There is no “one way” to study the Word of God. Approaches vary with the individuals as well as the subject matter being studied. In the months ahead, we will feature articles by respected brethren on how they study a book, a chapter, a verse, theme, or person.
As we ponder the pages of the Bible, we can trace the moral characteristics of two men. The first is Adam, and his decedents – in the moral sense – can be found to the last pages of Scripture. The second is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God Who became man without ceasing to be God and Whose title, “Son of Man,” shows Him to be that Man in Whom God encountered all His ideals for perfect manhood. Adam is the “first man.” The Lord Jesus is the “Second Man,” Head of a new order of man (see 1Cor 15:47). The Bible presents many who manifest some characteristics of the “Second Man.” Titus is one such and he has recently been the subject of the writer’s meditation. My personal approach to the study follows.
The first step was to group together all the references to Titus. His name occurs twelve times. Eight of these occurrences are in 2 Corinthians. A rapid survey of these eight references made it obvious that they provide considerable insight into the man’s inner life and deep spirituality. Having observed that the references to Titus in Galatians refer to a time before the writing of 2 Corinthians, it seemed clear that they should be examined first.
This epistle brought to light the following matters relating to Titus:
1) He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, from whence had arisen the problem of how to treat Gentile converts. Some had said that it was necessary for them to be circumcised. If, as many believe, the conference at Jerusalem in Galatians 2 is the same as that of Acts 15, it follows that Titus must have lived at Antioch, for it was from there that they journeyed (Acts 15:2). Assuming this to be correct I reflected on the undoubted influence on his life of being part of a truly healthy assembly, for such was the assembly at Antioch.
2) Titus was an uncircumcised Gentile. He was a “test case” and the divine response was that there was no necessity for circumcision. My personal belief is that the circumstances through which a servant is brought are intended to teach him certain lessons. Surely the decreed “exemption” impressed on him the truth of Paul’s gospel, that is, the gospel revealed to Paul by God (Gal 1:12). No doubt that ever after, his deep convictions could be summed up in the words of Romans 3:28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
3) I thought of the spiritual maturity and strength of character seen in Titus, who did not break down under pressure of conflict in the matter of important gospel truth. He was probably a young man and he may well have found it a daunting experience to be amongst those leading men with their Jewish background.
4) Although not stated, I could not avoid thinking that at the conference, Titus would have learned the importance of standing for truth in the right spirit and proving God’s help in it.
2 CORINTHIANS 2:12-13; 7:6-7; 13-14; 8:6, 16-17,23; 12:17-18
Concerning these references, the first one (2:12-13) indicates that Titus had been sent to Corinth in those difficult days when departure was giving way to recovery in the assembly there. Was it possible that the experience at Jerusalem was a preparation for facing the difficulties at Corinth? I see him as a man of spiritual grit.
Chapter 7 tells of the meeting between Paul and Titus on his return from Corinth. Some of the features seen in Titus on that occasion include:
• A man who could comfort the downcast (v 6).
• A servant whose Christian character caused him to rejoice as he witnessed signs of restoration in Corinth (v 7).
• The evidence of Titus’ inward affection for the Corinthian saints. The words, “with fear and trembling ye received him,” made me wonder if Titus had a daunting approach that gave way with time to the evidence of warm affection showing his true character. I recall some great men of God who were like that.
Chapter 8: Taking account that this chapter has reference to the special collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, we see that Titus’ willingness to travel to Corinth brought to light the divine work in his soul of having an earnest care for the saints (v 16). Observing the expression, “the same earnest care,” I checked to see the relevance of the word “same.” It was the same as Paul’s “care.” Perhaps here the features of the spiritual Father were now coming out in the “genuine child” (Titus 1:4 Newberry margin).
Chapter 12: In this chapter I observed a further likeness between “father” and “son.” Titus was wholly trustworthy in financial matters (v 18).
Each successive reference in the survey of 2 Corinthians seemed to enhance the noble character of this man.
EPISTLE TO TITUS
It was no surprise to find in the epistle the same godly characteristics that came to light earlier. I thought of the man who was prepared to face problems in Jerusalem, then Corinth, and now once again in Crete. Have not many discovered that the service of God often seems to be fraught with one problem after another, for all of which divine help is needed and available?
Pondering the epistle to Titus, I reflected on the moral courage necessary to “convince the gainsayers” (1:9) and “stop the mouths” of the “unruly and vain talkers” (1:10, 11). I was impressed with the qualities of a man who would have the discernment to identify elders and then appoint them, having to pass by some who likely considered themselves to be apt candidates. I was satisfied to conclude that I was studying the character of a man to whom the well-being of the assemblies was more important than doing deference to any “special friends.”
2 TIMOTHY 4:10
Chronologically this is the last reference to Titus as the epistle to him was written before 2 Timothy. Again I was brought to admire the man who fades out of the picture, still on active service.