Two Bold Men.
These two books were written by Paul a couple of years apart from each other. They really do not have anything to do with each other but since they are short we will study them at the same time. Philemon, whose name means "affectionate", was written first around 61 AD around the same time Colossians was written during Paul's first imprisonment. He perhaps even wrote those two letters at the same time since Philemon was from Colosse. Titus was written in 64 AD right before Paul's second imprisonment about 4 years before his death.
Philemon is the shortest book written by Paul. It is very different than Paul's other letters since most of them were about instructing people how to live and what to watch for. This one though isn't even a sermon. It is a plea. Philemon lived in Colossae, richly so. Paul wrote this book to remind Philemon about who he was before he was converted; a slave owner (Phil v. 16-19). And how he was forgiven and that the person Paul is sending him should also be forgiven and received that way. The man's name was Onesimus, who apparently owed Philemon, perhaps stole from him. We do not know if Philemon accepted Onesimus back as a brother but tradition says that Onesimus became a bishop in Berea.
Titus was a Greek gentile, one of the "uncircumcised" and may have been one of the people that Paul took into the synagogue that got him arrested. Paul converted this Greek into a Christian. Titus was sent to Crete by Paul to watch over a church he started. Seems like he was sent many places. Crete apparently was an island that had a reputation of being filled with liars and gluttons. He was to be the head of the church, an elder, if you will, maybe even apostle for he is the one who delivered the letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 7:13-16). This is why Paul gave instructions of who should be an elder in this letter. Tradition says he is considered the 1st Bishop of Crete. Titus was a very zealous man who was undaunted with the way things were and Paul knew he wouldn't back down from any conflict (Titus 1:11, 2 Cor 8:17). No one knows whatever became of him. He left for Dalmatia and that is all we know.
Some of the main point sin these books are:
- God uses even bad situations for His glory (Phil v 15-16)
- There are guidelines for selecting leaders of the church (Titus 1:5-9)
- There are guidelines for living our lives as well (Titus 2)
- God saved us through mercy, kindness, and love (Titus 3:5-8)
Philemon was written to plea for the acceptance of a former slave and his future treatment and should serve as guideline for all of us. Titus was written to encourage him and instruct the people about the truth of the Gospel that leads to spiritual maturity. God can not only transform character but He can also change relationships. Our reconciliation with God should always lead to reconciliation with man. But it seems like too many of us only try to get the first one accomplished. This is why we still can't get along with each other.