As was customary in the First Century culture, Paul began his letter to Titus with a greeting that would include his own name. For those who would doubt the authority of Titus, a letter from an Apostle would certainly quell any concerns they may have. Establishing the leadership of Titus, an ethnic Greek (Gal. 2:3), was a matter of priority if Paul wanted Titus to correct the errors that had begun creeping into the churches there on the island of Crete.
Having given his name, Paul continues with a couple of titles – “a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” In Paul’s perspective this was his identity. He was merely a slave of the Almighty God, and a messenger for Jesus. There was no tedious list of credentials or references; rather, Paul simply viewed himself in light of his full surrender to the will of God, and a desire to share the message of hope in Christ, the Savior (v. 3-4). What a lesson to the young Titus, that no matter what level of acclaim he would ever reach in the ministry, he was still simply these two things, a slave and a messenger.
As Paul moved through his greeting, he did not miss the opportunity to explain the wealth of doctrine regarding the work God had accomplished in him and through him. In verse 1, after describing himself as a slave and a messenger, Paul continued on by saying that he was brought in as a messenger and slave by faith and the understanding of the truth. It was truly by grace that Paul had been saved through faith, and now, it was the message of that faith that he would declare everywhere he went.
But the truth that saves does not leave anyone unchanged. Instead, having been declared “elect” by God’s grace, Paul was continually being worked on by God to bring him into a life of godliness. Having justified Paul by his grace, God was constantly working through the Spirit to sanctify Paul and grow him in godliness and Christ-likeness.
While Paul was seeing God work in him to purify him and grow him in godliness, he never lost sight of the hope he had found in Jesus Christ. He lived every day, submitted to the will of God, declaring the message of Jesus, all the while confidently encouraged that one day, the process of sanctification would be complete, and he would be free from sin. God had promised that in due time, Paul would experience the full scope of eternal life, and everything that Paul had preached would become reality.
I imagine that as Paul wrote these words, he grew in excitement and was re-invigorated at the reality of what lay ahead of him. “God, that cannot lie, promised it!” As he continued in verse 4, he drew Titus into this excitement, “To Titus, mine own son after the common faith.” Basically, “The godliness that the Spirit of God is accomplishing in me, the truth that I hold so dear, and the future hope of glory - these things are family traits that you and I share by having this faith in common, Titus!” And lest he leave off without recalling the source of this wonderful work in him, Paul declares, “and it came from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Reflect: Are you excited by the salvation offered to you by Jesus and by the prospect of having eternal life with God apart from sin? Read Ephesians 2:1-13, and list out the exciting truths that Paul writes there about who he was and who he has become.