Titus 3:12-15 The Ministry of Hospitality
In the previous verses, we have learned that we have to avoid difficult and divisive people. In this last section, Paul reminds Titus of people whom he can trust. These people are a blessing to the church. Paul was sending these people to Titus and the church. As such, Paul encouraged the church to help them. The first lesson we learn from this list is the fact that we should be building relationships with other people. You can’t do ministry without people. You can’t share the Gospel without people.
Let’s go through the list of people and then look at ways one can show hospitality.
PEOPLE IN MINISTRY WHO NEED HOSPITALITY
“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.” (Titus 3:12, HCSB)
Personal name probably shortened from Artemidoros, meaning “gift of Artemis.” If this is the case, then the parents worshiped the Greek goddess Artemis. Paul promised to send Artemas or Tychicus to Titus, so Titus could join Paul in Nicopolis. Artemas would apparently take over Titus’ pastoral duties in Crete. Tradition says Artemas became bishop of Lystra1
“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia.” (Acts 20:4, HCSB)
“Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed. I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.” (Ephesians 6:21–22, HCSB)
“Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and so that he may encourage your hearts.” (Colossians 4:7–8, HCSB)
“I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 4:12, HCSB)
Asia would be Asia Minor, or precisely Ephesus. Tychicus was the given the role of letter-bearer. He would inform the church about Paul and share with them Paul’s letter to them. He accompanied St Paul on his third missionary journey. Several cities claim him as bishop, while some martyrologies make him a deacon.2 The Ephesian letter was a generic letter that was sent to several churches.
“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me in Nicopolis…” (Titus 3:12, HCSB)
It is possible that Artemas or Tychicus was supposed to escort Titus on his journey or perform some other task, but it is more likely that whichever one Paul sent would become Titus’s replacement on Crete.3
Then we have a second pair of people whom Paul sent to the church.
Greek from Zenodorus, a lawyer, accompanying Apollos. Despite the association with Apollos, nomikos here probably does not refer to expertise in the Torah. Zenas’ proficiency was probably in Roman law.4 The word nomikos is used of eminent jurists like Mucius Scaevola (Plutarch, Sulla 36) of humble notaries (cf. examples in MM5). So Paul had a lawyer on retainer.
Apollos a learned and eloquent Jew from Alexandria in Egypt and an influential leader in the early church. Well-versed in the Old Testament, Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptist and instructed by Priscilla and Aquila.
“This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately.” (Acts 18:25–26, HCSB)
In Corinth, Apollos publicly contended with the Jewish leaders and refuted their objections to Christian teaching. He was apparently quite popular in Corinth, for in 1 Corinthians 1:12 Paul wrote of four parties into which the church at Corinth had become divided: one “following” Apollos, one Paul, one Cephas [Peter], and one Christ..6“What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:12, HCSB)
These men would not only be supported by the churches to which they ministered, but also looked for hospitality and assistance from churches in the towns and villages through which they passed in route to their next ministry destination. This practice is reflected in Titus 3:13 with Paul’s command to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their travels.7
These people came to church by Paul’s recommendation. Paul gave the church a brief instruction about how to help these men.
HOW TO SHOW HOSPITALITY
1. Provide for their traveling needs.
“Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey, so that they will lack nothing.” (Titus 3:13, HCSB)
The connection of thought is apparently that believers are to involve themselves in the life-giving ministry of the gospel, such as helping Zenas and Apollos, rather than in the unproductive speculations and greed of the false teachers.8
“and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.” (1 Timothy 6:5, HCSB)
The point is that we should spend our time and our money helping ministers of God who need help – such as missionaries. We don’t spend our time and money on people who claim to be ministers but are making a profit.
2. Provide good works to meet their needs.
“And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3:14, HCSB)
The maintenance of good works and the meeting of urgent needs remains at the top of Paul’s agenda for the Christians in Crete. And must not this be foremost in our agenda? What would happen if all of our budgets and programs were evaluated on the basis of the extent to which they produce good works in the world around us and meet urgent needs of people everywhere?9
3. Share greetings
“All those who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.” (Titus 3:15, HCSB)
Sharing greetings builds community. When I was in Europe, when we went to a church service, we always heard of visitors who gave greetings from where they came. We don’t do that here in churches in America. We are so sensitive about being called out that we don’t let people greet one another. Yes, we shake hands, but we don’t ask people to share greetings.
1 Chad Brand et al., eds., “Artemas,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 121.
2 F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1660.
3 Jon C. Laansma, “Commentary on 2 Timothy,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, vol. 17 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 294.
4 A. F. Walls, “Zenas,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1268.
5MM J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament illustrated from the Papyri and other non-literary sources, 1930
6 Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison, Thomas Nelson Publishers, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995).
7 Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 3 Jn.
8 Jon C. Laansma, “Commentary on 2 Timothy,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, vol. 17 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 295.
9 Gary W. Demarest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, 1, 2 Thessalonians / 1, 2 Timothy / Titus, vol. 32, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984), 338.