Pray Psalm 115.14, 15.
May the LORD give you increase more and more,
You and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
Read Titus 3.12-15.
1. What do we learn here about the work of the church?
2. On what should local church members concentrate?
These few verses contain a good bit of information about the work of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the apostle Paul. Let’s take a closer look.
First, recall that Paul appears to have come to Crete with Titus and some others to do the initial work of proclaiming the Gospel and getting people together in churches. He left Titus and moved on – probably with other associates in tow (v. 15: “all who are with me”) – to continue his work elsewhere, perhaps in Nicopolis, Greece.
Titus remained in Crete, and his specific task was to set the churches in order by appointing shepherds to watch over every congregation – qualified and capable men who would equip the saints for good works of ministry, and guard the flocks against false teaching. This appears to have been Titus’ particular calling, because Paul indicated that he would shortly be sending someone to relieve him, so that he could join Paul in Nicopolis, doubtless to do the same work there. Titus must complete his work before the arrival of Artemas or Tychicus, one of whom Paul was sending as a general overseer (“bishop”) to lead the churches in Crete to the next level of their development.
Meanwhile, Paul had other teams going here and there, replicating the work they’d learned from him – proclaim the Gospel, assemble people into house churches, appoint elders and shepherds, establish presbyterial oversight, and move on (cf. Acts 14.21-26). Paul was sending Zenas and Apollos somewhere, and he routed them through Crete. We can imagine Apollos in the role of Paul, and Zenas – because of his skill in details and experience working with people – in the role of Titus. Paul’s intention was that the churches in Crete might help in supplying their needs for the next phase of their mission. (v. 13). Paul was constantly enlisting local churches to help in the advance of the Kingdom, a practice also emulated by John (cf. 3 Jn. 1.5-8).
Meanwhile, Titus was to continue emphasizing the importance of good works (v. 14), and to encourage the believers in Crete in the grace of God (v. 15).
In 2 Corinthians 4.7-15, Paul wrote that the grace of God was increasing all over the Roman world, with the result that thanks and praise to God were abounding everywhere. This was because faithful people in all walks of life – frail, earthen vessels – had accepted their callings, whatever those may have been, and were busy being agents of grace in the world. That’s what Paul aimed for in every place he went, and here we get a glimpse of how skilled he was in accomplishing this great work.
1. What does it mean for a local church to be an agent of grace in its community?
2. How can local churches be involved in the larger work of God’s grace throughout their community and around the world?
3. How can we tell when the grace of God is increasing in our community?
Paul urges that they not wait for those who are needy to come to them but that they seek out those who need their assistance. Thus the considerate man shows his concern, and with great zeal he will perform his duty. For in doing good actions, it is not those who receive the kindness who are benefitted, so much as those who do the kindness that make gain and profit, for it gives them confidence toward God. John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on Titus 6
Use me today as an agent of Your grace, O Lord, as I…
Pray Psalm 115.14-18.
How do you need God to increase grace in and through you today? Seek His specific help for all your times of need (Heb. 4.16).
Sing Psalm 115.14-18.
Psalm 115.14-18 (Plainfield: Nothing But the Blood of Jesus)
Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).