ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 255



IMMERSED IN TITUS
A F T E R D I S C O V E R I N G T H E I S S U E S that were going on in Ephesus, Paul
asked Timothy to remain there and “stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth” (see “Immersed in 1 Timothy,” p. 233). But around
the same time, Paul became aware of another crisis requiring his attention. False teaching was spreading among the believers in the churches
on the island of Crete (in the eastern Mediterranean). These churches
were most likely young and lacking in strong local leadership. So Paul
sent Titus, another of his trusted colleagues, to rein in the “rebellious
people who engage in useless talk and deceive others.”
Though probably young like Timothy, Titus was another dependable
co-worker. He had already played an important role in bringing about
reconciliation between Paul and the Corinthians, and Paul had also sent
him to help the Corinthians arrange their offering for impoverished
believers in Jerusalem. When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he used Titus
as an example of a Gentile believer who was serving Christ faithfully
without having to follow the Jewish Law.
Now Paul needed Titus to take on an assignment every bit as challenging as Timothy’s in Ephesus. On the island of Crete, false t­ eachers—
like those in Ephesus—were disrupting entire households with their
emphasis on strange myths and speculative ideas. The fallout from their
work included foolish discussions and quarrels about following the Jewish Law, leading to divisions in the churches. So Paul now writes a letter
of instruction to Titus.
Like his first letter to Timothy, this letter alternates between instructions
for the community of believers on Crete and “charges” to Titus himself.
Because this letter is shorter and more general, the shifts between the
two are not as pronounced; instead, Paul moves briskly back and forth
between them. It’s possible that Paul meant for Titus to read this letter
only privately.
Paul opens the letter with an emphasis on the nature of the gospel
message and his own clear mandate to spread the Good News about
Jesus to all people. Paul then moves immediately to solving the problem of leadership in the churches of Crete by giving Titus guidance for
appointing ­elders. Titus and these appointed elders are called to lead
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