What does it say?
Though not mentioned by name in Acts, Titus plays a key role on Paul’s missionary team. A Gentile, Titus is Paul’s disciple before Timothy. Paul uses him in the Jerusalem meeting (Acts 15) as an example of Gentiles coming to Christ. Just as Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, he left Titus in Crete to carry on the ministry. Now, toward the end of his life and ministry, Paul writes them to encourage them and coach them in continued growth as leaders making leaders in churches.
Paul charges Titus to appoint leaders in the churches and shore up them up by putting in order whatever is lacking (1:5). His advice to Titus about qualifications for church leaders is very similar to what he told Timothy (1:6-9). The remainder of the letter is practical instruction encouraging different generations to learn from each other, growing in good works and anticipating the Lord’s return.
What does it mean?
Cretans were at Pentecost and Crete is among the first places to hear the Gospel, but the Cretans are hard people, and Titus faces a challenge leading the church toward maturity. This brief letter offers great insight into the process of making disciples. Titus is to develop leaders, assess the growth of the believers, determine where they are lacking and lead them in continued growth. We also see that growth takes place in community and Paul’s advice about encouraging different generations to learn from each other is an important piece of the process of making disciples that make other disciples. This approach to making disciples can be adapted to any culture and time.
Paul puts a major emphasis on good works that should mark the lives of genuine believers. This is a stark contrast with the belligerent, crude and dishonest nature for which many Cretans were known. Even in a difficult culture like that of the Cretans, the righteous living and good works of disciples of Jesus Christ set an example capable of transforming a culture.
How will I respond?
Is my relationship with God characterized more by words alone or by good works? Setting aside ministry within the local church, what are a couple of examples of good works in my life that extend outside the church into the world around us? What good work can I do this week to set an example of transformative change in my culture?