Rudy Ross was right to draw our attention to the first verses of Titus. I skipped them in our video in a rush to get to Hebrews.
We do well to take a look at Paul’s introduction to the letter to Titus. Here are some high points in Paul’s introductory remarks.
(1) Verse 1 – Paul is not his own man. He is a servant of God, who has been sent by Jesus.
(2) Verse 1 – Paul’s mission is to strengthen the faith of people who have been called into a personal relationship with God.
His message to Titus is intended to increase the knowledge of the gospel for the people of Crete, the largest of the Greek islands.
For Paul knowledge was not a matter of acquiring more information about God. The proper understanding of knowledge results in behavior that “is in accordance with godliness.”
“Godliness” or piety was the highest form of behavior in the Greco-Roman world.
(3) Verse 4 – Titus was one of Paul’s most trusted partners. He put out fires in troubled churches and was involved in delivering a sizeable contribution to the church in Jerusalem.
Skipping Verses – Getting to Challenging Material
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross and I skipped Paul’s instructions about church leaders. They provide an excellent contrast to those who require a rebuke from Titus.
There are also many rebellious people, idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision;
They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what it is not right to teach (Titus 1.10-11).
Rudy identifies with the “circumcision” party that troubled the first-century church. In today’s video, he explains his struggle to accept the Christian faith.
Rudy believes that these people, like he, may have struggled to incorporate faith in the divinity of Christ into their Jewish religion.
I appreciate how Rudy gives us an insight into how Jewish people must wrestle with the claims of the Christian faith, both in the first century and today.
Looking at these verses through my Gentile eyes, I see people who have a character problems.
Paul was a Jew and Titus was a Gentile convert. Paul, the Jew, told his Gentile partner that the opponents in Crete were rebellious, idle, deceptive, greedy, and causing trouble.
That kind of character is not acceptable, whether Jewish or Gentile.
These character traits are the opposite of godliness or piety, which was highly valued in the Greco-Roman world.
As we read this first section of Titus, let’s recognize that we are not our own. We are servants of God, who have been called to represent his character to the watching world.
Paul repeated a common saying about the citizens of Crete.
It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said,
“Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.”
That testimony is true (Titus 1.12-13a).
The Cretans were legendary liars. This stemmed from their claim that the tomb of Zeus was located on their island.
Their lack of truth-telling was so prevalent that to “cretanize” was used in Greece for “to lie or cheat.”
Tomorrow’s video will explore the deceptive nature of the Cretans and what Paul instructed Titus to do.
For today, let’s determine to align our lives with God’s character, truth, and godliness.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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