Summary of Titus

Even the most gifted of leaders cannot be every place at every time and in touch with every situation that develops. This was especially true in the early church era as church communities were being developed in disparate cities around the Roman world. An ongoing leadership presence needed to be in place at each church plant. Paul himself had spent some time teaching in most of these locations, but for ongoing leadership it was not as if he could put together a group email, Facetime his buddies or use a resource like WhatsApp to keep in touch with his younger apprentices.

There was therefore a need for Paul to reproduce other leaders who could be discipled to carry on the work in his absence. We regularly come across various of these individuals listed in Paul’s writings. And foremost among them was his special son in the faith: Timothy – speaking of him in 1 Timothy 1:2, To Timothy my true son in the faith.”  The letters Paul writes to him and to Titus are – as we named the prior series of the Pastoral Epistles – the nuts and bolts as to how to make local church ministry work, even with all its complexities.

If a church is to thrive over a long period of time, rising generations of leaders need to be taught, developed and unleashed to do the same with others as years go by. The same is true of our families. We need to know the Scriptures and teach and live them in front of our children and grandchildren if we want to see generations of followers of Christ. None of this happens without intentionality.

So Paul told Timothy to be intentional with an active discipleship process…

2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

And to Titus, whom Paul had assigned leadership in a difficult environment on the island of Crete, he wrote about church leadership development …

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.

Paul further wrote to Titus about older generations influencing the younger …

Titus 2:2-5 – Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Everyone fits into this process somewhere. Most folks are, at the same time, both in a process of personal growth and enrichment while also actively taking a part in passing truth and wisdom along to others down the line. There is a “hand up” and a “hand down.”  Taking / Giving.

Is that you? Do you have both going on? You’re not one of those people who only go through life with a hand up, are you? Only ever taking in what others minister to you, while never actively passing it on to someone else? Man, don’t be that person! We ain’t got time for that!

Advertisements

Paul’s Guys: Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1:1-2, 2 Timothy 1:1-5, Titus 1:4-5)

As I look back to a time approaching 40 years ago, I still can’t believe that Grace Bible Church of Dallas hired me to be Minister of Music. What were they thinking?  I was so young! And it was a sizeable church ministry, while my resume was so tiny.

During my seminary years at Dallas Theological – an awesome experience at the finest religious institution in the world – my actual better exposure to Christian ministry was working for the church and being on an eight-person pastoral staff. The Senior Pastor, Bill Bryan, was THE ultimate pastor, evidenced by the fact that not long after I moved back to the East Coast, he became the Chaplain of Dallas Seminary for many years.

I would have to say that Bill was for me what Paul was for Timothy and Titus, the recipients of these three letters that we are going to study over the next six weeks and 29 total writings. No other person has had as large an impact on my life as did Bill, who by personality, conviction and belief shaped the entire framework that defines the way I have gone after ministry over the successive decades.

We all need a Bill … a Paul … in our lives, to disciple us by example and by instruction. And then, in time, we need to become that for others who follow us on the path of serving in God’s Kingdom.

So who are these guys named Timothy and Titus?

Here is what we know about Timothy, including the greetings in each of these two personal letters from the Apostle Paul …

1 Timothy 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2 To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

And then the second letter begins …

2 Tim. 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Timothy was from the city of Lystra, the place where Paul was stoned, dragged out of town and presumed dead, only to rise up and go back to town to finish his sermon. Perhaps this made quite an impression on the young Timothy.

Timothy was the spiritual heir of a godly mother and grandmother, proselytes from a Jewish past, though it would appear his father was a Greek who had no devout faith at all. Likely Timothy was converted to Christ from his Jewish background on Paul’s first missionary journey, and he becomes a travelling companion with Paul on the second journey.

Timothy was sent on a number of special assignments by Paul – sent to Thessalonica for a time on the second missionary journey, and likewise to Corinth on the third trip, before joining up with Paul again.

During Paul’s first imprisonment, Timothy was nearby and surely ministered to his needs. All of these exposures to Paul and his varied experiences were a tremendous on-the-job training opportunity for the younger man.

Temple_of_artemis

Temple of Artemis (courtesy of WPClipart)

Finally, Timothy was sent to Ephesus where he had a high level of responsibility in that church. We often think of him as a sort of pastor there (which may not be entirely wrong), but it is more appropriate probably that we think of him as an Apostolic representative under the direction of the Apostle Paul – speaking for the older man in guiding this local church during its early stages of ministry.

Ephesus was not a place for the faint-hearted to serve. It was a major city with many secular and Roman influences. It was also the location of the famous temple to Artemis (Diana) – one of the wonders of the ancient world and thus a place of idolatrous worship of the worst sort.

Reading between the lines a bit, it would appear that Timothy had a much more mellow and gentle personality than did his mentor, the Apostle Paul. This may not have always served him well in leadership, and thus Paul goads him at times toward greater boldness and stronger expressions.

And here is what we know about Titus …

Titus 1:4 – To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

5 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.

Less is known about Titus than is certain about Timothy. Unlike the latter, he was fully a Greek in background, not Jewish. He too is seen on several occasions with the Apostle Paul on his travels, occupying varied positions and responsibilities in the early days and travels of the great missionary.

After Paul’s release from imprisonment, he travelled to the island of Crete, located in the north-central Mediterranean Sea off the southwestern coast of modern Turkey and the southeastern coast of Greece.  As Paul travelled on, he left Titus behind to handle leadership responsibilities in the same way as Timothy.

With both Timothy and Titus, the letters are Paul writing instructions to his younger disciples. However, we should understand these letters as more than private correspondence. They were in fact letters for the whole church to see in these locations, and under inspiration for all churches to gain from, down to our time.

One thing we will see is that people are the same from generation to generation. Many of the challenges faced in leading a successful church venture in the first century are the same as we face today. It comes down to humbly leading and humbly following; and that makes sense, as we are the people saved by the one who humbled himself to death on our behalf.