Believe it or not, ladies, we’re actually starting Chapter 3 of Titus today! Even more incredible, we’ll actually cover two entire verses! As soon as you recover from the shock, please prepare for today’s Bible Study by reading all of Titus 3 to familiarize yourselves with the context. Also, bear in mind the verse we studied last Monday.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. ~~Titus 2:15 (ESV)
As we said last week, the apostle Paul (writing under the authority of the Holy Spirit) commanded Titus to declare the instructions and doctrines that preceded verse 15. But Titus would also need to declare the instructions and doctrines we now find in our current chapter. So Paul begins with addressing how the Cretan Christians should respond to those in civil authority.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. ~~Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)
Paul wanted Titus to remind the Cretan Christians of several responsibilities. Though they knew these fundamental attitudes, the pressures of the surrounding heathen culture had the potential of distracting them and drawing them into compromise.
Firstly, Paul wanted Titus to remind them to submit to secular authorities. Paul’s letter to the Romans issued a similar injunction (Romans 13:1-7). Submission requires a willing subordination instead of grudge obedience.
They were to submit to civic authorities. Their allegiance to God’s kingdom didn’t excuse them from being good citizens, especially in a society characterized by rebellion.
According to Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, this obedience didn’t necessarily imply spontaneous obedience (since the authorities might demand actions contrary to the Gospel). They instead posit that obedience generally tends toward the good works that civil leaders generally encourage.
Barnes adds that Christians should have a readiness to do good works, rather than needing to be coaxed. This readiness allows us to regard opportunities to do good as a privilege instead of a burden.
But verse 2 broadens the scope of people Christians must respect. Titus also must teach the Christians not to speak evil of anyone. This idea includes the avoidance of slander, but it extends further. We must take care not to put anybody in a bad light. Maybe Paul particularly meant that they should speak respectfully of secular authorities, but he by no means restricted the command to our attitude toward civil authority.
Paul also wanted the Cretan Christians to avoid quarreling and instead treat others with kindness and consideration. Additionally, they were to behave gently, in contrast to the brutal demeanor of the unsaved Cretans, treating Christians and non-Christians alike with perfect courtesy.
Although Paul’s letter specifically addresses Titus and how the Lord wanted him to pastor the churches of First Century Crete, don’t neglect the fact that the Holy Spirit included this epistle in the Canon of Scripture for all Christians of every generation to read. Therefore, the principles Titus must teach his flock apply to us. As we meditate on Titus 3:1-2 this week, perhaps the Lord will encourage us in showing courtesy to those we meet.