Titus 1:5-9 (part one)

We continue in our series in Titus, which began yesterday. Having given a preview of what the letter will be about (what it means to be a faithful, godly servant of God our true saviour) Paul begins by telling Titus his main reason for writing: to authorise him to appoint faithful, godly servants of God as elders in Crete. Although the letter is addressed to Titus, it’s clearly intended to be “overheard” by the entire community of believers in Crete, giving Titus a mandate to do what Paul is instructing here. Read it now:

Titus 1:5-9 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

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Titus 1:1-4

Today, we begin a new series in the short epistle of Paul to Titus. (Why? I’m teaching Titus this semester, so it’ll be helpful to me in refreshing my memory. And, since it’s inspired Scripture, I know it’ll be helpful to you as well – most obviously in its reminder about godly living in a world that is anything but godly.)

We’ll find out why Paul writes to Titus tomorrow, since he gives an explanation in verse 5. Today, we’ll look at the first four verses. They form what are traditionally called the ”epistolary greeting” – the sender and addressee – but also function as a bit of a preview of what the letter will be about. Let’s read:

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1 Peter 5:1-11

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;

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1 Peter 4:12-19

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. You knew what you were signing up for when you first followed Jesus: to be marginalised, as he was; to suffer, as he did; to take up your cross daily, just as he took up his cross for us, once and for all.

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1 Peter 4:1-11

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

So—in light of Jesus’ example—how should we deal with being “foreigners and exiles”? How do we cope with being marginalised as the people of God? Do we give in to the pressure of the world to conform—to think and speak and act like the rest of society? No.

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1 Peter 3:13-21

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? Not many people. But some will, of course. That’s one reason you’re a minority group!

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Just as God said to Isaiah, when he was in the minority; when he was one of the few who had not bowed down to the Canaanite god called Ba’al: “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Don’t just live in an attractively different way. That’s just the first step. Be ready to explain why it is you’re different. But do this with gentleness and respect. Not like some Christians, who shall remain nameless, who seem to give the reason for their hope with arrogance and hostility—but do it with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Don’t allow the way you present the gospel to reinforce their negative view of you as a troublesome minority. Be gracious.

17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. In all of this, don’t forget that righteous suffering as a persecuted minority isn’t an accidental by-product of the gospel. It’s right at the heart of it. Christ, who righteously suffered for you.

19 And after being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

Jesus thus vindicated Noah in the eyes of his society: Noah, the original mocked and marginalised minority. Because it was a minority! In the ark, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,21 and this water is an antitype—a symbolic precursor—of baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

So just as Noah and his family were on the winning side, rest assured that you are. Just as Isaiah prevailed against the prophets of Ba’al; just as David was kept safe from all of his enemies, so too will you. And you’ll be vindicated in the eyes of all those who seek to shame you, when Christ returns.

1 Peter 3:1-10

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

3:1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Be attractively different.

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1 Peter 2:11-25

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

In light of our new identity as people who don’t belong anymore to this world, but belong to God, how should we live? Peter continues:

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles—as marginalised people who no longer belong—I urge you to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

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1 Peter 2:1-10

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Don’t behave like everyone else does. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

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1 Peter 1:13-25

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. Focus on the eternal benefit, not the temporary suffering.

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