Paul has instructed Titus about doctrine and duty in the church (ch.1), in the home (ch.2) and now he goes for the world. Paul gives instructions and then explains why – because of the gospel – and then he will finish off with some personal messages to pass on.
This teaching is a reminder – verse 1 “Remind them”. It’s not new material for them or us. There are lots of Scriptures about the dangers of forgetfulness. People are basically forgetful. Jan and I grabbed a soup together at Norbury’s the other day. While we were eating she asked me to do something and later I had to text her to find out what it was! I had forgotten. On the grand scale, history is basically the story of mankind repeating mistakes! So Paul is telling Titus his ministry is partly a reminding ministry!
The first reminder is about our relationship towards the state. Titus was in Crete, and Crete was notoriously unruly and resistant to Roman rule. Through Titus, Paul reminds them to be submissive.
No Christian can ever give the state unconditional allegiance. People were expected to call Caesar Lord, a massive deal in the very patriotic Philippi, and no Christian would do that. Nevertheless, where conscience allows we are expected to be under the state’s authority, because God has delegated it anyway. We are to be law abiding and public spirited – ready to do good work. Both Peter and Paul taught that the duty of the state is to punish evil and promote good. God’s people are to cooperate in both areas.
Then Paul widens out to our relationship with everybody in the community.
On the negative side…
- Slander no-one
- Be peaceable
On the positive side
- Be considerate – be gentle and gracious
- Show true humility
Why? Because of the gospel. Remind them, because we were once not like that. So in v.4-7 Paul, in one sentence, shows us the gospel. John Stott calls it the fullest statement of salvation in the New Testament. The key is in v.5 – He saved us!
- Paul shows us our need of salvation – “we ourselves were once foolish”
- Then he shows who achieves our salvation – The goodness and loving kindness of the Saviour
- It’s because of his mercy and the work of the Spirit applying what Jesus did
- We are justified – declared not guilty and declared righteous.
Verse 8 tells us that Paul’s gospel presentation of v.4-7 is pithy, condensed and utterly true. Insist on it! Believe it and serve God in the good of it.
Paul wants Titus to remind people to stick to the simple gospel and stay away from foolish arguments that don’t change lives. Warn a divisive person twice and then keep away from them.
The letter ends with some team practicalities for the letter delivery; for Artemis or Tychicus to take over the church in Crete so Titus can be with Paul again. The last words are to remind people to put the letter into practice and to greet them with love.
Grace and Peace