Belonging to God and Representing Him
1. Recognize the context: Literary Context-
This is one of Paul's more extended introductions as verses 1-4 form one long sentence in the Greek text. Paul identified himself as the author and Titus as the recipient (v. 4). Then, he provided his usual greeting by extending grace and peace. This salutation was similar to a typical Greco-Roman letter. However, Paul alters the familiar by creating a "Christianized" greeting infused with a new understanding based on a life in Christ.
2. Read the Scripture: Titus 1:1-4
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, 4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Paul begins this letter by identifying himself as both a servant and an apostle.
As a servant of God, Paul belonged to him. This reciprocal relationship of being God’s servant has a rich history throughout the Old Testament.
Old Testament examples:
· Moses was considered a servant of the LORD (Deut. 34:5).
· Joshua was also identified by this phrase (Josh. 24:29).
· David referred to himself as God’s servant (1 Sam 23:10–11), and this is found in the introduction of Psalm 18 and 36.
· Elijah (1 Kings 18:36) and other prophets were called servants of God (Ezek 38:17, Zech 1:6).
· Isaiah 53 speaks of the “Suffering Servant.”
In the New Testament:
· Jesus takes up this theme from Isaiah 53, and he identified himself as a servant committed to giving his life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).
· Jesus called for his followers to be servants (Matt 20:27).
· Paul identified himself as God’s servant here and in Romans (1:1) and Philippians (1:1).
· Peter (2 Pet 1:1), James (Jas 1:1), and Jude (Jude 1) also identified themselves as servants of God in each of their letters.
Paul was also an apostle. He was sent by Christ (Acts 9:15) as his messenger and representative. Therefore, he had authority in this position.
The reasons he functioned as both a servant and an apostle were to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.
Before we consider these reasons, for today, we will remain on the words servant and apostle. As we see above, Jesus called for his disciples, as those who belong to God, to serve one another.
But what about the word apostle? Other than one reference to Jesus as an apostle in Hebrews (Heb. 3:1), this word seems to be reserved for Jesus’ 12 disciples (Luke 22:14) and Paul. In this way, it became a technical term for the initial leaders of the church.
So, what about us today? As believers today, we are the result of the Apostles' work, going forth to establish the church. Over the centuries, the message has been passed on by faithful men and women who had to share the good news of Jesus Christ. While we are not "Apostles" in this sense, we are part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) called to make disciples. Through his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul also identified believers as ambassadors, those who represent Christ, to the Body of Christ, and the world.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully consider what it means to be a servant of God. Remember you belong to him. Servanthood implies a mutual relationship. Prayerfully consider this relationship.
Today, prayer consider the concept of being God’s messenger and ambassador. Prayerfully consider the privilege and responsibility of representing him here in our world today.
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers. To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study the verses above.