Good Works | Sound Doctrine

Background on Titus

Author

Though some secular scholars have sought to argue against it, Paul is clearly identified as the author in the first verse of the letter. Still, they posit that Titus along with the letters to Timothy & Philemon are too stylistically different from Paul’s other epistles to be genuine; therefore, they suggest that someone else wrote these three letters using the name of Paul. Without getting into the complexities of this issue, there are at least two main reasons that this theory is invalid. First, if someone else wrote this letter as Paul, such a lie would exclude the epistle from being Scripture. Second, the difference in writing style can easily be attributed to Paul’s personal relationship with both Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, whereas the rest of his letters were written to entire congregations. Thus, we will proceed in our study by considering Paul to be the author.

Theme

Jesus’ church is ordered with sound doctrine and good works in order to promote the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.

Background

We know very little about Titus or the time frame of Paul’s writing the letter. In Galatians 2:1-3, Paul describes his trip to Jerusalem with Barnabas fourteen years after his conversion. The visit sparked a discussion amongst the apostles about the place of circumcision in Christianity, during which Paul used Titus (an uncircumcised Greek) to show that circumcision was not necessary for salvation. Evidently Titus then developed a connection to the church in Corinth because Paul’s information for writing 2 Corinthians was based upon what Titus relayed to them (2 Cor. 7:5-16). Most theologians believe that Paul sent Titus to Crete at some point after his first imprisonment (which was described in Acts 28) and his second imprisonment. This would make Titus one of Paul’s final letters.

Purpose

Being an epistle that is loaded with exhortations and commands, we can gather that Paul ultimately wrote to encourage and guide Titus in his work in Crete of appointing elders and organizing the churches there. Titus’ mission would be overwhelming for anyone in his shoes, but especially given his probable youth, Paul’s wisdom and guidance would be a treasure.

With this mission in view, the epistle concerns itself primarily with how churches ought to be properly ordered, yet Paul accomplishes this goal differently than most others would. Rather than presenting an in-depth ecclesiology (though chapter one does present us with a quick look at leadership in the church), the apostle dives into how each Christian should live a gospel-centered life, and he does so through emphasizing the need for both sound doctrine and good works.

We may, at first glance, wish that Paul had given us a set model for church organization; however, he is far more interested in speaking to the heart of each member. Paul understood that models can never accomplish more than individuals who are gratefully responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ by being zealous for good works. This is the point of Paul’s letter to Titus and how he writes to Titus: gospel-centered churches are comprised of godly, grace-loving, hard-working disciples of Jesus.

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Our Blessed Hope | Day 33

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13 ESV)

Paul, writing to Titus, gives here a wondrous summation of Jesus’ first and second advent. He first states that in Christ the grace of God has come into the world, “bringing salvation for all people.” By His death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed “us from all lawlessness” and purified us for Himself as “a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (v. 14).” Indeed, Jesus saved us, redeemed us, purified us, and equips us to live godly lives.

But Paul also claims that in the midst of all of this, we are waiting for our blessed hope. He describes this hope as “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” This is the second coming of Christ. In His first advent, Jesus came as a servant, operating in a behind-enemy-lines manner that left most of the Jews doubting that He was really the Messiah.

Not so with the second advent. Revelation 19:11-21 gives us a clearer picture of Jesus’ appearing in glory. Splitting the sky in two, Christ will come back to earth upon a white horse with the armies of heaven behind Him. The Suffering Servant will establish His throne as Eternal King in the clear view of everyone. With His second coming Jesus will consummate the kingdom that He inaugurated with His first coming.


Considering also 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, in what ways is the second coming of Christ your blessed hope?