A Slave of God

“Paul, a slave of God, and Apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of Truth which is according to godliness, with the hope of eternal life which was promised by God who never lies from the ancient times,”

(Titus 1:1-2)

Titus is one of those nice, neat, little compact books of the Bible that contains a great deal of richness, though it is often eclipsed by Paul’s other letters. Titus is mentioned in 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 2 Timothy as one who worked alongside of Paul and, on occasion, traveled with him even from the early days when Paul went down to Jerusalem to meet the Apostles (Galatians 2:1-3). He spent time in Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:6), Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10), and Crete (Titus 1:5). He clearly has a pastor’s heart (2 Corinthians 8:16) and Paul sees him as a fellow servant in the church (2 Corinthians 8:23).

In Crete, Titus’ first concern was the establishment of Elders to oversee the churches there (Titus 1:5) and the heart of this letter is not only to encourage Titus in this endeavor, but to remind him (and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, us too!) of the significance and role of elders in a healthy church, thus this book is of great value to those in church leadership, but also to those who will be involved in electing church leaders. The first four verses of Titus constitute one sentence in the Greek, so we will take it apart little by little and explore what it is that Paul communicates to his friend, Titus.

To begin with, Paul introduces himself as a slave. Some of our modern translations will soften the words somewhat and translate this as “servant,” but that is not what the text states. A  δούλος (doulos) is someone who is a slave or bond-servant, whose life is bound to that of his master. Of course, Paul uses this term regularly to speak of himself — he calls himself a slave of Christ (Romans 1:1), a slave to obedience (Romans 6:16),  a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18), and a slave to God (Titus 1:1), though the most common designation is that of being a slave to Christ. One of the more profound statements to this end can be found in Romans 14:18, where Paul writes:

“For the one who is enslaved to Christ is pleasing to God and genuine to man.”

Need we say any more?

If we are to be faithful to God and useful to men it must begin with our submission to God’s will as a slave submits his will to his master. If we are unwilling to do that first thing, we will be useless and discarded under God’s judgment. Why is it that people pursue the accolades of men when it is the glory of God that is lasting?

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