This study, taught by Pastor Barry Forder, is the 44th session of our ‘Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ series recorded during 2014 as part of our Sunday morning family services. In this study we review Paul’s letters to the Titus, Philemon and the letter to the Hebrews (which many feel was also written by a Paul):
Titus is seen by some as Paul’s troubleshooter; he took the ‘severe’ letter to Corinth for Paul, and was left in Crete by Paul to ‘set things in order’ (1:5). Titus seems to have been a strong character, physically and spiritually, and Paul certainly expresses less concern for Titus’ welfare than he did for Timothy’s. Titus was a Gentile, and when Paul took him to Jerusalem he refused to circumcise him (see Gal. 2:1–3). He had Timothy circumcised because they were going to go into the synagogues, but there was no need for Titus. Notably, in the great council of the church in Jerusalem, the liberty of the gospel was at stake, and Paul would not permit one bit of legalism to slip in (see Acts 15) – the church is built on grace not Law. Titus was a Gentile saved by grace and walking in faith. In this letter Paul lays out what the ideal church should be like. Firstly, an orderly organisation (ch1); then, it must be sound in doctrine (ch2). Finally, it should be pure in life and character, ready to every good work (3:1). It was Titus’ job to action Paul’s request.
The short and beautiful letter to Philemon tells the story of our redemption through the actual account of a runaway slave called Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave owned by Philemon who had fled from his master, only to later become a believer and friend of Paul. Paul sent him back to Philemon with this accompanying letter. Paul not only tells of the transformation in this young man which he had begotten to a new life (v10), but also offers to pay any outstanding debt on his behalf. In just the same way, we were slaves who had fled in rebellion from our Master. We were then begotten to a new life and a way was made for us to return to our Master, all our debts being paid in full. We can hear Christ agreeing to take our place and to have all our sin imputed to Him. He took our place in death, but He gives us His place in life. “If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself” (v. 17). By grace, we now have the standing of Christ before God
From Adam to Moses, through 2500 years, from Moses to Malachi, through 1100 years, the prophets were speaking for God to man. Yet at the end of 3600 years their revelation of God was only partial. Then, after a silence of 400 years, when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, and in Him the revelation of God is perfect. That is the theme of Hebrews.
For believing, yet zealous Jews, brought up under the Law of Moses, steeped in tradition, the dilemma was what to do with their God-ordained tradition? Hebrews systematically shows in the opening chapters that Jesus is the fulfillment of their tradition; a God-Man better than angles, an Apostle better than Moses, a Leader greater than Joshua, and a High Priest better than Aaron. We then have the new covenant contrasted with the old: the new covenant offers better promises, opens a better sanctuary, was sealed by a better sacrifice, and achieves far better results (the new covenant has the power to purge even the conscience –9:9). Rather than by a system of works, the new covenant is appropriated solely by faith; and Jesus is the author and finisher of that faith.
May this overview prompt you to undertake your own study of these divinely inspired books.
The PDF slides are from the PowerPoint presentation used during the teaching session.
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for later listening.