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by Peter Pett
Paul’s letter to Titus is very much one of giving instructions concerning the appointment of church officials, and directing Titus as to what requirements he should lay on the church members, but its importance is increased for the individual in that intermingled with these are reminders of the gracious working of God in Titus 1:2-3; Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-7, and that it begins and ends with the promise of the guaranteed hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7).
Titus was an ‘elder statesman’ of the Gospel along with Paul. He was a Gentile, and was present (Galatians 2:3) at the ‘council’ of Jerusalem (Acts 15:0) where he became a debating point as to whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised. He was sent by Paul to Corinth to sort out the church there when Paul knew that he himself would be unwelcome, a mission he successfully accomplished. He had been left in Crete by Paul in order to watch over and assist for a time the new church in Crete, with its many churches in its many cities, hence this letter. Later he would be sent by Paul to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10).
The formality of the introduction conforms with the high status of the person to whom he is writing. Titus too, like Paul, and unlike young Timothy, was an ‘elder statesman’. Paul always observed the niceties, ‘honour to whom honour is due’. And he wants Titus to recognise that what may seem more mundane instructions are to be seen against the background of God’s saving activity.
a Paul, a bondservant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,
b According to the faith of God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness (vv. 1).
c In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal (vv. 2).
c But in his own seasons manifested his word in the message, wherewith I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour (vv. 3).
b To Titus, my true child after a common faith (vv. 4a).
a Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour (vv. 4b).
Note that in ‘a’ Paul serves God and Jesus Christ, and in the parallel he asks for grace and peace from God and Christ Jesus. In ‘b’ he refers to the faith of all God’s elect which includes the knowledge of the truth, and in the parallel he calls Titus his true child after the common faith. In ‘c’ he refers to God’s promise of eternal life promised before times eternal, and in the parallel he refers to His manifestation of His word, in accordance with His command.
We should note here also how ‘God our Saviour’ in verse 3 becomes ‘Christ Jesus our Saviour’ in verse 4. This accords with the parallel of God and Jesus Christ in verse 1 and confirms that Paul puts God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on equal status.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18