Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness –
We saw last time that Paul identifies himself as both a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ; however, he doesn’t end his letter’s introduction with just this statement. After identifying himself with God the Father and Jesus Christ, he also explains the out-flowing purpose of his association with them.
Paul is a servant…for the faith of God’s elect and an apostle…for…the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. These two dynamics – strengthening the faith of believers and making unbelievers aware of the truth of Christ – are Paul’s driving mission in life.
If any of us gave that kind of Mission Statement for our lives, we would likely be applauded by those in the church and the statement wouldn’t be questioned further. However, Paul does not stop there. Instead, he explains where the faith and knowledge find their source:
Titus 1:2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time
“Hope” is a term that is thrown around a lot; however, in this context it’s not flippant as in “Gee, I hope it doesn’t rain.” Rather this hope is a confident expectation of future events. When I placed my hope in my wife’s pledge “until death do us part”, I confidently expect that she will fulfill her promise. This kind of hope can be either strong or weak…because it doesn’t depend on the person who is hoping; instead it depends on the person that is being hoped in. We’ve all seen marriages where vows are broken and the hope for a life-long relationship was unfulfilled. Paul’s hope of eternal life is sourced in God’s ancient promise of a Messiah, that a Redeemer would one day come to the earth.
Curiously though, Paul adds a qualifier to his explanation of hope, namely that God is someone who does not lie. While it might seem a little odd to us for him to say that, a quick look at the Cretan culture reveals Paul’s purpose in emphasizing this character trait of God.
This description of God is in direct contrast to both the deserved reputation of Cretans and the Greek/Cretan gods. If you remember any of your Greek mythology, the most powerful gods were better tricksters and liars than the lesser gods. The Greek gods routinely deceived the Greek people and each other – often on a whim or out of some corrupt desire. Paul is stating from the outset that the one true God can be trusted, for he always speaks and acts in perfect truth.
We’ve made it to the foundational basis for Paul’s identity, his motivation, and his actions – he takes God at his word, that in contrast to the world, God is trustworthy. And because of this trust, Paul was able to partner with God in incredible ways.
How is our partnership with God? Do we find the basis for our identity, motivation, and actions in him? If not, is it because we are not fully taking God at his word?