Lesson 14: "In Hope of Eternal Life" (Titus 1:2)
Paul's Letters To Preachers. Welcome to lesson #14. In this lesson, we would like to begin an actual textual study of TITUS. Please turn to the epistle of TITUS, and we'll begin by reading the first four verses, which you might call the salutation. This section is very much like most of Paul's letters, i.e. the way they begin. Let's read! Beginning in Tit. 1:1 and reading down through verse four. Are you ready? It begins:
"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."
Alright, Paul was the writer. He puts his name right up front. Then, those phrases that follow his name describe this man Paul: (1) he was a servant of God, (2) he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, i.e. an appointed one of the Lord Jesus, (3) this is according to the faith, i.e. the common faith, of God's elect. Faith here is used as including the entire doctrine of the Christian religion, that which is believed and that which MUST BE believed. Those that believe it, i.e. those who have this faith are God's elect, God's adopted people, or God's chosen people. Now, it's obvious, included into this thought of faith is the idea of obeying, adhering, following, complying, observing and practicing the entire doctrine, i.e. we must act according to our faith. Thus, you must not take the word "faith" (in Paul's quickie summary statement here at the beginning of this letter) as meaning or implying that repentance and baptism and living a faithful life are not necessary. Because (4), this faith of God's elect is after "the acknowledging of the truth." What truth? The truth "which is after godliness," (end of v.1). Truth includes every aspect of faith...real faith, you see. That faith which is "in hope of eternal life," (beginning of v.2). This eternal life, God promised before the world began. It's not some afterthought. It's part of the plan. How do we know? God promised this! God cannot lie, Paul said. Now, if this promise came from some man, you would have to test it, or evaluate it on the basis of credibility. John said, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether" (whether what John?) whether they be true or false (I-John 4:1). However, this promise, this hope of eternal life came from God who does not lie. Thus, it's not possible for it to be anything but right, correct and accurate, i.e. it's not necessary to go about testing this if it came from God. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. All you have to decide: is it from God? is Jesus Christ God's Son as the N.T. claims or is the whole thing a myth? If it is a myth, then toss it all out! It's the biggest lie that was ever palmed off on man. If it's true...it's true. You can't dip out what you want and leave what you don't like. It's an everything or nothing choice. Either it's true or it's false. You can't sit on the fence. God has set it up in such a way, you are either in there, i.e. in Christ, or you are not. You can't take what you like and reject what you don't like. Jesus said, "he that is not with me is against me." (Matt. 12:30). If you are on the fence, you are not "in Christ" and you are not a Christian and you are not WITH Jesus. He made it very clear! It always amazes me how much Paul (through the Holy Spirit) can say in one or two sentences. The first four verses here in the KJV makes up one sentence. As of now, we've only covered two verses, or half of that first sentence. This is the Paul that is writing this letter. Paul was a servant, he was an apostle, he was made an apostle according to the faith, i.e. the faith of God's elect. That faith which acknowledges and distinguishes truth. That faith, the Christian's faith that is in HOPE of eternal life. That faith, that doctrine, which was promised before the world began. You will recall, I trust, Paul emphasized this point before, many times, it's a restatement of Rom. 16:25, it's a restatement of Eph. 1:4, it's a restatement of Eph. 3:9, it's a restatement of I-Tim. 1:15 and this is not the last time Paul will say it. It's not something new. It's not an afterthought! It is (and it was) God's plan from the very beginning. Now, there has been some changes (v.3). It has not always been known (i.e. manifested, see that word in v.3) as it is now made known. In due times (notice the word "times" is plural, it didn't all happen at once) it came about and was made known by God (through His word) and that by preaching. Including that preaching which was committed to Paul. How was it committed? "According to the commandment of God our Saviour..." What commandment? That commandment that was given Paul back in Acts 9:15, God said: "he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake."
Now, in v.4, Paul finally got down to who he is addressing this letter to, you can see. However, before the apostle even says "to Titus," my son in the faith; the apostle says all this (v.1-3), which shows perspective. You must keep the Christian faith in this perspective, Titus, i.e. this context. So, Paul is saying, in effect, God has communicated with man, if you don't keep the faith, the doctrine of Jesus Christ in its proper perspective, you have skewed it! You have negated it! It is no longer truth. Distorted truth is not truth. Truth ceases to be truth, when it is altered. Do you get it! There is a quality of the Christian religion right here that very few people ever seem to pick up on. It's very critical really. It helps you to establish where the fence is, it establishes parameters as a PhD would say it. I heard just this morning on TV a lady spend about 4 or 5 minutes telling what Easter means. Now, I didn't catch her name and I can't quote her accurately (I'm sure); but, her point was that all religions (all the great world religions was her phrase for it), all agree (she said) in that they all present the same idea, which she illustrated in words like: out of death to resurrection from the dead, out of pain and suffering to healing, out of hurt and depression to happiness and escapement, from the lesser to the greater (she kept emphasizing), from an egg to a chicken.. .and on and on. Now, let me tell you just a minute what she was doing. It's really called Humanism. If it feels good, do it! People are the greatest thing there is! People are their own god, with a little "g." Take a little from here, take a little from there, whip it together as you like it. The Bible is just a bunch of ideas in her view, you can whip them together any way you like, any way that strikes your fancy, anything that will stimulate you. The Bible is just one more batch of ideas, no different than any other of the world religions, they're all the same, they all fit in the same drawer, one is just as good as the next. Take your choice! My friends, that is about as far from Paul's concept, Paul's preaching, Paul's preface to Titus, as you can get. It's about as far as you can get. This thinking has (and is) taking over the thinking of this present world, this present age. It's all around you. I would be surprised, if it hasn't penetrated the block in which you live. If you can't find it, the next two or three doors down from where you live, I'll be surprised. It is as contagious as the plague. AND, it's not new. Why do you think Paul wrote this to Titus? Please, take just a few minutes and go back over what Paul said to Titus (and us) in these first three verses and think about it! It can give you real Bible perspective. God has communicated with man. God sent his Son, Jesus the Christ, to give us doctrine (John 7:17), to establish the articles of our faith, to show us truth, to guide us to that which is from God, the Lord's will, i.e. the formula for being saved. There is no pick and choose. I'm sorry, that I can't tickle your brain cells with what you might want me to say; but, as someone has already said, I'm just the mailman, don't get mad at me! I didn't write this letter. You are no robot! You can accept it, or you can reject it! It's your choice! But, there are consequences.. .and don't you ever forget it! "In hope of eternal life," is the way Paul said it (beginning of v.2). Like I said, take the time to understand it, thoroughly understand it, what Paul is saying.
O.K., Paul (v.1), "to Titus" (v.4). Now, who was Titus? Paul said, "mine own son after the common faith..." I mentioned this verse before, I trust you remember in our introduction. This is usually interpreted to mean that Paul taught and baptized Titus. When you read it with the right spirit, i.e. soaking up its personal communication value, it's obvious this is right, Paul taught and baptized Titus, I believe. This Greek young man, Paul's convert became a preacher and fellow helper (II-Cor. 8:23). The words, "common faith" in Paul's statement "my own son after the common faith," does not lower the value of faith by describing it as "common." The idea is that the faith was/is available to all, i.e. it is common and can be had in common with all that believe in God. The gospel is for all. Now, why did Paul emphasize to Titus that he (i.e. Paul) was an apostle (up in v.1)? There's no evidence Titus questioned that. Titus knew Paul was an apostle! However, this helps (me at least) to verify that even though this letter was addressed to Titus it was more than a personal document to help this young preacher personally remember and to teach the things discussed in this letter. The document was designed to be read by others besides Titus. Perhaps the apostle was thinking of church members in Crete, when he wrote this, I don't know. Possibly lending credibility to Titus' teaching these things. However, the Holy Spirit working through Paul has extended this even to the bring it down to you and me as well. For us to understand it as we should, then we must realize how the letter was written by the apostle. In going to the trouble of doing this, we are made to see and receive these things with better contextual conception. It helps us to get the message as God would have us understand it; for example, you might notice no titles are used. Paul didn't say father Titus, doctor Titus, or reverend Titus. The first four verses here are a modified way of our saying, DEAR SIR. It's my understanding that it was customary for the Greeks to start a letter by giving the name of the person writing the letter; whereas, we have developed the custom of putting our name at the end of the letter. Paul was inspired, he was an ambassador for Christ (Eph. 6:20). We mentioned this in other of Paul's letters. Since Paul was an ambassador, he could speak in behalf of his sovereign, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ. In that capacity, Paul says to Titus (v.4), "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour." You see, this message is from God conveyed through the Holy Spirit. "Grace, mercy, and peace..." I'll let you analyze these words; but, there's a lot said in those words.
Alright, that gets us through the salutation along with Paul's Greek style preface, designed to keep the entire book in proper contest. In this first chapter, Paul essentially covers two more things: first, (#1), is the qualifications of elders. (#2), Paul begins a discussion of the false teachers and the results of their false doctrines down in v.10. Let's read the section on elder qualifications. This begins in v.5-9, that's five verses. Let's read those five verses (beginning in Titus 1:5-9). Are you ready?
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
O.K., I hate to do this to you; but, we won't have time enough to discuss this section in this lesson. However, by our reading it here, it will leave us more time , in the next lesson for discussing elder qualifications, that we also covered (you will remember) back in I-Tim. ch. three. In the minute or two we have left, take a look at v.5 and notice the words Paul said: "for this cause left I thee in Crete," i.e. Titus, this is why you're there! Don't forget why you are there. This also tells us why Paul was writing. Now, there was actually more than one reason why Paul left Titus in Crete; however, here in v.5, the apostle began to cover the first reason, "that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city." What does that mean? Well, when Paul left Crete there were still spiritual deficiencies in the Cretan churches. Titus was left in that Island to do whatever he could in correcting these spiritual needs. Some cities or churches did not have elders or bishops. We talked about these congregational overseers before when we covered I-Tim. ch. 3, I trust you remember. Elders and bishops are the same thing, we said. And, there are still other N.T. names applied to these same men, pastors, shepherds, overseers and presbyters. We talked about these six designations (I-Tim. ch. 3). Obviously, some congregations in Crete still did not have overseers appointed. Paul uses the word: "ordained." Vine in his dictionary says the Greek word here translated "ordain" means: to cause to stand. Another way of saying a formal appointment, I think. You might notice (also) that Titus was to do this. Who was Titus? He was an evangelist, a preacher, or a minister. Notice that these congregational overseers were to be appointed in every city. There has been much discussion in recent years as to whether there is to be one eldership (only one eldership) in each city or does this mean an eldership in each congregation? In large cities, it is not unusual to find several congregations and sometimes even in small towns we find that two or three congregations exist there. Those who believe that only one eldership should exist in any one town point to Tit. 1:5, that Paul said: "ordain elders in every city." However, those who oppose that view point out (back in Acts 14:22), with reference to Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, Luke said: "they...ordained them elders in every church." Well, our time is up, and I don't want to leave you hanging. So, I'll tell you: the latter view, i.e. elders in every congregation (I believe) is the right view. We'll pick up here in our next lesson (lesson # 15). Until then, have a good day.