Study 1 PAUL’S FIRST WORDS TO TITUS
THE LETTERS TO TITUS AND PHILEMON
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Titus 1: 1 – 4)
It is almost certain that Paul wrote the three Pastoral Letters in this order: 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. After ministering for a period on Crete, he had left Titus behind to consolidate the work and organise the churches. Now, Paul was on his travels, and as two of his companions (Artemas and Tychicus) were to visit Crete, he entrusted them with this letter to Titus. In this first study in chapter 1:1-4, Paul gives a five-fold description:-
1. HOW PAUL DESCRIBES HIMSELF
The first word in the letter is ‘Paul’ – the writer’s name, and he describes himself in two ways:-
- ‘A servant of God’. This is characteristic of him – compare Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1. He was ‘a bondman of God’, God’s slave, for God owned him and he owned the Lord as his Master. Paul’s life was totally committed to the Lord; he was not his own – compare Exodus 21:6 with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
- ‘An apostle of Jesus Christ’. Here Paul gives us his official authority for the ministry in which he is engaged. He was ‘a sent one’ – sent by the Lord Himself. Sometimes Paul’s enemies questioned his right to call himself an apostle, but there was no valid ground for such questioning; he was the envoy of Jesus Christ, who had entrusted him with the gospel – see verse 3.
We also, by the grace of God, are servants of God, the sent ones of Jesus Christ. Do we take our place before the Lord as His slaves and recognise that He has sent us into the world to be His representatives?
2. HOW PAUL DESCRIBES CHRISTIANS
Here again he gives us a two-fold description in verse 1:-
- ‘God’s elect’. Paul rejoiced in the doctrine of Election – compare Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10 – a difficult doctrine to understand but very precious to us. It was true of the Christians in the first century that they were ‘God’s elect’; it is true also today of every real Christian. Are you rejoicing in this truth?
- Believers. The expression ‘the faith of God’s elect’ indicates that Christians are believers, men and women of faith. We are saved by believing – look up John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 1:6; but faith, believing, trust in God is also the principle by which we are to live. We are to have faith not only for justification but also for the supply of our needs and for the sufficiency of God’s grace – look up 2 Corinthians 9:8. Is our faith as comprehensive as this?
3. HOW PAUL DESCRIBES THE GOSPEL
Again he gives us a two-fold description in verses 2 and 3:-
- It is the eternal gospel. The good news of the gospel is the offer of eternal life, and verse 2 tells us that God promised this before the beginning of time. God’s gracious and merciful plan of saving men and women was no afterthought; it was part of His eternal purpose – look up John 17:24; 2 Timothy 1:9. It is important to remember that the gospel we love, by which we have been saved and which we preach, is an eternal gospel – look up Revelation 14:6.
- It is a declared gospel. Paul tells us that this great message has been ‘brought to light’ by ‘preaching’; in other words, the gospel is committed to us, but we must preach it. Paul tells us that he had been faithful in this respect. The gospel has been committed to us as a solemn trust and our responsibility is to declare it so that others may be saved – look up 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
Notice that what Paul is saying about the gospel has its application to us as well as to those in Crete to whom Paul first wrote.
>4. HOW PAUL DESCRIBES THE LORD
In verses 2 and 3 he tells us two particular things about the Lord:-
- He cannot lie. This is only one of the things God cannot do – look up and compare John 10:35; 2 Timothy 2:13; James 1:13. Our God never lies – look up 1 Samuel 15:29; Hebrews 6:18. He is altogether free from falsehood. This means that every promise He has ever made – in relation to His children, the church, the Jews, the world and in relation to eternity – He will fulfil.
- He is our Saviour. Here we need to compare 1 Timothy 1:1. The most precious name we give to our Lord is the name ‘Saviour’, which means ‘Deliverer’. Is He your Saviour? From what does He save you? Christ is able and willing to save us from the guilt, pollution and power of sin, from worry, anxiety and fear, and at His coming again He will save us from the very presence of sin – look up and compare 2 Kings 13:5; Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 43:3; 45:21; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; Philippians 3:20; Jude 25.
Are you rejoicing in the God who cannot lie and in the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal and all-sufficient Saviour?
5. HOW PAUL DESCRIBES TITUS
We are not told very much about Titus, although he is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:6,13,14; 8:6,16,23; Galatians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:10. In Titus 1:4 we are told that:-
- Titus was Paul’s child. He refers to him as ‘my son’. Paul was his spiritual father. We do not know where Titus was converted; possibly it was in Iconium, though we cannot be sure. Perhaps Titus did not know the time and place of his conversion; many Christians do not, but they do know they are the Lord’s – see 2 Timothy 1:12.
- Titus was Paul’s genuine child. The words ‘my true son’ quite literally mean ‘my genuine’ child, or ‘my true’ child. Titus was not a nominal Christian as so many are today – look up 2 Timothy 3:5. Is it possible that you are only a nominal Christian?
All this may and should be true of us. Are we really the children of God? – look up John 1:12. Have we been born again? – look up John 3:5.
In concluding this study carefully consider the beautiful and prayerful greeting that Paul sends to his son Titus in the last part of verse 4.