life.” The idea here is rest, in the past, present and future we can rest on this hope. It comes from God and He cannot lie! We need to be careful as believers we don’t make God a liar by the way we live and conduct ourselves. We say we believe, but then act an entirely opposite way to the doctrines of God. “Promised before the world began.” God’s plan for salvation was in place before man was.

 

Verse 3. “In due times..” This means God’s time. God has made a very orderly world for us to live in. “Has manifested His word through preaching…” The word in the Greek (Kerex) for preaching mean a herald or trumpet. It is used for making a proclamation. It was Paul that was to make the proclamation, give the Good News of the Gospel.

 

Verse 4. Titus was Paul’s genuine son, Paul had led Titus to Christ! The common faith is the faith that we all have, those that are believers in Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Grace, mercy and peace, God has given these three things to all of His children.

 

Verse 5. Paul had left Titus in Crete to organize the local churches with elders as spiritual leaders. Evidently Crete was not a place of good reputation and was known for it’s lying. Poems were even written about what liars the people from Crete were. Titus was to ordain elders, or set aside elders, appoint them, in every city. To be an elder in the church, a man should have the gift for the office.

 

Verse 6. “If any be blameless…” that does not mean he must be perfect, without sin. It does mean that any accusation that is brought against him must not be found to be true. His life must be above reproach.

When someone can point a finger at an officer of the church and accurately accuse him of dishonesty, then the cause of Christ is hurt. It does not matter how naturally gifted a man may be, if someone can say that his speech does not reflect a dedication to Christ, then the cause of Christ is hurt, and that man should not be an officer of the church. “The husband of one wife, having faithful children..” Faithful children means saved children. You shouldn’t be an officer in the church if you can’t lead your own children to the Lord. “Husband of one wife..” A one woman man. A husband that is faithful and devoted to his wife, inside and outside. “Of riot or unruly..” Has to do with not living this kind of life but to live and serve the Lord.

 

Verse 7.  A bishop (or elder) must not be “selfwilled” for he is a steward of God as well as a representative of the people. He is in the church to find and do God’s will.

“Not soon angry” means not touchy.

“Not given to filthy lucre,” that is, not covetous or greedy. These are to be the characteristics of “a bishop.” As we have said before, elder and bishop are synonymous terms. The word elder (presbuteros) refers to the individual, and he was to be a mature person both physically and spiritually. A bishop (episkopos) was an overseer; he ruled the church. Therefore, this word has reference to the office. But never was a church to have only one man made bishop or presbyter. There were always several. Wine refers to anything that could cloud the man’s judgement, whatever mind numbing substance that would entail.

 

Verse 8. a lover of good men,

or “of good”;  “of good things”; as prayer, preaching, reading, meditation, spiritual conversation, and every religious exercise: or “of good men”; for such an elder or bishop has chiefly to do and converse with; and if he is not a lover of them, their company will be disagreeable to him, and he will be of no advantage to them; and if he does not love the souls of men, he will not naturally care for their state, or be concerned for their good. Sober: in body, using moderation in diet and dress; and in mind, being prudent, modest, and humble, and thinking soberly of himself, and others, as he ought.Just; righteous in his dealings with men, giving to everyone their due; upright and sincere in his conversation with the saints; and faithful in his counsel, admonitions, and reproofs. Holy; devout towards God, constant in all religious exercises in the closet, family, and church; and living soberly, righteously, and godly in the world. Temperate; in eating and drinking; continent from the lusts of the flesh; and even abstaining from those things which might be lawfully used, though inexpedient, for the sake of the weak, the peace of the church, and the glory of God. John Gill.

 

Verse 9. A better rendering of this verse would be: “Holding fast the trustworthy word according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound teaching and to convict the gainsayers (heretics).”

There were two things that an officer should be able to do: (1) He should be able to exhort,  to teach the Word of God; and (2) he must be able to confute or refute the heretics.  Men who hold office in a church should be Bible–trained men. During World War II we had what was called “ninety–day wonders.” The army needed more officers and so they put them through a short course in a hurry, and they came up with some rather peculiar second lieutenants in those days. Remember that Paul told Timothy to “lay hands suddenly on no man …” (1 Tim. 5:22). You are not to have a man converted one night, ask him to give his testimony the next night, make him an officer in the church on the third night, an evangelist on the fourth, and the pastor of the church on the fifth night!  A church officer should be able to stand on the Word of God and to give it out.

 

About verses 10-16  The bad reputation of the Cretans. All men are sinners; we are all brothers in the sense that we are all sinners. All men are not in the brotherhood of God, because that comes only through the New Birth by becoming a son of God through faith in Christ. But surely we are all sons of Adam, and “in Adam all die,” because all have sinned (see 1 Cor. 15:22). However, Paul tells that these Cretans had a particularly bad reputation.

 

Verse 10. For there are many unruly Persons who are not subject to the law of God, or Gospel of Christ; whose spirits are not subject to the prophets; and who will not submit themselves to them that have the rule over them, nor attend to the admonitions of the church, nor be brought into any regularity and order; and there were many of this sort, who were not sent forth by Christ, or his churches, but went forth of themselves, and were corrupters of the word; and therefore Christ’s ministers ought to hold fast the faithful word, and convince such opposers by sound doctrine.  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. And deceivers; both of themselves and others; who lie in wait to deceive, and are deceitful workers; and by their good words, and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple; and so are dangerous persons, and of pernicious consequence: especially they of the circumcision;or “of the Jews”, as the Ethiopic version renders it; that is, not the unbelieving Jews, but such as professed Christianity, judaizing Christians, who joined Moses and Christ and blended the law and Gospel together; who taught that circumcision, and the observance of other ceremonies of the law, were necessary to justification and salvation; and hereby did a great deal of mischief among the churches.

 

Verse 11. Whose mouths must be stopped Or they be silenced, by the true Gospel, as were the Sadducees and Pharisees by Christ, so that they dare not ask him any more questions; and as the Jews at Damascus were by Paul, who confounded them, proving in the clearest and strongest manner, that Jesus was the very Christ: who subvert whole houses; into which they creep; that is, whole families, whose principles they corrupt, whose faith they overthrow, and carry them away with their own errors; and therefore, since this was the case not of a single person, or of a few, but of whole families, it was high time to attempt to convince them, and stop their mouths, that they might proceed no further: teaching things which they ought not; which were not agreeable to the perfections of God, to the Scriptures of truth, to sound doctrine, and which were hurtful and pernicious to the souls of men: and that only for filthy lucre’s sake; having no regard to the glory of God, the honour and interest of Christ, or the good of immortal souls; only seeking to gain popular applause and honour from men, and to gather and increase worldly substance. Covetousness was a sin which the Cretians were remarkably guilty of. All or anything for money.

 

Verse 12. “Evil beasts” means the Cretans were rude and cruel. “Slow bellies” means lazy gluttons. Paul is not being very complimentary here, is he? But this is the reputation they had in the Roman world of Paul’s day. Paul is quoting a Cretan poet, Epimenides, who was born in Crete several centuries earlier. Another poet wrote, “Crete, which a hundred cities doth maintain, cannot deny this, though to lying given.” Paul said, “Cretians are alway liars.” This does not mean that everybody who lived in Crete was a liar anymore than when you say that all Scottish people are tightfisted—some are very generous. But the Cretans had the general reputation of being liars. It is marvelous what the grace of God can do and did do among the people of Crete. They were liars, beastly, lazy people, who were big eaters. Many of them turned to Christ, and their lives were changed. McGee.

 

Verse 13. What witness? Paul, he is the witness! What kind of rebuke? Read 2 Timothy 4:2.

 

Verse 14. “Not giving heed to Jewish fables.” Paul’s reference here is not just to legalism. There grew up around the Mosaic Law a great deal of writing which includes the Talmud and much more. I have not read very much in these Jewish writings because they never really interested me. But I have read some, and there are some pretty wild tales in them. “Commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” The Lord Jesus rebuked the religious rulers for adding traditions to God’s law, and that is what Paul is talking about here. The teaching of legalism is in two phases—one is that you are saved by the Law, and the other is that you are to live by the Law. Both of these teachings are very dangerous. We are saved by the grace of God and are actually called to live on a higher plane than that of the Ten Commandments. God gave the Ten Commandments to a nation, and I feel that they should be the law of the world today. When God says, “Thou shalt not kill,” that is for everyone, Christian and non–Christian—that is for the whole world. McGee, J. Vernon.

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Verse 15. Defiled. The outward things these men did (verses 10/12) were inward reflections of the corruption of their hearts. Mind and Conscience. If your mind is awful it cannot let your conscience know and warn you you to “Get Back.” There is no early warning system for sin. When you are full of the Holy Spirit and fully immersed in the Word of God’s Truth, your warning system is on “High Alert.” This is also the verse that is used by the folk who say that if we are saved by grace it doesn’t make any difference how we live; that is, if we are saved, we are pure and can live in any way we like. Certain cults have developed this teaching, saying they can live in sin (they don’t call it sin—it’s not sin for them) because “unto the pure all things are pure.” What Paul is talking about has nothing to do with moral issues at all. He is speaking to this issue of legalism and the eating of meats. The teaching of many legalistic cults often includes a very unusual diet. But Paul says, “Unto the pure all things are pure.” In other words, whether you eat meat or don’t eat meat makes no difference at all. All food is clean. You can eat anything you want—“unto the pure all things are pure.” If you are an unbeliever, any special diet you might concoct will make no difference in your relationship to God—it will not save you. You can eat all the vegetables you want, but if you are not right with God, they will not make you pure. The Lord Jesus said that it is not the thing that goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him (see Matt. 15:18–20). McGee, J. Vernon.

 

Verse 16. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.” Many believers today can deny and do deny God by the lives that they live. And they deny the Word of God. You can deny the Bible by the life you live, and you can deny God by the life you live. “Being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Ceremonies and rituals cannot change the evil heart of man. Only the Word of God can change the human heart. When the heart is changed, the life will reveal the change. Paul and James were never in disagreement—they both said that faith without works is dead. Saving faith produces a godly life. As Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” McGee, J. Vernon.

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