Profitable Good Works

Titus 3:8-15


8 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.

¡ Profitable Preaching to Believers

Throughout the epistles to the evangelists, Paul mentions five difference faithful statements or trustworthy sayings (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4;9; 2 Tim. 2:11). The things under consideration are those above which he was to remind of the saved: their duties to fellow-Cretans; their former condition before salvation; and the source of their salvation. These are the faithful sayings. Titus must continue to preach on a regular basis. A couple of good reasons are given. First, it will serve as a strong motivation for them to continue practicing good deeds. Second, they are healthy for promoting spiritual well-being to all.

9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

¡ Unprofitable Works of False Teachers

The church is made up of people and wherever there are people there is the potential for problems. Titus is to avoid or shun four different unprofitable things promoted by Judaizing teachers. There are plenty of men and women who think they are teachers and religious leaders simply because they enjoy discussing new thoughts about the scriptures. 1) Many of these result in foolish or moronic disputes. The Greek term moros is used by Jesus to point out the uselessness of salt which has lost its saltiness. Pointless discussions and questions in Bible Classes which to not edify need to be avoided. 2) Some of the conflict is the result of speculations over “genealogies.” Paul is not talking about the genealogical list found throughout the Old Testament and even in the New Testament. These lists or family trees were essential for showing who was to serve a priests and High Priests; what role the various Levitical families were to play in the worship of God at the Temple; the kings of Judah and Israel; the coming Messiah through the seed of Abraham, David and even Adam (Matt. 1; Luke 2); and to demonstrate the various prophecies that were fulfilled by God. These passages should be studied and discussed. However, the Jews had long ago distorted their family trees into vast speculations. Today, our parentage has nothing at all to do with our salvation. 3) “Contentions” must also be avoided by Titus. This is often strife about words and twisting their meaning. Some of these little word discussions have been known to develop into fist-fights among brethren. 4) Titus was also warned to stay away from “strivings about the Law.” The council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) was the Holy Spirit’s (v. 28) determination that Gentiles did not have to keep the Law of Moses. Today, some will argue to the extreme that New Testament Christians are not to study the Old Testament (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:1-11). Others will take certain doctrines about tithing, instrumental music, etc. and apply them to New Testament worship.

The effect these foolish disputes etc. have on the brethren are that they are unprofitable. They do not do any good. Unlike and in direct contrast to the faithful sayings which are good and profitable these things are vain and useless.

10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

¡ Unprofitable Works of the Factious

Titus is next commanded by Paul to reject or have nothing to do with factious men. Titus was sure to have men like this in his life since God’s workers have always been troubled by false teachers and false friends. Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much harm (2 Tim. 4:14) John had to deal with Diotrephes (2 Jn. 9,10) and Nehemiah as troubled by Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem when he was striving to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The Greek word for “divisive” is “hairetidos, form the verb haireo, ‘to take, to take for one’s self, to choose, prefer.’ …A heretic is one therefore who refuses to accept true doctrine as it is revealed in the Bible, and prefers to choose for himself what he is to believe” (Wuest). From this word is derived the English words “heresy” or “heretic.” It refers to a self-willed man who sets aside what God’s Word says and choose something else based on his opinion. Then he goes about encouraging as many as he can to also choose his opinion. Titus must see to it that these men are admonished so that they repent. If not he is to discipline them as Paul had down with same false teachers “delivering them to Satan that they learn not to blaspheme.” Or as Paul commanded the church at Rome, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).

Next Paul gives the reasoning why heretics must be so treated. They are “warped” or perverted not in a sexual way as it often used today, but they have twisted their thinking to the point that they are no longer reasoning correctly. This has resulted in a relentless habit of sinning. Their self-condemnation is a result of their continued rejection of Titus’ warnings. Those who are warned and warned of danger and still persist in their behavior will bring upon themselves the consequences.

12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. 14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. 15a All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

¡ Profitable Good Works of Fellow-Workers

Apparently Paul had a lot of co-workers in the Gospel. We do not know who Artemas was other than the fact that he was trustworthy enough to replace Titus on Crete. Paul thought about sending Tychicus but apparently sent him to relieve Timothy at Ephesus so his son in the faith could bring his things and John Mark to Rome where Paul was enduring his second imprisonment (2 Tim. 4:12). Tychicus was sent by Paul to deliver letters to Ephesus (6:21), Colossae (4:7), and to Philemon (1:10).

Paul made two request of Titus. First, he was to make haste and meet up with Paul at Nicopolis where he was going to spend the winter. There were several different cities by this name in the first century. Nicopolis means “city of victory” and each was named after a particular victory. Scholars believe the one which Paul is most likely referring to is on the west coast of Greece. It was established by Augustus after his victory against Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Titus did leave Crete because later he had been sent to Dalmatia while Paul was imprisoned by Rome the second time. Second, Titus was to assist Zenos and Apollos on their missionary journey. Perhaps these two brought Titus Paul’s letter. They were on their way to work for the Lord. Titus was not only to help them but encourage the brethren on Crete to learn to help them too. Nothing is known of Zenos except he is called a lawyer. He could have been a legal representative in Roman courts for his clients or he could have been a Jew who was an expert in the Law. Since his name means “Zeus-given” it would be more likely that he was a gentile convert and thus a Roman litigator. Apollos was from Alexandria. Aquila and Priscilla had taught him the “one baptism” when they found him teaching and preaching John’s Baptism at Ephesus (Acts 18:24f). Later he went on to work at Corinth (1 cor. 16:12). He was a powerful preacher and able student of the Word. The third, request of Paul to Titus was to use this opportunity with Zenos and Apollos to teach the brethren on Crete to maintain good works by meeting the needs of these two men. In this way they could share in the fruitfulness of others.

– Daniel R. Vess

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