Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rebuke Them Sharply

I’m slowly working through Paul’s epistle to Titus with a friend from church these days. Once a week we get together during the lunch hour and discuss the discourse analysis we’ve attempted for the text. We’ve only looked at the first nine verses so far, and we’ve still got some major questions that need to be answered in those verses, but I’ve been reading ahead to try to see where things are going.

One of the things that caught my attention is the manner/method that Paul tells Titus to use in order to set things “in order.” Here is a short paraphrastic outline of the first few paragraphs to show Paul’s flow of thought.

1) Titus, I left you in Crete for two reasons:
..... a) That you might set things in order
..... b) That you might appoint elders in every town
.......... i) Only appoint elders if they are above reproach
.......... ii) For elders must be above reproach

2) Elders must hold fast to the word of truth
..... a) In order that they might teach sound doctrine
..... b) and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
.......... i) For, there are many who are insubordinate
.......... ii) and they must be silenced

3) Titus, these Cretans are a wicked bunch
..... a) Since this is true, you must rebuke them sharply.
..... b) A sharp rebukes will lead their soundness of faith

Large volumes could be written to unpack Titus. Several chapters could be dedicated to each section above, and if you are looking at the text itself, you see that I’ve passed over way too much. Well, here are a few questions I think deserve finding answers for.

1) Why is it that elders must be above reproach?

2) Should we appoint elders if there are no fit men?

3) How does holding fast to the word of truth enable a man to teach sound doctrine?

4) How does holding fast to the word of truth enable a man to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine?

5) Why is it imperative that those who contradict sound doctrine be silenced?

6) Why does Paul tell Titus to “rebuke them sharply?”

7) What is different about the Cretans that Paul does not tell Titus to correct with gentleness, as he does in other circumstances?

8) How can a sharp rebuke possibly bring about soundness of faith?

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