The context of the 21st century western church is as complex as any period of history. Our history; rich and full of encouragement in terms of missionary enterprise and the gospel spreading around the globe, has also recorded the shallowness and instability of that impact. We might note situations like the spread of the gospel in Africa or Sth America where many communities have fallen back into old beliefs and traditions. All too often the church has attached to the gospel things that are unhelpful to it thinking of the gospel in a colonial sense – attaching western culture and forms to it – and considering it progress or stability when these forms are picked up. Furthermore we have done the same with our church culture. You can meet with a church almost anywhere in the world and find, a church building, a sermon, a choir, pews etc.
In this study we will identify the things that are central and helpful to the gospel. We will also study how and why these things are to be taught and received.
Especially note the 2 verses 1:5, 2:15
Questions to guide your study
Why did Paul write the letter? What is Paul’s charge to Titus?
Note the structure of the book. 1:5-9 City leaders are needed because... v10ff. Ch 2:1-10 Household order is needed because... v11ff. Work back into your Authors intent thoughts from FP3.5 session 4 (I think)
How hard would the work be? What results could Titus expect from his work?
Titus was one of Paul’s key men who had been training with him for about 15 years. This letter is written to Titus after Paul has left him on the island of Crete. His task: to set the churches in order and appoint elders in the population centres. As the letter unfolds, this task is outlined.
Elders are to be men who are have led their children well rather than allowing them to be insubordinate (v6) – their task will be the same within the church where many are insubordinate. Elders, as God’s Steward, (v7, oikonomos – manager of a household, same root word as Eph 3:9 which is oikonomia management of a household) are to have a rock solid character, holding firmly to the trustworthy word as it has been taught – not teaching another doctrine as seen last session in 1 Tim 1:3, 6:3. Their character and ability to hold the word as it has been taught will be necessary as they refute the myths of the Jews with their legalistic commands (The Jews were also seeking to colonise!) and the lazy immoral character of many in Cretin culture. Elders were to oversee and manage God’s household
Set in Order
Titus was also to ensure that those older members of the community where sufficiently oriented to maintain the respect, faith and wisdom that they needed to pass on to the younger members of the community. The older are not asked to “teach” except for the passing on of home-life skills from older women to younger. This correct order is in accord with sound doctrine (2:1) and functions as a safeguard to the teaching (2:5), a and a wonderful attractiveness (2:10) of this family as even those down trodden in society are seen to be empowered by this administration of God’s grace (Compare Eph 3:2 and the whole chapter of Titus 2 esp 2:11). Titus’s personal role was not only teaching sound doctrine but also showing himself as an example of this sound doctrine (a young, sober minded man with very careful and respectful teaching) so that no-one can put him to shame – and therefore cannot speak evil of Paul or the universal administration of God’s grace. This was the way God’s grace was to flow to each and every member of the community.
Titus was to also ensure that this grace of God overflowed from these ordered communities into their nation, cities and regions (3:1). The communities were to be so unbound by rigid legalism that had filled the synagogue tradition, and so filled with God’s grace that their lives would be devoted to doing good to everyone in whatever context they found themselves in. Leadership (Ch1) and Household order (Ch2) where the things that Titus was to set in order to ensure that God’s grace was uninhibited as it poured from these Christian Communities into the wider community.
This is a beautiful trajectory for the churches to be on that must not be seen in isolation to the context that Paul was speaking to Titus in. Titus was in Crete. Jewish legalism abounds. Some jewish members of the churches were intent on teaching new believers, binding them up with all their jewish laws – their different gospel - essentially causing them to walk away from the faith (1:14). Titus would need to go head to head with these teachers, silencing them, that the Jewish myths (observance of laws = salvation) would be shut down and the families of the church spared from walking away from the faith.
Cretin culture with all its vivacious evils was consistently impinging on the sound teaching. Titus is told that order to is to be gained at all costs. Teaching and rebuking with all authority would be necessary to set the communities in order.
Paul says to Titus that he is to “let no-one disregard/despise you” (2:15). This gives us an indicator of the strength to which Titus was to fulfil his role. The word is: Periphroneo
Peri – about, concerning, around, regarding
Phroneo – adopt a view, conceited, concern, to have an attitude, intent on a purpose,
Louw Nida render it this way:
76.25 ἀκυρόω; περιφρονέω: to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’1
Paul is empowering Titus with hugely significant authority. He must see to this task of setting the churches in order. Without doubt he will encounter significant authority battles – especially with the Cretin Jews and their works based paradigm of salvation. His work then is to maintain a respectful teaching stance, to be a living example of what he is teaching, and to be immovable in the few things that he was asked to teach. Everyone in each community was to learn and receive sound teaching and the household order which accords with it.
Once ordered, these communities would be attractive communities prepared for good works (Ch3). This would result in no-one maligning the teaching and the word of God. The doctrines of God (the breadth of the gospel) would be soundly adorned by all of the communities within the household of God and would no doubt continue to gain ground throughout the island of Crete. Sure, the work was outlined to be tough and painful, but what a prize to be gained!
Prior to the discussion
Go back to your work in First Principles Series 3 and form your work there and your recent work here into a new Authors intent statement for the book of Titus.
Socratic Discussion Questions
In our culture, how normal is it for a church leader to be given the charge that Paul gave to Titus? Should this be normative?
Examine each of the roles in the household order. What is determining the order and the roles of each? What would this look like in Western culture?
How important is household order? Is there ever a situation where order is not necessary – why / why not?
What would Titus’s charge look like in our 21st century culture? What difficulties are likely to be faced as a church in our culture is set in order?
Write an initial paragraph on the necessity of household order from the book of Titus. We’ll add to this throughout following sessions from Titus – and then add detail to it from both books.