The Book of Titus

The Book of Titus is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a man named Titus who was a Gentile convert to Christianity (Gal. 2:3).  It was probably written around the same time as first and second Timothy and share a lot in common with those letters.  They are both letters written to men that Paul had personally trained in some capacity, and they are both letters instructing those men about how they should be selecting elders and how they should be running the new churches that were starting up in these areas.  Because of these similarities the three books together are often called “The Pastoral Epistles.”

A Brief Introduction to the Book of Titus 

The Island of Crete 

Agios Nikolaos harbour

Agios Nikolaos is set on the largest natural bay in Crete, Mirabello or Merabello Bay, named for the beautiful view (mira bella) of the sea from the town.

Knossos, the famous Minoan Palace lies 5 kilometres southeast of  Heraklion, in the valley of the river Kairatos. The river rises in Archanes, runs through Knossos and reaches the sea at Katsabas, the Minoan harbour of Knossos.

In Minoan times the river flowed all year round and the surrounding hills were covered in oak and cypress trees, where today we see vines and olives. The pine trees inside the archaeological site were planted by Evans.

Constant habitation for 9,000 years has brought about great changes to the natural environment, so it is hard to imagine what the Minoan landscape was like. 

Knossos, the 1st and 2nd Palace

http://www.explorecrete.com/Knossos/knossos.html

Knossos picture
The first settlement in the Knossos area was established circa 7000 BC, during the Neolithic Period. The economic, social and political development of the settlement led to the construction of the majestic Palace of Knossos towards the end of the second millennium BC.  Knossos was the seat of the legendary King Minos and the main center of power in Crete.  

The palace of Knossos is the monumental symbol of Minoan civilisation, due 
to its construction, use of luxury materials, architectural plan, advanced building techniques and impressive size.

This first Palace was destroyed circa 1700 BC. It was rebuilt and destroyed again by fire, this time definitively, in 1350 BC. The environs of the Palace were transformed into a sacred grove of the goddess Rhea, but never inhabited again.

Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean.  The first that we read in the New Testament of Crete is in Acts 2:11.  It was mentioned here amongst the many other Jews and God fearers who had been in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost, when the disciples spoke in tongues and the Peter gave his great sermon leading more than 3,000 people to believe in Jesus Christ as their savior.  In all likely hood these people returned to Crete and did not have much of an idea how to live out this new faith.  So when Paul came through and preached the Gospel there, he left Titus to appoint elders at the churches, and oversee the development of the new churches there.

Prior to this time the Island of Crete had been run over and conquered a few times.  It had been attacked, taken over, or assaulted by the Dorians early on, later the Greeks, the Persians and the Egyptians all threatened the island.  Beyond this the island was racked with civil war and internal struggles that were almost insurmountable.  Later the island became a part of the Roman Empire, but still maintained its character.  The character it maintained was by no means a good one, though. 

The People of Crete

The people of Crete were famous for being sly, shifty and cunning.  During the years of political, social and economical difficulty the people of Crete became famous for building ships, being mercenaries, and being cheats.  There are records of these people praying to their god’s to help them lie and cheat others with greater skill.  This is a culture that would hear the Gospel and cheer for Judas, selling out his master for 30 silver coins.        

There were even stories around this time of people who tried to cheat a Cretan, and would up having the whole thing backfire on them, such that they were STILL cheated by the Cretan.  It came to the point where it became a proverb of the day to say:  “You can’t Cretanize a Cretan!”  These were people who were so morally confused that they thought that the people who were cheating the system were the heroes.  They would have called the Pirates the hero, or the gangster and not the Police, or the martyr. 

This should call us to examine our own culture.  God called these people OUT of this culture.  He called them to be in direct contrast to the parts of this culture that surrounded them.  Just like the Cretan culture there is much of every culture that does not honor God, and God calls us to be separated from that in every way.  What does that mean to us as Christians in OUR current culture?  These days we try so hard to be “culturally sensitive,” but we must always remember, as Christians, that we are not of this world! 

What about Titus?

Try to put yourself in Titus’s shoes, knowing this about these people.  You are Paul’s friend and you are spending time with him and he says, “I trust you, why don’t you go out to these cities, find the believers and tell them to abandon everything about their culture and live for the Lord.”  Titus must have been thinking:  “Yeah, right, easy job! I’ll get right on that!”  However, this shows us something about Titus’s character.  He was a “go to guy” for Paul.  He must have been the type of strong leader that Paul knew could handle the pressure, and be faithful to a difficult task. 

Paul

One may think that Paul wasn’t a very good friend for sending Titus in on such a difficult task all alone!  But Paul had good reason to believe that the Gospel was sufficient for the people of Crete.  Paul himself considered himself to be the worst of all sinners.  He was a persecutor of the Church, and breathing murderous threats against them day and night (Acts 9:1,2).  Paul was a horrible person.  A murderer with a heart filled with jealousy and hatred, yet God changed him.  Paul saw, firsthand how this powerful Gospel can change lives, and he expected that it would do the same thing for the Cretans that it did for Him.  Paul doesn’t expect Titus to change them, nor does he expect them to change themselves.  He expects God to change their hearts, through the Holy Spirit!  He is still changing lives in this way, every day! 

Outline

I. Salutation (1:1-4)
II.   Qualification of the Elders (1:5-9)
III.   Characteristics of False Teachers (1:10-16)
IV.   Godly Behavior for Different Groups (2:1-10)

A. Older Men (2:1-2)
B. Older Women (2:3)
C. Younger Women (2:4-5)
D. Younger men (2:6-8)
E. Slaves (2:9-10)

V. Role of Grace in Promoting Godly Behavior (2:11-3:11)

A. The educating power of grace (2:11-14)
B. The gracious behavior (2:15-3:2)
C. Grace as a motivation for godly living (3:3-8)
D. Behavior inconsistent with grace (3:9-11)

VI. Final Instructions and Greetings (3:12-15)

 

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