Ladies, today we begin our weekly Bible Studies, this time exploring the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to his protege Titus. If you haven’t read Titus yet, please go to this link and read the epistle (it’s only three chapters) to get some context. Or, if you prefer, read it in your own Bible or Bible app. But please take time to read it before continuing in today’s lesson.
Rather than introducing Titus today, which would arguably give us good background in studying the book, I’m going to tell you about him when we get to verse 4. Instead, let’s spend time discussing Paul’s salutation, which will orient us to the apostle’s mission as it fits into God’s eternal plan. These three verses will in turn lay a foundation for Titus in his ministry to the churches in Crete.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; ~~Titus 1:11-3 (ESV)
Paul wastes no time in describing himself as God’s servant. Do not miss this very important point! As we will see when we meet Titus, Paul is writing to a young pastor, instructing him on godly ways to conduct ministry. By establishing himself as God’s servant, Paul indicates the fundamental attitude Titus needs to adopt. The authority God gives them must be regarded as a vehicle for serving Him.
Furthermore, Paul demonstrates his servant’s attitude as he states his position as an apostle, or ambassador, of Jesus Christ. The term “apostle” denotes being sent out as someone else’s representative. Therefore, Paul serves God by representing the interests of Jesus Christ.
But Paul represents Jesus Christ for the sake of God’s chosen people. That’s an added layer. So he serves the Lord essentially by serving others. Yet he serves those others by exercising his authority to teach them. He ministers to develop their knowledge of the truth, as he will explain momentarily.
Before Paul tells us how he delivers the knowledge of the truth to the elect, however, he explains that this knowledge accords with godliness. The Greek word translated in the ESV as “accords with” has, in this context, the meaning of having an end result. Thus, Paul regards doctrine as a gateway to holy living. He elaborates on this point in Chapters 2 and 3, especially in Titus 2:11-14. God calls His elect to understand right doctrine so that we can live in holiness.
This godliness, he says in verse 2, leads to hope of eternal life. Here, the word for hope, in contrast to the anemic wishful thinking that we commonly call hope in our culture, actually means assurance. Paul wants his ministry to assure Christians of eternal life. He emphasizes this assurance with an appeal to God’s promise.
Notice that God’s promise is predicated on two points, neither of which we can discuss in detail right now. First, Paul asserts that God doesn’t lie. We can expect eternal life because God has promised it. Second, God made this promise before time began. He didn’t make it on the spur of the moment, in other words. This promise has always been firmly established in God’s will.
Verse 3 continues Paul’s thought by adding that God brought His promise about at the time He decreed. Apparently, Paul just can’t pass up an opportunity to celebrate God’s sovereignty!
Finally, Paul returns to his point that he serves God by bringing the knowledge of the truth to the elect. He accomplishes this task by preaching God’s Word. Those of you who read The Outspoken TULIP often know that I’d love to write an entire blog post on this one clause! So tune in next Monday, and we’ll talk about just that.