“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
Paul identifies himself as a slave of God. This introduction takes the word ‘slave’ in a positive sense, that may seem strange, but to understand this you must consider the power of sin. All people are depraved- slaves to sin. This is the devastating reality of the human situation. (Romans 6:16; Galatians 4:3, 8-9; Titus 3:3; John 8:34)
Yet, God offers to rescue us out of slavery to sin through Jesus Christ. This is something we do not have the power to do. In other words, we are hopeless servants of sin without the Holy Spirit drawing us to faith in Christ. Paul labors to see this happen when he proclaims the gospel. Being a slave to sin brings destruction and death, being rescued by God is a gift of grace.
It is interesting to consider that Paul is a slave of God “for the sake of” the elect. What does this mean?
Paul labors as a servant so that God’s elect may place their faith in Jesus Christ. Many people are uncomfortable with the word “elect.” In my opinion, the doctrine of election is essential to a correct understanding of the gospel, and the central message of scripture. (Matthew 22:14; 24:22,31; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 1:1-5, 2:9; Revelation 17:14)
“The doctrine of election firmly establishes the believers eternal security.” (Griffin) The good news is that our assurance is not based on our own performance. Evan as Christians we have changing feelings, faltering faith, and often lack obedience. If our security was based on our own faculties, we would have no secure hope.
This “faith” happens when they are presented the truth of the gospel message, and God opens their eyes to see it’s beauty. This is Paul’s purpose in life- to proclaim the truth of the gospel so that God’s people will be reconciled to Him through faith.
“Faith” is not wishful thinking, faith has content. So, faith is ultimately not a matter of psychological certainty, but a matter of commitment to the right object- namely, Jesus Christ. Faith is exercised as we commit ourselves and act upon our “knowledge of the truth.”
The “knowledge of the truth” is a technical term for the gospel, “emphasizing the need to understand the content of the preached message.” (Mounce) In other words, Paul labors so that people hear and move towards a fuller understanding of the gospel.
When people grow in their understanding of the gospel and how it applies to every area of their lives, godliness begins to take form in them. Becoming Christ-like is directly tied to growing in your understanding of the gospel. The deeper you go in your understanding of the gospel the more you grasp how the gospel transforms every aspect of your life. This process produces godliness.
“Godliness” is the practical outworking of faith based on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What’s amazing is that this gospel is part of God’s plan from “times eternal.” So our hope rests in God, knowing that God will keep his promise of granting eternal life to those who believe his word. This is what Paul has been entrusted with, proclaiming the truth. God works through the proclamation of the gospel by bringing his elect to faith, and continues to work through this truth to produce godliness in them.