Last Sunday's sermon featured the exposition of Titus 3:12-15. Here's my translation, sans footnotes:
When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me in Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help send Zenas the legal expert and Apollos on their way, in order that nothing may be lacking for them. 14 And also our own people must learn to take the lead in good works, for the pressing needs, in order that they might not be unfruitful. 15 All those who are with me greet you. Greet those who are fond of us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.Understandably, many would look at that as slim pickings for a whole sermon; but I managed. How well is for God and others to judge.
But one of the things that struck me was implicit in the section. The fellows Paul mentions in verse 12 were named Artemas and Tychicus. Not only are those Greek names, they're really pagan Greek names. They don't mean Lemon and Bumblebee, or nothing; "Artemas" is the masculine form of Artemis, as in Artemis [Diana] of the Ephesians. And "Tychicus" means "Lucky," as in a universe ruled by chance.
Yet one of these two — Diana-Man or Lucky — was going to be Titus' replacement heading up the Cretan mission. Paul, nearing the end of his life, was sending one or the other of these two pagan-named Gentiles to take over for Titus the Gentile in this mission. The future of Christ's church would be in their hands, under God.
And who brought the letter to Titus? Two more pagan-named guys. "Zenas" (short for "gift of Zeus") and Apollos, a Jew who somehow was saddled with yet another pagan name. One an expert in Roman law, the other an expert in God's law. Paul trusted this letter to them, and urged Titus to be sure they had all they needed.
In the sermon, I make a good bit of this. While Jesus instantaneously did everything necessary to effect reconciliation between formerly warring ethnicities (Eph. 2:11-22), the process of working this out took a whole lot longer. In fact, it isn't done yet.
But what Paul did was talk a lot about it, go to jail for it, and model it. He did the latter by surrounding himself with men like these — not just saying "Yeah, boy, the Body of Christ really should model reconciliation," but doing it. Investing himself in such folks, training them, giving them positions of visibility and responsibility, expressing full confidence in them, and letting them loose.
If you like, give the sermon a listen. I develop that at great length, take a sally at Biblical decision-making vs. Blackabism, and a whole lot more.
Titus is a very underappreciated and underpreached book. I've really enjoyed it.