My sister and I are currently on a sister holiday to Japan. During this time, we thought we would try to memorise some of the book of Titus. As you do, we started from the beginning. Reading through Paul’s greeting to Titus, we discovered just how much this initial greeting reveals about the gospel.
[Titus 1:1-4] – “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
- Paul speaks about his identity and purpose.
Paul calls himself a bondservant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for “bondservant” is δοῦλος (doulos) – literally one who belongs under another’s authority. So, Paul places himself under God’s authority. The Greek for “apostle” is ἀπόστολος (apostolos) – meaning a representative, or messenger. Paul begins his letter to Titus with a confidence about who he is in God, and who he is living for.
- Paul affirms the church’s identity.
He writes “according to the faith of God’s elect”, that is, the church. In this, he affirms that the church is the elect of God – those chosen, set apart and loved by Him. The greeting in 1 Peter 1:2 also elaborates on the “elect” – “…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…” In Titus, Paul goes on to elaborate about the common truth which is acknowledged by God’s church – one which accords with godliness in the hope of eternal life.
- The truth accords with godliness in hope of eternal life.
This is the part of Paul’s greeting we discussed the most. What does it mean for the truth to accord with godliness in the hope of eternal life? Well, the truth of the gospel is the hope of eternal life because of what Jesus did on the cross. He brought salvation to the world, to all who would believe in Him. He is our hope, and through Him, we have eternal life. How does this truth accord with godliness? When we give our lives to Jesus and follow His truth, we are made holy, transformed to pursue a life of godliness, one which honours His Name.
- Paul describes God’s character.
In this greeting, Paul also describes the character of God. God cannot lie, He existed before the beginning of time, He had a plan for humanity even before our existence, and He speaks even in the present time through messengers like Paul. It is amazing how much of God’s person and plan we can see just in this introduction of Paul’s letter.
- Paul affirms Titus’ identity
Having basically recapped the salvation story, Paul greets Titus directly, calling him “… a true son in our common faith…” It is such an encouraging affirmation that Titus is a true, and fellow believer in Christ. Furthermore, in his greeting, Paul confirms what it is that Titus has faith in – salvation, eternal life, God who cannot lie, and who directs his messengers. Titus too, is God’s messenger, and throughout the rest of his letter, Paul confirms this and exhorts Titus in this – “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” – [Titus 2:15]
What can we learn from this introduction in the book of Titus? Here are a few questions we could ask ourselves:
- Do we know who we are in Christ?
- Do we know what He has called us to do?
- Will we be messengers of the truth that is the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus?
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