Monday, December 19, 2005

Titus 1:1-16

On one of his later journeys, Paul – along with Titus, a trusted, younger believer in Jesus – apparently visited Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. Through the preaching and teaching of Paul and Titus, some in Crete became believers in Jesus. After a time Paul departed Crete, yet he left Titus to assist local believers in organizing their community or church, in order to grow in faithful knowledge and life. Paul’s letter provided spiritual and practical guidance for Titus and the Christian community in Crete.

In particular, Paul urged them to hold fast to truth – to the truth of God’s saving, life-transforming grace and power in Jesus. Apparently, some in or around the Christian community in Crete had begun to speculate about other quasi-religious ideas and practices, and they tried to tack those onto the good news that Paul had received from Jesus and had passed on to them. In response, Paul encouraged the Christians in Crete to ground themselves in “sound doctrine,” in the trustworthy message about Jesus they had been taught.

It is in this context that we understand the richness of Paul’s reference to knowledge as he began his letter. He described himself as “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Paul had received this very knowledge from Jesus. It had changed his life from opposition to Jesus to devotion to Jesus. In turn, Paul gave his life to pass this knowledge on to others, including those in Crete, because he knew in the very core of his being that this knowledge gives true and right life.

True knowledge that leads to godliness, to life characterized by the very qualities of God in his goodness and love! This is the truth that God lives and gives in Jesus. It is not a set of mere, abstract notions, opinions, options, or preferences about religious or spiritual things. This is reality, the very stuff of life, because it comes from the true God, creator, redeemer, and sustainer of the universe. God’s truth in Jesus changes lives – Paul’s, Titus’s, people in Crete, yours, mine, and countless others through time and space. This is knowledge worthy of our passionate pursuit and devotion. For this truth came down from heaven in passionate, devoted pursuit of us!

Gregory Strong

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