Study 9 A TRUE SAYING AND SOME TRUE MEN
THE LETTERS TO TITUS AND PHILEMON
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Titus 3: 8 – 15)
The title of this concluding study in the Letter to Titus is suggested by verse 8, where reference is made to a ‘trustworthy’ (or ‘true’) saying; and verses 12 and 13, where we read of four true men. In the Pastoral Letters there are five ‘trustworthy sayings’:-
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – the fact and purpose of the Incarnation.
- 1 Timothy 3:1 – the importance of wise administration in the church.
- 1 Timothy 4:8-9 – the great value of godly living.
- 2 Timothy 2:11-13 – the believer’s identification with Christ.
- Titus 3:8 – the necessity of maintaining sound doctrine.
What does Paul mean when he says in Titus 3:8: ‘This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things‘? They are the great doctrinal truths in verses 3-7. Therefore, what Paul really says to Titus is this:-
1. TITUS, THIS IS THE MESSAGE YOU MUST PROCLAIM
‘This trustworthy saying…I want you to stress these things’ – verse 8. This is the truth you must preach. It is ‘solid’ and ‘reliable’; and just as Titus was to proclaim these truths so must we. What truths are entrusted to us to preach?
- The depravity of the natural man (verse 3) – Ephesians 2:1-3.
- The loving-kindness of God (verse 4) – John 3:16; Romans 5:8.
- The sovereignty of God in salvation (verse 5) – Jonah 2:9.
- The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (verse 5) – John 3:3-8.
- The fullness of blessing that is in Christ (verse 6) – Ephesians 1:3.
- The justification of all who believe (verse 7) – Romans 5:1.
- The eternal blessedness of the saved (verse 7) – 1 Peter 1:3-5.
These are the truths we are to proclaim, and they are the very truths being denied today. Let us ‘stress’ them constantly – look up Jude 3. The most effective way to counteract error is to proclaim the truth. This is also the most effective way of producing Christ-like Christians, as the concluding part of verse 8 tells us. Now notice the second thing Paul says to Titus:-
2. TITUS, THESE ARE THE PITFALLS YOU MUST AVOID
We see these in verses 9-11. Whenever the truth of God is proclaimed there will be those who will want to argue and disagree with the preacher. This form of ‘discussion’ can be dangerous and damaging to the work of God. Beware of people in the church who love to think they know better than the Lord Himself, who are not prepared to submit to what God says in His Word and who ‘argue’, ‘wrangle’ and ‘contend’. All this is ‘foolish’, ‘unprofitable and useless’.
- Look at verse 9. Much time has been wasted in asking and answering such questions as, ‘Where did Cain get his wife?’ Christians have often been brought into bondage ‘about the Law’! Some people simply love an argument.
- Look at verse 10. A divisive person is someone who is convinced that he is right and everyone else is wrong. Such people must be admonished, and they must not be given any position of leadership or authority in the church – look up Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:18.
- Look at verse 11. Such people have perverted or ‘warped’ minds. Their thinking is not straight and is certainly not spiritual.
These are some of the pitfalls that have to be avoided by those who are responsible for the work of God. Paul then says to Titus:-
3. TITUS, THESE ARE THE KIND OF MEN GOD WANTS AND CAN USE IN HIS CHURCH
In verses 12 and 13, Paul mentions four men who represent the kind of men God can use as channels of blessing in the Church:-
- Artemas was evidently one of Paul’s co-workers, but beyond this we know nothing about him. However, the fact that he is mentioned here reminds us of the many people in the Lord’s work who are not prominent but who are faithful in their stewardship – look up 1 Corinthians 4:2.
- Tychicus was a great friend and fellow-worker with Paul, as Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7 tell us. Those whom God has blessed in pastoral and preaching ministry owe a great debt of gratitude to men like Tychicus who have been their fellow-workers and who have stood by them.
- Zenas is described as a ‘lawyer’, which means he was qualified to expound the Jewish Law. It also means he had a brilliant intellect and was a man of some calibre. It is wonderful how the Lord takes up our natural talents, sanctifies them and uses them for the promotion of His work and for His glory.
- Apollos is mentioned in Acts 18:24-28; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:6; 16:12, and the one thing we notice is that he had ‘a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures’. Here is the type of man whom God can use powerfully for the extension of His Kingdom.
It is very important that those who are seeking to guide God’s work should pray for and seek the kind of key workers whom God can use. Paul then says to Titus:-
4. TITUS, CONSTANTLY ENCOURAGE YOUR CHURCH MEMBERS TO LIVE CONSISTENT AND FRUITFUL CHRISTIAN LIVES
One translation of verse 14 reads: ‘Let our people learn to practice fine deeds…that they may not live useless lives.’ Christianity is very practical; it has to do not only with what we believe but how we behave. This is the great emphasis of this letter – look up John 15:16; Ephesians 4:28. Are our lives and our service fruitful? Finally, Paul seems to say to Titus:-
5. TITUS, REMEMBER THAT YOUR CHURCH IS JUST A SMALL PART OF THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST
Verse 15 brings before us a wonderful picture of many unnamed Christians who are greeted and loved in the Faith. It was important for Titus to be reminded that his churches in Crete were only part of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that all believers are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ – look up Galatians 3:28! Let us beware of being over-denominational, and let us rejoice in our true unity in Christ and our love for all the children of God – look up John 17:19-20.