This is Episode #351 and today we’ll read Titus 1-3 and Philemon together. Paul declares where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life.
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Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #351 and today we’ll read Titus 1-3 and Philemon together. Paul declares where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I'm your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me - from the beginning - simply reading God's word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to Titus and Philemon
Okay, we have our work cut out for us today. Our reading plan calls for not just one new book, but two. So let’s dive right in.
Titus was the other young man whom Paul referred to as his son in the faith. Paul also called him his partner and fellow worker and his brother. Titus is mentioned like 13 times in the New Testament, nine of which are in 2 Corinthians.
This letter along with 1 & 2 Timothy are called the Pastoral Epistles. (The word “epistle” means letter.) Titus served beside Paul and as you recall, Titus had gone to Dalmatia which is modern-day Yugoslavia. Paul apparently trusted Titus implicitly, despite his youth, and left him in Crete to continue the work and appoint elders.
Titus travelled all over with Paul for years. As a matter of fact, it is thought that Titus came to Christ during Paul’s first missionary journey and he accompanied Paul and Barnabas to the Jerusalem Council. For this reason, Titus was very familiar with false teachers and Judaizers. This letter was most likely a response to one of Titus’ reports from the island of Crete.
What an interesting little letter Philemon is. I hope you like it as much as I do. Yes, it only has only chapter, but I assure you, it’s jam-packed. Paul probably wrote this letter from that Roman prison at the same time he wrote the letter to the Colossians. He sent the letters off with Tychicus and Onesimus, which is important to note. You see, like many in Bible times, Philemon was a slaveowner. And Onesimus had been his slave. Apparently, Onesimus stole something from Philemon and then ran away. Under Roman law, the penalty was death.
Sometime while Onesimus was on the lam, he met Paul and became a Christian. With encouragement from Paul, Onesimus knew he had to go back to Philemon. It was the right thing to do, even if it meant his death. So he returned to Colossae with Tychicus and this appeal for forgiveness from Paul. Paul also pled that Philemon accept Onesimus as a Christian brother. This was a tall order even for the most devout follower of Christ.
Titus Chapter 1:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. In his own time he has revealed his word in the preaching with which I was entrusted by the command of God our Savior:
To Titus, my true son in our common faith.
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Titus’s Ministry in Crete
The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town. An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
For there are many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from the circumcision party. It is necessary to silence them; they are ruining entire households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly. One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of people who reject the truth.
To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
Titus Chapter 2:
Sound Teaching and Christian Living
But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.
In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.
Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back or stealing, but demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.
Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Titus Chapter 3:
Christian Living among Outsiders
Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us —not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy — through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, because they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned.
Final Instructions and Closing
When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, because I have decided to spend the winter there. Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing.
Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works for pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All those who are with me send you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.
Philemon Chapter 1:
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother:
To Philemon our dear friend and coworker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your home.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, because I hear of your love for all the saints and the faith that you have in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ. For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
An Appeal for Onesimus
For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I became his father while I was in chains. Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. I am sending him back to you — I am sending my very own heart. I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place. But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will. For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave — as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would me. And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it — not to mention to you that you owe me even your very self. Yes, brother, may I benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. Meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, since I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my coworkers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Okay, let’s start with Philemon. I read once something that made me laugh a little. It mentioned that Paul wrote tactfully and in a light-hearted tone. Well, I’ll give you a little light-hearted, but I think this letter was anything but tactful. I think Paul had the authority and he used it.
But I think you’ll agree, that what Paul is asking of Philemon is where the rubber meets the road as a Christ-follower. Wasn’t it back in 1 Corinthians that Paul was scolding those followers for taking each other to court? He asks them something unsettling, but it’s a question that must be answered. He puts it to them this way in 1 Corinthians 6:7: As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Which brings us squarely to Jesus’ way. He did no wrong. He was without sin. And yet He died for you and me. Philemon had a decision to make. And so do you and I.
Now if I had to pick one thing in the book of Titus…oh, forget it. I can’t pick just one thing. This little book starts out with instruction that will remind you of 1 & 2 Timothy. But Paul heads down a different road in the end. He talks to Titus – and us – about how we are to be witnesses of the love of God to those who are lost. I love Titus 3:1-3. We should read it every day so that we don’t forget…so that we don’t become arrogant. Paul tells Titus to… Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
Let’s pray. Father, that passage goes on to speak of Your kindness and mercy toward us. Please help us to remember where we came from. Please remind us to forgive others…not just the easy stuff but the hard things. Times when we’ve been wronged or hurt, Lord, and it’s so hard. Never let us forget what You did for us. Amen.
What do you think of these two little books? Right up there with Romans 12 and Ephesians for practical Godly living, huh? Tell me how they changed you at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will be changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.