Tit 1:1-4 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
As he does in most of his epistles, Paul begins by establishing his condition. Paul’s condition was that of a servant (slave, either by necessity or desire) of God. As ministers of the truth of Jesus Christ today, we are still slaves of God. Slaves have no power to exercise their own will, make their own demands, or claim anything as their own right. While this is not a desirable condition to be in with men, it is a wonderful place to be with God. His will and His purpose are always perfect, and He has all power to perform His desires. Further, His concern is always what is best for His people (Psa 40:5).
Next, Paul establishes the authority from which he speaks: “Paul,…, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” According to Strong’s, among other things, the word translated as “apostle” means “an ambassador of the Gospel… – he that is sent.” Paul is establishing here that he has not just taken this upon himself: he has been sent by the Lord Jesus Christ. So it is with those who are truly called today to minister to God’s elect. We may make up our minds to be a minister, but if we do not have the authority of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit to do so, then we will not be a benefit to God’s people. If we decide we are going to be ministers, then we are going to teach what we think is right. The scripture assures us that there is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Pro 14:12, 16:25).
Having established his condition and authority, Paul declares his purpose. A casual reading here would lead us to the conclusion that Paul is saying that he is a servant of God and apostle of Jesus as a result of (according to) the faith of God’s elect. The confidence of other men in us is hardly a cause to assume we have been called to declare the truth of Jesus Christ. In this instance, the word “according” carries the idea of distribution or intensity. Paul has been commissioned by God to distribute that which strengthens the faith of God’s elect.
With the strengthening of that faith (Strong’s says “especially the reliance upon Christ for salvation) comes a full understanding of the truth that Jesus is indeed the Christ and our only hope of salvation. This understanding is after (or aligned) with godliness. This points to the hope of God’s elect in their eternal life.
Having hope of eternal life implies having knowledge of eternal life. The elect here, then, are not only God’s elect as far as having their sins cleansed by the blood of Jesus, but they are also gospelly elect. God has chosen all of His children to live with Him in eternity. He has chosen a remnant of these to have the knowledge of this estate and therefore to live in that hope. While our modern use of the word is sometimes more closely akin to wishful thinking, Strong’s defines the word rendered as “hope” to mean expectation or confidence.”
We have a confident expectation of eternal life because it is promised to us by God. This is not one of the gods of this world who cannot speak, cannot hear, and cannot move. This is the God who does all these things and cannot lie. Our God made this promise in Himself before the world began. In His mind and purpose, our eternal life has always been sure in His only Begotten Son, Jesus. He has made this known to us in due times.
The Greek word translated as “due” means “belonging to one’s self, “ and the word translated as “times” means “a set or proper time.” Therefore, at a time that belonged to God and deemed by Him to be proper, He made His word plain through preaching. We understand by the continuity of God, that this is still true today. While we can (and should) study God’s word and pray for understanding, that does not occur according to our timetable. God has a time that belongs to Him in which He deems it proper to reveal His Son in us. He, at His own proper time, opens to us the truth of the gospel that it might always abound unto His glory and the edification of His elect.
This preached word is committed unto those that He has called and set apart for this purpose. What an amazing thing, to realize that God has entrusted His called servants with His holy word! Being entrusted with this holy thing, it is necessary that we be slaves of the Lord, always yielding ourselves to His direction of where and when to preach His word. The work of His word being received by His elect is His work. We are not to concern ourselves with who is and is not hearing, nor are we responsible for what they do with that word. We have the preaching of the word according to the commandment of God through the Holy Ghost.
While God had put this particular epistle on Paul’s heart for Titus, there is a lesson here for all of us. We are to bear God’s word with love, as though it were to those beloved of our own family. Our mutual faith in and of Jesus Christ creates a precious relationship between us, with the end result being that we desire that those who hear the word committed unto us prosper in grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
May we always handle the word of God with the knowledge that it is His word sent in His proper time for the strengthening of the faith and understanding of His elect!