Thursday, November 30, 2023

2023.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 3:12–15

Read Titus 3:12–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom will the apostle send later (Titus 3:12, cf. Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:12)? What is Titus to do, when his ministry sub arrives? In what manner? Why? What two people are bringing this letter (Titus 3:13)? What is Titus to do with them? Who else is to do such things (Titus 3:14, cf. Titus 3:8)? To meet what? What does this give them an opportunity to do? Who already greet whom (Titus 3:15)? How many of them? What is Titus to do on their behalf? To whom? What is the final/closing greeting? From Whom does that ultimately come? How does the apostle attest the finality and faithfulness of this letter?

What goes into believers’ plans and greetings? Titus 3:12–15 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers humbly see their neediness and seek/accept help, but also rejoice at opportunities to be used by Christ to meet others’ needs. 

The apostle’s great need. In Titus 3:12, the apostle tells Titus, “do your utmost to come to me.” The reasoning is that the apostle has made a strategic decision for the best place to spend the winter. In addition to being needy of an advantageous location for these months of ministry, he has the humility to see his need of Titus’s help as well. Apparently, he especially needed his best helpers in the wintertime (cf. 2 Timothy 4:21). 

It is good for Christ’s servants not to think of themselves more highly than they ought (cf. Romans 12:3) but as being needy of the gifts that Christ has invested in other servants as well (cf. Romans 12:4–8).

The church’s great need. Despite Paul’s own need, the church in Crete was needy of Titus’s help, and the apostle was not about to have him abandon that congregation and newly trained elders. Instead, he would send either Artemas or Tychicus (Titus 3:12). Tychicus, in particular, he calls a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant (cf. Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:12). Titus is not to leave Crete until his substitute arrives. It is more important to Paul that the church be helped than that he himself be helped.

The church’s opportunities for fruit. Needs, themselves, are opportunities to bear the fruit of the gospel. When Zenas and Apollos came through (probably carrying this letter), whatever they lacked would become an opportunity for Titus to do his utmost (Titus 3:13; “haste” translates a different form of the same root as “be diligent” in Titus 3:12). And once they had gone on, Titus was to continue to lead the congregation in Crete “to maintain good works” (Titus 3:14). 

This was the very thing that he was to affirm in his ministry of the Word (cf. Titus 3:8), and we should probably conclude that the third person plural imperative here refers to the parallel work of the diaconate in that church. Deacons are the sort of men who help the church see “urgent needs” as opportunities to “not be unfruitful”—or, to put it positively, to see urgent needs as divinely appointed opportunities for fruitfulness.

Believers’ opportunities for fellowship. Finally, we see that Paul’s writing to Titus was an opportunity not just for Paul, but for all the believers with him, to express their affection for Titus (Titus 3:15). The wording of the next phrase, especially “those who love us,” both acknowledges that believers in Crete have expressed love toward them, as well as reciprocating that love back. 

“In the faith” reminds us of where such affection among believers comes from: Christ Himself, into Whom they have believed together, and Whose love for them they now share with one another (cf. Philippians 1:8, Philippians 1:9). The more that we know Him together, the more we will increase in love for one another and desire to take our opportunities to express and receive that love.

Everyone’s ultimate neediness. The letter closes with a final greeting that is really a greeting not from the apostle or the believers with him, but from Christ Himself. “Grace be with you all. Amen.” This is a reminder that we have no good in us, but depend entirely upon Christ to be our goodness (cf. Ephesians 2:8). And it is a reminder that we have no strength in us, but depend entirely upon Christ’s strength in us (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). There is no shame in knowing neediness, when there are riches of grace in Christ to be prayed for, received, depended upon, and lived from out of.

In what situations might you need to admit your need of help or fellowship? What are some ways that you can prioritize the church’s corporate needs over your personal needs? What needs in others might you need to be viewing as opportunities for you to bear fruit? What opportunities are you taking advantage of, for expressing the fellowship and affection that are specifically for other Christians and because they are Christians?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for when we have been too proud to see how we need help, like Paul could see that he needed Titus. And, forgive us for when we have prioritized our own personal needs over the church’s corporate needs, unlike Paul’s willingness not to receive Titus until the church in Crete was taken care of. Forgive us for our lack of interest in bearing fruit, which is exposed when we don’t see others’ needs as an opportunity to bear that fruit. And, forgive us for not taking whatever opportunity You give us to express to others the affection and fellowship that we have with them, simply because we are Christians. Indeed, we need Your forgiveness, Lord, for there are even times when we are forgetful of our need for You and live as if we were not dependent upon grace alone. But, You are full of grace, and we look to You both for forgiveness of sin and cleansing of all unrighteousness, through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

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