But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9)
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)
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. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (Titus 3:12-15)
Titus is a letter by the apostle Paul written to his disciple, Titus, to help him organize the churches of the island of Crete. To begin the letter, Paul addressed leadership within the church. He established that each church would ideally have multiple pastors, and he then listed the qualifications for such leadership (as well as what false leaders would look like). Paul then covered the role of church members, encouraging them to share the gospel to all people (a.k.a. discipleship and evangelism). Finally, in the third chapter, the apostle discusses how the church should function as a whole and in general.
After discussing the gospel and our lifestyle as Christians in verses 1-8, Paul now closes the letter with two topics that are less than simple to hear: church discipline and sacrificial giving. In contrast the profitable nature of the gospel, the apostle lists things that worthless and unprofitable for us, like foolish controversies and quarrels about the law. Because we have been saved by the great grace of God, we should be united around the gospel in order to better take its message to the ends of the earth. These controversies and dissensions are unprofitable ultimately because they distract us from the eternally profitable good news.
The letter then closes with Paul giving more personal instructions to Titus. In the midst of his urging of Titus to visit him, he encourages Titus to prepare the churches of Crete for receiving Zenas and Apollos, making sure that they would send them away from Crete in need of nothing. Using this as an example, Paul encourages the churches of Crete to be ready for every good work, so they can help cases of urgent need. This is a great reminder of how the church should display the love of Christ, sacrificial meeting the needs of other brothers and sisters in the faith.
Read verse 9 and discuss the following.
- In contrast to the profitable nature of the gospel, Paul lists four items for us to avoid: foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law. What are some examples of each? Why are they unprofitable and worthless?
Read verses 10-11 and discuss the following.
- Here Paul warns that after warning a division-causing person twice have nothing more to do with them. What are some characteristics of someone who stirs up divisions?
- How do these verses relate to Matthew 18:15-17 in describing the procedures for church discipline?
Read verse 12-15 and discuss the following.
- Paul urges Titus to make certain that Zenas and Apollos lack nothing when they pass through Crete, which the apostle uses as an example for urging him to help urgent needs. In what ways is the love of Christ proclaimed through our helping others needs?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Reflecting upon the subject of church discipline, let it remind us to be quick to repent, to forgive, and to resolve conflict, and in considering Paul’s final call to good works, let us be prepared in all circumstances to help cases of urgent need.
- Pray. Continuously pray that for the church to focus upon the profitable gospel rather than worthless diversions and conflicts, and pray for brothers and sisters around the world to continue spreading the good news.