Justice in the Book of Titus, Day 3

Today’s reading is drawn from Titus 1-3.

The text of Titus is short; it is only forty-six verses. Nonetheless, the brevity of the text contrasts with the content’s depth, in particular from the perspective of what it teaches about God’s justice. In this epistle, justice is not a theoretical discourse to fire up heated philosophical and theological debates. On the contrary, justice is a value to be expressed practically in the life of the Christian community (1:5–16), in the personal behavior of family members (2:1–10) and in their behavior as citizens (3:1–8).

In his letter to Titus, Paul begins with instructions about the way the Christian community in Crete should be governed, establishing ministerial ranks and making sure that every position is filled with people of Christian character. He also indicates how to deal with people who, teaching erroneous ideas, cause divisions and disrupt harmony in the Christian community and even whole families. Such persons not only lead people astray with their doctrines, but also commercialize the gospel for their own benefit (1:10–11). Then comes the apostle’s central teaching: the opposite of false doctrines are not the correct theological declarations but rather unity and concrete social practices that promote (and are in themselves) God’s justice (2:11–13).

At the time Titus was written, Crete was apparently a prosperous island. Nonetheless, the Christian community included people who were left on the sidelines of that prosperity. Slaves, for example, who (amazingly enough), are now worshiping alongside their masters. This unprecedented breakdown of class distinctions could be the reason why the author insists on the need to do good works and to give testimony of God’s justice in concrete ways.

The major concern expressed in the letter is not combating the false doctrines that abounded in Crete. Nor is it the lack of orderly and respectable church leaders. The deepest concern Paul and Titus have is to challenge the Cretan church to give, through service, true testimony of its faith. For them, doing what is good is the crucial expression of the salvation found in Christ (3:7–8). When believers act with solidarity together, they are expressing their faith in a just God who has acted with love and mercy for everyone.

— Harold Segura Columbia, Costa Rica (Excerpted from the book introduction to Titus)

Bible Gateway

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