Fellowship is Essential (Titus 3:12-15)
You have probably heard it said, “There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian.”
When people use the term “Lone Ranger,” they are probably referring to the radio and TV series called “The Lone Ranger.” Interestingly, though, The Lone Ranger was never alone.
The Lone Ranger was never alone.
The origin story for The Lone Ranger goes like this: The Lone Ranger, whose name was John Reid, was a part of a group of six rangers led by his brother, Dan. That group of Rangers was ambushed by a band of outlaws led by Bartholomew “Butch” Cavendish.
The outlaws thought all the rangers were dead, but John survived and was nursed back to health by a Native American Indian named Tonto.
After regaining his health, John Reid becomes The Lone Ranger, donning a mask made from the vest of his dead brother. He wears the mask to hide his true identity; and Tonto digs an empty grave with a marker that reads “John Reid” to make Cavendish and his merry band of outlaws believe that John perished like the rest of the rangers.
The Lone Ranger, his horse, Silver, and his sidekick, Tonto, then set out for justice.
But notice that The Lone Ranger was not The ALONE Ranger. He was a character that understood the essential nature of relationships. Whether it was the relationship with his brother, the other rangers, or with Tonto, The Lone Ranger knew that he needed people.
We like the idea of the lone ranger or the lone wolf. We like the cop shows where the detective says with steely eyes, “I work alone.” We like the spy stories were the hero is a N.O.C. (Non-Official Cover), a “singleton,” someone who works with no one else because he needs no one else.
But the Christian is no lone ranger, lone wolf, or singleton. The Christian exists in relationship with Christ, which means that he exists in relationship with all his brothers and sisters in Christ. He needs relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Christian needs fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Apostle Paul knew that he needed relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Sure, it would have been easier for Paul to minister alone. It would have been easier to travel alone. It would have been easier to experience suffering and persecution without others to worry about as well. But Paul knew that he needed his brothers and sisters in Christ, and he was not ashamed to say he needed them. As he saw it, they were essential.
During our Wednesday evening Bible studies, we’ve been looking at the last few verses of Titus 3, drawing out what we can from these closing words from Paul to Titus.
Titus has been left on the Island of Crete by Paul to strengthen and establish churches. He is to do the work of establishing qualified leadership, sound doctrine, interpersonal discipleship, and godly living. But Titus won’t be there forever. Paul is sending either Artemas or Tychicus to take over the ministry on Crete.
Here's what Titus 3:12-15 says...
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. 14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (NASB95)
Notice the names in vv. 12-13.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. (NASB95)
We don’t know anything about Artemas. He is not mentioned elsewhere in the NT.
Tychicus was an Asian man who accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). In Ephesians 6:21 and Colossians 4:7, he is referred to as a beloved brother and faithful minister.
All we know of Zenas is what we see here. He is not mentioned elsewhere in the NT, and we don’t know if he was an expert in Roman law or Jewish law.
Apollos is the popular preacher mentioned in Acts (18:24; 19:1) and Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:6). He was a Jew born in Alexandria. He understood and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus up to the baptism of John. What was lacking in his understanding was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila, coworkers of Paul’s, who taught him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-28).
These are but a few names of the many people that came alongside Paul during his ministry. Others include Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke (Phil. 23-24);
Priscilla and Aquila, Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia (2 Tim. 4:19-21); Onesimus, Philemon, Silas, Barnabas, Justus, Nympha, Archippus (Phil., Acts, Col. 4:7-17); Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1 Cor. 16:17).
And there’s some I’ve left out.
Everyone of us has a ministry, and everyone of us should have our own list of names—a list of those people who have come alongside us in our ministry; people helping us, serving us, encouraging us, working with us to do as God has commanded us.
Pause for a moment and pray. No, really, pause for a moment and pray, whose names would be on your list?
More on this tomorrow.