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  • John Lenschow

What Characterizes the Christian Life?

Titus 1:1-4


1. Recognize the context: Literary Context-

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.


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:

The reasons Paul 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.


Here Paul used the term God’s elect to indicate the corporate people of God (Rom. 8:33, Col. 3:12). This corporate sense is rooted in the Old Testament concerning Israel as God's people (Isa. 42:1, 45:4). Here, Paul desired God’s people to be established in their faith, trusting and relying on a faithful God, just as people in the past.


Paul also desired God's people to know the truth. This was especially important in order to resist false teaching present on the island of Crete. Knowledge of the truth was not meant to be abstract or theoretical. Knowledge of God and faith in him was meant to lead to godliness.


In the Greco-Roman world, godliness meant an internal sense of reverence joined with proper actions of worship. Paul appropriated this word into the Christian life. For Paul, his purpose as a servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ was to develop the faith and knowledge of God's people, so they grow in a life of godliness. This life of godliness was to reflect reverence and worship.


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.


To pray:

Today, prayerfully consider what it means to be part of the corporate people of God throughout time. As a Christian, you are part of something so much bigger than yourself. Thank God for that.

Today, prayer consider what it means to live a life of faith and knowledge of the truth.


Today, prayerfully consider what it means to live a life characterized by godliness.

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.

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