(Read Titus 1:1-4)
Paul begins the epistle with a standard personal greeting. Paul calls himself a servant of God. He is a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Further he declares that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul’s apostleship is according to the faith of God’s elect. This faith is according to the truth of godliness revealed in the scripture. Paul's priority was to preach the gospel. Someone has said "Preaching is not an occupation but an obligation and calling". Preaching produces godly fear and promotes faith. The ultimate goal of preaching is to bring transformation in life (2 Corinthians 5:17). It brings eternal life and hope. The eternal life speaks of the quality of unending life in Christ. The living hope is based on the character of eternal life of God who cannot lie. There are many self-proclaimed false apostles and they are to be tested (1 John 4:1). The Word of God is the standard by which they should be tested. True apostles exercised their hope in the eternal life promised before the world began. We are born again unto a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). God’s plan of redemption was not an afterthought of God. It is revealed in His Word and entrusted to Paul to preach to everyone. This is the mission of the church today. Titus was left at Crete to set everything in order in the church. He was a trouble shooter, a bridge builder and a problem solver. Paul addresses Titus as “My true son in the common faith”. Titus and Paul held the same faith. This is the faith that was once for all entrusted to the church (Jude 3). The greeting of grace, mercy and peace is the unique pattern of greeting in the pastoral epistles. Grace for strength to endure trials, mercy for failures and peace to overcome fear (2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalms 103:8-10; John 14:27). Our God is the God of grace, mercy and peace. These are needed spiritual blessings in our walk with the Lord. Titus was sent to instruct believers in the sound doctrines. The church should defend and practice sound doctrine. The truth that is divorced from the Bible is no truth at all. Any departure from the Word of God is heresy and must not be tolerated. The church should be counter-cultural. Cultural Christianity and casual Christianity can robe the church of its effectiveness.
Appoint Qualified Elders:
(Read Titus 1:5-9)
Crete was one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. Paul and Titus made many converts there for Christ. Paul had to leave the place before the work was completed. Paul left Titus at Crete to complete the work they had started in Crete. He was instructed to appoint elders with great care. The key to a church's spiritual health is its godly leadership. The qualifications for elders are given in first Timothy chapter three also. A church needs godly leadership. The apostles appointed elders in each church (Acts 14:23). Their calling, character and credibility are important. They should be able to teach, exhort and convince those who contradict the truth. The functions of elders are to rule, to teach and to guard believers from error. They are called to shepherd the believers. They are divinely appointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). An elder must be blameless and above reproach. They are the guardians of the faith and must be able do twofold teaching ministry. First they must exhort the believers in the sound doctrines by instructing and encouraging them. Secondly, they must convict and silence those who oppose the sound doctrine. Someone has said "It is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error". A good shepherd not only feeds the flock but confronts the wolf. “Like shepherd, like sheep”. When godly men lead our churches, the church as a whole will be blessed and the gospel will look more attractive to the world. In first Timothy and Titus, we have the scriptural guidelines for recognizing the elders in the local churches. To learn more about their qualifications, see the note given in first Timothy, chapter three. A church without spiritual leadership is in danger and defenseless against false teachers. There is no reference anywhere in the New Testament about a female elder. The three primary titles used for leadership in the church are, Elder, Bishop and Pastor. Elder Speaks of age and maturity. The Bishop speaks of leadership ability. Pastor speaks of an attitude of care. Shepherd loves the sheep and goes after them. Apostles appointed a plurality of elders in every church (Acts 14:23). This ministry is a team work and supplemented by each other. The plurality of elders gives mutual understanding encouragement and accountability. Their character is more important than capacity. Capacity without character will lead to abuse. They should exercise spiritual oversight and encourage godliness in the church. Elders must devote themselves in prayer and ministry of the Word.
Beware of False Teachers:
(Read Titus 1:10-16)
Paul gives a general description of Cretans and of false teachers. False teachers are vain talkers and they deceive believers with fanciful myths. They don’t submit to the authority of the Word of God. They have zeal for the ceremonial law, but their motive is dishonest gain. God’s servants must not be greedy (Titus 1:7). Paul quotes from one of their prophets who lived six hundred years before Christ. “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons”. Here Paul identifies the fallen humanity and their fundamental problems. They are corrupt in hearts and distorted in their desires. So they must be reprimanded (Titus 1:13). The purpose of the rebuke was not to be vindictive but to correct. False teachers were influenced by the Jewish rituals and ceremonial law. Their mind and conscience had been defiled by their double life. This is legalism plain and simple. Legalism can lead believers unto isolation. Believers are in this world but not of this world. They should not assimilate into the world system or isolate themselves from the world (John 17:15-18). Christ wants us to be the light and the salt in this world. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure because their minds and conscience are corrupted (Titus 1:15). False teachers profess to know God but they deny Him in the way they live. They live according to their own sinful desires. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for any good work (Tit 1:16). They should be confronted to protect the church from error (Titus 1:13; 3:9-11).