Titus 3.12-15 – Final Words

Today Paul closes his letter to Titus in typical fashion. 

When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Titus 3.12-15

We see that Artemas or Tychicus are to be sent to Crete to carry on the work that Titus has been doing, and that Zenas and Apollos are to be sent out from the church, fully supported. The practical instructions from Paul to Titus about Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas, and Apollos add a dimension of reality to the letter: these are real people in a real place being addressed by a real person in a letter to another real person. These personal closing words add real authenticity to the text.

Paul gives Titus a nutshell-summary of the entire letter when he writes, let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

The entire text has been about what Titus should and shouldn’t do as the pastor, what he should and shouldn’t focus on, what he should and shouldn’t teach, and this is all so that the people learn to devote themselves to good works…and not be unfruitful

In essence, Paul to Titus to the people is saying look, there needs to be fruit to evidence the root. As we’ve said in previous days, faith alone saves but saving faith is never alone, it will be accompanied by good works (3.8). 

Titus is a wonderful little letter for us to read whether we are in full-time vocational ministry or whether we are serving the Lord and His people in another line of work. There are points for us all to apply, there are principles for us all to apply, there are do’s and don’ts, and they are all built on the platform that He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Our prayer is that having walked thought-by-thought through Paul’s letter to Titus you have a fuller picture of the life of a believer, have a richer appreciation for Scripture, and a deeper love for the Saviour to whom it all points. 

Titus 3.10-11 – Leave Alone

At the end of this big passage wherein Paul is preparing Titus to lead and teach the people (3.1-11), we now see the advice given when Titus comes across a person who stirs up division.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Titus 3.10-11

We see that Titus is to have patience with those who seek to stir up division (…warning him once and then twice…), but eventually the course of action taken against those who are going their own way or insisting on their own way within the community of God’s people is to have nothing more to do with him. The true punishment is being self-condemned, having lived a life totally inconsistent with everything Paul has taught Titus to teach. 

We don’t go out of our way to disrupt the false teaching ways of those who stir up division by leaving the Orthodox and well-beaten path, we simply leave them alone and have nothing more to do with him

This can seem counter-logical to us as people of action; that person is making problems within the church family so I must do something, but, on the contrary, the stronger punishment (and the model employed by the Lord in Romans 1.24-25) is actually just to leave people alone. People cannot stir up division if they are ignored, left alone, or by themselves. 

This might seem like a harsh word to effectively close the teaching portion of his letter on, but, Paul is charging Titus with the care of God’s people, a heavy responsibility. Titus is there to feed the sheep, not hunt the wolves. 

For you and for me, we would do well to take this principle and apply it to our own lives; when we disagree, when someone has a proven record of stirring up division, when someone is obviously teaching falsely, we are not to go out of our way to attack them, simply guide what the Lord has given you to guide. Protect your people from error, yes, feed them what accords with sound doctrine, yes, but leave alone the rest.  

Titus 3.8-9 – A Solid Platform

The poem found in 3.4-7 lays out for us the foundational Christian truth that really, God has done and provided everything so that we can have everything. Today, Paul reinforces this and encourages Titus to platform his teaching on this, and for good reason…

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Titus 3.8-9

These things seems to refer back to the truths found in vv.4-7, simply that God has provided everything we need for salvation. Paul insists that his young charge platform his teaching on this so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. This is not Paul going against salvation by faith alone, rather, saying look, now that you are saved by faith alone (so that those who have believed in God), this is how you show it (may be careful to devote themselves to good works).

This needs to be the focus of our teaching in churches and this needs to be the foundation for our individual Christian lives: our conduct demonstrates what we believe and have received. I read recently that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone! Our theology is grace-based, our ethic is gratitude-in-action.

Paul goes on to say that we are to stay away from secondary and non-essential issues in the main teaching time of the church (remember the context, Paul is writing to Titus as the Pastor of this new church). Foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law can, in some contexts and settings, prove very interesting, thought provoking, and useful, but as the steady diet of the assembled church, a Christ-centered, God-honoring, Spirit-empowered teaching time is a must.

Really simply for you and for me, Titus 3.8-9 teaches us that the main thing must remain the main thing. Titus was left in Crete to put things in order and to build up the saints for the work of ministry (1.5 cf. Ephesians 4.10-12) and teaching sound doctrine, based on the truths of 3.4-7 is a great start.

Titus 3.4-7 – He Did So That You Can Have

If we’re honest, we were all the kind of people detailed in 3.3, and when we were living in that state, the state of our natural human fleshly self, none of us thought totally of our own volition ‘Do you know what, I am such a sinner and I need to repent of this and put myself right‘. Today, Paul platforms his exhortation for Titus to teach the people (3.1-2) on a steadfastly-sure foundation. So, simply, teach the people these things Titus because God has done all of this for them.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3.4-7

So, having been living a life that was severely lacking in Godliness (v.3), Paul now says, butbut when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us…Notice with me that the first action, the impetus, the beginning of this wasn’t with you or with me, but with Him; the goodness and loving kindness of God…He saved us

This pattern of God being the initiator in our salvation is repeated throughout this mini-poem, did you see it? He saved us…not because of works…according to His own mercy…of the Holy Spirit…He poured out…through Jesus Christ our Saviour…justified by His grace…

With all of this done for us by Him, what are we to do? Simply, we become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

He does everything so that we can have everything.

This wholehearted, whole-life, wholly others-focused offer can only be made by an entirely loving person for the object of their love. This is not the natural way of interacting with people, is it? The good news for you and for me is that God who made heaven and earth is that entirely loving person, and that you are the object of His love. That’s why He did everything so that you can have everything. 

 

Titus 3.3 – Seven Don’ts

After yesterday’s seven to-do’s, today Paul gives the other side of the coin and shows us where we have come from.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Titus 3.3

Paul begins with a reason why we ought to be the model citizens detailed in 3.1-2, and he says for we ourselves were once…Seeing how far we have come in our lives of faith should spur us on to keep moving in that direction.

Just as there were seven to-do’s yesterday, did you notice the seven don’ts today, the seven characteristics that we are to be actively moving away from in our life of faith? Paul, to Titus, to his people, and to us by extension says that we ourselves were once,

  1. Foolish.
  2. Disobedient.
  3. Led astray.
  4. Slaves to various passions and pleasures.
  5. Passing our days in malice and envy.
  6. Hated by others.
  7. Hating others.

Not a great list, is it? We need to admit this is where we are coming from if we are to be truly grateful and appreciative of the person we are becoming. Accepting the bad news about ourselves puts us in the place we need to be to accept the Good News, that the person detailed in 3.1-2 is developing more and more each day only due to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in you, only because of your active and living faith in Jesus, and only because of the grace of God the Father. 

As painful and awkward as it might be, today just pause and think how you were once all the things on this list.

If there are still areas you know you struggle with, commit them to the Lord today in prayer and ask Him to work His amazing grace through you to help you leave this kind of life behind.