Book of Titus

Ancient Crete is the civilization that existed on the island of Crete, just south of Greece, in the Mediterranean Sea. From around 3000–1200 B.C., inhabitants known as Minoans controlled Crete and ruled the island in autonomous city states.
Although the Minoans were able to rise to a position of political and economic dominance during this time, their civilization and subsequent control over Crete was destroyed by a large volcanic eruption 186 miles (300) km away, layering it in hot volcanic ash.
It is from this period onward that Crete began to fall under the control of the nearby Greek city-states and eventually the Roman Empire.

A construction company in Belize recently destroyed one of the nation’s largest Mayan pyramids while excavating for a new road.

The loss is incalculable, and authorities blame it on laziness. Builders were too slothful to figure a way around the treasure, so they took the easy way out, bulldozing through it without thinking.

We do a lot of damage by taking the easy way out. In the book of Titus, the apostle Paul told his troubleshooter, Titus, how to minister to people who were converted from a culture filled with “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).

The setting was the island of Crete, which Paul and Titus had evangelized. Titus remained on the island to get the churches organized and to develop the work. But he struggled to oversee churches filled with people who had grown up without self-discipline.

That sounds like a relevant subject, doesn’t it? How do we move from laziness to self-control and spiritual maturity?

  • In chapter 1, Paul laid down the qualifications of mature and hard-working church leaders.
  • In chapters 2 and 3, he told Titus what to say to various groups and to the Church as a whole.

The same grace that brought salvation, he wrote, teaches us to say “No” to worldly passions, to deny laziness and lust, and to live soberly and righteously in this world.

The message of Titus is: God’s work should be well-organized and His workers self-controlled as we go about building, not bulldozing, His Church in this world.

Key Thought:

Ancient Crete is the civilization that existed on the island of Crete, just south of Greece, in the Mediterranean Sea. From around 3000–1200 B.C., inhabitants known as Minoans controlled Crete and ruled the island in autonomous city states.
Although the Minoans were able to rise to a position of political and economic dominance during this time, their civilization and subsequent control over Crete was destroyed by a large volcanic eruption 186 miles (300) km away, layering it in hot volcanic ash.
The Minoans were an advanced peaceful civilization that lived in comfort with paved streets and sewers that were unheard of in the ancient world.
They dedicated themselves to art and the love of life. They valued the natural world and created a naturalistic art style that is remarkable even by modern standards and was far advanced for the time.
Their joy in life shows in the remarkable frescoes that survive filled with vivid color, and finding beauty in both small and large things.
There is much that we don’t know about the Minoans, many have suggested that the Minoans might well be the people that formed the basis of the legend of Atlantis.

Godly leaders should set in order what is lacking in the Church by teaching sound doctrine and modeling self-discipline.

Key Verses:

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).

Key Action:

“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). 

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:8).

Book of 2 Timothy

The Mamertine Prison (where both Peter and Paul did time) in antiquity the Tullianum, was a prison (carcer) located in the Comitium in ancient Rome.
It was located on the northeastern slope of the Capitoline Hill, facing the Curia and the imperial fora of Nerva, Vespasian, and Augustus.
Located between it and the Tabularium (record house) was a flight of stairs leading to the Arx of the Capitoline known as the Gemonian stairs. The church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami now stands above the Mamertine

If you read the last words of dying people, you’ll find sayings both preposterous and profound. Playwright Oscar  Wilde, for example, said as he died in a drab hotel: “Either the wallpaper goes, or I do.”

Well, there was no drivel from Paul’s pen as he recorded his last words in 2 Timothy. Confined to Rome’s Mamertine Prison Paul told Timothy:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren” (2 Tim 4:7, 9, 21).

Many of Paul’s companions had abandoned or turned against him. He needed Timothy’s help, as well as a coat and some books, while awaiting execution.

So as we read 2 Timothy, we feel we’re reading a final letter from a father to his son, giving us Paul’s last testimony and final instructions.

Second Timothy emphasizes faithfulness. Paul spoke of his own faithfulness and exhorted Timothy to be faithful to his calling and gifts, particularly to preaching the Word. He tells us to persevere like a soldier in the army, an athlete in the games, or a farmer in the fields.

None of us knows if we’ll have the opportunity for last words. But we can live a life of faithfulness now, leaving a legacy for those who follow, as we fight the good fight and keep the faith, looking forward to the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give us on that day.

Key Thought:

In perilous times, we must be steadfast and determined to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.

Key Verses:

Inside Mamertine Prison The origins of the prison’s names are uncertain. The traditional derivation of “Tullianum” is from the name of one of the Roman kings Tullus Hostilius or Servius Tullius

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim 1:7-8).

Key Action:

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).

Book of 1 Timothy

Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years.
Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium B.C., and its cultural achievements during the 5th century B.C. laid the foundations of western civilization.

During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively prosperous during the period of the Crusades (12th and 13th centuries), benefiting from Italian trade.
Following a period of sharp decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent Greek state.

Most everything we buy comes with an owner’s manual, but if you’re like me, looking at those instructions is the last resort. We put it off as long as possible.

Well, the book of 1 Timothy is an instruction manual for the local church. We should read it often and heed it diligently.

It’s the first of three Pastoral Epistles, as we call them, written between 62 and 67 A.D.; and it’s addressed to Timothy, a young man we first meet in Acts 16, when he decided to join Paul in his travels.

The two become close, and Paul called him, “…my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Tim 1:2).

Years later Timothy was placed in charge of the work in the city of Ephesus. That’s when Paul wrote this letter, telling him:

  • how to manage certain problems he faced in the ministry,
  • how to confront false teachers,
  • how to order the church’s worship,
  • how to select leaders, and
  • how to conduct himself in difficult situations.

The apostle tells us to stand up for the truth in public and to guard our own souls in private. He stressed the themes of doctrinal purity, worship, godliness, leadership, pastoral care, and contentment.

Church work isn’t for the faint of heart, and the ministry can often be discouraging. But it always helps to read the manual.

In 1 Timothy, the Lord tells us how to conduct ourselves in His house, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Key Thought:

God’s Church should be led with excellence by leaders who possess wisdom and integrity.

Key Verse:

The Byzantine Empire, sometimes referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, originally founded as Byzantium).
It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both “Byzantine Empire” and “Eastern Roman Empire” are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire or Romania, and to themselves as “Romans”.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:12). 

Key Action:

We must conduct ourselves wisely in the house of God.

“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” (1 Tim 4:15).

Book of 2 Thessalonians

Thessalonica was founded around 315 B.C. by King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages.
After the fall of the Kingdom of Macedon in 168 B.C., Thessalonica as it came to be called in Latin, became a city of the Roman Republic.
Due to the city’s key commercial importance, a spacious harbor was built by the Romans, the famous Burrowed Harbor that accommodated the city’s trade, up to the 18th century. About 50 A.D., Paul taught the Jews and Greeks of the Gospel.
He convinced many, but the other Jews were furious with him and anyone believed. In 306 A.D., Thessaloníki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius.
He is credited with a number of miracles that saved the city and was the Roman Proconsul of Greece, under the anti-Christian emperor Maximian. St. Demetrius was martyred at a Roman prison, where the Church of St. Demetrius lies today.
In 390, Gothic troops under the commands of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, led a massacre against the inhabitants of Thessalonica, who had risen in revolt against the Germanic soldiers.

Those who travel for a living know the burden of long-distance parenting. Thanks to modern technology, we can still read to our kids or talk to them at bedtime. But it’s hard to be away from our children when they need us.

That’s how Paul felt about the church of the Thessalonians. In Acts 17, he had arrived in this city with the Gospel, but persecution had driven him away before he had adequately instructed his converts.

In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Paul was providing long-distance parenting to his children in the faith.

Both these letters focus on the return of Christ and on the way we ought to live while anticipating that day.

In 1 Thessalonians Paul answered some questions about the Second Coming. But afterward some unknown person, apparently pretending to be Paul, had written that the return of Christ had already occurred.

The Thessalonians were understandably confused, so Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians to clear up the issue.

  • The 1st chapter of this letter expresses Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the church.
  • The 2nd chapter deals with the events leading up to the Day of the Lord.
  • The last chapter commands us to be busy and productive as we await His coming.

Paul’s teaching on the End Times should motivate us to be hopeful toward the future and diligent in the present.

The purpose of the teaching about the coming of Christ is not for our speculation but for our sanctification as we grow up in Christ.

Key Thought:

The return of Christ is a future event that will be swift, certain, and glorious.

Key Verses:

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work”
(2 Thess 2:16-17).

Key Action:

The Second Coming shouldn’t provoke idleness among believers, but action; not speculation, but sanctification.

Book of 1 Thessalonians

Ancient Market Place Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) was founded around 315 B.C. by Macedon’s King Cassander, on or near the ancient site of Therma.
The king named the city after his wife Thessalonike, who was Alexander the Great’s half-sister. The city was an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon until 168 B.C. Chen it became a city of the Roman Republic.
It grew to be a critical trading hub for the Roman Empire by facilitating the exchange of goods between Europe and Asia. Thessalonica eventually became the capital city of the Roman district it was located in.
The city contained an amphitheater where entertainment in the form of gladiatorial shows were held for the local citizens and also a circus was exhibited for the amusement of the citizens, and a circus where games for the public took place.

What if no one had a copy of a New Testament in your congregation nor had even heard of one?

That was a problem in the early Church. When Paul evangelized the Macedonian city of Thessalonica, for example, few if any New Testament writings were available.

When we face questions or problems today, we open our New Testaments; but the young Christians in Thessalonica didn’t yet have this inspired resource.

That’s why Paul wrote to them, and in doing so he contributed one our favorite books of the New Testament.

The Thessalonians were especially confused about the limit of the Lord’s return. When Paul had been among them, he had taught about the Second Coming. But persecution had driven him out of town before he could say all he wanted.

From a subsequent report, Paul learned that the church was confused: Has Christ already returned? Could He return in our lifetime? What about our loved ones who have died believing in Christ? Will we see them again?

In 1 Thessalonians (and again in 2 Thessalonians), Paul addressed those questions and outlined the events connected with the Rapture of the Church.

He exhorts us to persevere with holiness and expectancy as we await His coming. Since we don’t know the precise moment of the Lord’s return, it could be any moment.

As those who belong to Christ, we should watch for His coming; and while waiting, we should live faithfully, righteously, and productively for His glory.

Key Thought:

Christ is coming quickly!

Key Verse:

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess 5:23).

Key Action:

Thessalonica’s Amphitheater

Since Christ may come at any moment, we should live productively, faithfully, and expectantly.