Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk through the book of Titus and learn what the Lord would have to teach us through this great book.

titusheader2Titus 3:9, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

This is in strong contrast with the preceding: Titus must do the one, but avoid the other.  It is exactly foolish controversies, namely, investigations into genealogical lore that must be avoided  These are matters that were spoken of in 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 19-20 and 1 Timothy 6:3-5. Let Titus then shun (II Timothy 2:16) the Jewish legends and the stipulations, the inquiries and the dissensions.

When he sees them coming, let him turn around and flee. Let him see these things for what they truly are unprofitable and worthless. What a sharp contrast between all this useless nonsense and the very useful matters about which Paul had just spoken about in Titus 3:4-8. A minister who does justice to the latter will have no time for the former.

Titus 3:10-11, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

These verses address the attitude of Titus toward those church-members who are roped in by these specialists in genealogical lore and by these law-skirmishers, and who began to make propaganda for this unworthy cause. Titus 3:10-11, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”

Paul speaks about a heretical person. Originally the word heresy simply meant “that which one chooses for himself,” pr “an opinion.” This meaning gave rise to another, namely, “A set of persons professing certain definite principles or opinions,” hence at school or party.

While in certain contexts this neutral meaning persisted for awhile, the term began to be used in an unfavorable sense. In a sense there were factions in Corinth (“I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” etc). When Tertullius called Paul “a ringer leader of the faction (or sect or the Nazarenes,” he was not trying to pay him a compliment.

Accordingly, a factious person is here a person who without justification creates division. In the light of the context it is probable that the rendering a heretic is not far off. At any rate, the word is moving in that direction. The factious person of whom the apostle is thinking has accepted the sinister philosophy of the Cretan errorists who specialized in foolish inquiries and law-skirmishes (Titus 3:9). As has become clear, their error touched on both doctrine and life, as is usually the case. It is true, that the term as here used need not be restricted to a particular type of fanatic. Every factious person stands condemned here by Titus 3:10-11.

The apostle demands that when the time is ripe such a person shall be rejected. The expression, “have nothing to do with him” must be taken in the sense of refuse, reject (1 Timothy 5:11; 2 Timothy 2:23). There seems to be a reference here to Matthew 18:15-17. Official exclusion from church membership is probably indicated here. This is not surprising, for Titus will know that such an individual who not only creates division but also after repeated warnings persists in this practice, “is distorted” and is sinning. The word rendered “warped” is very descriptive. Such a person is not living and see in straight. He is mentally and morally turned or twisted. He is even worse than the man who is sometimes called a “screwball”. He is actually living in sin. What makes his sin very bad is the fact he knows that he is sinning. If his conscience has not already spoken plainly, he has at least been warned and that not once but twice. Hence, he sins “being self-condemned.”

In this connection the qualification is very important, namely, “After warning him once and then twice.” Both this noun and the cognate verb (to warn, to admonish; literally to put in mind) are used elsewhere only by Paul. The qualification indicates that, according to Pauline teaching, discipline must ever spring from love, from a desire to heal, never from a desire to get rid of an individual. Much patience must be shown. Even when the error is very grievous and dangerous, as in the present instance, every effort must be put forth to win the erring one. If the member having been lovingly warned refuses to repent and continues his evil work in the midst of the congregation, the church through its officers and by means of the entire membership must redouble its efforts. There must be a second warning. But if even this remedy fails, he must be expelled. Even this extreme measure has as one of its purposes the reclamation of the sinner. This, however, can never be the only purpose. The welfare of the entire church unto the glory of God must never be lost sight of. This, after all, is the main objective of discipline (2 Thess. 3:14-15).

Titus 3:12-15, “12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

The body of the letter (Titus 1:1-3:11) is finished. The apostle desire to spend the winter with Titus. He has decided upon Nicopolis as a meeting place. Since this name is mentioned without any further clarification, it probably refers to the most well-known of all the Victory Cities, namely, the one situated in the southwest promontory of Epirus, in Greece. Its site was a few miles north of the modern Preveza. The ancient city of Nicopolis had been founded and had been constituted a Roman colony by Augustus, as a memorial to his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at nearby Actium (31 B.C.).

Nicopolis was a suitable meeting-place, and this was because it was centrally located. A fine winter resort existed there because the winter-months were not good for sea-travel. It was an excellent base of operations for mission-activity in Dalmatia. This place was also a fine stepping-stone to places farther west. But although Titus must do his best to meet Paul at Nicopolis, Crete must not be left without a good leader. Conditions were too serious to permit even a brief period of vacancy. As soon as a replacement arrives, Titus can take leave but not before.

So Paul is going to send either Artemas or Tychicus. Both of these men may be regarded as Paul’s co-workers and envoys, performing Kingdom work under his authority and supervision.

Titus 3:13, “ Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.”

All we know of Zenas is that he is a lawyer. We know more about Apollos since he is a familiar figure in the New Testament. Apollos was a Jew, a native of Alexandria, the famous Egyptian library and university-city which had been founded by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. Apollos was an orator, mighty in the Scriptures. Having come to Ephesus, where he spoke boldly in the synagogue, he had been taught the way of God more accurately by Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:26). Thus equipped, he had gone to the province of Achaia where he proved to be a great blessing to believers, and powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:27-28). He had returned afterward to Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:12). He was a good friend of Paul (1 Cor. 3:6). We may be sure that both Paul and Apollos were grieved by the party-spirit which plagued the Corinthian church.

Titus 3:14, “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”

In the light of the immediate context the meaning is Titus must not fail to encourage his people, that is the believers on the island of Crete to co-operate wholeheartedly in all these manifestations of generosity. They should keep on learning things of this kind, that is, they should become experienced in well-doing (1 Tim. 5:4; Phil. 4:11), just as Paul himself had learned to be content in whatever state he was. This “learning through practice” is the finest self-education anyone could desire.

The Cretan believers should learn to apply themselves to good works so as to be able to “help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful”. Paul realizes fully that through grace is the root (Titus 3:7; Eph. 2:8), noble deeds are the fruit (Eph. 2:10) of the tree of salvation.

Titus 3:15, “All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

The farewell greetings consists of three parts :”All who are with me send greetings to you”. All the fellow-workers who are in the company of the apostle send greetings to Titus. “Greet those who love us in the faith”. Titus is asked to convey the greetings of Paul and of his companions to those who are filled with affection for them in the sphere of the Christian faith. “Grace be with you all”. Upon all believers who hear this letter when it is read to them “God’s favor in Christ for those who have not deserved it” is pronounced. In their midst it will dwell, filing their hearts with peace and joy.