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Titus 3 - Continue in Good Works

INTRODUCTION: Paul further develops in this chapter the injunction found in verse 14 of the previous chapter, that we are saved that we might be zealous for good works. He outlines some more details about that process. Paul makes other summary statements of instruction to Titus, once again emphasizing the grace of the Lord. He then makes some requests of Titus as he brings his letter to a close.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible [WEB].

A - Reminders for all in the church

Titus 3 "1 Remind them to be in subjection to rulers and to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all humility toward all men. 3 For we were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."

COMMENTS: Paul begins here with sound doctrine for all believers about the need to accept established authorities. When some Jewish leaders tried to trap Jesus about choosing between Jewish scriptural law and the Roman civil law, he silenced them with his answer to be subject to both men and God as it is appropriate. Matthew 22 "17 Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius. 20 He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?" 21 They said to him, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Any Christian who resist man's established authority should be certain they are in the will of God in so doing. Peter and the other apostles were pressured about being disobedient to the authority of Jewish leaders.

Acts 5 "28 saying, "Didn't we strictly command you not to teach in this name? Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood on us." 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men."

Paul wrote this in another letter,

Romans 13 "1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God." ... "7 Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honour to whom honour."

Peter was in agreement with Paul as he wrote, 1 Peter 2 "13 Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evildoers and for praise to those who do well. 15 For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God."Paul is also teaching sound doctrine about good works because Jesus taught his disciples that they needed to be ready for every good work that would bring glory to God.

Matthew 5 "16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

It is only by the grace of God that Christians can have good works.

2 Corinthians 9 "8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work."

And it is for the very purpose of good works that we are made to be new creatures in Christ.

Ephesians 2 "10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them."

Paul has already written about good works in this letter to Titus in chapters 1:16, 2:7, and 2:14; and good works will be mentioned again twice more before this final chapter closes. As we seek to allow Christ to work in and through us, we need to adopt Paul's instructions about our attitude toward others. These should apply both to those who need more growth in their knowledge of Christ, and to those who may have yet to recognize their need for Christ in their lives: speak evil of no one, do not be contentious, be gentle, showing all humility toward all men. We can be nothing but humble if we recognize that we also were foolish and disobedient while still in the deception that is inherent without personally knowing God and our Savior Christ Jesus. Paul quoted either Psalm 14 or the parallel wording in Psalm 53 when he wrote in

Romans 3 "10 As it is written, "There is no one righteous; no, not one. 11 There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one.""

This is a universal condition of man that God reveals to us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in both the Old and the New Testaments, and only God can transform us from that condition.

B - When Christ appeared

Titus 3 "4 But when the kindness of God our Saviour and his love toward mankind appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men;"

COMMENTS: Since no one is able to be saved by the "works of the law" (not by works of righteousness, which we do ourselves), God provided a way through Christ Jesus. He is the mercy and kindness of God our Saviour who appeared as God's love toward mankind. Through God's mercy he saved us, through the complete cleansing of our sin by regeneration, rebirth, to a new life for us, by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God poured this out lavishly, abundantly, liberally through Jesus Christ our Savior. As a result, being justified by his grace, we have been made heirs to the kingdom of God according to the sure hope of eternal life. Because these things are completely reliable and trustworthy, Paul desires that Titus affirm them confidently , so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. The good works God calls each Christian to perform are not the works of the law, (attempting to keep the law) but rather the works of faith as Paul wrote in another letter.

Galatians 2 "16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law, because no flesh will be justified by the works of the law."

Peter wrote this about works that honor God.

1 Peter 2 "11 Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 having good behaviour among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation."

James made a strong statement about works by faith,

James 2 "20 But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? 21 Wasn't Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 In the same way, wasn't Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead."

C - Things to be avoided within the church

Titus 3 "9 but shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 Avoid a factious man after a first and second warning; 11 knowing that such a one is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned. "

COMMENTS: There are subjects that can distract from teaching of sound doctrine, and from unity within the church. Paul says it is unprofitable and even vain to engage in discussion over foolish questions, geneologies, strife, or disputes about the law of God found in scripture. If someone promotes strong controversy or would seek to create factions in the church by refuting sound doctrine, such a person should only be given a first and second warning before they are subject to separation from the body. Paul makes a very blunt statement that such a person is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned. Paul gave similar instruction in

2 Timothy 2 "23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife. 24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, 25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will."

D - Paul's requests and his complimentary close

Titus 3 "12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me to Nicopolis, for I have determined to winter there. 13 Send Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollos on their journey speedily, that nothing may be lacking for them. 14 Let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they may not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in faith. Grace be with you all. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul planned to send either Artemas or Tychicus as a messenger to Titus, and he wanted Titus to be ready to come to him quickly to Nicopolis. There is no specific detail given for this sense of urgency, though Titus may have been aware of Paul's reasons. Apparently Paul expected Zenas and Apollos to be with Titus when he received this letter, or they may have even been the carriers, since Paul requests that they be sent on their journey speedily that nothing be lacking for them. This is the only place in the New Testament where the name Artemas appears. His Greek name means "gift of Artemis." Artemis (sometimes translated as Diana) was the name of a goddess held in high esteem by the Ephesions. Having this name implies Greek influence in his family, but we know nothing more about him, than that Paul trusted him to be a messenger to the Christian church. Tychicus was well known by Paul and mentioned in other letters such as,

Ephesians 6 "21 But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things."

Zenas is mentioned only once in the New Testament. Zenas means Jupiter, who was one of the gods worshipped at Lystra (see Acts 14:8-13). We know Zenas traveled with Appollos and that he was a teacher of the Jewish law, therefore likely born as a Jew. Apollos is mentioned ten times in the New Testament, and from some of those references we know he was a learned Jew from Alexandria with a gift for eloquent speach. His name means "given by Apollo," which is interesting since again this seems to imply some influence of the Gentile culture on a Jewish family. To the ancient Greeks, Apollo was the god of the sun, prophecy, music,medicine, and poetry. Paul wanted the Christians in Crete to learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, so they would not be unfruitful. He had written similar instructions in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 5 "8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, 9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, 10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord."

Peter agreed that a Christian should display fruits that are indicative of what the Lord has granted to us.

2 Peter 1 "4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; 7 and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul closes his letter with a greeting from all who are with him, without listing their names. He asks that Titus pass on a greeting to "those who love us in faith." Paul wants all who share in receipt of this letter to know that he desires grace for all of them. His final word is an amen.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, I pray that I will in no way use my position as a Christian to circumvent any established authority over me, simply because I feel it is an inconvenience to me. I want to be lead by your Spirit if I ever need to make a decision between following your word, or following a rule or law that is obviously contrary to your word. May I always remind myself not to speak maliciously or contentiously, but to be gentle and humble to both Christians and non-Christians, remembering how the grace of God has changed my life. I thank you Lord Jesus that though I had no righteous works to offer to gain salvation, you appeared in kindness and love to wash away my sin in your mercy, and to give me abundant new life by the gift of your Holy Spirit. You made me an heir according to the guaranteed hope of eternal life because you have justified me by your grace. I therefore want to maintain the good works for those inside and outside of the church, that I am able to do through your grace, for your honor and glory. Amen.

Published 26 April 2012