Monday, October 29, 2012

Titus 3

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(Note: yesterday I looked at my blog from a different computer than I usually use, and discovered that links in the bible commentaries section are the exact same color as the rest of the text, making them virtually invisible. I never noticed this before because it was always a page I had visited and therefore was grey on my normal computer. As a quick fix, I've changed the color of link text to green. This seems like a fine way to do it, but if anyone has alternative ideas I'd be interested)

Be Ready for Every Good Work (v. 1-11)

Be submissive and obedient to authority, be ready for every good work.

We start off with submission and obedience being important, this is exactly the kind of thing you would say to someone who you want to be under their thumb. In fact, if you wanted to have control over someone, the best thing you could do is convince them that obedience and submission are virtues. Also, I don't see what submission and obedience have to do with being ready for good works. This seems to be more coupling of ideas, take 2 things you want people to think are good (submission and obedience) and try to equate it with something they already think is good (being ready for good).

Also, with respect to obeying authority, didn't Jesus do a whole bunch of stuff that was against the established authority of his time? Why should Christ's followers respect authority when he didn't?

Be nice, gentle, and courteous to everyone, don't spread rumors about people

That's better

Remember the mistakes you made in the past and give other people some leeway as well

Another good one, great!

God didn't save us because of our works, but because of his mercy he appeared to us and let the holy spirit wash over us so that we might be saved by his grace.

This kind of thing always gets me. It sounds good on the surface, God helped out these guys. But why doesn't God help out everyone in the same way? Paul was a horrible person, but God intervened in his life to make sure he believed God was real and such. There were certainly times in my life when such an event would have had me be a believer forever. Why would God not help me out in the same way? Either God is not real, or he picks and chooses who gets the easy path to realizing he exists.

Be sure that your followers devote themselves to good works.

But I thought works didn't matter. Hell, Paul just said a few verses ago that he wasn't saved because of works. I guess the retort to this is he is not telling them to do good works for the purpose of being saved, just that it is a good thing to do.

v.9 "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless."

Details matter! Discussions are good, quarreling has it's benefits, granted it is best if it is civil, but arguments are good things. To call them unprofitable and worthless is completely wrong.

I guess the problem here is the word foolish, yes, we should avoid foolish disputes, which is what Guzik focuses on. I would argue that Paul is trying to put forth the idea that all disputes are foolish, but it doesn't say this explicitly.

Also, I didn't really harp on the genealogy thing, but Guzik points out that Rabbis spend their time building up genealogies and we shouldn't do that. Has he read the first chapter of Matthew?

If a person "stirs up division", warn him twice then have nothing to do with him. Such a person is warped and sinful and is self-condemned.

I can understand Paul not wanting his people to talk to the likes of me (although if they really had the truth he shouldn't fear it), but this goes so much farther than that. This basically says to disassociate from anyone for asking too many questions.

Guzik also has something to say here. He says those who go their own way are self-condemned. This is just more anti-intellectualism.

Final Instructions and Greetings (v. 12-15)

Teach our people to do good works and to help in cases of urgent need.

Sounds good.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


3:2 Be nice to everyone, don't spread rumors

"to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people."

3:3 Remember the mistakes you made in the past and give other people some leeway as well

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another."

3:8 People should devote themselves to good works.

"The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people."

3:14 Help people in need

"And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful."


3:1 Promoting submission and obedience, also coupling of ideas.

"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work"

3:9 Don't have disagreements or quarrels

"But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless."

3:10-11 If someone asks too many questions, warn them twice, then have nothing to do with them. Anti-intellectualism.

"As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."


  1. The submission to authority is definitely a crappy part of the Bible. I think someone should earn their position of authority. But, it's one of those things that doesn't really matter since there is a very vocal group of fundamentalist Christians that have been pretty opposed to our current president.

    Going back and forth with the "good deeds don't matter" to "do good things" reminds me of a politician that just says whatever is convenient at the time.

    I completely agree with you on the genealogy point as well. There seem to be a lot of other
    places in the Bible which emphasize how important genealogies are. I wonder if this was in response to any questions about whether Jesus' lineage was important. I am speculating here of course, but I already pointed out the contradiction of Jesus' being the "seed" of David, or if he was born of the "virgin" Mary.

    The part about stirring up division, why is that always a bad thing? I could see how doing it just for the sake of doing it is bad, but wasn't that how our country was founded? As you already stated, its just anti-intellectualism. I think about how scientific progress has always come about from people coming up with new ideas and sometimes having to fight for those ideas. Sometimes they even take a while for them to be accepted into mainstream science (for lack of a better word).

    1. I totally agree with you about earning respect. If someone is in a position of authority, I will definitely give them the benefit of the doubt, but they still need to prove to me that they deserve my respect. I assume the fundamentalists would probably try to spin their hatred of Obama by saying that the bible is talking about authorities in the church.

      For the genealogy thing, I actually think the "that's old testament" argument might hold some water here. Because they seem to specifically drawing a line between times of old and 'now'. However, since we still have several examples from new testament, your point still stands :) BTW, I love the point you made about Jesus being the seed of david (lineage through Joseph) and Mary being a virgin.

      Stirring up division: I'll play Christian's advocate for a moment. There are certainly times when stirring up division is a bad thing. For example, after 9/11 partisan politics stopped for a little while, it was a time to come together as a nation. Perhaps the church was going through a tough time? I don't know, that's the best I can come up with. Still, even here, this is not an argument to set down in stone. As you said, having disagreements and hashing these things out is an important process to go through


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