Summary: Titus was miserable in Crete, writing to Paul, the title might have been “How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation.” I have decided to title this message Happy Living in Crete.
Happy Living in Crete Titus 1:1-15
Sermon by Don Emmitte, Grace Restoration Ministries
The little book of Titus covers just a few pages in most Bibles. There are lots of questions about this relatively obscure and forgotten book.
We are first drawn to the identity of the recipient. Who is this man named Titus? He is never mentioned in the Book of Acts. We know from Paul’s letters that he was a young man in the church at Antioch of Syria where the apostle had come after his time in Arabia. Paul called him his son in the faith.
We naturally want to know when it was written. The Epistle to Titus was written in approximately A.D. 66 Paul’s many journeys are well documented and show that he wrote to Titus from Nicopolis in Epirus. In some Bibles a subscription to the epistle may show that Paul wrote from Nicopolis in Macedonia. However, there is no such place known and subscriptions have no authority as they are not authentic.
Additionally we might like to know what the general purpose of the letter is. The Epistle to Titus is known as one of the Pastoral Epistles as are the two letters to Timothy. This epistle was written by the apostle Paul to encourage his brother in the faith, Titus, whom he had left in Crete to lead the church which Paul had established on one of his missionary journeys (cf. Titus 1:5). This letter advises Titus regarding what qualifications to look for in leaders for the church. He also warns Titus of the reputations of those living on the island of Crete (cf. Titus 1:12). In addition to instructing Titus in what to look for in a leader of the church, Paul also encouraged Titus to return to Nicopolis for a visit. In other words, Paul continued to disciple Titus and others as they grew in the grace of the Lord (cf. Titus 3:13).
It is interesting to look beneath the obvious and understand what must have prompted Paul to write these things. There were probably two other letters that Titus wrote to Paul. In both he must have been complaining how bad things were in Crete. He must have complained how bad the people were; the church was impossible; there was wickedness, ungodliness, and immorality everywhere he looked. He wanted out! I suppose the title might have been “How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation.” I have decided to title this message Happy Living in Crete. Let’s look closely…
TAKE YOUR BIBLES, PLEASE…
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; to Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:1-16 ESV).
You should note that Paul does not deny the reality of how bad Crete is for Titus. It is a bad situation. Everything he says about it is true. Paul acknowledges that and quotes one of the Cretians own philosophers and poets in verse 12: One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. But notice how Paul teaches we all have our Crete. We all live in a Crete of some kind or another. We are all in a mess. We all have a bad situation. The apostle does not advocate denial in the face of the truth. It is bad! In fact, it may even be worse than you think and say it is.