TODAY’S READING: TITUS-PHILEMON
OVERVIEW: Titus: Order and authority in the local church (chapter 1); sound doctrine for the people of the local church (chapter 2); the biblical way to deal with heretics (chapter 3). Philemon: The Apostle Paul’s letter to his friend Philemon regarding his unfaithful slave Onesimus, asking him to forgive and accept Onesimus back into his house, not just as a slave, but as a brother in the Lord.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Titus: Titus was a man that the apostle Paul often relied upon because he was trustworthy and faithful. In fact, Paul called Titus his “partner and fellow helper” (2 Cor. 8:23) in the work of the Lord. This letter from Paul to Titus was written to give instruction on how to strengthen and establish the young churches on the island of Crete. Paul wanted to make sure that Titus dealt with the Cretians, who were known for being liars, evil and lazy (see Titus 1:11. Does that sound familiar at all?)
In this letter we learn of the qualifications for leaders in the church and the absolute necessity of teaching sound doctrine (because there are many false teachers whose mouths must be stopped – Titus 1:10-11). The sound doctrine that is supposed to be taught is found in chapters 2 and 3. In these chapters we find sound doctrine for older men, older women, younger women, younger men and servants. In chapter 3, Paul commands Titus to remind all in the church of their past sinful condition and the amazing kindness and love that God has shown to all of them. He also very clearly lays out the method for dealing with heretics (those who do not hold and/or teach sound doctrine). He ends the letter with a reminder to us all to “learn to maintain good works” so that we do not become unfruitful (Titus 3:14).
Additional highlights from Paul’s letter to Titus:
Be very discerning, because false teachers profess that they know God, and can present a spiritual looking front (Titus 1:16). Upon closer examination, however, they actually deny God with the life that they live. In the end, it isn’t their profession that will matter, only God’s! Jesus said in Matthew 7:23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
The same grace that saves us also teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:11-12). That is why Paul said in Romans 6:1-2, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” If you understand what Jesus did for you in saving you from your sin, you will then stand in awe of His grace daily, and sin will no longer have dominion over you! That is how grace teaches us to live a life pleasing to our Saviour!
Philemon: In this brief Book of the Bible, God paints for us a beautiful picture of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Philemon was a personal friend of Paul, whom he had apparently had the privilege of leading to the Lord (vs. 19). One of Philemon’s slaves, a man by the name of Onesimus, had apparently stolen from his master and fled to Rome. As often is the case, one sin leads to another, so Onesimus finds himself imprisoned in Rome. It is in this Roman prison that Paul meets Onesimus (whom Paul probably recognized as being Philemon’s servant – obviously, this didn’t just happen by chance!), and leads him to the Lord. Paul realized that if Onesimus was ever to be all that God wanted him to be, he would need to make things right with his master Philemon. So Paul writes this short letter to his friend and fellow Christian, Philemon, asking him not only to receive Onesimus back into his house as a slave, but now, as a brother in the Lord!
Note some of the incredible pictures God paints for us in the letter to Philemon:
Philemon – pictures God the Father
1. He was righteous. (vs. 7 c.f. Jer. 23:6) 2. He was wealthy. (vs. 2,7,11 c.f. Hag. 2:8) 3. The church was his habitation. (vs. 2 c.f. Eph. 2:22) 4. He was a caring householder. (vs. 2,5,7 c.f. Eph. 2:19) 5. He had been violated. (vs. 11, 18-19 c.f. Rom. 3:23)
6. He was the legal owner. (vs. 16 c.f. I Cor. 6:20)
Onesimus – pictures us, as redeemed sinners 1. He was a slave.(vs.16 c.f. Rom. 7:14) 2. He was an unprofitable servant. (vs. 11 c.f. Matt. 25:30; Rom. 5:12) 3. He desired freedom. (vs. 15 c.f. Gen. 3:1-6) 4. His quest for freedom found him imprisoned. (vs. 10 c.f. Rom. 6:17) 5. In desperation, he received God’s liberating grace! (vs. 11 c.f. Eph. 2:8-9)
Paul – pictures Jesus Christ
1. He was a prisoner on behalf of the gospel. (vs. 10 c.f. Isa. 53:8; Jn. 18:28) 2. He intercedes to the wealthy householder for the unprofitable servant. (vs. 10-11 c.f. Heb. 7:25) 3. He will do nothing without the householder’s permission. (vs. 14 c.f. John 6:38) 4. He was determined to pay the servant’s debt. (vs. 18-19 c.f. I Tim. 2:6) 5. He asks that the rebellious be received just as He would be received.(vs. 12,17 c.f. Rom. 8:17) 6. He secures for the restored a place to dwell. (vs. 22 c.f. John 14:1-2) 7. He soon returns to the householder. (vs. 22 c.f. John 14:5)
Wow! What a book! Why don’t you take a few minutes to stand in awe of God’s unbelievable Word right now (Psalm 33:8).