Titus Heading: Shaped into God's Community

Bible Study Questions
Titus 3:9-15

Paul J. Bucknell

The Bible Teacher's Commentary

“But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all” (Titus 3:9-15).
Titus 3:9-15 'Connected & Caring' introduces the 5-part Living Commentary on Titus 3:9-15, describing the special way the apostle cares for church leaders and the new congregations in Crete. Special attention is given on how this section fits in with the rest of Titus as well as themes like good deeds and leadership. A Bible Study is included at the end.

Titus 3:9-15 Introduction | Titus 3:9-11 Conversation | Titus 3:12-14 Relationships | Titus 3:15 Goodbyes | Titus 3:9-15 Questions

We started this series by focusing on how God’s people are God’s community. We are not that one baseball player out on the field but one of the players of a team. Part of our ‘me’ culture brings about an overemphasis on our own individual needs and wants. People are willing to believe that they can have a super relationship with the Lord while neglecting their responsibilities to the church. They focus on their calling to the Lord but forget their calling to His body.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

These two truths about our relationship to our head and to our other members are two parallel truths. It is true with the physical body and true with the spiritual body. Each individual part is important. The health of the different individual cells comprises the strength of the whole. If we only wanted to form a few super cells, the body would not be able to rightly function and die. The cell’s strength come from their neighboring and differentiating cells. They were formed part of the whole. Whenever a cell thinks it can live by itself, it is in danger to itself and not rightly functioning with the others. As a result, the whole body is dangerously weak.

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Paul cared for the health and strength of the church, the body of Christ. Even though this seems and is mystical in a sense, it is very real. This is a major truth that needs to shape and influence how we think about our participation in the local church. Paul himself was shaped by it and ended up in Crete and elsewhere building up the body of Christ. We all have a call to bettering one another.

This study on the Book of Titus has specially reminded us of the importance of the church. This focus is all the more needed in an age when people have abandoned their romantic concepts of the church. For many, the church now has become an antiquated organization from the past that has not kept up with the changes in the modern world. Paul refocuses on the truth in a timely and powerful manner.

Paul’s care for the new Christians in Crete was an outworking of God’s love and care. God was working through His people like Paul, Titus and others to deepen the community of God’s people both in their love and faith in Christ. They built up the church of God.

Understanding Commitment to the Church

There are real obstacles keeping God’s people from rightly thinking of and committing to the body of Christ. Doctrinal misunderstandings and moral weakness always lead to wrong conclusions on how they should affect our lives. Many professing Christians have not taken a step of commitment to the church because of at least four reasons.

1) Disgruntled
2) Disappointed
3) Too busy
4) Don’t need (irrelevant)

Many think that they can be committed to Christ but uncommitted to Christ’s church. They would not shun the name of a Christian, but they are not at all convinced of the need for a growing believer to be committed to the church. This is an increasing tendency among God’s people. Some are concerned with the extra involvement. They have their busy lives. “And what happens if they ask me to do this or that? I have my research. I have my friends. I have my own life.”

Others are saddened at what they see going on in the church. I wish I could say they were not happening. The problem is that these sad things are now going on in many churches. These things still do not validate our avoidance of the church of God.

Why marriage and no mistress?An illustration recently popped into my mind. I was talking to someone about their troubled marriage. I’ll rephrase what he said in my own words, “Life was so easy before I got married. It was simple. Now it is full of challenges.” I thought, “Well, he is right. Life would be so much more simple without a wife. Why not just have a mistress on the side?

Why did God make marriage and not just have casual relationships?”

The question is the same for the church. Why didn’t God make it so that we could have a deep spiritual relationship with Him without all the mess of being part of the church? Why did He call us into a church upon our salvation? No matter how you might answer these questions, make sure you remember that God has designed, created and empowers the church and marriage. They are critical parts of reality. They are the areas that we must pay attention to if we are to fully grow in Christ.

I understand this is hard for us to comprehend. Marriage gets very involved. We actually have to care for another person with all their problems. There is no stepping back. My life will no longer be free. I will be shaped by the wants, needs and life of the other. Back in 1989 I made a decision to come back from the mission field because of my wife’s worsening asthma. My life was shaped by the needs of my partner. But marriage involves a whole lot of daily challenges behind the scenes. Men wonder, “Why can’t women be more like men?” Women become desperate to have their husbands think more like themselves. Many want to be married and have the freedoms but don’t want the responsibilities. The same thoughts come up when discussing our commitment to the church.

“I rather not be committed thank you. It is too messy an affair. I can now hear a lot of good sermons on the radio. I have an iPod with all this Christian music. And whenever I have need for further stimulus, I can always go to the web and find an appropriate article. I want the joy of knowing and serving the Lord but not the messy complications of baptism, membership and all the expectations and complications in relationships.”

The fact is that the Lord has designed both of these institutions, marriage and the church. Those that want the delight of intimacy must enter a stage of deeper commitment and otherness in marriage. Those who want the delight of intimacy with Christ, must enter a stage of deeper commitment and otherness in church living. Through these ‘messy’ situations God has called us to face and eliminate the very immature aspects of our lives that would otherwise hold us back in gaining the greatest joys in life, whether it be in marriage or spiritual life with Christ. We must cast down the notion that we live for ourselves. It is anti-truth. Our will is only important in that we wholly utilize it to become committed to Christ and His people. This is what the Book of Titus is all about.

Before going on, I have spent a little time reflecting on one of the themes in Titus, 'The Need for Good Leadership.'

The Need for Good Leadership

Does the church need leaders? Sure. What kind?

They need godly leaders or otherwise everyone will be negatively impacted as these younger believers in Crete were. But what if you decide you do not need the church? Will you become an elder? No. You will focus selfishly on your own relationship with Christ. Without a commitment to God’s people, you can never become what God has for you. You preserve a stumbling block of selfishness in your life, backed up with a sense of pride.

God’s love gets real messy. God sent His Son to die for people who had become caught up in all sorts of selfish behavior. Paul got thrown in jail and spent his career being beaten up for God’s people. The leaders which God wants are those that realize a commitment to Christ is a commitment to God’s people. We need to join them to love them. Titus was charged with raising up godly leaders.

This focus on the needs of others is what we find in the very last verses. Caring for a church can be messy and involved. People were caught up in all sorts of misunderstandings about the truth, but even worse. They were convinced they were right. When trying to talk to them, they only get defensive or secretly try to convince others. This is the messy church. And in many ways, it is typical.

Yes, you can say that you do not have a problem with these teachings. You can even not want to argue over them. You are happy reading God’s Word and praying on your own. This is, however, exactly where the evil one wants you. For example, in this case, you understand the teaching of God’s Word, but by isolating yourself from God’s people you make the God’s people more vulnerable.

You were given spiritual gifts not for yourself but for others. Your lack of involvement strips them from your gifts. In this case, we find some real issues. Now before going on to other topics in the book of Titus, we want to take a closer look at these three verses here.

But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (1 Timothy 9-11)

Every church faces certain sets of problems. Prayer lessens the intensity of them and in many cases solves them. But still, there will be problems. The evil one seeks to hamper the effectiveness of the church. He has only so many devices. Many of them are revealed in Jesus’ address to the seven churches in Revelation. Many of these problems are resultants of what the evil one is allowed to do in the culture. We find here those who come up with their own teaching. They are insistent about it. To a large degree, we see this the same problem with today.

The apostle was concerned with bringing the powerful truth of God to the people of God. God has supplied good teachers and godly men for the church. This is no time for His gifted teachers to forsake God or the church!

Let us briefly review the Book of Titus. As we do, we will discuss the final verses of the book, Titus 3:9-15.

Outline of Titus. Shaped into God’s Community

God uses Paul to write to Titus in order to shape the budding church in Crete in 3 main ways. We might call them three shapers. Paul cared very much for the church everywhere but in this letter he focused his concern on the believers in Crete. He understood what God was doing and did everything in his power to care for God’s people. He was helping Titus, his apprentice, to be an on hands implementer of his suggestions. Titus was facing difficult times. The apostle invested a lot of time and money to send a letter to them. In it Paul chiefly does three things:

Outline of Titus 1) Appoint Godly Leaders (1:1-16)
The Qualifications and Responsibilities of Godly Leaders

2) Teach God’s People (2:1-15)
The Character of God’s Called out People

3) Remind them of God’s Grace (3:1-15)
The Genuine Gospel and its Shaping Power

The people need good and godly leaders to help feed and protect the sheep. God’s people need to live godly lives and be empowered by the Holy Spirit. In societies where proper standards were no longer integrated into the culture, God’s Word helps us see what needs to be done in. As the people acquire godly lives and appreciate good teaching on salvation, they will go out in God’s grace and do good deeds. As we reach the end of the letter today, we see this full emphasis on the need for God’s people to live out their lives. Every one sees the kingdom of God when we God’s people as a body carry out God’s love and purpose on earth.

“So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously” (Colossians 1:10-11).

Good Deeds - a Theme of Titus

As we go through Titus, the theme of being productive or having good deeds gets stronger and stronger. As Christians producing these good deeds becomes our goal and purpose. It is for this reason we have been called. All through the Book of Titus we find the phrase ‘good deed’ mentioned though in slightly different contexts.

  • worthless for any good deeds
  • be an example of good deeds
  • zealous for good deeds
  • be ready for every good deed
  • saved us, not on the basis of deeds
  • careful to engage in good deeds
  • learn to engage in good deeds

The church is the light of the world. Let her shine brightly. The church was new in Crete. She needed to show forth the glory of God as any other church. The society in Crete needed this.

Titus & theme of 'good deeds.'

The same is true for us at home, in work or at school or play. We are set on doing good things to bring glory to the Lord. We want to bear forth His good works around us. The other person near you might be grumpy or inpatient. Our call is to be cheerful, patient and seek to do the other good even if he or she has done bad to you. This will bring about a wonderful change in your workplace, giving you opportunity to share the gospel of Christ. You were not always like that. Christ has forgiven and changed you. Tell people!

We have expanded our discussion a bit on this them of good deeds throughout Titus.

The Proclamation of Truth with our Lives

Paul was countering a subtle belief among many professing Christians. They believe that if they believe in Christ, then all is well. Somehow in their mind, they do not think that what they do with their lives has much to do with what they believe. After all, they hear, “You are saved. You have eternal life.” They unwarily believe that they can live however they see fit.

We find a great emphasis on good deeds throughout the Book of Titus. Paul is not satisfied with just leaving it in a general way in which the believers will in self-deceit say to themselves, “I’m doing okay, but what about that person over there?” This is a flaw in such thinking. Paul steps beyond that by categorizing what he means by doing good deeds. Some of these issues of self-control such as caring for the home, discipling one’s young brother, get very particular. We have discussed these already in Titus two, but the point is that it is only in the context of living closely with others that we can master these things.

Marriage shapes life by having two people live very close to each other. Any problems in personal relationships will come up. God, in the same way, wants to shape our lives so that we become more loving (i.e. holy). Marriage provides one context we can learn and live out God’s love. The church is another.

It is in the church that we need to be patient with others, whether it is with a crying child, a homeless stray, a person with problems, someone with different doctrinal persuasions, etc. Once you are locked in with these people, you are forced to make some decisions that will either help you hate each other through pride or love each other by humbling oneself. Christian student groups are not bad at all, but they have a difficult time assimilating into the church.

Paul at the very end of this book tells us things we are not to talk about and to shun. It seemed to mean that once we get into all this speculation that is not directly relevant to our Christian lives and duties. He is warning us from entering zones of danger. We can pretend to be very close to God and be able to talk all this religious talk, but the apostle is not impressed. He tells us to be impressed with Christ and His finished work on the cross and busy living out our lives.

The Context of Titus 3:9-15

By looking at verse 8, one would think that this would have made a wonderful ending to the book of Titus. “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” (Titus 3:8).

After all, did it not tell us what particular word should be on our lips and affect our lives? Sure. So why didn’t Paul stop there? Could he have? Yes, in fact, we find at the very end before the final word that he returns to the same topic of being busy doing good deeds. Just before the closing, however, we find there are two topics that he quickly first touches on. (1) Topics to shun and (2) Reminders for the future.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

These verses claim ‘all’ scripture, not ‘some’ scripture is inspired by God and profitable. This claim calls us to pay special attention to all the parts of the scripture.

Many a time, we think introductions and conclusions are rather irrelevant. It might be like a person who has no patience with appetizers and wants to get on with the meal itself. We have come to the end of the short book of Titus. We have been challenged with Paul’s writing to Titus on the island of Crete. Allow us to quickly summarize what he has been saying.

Although what we read here in verses 9-15 is somewhat anticlimax and not anywhere as joined together in a powerful presentation like the verses before it, it does not mean that God has nothing to say to us through them. Instead, we must approach the scripture still with faith that God does want to speak. We must come at it a bit differently however.

First of all, because the statements are rather disjointed, speaking about various topics in quick snippets of lines, we must remember that it is easy to misinterpret them. We must look at the whole of the book or keep the whole of the scripture in mind so that we do not take things out of contexts. Remember the whole book serves as an eyepiece through which we are to look closely at these last few lines.

It is also important to remember the way God teaches us through these verses. It is not by long or persuasive argument. There is no room for many words. The presence of the words themselves shows us that each thing discussed is important. I remember when far away from home and only have a very limited time to write an email to my wife that I need to continually be evaluating what I will say with the remaining time left. Sometimes, I will have to say nothing about one experience. At another time, I will say a brief sentence like, “Visited St. Thomas’ place of martyrdom and burial” today (in India) and leave all the discussion for later when I see her.

I did choose to say something but not much on a few topics. Many decisions are quietly and subtly being made as to what to write and not to write. We must trust God’s wisdom in what Paul had, in this case, written. He did not write just to Titus but to the whole church even in our time.

I am explaining a bit more about this process of approaching such passages so that you yourself can rightly approach them in your own reading. Never dismiss any passage as unimportant. God has His point of placing it in the scriptures. “All scriptures are inspired … and profitable… .”

What we will do here, in this case, is to first separate each mini-topic. We can then see how the verses are connected or not. The original verse separation is not inspired. Your observations are important.

The Outline of Titus 3:9-15

Let’s note three separate thoughts.

A) Discerning Conversation (Titus 3:9-11)
B) Right Relationships (Titus 3:12-14)
C) Loving Goodbyes (Titus 3:15)

Before moving on, though, let us note the “but” at the beginning. The “but” at the beginning of verse 9 links the thought of verse 9 with the thought in verse 8.

“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” (Titus 3:8).

In verse 8 he emphasizes what is best for them. He adds, however, this final note found in the last verses 9-15. There are things that could interfere with the process that he hopes would work out. They will face a particular problem in that society. The problem evidently was already there.

Read on for detailed discussion on what Paul instructed Titus inTitus 3:9-11 on 'Discerning Conversations' at the end of the Book of Titus. Next =>


Other BFF related articles for further study:
Paul's vision for strengthening the church (Ephesians 4)
The power of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)


    Book of Titus: The Bible Teacher's Commentary

    Titus Outline | Titus Map | Titus Commentary (see below)
    Intro to Titus | Titus 1:1-4 | Titus 1:5-9 | Titus 2:1-2 | Titus 3:9-15

    Titus 1:1a Calling | Titus 1:1-4_Introduction | Titus 1:1-3 Calling | Titus 1:4 Training | Titus 1:1-4 Questions

    Titus 1:5-9 Introduction | Titus 1:5 Organization | Titus 1:5 Leadership | Titus 1:6-9 Standards | Titus 1:5-9 Questions

    Titus 2:1-2 Introduction | Titus 2:1 Beliefs | Titus 2:2 Lives | Titus 2:1-2 Questions

    Titus 3:01-4 Questions | Titus 3:09-15 Introduction | Titus 3:09-11 Conversation
    Titus 3:12-14 Relationships | Titus 3:15 Goodbyes | Titus 3:09-15 Questions


    Book of Titus - Inductive Bible Training Study Questions Series

    Learn how to do inductive Bible Studies! Purchase here

    Inductive Bible Study Questions: Introduction | Book study
    Study Questions: Titus 1:1-4 | Titus 1:5-9 | Titus 1:10-16
    Titus 2:1-10 | Titus 2:11-15 | Titus 3:1-8 | Titus 3:9-15


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    Biblical Foundations for Freedom

    By Paul J. Bucknell