Titus was one of at least two younger men that the Apostle Paul discipled. He described Titus as his “true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4). Both Timothy and Titus served as Paul’s messengers and traveling companions. They both would go on to lead churches. Paul not only mentored them, but he also advised them through letters about their next steps for forming and pastoring churches.
Titus was a Gentile (Galatians 2:3) who was led to faith in Christ by Paul himself (Titus 1:4). He would accompany Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to Jerusalem (Titus is included in the comment “other believers” in Acts 15:2). Later, Titus would go to Corinth to serve the church there (2 Corinthians 8:6, 16-17). On Paul’s third missionary journey, which took place from A.D. 53 to 57, Paul arrived in Troas and expected to meet Titus there (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Not finding Titus, Paul left for Macedonia.
Titus later rejoined Paul in Philippi and gave him a good report of the ministry in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:6-7, 13-14). When Titus returned to Corinth, he hand-delivered one of Paul’s letters (2 Corinthians) and organized a collection for needy church members in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:10, 17, 24). Titus is last mentioned in the Bible during Paul’s final Roman imprisonment. From Rome, Titus was sent to evangelize Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10), an area which later became known as Yugoslavia and is now called Serbia and Montenegro.
Many churches today focus more on the form of their worship, music styles, lighting, and building designs, than they do on the content of the faith they proclaim. We can learn from the Apostle Paul’s focus with Titus, that the church must first center its worship on sound doctrine and proper order. Paul starts off with the qualifications for elders and warns against false teachers and rebellious people in the first chapter of Titus. Leadership matters!
(Titus 1:5-9) 1NIV New International Version Translations– “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
In the second chapter Paul covers acceptable Christian behavior and family life, urging Titus himself to be a faithful example. Paul tells Titus:
(Titus 3:1) – “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,”
Paul reminds Titus to use his authority:
(Titus 2:15) – “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”
Paul knew that Corinth was a contemporary city of the times. It was wealthy and had many pagan churches. Because Corinth was a major trade route, it was a city representing many faiths and world views. Much of what would be written into Paul’s letters to Corinth would be about assuring that worship and teaching were done in concert with God’s Truth and with an assemblance of order. Titus was a faithful servant of Christ and a dedicated aide to Paul. He must have been trustworthy and dependable, since Paul appointed him to lead works in Corinth, Crete, and Dalmatia. Paul calls him “my partner and fellow worker” (2 Corinthians 8:23). Knowing the difficult situations in both Corinth and Crete, we can conclude that Titus was an insightful person and could handle problems with grace. Paul helped Titus consolidate his message of faith which is still applicable to Christians and churches today:
(Titus 1:1–4) – “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,”
(Titus 2:11–14) – “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
(Titus 3:4–7) – “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
All three passages in Titus help define the Christian faith as our belief in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Titus summarizes for us that it was only when God the Son took on human flesh in the person of Jesus was our faith in God the Father secured. Why? Because it was at that moment in history that God poured out His grace on all humanity! We were cleansed from our sins to be made right before God for His eternal purpose. The gift of Grace from God tells us to live an upright and godly life. We are to do this now, in our world and for these times (Titus 2:11–3:8).
How would you then value the short letter to Titus from the Apostle Paul? In summary, you might start off and say that our future lies in our youth. Mentoring our children in faith is critical to supporting Christ’s ongoing mission in our world. Next, I would hope that you might choose to see the importance of the character of any leader over wealth and style. If our Apostle Paul could walk our streets today, he would not focus with the sizes of the sanctuaries, worship styles, or the music coming out the doors. Paul would probably walk the neighborhoods around the churches to see whether people were hungry, sick, and cold. He might even ask to sit in on a Bible Study class or two and just listen. Is God’s Truth being taught? Are the people changing their worldly views for Godly views? Are they honoring the widows and orphans of the world? To the church in Philippi, Paul gave this final charge:
(Philippians 4:8) – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
- The Apostle Paul says to listen and obey leaders. If a leader is not trustworthy or has the wrong motivations, will you obey them?
- Ideas to Explore: Is the role of leadership to teach, and correct? If so, will you listen to a leader who is teaching and living an ungodly life? While Paul uses these criteria in Titus for elders, how would they apply to business leaders, politicians, or people with great influence over society?
- When you are rebuked for something, how do you feel if the person doing it is not sincere and does the same things they are rebuking you for?
- Ideas to Explore: Do you have an expectation that a teacher or someone who is setting rules, or judgment are living what they “Preach?” Why is that?
- Why is it necessary to have an orderly environment for worship and teaching?
- Ideas to Explore: Can you learn in chaos? Describe the best environment for you to learn in. Why is it effective?
- Corinth was a very diverse city. Why would trying to accommodate everyone’s opinion be an impossible task when it comes to worship and teaching?
- Ideas to Explore: Who’s standards should be used for worship and education? Does accommodation lead to a better relationship with God?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations