The Book of Titus Part 2 (series: Lessons on Titus)
by John Lowe
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with Godliness.
Alternate Translation (NLT): This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live Godly lives.
Paul, a bondservant of God. The apostle does not use this phrase elsewhere. In other epistles he calls himself the “bondslave of Jesus Christ,” Romans 1:1; “of Christ,” Galatians 1:10; “of Christ Jesus,” Philippians 1:1.
The common way to begin a letter in Paul’s day was with an identification of the author by name and title. Paul did not vary from this form. He was both a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. The first pictures him as a slave of the Supreme Master, the second as an envoy of the Sovereign Lord. The first speaks of submission, the second of authority. He became a bondservant by personal commitment, an apostle by divine appointment. He is not just a worker but one who gives himself wholly to another’s will. This was Paul’s view of himself in relation to God and ought to be that of every Christian. On the other hand, he was chosen by God to be an apostle. What a humble and high position he held at the same time. He was an apostle according to “or in accord with” the faith, the whole body of revealed truth. This is a high honor; it is the glory of angels that they are ministering spirits, and sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation--"Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Heb 1:14;NKJV).
Paul is described as a chief minister, an apostle of Jesus Christ; one who had seen the Lord, and was immediately called and commissioned by him, and received his doctrine from him. Note, The highest officers in the church are only servants. The apostles of Jesus Christ, who were engaged in spreading and cultivating his religion, were also the servants of God; they did not set up anything that was inconsistent with the truths and duties of the Christian religion. Christianity, which they preached, was designed by God and was meant to clarify and enforce those principles of truths and duties, as well as to develop them, and to spread them to men in their degenerate state. Therefore the apostles of Jesus Christ were the servants of God. But the early church had to test those who “say they are apostles” (1Rev 2:2). Paul could stand the test.
1 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.”
"and an apostle of Jesus Christ;" Paul frequently speaks of himself by this phrase, and here he combined the two, “the bondservant of God and the apostle of Jesus Christ” (1James 1:1). The reason for this title may be that this epistle was of a somewhat more official character than those to Timothy. Moreover his relations with Timothy were more intimate than those with Titus (see 21 Tim. 1:2 and 32 Tim. 1:2). Or the reason he asserts his apostleship here is that he is going to give instructions to the organized church. These instructions come from an apostle, the appointed writer of the Lord Jesus who was now communicating with His church through His apostles. The Epistle to Titus is also a communication to us from the Lord Jesus.
2 (1 Tim. 1:2) “It is written to Timothy, my true child in the faith. May God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.”
3 (2 Tim 1:2) “It is written to Timothy, my dear son. May God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.”
When Paul summoned one of his fellow workers to do a task, he always began by mentioning his own authority to speak, and then he would lay again the foundation of the gospel. That is what he is doing at the beginning of this letter to Titus. First, by saying he is an apostle, he points out that he belongs to a great succession of men who could also say of themselves, “I am a slave of God“, men like Amos, Jeremiah, and Joshua. It gave him great authority. He was the envoy of Jesus Christ. When he spoke, it was with the authority of Christ.
according to the faith of God’s elect . The words “according to,” signify more than conformity to something or to someone, it also conveys the idea of a direct purpose (42 Tim. 1:1), and what the apostle points out is that the object of his ministry was that through him those chosen of God should believe. “The faith” mentioned here
is faith which accepts the truth. 5
Acts 13:48 shows that all faith on the part of the elect rests in the hands of God; they do not become elect by their faith. But they receive faith from Christ, and so becomes believers, because they are elect.
[4[ “This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.” It is great to know the will of God for one’s life. God has a will (desire) for each one’s life.5
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
The goals of his ministry were to further the faith of God’s 6
elect and the acknowledgement of the truth. Furthering their faith may mean either bringing them to faith (conversion) in the first place, or leading them on in the faith after salvation. The apostles’ two basic aims were: (1) evangelism —furthering the faith of God’s elect; (2) education—furthering their knowledge of the truth. It is an echo of Matthew 28:20—“preaching the gospel to all nations and teaching them to observe all things Christ commanded.” In specifying without apology that it is the faith of God’s elect he is called to promote, the apostle confronts us with the doctrine of 7
election. Few doctrines of Scripture have suffered more misunderstanding, provoked more debate, and strained more intellects. Briefly, it teaches that God chose certain ones in Christ before the foundation of the world with the ultimate intention that they should be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4). 6
ELECT — a person or group chosen by God for special favor and for the rendering of special service to Him. In the Old Testament the Hebrew people were described as God’s elect. The New Testament speaks of Christ as God’s Chosen One (1 Pet. 2:4, 6) and of the church as God’s new chosen people (Rom. 8:33; 2 John 1, 13).7
ELECTION — the gracious and free act of God by which He calls those who become part of His kingdom and special beneficiaries of His love and blessings. The Bible describes the concept of election in three distinct ways. Election sometimes refers to the choice of Israel and the church as a people for special service and privileges. Election may also refer to the choice of a specific individual to some office or to perform some special service. Still other passages of the Bible refer to the election of individuals to be children of God and heirs of eternal life.
Believers are elect to the extent that they are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (8
Eph. 1:4), all of them being foreknown and foreseen as such by God (9
John 17:6 and 10
Romans 8:29). Those whom He foreknew He chose, and that always for specific purposes. The source of their election is God’s grace, not human will, (11
But, how is it that the elect come to faith in Jesus Christ? The Holy Spirit gives precious divine faith to those who are the elect of God (12
1 Pt. 1:2), and that faith is appropriate for those who are chosen to eternal life (2 Th. 2:13, 14): "...God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto he called you by our gospel. The exercise of personal faith leading to salvation is prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit.8
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” This is a definite statement of God’s elective grace concerning believers in Christ. Apart from Christ, there would have been no election and no salvation. God always deals with man in Christ, who is the one and only Mediator between God and men (I Tim 2:5). Paul traces man’s salvation back to the plan of God’s will. God’s choice was eternal; His plan is timeless. The fall of man was no surprise to God, and redemption was no afterthought. God provided for our salvation before one star glittered in the infinite expanse. We must be careful not to draw false conclusions from this sublime truth. God is not stating a fatalistic doctrine in which He arbitrarily elects some to heaven and consigns all others to hell. There is no scriptural doctrine of election to damnation. God’s election provides for the means as well as the ends. God’s infallible Word plainly states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). Man either receives or disbelieves God’s provisions in Christ. “So far as the human race is concerned, every man may not only accept Christ as Savior but is urged and invited to do so. The ground of this invitation is the work of the incarnate Son … Divine foreordination and human freedom are humanly irreconcilable, but like two parallel lines that meet in infinity, they have their solution in God.”