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Session 1: Reality Check

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Background

After the apostle Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome (AD 60-62), he continued his missionary work, taking his Gentile coworker Titus along with him. One of the areas they evangelized was the island of Crete. When the apostle moved on, he left Titus behind to appoint elders in every town (). Paul wrote his letter to Titus around AD 63 to remind Titus of the qualifications necessary for the elders, to describe the aspects of new life in Christ, and to encourage Titus to teach sound doctrine and to rebuke those in the church who were spreading false doctrine.
Paul was always concerned about teaching of false doctrine. How do you think he would react to today’s environment?
Titus 1:5 ESV
5 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—

Titus had the task of being an apostolic representative. One of Paul’s early converts (1:4), he was a Gentile, evidently from Antioch of Syria. Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem to discuss the nature of the gospel (Gal. 2:1–3). Titus was so vibrant a disciple that the Jerusalem leaders were persuaded that Paul’s law-free gospel was acceptable (Gal. 2:3–5). Titus was with Paul in Ephesus on his third missionary journey and was Paul’s ambassador to the troubled church in Corinth, carrying both the “Severe Letter” and 2 Corinthians (see Occasion for 2 CORINTHIANS).

After Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, he assigned Titus the responsibility of helping the churches on the island of Crete with their doctrinal and organizational difficulties. After this letter was written, Paul sent him to Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10). Titus proved to be a courageous and strong leader.

Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, lying directly south of the Aegean Sea. It is about 160 miles across, with a long history of civilization. In the Old Testament it was called Caphtor, and the Philistine people probably migrated from there to southern Palestine. Paul’s shipwreck adventure occurred after the captain of the ship he was on declined to spend the winter in Crete (Acts 27). Life in Crete was distressing because of the lying and laziness of the people (1:12)

Sound doctrine is crucial as the cure for false teaching. This letter gives the qualifications for elders (also called bishops), but not for other church officers (see 1 Tim. 3). The term “elder” (Greek, presbyteros) refers to the maturity and respect—the character qualities—that church leaders must have and was probably derived from the model of the Jewish synagogues. The term “bishop” (Greek, episkopos) is better translated “overseer” and refers to the ministry responsibilities entrusted to church leaders. This term was probably taken from Hellenistic (Greek) cultural patterns. Titus 2:1–9 catalogs appropriate relationships within the congregation.

Who is Titus?

An intimate and trusted associate of the apostle in his mission of planting Christianity throughout the Mediterranean world (; Tm 4:10; ).
Mentioned frequently in Paul’s letters (eight times in 2 Cor, twice in Gal, once each in Ti and 2 Tm)
His name occurs nowhere in Acts, a puzzling silence some have sought to explain with the fascinating, but uncertain, suggestion that he was a brother of Luke, the author of Acts.
He is first introduced as a companion of Paul and Barnabas on a visit to Jerusalem (). The occasion appears to have been the Jerusalem Council.
about ad 50, which Paul and Barnabas attended as official delegates from the church at Antioch not long after the apostle’s first missionary journey ().
The term Cretan: The assignment was difficult, for the Cretans were unruly and the struggling church was already invaded by false teachers (vv 10–16).
His handling of the Corinthian problem some years before, however, demonstrated that Titus possessed the spiritual earnestness, skillful diplomacy, and loving concern required to meet the present challenge, and Paul was confident that this new commission was therefore safe in his hands.
Paul’s letter to Titus, one of his three pastoral letters, was written somewhat later to encourage Titus in his Cretan ministry. The letter closes with the apostle’s request that Titus join him at Nicopolis, a town on the west coast of Greece, where he planned to spend the winter (). Most likely it was from Nicopolis, or else later from Rome where the apostle was imprisoned again and eventually martyred, that Paul sent Titus on the mission to Dalmatia, a Roman province in what is now Yugoslavia, on which he had embarked when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, the last of his letters (2 Tm 4:10). If later tradition is correct, V 2, p 2073 p 2073 Titus returned to Crete, where he served as bishop until advanced age.
Let’s begin with
ad anno Domini
vv verses
Titus 1:5 ESV
5 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—
Titus 3:3–8 ESV
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Verse 3 - The Natural Man

3:3 Paul and the believers of Crete were once like these unbelievers (compare ; ). Those now saved must not forget the means of their salvation: the mercy of God. God appeared to rescue humanity from its dire situation.
The progression of sin in this verse begins with foolishness and disobedience (i.e., ignorance of God and defiance) and culminates in a breakdown of relationships (i.e., hating one another).
Like all people everywhere, we belonged to the fallen system and lived according to our fallen nature. Being foolish is obstinacy, a dig-in-your-heels refusal to admit the truth. The fool willfully goes his own, headstrong way. Being disobedient involves choice. It refers to a decision to reject God’s ways. As a person becomes seduced either by twisted Christian doctrines or man-made philosophies, he becomes deceived regarding the truth. This fuels both foolishness and disobedience, resulting in a life marked by sin: enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
Paul painted a picture of bondage. Having succumbed to the illusions of this world, unbelievers participate in unrestrained passions and pleasures. This leads to a loss of will. People eventually become prisoner to their urges and cannot break away. These may even be socially acceptable pursuits like materialism, or they may involve the lowest sorts of degradation. Either way, the heart is captivated and cannot free itself.
Our relationships with others proved no better in the past as we lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. It is common practice to destroy others in order to preserve one’s self. Without Christ we cannot understand ourselves, nor can we comprehend our place in the world. In an effort to make sense in a violent, threatening environment, people often protect themselves by striking out at others. Malice seeks to harm others; envy betrays our discontent and restlessness. Our self-protection results in hatred toward others, and they return the favor. It is a vicious cycle from which we need to be freed, but we remain enslaved, unable to cast off the shackles.
Cross References:
1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
2 Timothy 3:13 ESV
13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
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James 4:1 ESV
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
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1 Peter 4:3 ESV
3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
2 Peter 1:4 ESV
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
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Verses 4-7

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Titus 3:4–7 ESV
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4 ESV
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
tit
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Now we have Paul’s description of the progression of godliness, which begins with sound doctrine (i.e., knowledge of the truth) and culminates in good works (i.e., loving one another) (). In both cases, one leads to the other.
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Verse 4
The work of salvation comes solely from God’s mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. As states, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” We can contrive no goodness by which to attain the favor or forgiveness of God. Salvation comes independent of human effort or desire. God initiates, acts, and pursues because of his mercy.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Salvation comes through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. These terms explain, in part, the complex activities which faith in Christ generates. The washing of rebirth refers to the cleansing from sin which results from trust in Jesus Christ. This purification of the sound spirit brings life. No longer living on a purely natural or physical level, believers are transformed from spirit-death to spirit-life. They count themselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” ().
Romans 6:11 ESV
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It mirrors Paul’s description of the progression of godliness, which begins with sound doctrine (i.e., knowledge of the truth) and culminates in good works (i.e., loving one another) (). In both cases, one leads to the other.
Cross References:
God’s kindness and love appeared in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In His saving work, Christ models the kindness and love that believers must show all people (see v. 2).
Epiphaino TLNT
3:5 See and note.
Eleos EDNT
Refers to the transformation of the corrupt human nature by the Holy Spirit. Jesus described salvation in similar terms, emphasizing God’s radical work within a person (, , ).
John 3:3 ESV
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:5 ESV
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
John 3:8 ESV
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Through the work of the Holy Spirit, believers experience a rebirth from a state of spiritual death (compare ; ). The presence of the Spirit enables them to live in a manner that pleases God (compare ). The washing here denotes an inner, spiritual cleansing (compare ); it probably does not refer to baptism.
Ephesians 2:1–6 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Colossians 2:13 ESV
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Romans 8:6–8 ESV
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Ephesians 5:26 ESV
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Verse 6
Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
| “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
Joel 2:28 ESV
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
| “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
| Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Acts 2:33 ESV
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
| Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
| And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
Acts 10:45 ESV
45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
| And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
| and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5 ESV
5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
| and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Verse 7: Defining Justification

Regeneration CT
Regeneration EDT2
3:7 Describes being declared righteous in God’s sight—not by human merit, but by His grace.
Justification represents God’s pardoning and acceptance of sinners who express faith in Jesus Christ (and God’s faithfulness shown through Him). Christ’s death and resurrection are central to justification because they demonstrate God’s justice and mercy. God did not ignore sin and forsake His justice; rather, He condemned sin and satisfied the demands of His justice through the death of Christ (). Likewise, God did not ignore the sinner and abandon His mercy; instead, He granted sinners righteousness and life through the resurrection of Christ—both of which the law could not provide (). After being justified by Christ, believers do good works as evidence of their salvation.
Romans 8:3 ESV
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Romans 4:23–25 ESV
23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Let’s finish up with
Titus 3:8–11 ESV
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Verses 8-11

Verses 8-11

Justification EDT2
Justification DPL
The Crisis of Protestantism in the West J:WSCD
Titus 3:8–11 ESV
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Refers to those who receive an inheritance. In this case, believers inherit eternal life. Believers become part of God’s family and receive the blessings promised to His children (compare ).
Believers are co-heirs with Christ and possess full rights as sons (; ). Their inheritance includes salvation (), eternal life (; , ), the earth (), the kingdom of God (), and all things (; ). Believers are not only heirs but God’s own inheritance (; ; compare ).

Detriments to the Church

Heir TBD
Inheritance DBI
“While the devil lost us when we accepted Christ, he still works hard to weaken our witness”
Inheritance NBD
See note on .
Romans 2:7 ESV
7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

Verses 8-11

3:8–15 Paul issues a final warning about the dangers that false teachers pose to the church. He calls on Titus to avoid the interests of false teachers and to dissociate with those who reject church discipline (). Paul closes the letter with brief instructions regarding some of his coworkers and a benediction (vv. 12–15).
3:8 See note on .
The believers in Crete will have an opportunity to do good to Zenas and Apollos (see ). See note on 2:14.
3:9 This seems to primarily reference the problems the false teachers were causing. Titus is instructed to oppose these false teachers but should not allow for their controversies to dictate his agenda. This also seems to be a broad reference to controversies that are unprofitable in terms of the gospel reaching more people
See note on .
Do you believe every one in this church agrees with one another on all Scripture?
Controversies and quarrels do not stir God’s people to good works.
Nouthesia TDNT
Nouthesia NIDNTT
3:11 Paul asserts that they condemn themselves because they reject the warnings of leadership ().
SUPPORTING IDEA: Having described the proper conduct expected of Christians toward government and all people, Paul formed the basis for our behavior. He urged us to recall our past alienation from God and our disobedience and then to remember that our righteousness comes from God’s mercy and grace. Our goodness is not self-generated. Purchased by Christ, it is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
1. Natural man (3:3)
In the past we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived. Paul included himself in this description. Without Christ all people follow this type of lifestyle and thinking. Like all people everywhere, we belonged to the fallen system and lived according to our fallen nature. Being foolish is obstinacy, a dig-in-your-heels refusal to admit the truth. The fool willfully goes his own, headstrong way. Being disobedient involves choice. It refers to a decision to reject God’s ways. As a person becomes seduced either by twisted Christian doctrines or man-made philosophies, he becomes deceived regarding the truth. This fuels both foolishness and disobedience, resulting in a life marked by sin: enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
Paul painted a picture of bondage. Having succumbed to the illusions of this world, unbelievers participate in unrestrained passions and pleasures. This leads to a loss of will. People eventually become prisoner to their urges and cannot break away. These may even be socially acceptable pursuits like materialism, or they may involve the lowest sorts of degradation. Either way, the heart is captivated and cannot free itself.
Our relationships with others proved no better in the past as we lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. It is common practice to destroy others in order to preserve one’s self. Without Christ we cannot understand ourselves, nor can we comprehend our place in the world. In an effort to make sense in a violent, threatening environment, people often protect themselves by striking out at others. Malice seeks to harm others; envy betrays our discontent and restlessness. Our self-protection results in hatred toward others, and they return the favor. It is a vicious cycle from which we need to be freed, but we remain enslaved, unable to cast off the shackles.
3:4. “At one time” we were enslaved to depravity (v. 3). Then Paul wrote But when and introduced a seismic shift. Something crucial happened through a dramatic, historical event that challenges our imprisonment to sin: the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared. This is the incarnation, the appearance (epiphany) of Christ among men. God’s kindness and love compelled Christ’s appearance at Bethlehem, his exemplary life, and his substitutionary death and resurrection.
3:5–6. Jesus, in these actual events, gained salvation for all people who believe. Rescuing us from the grip of corruption, he saved us.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Salvation comes through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. These terms explain, in part, the complex activities which faith in Christ generates. The washing of rebirth refers to the cleansing from sin which results from trust in Jesus Christ. This purification of the sound spirit brings life. No longer living on a purely natural or physical level, believers are transformed from spirit-death to spirit-life. They count themselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” ().
3:7. Paul told us God’s purpose in providing salvation: so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs. Some people claim that justification means “just as if I’d never sinned.” That may be cute, or clever, but it does not do salvation justice. Actually, “salvation” is a legal term describing a guilty person before the bar who is then pronounced blameless by the judge. This does not mean the individual has been found guiltless. Instead, it means that the person has been released from guilt, his offense paid for. All of this is by God’s grace, apart from human merit.
Christ purchased our soul’s freedom through his death and resurrection. In this way, God pardons those who trust in Jesus, bestowing upon them Christ’s righteousness. states, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe … God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood … he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
God cannot tolerate or excuse sin, but he can give his own Son as the substitute payment that justice must extract. Personal trust identifies us with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In the same way that we share in his death, we share in his victory over death. He grants us his righteousness through faith.
Having received pardon and been given his righteousness, we share in his glory. We become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Those who rely upon the salvation work of Jesus are adopted by God into his family. He extends to us an inheritance. Each family member receives equally from the goodness of the Father. There is no favoritism with God. The riches of God become our inheritance—eternal life, full righteousness and holiness, uninterrupted fellowship, and unhindered fulfillment of our creative intent “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” ().
The historical appearance, life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the gift of his Holy Spirit are guarantees of our future inheritance. God has acted, and his promises stand.
3:8. All that Paul has written is trustworthy; it is unfailing because was given by God. Salvation, righteousness, faith, and hope are indisputable facts of Christian belief. Paul wanted Titus to teach these truths to the Cretan believers.
If we can agree that Paul’s statements are true, we conclude that:
Christians are called to a high standard of thinking, attitudes and conduct.
Every believer comes with a background of disobedience toward God and with selfish drives which alienate him from God and others.
God has provided a way for people to reestablish a pure and honest relationship with him through Jesus Christ.
Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection results in God’s pardoning our corrupted lives and spirits.
Our future holds a glorious existence with God in eternity.
If we can hold to these conclusions, then we must also reason that the life which Paul commended to Titus is an attainable and worthy pursuit. But Christian growth does not occur automatically: we must be careful to devote [ourselves] to doing what is good.
New life in Christ comes to those who determine to act upon their professions of belief. They do not “give it a shot” now and again; they resolve to obey constantly and continuously.
But we must partner with his Spirit to produce the goodness he intends, putting faith into practice through the commitment of our wills.
SUPPORTING IDEA: Even with orthodox teaching, reminders of God’s goodness, and the spiritual development and good works of people committed to Jesus Christ, the church remains a “mixed bag” of genuine and false Christians. Paul warned that theological abstractions and arguing cause great harm to the church and must be avoided.
C. Detriments to the Church (3:9–11)
SUPPORTING IDEA: Even with orthodox teaching, reminders of God’s goodness, and the spiritual development and good works of people committed to Jesus Christ, the church remains a “mixed bag” of genuine and false Christians. Paul warned that theological abstractions and arguing cause great harm to the church and must be avoided.
3:9. Paul wrote to Titus with the same energy and purpose with which he wrote Timothy () about false teachers and their message. He warned Titus and the church to avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law. The false teachers appear to have had a standard operating procedure with standard results. They created intricate systems of interpretation based upon Old Testament Jewish law.
These systems involved genealogies, legends, and fables of Hebrew tradition and invention which pulled the new convert and others into a tangle of speculation. The genealogy fascination probably stemmed from a desire to establish Hebrew tribal identity. These obsessions probably came from the circumcision group that held tightly to Jewish privilege and tradition. Claims of tribal legitimacy or accusations of illegitimacy, debates about ancestral purity, Jewish blessing, and positions of authority must have pulled the church into a storm of controversy.
People wasted their time running down theological “rabbit trails,” becoming lost in futile discussions and ideas, contending with one another and destroying the community of believers. Paul pronounced such activity as unprofitable and useless—the opposite of the true gospel of grace that is “excellent and profitable for everyone” (). As they argued and quarreled with one another, a climate of anger and bitterness developed, and the church was derailed from its mission.
How does the world divide us?
The modern church falls prey to the same mentality, arguing and dividing itself over opinions, political views, parenting styles, worship styles, secondary theological issues, and a vast assortment of opinions and personal preferences that we elevate to spiritual law.
Where this occurs, the result is the same today as in the first century. The church is distracted from its mission to bring salvation, love, and hope to a dying world.
Rather than attracting the unbeliever to something new and good—a community of faith and the grace of God—the church repels the outside world because of its judgmental attitude and political bickering.
Even the divisive person is offered hope. The purpose of warning people who disrupt the church or mislead others is to bring about repentance in the erring believer. A warning must be clear, not couched in vague references or surrounded by excuses. Rebuke must be loving but not timid. The goal is to bring the disobedient back into the fellowship of obedience. Warning or rebuking seeks this with humility.
But if these warnings fail after a second attempt, then have nothing to do with him. This procedure complements the instructions given by Jesus in , where the Christian who sins against another believer is to be confronted. If he refuses to acknowledge his sin and repent, a second rebuke in front of witnesses is called for. If he persists in his stubbornness, he is taken before the church. With continued willfulness, he is to be treated “as you would a pagan or a tax collector” ()—he is cut off from Christian fellowship, benefit, service, and worship.
Church discipline is still necessary. Unfortunately, few churches take it seriously enough to act with courage and boldness when necessary.
3:11. Cutting such a person off from Christian association has the individual’s repentance at heart. Once the person feels the isolation, perhaps he will consider his error and change. But a person who refuses the terms of grace and continues in error is warped and sinful. His thinking, perspective, and conscience are twisted. His hardness of heart makes his judgment unreliable so that he cannot recognize the truth. In such a condition, he continues to sin.
Here is a warning for everyone. Those who dabble in false ideas and theological oddities or those who sin and refuse to come to terms with their disobedience follow a dangerous path that leads to self-deception. It happens slowly as a person permits himself self-apportioned leniency, ignoring the warning signs, the rebukes, the sinful habits that engulf him. Through negligence and unbelief, these Christians become self-condemned. By willfully rejecting the truth, they pronounce judgment on themselves.
He urged Titus to shun such people who tore up the fellowship (cp. ). In accordance with the instructions of Jesus in , they were to be disciplined only after at least two warnings. In reality, their excommunication was their own doing. Their thinking had become perverted, and they stood self-condemned.
Romans 16:17–20 ESV
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
In verse 3 Paul described their former sinful life, marked by ignorance, hedonistic desires, social strife, and malice. Salvation came with the coming (epiphany) of Christ (v. 4). Salvation came through his act of mercy and not through their own meritorious deeds (v. 5). It was expressed through their being cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 5–6). The references to the “washing of rebirth” and the “renewal by the Holy Spirit” both refer to the Spirit’s work of cleansing and providing spiritual rebirth in the lives of believers. The symbolism of baptism may be present in the reference to “washing,” but the power and the reality of regeneration is the work of the Spirit, not of the water. Verse 7 could not be more Pauline: we have been set right with God (justified) by God’s grace through Christ so that we might be joint heirs with him of life eternal (cp. ).
Romans 16:17–20 ESV
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
ey stood self-condemned.
Verses 4–7 likely preserve a confessional statement. In verse 8 Paul referred to it as a “trustworthy” (faithful) word. He urged Titus to insist on these “excellent and profitable” things so that the Christians of Crete would set their minds on doing good. By “these things” he probably meant all the exhortations from 2:1–3:2. As always his concern was that Christians lead an exemplary lifestyle which would be a beacon in the community, lighting the way to Christ.
Matthew 18:15–17 ESV
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Avoiding Mindless Controversies (3:9–11)
Matthew 18:15–20 ESV
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Paul concluded the body of his letter by returning to the subject of the false teachers. The Jewish elements of the teaching are again evident (cp. 1:10–16). The heretics argued over genealogies (probably those of Genesis) and quibbled about the law (probably the Jewish law). What concerned Paul most was not the actual content of their teaching but their divisiveness. He urged Titus to shun such people who tore up the fellowship (cp. ). In accordance with the instructions of Jesus in , they were to be disciplined only after at least two warnings. In reality, their excommunication was their own doing. Their thinking had become perverted, and they stood self-condemned.

Takeaways

Apart from Christ, we are dead in sin; each and everyone of us
We are transformed only by what God has made possible through Jesus Christ
Our good works and the way we conduct our lives serve as a witness to the effectiveness of the gospel in our lives
Our own sinful and self-serving attitudes and actions are self-condemning and reveal a heart far from God
| while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
| What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
| For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
| by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Verse 4
| Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
| Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
| This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
| and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
| not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
Verse 5
| Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
| Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
| But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
| not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
| Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
| And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
| “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
| Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
| And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
| and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
| desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
| The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
| The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
| The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
| The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
Verse 9
| They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
| Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
| For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
| nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
| he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
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