Paul the Apostle wrote this letter to Titus around 64 AD, after his first release from the Roman prison. He wrote this between his two letters Timothy, in the second of which Paul spoke his last words from prison before his soon-coming martyrdom.
Just as Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to help establish a godly leadership in God’s house, here we learn that Paul left Titus in Crete to establish godly believers in God’s house. These three worked together as an apostolic team, under Paul’s leadership and authority, which he received from the Lord. As an apostolic team, they were to plant and establish spiritually healthy congregations, and turn them over to sound local leadership who would be faithful to the truth of the gospel – both in teaching and in living — and then move on to repeat the work elsewhere, and encourage those whom they had already established. Godly leadership is critical for producing godly disciples of Messiah Jesus. The emphasis is on character more than on ability. God has chosen us to become conformed to the image of His Son primarily in our character, whatever our abilities, skills, and giftings may be or not. The works that we do, the lives that we live, should demonstrate the truth of the doctrine of the gospel.
Read: v 1-4
I want to begin with v 3-4: God is our Savior; the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior. There is only one Savior – YHVH – and all who would be saved must call on His name given under Heaven to mankind – Yeshua/Jesus…. Therefore, Jesus is YHVH, as is the Father and the Holy Spirit. “Hear, O Israel: YHVH our God, YHVH is one.” Believing this truth, given by revelation from God Himself through His Word, must be believed on in order to live in true godliness and to be faithful witnesses of our great God and Savior. If Jesus is not God in this sense, then we who worship him are idol worshippers, having made a man – however special – God. (This is what the Satanic antichrist will claim for himself, and that he is above every god/God. [Dan 11:36-37; 2Thes 2:1-5]) If Yeshua/Jesus is YHVH, and we deny it, then we are blaspheming by taking away from Him the glory that is rightfully His. (Is 45: 18-25; Phlp 2:5-11)
The truth is according with godliness: this, and the relationship of each of these to the others, is the moral lesson of this epistle of the Apostle Paul, to Titus, his friend and son in the common faith. The Word of God is truth; Yeshua is the Truth; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth; the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Truth. The Holy Spirit is holy. Knowing the truth is supposed to transform us by sanctifying us, not only inform us. Knowing objective truth must become internalized in the inner man; it must become subjective impacting me personally. (Jn 17:17; Jn 14:15-18; 18:37; Rom 12:1-2) While Timothy had a believing Jewish grandmother and mother who taught him the Scriptures (the Old Testament only at that time), Titus was Greek with a pagan upbringing. As part of the truth of the gospel, Titus did not get circumcised despite pressure from some Jewish believers who believed that the Gentile believers needed to be circumcised accorting the custom of the Law of Moses. Paul also rebuked Peter publicly over the truth of the gospel regarding the eating of food. But the Holy Spirit made clear to the Apostles in Jerusalem that this was not necessary for their salvation or for their righteousness, according to the truth of the gospel to both Jews and to Gentiles.
In Crete, a pagan culture, people were coming to faith, but there was no spiritual leadership, no elders/overseers to lead them. There was no sensitivity to the truth of the gospel that their lives needed to change in accord with the godliness, the holiness and righteousness, which the grace of God called them to. Titus was there, under Paul’s authority, to choose leaders who could help the believers to grow in their faith and in the quality of their character. These leaders needed to be able to confront people who brought in division, either through false teachings or in bad character. Leaders in a local congregation need to know the truth, and to teach it, and to demonstrate it in their own lives that the power of God’s grace, and of His Word, and of the Holy Spirit changes us to give honor and praise to our Father in Heaven, and to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The God of Truth can not lie; therefore the Bible is the Book of Truth, giving us what YHVH God wants us to know, and to learn from, and to grow in the wisdom which leads us through to the final salvation and redemption at the coming again of the Lord. It is our Father’s communication to us about the nature that He created, and about Israel, His specially chosen people and nation, and especially about His Son, the Seed of the woman that will crush the serpent’s head forever. (Ps 40:6-8; Heb 10:5-7; 1Jn 5:9-13) In the very first chapter of Genesis, God says that He created the heavens and the Earth in six days; in the very first chapter of the Bible, the Creator says that there are only two sexes – male and female. Today each and all of those points are attacked as to whether they are truth. If we read the Bible, and teach it, and learn it only as a book that can be whatever I decide it is good for, then we will not be sound in our faith, in our doctrine, in our character, in our lives as ones professing to be believers in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. We will say that we are believers, but will be living as if we are not exactly certain.
Because God is also love, He will not permit the lie, which destroys souls, to be acceptable by those who have come to know the truth. Before we became believers, we lived according to lies, and did not have any certainty about what is truth. As those who have repented and believed the gospel, and been baptized into Messiah’s death, we must put away all lying, and put on the new man which was created in true righteousness and holiness, speaking truth with one another. (Eph 4:20-25; Zech 8:16-17)
Paul’s confidence is based on the hope of eternal life, what God promised before time began, before the creation of the heavens and the Earth. (v 2; 2Tim 1:8-12; Rev 13:8; 1Pt 1:18-21) God promised eternal life for those who would believe before time began. It was known to Him before the creation; it became manifested to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. If this promise was made before time began, why would God wait billions of years to fulfill it?! Without this perspective of eternity — that our time now, and the allotted time which God has determined, are temporary, set between before and after time — life here has no value, the commandments to live holy and righteous lives have no credibility. This hope became known through the teaching, the life, the works, the character, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. God, with long-suffering patience, continues to unroll His plan to bring to full light the truth of who His Son is at His return – the revelation of Jesus Christ — when He will judge all that opposes Him and His Kingdom, and glorify Himself in His saints.
Most of the trouble for believers is within the church, rather than outside. It is easier to deal with an outside threat, but inside is much more difficult for various reasons. Just as the Pharisees looked good on the outside, but were corrupt on the inside, so, too, within those who may have the right doctrine, but desire money and honor as a reward. Titus was charged with choosing men who could both teach and live according to the truth and godliness, and who could also keep away false teachers and confront hypocritical character.
It is not easy to be in spiritual leadership, or to live our lives as believers that attract others to the true God and Savior. Do we have a good fragrance that draws people to want to know Whom we know? Will they come with us to the waters of life, and drink?
Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, October 4, 2021, and reposted with permission.