December 17, 2007
Titus - Philemon
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Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
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But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
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Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.
Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.
And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
(It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.)
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Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:
Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;
Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.
There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
(Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.)
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Thought for the day:
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One of the things that stands out to me in this passage is the fact that sometimes God wants His people, particularly those in leadership, to minister in difficult places. Over the years I have encountered many pastors who have moved on from one church to another because they felt that the obstacles at the first church were too great for them to overcome. They decided that God must not want them to stay there because if He did want them to stay the work would be going much smoother. They view opposition and difficulties as signs that the Lord is moving them on to a new town. Church members can think the same way. If a church goes through a crisis some church folks will leave the congregation because they believe that the dilemma there indicates that God has removed his hand of blessing and thus they need to find a church with "less problems".
Titus chapter 1 indicates that problems alone are not a valid reason for leaving a ministry. It sounds like the ministry that Titus was involved with in Crete was laden with troubles and issues. In verse 5 Paul tells Pastor Titus that he had been left in Crete to "set in order the things that are wanting." Apparently there were problems in the church there that needed to be addressed, and Paul told Titus to stay put and not run off looking for an easier ministry. There were men in the that church who were teaching false doctrine. We know that they were believers because verse 13 states that Paul wanted them to be "sound in the faith", which only a saved person could be. These men are called "gainsayers" which literally means to "speak against". They were speaking out against Titus and the doctrines that he was teaching and were attempting to get others in the church to join along with them. They are said to be "unruly (disobedient), vain talkers and deceivers" (10), yet they must have been successful, for Paul states that they were able to "subvert whole houses". How many times have you seen something like that happen in a church? This story could be repeated over and over again, for there are people sitting in churches even today who rebel against sound doctrine and don't like the direction that the pastor is trying to take the church. They get together and start to speak against the pastor and his leadership, and try to enlist others in the congregation to rebel with them. And, unbelievably, people do follow them in spite of their obvious disobedience to the Word of God. It is also worth noting that, since Paul states that these men were motivated by hopes of financial gain (11), that they probably were attempting to take the church over completely and put themselves in charge. This must have been very discouraging for Titus, and also for those in the church who want to do the right thing. It certainly would be discouraging to me. It probably would be a good motivator to leave the church.
Titus had other important responsibilities as well, such as the ordaining of pastors in churches that apparently were lacking them. Choosing a pastor is an important job, and anyone who has ever sat on a pulpit committee knows that it can be demanding and thankless. Yet Titus had to ordain not just one elder, but ones in numerous churches. Also, the community at large certainly wasn't a blessing, for Paul refers to the Cretians as "alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies". I have no doubt that Titus was interested in finding a more appealing place to serve.
Paul told him to stay. The principle is this: don't run from your problems, fix them. Paul informed Titus that the mouths of these rebels had to be stopped (11). It was therefore up to Titus to "rebuke them sharply" (13) so that they would see the error of their ways and return to the Lord.
You may be in a difficult situation in your area of service. Perhaps there are people in your church who are creating problems because they are in rebellion against God. Don't run away; deal with the people involved Biblically and attempt to bring them back to Christ. If Christians give up and run to easier ministries, the carnal will take over the Lord's work, and this is something that we can not allow, for this is not what God wants.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery