The Epistle to Titus, by the Apostle Paul, communicates what might be called the “civilizing function of Christianity.” Titus was a young pastor in charge of a very young church in an unpromising situation in Crete. Elders had not yet been appointed, and Titus was to appoint them. in contrast, the church in Ephesus was well established where Timothy served as pastor. It was in that context that an elder was not to be “a recent convert” [1 Tim. 3:6].)
Titus found himself with the possibility that a candidate for church eldership might have unconverted children or children who were “wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6). The elder himself must be “not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain” (1:7). He was to function in a community of which one of their own people said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (1:12), a testimony with which Paul agreed.
“In that situation it would seem that neither Paul nor Titus had a moment’s hesitation about establishing the church. The letter is clear evidence that the Christian church is not intended to function only in cozy, respectable, middle-class environments. The gospel is for the most unpromising of people,” explains D. A. Carson & Douglas J. Moo in An Introduction to the New Testament.
Ray Van Neste serves as the Director of the Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Union University. He has served in pastoral and preaching ministry in Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Scotland
“Each year as I teach New Testament Survey here at Union University I have my students list the books of the New Testament and answer a few basic questions: Which books do you think you know a lot about? Which books do you think you know little or nothing about? Why do you think you know more about some books than others? Titus never fares well in this basic survey. While this might be expected in some ways, two student responses from this most recent term are especially revealing. One student said she had more exposure to certain books because they have “more value and application than others do.” Titus was singled out as an example of one with less value and application. Another student wrote: “I am unfamiliar with the teachings of Titus and Philemon, possibly due to their short length and lack of profoundly deep insight. (They have insight, just not profound—I’m not degrading any books of the Bible!),” explains Dr. Van Neste.
“Aside from the faux pas of turning in such statements to a professor who has spent several years of his life studying such “less than profound” books (which made for a good laugh in class) and the problematic view of Scripture implied, these statements illustrate the basic lack of awareness of the message of this powerful little letter.”
It is to this powerful, little letter that we give our attention and study. I would encourage you to begin reading the Epistle to Titus.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!
The His Word Today Weekly Podcast begins Monday, September 5 featuring expository messages from the Epistle to the Ephesians.