Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
1 Maccabees 6:1-17 – Meanwhile, King Antiochus IV tries to take and plunder a rich city in Persia—Elymais—but fails. He receives word that the Jews have used all the plunder they have won to strengthen their towns and that they have torn down the “abomination” in their Temple. He is shaken by both these things and feels that he has failed. He becomes depressed.
The tone of the passage is interesting because he is, after all, the enemy of the Jews; but they seem to see him sympathetically here. He is seen as repentant. He says, “now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem when I seized all the vessels of silver and gold there, and ordered the extermination of the inhabitants of Judah for no reason at all. This, I am convinced, is why these misfortunes have overtaken me, and why I am dying of melancholy in a foreign land” (6:12-13).
He calls for Philip, a friend, and gives him the crown and authority to guide his son, whose name is also Antiochus – Antiochus V - until he is old enough to rule. The young Antiochus is eight years old when he becomes king. Lysias, the general who is presently charged with caring for the king’s son, calls the boy Eupater, and when Antiochus dies, he is established as his father’s successor. There is another man – Philip – whom Antiochus’ wanted to watch over his son and these two will later come into conflict.
Introduction to the Epistle to Titus: This “pastoral” letter is also ascribed to Paul though there are scholars who doubt his authorship. Its main concerns are similar to those expressed in 1 Timothy, namely the kind of “church order” that should be established in these more recently converted communities, concerns over “false teachings” that threaten the core Christian message, and the kind of community culture that should be established. Titus is never mentioned in Acts. Here he is described as a convert of Paul’s, brought to the Jerusalem meeting in AD 49 to show how “genuine a Christian an uncircumcised Gentile could be” (Raymond Brown 640).
This letter “assumes that Paul has been in Crete with Titus and has left him there to correct anything that is still defective, specifically to appoint presbyters (Brown 641).
Titus 1 – Paul writes this letter to Titus who is on the island of Crete. He opens the letter by describing himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ” who has been charged with brings “whose whom God has chosen to faith and to the knowledge of the truth that leads to true religion; and to give them the hope of the eternal life that was promised so long ago by God” (1:1-2). He calls Titus “true child of mine in the faith that we share” (1:4).
He has left Titus in Crete to “get everything organized there and appoint elders [presbyters] in every town” (1:5). Elders must be men of “irreproachable character” (1:6), married no more than once. His children “must be believers and not uncontrollable or liable to be charged with disorderly conduct” (1:6).
The elder is seen as “God’s representative” (1:7) so he has to be “irreproachable.” And “he must have a firm grasp of the unchanging message of the tradition, so that he can be counted on for both expounding the sound doctrine and refuting those who argue against it” (1:9).
Apparently in Crete, there are many people whom the writer thinks should be “disciplined,” “silenced” because they are teaching “things that they ought not to, and doing it with the vile motive of making money” (1:11). Cretans apparently have a reputation for being corrupt and untrustworthy that the writer here believes is accurate. The corrupt influences are working their bad stuff in the community of the faithful and they need to be dealt with.
Titus 2 – Paul instruct Titus to focus on the “behavior” that goes with correct doctrine. The behavior of men and women should be a model for all to follow. Older men should be “reserved, dignified, moderate, sound in faith and love and constancy” (2:2). Older women should be religious and not “scandal-mongers,” known for drinking too mush wine and misbehaving. Young men should be models of good behavior as well.
“You see, God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Christ Jesus” (2:11-13).