More Thoughts about Titus: 3:1-15.
Chapter three in Paul’s letter to Titus contains one of his great passages concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation, renewal, and service of the believer. This passage is bracketed by Paul’s instruction to Titus on what to teach and how to lead.
With regard to what Titus should teach, Paul says: “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (verses 1-2).
Each of these virtues is worthy of comment. When Paul says to be subject to rulers and authorities, he includes government officials. However, there are other authorities such as those who are in business and in the church. Followers of Christ honor His name by being obedient.
Paul says that Titus should teach the believers to “malign no one.” The sense of the Greek word, in this passage, is to “speak evil of no one.” There is a place for sincere criticism that seeks to edify others, but we should not engage in criticism that seeks to hurt others. It is a good goal to live with a generous attitude toward others and to avoid unworthy criticism.
Followers of Christ should be “gentle, showing consideration for all men. The Greek word translated “gentle” can mean “humble.” Believers in Christ should humbly show “consideration for all men.” This means people outside the church as well as those within.
In verse 9 we will consider Paul’s instructions on how to lead. However, in my next post, we will study verses 3-8. We will discuss the terms that Paul uses, such as regeneration, renewing by the Holy Spirit, and pouring out. Meanwhile, we can honor Christ by living according to the teachings of Paul in the above verses.
More Thoughts about Titus
In 3:3-7 Paul describes life before becoming a believer in Christ. There wasn’t anything attractive about it. Paul says, “We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (verse 3). But God, in His kindness and love, stepped in and saved us (verse 4).
With regard to our salvation, Paul declares: “5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
God did not save us on the basis of our righteousness but on the basis of His mercy. He demonstrated His mercy by the “washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Regeneration and renewing are overlapping terms. The emphasis of the term regeneration is on the beginning of Christian life. The term renewing stresses being made new again. The phrase “by the Holy Spirit” could modify renewing or both the washing of regeneration and the renewing (Compare 1 Corinthians 6:11). According to the latter view, the Holy Spirit is at work in both the regeneration and the renewing.
Concerning the Holy Spirit, Paul says, “whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Many holds that Paul refers here to the Spirit poured out upon us in conversion. Others maintain that He has in mind the outpouring of the Spirit who empowers us for ministry. In my view, Paul includes our entire experience with the Spirit, at conversion, and all our relationship with Him that follows.
Paul then says “that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Our new life in Christ is totally our by God’s grace. Because of His grace, we are made heirs with Christ.
My prayer is, “Jesus, please pour out our Spirit upon me today. Holy Spirit, do your complete work in me. Your renewing and empowerment are essential in my journey with you.”
More Thoughts about Titus
As Paul is about to conclude his letter to Titus, he returns to the subject of false teaching and related matters. Paul says that Titus should shun “foolish controversies.” He implies that Titus should teach others also to avoid such issues. Some issues have to be discussed, but other issues are simply “foolish” and need no attention. Paul says the same thing about “genealogies.” Genealogies deal with the origins and descendants of persons. Apparently, the genealogies that Paul mentions had a religious significance that should be avoided.
Next, Paul exhorts Titus to shun “strife and disputes about the Law. The Law was an important subject in the early church. The apostle Paul dealt with this subject many times throughout his ministry. It was important to know how the Law and the gospel were related. However, Titus should lead the church in avoiding strife and disputes about the Law.
Next, Paul deals with what to do about a “factious” man. Clearly, the early church had such people in them. Paul states: “10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (3:10-11). Maintaining the integrity and truth of the gospel was exceedingly important to Paul.
As I close this post, it is important to remember the preceding verses. These verses tell us about the great salvation that is ours and about the outpouring of the Spirit upon us. When we contrast that with the condition of those who oppose the gospel, it gives us a great incentive to serve our Lord.
More Thoughts about Titus In 3:12-15
In these verses, Paul mentions several of the men whom he called upon to assist him. Titus was ministering on the island of Crete. Paul had not decided whether to send Artemis or Tychicus to him at Crete. He wanted Titus to come to him at Nicopolis, which was on the western side of Greece. Paul had decided to spend the winter there. Also, Paul wanted Titus to help Zenas the lawyer, and Apollos on their way from Crete to where they were going.
These comments reveal to us the scope and reach of Paul’s ministry. He obviously el at ease in making these requests. Also, it shows that these men had high regard for the apostle Paul. They were ready and willing to respond positively to the requests that Paul made.
As he closes his letter, Paul says that Titus should “let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (verse 14). It was important that the church at Crete be generous in reaching out to help people in need. Then, Paul writes: “All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”
No analogy is perfect, but we might think of the apostle Paul as the Executive Director of the early church’s world missions outreach. God called him to minister to the Gentiles in many lands. He had an intense desire to take the gospel to places that had not been reached before. He was able to lead others in this cause and even assign roles and guide progress.
George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.