08 April 2017

Stone 47 - Titus and Philemon

In this post we will take a brief look at the books of Titus and Philemon. These were actually letters that Paul had written to them. Let's find out what he had to say.

In his greeting to Titus, Paul mentions God and adds, "...who cannot lie..." (Titus 1:2).

**As a side note, I had also read that this part comes from the Greek word apseudes meaning incapable of falsehood. I then thought of the parts of that word which are recognizable in the English language such as pseudonym which refers to a false name. Think of pseudo-anything and it implies that the anything portion is not genuine. Then I thought of the prefix a- as in agnathan which refer to fish that do not have a jaw or amoral referring to a person without morals. Putting these two together - a/pseudo - we can infer "without false". So this Greek word apseudes makes sense when looked at that way.

God does not deceive - and he is trustworthy - we can be assured of the eternal life that He promises to us.

Paul writes to Titus that he is to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5). The characteristics, as I understand it, describe the opposite of the prevailing majority in Crete at the time. He also mentions the Judaizers who insist that new believers be circumcised and follow Jewish traditions from the Old Testament. He calls on Titus to set them straight. Titus 1:16 is Paul basically saying that their actions speak louder than their words.

Moving into chapter two, Paul shares with Titus about sound teaching and talks about how people should behave.

This seems to tie into the meat of chapter three and doing good works. It is worth noting that while the subject of good works comes up often, we are not to attempt to gain entrance into the presence of God through them. It is through Jesus that we will make our way to the Father. That being said - as a result of having Jesus as a part of our lives, good works ought to be a natural outpouring of that.

So Philemon is a rich guy who has a church that meets in his house (v2). He has a slave by the name of Onesimus. Turns out that Onesimus runs off for some reason and eventually runs into Paul and becomes a Christian.

As I understand it, Roman law at the time would allow for the death of Onesimus as punishment for running off. As such, I can imagine that Onesimus was likely afraid to go back.

Paul writes this letter to Philemon as a request to accept his slave back - not as a slave but as a dearly loved brother (v16). Paul cashes in a few chips as well by saying that he will cover for Onesimus but that Philemon owes him one as well (vv18-19).

**Slavery comes up often in the Bible. That does not mean that God or the Bible endorse the institution. The Bible records history. In this letter to Philemon, Paul encourages a proper Christian response to Onesimus.

Slavery in those times was not necessarily like the oppressive negative stigma that we place upon it today. If you owed money and could not pay it back - you might become a slave. The law was also that you were to be released after seven years. Those who had kind masters could choose to remain a slave in lieu of going back on their own and falling into poverty or trouble. In a similar way we could think of our own employment as being slaves to our employers. We are willing workers and those for whom we work can be both good and bad. Paul encourages a proper relationship between master and slave, employer and employee.

Please enjoy the videos on Titus and Philemon from our friends at the Bible Project

Until next time,

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