Good Works

The letter to Titus was written from a Christian to a Christian. True, they were both preachers, but more importantly they were both Christians. There are teachings contained in this epistle which apply to all Christians. In the three chapters of this short book are instructions to young men, older men, older women, slaves, elders, and preachers. But throughout, there is one theme: do good works.

Paul first instructs Titus regarding false teachers that “profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). These were people who claimed that they were in a relationship with God, but their works said otherwise. They were hypocrites who were reprobate (worthless) when it came to doing good works, meaning they did not do any. Paul called such people “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers” (Titus 1:10). Paul basically tells Titus that if a person is not doing the works that go along with the profession of Christ, they are abominable and disobedient.

Paul later commands Titus that “in all things” he is to show himself as “a pattern of good works” (Titus 2:7). Since Titus was to be an example, that means Christians are supposed to look to him and follow that example. That pattern of good works was to be shown in four ways: (!) uncorrupted doctrine, (2) gravity (seriousness), (3) sincerity, and (4) sound speech (Titus 2:7-8).  Christians are supposed to follow that example by abiding in the uncorrupted doctrine of Christ (II John 1:9). Christians should be serious about their Christianity, for it is not a joking matter. All Christians are commanded to follow the pattern of sincerity (I Timothy 1:5). Finally, all Christians are required to follow the pattern of sound speech (Ephesians 4:29). These are all to be done so that no one can accuse you of evil (Titus 2:8).

Jesus Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states that Jesus Christ died so that he could purify (cleanse) those who follow Him. Those who have been purified are those who are “zealous of good works.” To be zealous of something is to be actively enthusiastic. So, Christ’s purified people must be enthusiastic about doing good works.

Titus is later exhorted to “affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8). Paul calls this a “faithful saying,” which means that it is one that is always true and should be relied upon and taught. The command is to affirm this truth. To affirm is “to confirm something as binding and valid” (Encarta Dictionary). He is told to constantly confirm that good works must be maintained. This is not a one-time thing. Christians need to be reminded that they do good works. The reason for continuing in doing good works is because “these things are good and profitable unto men.”

At the end of the letter, Paul states that Christians need to “learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Christians must learn to do good works to help with honest needs that arise. One translation says “busy themselves in good works for pressing needs” (McCord). There are always needs that arise in life, and the Christian who is doing good works will be prepared and willing to help with those needs. In doing so, they will be fruitful.

Throughout the book of Titus, “good works” are evidence of true Christianity. A lack of good works shows you’re a hypocrite. Good works are to be done as a pattern and example to others so that they may live righteously in doctrine, seriousness, sincerity, and sound speech. Christians must be enthusiastically doing these good works constantly. These good works are profitable to the ones doing them, but also to others who receive the benefit of the good that Christians do.

Paul is often viewed as the apostle of faith and grace, but throughout the book of Titus, it is abundantly clear that Paul is also the apostle of works.

-Bradley Cobb

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