Paul’s Calling, Titus 1:1-3

Paul wrote this epistle to Titus.  According to the postscript to this epistle, Titus was ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians.  He was an uncircumcised Greek, Gal 2:3.  Titus was a very close companion of Paul.  Paul called him “mine own son after the common faith,” Titus 1:4.  Paul said of him that he was “my partner and fellowhelper,” 2 Cor 8:23.  The second epistle to the Corinthians was written by Titus, according to the postscript to that epistle.  Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when Paul “communicated unto them that gospel which (he preached) among the Gentiles,” Gal 2:1-2.  They were obviously very close.

In the beginning of this epistle, Paul mentioned three particulars of his calling.  He was a servant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, and a preacher of God’s words.  We’re going to discuss these three elements of his call.  Paul was:

A servant of God – Titus 1:1 – This is the only time that Paul referred to himself as “a servant of God.”  The phrase “a servant of God” appears 7 times in the Bible.  In all but two cases, it is a reference to Moses, the servant of God [1 Chr 6:49; 2 Chr 24:9; Neh 10:29; Dan 9:11; and Rev 15:3]. James 1:1 says, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  We are reminded of Jn 13:16, where Jesus said, “The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”  Paul is not writing to Titus as his boss, but rather as the servant of God.

An apostle of Jesus Christ – Titus 1:1 – Paul was an apostle:

  • Called to be an apostle, Rom 1:1 
  • Through the will of God, 1 Cor 1:1 
  • Not of men, neither by man, Gal 1:1 
  • By the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Tim 1:1

In Acts 9:26, the disciples in Jerusalem “were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.”  But by Acts 14:4, he and Barnabas were “apostles,” see Acts 14:14.  In Rom 1:5 he received apostleship “for obedience to the faith among all nations.”  He was, as he wrote in Rom 11:13, “the apostle of the Gentiles.”  In 1 Cor 15:9 he admitted that he was “not meet to be called an apostle, because (he) persecuted the church of God.”  Yet, in 2 Cor 12:12 he, nevertheless, had “the signs of an apostle.” 

In the second half of verse 1, Bible translators and scholars have a terrible time understanding what Paul wrote.  He wrote, “according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.”  Notice how many different ways some of the modern translations retranslated this:

  • NIV – to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness–
  • New Living Translation – to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
  • ESV – for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,
  • NASV – for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
  • CEV – I encourage God’s own people to have more faith and to understand the truth about religion.

There is so much confusion among the translators because they refuse to believe that God preserved his words in English and that the King James Bible is true because it is the word of God.  These other translations missed what Paul was saying, completely.

If you will simply believe what Paul wrote, check some cross references and definitions, and trust the Holy Spirit to teach you, you will understand the verse.

According to the faith of God’s elect – “according to” is defined as “in accordance with”  which is a way that agrees with or follows.  In other words Paul’s apostleship was not something contrary to the faith of God’s elect but was in agreement with it.  God’s elect, as we studied in Romans 9, are not people chosen before the foundation of the world to be saved.  They are those who are saved by the faith of Christ, Rom 9:30-33.  What Paul wrote has nothing to do with people being predestined to salvation.

In 2 Pet 1:1, Peter wrote that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  “Like precious faith” is  “the faith of God’s elect.”  In Titus 1:4, Paul called it “the common faith.”  You find many references to “the faith” in the New Testament.  In Acts 6:7 priests were obedient to the faith.  In Acts 16:5 churches were established in the faith.  In Gal 2:20 it is the faith of the Son of God.  In Gal 3:23, they were “shut up unto the faith which should be afterwards revealed.”  In 2 Tim 4:7, Paul wrote, “I have kept the faith.”  In Jude 3 we are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

In 2 Cor 11:13 Paul wrote that there were false apostles, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  He was obviously not one of those.  Their apostleship was not according to the faith of God’s elect.

According to… the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness – here “after” means “according to.”  Paul made it clear that the truth he taught was “after godliness” and not after unrighteousness or after men.  In Rom 1:18 the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”  See the difference?  In 1 Tim 4:7 Paul instructed Timothy to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”  There is indeed a difference between what fables and unrighteous men profess and what Paul taught.  In 1 Tim 6:3 some men “teach otherwise, and consent not… to the doctrine which is according to godliness.”  These are “men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,” 1 Tim 6:5.

In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began – Titus 1:2 – Before the world began, God knew that he would give men eternal life.  The plan for Jesus Christ to be slain was in place “from the foundation of the world,” Rev 13:8.  God chose, before the foundation of the world, that all who are in Christ “should be holy and without blame before him in love,” Eph 1:4.  God did not lie when he promised us eternal life through his Son, Jn 3:16-18; Jn 3:36; 1 Jn 3:10-13.  And this eternal life is available to “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord,” Rom 10:13.

A preacher of God’s word – Titus 1:3 – God manifests his word through preaching, Rom 10:13-14.  Preaching the word was “committed unto (Paul) according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”  In Rom 1:1 Paul wrote that he was separated unto the gospel of God.  In 2 Tim 1:11 he said, “I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”  See also 1 Tim 2:7.  Regardless what others might have thought about Paul’s preaching, he was in the will of God, 1 Cor 9:16-17.

Conclusion: Paul’s introduction in this epistle firmly establishes his “credentials” as the man God chose to do this work and write these words.  His words are authoritative because they came from God through him to Titus.  Thus, we are not to change them or debate them.  We are to simply follow what he said.