Titus 2

Jimmy JoSermons, TitusLeave a Comment

Read the passage here.

Last week, as we introduced the letter to Titus, we introduced the idea that Paul is speaking to Titus in the context of a relatively new church. One of the key ideas, or contexts, that Paul is addressing is what it means to be this new Christian community in the midst of a city that is decidedly not-Christian.  Paul’s statement that, “Cretans are always liars, brutes, and gluttons,” suggests that the people of Crete “enjoyed” a certain reputation in society.  So there is a distinct sense in which Paul is concerned that the people of God in this new-found church is counter-cultural.  That they demonstrate a life that is distinct from the people around the – and this because of the new life, the true life, they have found in Christ.

So as we continue to read through the letter to Titus, and as we look at our passage today, these concerns of Paul, speaking through Titus to the community of Christ, should be on the forefront of our minds. In short, as we continue to read through Titus, let’s pay attention to the word of God and the Spirit of God as we try to be the people that He wants us to be.

One of the first things that we might notice when we read this chapter is the similarities of verses 2-10 to other passages in the New Testament that have to deal with households. We’ve looked at these passages in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.  And again, a corresponding passage is found in 1 Peter 2-3.  We’ve talked about the Ephesians and Colossians passages in some depth so we won’t spend any more time delving into what’s going on in those passages.  Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, Paul seems to be using the commonly-understood household structure to make his own points about the body of Christ, and specifically how the body of Christ functions as a witness and a testimony in the world.

So why is Paul using this image, the household code, here?  Notice that in his instructions to the different household members, Paul inserts several “so that”s.

v. 5: “…so that no one will malign the word of God.”

v. 8: “…, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

v. 10: “…to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

So in other words, Paul’s concern here seems to be (in my opinion) how character and behaviour function as a testimony and a witness to the people of Crete who, as we have seen, live out and live by decidedly different values.  The household, then, becomes a primary location for the living out and demonstration of the different way of life, the true life, that is found in Christ.

Continuing on with this chapter, we see that verse 11 begins with the word “For.”

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 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.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

We have talked about how the use of “For” gives us a relationship such that B is the reason for A.  In other words, what follows “For” gives us the reasoning for the previous instructions.  In other words, Paul is giving us instructions or guidelines for Christian members of households because of what is to follow: So what is that?  What is Paul saying as the reason for the life in society that he is calling us to?

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 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.

The life that Paul is talking about – the salvation – is brought about by Jesus Christ, through his death. It is a life that is marked by Jesus as King; it is a life where wickedness, brokenness, and sin are done away with, so that we can live the life that we were created to live.

Now these are all themes that we’ve talked about before – themes that we’ve looked at in the context of the Old Testament, the story of Israel. That God calls and creates a people out of the brokenness and sinfulness of the world to be a redeemed people, living redeemed lives.  And this redeemed people will point the way to redemption for all creation.

In other words, all of this has to do with living lives that are set apart. And not merely set apart for the sake of being different; not merely being different for the sake of being different.  It’s not about pointing away from something; rather, it’s about pointing [our lives] towards something – towards the true goal, the true light.

In short, this chapter seems to be telling us, because we have been called into a new life, the true life, through Christ, that is for all people, we are called to live in such a way that demonstrates this life, and not the life that the world thinks is normal or appropriate. (Coming from the first chapter, it is this life that we are to strive towards, not being mis-led by false teaching, which includes legalism.)

So thinking about the epistle to Titus in particular, and thinking about the situation in Crete, what is Paul getting at? And what does it have to do with us today?

As we’ve talked about a lot, one of the things that seems normal in our current society that I believe is contrary to the kingdom life, and detrimental (even destructive) for our witness, our testimony, of that kingdom life has to do with the nature of our discourse. In short, what do we do when we disagree?

We live in a world where everyone’s perspective, everyone’s viewpoint, potentially can be expressed without reservation or filter. One might think or hope that this would lead to increased dialogue and constructive discussion.  What in fact seems to have happened is that we each retreat even further into our own opinions.  The world has also seemingly grown more complicated. Though it may just be a result of the increase of information and media, there seem to be more and more issues always on our minds.

And, unfortunately, for all the advancements in communication, we don’t seem to be very good at talking about stuff. You may agree or disagree with our current Prime Minister’s policies and actions, but it doesn’t do anyone any good, it doesn’t add to the public discourse, to advance your argument by referring to him as a “liberal snowflake.”  You may agree or disagree with the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, but it doesn’t help anyone to understand the issues if all we do is accuse the other side of not understanding the issues.  However you feel about immigrants and refugees, accusing one side of being terrorists and the other side of being racists is not actually helpful.

And as Christians, though we are chosen and called to live the Christ-life, it doesn’t do any good to think about the world as “us” vs. “them.” Though we are called to live and to speak truth, I think Paul is very much encouraging the church to do it in a way that will actually reach those who need to hear it.

In this respect, I think what Paul is saying to Titus and to the church in Crete is very much like what Peter and Jeremiah said:

1 Peter 2:12  12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Jeremiah 29:7  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

I think, in our context, this is similar to what Paul is saying when he tells Titus:

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

I think Paul is probably saying more than this (thinking about the challenges in the church in Crete), but I think this is part of what’s going on.  So the challenge for us, as a church of God in this place and in this time, is how can we seek to live in this world in a way that is rooted in truth, that is founded and sustained by grace, and shines the light of God’s gospel to this world.

This is our challenge and our opportunity.

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