“Hold firm to the trustworthy word”

What things really matter? Today we read the three short chapters that make up the whole of Paul’s powerful letter to Titus who is described as “my true child in a common faith” (verse 4). There is one “faith” which should be “common” to everyone; but the many parts of Christendom shows that is now far from the case.

The Apostle says, “I left you in Crete that you might put what remained into order” (1:5). His first step is to “appoint elders in every town”. They must be married men of such a calibre that “his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination” (verse 6). Obviously they are experienced older men.

There follows a list of the qualities such elders must possess; “lovers 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 them who contradict it” (verse 9).

Sadly in Crete “there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party” (verse 10) – that is, those with a Jewish heritage, they are “teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (verse 11).

Just as sadly, the effort to make money, sometimes a lot of money, out of practicing religion has been seen in every generation.

Paul stresses that Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works”. Titus is told, “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority” (2:14,15).