Archive for the ‘Titus 1’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 20 (Year D)   1 comment


Above:  Isaiah

Image in the Public Domain

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Part II

SEPTEMBER 24, 2023


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 1:(1) 2-9 (10-20)

Psalm 25:11-22

John 13:(1-17) 18-20

Titus 1:1-16


We (both individually and collectively) should know better than we do spiritually.  In Isaiah 1 we read another instance of God complaining about rituals (inherently not bad) rendered moot and irritating by rampant collective disregard for social justice, especially that of the economic variety.  As often as the Bible repeats condemnations of idolatry, social injustice–especially judicial corruption and economic exploitation–and a generalized lack of trust in God, we (both individually and collectively) should know better than we do.

Psalm 25 picks up the themes of humiliation and of trust in God.  Jesus, while assuming the role of a servant in the Gospel, does not humiliate himself; that is a timeless lesson.  His example is a counterpoint to the targets of criticism in the Letter to Titus.  Humility is literally being down to earth, which is to say, the opposite of being puffed up.  Jesus is our role model in this and other regards.









Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 17, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  Rehoboam, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Timeless Principles of Righteousness

AUGUST 29 and 30, 2022


The Collect:

O God, you resist those who are proud and give grace those who are humble.

Give us the humility of your Son, that we may embody

the generosity of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 46


The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 12:1-12 (Monday)

Isaiah 2:12-17 (Tuesday)

Psalm 119:65-72 (Both Days)

Hebrews 13:7-21 (Monday)

Titus 1:1-9 (Tuesday)


Teach me judgement and knowledge,

for I rely on your commandments.

–Psalm 119:66, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


Leaders should obey God and be worthy of respect, the readings tell us.  This principle applies to religious leaders in the New Testament lections and to monarchs (in a system lacking the separation of religion and state) in the Old Testament lessons.  In all of the readings the theme of praising humility and condemning hubris, present in previous posts, continues.  As I have noted more than once, one might commit error while trying to obey divine commandments, as one understands them.  Sometimes we mistake God’s voice for our own.

As I have written in the context of the Law of Moses, scripture provides us with timeless principles and culturally specific examples thereof.  The examples fall away, but the principles persist.  Much legalism results from becoming attached to now-irrelevant examples, not the timeless principles behind them.  There is, in contrast, a wonderful Jewish practice of pondering the principles and how to act according to them in current circumstances.

May we, like the author of Psalm 119, rely on divine commandments without fixating on now-irrelevant, culturally specific examples.






Devotion for Thursday and Friday Before Proper 25, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

New Novel Winslow Homer

Above:  The New Novel, by Winslow Homer

Image in the Public Domain

Upright and Religious Lives

OCTOBER 26 and 27, 2023


The Collect:

O Lord God, you are the holy lawgiver, you are the salvation of your people.

By your Spirit renew us in your covenant of love,

and train us to care tenderly for all our neighbors,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 51


The Assigned Readings:

Numbers 5:5-10 (Thursday)

Deuteronomy 9:25-10:5 (Friday)

Psalm 1 (Both Days)

Titus 1:5-16 (Thursday)

Titus 2:7-8, 11-15 (Friday)


Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.

It is not so with the wicked;

they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

–Psalm 1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Psalm 1 is excessively optimistic in places, for not everything the righteous do prospers.  Indeed, many of the wicked do quite well for themselves in this life.  That quibble aside, I note the recognition of ultimate justice, for all of us will answer to the same God, in whom dwell both judgment and mercy.

Thea assigned readings from the Old and New Testaments focus on how to live on this plane of reality.  We learn about consequences of sins also.  Sometimes those consequences assume the form of restitution  to the wronged person or the wronged person’s next of kin.  Or they might assume the form of a donation to a priest if there is no next of kin.  But what about the situation in which the collective sins?  Moses interceded with God to avoid the destruction of the people, who were stubborn, grumbling ingrates who had not surrendered their slave mentalities.  Many members of that first generation of partially liberated people died due to their sins and the second generation entered the Promised Land.  Words from Titus could have applied to that first generation:

They claim to know God but by their works they deny him; they are outrageously rebellious and quite untrustworthy for any good work.

–1:16, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Speaking of slavery, God had liberated that first generation physically from servitude in Egypt.  Thus the birth of the Hebrew nation was its passage through the parted waters of the Sea of Reeds.  Those who designed the lectionary I am following skipped Titus 2:9-10:

Slaves must be obedient to their masters in everything, and do what is wanted without argument, and show complete honesty at all times, so that they are in every way a credit to the teaching of God our Saviour.

The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

I side with God in Exodus, not with St. Paul the Apostle, in this matter.  Slavery is wrong in all its forms at all times and in all places.

Another portion of the Letter of Titus is less troublesome, although not without a history of excessively rigorous interpretation and enforcement:

[God’s grace] has taught us that we should give up everything contrary to true religion and all our worldly passions; we must be self-restrained and live upright lives in this present world, waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–2:12-14, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Off the top of my head I can repeat a list of allegedly self-indulgent and therefore sinful deeds:

  1. Attending plays,
  2. Reading novels,
  3. Playing dominoes,
  4. Playing chess,
  5. Playing cards,
  6. Playing soccer,
  7. Wearing fashionable clothes,
  8. Wearing ribbons in one’s hair (sorry, ladies),
  9. Drinking coffee,
  10. Drinking tea,
  11. Eating meat,
  12. Eating pastries,
  13. Dancing,
  14. Hosting a dance at home,
  15. Attending circuses,
  16. Watching television, and
  17. Watching television.

I have found references to all of these in various sources, which have dated the condemnations from centuries ago the present day.  On the other hand, would not opposing slavery constitute part of leading an upright and religious life at any time.  One might think so.

May we who profess to follow God do so in reality, forsaking petty nonsense and pursuing love of our fellow human beings and seeking the best for them.








Upright and Religious Lives


Week of Proper 27: Monday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  Crete, as of July 22, 2011

Image Source = NASA

Ethnic Slurs and Other Stereotypes

NOVEMBER 7, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Titus 1:1-16 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul, servant of God and apostle of Christ Jesus, marked as such by the faith of God’s chosen people and the knowledge of the truth enshrined in our religion with its hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised long ages ago, and now in his own good time has openly declared in the proclamation entrusted to me by command of God our Saviour.

Titus, my true-born son in the faith which we share.  Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Saviour.

My intention in leaving you behind in Crete was that you should deal with any outstanding matters, and in particular should appoint elders in each town in accordance with the principles I have laid down:  Are they men of unimpeachable character?  Is each the husband of one wife?  Are their children believers, not open to any charge of dissipation or indiscipline?  For as God’s steward a bishop  must be a man on unimpeachable character.  He must not be overbearing  or short-tempered or given to drink; no brawler, no money-grubber, but hospitable, right-minded, temperate, just, devout, and self-controlled.  He must keep firm hold of the true doctrine, so that he may be well able both to appeal to his hearers with sound teaching and to refute those who raise objections.

There are many, especially among Jewish converts, who are undisciplined, who talk wildly and lead others astray.  Such men must be muzzled, because they are ruining whole families by teaching what they should not, and all for sordid gain.  It was a Cretan prophet, one of their own countrymen, who said,

Cretans were ever liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons

–and how truly he spoke!  All the more reason why you should rebuke them sharply, so that they may be restored to a sound faith, instead of paying heed to Jewish myths and to human commandments, the work of those who turn their backs on the truth.

To the pure all things are pure; but nothing is pure to tainted disbelievers, tainted both in reason and in conscience.  They profess to know God but by their actions deny him; they are detestable and disobedient, disqualified for any good work.

Psalm 24:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Luke 17:1-6 (Revised English Bible):

Jesus said to his disciples,

There are bound to be causes of stumbling; but woe betide the person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round his neck than to cause the downfall of one of these little ones.  So be on your guard.

If your brother does wrong, reprove him; and if he repents, forgive him.  Even if he wrongs you seven times in a day and comes back to you seven times saying, “I am sorry,” you are to forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord,

Increase our faith;

and the Lord replied,

If you had faith no bigger than a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be rooted up and planted in the sea;’ and it would obey you.


The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 27:  Monday, Year 1:

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:


Scholars debate whether Paul wrote this epistle, addressed to Titus, one of Paul’s associates left at Crete and advised how to to set up the administration of the church there.  It does seem that Titus had to contend with some especially rebellious and contentious people in the course of fulfilling his vocation.  So the author, who disliked them, used some unflattering language for Jews and Cretans.  This, unfortunately, is consistent with Paul, who, in Philippians 3:2, called the Judaizers “dogs.”  I recall this clearly, for I completed my journey through the epistle just a few days ago.

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible features the following “Special Note” regarding ethnic slurs on page 2144:

This surprising insult may be the author’s way of portraying the rebellious teachers in the worst possible light.  Despite the use of such language in a letter attributed to Paul, surely the use of ethnic slurs within the Christian community is unacceptable in the light of Jesus’ acceptance of the Samaritans (Luke 10:25-37; John 4:1-2) and Paul’s own statements in Gal. 3:28.

Yes, some people fit stereotypes, but most do not; people are generally more complicated than stereotypes.  I stress this point in classrooms and provide historical examples as supporting details.  It is easy to slur and stereotype those who differ from us significantly and with whom we disagree strongly, much less those we do not know.  May we, by grace, resist that temptation.  That would be consistent with the example of Jesus.