This is a continuation of Titus 1: The Cult of Paul.
Before we get into the text of Titus 2, we need to ask some fundamental questions—questions that will help us better assess the principles Paul is teaching in this letter. Our first question is this: whose choices are we responsible for in life? As Christian teachers, are we responsible for the choices you are making in your own walk with God? Are you responsible for the choices we’re making? Should we be trying to control you? Should you be trying to control us? The answer to all of these questions is no. And yet in Titus what we find is Paul expressing an intense desire to control how people behave, how they think, and what kind of impression they’re making on others. In the second chapter of this epistle, Paul is going to bombard Titus with instructions for how Titus should teach various groups of people to behave. And while there is certainly value in encouraging people to act maturely, Paul’s motivations are all wrong. He’s going to say that the reason he wants everyone to act a certain way and think a certain way is so no outside observers will have grounds for slandering the followers of Paul. Paul wants his people to look good to others. He wants his followers to work hard to make his teaching seem attractive. But is that really what we’re supposed to be focusing on in life? Are we supposed to get up in the morning and say, “How can I make Jesus look good to people today?” or “How can I give Christianity a good name?” Can’t Jesus take care of His own reputation? Of course He can. We’re not supposed to be going through life trying to promote a religion. We’re supposed to be living to please God. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
TROUBLE IN ICONIUM (The 1st Mission Trip)
At the end of our last lesson, an angry Paul and Barnabas were shaking their sandals at the crowd in Antioch of Pisidia [pih-SIH-dee-uh], and leaving that hostile group of folks to travel east to the city of Iconium [i-CONE-ee-um].
Iconium is in the Roman province of Galatia. This is the area which Paul was preaching in before he teamed up with Barnabas. Back in Lesson 79, we learned about the letter of Galatians which Paul wrote to Gentile believers in this area who were getting hassled by Jews for not getting circumcised. Now Paul is returning to this region again, and he’s eager to get more converts. The problem is that word is already spreading in the Jewish community about how irritating Paul is. Back in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul really insulted his fellow Jews by accusing them of rejecting Yahweh’s salvation and saying that he was giving up on them to go preach to Gentiles. Of course this was all a bunch of guff on Paul’s part—Paul is a total bigot who loves his fellow Jews far more than he does icky Gentiles. But Paul also has a hot temper, and when he is annoyed, he runs his mouth and ends up making comments which get him into trouble. It’s simply unheard of for a Pharisee to publicly side with Gentiles against Jews, and the display Paul made back in Antioch of Pisidia is going to come back to haunt him. Continue reading
JOHN MARK GOES HOME (The 1st Mission Trip)
In our last lesson, we learned how Paul, Barnabas, and Barnabas’ nephew John Mark all set off to spread the Good News that Yahweh’s promised Messiah has finally come. This is the trip which Christian teachers refer to as Paul’s First Missionary Journey. It’s not that Paul hasn’t already been traveling about preaching to people, but this is the first trip that Luke gives a detailed description of in the book of Acts. Continue reading
As we begin Acts 12, we’re in Jerusalem: a city which is ruled over by Herod Agrippa I—a zealous follower of Judaism. Passover is rapidly approaching, and Agrippa decides that now would be a fine time to purge Jerusalem of these Jewish traitors who are exalting that blasphemous Jesus fellow who went around claiming equality with Yahweh. How can any true Jew be a fan of that outrageous Traitor? The Christians are teaching that Israel’s long awaited Messiah turned out to be nothing more than some unknown son of a carpenter who was quickly crucified without lifting a finger to save Israel from Roman oppression. Well, no, zealous followers of New Testament Judaism are certainly not going to accept such a despairing message. Yahweh promised them a hero—Jesus turned out to be a zero. So how dare these Jewish punks say that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah? Agrippa tells his military muscle to start hunting down any known fans of Jesus and an intense persecution begins. John’s brother James—who was one of the original twelve—gets chopped down with a sword. When Agrippa receives word that Jewish Jesus haters are singing his praises for launching this assault on Jewish Christians, Agrippa is pleased and he decides to keep going. Let’s see, who else could he kill to put an end to this annoying exaltation of Jesus? Who do these Jewish traitors view as their greatest, most influential leader? Peter of course, so Agrippa has Peter arrested right before Passover. This is devastating news for the Christians, and just in case any of them decide to attempt a jailbreak, Agrippa assigns sixteen soldiers to guard Peter in his cell. Then, feeling fabulous about his progress, he takes a break to enjoy Passover, after which he plans to put Peter on trial. Continue reading