AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
The tiny epistle of Titus is divided into three short little chapters. It’s author is the apostle Paul, which means you should expect to find lies about how God operates and the promotion of wrong priorities. The epistle of Titus meets these expectations, and proves to be yet another rotten fruit in the orchard of New Testament epistles.
So if Paul is such a lousy spiritual teacher, why bother to study his writings? Because the man’s epistles provide excellent material for you to practice discernment. If you really have a firm grip on truth, you should be able to recognize a lie when you see one. But catching all of the lies Paul tosses out requires some understanding of context. Without understanding Paul’s basic beliefs, it’s easy to project your own meanings onto the things he says—especially if you start isolating individual statements. Today many Christians do this with Paul, and as a result they don’t realize how much guff he’s really slinging.
In our study on Titus, we’re going to explain how comments Paul makes fit in with the theology he puts out in his other letters. We’ll show you how Paul differentiates between Jesus and Yahweh, and we’ll explain why much of his teaching is going to encourage you to cultivate the wrong kinds of soul attitudes. But before we dive into the text, remember that God is the only Teacher you can trust. Since we’re not God, you should never just believe what we say or accept our views on things until God confirms to you that there is some merit to what we’re saying. It is God whose opinion matters, not Paul’s or ours. How can you succeed at pleasing your Creators if you’re never asking Them what They want? Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit don’t just talk to people who write articles on Bible passages—They talk to you as well. And since so much of what humans write about the Bible is total baloney, you would be a fool to just trust us when we’re humans ourselves. So while your eyeballs are taking in the words on your screen, your soul needs to be talking to God, and being receptive to anything He might want to say to you.
Now when it comes to epistles written by Peter, John and James, the Church has so few samples that she just names the letters after their authors. But because the Church has kept so many of Paul’s epistles, using a 1 Paul, 2 Paul kind of naming system would result in too much confusion. So the Church refers to Paul’s epistles not by their author, but by their intended audience. Romans was written to folks living in the city of Rome. Corinthians was written to folks living in Corinth. When Paul writes to a specific individual instead of a group, the Church refers to that letter by the individual’s name. Titus, Timothy, and Philemon are all individual men who Paul wrote letters to. In the case of Philemon, Paul was asking a slave owner to take his slave back on good terms. But in the letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul is charging men with the task of leading churches which Paul has started.
THE CULT OF PAUL
Paul was a traveling evangelist, which meant he’d go to a city, get people worked into a lather, then move on, telling himself that he’d successfully brought a bunch of new converts to the religion he was promoting. But was he correct in his assumptions? No, he wasn’t. Such evangelistic efforts rarely result in true converts. Because the men who are attracted to this kind of work tend to be very persuasive speakers with alpha personalities, the people who follow them would follow any dynamic personality who breezed into town. Confidence always attracts attention, and Paul had buckets of confidence. Dominating personalities always attract followers, and Paul was very dominating. Spiritual discussions always spark curiosity, and Paul was discussing spiritual matters. So while Paul viewed himself as an effective evangelist who planted many new churches, what he was really doing was forming little Paul fan clubs in various cities.
Far from being a man who was sincerely interested in serving God, Paul was a cult leader whose focus in life was launching the religion of Paul. Cult leaders use God as an excuse to promote themselves, and this is precisely what Paul did. We know this because the man actually brags about it in his letter to the Corinthians. Cult leaders don’t teach people to focus on God, they teach people to focus on themselves—to imitate them and to strive to become their clones. When cult leaders groom assistants to help them expand their fan base, they teach those assistants to act as puppets for the leaders. The assistants are required to say what the cult leaders tell them to say—if they refuse, they lose their position of power over the cult members. Cult leaders are also very possessive and controlling over their fans, because they are addicted to fan worship and threatened by their fans showing signs of independent thinking.
In his letter to the folks in Corinth, Paul is chewing the Corinthians out for their rebellious actions and attitudes. While it’s true that the Corinthians were a carnal mess, we gain many disturbing insights about Paul by watching how he tries to get them back under his thumb. Since rebellion indicates that the cult leader is losing influence over his followers, Paul works hard to reestablish himself as spiritually superior in the eyes of the Corinthians. Referring to himself and his fellow apostles, Paul says:
A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of Yahweh’s mysteries. (1 Cor. 4:1)
It’s beyond arrogant for any human to promote himself as “managing” any aspect of God—especially God’s “mysteries.” And yet promoting themselves as being in God’s inner circle is a critical way that cult leaders get other humans to worship them. So Paul wants the Corinthians to view Paul as “managing” Yahweh’s mysteries—in other words, Paul is saying that he has the ability to control who can access those mysteries. If these Corinthians don’t get back on board with worshiping Paul, Paul will cut them off from Yahweh. Cult leaders always insert themselves between their followers and God—promoting themselves as Heaven’s gatekeepers.
Cult leaders are very threatened by critical thinking among their followers, so they are quick to condemn independent thought. Paul wants his followers to stick to the script—to only believe what Paul authorizes them to believe, and nothing more.
Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. (1 Cor. 4:6)
While Paul claims to be trying to protect his followers from becoming prideful, it’s really his own pride that he’s protecting. He needs these people to continue to view him as their source of spiritual illumination—he can’t have them thinking they don’t need him.
For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? (1 Cor. 4:7)
These Corinthians are getting cocky—losing their attitude of dependency on Paul. So Paul reminds them that everything they know about God they learned from him—not from God. Remember, Paul claims to be the “manager” of Yahweh’s mysteries. These Corinthians can’t go directly to Yahweh for answers—they have to get their wisdom from Paul, and then they have to properly revere him for his generosity towards them. This is what Paul wants. The problem is that Paul is not the only cult leader around. There are other men who are traveling around like Paul, trying to get fans for themselves. The Corinthians have been interacting with other apostles who also claim to be promoting Christ. Paul now has to find a way to pull rank over those other apostles and convince the Corinthians that they belong to him.
For you can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Cor. 4:15-16)
Here Paul takes all of the credit for teaching these people about Christ, then he says that this gives him parental rights over them. They belong to him, and no other teacher can ever change that. And because these Corinthians are Paul’s spiritual children, they ought to imitate him. Paul wants these Corinthians to stop listening to other apostles, and to stop thinking for themselves. He wants them to just park their brains and go back to believing everything he says. He’s so threatened by the influence he’s losing over this group that he has decided to dispatch one of his carefully groomed yes-men to go to Corinth and personally remind everyone about how awesome Paul is.
Therefore I urge you to imitate me. This is why I have sent Timothy to you. He is my dearly loved and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you about my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Cor. 4:16-17)
You really don’t want to be “dearly loved” by Paul, because that means he views you as easily controllable. Young Timothy was totally taken in by Paul and turned into Paul’s personal promoter. Notice how Timothy has been instructed to preach not about Christ, but about how fabulously Paul follows Christ. Poor Timothy. What a carnal mess.
TITUS: ANOTHER YES-MAN
Now when we come to the epistle of Titus, what we find is Paul writing to another one of his puppet preachers. Titus has been installed by Paul on the island of Crete, and he’s been charged with the task of organizing Paul’s cult base there. Paul already laid the groundwork earlier by preaching to the Cretans and wowing them all with his dynamic domination. But, like the Corinthians, these Cretans are starting to lose interest in following Paul now that he’s left their island. Worried about his kingdom shrinking, Paul wants Titus to swiftly construct a hierarchy of leaders who can keep these Cretans in line. In classic cult leader style, Paul isn’t about to give Titus permission to select leaders by himself. Instead, Paul wants to control that process, so in the first chapter of this epistle, he is going to give Titus very specific instructions regarding the kinds of leaders that he wants Titus to choose.
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Yahweh and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those who Yahweh has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which Yahweh—who cannot lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time Yahweh has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of Yahweh our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for Him. (Tit. 1:1-3)
Paul loves to promote himself as a slave of Yahweh—it makes him sound so dedicated and humble at the same time. And yet Paul is anything but humble, which is why he always has to flaunt his personal dedication to God in everyone’s face, as well elevate himself as having received a special calling from Yahweh. In this introduction Paul says that he’s been assigned the task of aiding people’s faith in Yahweh and to teach people how to live godly lives. So…really? Paul is teaching people how to live godly lives? No, Paul is just exercising his vocal cords.
Here is a critical point that you need to get a hold of: it is God who teaches you how to please Him. The fact that God might choose to speak to you through some human being does not change the fact that God is the One giving you understanding. What this means is that no human can ever take one shred of credit for teaching you anything, because humans are incapable of illuminating your soul.
Let’s use an analogy to understand the difference between human teaching and God teaching. When humans try to teach you about God, it’s like Pastor John who stands behind his pulpit preaching a sermon on Sunday morning. John is saying a lot of useful things—the problem is that he’s speaking in Mandarin and you don’t understand Mandarin. English is the only language you understand, so no matter how long you listen to John, or how brilliant John’s insights are, they aren’t going to be anything but noise to you because your brain simply doesn’t know how to translate Mandarin. But now suppose that in the middle of John’s sermon, God suddenly flips a switch in your brain and you suddenly understand a single sentence that John says. The whole sermon is noise to you except for that one sentence which makes perfect sense. As you leave church, you have been greatly impacted by that one thing that John said that you were able to understand. But why were you able to understand it? Was it because the human communicated it to you so well? No, John just jabbered at you in Mandarin. John the man really didn’t help you at all—it was God who intervened in the situation and caused you to suddenly understand something that you were unable to understand on your own. This is how spiritual illumination works: it’s entirely due to God suddenly intervening and causing your soul to have an “aha” moment. The reason we call it spiritual illumination, is because the experience of being illuminated is like having someone turn on the light in a dark room. As the room is flooded with light, you are suddenly able to see things that have always been there. Spiritual illumination is like having God remove a blindfold from your eyes—it enables you to suddenly understand a truth that has always been true, or see something that has been in front of your face the whole time.
When Christian teachers try to take the credit for teaching you about God, they are acting as obnoxious as Evan, who watches Mike give Tim a present, and then says, “Hey Tim, how do you like that present that I just gave you?” Evan didn’t give Tim a present—Mike was the present giver while Evan just stood there and watched the exchange take place. In the same way, when you say to a Christian teacher, “Wow, I suddenly understand the importance of submitting to God!”, that teacher should be recognizing that God is the One who gave you that understanding. It had nothing to do with the teacher, so the teacher would be totally out of line to try and take any credit for what you’ve learned.
Once you understand how spiritual illumination works, you can see why it’s such a waste of time to pay other humans to teach you how to preach or teach or prophesy. It is beyond arrogant to think you can actually force other souls to have aha moments simply by adjusting your presentation style (see The Offense of Relevant Preaching: Stop Editing God). To make such a claim is the same as saying that you—some impotent fleck of a creature—can control the God who created you. Well, no, you really can’t. Only God can illuminate souls, so all of these prophetic schools and seminaries that Christians have constructed are nothing more than a carnal racket. You can’t give someone the power to illuminate souls, you can only explain the basic principles about how to respond well to God’s calling–and of course your teaching won’t do anyone any good unless God chooses to use it.
So how long does it take to say, “Ask God to have His total way with you”? How long does it take to say, “Be sure you have God’s Authorization to speak for Him before you dare to open your mouth” or “Don’t try to edit God’s messages—He’s a whole lot wiser than you are”? These three principles alone will steer you clear from getting into trouble with God, and it didn’t take us eight years and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of resources to communicate them to you. Formal Christian education is such a racket in the Church today. If you really feel like God is calling you to speak for Him, realize that you don’t need any human help to “refine your gift.” What you need is to wait for God to train you Himself and trust that He knows how (see Guidance for Preachers: Understanding the Call).
Let’s now get back to Titus. Paul starts this letter by waxing on about the important role he’s playing for God. Realize that Paul isn’t writing to a stranger—he is talking to a personal friend. So why doesn’t he just say, “Hey, Titus, it’s Paul”? Why does he have to boast about how he’s a slave of God and an apostle of Christ and remind Titus yet again about how Yahweh has entrusted Paul with the critical duty of teaching the masses? Titus has probably heard this “I’m so awesome” speech many times before.
Now notice how Paul slips in a comment about Yahweh being incapable of lying:
This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which Yahweh—who cannot lie—promised them before the world began. (Tit. 1:2)
Before he went off to start the cult of Paul, Paul was a Pharisee, and Pharisees had received special training in the Old Testament. Well, how does a man who is well-versed in the Old Testament say that God can’t lie? Yahweh lies all over the place in the Old Testament. As a Being who knows the end from the beginning, it really doesn’t work for Yahweh to act like He is surprised by the way things work out. Way back in the days of Moses, we find Yahweh prophesying about how Israel will be utterly unfaithful to Him. But then centuries later, when Israel is doing just what Yahweh said she would do, we find Him telling Jeremiah:
“Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to Me.’ But she did not return.” (Jer. 3:6-7)
Way back in the days of Genesis, we find Yahweh commanding Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God. Then, centuries later, we find Yahweh claiming that it’s never occurred to Him to have His followers sacrifice their children.
“They have built the high places of Tophet in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter My mind.” (Jer. 7:31)
As a Being who reigns with absolute control over all that He creates, Yahweh never makes mistakes, and He never has things fall apart on Him. When He chose Saul to be Israel’s first king, He knew what a rebellious twerp Saul would turn out to be, so it’s not like He was surprised by the choices Saul made. And yet we find Yahweh saying to the prophet Samuel:
“I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to Me and has refused to obey My command.” (1 Sam. 15:11)
As for false prophecies put out by Yahweh, the Old Testament is loaded with them. After He destroys the Temple and Jerusalem in the lifetimes of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Yahweh promises Ezekiel that the Temple will be rebuilt, and that the Jews will once again thrive in the Promised Land. He even gets specific: listing off physical dimensions for the new Temple and reviewing where the borders of each tribal state should fall. Yet in real life, these prophecies never came true. When the Temple was rebuilt, it didn’t match the specs that Yahweh had given Ezekiel. Instead of leading Israel into a golden age of glory as He promised to do over and over again through the mouths of His prophets, Yahweh kept Israel in a state of oppression—forcing her to serve one empire after another. It was while Israel was a pawn of Rome that Yahweh tore her Temple down again, and it remains fallen to this day. Meanwhile, the tribal states are not restored, and Israel is stuck being the world’s underdog, not its leader. So much for Yahweh not lying. But then again, Yahweh has always reserved the right to put out false prophecies. After all, He’s God Almighty—He gets to do whatever He wants. Reserving His right to renege on His own prophecies is one of the points Yahweh makes during His famous potter and clay lesson with Jeremiah. After having the prophet watch a human potter change his mind about the kind of vessel he wants to make out of a lump of clay, Yahweh says:
“If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey Me, I will not bless it as I said I would.” (Jer. 18:7-10)
But then there’s Paul, saying that Yahweh “cannot lie.” Not only is Yahweh able to lie, He specifically reserves His right to do so in Jeremiah 18. So while Paul promotes himself as a fabulous spiritual role model, in reality the man didn’t know Yahweh very well at all, and this causes him to put out a very distorted view of Yahweh in his epistles (see Understanding Divine Election: Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated (Malachi 1 & Romans 9)).
Now after taking the time to flaunt his own titles and importance, Paul keeps his introduction of Titus very brief.
To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from Yahweh the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (Titus 1:4)
The warning flag here is how Paul refers to Titus as his “true son.” Paul uses this language not only to pull rank on Titus—since fathers socially outranked their sons in New Testament society—but he is also expressing a possessive attitude towards Titus, as well as a dangerous amount of approval. Paul gushed over Timothy as his “son” as well, and we’ve already learned what a patsy Timothy was from Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians. Paul is certainly not going to put Titus in charge at Crete unless Paul feels satisfied that Titus isn’t the sort to try and think for himself. While Paul is busy slaving for Yahweh, he wants Titus to be slaving for Paul, and now Paul reminds Titus of things that Titus should already know.
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (Tit. 1:5)
This reference to appointing leaders in every town suggests that Paul is hoping to assimilate the whole island into his cult kingdom. Crete isn’t a very big place, and Paul probably preached in many of its towns during his conversion tour. But he’s since moved on to take advantage of some opportunities on the mainland, so he wants Titus to wrap things up in his absence. What’s bizarre is that Paul is writing a letter explaining things to Titus which he claims to have already said. Perhaps Paul feels he was too hasty with his parting instructions, and he now wants to make sure Titus picks the right kinds of leaders. Paul doesn’t want just anyone to be representing him on Crete. He wants leaders with good reputations, mild temperaments, and no original thoughts.
An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Tit. 1:6-9)
Notice that line about elders having to “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught”—that means “as it has been taught by Paul.” What Paul wants is a bunch of yes-men who will dutifully repeat and defend everything Paul says. Notice how he doesn’t want anyone who is “overbearing.” Paul has a very domineering temperament, and he doesn’t want competition on that front. Strong temperaments resist submitting to human authorities, so Paul doesn’t want strong leaders in Crete—he wants dedicated fans. Being a diehard fan of Paul is a totally different deal than being a diehard fan of God.
Cult leaders are power hoarders. When he was reaming out the Corinthians, Paul had no problems with threatening to use violence against alpha temperaments who were causing division among his fans.
Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit? (1 Cor. 4:18-21)
It’s okay for the cult leader to whomp on people, but Paul wants his elders in Crete to be “not violent.” Strong temperaments threaten the whole system, and there are a lot of strong temperaments countering the things that Paul has taught the Cretans.
So what is God telling you about Paul’s list of elder qualifications? Do you notice anything that’s missing? Do you think it’s really wise to assess a man’s spiritual leadership qualities based on the quality of his marriage and the attitudes of his children? No man can control the will of other people. Just because a man’s kids have problems does not mean the man is solely responsible for those problems. The fact that a man’s wife is making wrong choices doesn’t mean her husband should automatically be blamed. God gives every soul the option of defying Him. Suppose there is a God fearing man who is stuck in a family of spiritual rebels—should we then write that man off as rebellious as well?
For a man who has studied the Old Testament, Paul is showing a glaring lack of understanding about how Yahweh works. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of Yahweh choosing the unlikely, unimpressive, unskilled, and socially shunned to work through. Before he fled his royal home in Egypt, Moses killed an Egyptian in cold blood and buried his body in the sand. So much for being a non-violent man. So much for having self-control. And yet it was Moses who God chose to lead His people through the wilderness for forty years.
The prophet Samuel’s sons were irreverent twerps, yet that didn’t stop Yahweh from keeping Samuel as His prophet. Samuel was just a boy when God called him to speak for Him, and David was just a kid when Yahweh anointed him to be king over Israel. Clearly Yahweh doesn’t just fluff kids off as being incapable of serving Him well. God once ordered Isaiah to walk around naked and barefoot for three years as a prophetic sign to the nations of Egypt and Cush (see Prophets in Action: Isaiah Walks Around Naked). If you’d visited Israel during Isaiah’s naked phase, would you see a man dutifully serving Yahweh? No, you’d write Isaiah off as some kind of delusional pervert. And if you’d seen Ezekiel lying in the dirt for over a year while he ranted and raved about God destroying people, you’d figure he was mentally imbalanced (see Prophets in Action: Ezekiel & the Siege of Jerusalem). The point is that Paul’s whole system of picking pretty people to serve as his elders doesn’t leave any room for Yahweh to work in His usual wild way. And while Paul’s busy bossing Titus around, notice how he doesn’t ever tell Titus to seek God’s opinion on the matter. As far as Paul is concerned, he is the god of Titus, so Titus would be out of line to ever question Paul. So would the elders that Titus picks—Paul doesn’t want these men maturing in their faiths, because maturity results in a continuous changing and revising of views. Your current personal beliefs about God are not supposed to be the same today as they were ten years ago. If we’re growing, we’re changing, and that’s a good thing. But change threatens cult leaders, so Paul won’t tolerate countering views among his converts. Instead, he wants everyone to robotically obey him while they spend a lot of mental energy focusing on how great he is. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he takes a break from scolding them in order to encourage them in one area where he knows they’re dutifully obeying his instructions.
Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. (1 Cor. 11:1-2)
Cult leaders love spiritual stagnation because when folks aren’t maturing spiritually, they’re much easier to manipulate. But cult leaders are very impatient with those who deviate from their teachings, and they’re very threatened by other cult leaders who come along trying to woo their converts away. On the island of Crete, Paul has some fierce competition. Circumcised Jews are being a particular thorn in his side, because they are preaching that circumcision is a requirement for salvation. You’ll find Paul battling the circumcision issue in his letter to the Galatians as well, but now let’s understand why this was such a hot issue.
Way back in the days of Genesis, Yahweh made several promises to Abraham which He said were supposed to be permanent things. But remember—this is the same Yahweh who said He could change His mind and break His promises whenever He wanted to.
There were two “permanent” pacts which Yahweh made with Abraham back in Genesis which still get a lot of attention today. One was Yahweh’s promise to give a certain region of land to Abraham’s descendants as a permanent inheritance. This turned out to be yet another lie, because while Yahweh originally promised the land to all of Abraham’s descendants, He later said only the descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob (aka Israel) would inherit the land. Remember, Yahweh is a wild card.
Now the second permanent pact had to do with circumcision. To qualify for the land inheritance, all Yahweh’s male followers had to be circumcised. Not just them, but all males living in their households as well, including their slaves. If you refused to get circumcised, then you were rejected by Yahweh, and none of the happy promises applied to you. If you embraced rebellious soul attitudes, you were also rejected by Yahweh and none of the happy promises applied to you.
Today what you find is the Church fawning over Israel and pretending that circumcision is irrelevant but the land promise is irrevocable. You also find certain followers of Judaism claiming that the land promise is irrevocable, hence Israel is claiming a Divine right to certain territory. Does she really have such a right? No, because with the coming of Christ, all previous rules were thrown out: including both circumcision and the land promises. You can’t separate the land issue from circumcision or the whole body of Old Covenant laws because Yahweh Himself said these things were all connected.
Now Paul isn’t promoting true Christianity, because he rejects the Divinity of Christ (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ). As a Pharisee, he’s never promoted true Judaism. The Pharisees taught that salvation was acquired through moral perfection, while Yahweh taught that salvation was required through reverential submission (see Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God). So if Paul isn’t promoting Judaism or Christianity, what is he promoting? He’s promoting the religion of Paul.
The religion of Paul is an adjusted version of the legalistic garbage that Paul used to peddle as a Pharisee. He still teaches that salvation is attained through moral perfection, but now he says that we all need human Christ to clear our debt of sin with Yahweh. According to Paul, Christ wipes away our bad record of sins, and He infuses us with the ability to never sin again. So after we accept this reboot from Christ, it’s on us to remain perfect. Yahweh will then accept us because we’re sinless—not because we’re pleasing Him with our soul attitudes (see Romans 8: Pretty Promises for Perfect People).
Paul has no use for sincere submission to God, which is why he boasts of constantly telling Yahweh what to do in his personal prayer life. Paul sees Christ as a Jewish man who scored major supernatural rewards from Yahweh. Paul envies Christ’s power, and he wants a piece of that action. So his whole motivation in promoting Christ is to qualify for a share of all the power and glory that he thinks Christ “inherited” from Yahweh.
Now since competition for converts is so fierce, Paul has to be strategic in his evangelistic efforts if he’s going to build a nice kingdom for himself on earth. With ethnic Jews, he has automatic clout because he is a Pharisee. Pharisees were to Jewish commoners what pastors of mega-churches are to Christians today. When we read about Paul’s travels in Acts, we find him really milking his Pharisee advantage by targeting Jewish synagogues whenever he rolls into a new town. But Gentiles are also ripe for the harvest, and since ethnic Jews look down on Gentiles as being inferior, if Paul can find a way to stomach socializing with those “uncircumcised dogs,” he can win a lot of them over. So this is what Paul does: he divides his attentions between ethnic Jews who revere him as a Pharisee, and Gentiles who can be conned into thinking that it’s some huge privilege for the God of Israel to be finally giving them the time of day.
Don’t be fooled by Paul’s famous claim to be “an apostle to the Gentiles.” The man loathed Gentiles, and delighted in frequently reminding them how they were merely the bait that Yahweh was using to catch more ethnic Jews (see More Lies from Paul: God Loves Jews More Than Gentiles (Romans 11)). But Gentiles are good for milking worship out of, even if they are polluting God’s chosen people. And yet trying to win Gentiles is going to be a very slow process if Paul makes circumcision a hill to die on. So he declares circumcision to be null and void. Circumcision is irrelevant today, but Paul’s reasons for pushing this doctrine were quite self-serving. He wasn’t really interested in trying to help Gentiles understand their “freedom in Christ”—he was just trying to make converting to the religion of Paul easier for them, while attracting Gentiles away from the Israelite preachers he used to compete with back when he promoted the New Testament version of Judaism (see the section “Paul Writes Galatians” in Know Your Bible Lesson 79: Tolerating Gentiles).
Well, on the island of Crete, there are some ethnic Jews insisting that circumcision is still required for salvation. Paul is threatened by this competition, so he orders Titus to shut these people up. How exactly he expects Titus to do this is unclear, but his tone is quite adamant.
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Tit. 1:10-11)
It’s not like Paul’s motivations are admirable—he’s trying to turn the island of Crete into a Paul worship center. But of course he’s going to condemn anyone who disagrees with him, because such people threaten to cut off his supply of fan worship. Paul is so irked by these circumcision promoting Jews and so frosted by the disloyalty of his Cretan converts that he declares every Cretan to be a subhuman yuck.
Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. (Tit. 1:12-13)
Wow, really? So while Paul demands that his elders be disciplined, slow to anger, self-controlled and hospitable, it’s okay for him to write all Cretans off as cruel animals? Cult leaders are notorious for declaring the right to live above the laws they impose on others.
Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. (Tit. 1:13-14)
Paul is really demanding the impossible from Titus. The man is an army of one, and yet Paul is ordering him to singlehandedly tame all of these gluttonous animals and shut the faces of everyone who is opposing Paul. Notice how Paul condemns those who pay attention to “the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.” Of course Paul himself is “merely human,” but it’s not okay for anyone to ignore his commands. We find the apostle John displaying similar arrogance in his epistle of 1 John. Like Paul, John loves to spew hate and condemnation all over anyone who dares to disagree with him or his fellow apostles. John says:
We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception. (1 Jn. 4:6)
In other words, John claims that his teaching about God is infallible. The Catholic pope makes the same claim today. No wonder astronomers see the universe constantly expanding. With so many inflated egos pushing against its borders, how can it not? And of course there’s Paul, wrapping up Titus 1 by verbally spitting all over anyone who disagrees with him.
To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (Tit. 1:15-16)
Nothing like an evangelist who goes around teaching that anyone who disagrees with him is “detestable” and “unfit for doing anything good.” What a little ray of sunshine Paul is. And once you understand that Paul defines “the pure” as being only those who park their brains and perpetually kiss the toes of their spiritual “father,” you really lose all respect for his discernment.
Well, now that he’s spewed hate at everyone who disagrees with him and now that he’s declared all Cretans to be cruel animals, Paul will begin Chapter 2 by ordering Titus to teach the men of Crete to be “filled with love and patience.” Cult leaders are notorious hypocrites.
To continue this study, see Titus 2: Cult Rules.