A Church Planter’s Reflections on Titus 3:12-15 “Final Greetings and Grace”
“ 3:12 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
We now come to the end of the Letter and see some final instructions and greetings. We hear again the authority of the Apostle, not explicitly stated but from an assumed position—he expects Titus and the church to obey. At some point Paul hoped to be reunited with Titus after he sent Artemas or Tychicus to Titus (3:12). In the meantime, Titus was to send forward Zenas and Apollos in a way that met their needs (3:13). Again, we see here Paul exercising his apostolic authority. Christ appeared to him and he, along with the other apostles, were to exercise leadership and carry out the work of the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). To reject the apostles was to reject Jesus. We can’t have it another way. The same is true for us today.
In verse 14 we find a final occurrence of the important theme of “good works.” Believers were reminded to do good works to “meet cases of urgent need and not be unfruitful.” A believer who does commit himself to doing good works surely will be fruitless. When considering the “cases of urgent need,’ it seems likely that one of these needs was supplying Zenas and Apollos on their way (13). This passage illustrates the fact that as believers we have to be reminded again and again to obey God and follow God. We are a forgetful people that drift from God, and part of the church planting task is reminding those in our congregation basic truths over and over again. We need to remind again and again and again the truths of the gospels and the imperatives which flow it.
In verse 15 we get a glimpse into the beautiful community of God and are left with a word about grace. The family of God—brothers and sisters united in Christ—who were with Paul sent greetings to Titus, and Paul wanted Titus to greet the Christians in Crete for him—all who loved “us in the faith” (15). Christianity is not a lone-ranger faith, but a faith lived out in community. Our church plant should be a growing community of people who love and care for each other. Not a group of individuals focused on their own wants and concerns. We as church planters must lead our congregations forward in this and away from the individualistic ideology of the West.
Paul ends the Letter as he does all of his: with a word of grace. “Grace be with you all.” The plural here shows that this letter was not meant for Titus alone, but for the whole Christian community. The Cretan church plants would have heard it and sought to live it out, and we as the body of Christ today hear it and receive it. And these final words are a prayer for grace. Paul hopes that we would receive God’s grace—most explicitly displayed in Jesus’s life/death/resurrection (2:11, 3:8)—and be moved by it. God grace has invaded human history and transformed it forever and we are to receive it and be changed by it. May it be with us as we plant Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville and may it be with all who seek to plant churches by the grace of God.