Titus – Paul’s Case Study in Galatians 2

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In Galatians 2 we learn that Paul took Titus and Barnabas with him when he consulted with the leaders of the churches in Jerusalem. Paul says he took this trip in response to revelation from God. This is probably the same revelation given by Agabus in Acts 11 that links Antioch and Jerusalem as well as the gift to the impoverished Christians just like we find in Galatians 2.

Paul had proclaimed the Gospel 14 years prior to this meeting. He knew the fruits of his labor. He was convicted of what God was doing among the Gentiles apart from the requirements of the Law of Moses. Without a doubt, Paul did not need confirmation from them that his ministry was on solid footing. God had demonstrated that to Paul the whole time. That was undeniable.

What was in question, however, was whether or not Paul’s ministry could be supported or undermined based on those who would discredit him and it seems Paul believed getting backing from Jerusalem would help his case.

How do you truly determine if you have their backing? That is where Titus comes in. Titus is who turns the conversation from hypothetical abstraction to incarnational reality…where ideas put on flesh to test the veracity of our beliefs.

Titus was important because he was an uncircumcised Gentile believer. How Titus was received by these leaders would prove to be a litmus test that Peter himself would fail later in Galatians 2. Paul tells us in Gal 2:3 that during their time in Jerusalem that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised and that the “false believers” who would have pleaded for such a thing were discredited in the process.

I believe Paul took Titus with him because it is one thing to deny God’s activity in some other group of people in a hypothetical sense. It is quite another to do it to someone’s face. It is one thing for the Jerusalem leaders to talk about what God is or isn’t doing over there among the Gentiles. It is quite another for a Gentile Christian to be present with them to personally demonstrate the actuality of God’s working among the Gentiles.

Today, this is the value of working alongside people whose faith we are tempted to question. If you are convinced a certain group who proclaims to be “Christian” truly is not then I suggest you get to know them. Go and see what fruit is being produced. Test your assumptions and conclusions not just with paper and ink (or hypertext) but with flesh and blood.

It is one thing to talk a good game about which groups are real Christians and which ones don’t make the cut. It is quite another thing to get to know someone from the groups you struggle to include to test the legitimacy of your ideas and ideals. It may well be demonstrated that you were right in your assumptions. It is also entirely possible that God’s circle might be wider than yours. If that is the case, the call on our lives is to widen or close our circle to match what we believe God’s circle to be. This is a humbling process but it is a necessary one.

It is necessary to deal with real people, not hypotheticals just as the Jerusalem leaders weren’t just concluding things about Gentiles “over there” but also about Titus who was “right here”. It is necessary to understand the implications of our convictions. It is necessary that we don’t exist in a bubble, rather we put our faith in the marketplace to be tested in real time with real people. That is exactly what Jesus did and what Paul did and what Peter did. Even they didn’t do it perfectly, read the rest of Galatians 2 but it was necessary that they try and we should follow suit.

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