Pauls Footsteps #413

 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:11-13. NLT. 

Footsteps #413 Titus was a Greek follower of Jesus who was for years a trusted co-worker and traveling companion of Paul. (Gal.2:1-3, 2Cor.8:23) He had helped Paul in a number of crisis situations in the past and in this letter we discover that Paul had assigned him the task of going to Crete, a large island off the coast of Greece, to restore order to a network of house churches. The Cretan culture was notorious in the ancient world. One of the Greek words for being a liar was “kretizo,” “to be a Cretan.” These people were infamous for treachery and greed. Most of the men on the island had served as mercenary soldiers to the highest bidder. The island cities were known as being unsafe, plagued by violence and sexual corruption. However, the island of Crete had many strategic harbours and they serviced cities all over the ancient Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, from Paul’s point of view, Crete was the perfect place to start a network of churches. We don’t know the details, but somehow these churches came under the influence of corrupt Cretan leaders. They said they were Christians but they were ruining the churches. So Paul assigned Titus with the task of going there to set things straight and this letter provided the instructions. 

The letter has a straightforward design. After a brief introduction (1:1-4) Paul gives Titus clear instructions about his task in the church (1:5-16). In chapter 2 he then offers guidance about the new kind of household and then about the new kind of humanity that the gospel could create in these Cretan communities. Paul then closes the letter in chapter 3 with some final greetings. 

Paul opens the whole book by reminding Titus that his message as an apostle is about the hope of eternal life. That is the life of the new creation that is available starting now through Jesus the Messiah. This hope was promised long ago by God who does not lie. This little comment introduces an important theme underlying the whole letter. One of the problems in the Cretan churches was that they had assimilated their ideas about Jesus, the Christian God, to their ideas about the Greek gods that they grew up with, specifically Zeus, their chief god. Cretan people claimed that Zeus was actually born on their Island. They loved to tell stories and mythologies about Zeus’ underhanded character. He would seduce women and lie to get his way. Paul wants to be really clear: The God revealed through Jesus is totally different than Zeus. His basic character traits are faithfulness and truth, which means the Christian way of life will be about truth also, which will be a real change for these Cretans

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