Lessons from Titus

This pastoral letter is quite rich in listing the qualities for good Christians, and it’s noteworthy that Paul stresses some qualities for everyone but also some particular qualities for different groups of people.  This division itself may be controversial in 2018, with even more controversy involving instructions that involve  obedience to authorities.  And the less controversial good qualities listed themselves raise an interesting question, namely why Paul thought it necessary to list them at all.  Well, obviously Paul thought some people needed reminding.   On to the letter.

Qualities Paul tells Titus that an elder should have:  above reproach; one wife; believing children; not accused of dissipation or rebellion; not self-willed; not quick-tempered; not alcoholic; not pugnacious; not greedy; hospitable; loving what is good; sensible; just; devout; and self-controlled.  They must be faithful to the word, able to exhort in sound doctrine, and able to refute those who contradict.

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and perseverance.

Older women are to be reverent in behavior; not gossips; not alcoholics; able to teach what is good/encourage young women to love their husbands and children; sensible; pure; workers at home; kind; and subject to their husbands.

Young men are to be sensible; set a good example in your actions, and be pure in doctrine, dignified, and beyond reproach in speech.

Slaves are to be subject to their masters in everything; well-pleasing; not argumentative; and not pilfering.

All are to deny ungodliness and worldly desires; live sensibly, righteously, and godly; await Christ; be zealous for good deeds; obey authorities; malign no one; be uncontentious, gentle, and considerate of all; and speak confidently the word of the Lord.  All are also to shun foolish controversies and genealogies, as well as strife and disputes about the Law.

We are not to be foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, malicious, envious, or hateful.  We are not saved by deeds but by grace.

Let me note that Paul begins the letter by telling Titus that he (Paul) writes because God promises the hope of eternal life.  So how can it be wrong to be motivated by a desire for eternal life (and avoiding the punishment of it being denied)?

(Some odds and ends:  In 1;1, the phrase “elect of God” is used.  Verse 1:16 says God can be denied by deeds, even if knowing God is professed.  Paul instructs in 3:9-11 that fractious members of the congregation are to be rejected after two warnings.)