Tim Chester’s recent books Total Church, A Meal with Jesus, and Everyday Church have heavily impacted my view on the church. Each of these deal with the internal life of the church and how the church does mission. Naturally I was excited to see Titus for You. This series works through books of the Bible both explaining the Biblical context and applying it to the life of the church. It does so in a way that is accessible to any Christian regardless of the amount of training they have in biblical studies. The best classification for this books would be an expositional commentary, as it reads like a sermon with added detail.
For each section Chester works systematically through the biblical text. In doing so he helps the reader understand what the text is saying. He keeps an eye not just on the details of the text, but on the big picture of the entire book of Titus. Then he reflects on the text, offering both theological and practical insights.
Chester’s focus throughout the book is the role of the Gospel in the life of the church. Take for example the section on 2:11-15. His starting point is demonstrating how telling Christians to do better and try harder is not good news or transformative news. Then he unpacks the message of the passage and shows how it is the ground of the exhortations in 2:1-10. The message Chester share here is greatly needed in the contemporary church environment. So much of what is preached in our churches currently is three steps to be better at different areas of our lives. It may sound like good advise, but it is actually a new law that cannot change our hearts. What Chester so helpfully demonstrates is how the Gospel transforms us inwardly so we desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.
It was also helpful to read Chester on the qualifications for elders in chapter 1. He boils the qualifications down to being blameless in three areas- home, life, and doctrine. While he gives equal space to each one, his remarks on the elder in the home were particularly appropriate. God’s people are a family and they must be led by men who walk in godliness in their own home. They cannot be men who live in perpetual adolescence, but by godly men who care for their wives and children well. Chester states this most strongly when he says, “the most important reference for a church leader is his home life.”
While Chester’s work is not exhaustive, it is helpful for anyone attempting to understand the message of Paul’s letter to Titus. I highly recommend this for any Christian desiring to give this letter a more detailed hearing.
(I received a copy of this work through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review.)
You can read all of my book reviews and notes here.