Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ
Paul identifies himself as a servant of God, which we looked at yesterday, but he goes further and also identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. What is an apostle?
The definition is a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. The apostles were sent forth to spread the gospel. This is different than a disciple, which is defined as a learner, pupil. In the Gospels, the twelve were called disciples first. They were learning with Jesus as their teacher.
Here is something that is very fascinating to me. Pull out your KJV concordances (I am using the online version at BlueLetterBible.org) and check this out. The word disciple is found only in the Gospels and in Acts. The word apostle is found throughout the New Testament. It would seem then, that we are be disciples and learn (we simply need to learn the basics of what the gospel is before we can share it), but it is far more important to be apostles and go out to spread the gospel.
The verse that comes to mind that combines these two is called the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
In this verse Jesus gives them a command and instantly makes them apostles by sending them out to make people into students or disciples of Jesus. Once a person becomes a believer and learns about Jesus, they also then become apostles as they share and spread the gospel.
Okay, I think we now know how Paul identifies himself. Next he tells us what his purpose is.
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
Paul states that his purpose is to do two things:
1. to further the faith of God's elect
2. to further their knowledge of the truth
The first purpose is to increase the faith of Christians. Here is another verse that uses the same Greek word for elect, which also means chosen.
1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
How precious it is to be chosen by God. And what do we do because we are chosen? We declare...we make it known by praising and proclaiming and celebrating. It is so glorious to be chosen that we become apostles and praise him by sharing his gospel.
Paul's second purpose is to increase knowledge of the truth. Here is another verse that uses the same Greek word for truth.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
Wow! That is powerful, we have access to "all truth" through the Holy Spirit at work in us. Are we getting in the way of the Holy Spirit guiding us? Ouch, I stepped on my own toes there!
What do we receive when we have knowledge of the truth? Well, as we finally get to the end of the first verse of Titus we find out...
Titus 1:1 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
We receive godliness. As I searched for the answer to "what is godliness" I came across a great article entitled "What is Godliness?" Pretty sure we will find the answer ;-) and a clue is already found in the subtitle Something More Than Christian Character. Reading the article I found one paragraph that really explains the meaning of godliness.
"The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys the idea of it, a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to him. This personal attitude toward God is what we call devotion to God."Did you think we were going to step into the faith/works debate? Me either, but whammo, all of a sudden here it is, so beautifully explained.
We are saved by faith, not by works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
But grow with me... as our faith and knowledge of the truth increases, our devotion to God also increases which results in our desire to please him through our actions or our works - in other words, godliness.
James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.