A Catholic summary of the Book of Titus.
(Alternate link, via Vimeo.)
Several theological issues are addressed in the canonical Epistle of Paul to Titus. Since the Book is relatively short, let’s review the whole thing — chapter by chapter.
In the first 4 verses of chapter 1, Paul gives a simple salutation. And in verses 5-9, he begins to describe desirable traits in Christian leaders.
He says in Titus 1:10-14:
“For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.”
Here, Paul is denouncing Christians that fell into the trap of following the rituals of the Mosaic, “old” Law, rather than following Christ and His “new,” universal Law. These people were confusing Christians, and Paul, as a very devout former Jew, strongly condemned their heretical beliefs.
He goes on to say in Titus 1:15-16:
“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
Now, some (not all, but some) Protestants try to wiggle out of this section by saying that, for Christians (“the pure”), “all things are pure,” and so they are incapable of doing any bad deed in the eyes of God because of Christ’s sacrifice. This position is, of course, highly ambiguous and against the spirit of the passage. As we know, in verse 16, Paul makes it clear that good deeds are important, because those that do bad deeds deny Christ by their actions.
In verses 1-10 of chapter 2, Paul continues to describe ideal Christian traits for people in all sorts of situations.
Verses 11-14 read:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
This is very important. This passage starts with the fact that it is only by the grace of God that we can ever reach Heaven and be with Him, and that through Christ, He made salvation possible for everyone. It goes on to tell us how we should act in order to attain salvation. The passage ends with a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and that we must, with Christ’s help, “purify” ourselves and be “zealous for good deeds” for Him.
And verse 15 ends the chapter with a note that implies its importance.
Chapter 3 starts off by reminding us to “be obedient” and to “be ready for every good deed,” as well as other things.
But then it gets to verses 4-7, which might be a little confusing at first glance. The verses read:
“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Some Protestants jump at that passage (almost as if to say “Aha!”) in discussions about the necessity of works. But it doesn’t defend the “faith alone” position. Yes, everything is done “according to His mercy” — Protestants should know that, like they do, Catholics believe in “grace alone.” We can only attain salvation through God’s grace. The phrase “washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” refers to baptism and the regenerative effect that it has on our souls. Baptism cleanses us from all past sin, and it is also through baptism that we properly join the Church.
Good works are obviously necessary. In fact, the very next verse (verse 8) exhorts us to “be careful to engage in good deeds,” which are “good and profitable for men.”
In verses 9-11, Paul again warns against “factious” men that divide by the Mosaic Law.
Verses 12-15 end the chapter with a set of individual requests and a simple conclusion.
I hope that this helps you. If you have any questions, or if you would like to request a video about a certain topic, please feel free to contact me through any of the social networks listed. May God bless you!
(All verses are from the NASB translation.)