Believe it or not, ladies, today we’ll finish our Bible Study in Titus. Yup, we’ll wrap it up with a pretty pink bow by looking at Paul’s four concluding verses. Normally, I’d quote the passage in context, but in this particular instance, the context has virtually no bearing on the meaning of these verses.
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. ~~Titus 3:12-15 (ESV)
Paul concludes his letter with short, almost staccato, instructions that seem jarring in comparison with the eloquent writing up to this point. Commentators say nothing about this abrupt change of tone, so I probably shouldn’t speculate on the reason behind it. It needs only to be said that he has reached the end of his formal discourse and now leaves Titus quick practical directions. Yet even this passage gives us examples of godliness.
The apostle, in verse 12, announces his intent to send either Artemas or Tychicus to Crete, thus enabling Titus to join him in Nicopolis for the winter. No other Scriptures mention Artemas, Believers Bible Commentary suggests that, since 2 Timothy 4:12 states that Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus, Artemas most likely ended up in Crete.
We do know more about Tychicus, who served with Paul and showed himself to be faithful. In Ephesians 6:21, Paul describes him as a “beloved brother and faithful minister,” and he repeated that description in Colossians 4:7 with the addition of calling him a “fellow servant in the Lord.” From these verses, we see that Tychicus was very qualified to oversee the Cretan churches in Titus’ absence.
Barnes tells us that Nicopolis was in Epirus, in Greece, lying northwest of Corinth and Athens. He believes that Paul wrote this letter to Titus from Nicopolis sometime in autumn, and had decided to stay on throughout the winter. He suggests that, although there’s no record of Paul establishing a church there, the apostle may have wanted Titus to assist him in preaching the Gospel there.
Moving to verse 13, Titus was also asked to either bring Zenas and Apollos with him to Nicopolis or to dispatch them in advance. Zenas was most likely a Jewish scribe, commonly called a lawyer (see Matthew 22:34-35 to understand this point), who converted to Christianity. His associations with Apollos strongly indicates that he devoted himself to preaching the Gospel.
Scripture first introduces Apollos in Acts 18:24-26 as someone who knew how to teach the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 and 1 Corinthians 4:6 show that he had an influential ministry with Paul in Corinth. Barnes believes that, when Paul writes this letter to Titus, Zenas and Apollos have already been traveling together preaching the Gospel.
Paul wants Titus to ensure that the Cretan churches provide well for these two men, therefore allowing those churches to practice good works. This thought brings us to verse 14. Following the specific instructions to provide for Zenas and Apollos, Paul again urges Titus to teach the Christians under his care to devote themselves to good works, such as caring for these two men. Beyond serving in this particular instance, however, the believers must be prepared to serve anyone in need. Serving others gives Christians opportunity to bear fruit.
Finally, we reach verse 15!
As a conclusion to his letter, Paul departs from his usual custom of naming his companions who send greetings (as he does, for example, in Romans 16:21-23 and Colossians 4:10-14). Barnes suggests that Titus probably already knew who was with the apostle, particularly since he had traveled with them before Paul left him on Crete.
Quite simply, Paul sends greetings to “those who love us in the faith.” In other words, fellow Christians. There’s really no need to elaborate on this point.
Similarly, his closing sentence, “Grace be with you all,” needn’t be scrutinized. Many of us end emails with phrases like “God bless you,” expressing a desire for the Lord to bestow His favor on the recipients. Paul obviously cared for the well-being of the Cretan churches, and thus conveys that care with this final sentiment.
And so, my dear sisters in Christ, I pray that this study of Titus has blessed you. I’m debating what type of Bible Study (if any) we’ll do next, but that wouldn’t happen until January. In the meantime, let’s remember what we’ve learned from Titus so we can live as a people for God’s glory.