William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Mainsprings Of Apostleship (Titus 1:1-4)

1:1-4 This is a letter from Paul, the slave of God and the envoy of Jesus Christ, whose task it is to awaken faith in God's chosen ones, and to equip them with a fuller knowledge of that truth, which enables a man to live a really religious life, and whose whole work is founded on the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. In his own good time God set forth his message plain for all to see in the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the royal command of God our Saviour. This letter is to Titus, his true son in the faith they both share. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Saviour.

When Paul summoned one of his henchmen to a task, he always began by setting forth his own right to speak and, as it were, laying again the foundations of the gospel. So he begins here by saying certain things about his apostleship.

(i) It set him in a great succession. Right at the beginning Paul calls himself "the slave (doulos, Greek #1401 ) of God." That was a title of mingled humility and legitimate pride. It meant that his life was totally submitted to God; at the same time--and here was where the pride came in--it was the title that was given to the prophets and the great ones of the past. Moses was the slave of God ( Joshua 1:2 ); and Joshua, his successor, would have claimed no higher title ( Joshua 24:29 ). It was to the prophets, his slaves, that God revealed all his intentions ( Amos 3:7 ); it was his slaves the prophets whom God had repeatedly sent to Israel throughout the history of the nation ( Jeremiah 7:25 ). The title slave of God was one which gave Paul the right to walk in a great succession.

When anyone enters the Church, he does not enter an institution which began yesterday. The Church has centuries of human history behind it and goes back before the eternities in the mind and intention of God. When anyone takes upon himself anything of the preaching, or the teaching, or the serving work of the Church, he does not enter on a service which is without traditions; he walks where the saints have trod.

(ii) It gave him a great authority. He was the envoy of Jesus Christ. Paul never thought of his authority as coming from his own mental excellence, still less from his own moral goodness. It was in the authority of Christ that he spoke. The man who preaches the gospel of Christ or teaches his truth, if he is truly dedicated, does not talk about his own opinions or offer his own conclusions; he comes with Christ's message and with God's word. The true envoy of Christ has reached past the stage of perhapses and maybes and possiblys, and speaks with the certainty of one who knows.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

An Apostle's Gospel (Titus 1:1-4)

Further, in this passage we can see the essence of an apostle's gospel and the central things in his task.

(i) The whole message of the apostle is founded on the hope of eternal life. Again and again the phrase eternal life recurs in the pages of the New Testament. The word for eternal is aionios ( Greek #166 ); and properly the only one person in the whole universe to whom that word may correctly be applied is God. The Christian offer is nothing less than the offer of a share in the life of God. It is the offer of God's power for our frustration, of God's serenity for our dispeace, of God's truth for our guessing, of God's goodness for our moral failure, of God's joy for our sorrow. The Christian gospel does not in the first place offer men an intellectual creed or a moral code; it offers them life, the very life of God.

(ii) To enable a man to enter into that life, two things are necessary. It is the apostle's duty to awaken faith in men. With Paul, faith always means one thing--absolute trust in God. The first step in the Christian life is to realize that we can do nothing except receive. In every sphere of life, no matter how precious an offer may be, it remains inoperative until it is received. The first duty of the Christian is to persuade others to accept the offer of God. In the last analysis, we can never argue a man into Christianity. All we can say is, "Try it, and see!"

(iii) It is the apostle's duty also to equip others with knowledge. Christian evangelism and Christian education must go hand in hand. Faith may begin by being a response of the heart, but it must go on to be the possession of the mind. The Christian gospel must be thought out in order to be tried out. No man can live for ever on the crest of a wave of emotion. The Christian life must be a daily loving Christ more and understanding him better.

(iv) The result of faith and knowledge must be a truly religious life. Faith must always issue in life and Christian knowledge is not merely intellectual knowledge but knowledge how to live. Many people have been great scholars and yet completely inefficient in the ordinary things of life and total failures in their personal relationships. A truly religious life is one in which a man is on the right terms with God, with himself and with his fellow-men. It is a life in which a man can cope alike with the great moments and the everyday duties. It is a life in which Jesus Christ lives again.

It is the duty of the Christian to offer to men the very life of God; to awaken faith in their hearts and to deepen knowledge in their minds; to enable them to live in such a way that others will see the reflection of the Master in them.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

God's Purpose And God's Good Time (Titus 1:1-4)

This passage tells us of God's purpose and of his way of working that purpose out.

(i) God's purpose for man was always one of salvation. His promise of eternal life was there before the world began. It is important to note that here Paul applies the word Saviour both to God and to Jesus. We sometimes hear the gospel presented in a way that seems to draw a distinction between a gentle, loving, and gracious Jesus, and a hard, stern, and severe God. Sometimes it sounds as if Jesus had done something to change God's attitude to men and had persuaded him to lay aside his wrath and not to punish them. There is no justification for that in the New Testament. But at the back of the whole process of salvation is the eternal and unchanging love of God, and it was of that love Jesus came to tell men. God is characteristically the Saviour God, whose last desire is to condemn men and whose first desire is to save them. He is the Father who desires only that his children should come home so that he may gather them to his breast.

(ii) But this passage does more than speak of God's eternal purpose; it also speaks of his method. It tells us that he sent his message in his own good time. That means to say that all history was a preparation for the coming of Jesus. We cannot teach any kind of knowledge to a man until he is fit to receive it. In all human knowledge we have to start at the beginning; so men had to be prepared for the coming of Jesus. All the history of the Old Testament and all the searchings of the Greek philosophers were preparations for that event. God's Spirit was moving both amongst the Jews and amongst all other peoples so that they should be ready to receive his Son when he came. We must look on all history as God's education of men.

(iii) Further, Christianity came into this world at a time when it was uniquely possible for its message to spread. There were five elements in the world situation which facilitated its spread.

(a) Practically all the world spoke Greek. That is not to say that the nations had forgotten their own language; but nearly all men spoke Greek in addition. It was the language of trade, of commerce, of literature. If a man was going to take any part in public life and activity he had to know Greek. People were bilingual and the first age of Christianity was one of the very few when the missionary had no language problem to solve.

(b) There were to all intents and purposes no frontiers. The Roman Empire was coextensive with the known world. Wherever the traveller might go, he was within that Empire. Nowadays, if a man intended to cross Europe, he would need a passport; he would be held up at frontiers; he would find iron curtains. In the first age of Christianity a missionary could move without hindrance from one end of the known world to the other.

(c) Travel was comparatively easy. True, it was slow, because there was no mechanized travel, and most journeys had to be done on foot, with the baggage carried by slow-moving animals. But the Romans had built their great roads from country to country and had, for the most part, cleared the land of brigands and the sea of pirates. Travel was easier than it had ever been before.

(d) The first age of Christianity was one of the few when the world was very largely at peace. If wars had been raging all over Europe, the progress of the missionary would have been rendered impossible. But the pax Romana, the Roman peace, held sway; and the traveller could move within the Roman Empire in safety.

(e) It was a world which was conscious of its needs. The old faiths had broken down and the new philosophies were beyond the mind of simple people. Men were looking, as Seneca said, ad salutem, towards salvation. They were increasingly conscious of "their weakness in necessary things." They were searching for "a hand let down to lift them up." They were looking for "a peace, not of Caesar's proclamation, but of God's." There never was a time when the hearts of men were more open to receive the message of salvation which the Christian missionaries brought.

It was no accident that Christianity came when it did. It came in God's own time; all history had been a preparation for it; and the circumstances were such that the way was open for the tide to spread.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

A Faithful Henchman (Titus 1:1-4)

We do not know a great deal about Titus, to whom this letter was written, but from the scattered references to him, there emerges a picture of a man who was one of Paul's most trusted and most valuable helpers. Paul calls him "my true son," so it is most likely that he himself converted him, perhaps at Iconium.

Titus was the companion for an awkward and a difficult time. When Paul paid his visit to Jerusalem, to a Church which suspected him and was prepared to mistrust and dislike him, it was Titus whom he took with him along with Barnabas ( Galatians 2:1 ). It was said of Dundas, the famous Scotsman, by one of his friends, "Dundas is no orator; but he will go out with you in any kind of weather." Titus was like that. When Paul was up against it, Titus was by his side.

Titus was the man for a tough assignment. When the trouble at Corinth was at its peak, it was he who was sent with one of the severest letters Paul ever wrote ( 2 Corinthians 8:16 ). Titus clearly had the strength of mind and the toughness of fibre which enabled him to face and to handle a difficult situation. There are two kinds of people. There are the people who can make a bad situation worse, and there are the people who can bring order out of chaos and peace out of strife. Titus was the man to send to the place where there was trouble. He had a gift for practical administration. It was Titus whom Paul chose to organize the collection for the poor members of the Church at Jerusalem ( 2 Corinthians 8:6 ; 2 Corinthians 8:10 ). It is clear that he had no great gifts of speech, but he was the man for practical administration. The Church ought to thank God for the people to whom we turn whenever we want a practical job well done.

Paul has certain great titles for Titus.

He calls him his true child. That must mean that he was Paul's convert and child in the faith ( Titus 1:4 ). Nothing in this world gives a preacher and teacher more joy than to see someone whom he has taught rise to usefulness within the Church. Titus was the son who brought joy to the heart of Paul, his father in the faith.

He calls him his brother ( 2 Corinthians 2:13 ) and his sharer in work and toil ( 2 Corinthians 8:23 ). The great day for a preacher or a teacher is the day when his child in the faith becomes his brother in the faith, when the one whom he has taught is able to take his place in the work of the Church, no longer as a junior, but as an equal.

He says that Titus walked in the same spirit ( 2 Corinthians 12:18 ). He knew that Titus would deal with things as he would have dealt with them himself. Happy is the man who has a lieutenant to whom he can commit his work, certain that it will be done in the way in which he himself would have wished to do it.

He gives to Titus a great task. He sends him to Crete to be a pattern to the Christians who are there ( Titus 2:7 ). The greatest compliment Paul paid Titus was that he sent him to Crete, not to talk to them about what a Christian should be, but to show them what he should be. There could be no greater responsibility and no higher compliment than that.

One very interesting suggestion has been made. 2 Corinthians 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 12:18 both say that when Titus was sent to Corinth another brother was sent with him, described in the former passage as "the brother who is famous among all the churches," and commonly identified with Luke. It has been suggested that Titus was Luke's brother. It is rather an odd fact that Titus is never mentioned in Acts; but we know that Luke wrote Acts and often tells the story in the first person plural, saying: "We did this," or, "We did that," and it has been suggested that in such passages he includes Titus with himself. Whether or not that suggestion is true we cannot tell, but certainly Titus and Luke have a family resemblance in that they were both men of practical service.

In the Western Church Titus is commemorated on 4th January, and in the Eastern Church on 25th August.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible