Allow me for a moment to introduce myself, and the little letter from Paul that bears my name. I am so sorry that you folks in the 21st Century appear to know little about me. That is because the Holy Spirit chose not to have my name inserted in the Book of Acts, despite the fact that I travelled often with Paul. The Lord’s ways, however, are not our ways and we all must accept his path even when it involves humiliations, which we would not choose for ourselves.
I was a Greek by birth and was converted under the preaching of Paul. When the Judaisers intimidated me Paul encouraged me to resist their attempts to have me circumcised. When Paul and Barnabas travelled to Jerusalem to represent the interests of the Gentiles at that most important council meeting or as you people would term it a Presbytery, I went with them.
I don’t know why but Paul appeared to see me as one who was good at dealing with difficult people. The Corinthians had such a reputation for sin and immorality and who did Paul send to minister to them? but me!
When he was preaching at Troas he became so concerned because he heard no reports about my ministry in Corinth; he was deeply troubled. Paul was so overjoyed when I arrived with him to tell him that the Corinthians had given up their sins and now they were an encouragement. In fact he was so happy that he decided to send me back to Corinth with another letter and with instructions that they take up a collection to help the church in Jerusalem. It seemed that the reward I got for doing one task was to be laden with another. But it was so good to be in the Lord’s business.
I last saw my spiritual father, leader in the work and dearest friend in Rome while he was a prisoner. I would have preferred to have been with him but he had on his heart always the interests of the churches and believed that I could do some good in Dalmatia and so once again I took to travelling for the Lord.
The most difficult task I was assigned, however was being made an overseer of the Church in Crete.
The people of Crete!
As you would say, you couldn’t like them if you reared them!
Throughout the Roman world anyone who lied was called a Cretian because this island was associated with dishonesty throughout its 156 miles of length. In addition, they were renowned for their laziness and gluttony.
Who did Paul send to minister to them? But me!
He thinks I’m good at this type of thing but I don’t know why. Yet these Christians at Crete despite their quirks were the Lord’s people. The founders of the Church were actually at Jerusalem and heard Peter preach at the Day of Pentecost. They really saw God’s power at first hand and they returned bearing good news. Paul recognised that there was a work to be done here, not so much among the world but among the Christians.
To be honest the task seemed too great for me. I didn’t know where to begin and then I received the letter, which you have today. What a help and encouragement that was. I hope it helps you and your pastor as it helped me.