Mark Rathel is professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Latest Articles by MARK A. RATHEL
May 19, 2013
Critics of the church abound in the twenty-first century. While much of the criticism is unfounded, Christians unfortunately give unbelievers a rationale or basis of criticism. Perhaps the number one accusation against Christians today is our failure to live out the message we proclaim. The constant theme of Titus is the correlation between correct doctrine and lifestyle. As Paul concludes his letter to his ministerial associate Titus, he challenged Christians to a lifestyle of devotion that would be profitable to everyone.
May 12, 2013
A grace lifestyle that matches the Gospel message serves as the keynote of this chapter. The apostle dared diverse members of the church to live in such a manner that unbelievers cannot attack the Gospel. First, he encouraged believers to be godly in the home so that unbelievers cannot blaspheme God’s Word (v. 5). Blaspheme means “to slander, defame, revile, speak disrespectfully” and thereby ruin the reputation of God’s message. Sound, healthy teaching shames opponents of the Gospel when undergirded by Gospel living (v. 8). Second, Paul instructed Titus to preach healthy doctrine to prevent opponents from having anything evil to say (v. 8). Third, Paul uplifted the necessity of Christian workers to live out the Gospel in their work in order to adorn or uphold the beauty of the Gospel by faithfulness at work (v. 10).
May 5, 2013
Titus served as one of Paul’s most trusted ministry associates. Paul called Titus “my true child”—a term designating Titus as his convert (Titus 1:4). Titus was Greek and became a test case for the issue of requiring circumcision (Gal. 2:1-5). Paul entrusted to Titus his most difficult ministry assignments. Titus delivered a “severe letter” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth defending his apostleship (2 Cor. 2:3-4; 7:5-12). The apostle sent Titus to encourage the church at Corinth to contribute to the offering for Jerusalem Christians (2 Cor. 8:1-7). Perhaps the most difficult assignment Titus received from Paul was the charge to “set right” and provide leadership to the new church start at Crete—a church birth in a culture famed for moral degeneracy (Titus 1:5).
Apr 28, 2013
The last words of an individual prior to death may be significant. In the last letter Paul wrote prior to his death, Paul expressed his last words to his faithful assistant Timothy. Paul’s last words expressed challenge, life reflection, reaching out for companionship, and deep faith.
Apr 21, 2013
The Bible possesses a two-fold nature. First, the Bible is God-breathed. Second, men wrote the Bible. The Bible, then, is a divine-human book—God’s truth through human personality. Since God is the source of the message, the Bible is truthful. Since divinely inspired men wrote the Bible, the Bible deals with the real stuff of life. While Baptists affirm the nature of the Bible as divinely inspired and completely truthful, many Baptists have problems affirming the sufficiency of the Bible.
Apr 14, 2013
At the conclusion of chapter one, Paul expressed grief at the lack of loyalty to the Gospel demonstrated by many of the Christians in the Roman province of Asia. Indeed, many turned away from the message of Paul’s Gospel (1 Tim. 1:15). Baptist church membership rolls are filled with individuals who have turned away from faithfulness to the Gospel.
Apr 9, 2013
“Semper Fidelis”—meaning “always faithful” or “always loyal”—serves as the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. Christians affirm a threefold motto of faith, hope, and love. The biblical concept of faith encompasses the three pillars of commitment, trustworthiness and loyalty. May Christians be “always loyal.”
Mar 31, 2013
Growth in the Christian faith is a journey. In an era of instant everything from grits to potatoes, some Christians desire instant sanctification. God’s normal pattern of growth is through the process of holy habits. Paul concluded his letter to his younger ministerial associate by describing some of the holy habits necessary for Christian growth. While Paul addressed Timothy in his role as pastor, the principles outlined by Paul apply to all Christians.
Mar 24, 2013
The centerpiece of the Christian faith is the affirmation of the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity could not and cannot exist. God’s action in raising Jesus validated, certified, and authenticated Jesus’ claims regarding His identity and the purpose for which He came—to save people from their sins.
Mar 17, 2013
The first century culture differed greatly from our modern culture. Rather than emphasizing the individual, first century culture highlighted the group. An individual’s identity derived from the group to which the individual belonged—the family, community (birthplace), and networks (trade guild) to which one belonged. The definition of success became honor—the highest good. Yet, only the worthy received honor. An individual’s role was to promote the honor of the group.