Common Ground

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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What do Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun have in common?  Give up?  They both have the same middle name!

What did the Apostle Paul and Titus have in common?  Give up?  Faith!  At least that’s what Paul told the young man as he opened his epistle to him, addressing his letter…

“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith…” (Titus 1:4).

What an astounding thing for Paul to say!  If you’re not sure why I’d say that, it is because Paul was a Jew, “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), while Titus was an uncircumcised Gentile (Gal. 2:3).  Jews and Gentiles didn’t have anything in common before Paul came along!

They certainly didn’t eat the same foods as the Gentiles.  God told the Jews under the Law that certain foods were unclean (Leviticus 11).  This was to remind them that certain people were unclean—the Gentiles (Lev. 20:24-26).  And God gave them more reminders that they shouldn’t mingle with Gentiles when He instructed His people not to wear clothing that was mingled with different materials (Deut. 22:11).

God even told them not to plow their field in the same way the Gentiles plowed, with two different kinds of animal pulling the plow (Deut. 22:10).  That was to teach the Jews not to work together with Gentiles, not to harness their strength together with members of those unclean nations.  God further instructed them not to plant their crops as the Gentiles did, “lest the fruit of thy seed…be defiled” (Deut. 22:9).  That was to teach them not to marry the heathen, lest the “seed” of their children be defiled.

Does that give you an idea of what a pariah you would have been as a Gentile in Old Testament times?  If you’re not sure what a pariah is, have you ever heard the expression, “Things that make you go hmmmm?”  Well, a pariah is something that makes you go eewww!  Jews had nothing in common with Gentiles—least of all a common faith.  But beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul, a Jew like Paul could write to a Gentile like Titus about their common faith, and to Gentiles like the Romans (Rom. 1:13) about their “mutual faith” (v. 12).  What a revolutionary change was brought about with the ministry of the Apostle Paul!

This dispensational change made it so that Paul could even speak of a Gentile like Titus as “mine own son,” as well as a Jew like Timothy (I Tim. 1:2).  And when he wrote to Titus about “Christ our Saviour” (Tit. 1:4), that was new too!  You see, in Old Testament times, God was the Savior of the people of Israel only.  He told them, “I the LORD am thy Saviour…the mighty One of Jacob” (Isa. 49:26; 60:16).  The adjective “thy” is singular, indicating that God was Israel’s Savior to the exclusion of the Gentile nations.  And while many people think that this changed in the New Testament, Paul declared that “God…raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus” (Acts 13:23).

But beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul, Christ became “the Saviour of all men” (I Tim. 4:10)—especially “the Saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23), the Body of Christ, made up of Jews and Gentiles!  This was all part of “the great mystery” revealed to Paul “concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).  To learn more about this great mystery, why not sign up to receive our weekly feature, More Minutes With the BibleYou’ll be eternally glad you did!

To the Reader:

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