Titus 1-3; Philemon - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight TPH01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We are in our 51st study in The Bible from 30,000 Feet. So turn to the Book of Titus and Philemon. We have in front of us a few chapters that comprise this book. As you find your way to the book of Titus, I want to share something that I find exciting this week.
A gal who does a mission coordination effort up in Colorado called me, and she has been getting our book, The Bible From 30,000 Feet, into the Maasai tribe in Africa, and using it to train leadership. The group uses it to train leaders, and so she said, Skip, currently, there are 64 churches from the Maasai tribe in Africa going through the Bible from 30,000 Feet.
So that was news to me, and I was just delighted that she had that kind of a commitment to bring that curriculum over there, to make sure that the leaders were trained so that the people can get an overview of the scriptures. With that in mind, we come to the Book of Titus. And why don't we just begin in a word of prayer.
Father, we have been praying essentially throughout the evening so far in our worship music, even the taking of the elements, a sign of surrender and worship and remembrance. But now, Father, as we consider certain parts, certain verses of the next two short letters, I pray, Lord, that they would be unfolded before us in such a manner that we would not only understand them but also appreciate their contribution to the holy writ and the scripture that we feed on, their importance, and we would apply these principles into our lives so that we would become balanced believers in so doing.
We commit the time, we commit our lives, and as we pray, submit ourselves to you. And we say like the young prophet, speak, Lord. Your servant hears. We want to hear your voice. We want to hear what you have to say to us, and then we want to be dispatched by your spirit into a hurting world for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
What we have in the books of Titus and Philemon, two names, two people, two individuals that they were written to. One is written to a pastor. The other is written to a parishioner. Or better put, the letter to Titus is a letter to a young pastor on the island of Crete, and the Book of Philemon is a short letter to a patron who is a leading member in the church at Colossae.
That's who Philemon was. There's one brief chapter. But we begin with the Book of Titus. Now Titus is a Greek name because he was a gentile. He was a gentile convert probably during the ministry of Paul the Apostle. Some try to say it was during one of his missionary journeys, like his first one.
It would seem that when Paul spent time in Ephesus, that it was there that he probably reached the city of Colossae, which0 is only 100 miles away and is part of Asia Minor. And I submit that that was the time when Philemon came to Christ for a very particular reason. But I'm going to hold that until I get to the book. I was getting ahead of myself. I started to teach Philemon in my head before teaching Titus.
Titus was a young man like Timothy who came to Christ probably through Paul's ministry. He is a convert of Paul because in verse 4, he says to Titus, a true son in the faith. Same language that he used for Timothy. And what Paul means by that is, he was begotten into the Christian faith through the ministry of Paul, probably on Paul's first missionary journey.
The name Titus means honorable, and he became a very honorable person. I think he was well named, but he grew into his name, especially post-redemption. He became someone that Paul the Apostle leaned on tremendously. 13 times in the New Testament, Titus is mentioned. Nine times he is mentioned in the Book of 2 Corinthians alone.
Because he helped Paul while he was in Corinth, so he was known to the Corinthian church. Paul calls him, my fellow worker. Paul calls him a true son in the faith. Paul calls him, my yoke-fellow. So they shared ministry together, and Paul speaks highly of him. I want to take you on a little quick journey, though, before we jump into this book, and these books are short enough so I know that I probably won't overstep and run out of time, probably.
So if you don't mind, I want to go back to 2 Corinthians chapter 7 for just a moment. You can turn there, or you don't have to. I'll read it to you. But in 2 Corinthians 7, he says, verse 2, open your hearts to us. He's writing to the Corinthians, of course. We have wronged no one. We have corrupted no one. We have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.
Great is my boldness of speech toward you. Great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all of our tribulation, for indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest. We were dog tired. We were beat up. We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts. Inside were fears. Nevertheless, God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
He was one of those individuals to Paul that when Paul saw him, he drew tremendous encouragement from him. Though he did not say, like Timothy, he is like minded, he certainly was on the same page and on the same track and probably had the gift of encouragement. Paul was discouraged until he saw Titus. Then he was encouraged.
So we know he was valuable to Paul. We know that he was a helper to Paul, helped him in Corinth, helped him on the island of Crete where he is dispatched. That's where this letter is sent, the Book of Titus. Also helped him in the collection of the funds for the Jerusalem church from the gentiles. He helped collect that offering and accompanied that offering to Jerusalem.
So he became quite an encouragement, quite a helper. But also, he became a prime example that God can save anyone. Now, I don't say that to disparage Titus, quite the contrary. But simply, you remember there were a group of people. And that really feeds and is germane to this study tonight. There were people who didn't believe that you could be saved unless you became a legalistic practitioner of the Jewish religion. They were called Judaizers.
You had to be circumcised. You had to keep the laws of Moses. Otherwise, you could not be saved. And they were telling gentiles that you have to go back and keep the Old Testament covenant, the Old Testament law, all of the rituals, all of the feasts, et cetera. So Paul wants to give exhibit A in the courtroom that God can save gentiles by faith, not by ritual.
And exhibit A happened to be Titus. So if you just turn to the right a little bit, go to the Book of Galatians just a few pages to the right, Galatians chapter 2, Paul writes to that church, then after 14 years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, less by any means, I might run or had run in vain.
Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek-- so he's a Gentile. He's not of the Jewish religion or of the Jewish background. Not even Titus, who was with me, being Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren who secretly brought in, who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us to bondage, to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
So look at Titus. He's a Greek. He didn't go through the ritual of circumcision. He is saved like we are saved. He is part of the new covenant without the rituals, without the baggage, without the religious expression of Judaism. So he became very, very useful to Paul in that regard as well.
Titus is part of the pastoral epistles. Remember that term from last week. 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus are pastoral epistles. He is writing to young pastors, Timothy and Titus. Timothy he left in Ephesus, Titus he placed on the island of Crete, to take over the churches there, to superintend the churches, to raise up leadership, to speak out against false teaching, false doctrine.
So both letters, especially 1 Timothy and the letter of Titus, are very much about how to do church. And the theme of the book of Titus would be this, order in the church, order in the church. There's three chapters, chapter 1, order in leadership, chapter 2, order in discipleship, chapter 3, order in stewardship. This is how you are to live with each other. This is how you are to live in front of the world, basically put.
Now the island of Crete is an island I got to visit once. Last time we did a journeys of Paul tour, we, I think, sailed from either Ephesus or Corinth. I forget which. But we docked early in the morning in the port at Crete. And so when the ship stopped and I opened my little window, which is very, very tiny on those ships, you could see the island of Crete. So I thought, what a perfect time to read the entire book of Titus and meditate on it before launching out on the tour.
Very, very meaningful. Now, the island of Crete is the largest in what is considered today the Greek islands. It is a very long but very narrow island. There is 170 miles long, but only about 35 miles the other direction. So it's like a little strip of land, very mountainous, in those days pretty isolated. So it was a hard place to minister geographically, because you were cut off from a lot of the world, but also culturally.
The people of Crete had a reputation. Paul speaks about that in his letter to Titus. It was a difficult place, and according to G. Campbell Morgan, it was a difficult place on purpose, that God was showing that the gospel can penetrate any culture, any soil, any kind of heart, any kind of background. And so often, the gospel became very effective in the most difficult places.
Think of Corinth. Think of Rome. Think of Crete. I am sure that there were times when Titus looked up to the sky or bowed his head and went, Lord, why did you have to call me to Crete. Every time I go to a pastor's conference and I meet young pastors, often, the conversation is directed, their conversation is at least in part them telling me, why the city God called them too is so uniquely different and difficult, and what a hard time it is for them in that area.
Yeah, I didn't expect to be called here. And I can relate to that. But God called me here. So if God called you there, then serve Him there. Serve Him wholeheartedly there. But you got to know that either Timothy in Ephesus or young Titus in Crete, they probably felt much the same way. Chapter 1, then, is order in leadership, what it means to serve Jesus Christ.
Paul a bondservant or a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledgment of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested his word through preaching. That is the proclamation of the truth which was committed to me according to the commandment of God, our Savior. To Titus, a true son in our common faith, grace mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ our Savior.
Now I noticed something last week and this week. In both 1 Timothy, not both, but in all three books, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul uses this greeting, grace mercy and peace. What's unique about that, and what gave me pause, is in all the other letters, he just said grace and peace. Grace and peace, a very common greeting.
But when he writes to Timothy and Titus, he says grace, mercy and peace. And I pondered that. I go, why did he add mercy here. And then I figured it out. He's writing to pastors. They need all the help they can get. They need a little bit extra sometimes. They need mercy, man. So may God give you grace. May God give you peace. But may God be merciful to you, because probably, their calling was difficult. Paul understood it.
So it's grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our savior. For this reason, I left you in Crete. Now I have a question. How did the gospel come to Crete to begin with? Now you might say, you might just answer off the cuff and say, Paul the Apostle must have brought it there. And you could be right. Maybe he did, though we don't have a clear record that Paul had a ministry prior to this there.
He could have gone there with Titus and then left him there. But here's another theory. You remember the day of Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2. In fact, let me refresh your memory. In Acts, chapter 2, it says, there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. They were living there during the festival season.
They heard the sound. Everybody's speaking in their own language. How is it that we hear each one in our own language in which we were born? That's on the day of Pentecost. But listen to it. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea, Capadoccia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphilia, Egypt, the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. We hear them in our own tongues speaking the wonderful works of God.
Now on that day, 3,000 souls came to believe in Jesus Christ. The way I see it, some of them were from Crete. They were Cretans. Jewish people who had gone to the feast got saved, went back to Crete, and that's probably how the church was started. Started in Jerusalem and migrated back to Crete.
Whenever and however a church started in Crete, things went downhill as they always do in a church. Anytime you get people together, things go downhill. Anytime you get human beings together, things go weird. And it's not because I'm weird. It's because you're weird. No, that's how we all see it with each other. You're looking at me going, it's not because I'm weird, Skip. It's because you're weird.
So all of us as fallen humans, when we get together, even in the church, things tend to go downhill. It's the spiritual law of entropy, just like in the physical realm. Things tend toward disorder, decay over time. There is a spiritual entropy that happens. Every church that was addressed in the New Testament, just about, Paul said, look, there's problems among you. There's false teachers among you. There's tendencies among you. You have to watch that. You have to steer clear of that.
So like we said this last weekend, it does not take very long for things that started so pure and so wonderful to sort of take a downward trend. Leadership was lacking in the church on Crete. False teachers were abounding, a legalistic group. Those Judaizers had come. So there was a need for oversight, and Titus was just the person. Verse 5, for this reason, I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.
Now we have the purpose statement for the letter itself. That verse is the summary verse for why he wrote it. I wrote this to you to tell you to set in order things that are lacking. that word, set in order-- or those three words. Set in order is one word in Greek. Listen to it. Hold on, let me remember it. Let me remember it. Did I write it down? Yes. [NON-ENGLISH]
And listen to it carefully. [NON-ENGLISH] When you go to an orthopedic surgeon or you go to an orthodontist, they are doing what that word, [NON-ENGLISH] is all about. It means to align, to set a broken bone that is misaligned. That's what an orthopedic surgeon does. To set teeth that are crooked, that's what an orthodontist does.
That's the idea behind the word. And Paul is saying, Timothy, you are there to straighten people out, straighten things out, to align people's lives according to the truth like a good orthopedist would do. You are to set in order things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I command you. So how is he going to line them up? How is he going to align their lives?
First of all, by putting in place good leadership. That's verse 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Second, by preventing false teachers. Beginning in verse 10, for there are many subordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped. And then finally, by promoting good doctrinal teaching.
Chapter 2, verse 1, but as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine. So that sort of sets the book in terms of its outline. You're to set things in order by getting good leaders in place, counteract false teaching and make sure that they shut their mouths, and then you teach good, wholesome, sound doctrine to the people who come.
If you go back to verse 6, he describes the kind of a leader that he is looking for. He said, you are to appoint elders in every city. And then he says in verse 6, if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination-- and then notice a second term that he uses, the first being elders, the second being bishop.
For a bishop must be blameless as the steward of God, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as it has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
There are three words I want you to note. Two of them are mentioned here. Elders is mentioned here. Bishops is another word mentioned here. The third word is pastor. Now, it's not mentioned here, but there are three words that are used as synonyms. One describes the person. The other describes the function. The other describes the gift.
But it's all the same person. An elder, the Greek word is presbyteros, originally, it meant an older man, an older person. But it came to refer to a calling, an office within the church. You've heard of the Presbyterian Church. It's a group that is run by elders. That's the idea of that term.
Then there is the word bishop. It's the Greek word episcopos. It means an overseer. You've heard of the Episcopal Church. It feeds off of that word, the rule of a bishop. The third word is pastor, and I said it's not mentioned here, but it is used elsewhere, and it is used interchangeably with those other two terms. It's the Greek word poimain or poimainos, and it is one who feeds. It is a shepherd. It is a pastor, one who feeds a flock.
And so an overseer is an elder is somebody who feeds sheep. It describes the person, the function, and then the gifting that God gave to them. The list that we read seems to indicate that Paul is saying leadership should be devoted and given to only those who have integrity, integrity in the home, integrity in the heart, integrity in their habits and integrity in their head.
They are good thinkers, and they know sound doctrine. Now, there's a reason for this kind of standard in leadership. There's a reason that Paul will say, don't lay hands on anybody hastily or suddenly. Don't promote somebody into leadership too quickly. And that is because any leader, and any leader knows this, is in a fishbowl.
And again, at pastors' conferences, after they tell me about how hard their area is that God sent them to, often they say, you know, I'm tired of living life in the fishbowl. And then I'm saying, then you're in the wrong gig, dude, because that just comes with the territory. People watch leaders. People want to know what your life is like, not only what you say but what you are like.
I found it interesting that during COVID-19 when we were doing everything online, doing streaming, and we did this little thing Tuesdays and Thursdays-- my wife and I, we called it table talk-- that I heard more people say they loved that, though a lot of it was just silly. I play on the guitar. I had little puppets that I had in my office that I play with. But they enjoyed that far better than a study through the Book of Revelation, say.
But I know what they saying. They're saying, it's one thing to hear you give a doctrinal teaching. It's another thing to see you at home interact with your spouse and see what you're really like behind the curtain. So Charles Spurgeon put it this way.
He said to young pastors, as a result of your own decline, every one of your hearers will suffer, more or less. It is with us and our hearers as it is with watches and the public clock. And this is before iPhones and Apple watches. They used to have pocket watches, and they used to all set their watch to the big clock in the center of town, like Big Ben.
So he says, it is with us and our hearers as it is with watches and the public clock. If our watch be wrong, very few will be misled by it. But if Greenwich Observatory should go amiss, half of London would lose its reckoning. So it is with the minister. He is the parish clock. Many take their time from him. And if he be incorrect, then they all go wrongly.
So no wonder Paul says to Timothy, no wonder Paul says to Titus, he is to be above reproach. He is to meet these qualifications. He is to be a person of integrity in the home, in the heart, in his habits and in his head. Now I take you to chapter 2, which brings us to the second section. And that is order in discipleship.
He says, but as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine. You know, Paul loves that term, doesn't he, sound doctrine. I made note of it Sunday in the book of 2 Timothy, so far twice in the book of Titus. And then after giving sort of this general regulation, teach sound doctrine, he now tells him how to address and handle different age groups within the church, older people, younger people, young men, old men.
Notice, verse 2, that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience. Verse 3, the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the young women-- there's the third category-- to love their husbands, love their children, be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober minded in all things, showing yourself to be a pattern of good works and doctrine, showing integrity, reverence and incorruptability. One of the things that's noticeable about the early churches, and for obvious reasons, they didn't have special interest groups. They weren't big enough. They didn't have singles ministry, high school ministry, junior high ministry, young married couples, post-divorce couples.
They had church, and though I see value in breaking things up into groups, I also see value if not more value in not the segregation but the integration of age groups. I much prefer connect group formats of different ages than just, let's get all the singles together, let's get all the high schoolers together, let's get all the married people together.
Because this is how I figure it. When I was single, I couldn't wait to be married. Now once I got married, though I appreciate it, and still do, marriage, it would have been very helpful for me as a single person to be around married people who were going, man, this is hard, because it will give a single person pause. And married people need to be around single people who are saying, hey, man, I just want to find me a wife. How about you? You want to be my wife?
You know, it's good for those who are married to remember that kind of drive that they had, that kind of passion that they had, and for older married couples to see younger married couples, the love they have for each other. That's why it's good to break it up into groups of different demographics and different ages. I just think it's healthy, and so in the churches in Crete, that's just the way it was.
And the wind keeps blowing this over, so I'm going to try to find my place once again. OK, so let me take you down to a summary statement of all this section in verse 11. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. He's been speaking about old men, young men, older women, younger women, but he just summarizes, says the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and wordly lives, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.
Here's the motivation. Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's one of the great verses of this book. It's one of my favorite verses in the New Testament. Looking for that blessed hope of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. I'd love to just spend more time on it. Let me just say a couple of things.
In the Greek language, there is one article only in that last sentence that I read, and it would more accurately read, the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior of us. That's the literal Greek, the great God and Savior of us, Jesus Christ. What he is doing is giving Jesus both status as Savior and status as almighty God.
So again, if some of your friends say, well, there's nowhere in the New Testament, where it says Jesus is God, it's hard to get any planar than this verse the great God and Savior of us, Jesus Christ. It's unmistakable. And he's speaking about godly living, and he says, we are looking forward to something. We're looking forward to his coming.
Now let me ask you a question. Which coming is he referring to here? Shout it out if you know it. OK, you're tempted to say, second coming. I'm going to correct you on that and say you have to be a little more specific. He's coming for his church, and we call that the rapture. And that's different than the second coming. Jesus is coming again to this earth, but he's coming first not to this earth but somewhere in the air, and the church alive at the time will be caught up in the air with him.
Then at some point after that, he will come to the earth with his church, OK. So we are waiting for Jesus to come and get us. That's the blessed hope that he's speaking about. The blessed hope isn't the tribulation period. There's no blessed hope in that. I want to give you guys hope. You're all going to suffer a great tribulation like the rest of the world. Isn't that hopeful?
No. The blessed hope was and always has been for 2000 years the idea that at some point in time, Jesus Christ will leave heaven and gather his church with him in heaven to escape a period of judgment, and then come back at the end of that to the Earth. That's the blessed hope. Jesus said, if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be. That's the rapture of the church, when he receives you to himself.
Now that gives us hope, and that is the motivation for the godly living subscribed to in this chapter. Listen. There's great value in studying things like the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. Prophecy engenders purity. The purpose of prophetic teaching and prophecy, correctly understood, will motivate you to a godly living.
1 John, chapter 3, everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. And he was writing about the coming of the Lord for his church. That's 1 John, chapter 3. We know that when he appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is, and everyone who has this hope purifies himself.
I remember when I was a boy and I was tempted in the afternoons to misbehave, and my mom would just, you know, she was 5 foot, maybe 5 foot 1 in her tallest days, we were four strapping young boys and rambunctious, and so my mom was very powerful. All she had to do is very nicely smile and calmly say, your dad will be home soon.
And that motivated us in a healthy way. it straightened us out, because you know what, we don't know. Is he going to come over at 4:00, 4:30, 6:00, he could come home, you know, sometime. But we want to be ready when he comes. We want to be not sassing off to mama when he comes. We don't want to be in our room in time out when he comes.
So it put a healthy, godly, sanctifying fear of dad in our hearts. Your dad will be home soon. Hey, you know what, Jesus is coming soon. He's going to take you home soon. So that prompts that kind of holy living that is mentioned in this chapter. When we get to chapter 3 of Titus, again, it's a short letter. We get to the order in stewardship.
We've had order in leadership. We've had order in discipleship. Now order in stewardship, let me explain that. Having told Titus to raise up good leaders and counteract false doctrine, after telling him how to handle older, younger, different styles of people in the church and why, he tells the church how to live as a testimony before the world, remind them, them being all the young and old, all the different people in the churches of Crete, remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
Now this is the Romans 13 of the book of Titus, or of the pastoral epistles if you'd like, where we are to submit, be subject to, [NON-ENGLISH] was the word, a military term, line up under, be subordinate to. Don't mouth off. Don't be a rabble rouser. Don't go out there and try to overturn things and create the kind of trouble and rioting and dissent that so many these days are known for.
Be subject to rulers, authorities. To obey, be ready for every good work. Here's what was going on. The Roman Empire knew about Christians. Christianity spread, but the Roman Empire viewed Christianity very, very suspiciously because they lived different lives, they had different allegiances, they met in private homes for worship, their own meetings. They didn't meet in the public temples. Their belief systems were different.
And so they were viewed as very, very suspicious. They were just kind of looking for the other shoe to drop, something to blame them for. So Paul wanted to make sure that Christians were not seen as the subversive element in a society. That's why he frequently says, obey the laws of the land, obey the laws of Caesar, render to God the things that are God's, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, as Jesus would say.
Summary verse of that is verse 8 because we want to move along. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
Now he's closing out his letter to Titus, but he quickly shifts because he's still bugged by these false teachers. He says avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and useless,
Once again, there was a tendency for Judaistic teachers to tell gentiles, you need to become Jewish. You need to keep the festivals. You need to be kosher. And I've even noticed that trend today where people want to celebrate Jewishness, and they're not Jewish, but they feel that they're going to be biblical if they go back and celebrate all the feasts and even try to keep all the laws.
And well, I better go home because the Sabbath is going to start, or the festival is going to start. I say, dude, you're not under the law. You're under grace. Did you rip out the Book of Galatians from your Bible all of a sudden, decide that's not important to you? Why would you go back under the trappings of the law? You're freed from that. It's good to appreciate it.
But now he instructs Titus and he goes, now, you're going to have some people who want to argue about it. Don't even argue. Notice how he says to handle it. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. So you talk to him once and you warn him. You talk to him a second time and you warn him. Three strikes and you're out. Reject a divisive man.
Now, the authorized version says, reject a heretic, because that is the Greek word, [GREEK], translated here a divisive person. Don't have long arguments. Don't try to persuade him into your fine points. If he is the kind of a person that is trying to divide a church group, reject, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
If you want to have a good discussion and you're open to dissent and correction and alignment according to the scriptures-- all of us should be, self included-- great. Then we have common ground. But if you're just a divisive person, bye-bye. I'll take you down to verse 15 to end it so we can get into the next book. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
So Titus was helpful. He was encouraging. He served at Corinth. He served at Crete. But he didn't finish out his life in Crete. This is where it gets interesting. To me, it's fascinating. He must have passed on the leadership of the churches, the bishopric, to somebody else, because the very last letter Paul ever wrote-- which was what? Tell me again. 2 Timothy.
In the last chapter of 2 Timothy, he talks about different people, and he says Titus has gone to Dalmatia. So he left Crete. Now he's on his way to Dalmatia to minister to 101 Dalmatians, I suppose. Now Dalmatia is modern day Yugoslavia. So he went to that part of the European continent, Yugoslavia, that he felt God called him to. And that seems like where he ended up his life.
Now we come to the book of Philemon. It's the shortest and most personal of the letters of Paul the Apostle. You say, yeah, what about 3 John. It's not a letter of Paul the Apostle. It's a letter of John the Apostle. This is the shortest, most personal letter written by Paul the Apostle, and it is perhaps the most controversial because it is dealing with slavery, which was a part of the Roman culture.
I've told you before that there were a third of the population of the Roman Empire, some figure even up to a half at certain points in their history, where the population were all slaves. Now when you think of slavery in Roman times, it was quite different than slavery in other times, because in Roman times, there were doctors who were slaves, accountants who were slaves, librarians who were slaves, tutors and advanced educators who are also in that servitude.
It was very, very different. They were well taken care of, but they were owned by a master. But in this case, the book of Philemon, there was a young servant, a slave, a bond slave by the name of Onesimus owned by Philemon. And Onesimus ran away, fled his master, and it would seem from reading this letter in a plain sense that he stole some money and then left.
So he stole from Philemon, ran away, and he went to Rome. So he left Colossae and he went to Rome. He went to Rome because there was a large slave population and a large ex-slave population in Rome, and he thought, I'll blend in while in Rome. I'll just sort of blend in with the crowd. Nobody will know I'm here. I'm safe.
But he met a guy in prison when he was in Rome by the name of Paul. And I don't know how the conversation went, but Onesimus said you know, I was a slave. And Paul said, I am a slave. Oh, I can see. You're a slave of the Roman government. They have you in chains, man. I know what that's like. Oh, no, no. I'm a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, willingly a bond slave.
He is my master and I serve the Lord Christ. And the word of God is not chained. But in those conversations, Paul led Onesimus to a relationship with Jesus Christ. He said, tell me where are you from, Onesimus. He goes, oh, I'm from Colossae. Oh, Colossae. I've had some experience there. Who's your master? A guy by the name of Philemon. Oh, I know Philemon.
Now, the church meets in his house, right? That's right. Yep, I know him well. So because Paul knew Philemon, the slave owner, he writes this personal letter back to him. And it's great because of a number of reasons. And you you can tell I get excited about whatever book of the Bible I'm in. I'm already a little bit late so I don't want to belabor it.
But notice in verse 19, I Paul am writing with my own hand. You know what that means? It means he's writing with his own hand. Why is that significant? Because Paul didn't do that. Paul dictated his letters. Paul had a secretary. Paul saying I'm not writing this with an amanuensis. I'm not dictating this to somebody who's writing it down. I'm writing the whole letter by myself.
Now it's short but he wrote it with his own hand how cool would it be? First of all, it would be cool to have a letter that Paul dictated, but to have something that Paul signed? We were talking before the service, I have up in my office, I have a signed sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He wrote it out, made some little crossings in it, and then he signed it and gave some instructions on how it is to be printed.
I also have a signed book by Henry HA Ironside, another one by G. Campbell Morgan. I love these. They're precious to me. But imagine having something Paul penned in his own hand. OK, none of us have it, and so we should probably just get going, but.
Paul, a prisoner, this is noteworthy, he's writing about a prisoner, about an ex-slave. Paul, not an Apostle, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy, our brother, to Philemon, our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Ophia, we could infer that's probably his wife, Archippus, I'm guessing his son, our fellow soldier, into the church in your house.
So automatically, now we know a few things about this man Philemon. He was wealthy, number one. He had a house large enough to house the church in it. And he owned at least one, probably more, servants. Onesimus happens to be one. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God making mention of you always in my prayer, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus, for we have great joy and consolation in your love because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
So he was a prominent member of the church in Colossae. Now I said that Paul was in Ephesus for 3 and 1/2 years. I'll refresh your memory. Acts, chapter 19, Paul preaches for two years in the school of Tyrannus. Remember that in Ephesus? And it says this. So all who dwelt in Asia heard the message of the Lord Jesus spoken by Paul.
Now that's a way of saying that from Ephesus and that little school of Tyrannus where Paul was teaching every single day, every afternoon, that concentric circles of influence of the gospel from Paul went out. It could mean Paul traveled to all these cities, but probably people came from these cities to visit Paul there. Collossae was a nearby town. Probably during that time, Philemon heard him and said, I like this message, and he came to faith in Jesus Christ through Paul's ministry.
Now, he's about to address this issue of slavery. So he says, therefore, verse 8, I thought I might be very bold in Christ and to command you what is fitting, yet for love's sake. I'm not going to command you, yet for love's sake, I'd rather appeal to you, being such a one as Paul, the aged. Remember, he's my age. He calls himself an old coot. Paul the old guy, Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ, I appeal to you for my son Onesimus whom I have begotten while in my chains.
So once again, slavery at this time was an established institution in Rome. What is interesting is, Paul never called for a rebellion to overturn it at that time. Now eventually, slavery was overturned, and it was largely because of the influence of Christians, but Paul knew that delicate balance he was living under.
He knew that if he were to boldly proclaim publicly equality on the streets, that there would be a slave insurrection that would have a bloody end, that hundreds of thousands or millions of slaves would be slaughtered because of it. And so he did not want the gospel to just become another social reform club.
So what he does, he says, I'm not going to command you, but I'm going to appeal to you. I'm not telling you to set him free, but I am telling you to forgive him. I'm asking you to forgive him. That's his appeal. Now eventually, ultimately, the Christian church eclipsed the evil of, at that time, slavery by a simple factor, equality in the church.
Out there in the world, you might be a corporate executive or you might be a day laborer. Inside the church, you're children of the living God. You're all royalty. You're sons and daughters of the king. We're all equal in the church, and that's the way it was there. So Galatians chapter 3, verse 28, there's neither male or female. There's no slave. There's no bond. There's no Jew. There's no Gentile. We are all one in Christ.
Now eventually, it was people influenced by the liberation of the gospel message that fought to overturn slavery, and by the time of the New Testament and shortly thereafter, slavery began to be slowly but surely eradicated even from the Roman environments. Not totally, but it was on the way. So I appeal to you, verse 10, for my son Onesimus whom I have begotten while in chains.
That is, he came to Christ while I was in chains. He robbed you. He left you. He visited me in Rome. I was in chains under house arrest. I begot him-- or he was saved under my ministry, so he's my son in the faith-- who once was unprofitable to you but now is profitable to you and to me. This is a play on the word Onesimus. The word Onesimus means useful or profitable.
So he used to be profitable to you until he ripped you off and ran away, but I want you to know he has become very profitable to me while I was in chains, and I hope now profitable to you. I am sending him back. You, therefore, receive him, that is my own heart, whom I wish to keep with me. I'd love to. I just wish he could be with me and minister to me because he's so profitable.
I wish to keep him with me that on your behalf he might minister to me and my chains for the gospel, but without your consent, I wanted to do nothing that your good deed might not be by compulsion, but as it were, voluntary, for perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever.
Philemon, are you willing to believe Romans 8:28? Are you willing to see that there is a purpose perhaps even in this misdeed by a one time unbelieving, fugitive slave, that ran away from you and stole money from you? But maybe that temporary infraction has an eternal consequence that's glorious. Verse 16, no longer is the slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother especially to me, but how much more to you both in the flesh and in the Lord.
If you then count me as a partner, receive him as you would receive me. But if he has wronged you-- this is the key verse of this whole little book-- if he has wronged you or if he owes you anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay, not to mention that you owe me even your own self besides.
Hey, before you start thinking about how much he owes you, just remember, you owe me everything. You wouldn't be going to heaven were it not for my influence in your life, Philemon, so now receive him as a brother. He owes you a debt. You owe me a debt. Let's call it even. Cancel his debt. If he owes you any money, put it on my account. I'll pay you back.
This is a beautiful illustration of the gospel of imputation, that you are treated, you are given a status, you are treated with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. For he says, verse 17, if you count me as a partner, receive him as you would receive me. Hey, when you receive him, think of that ex-runaway, rip off slave, as Paul the Apostle.
And then the doctrine of not only substitution but imputation. Whatever he owes you, put it on my account. I'll pay you back. Now I'm going to go to verse 22. We'll finish this up. But meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers, I shall be granted to you. Epaphra, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Martin Luther said of this book, all of us are Onesimuses. All of us are fugitive slaves that need forgiveness. That's how he applied this book. If a slave ran away in those days and was caught-- by the way, there were slave hunters. They would catch a runaway slave. They would get a brand, a huge F for fugitivus, fugitive, and brand his forehead, so that forever he'd walk around with that fugitive mark on his head.
Usually he would be killed without a trial. But again, by the time of the New Testament, by about 20 AD and onward, the Roman government started relaxing, being more lenient toward slaves, those that they own, because they realized that happy slaves are a lot easier to deal with. So whereas before, they were considered non-persons, and if they committed a crime, they would just get killed, now they could go to trial and be represented by a lawyer.
So changes started to be made, but again, the real liberation came in Christ, equality in the church. And eventually, those in the early Christian churches worked to liberate slaves. And of course, we know about William Wilberforce in England and the movements in America to eradicate it, largely from those of the Christian faith.
Father, we thank you for these two men, very, very different men with different experiences, Titus, a young pastor, Philemon, a young patron, a wealthy man, one who opened up his home to the church to meet in. Very different lessons, Lord, we learn from very different experiences.
Lord, I thank you for the lessons these books teach. I thank you for the word of God that is alive and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. And I pray, Lord, that our treatment of individuals, no matter their status, we would treat them as made in the image of God, and once in the church especially, all at the same level at the foot of the cross.
Thank you for the work of the gospel, the great emancipator, our Lord Jesus Christ. And thank you that now, though we are freed from sin, we are slaves of God, bound as bondservants to give you glory and to work at your bidding, for your will, and for your glory in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's all stand and worship together.
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