Monday, July 18, 2016

An Introduction to the Book of Titus- Titus 1:1-5 NLT

This week I want to take a look at Titus. I know a Titus in real life. He is adorable, funny, smart, intuitive, and such a people person. He is just a tiny guy and part of our family, actually. We normally spend time with him around now in the summer and so maybe that's why I feel a prodding to study this book that this sweet little boy was named for.

Titus was actually a Gentile man (Galatians 2:4) who followed along with Paul in his mission (Galatians 2:1) to spread the truth of Jesus to the entire known world. This is no small assignment. In fact, Paul spends much of this letter calling us away from the ordinary life and into an extraordinary life serving God. He wants to see us use our God-given gifts and talents to serve God and introduce others to Him.

Remember that Paul was the one who wrote much of the New Testament as we know it today after spending a portion of his life as a Jewish pharisee, persecuting the new believers. Everything changed when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. His life was forever changed after that and Jesus has been using him ever since to change our lives as well.

Paul is actually the author of this book, this letter that is written to Titus. The first verses in this book tell us so. They also explain why Paul is writing:

"This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace." (Titus 1:1-4)

If we read on, we can also see when Paul wrote it and what Titus' purpose was there:

"I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you." (Titus 1:5)

Now within five verses, we know that Paul is writing to Titus just after leaving him to spread the message of Jesus and appoint elders on the Island of Crete. There's something else to see in these lines too, though. Paul actually tells us that he is not only a "slave to Christ (a master-slave position)" but that he has also chosen this position (apostle of Jesus Christ). An apostle was chosen and sent by Christ himself. In this letter to Titus, and in several of his other letters, Paul identifies himself as someone who willingly serves Christ.

But what else do we know about Titus? We know that Paul considered him his "true son in the faith" that they both shared. Keep in mind that Paul never had any children of his own nor did he marry. So calling Titus his son is an expression of father-like love for this man that he loves as a son. He also references him as a companion alongside Barnabas in Galatians 2:1. Therefore it's safe to assume that Titus was a really close friend of Paul's who was also working to introduce others to Jesus. And more than anything, Paul longed to see Titus and the people of Crete knowing the real truth that comes from God not the fake truth that the false prophets were teaching all around them.

We know little else about Titus, but the letter that Paul wrote to this man of the faith serves us in a big way today. From it, we gain a list of what to look for in church leaders (elders). We see the importance of right teaching and making good choices. But most importantly, we read Paul's message of HOPE, Christian Hope which is so much more than some uncertainty of the future. It's a promise grounded in the words of God. The Book of Titus is tiny but packs a big message. It'll be great to dig into this little book of the Bible over the next week.

And as we do so, we are going to unpack Paul's messages and apply them to family life. How can we serve our families as a team? What does a strong and uplifting mentor relationship look like between women? How can we, as women, lift our husbands up? What are some ways that we can be bighearted and courteous in our own homes? Join me this week as we strive to answer these questions.

It's my prayer that we come through this study of Titus with a different perspective, a powerful hope, a renewed sense of purpose, and that we are changed because of what we have learned. I can't wait to see what Jesus teaches us over the next several days.

* Bible Gateway Commentary about Titus, "Greeting:"

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