Monday, February 7, 2011

A Familiar Yet Unusual Greeting Pt. 1 - Titus 1:1-4

For every Pauline epistle, a simple same old greeting bursts onto the forefront of the scene.  Is this the case with Titus?  Does the book of Titus cooperate with the strange familiarity of a Pauline greeting?  Yes, but with a different twist.  Let's dive headfirst into the verse and see what it consists of.  Titus 1:1 says, '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."  Now, I do not want to start receiving hate mail.  I did not write the Bible.  Why is God's elect, (scary word - predestination) so boldly written in the first verse of Titus?  To be honest with you, I do not know. We will get to that in my next post. :) However, in this post, I am going to shed light on the first 11 words, which are as quoted, "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.".    

Now, the first word clearly shows us who authored this book.  We know God is the only influence behind all of Scripture, but Paul wrote it with his own pen (if you are ever concerned with the authenticity of Scripture, read 2 Peter 1:19-21.  Your fears will vanish :).  In verse 4, it tells us that Paul is writing the letter to Titus (Titus 1:4).  We will get there soon enough, but what is most interesting about these first 11 words is the word "servant".  Paul is a servant of God.  The Greek, most of you almost already know the significance of the Greek word servant, translates "servant" as doulos.  This one word carries an entire sermon in itself.  It carries the vast implications of being a "slave" to God, a bond-servant.  A bond-servant wholly devoted to the King of kings.  Romans 6:16 sheds further light on this word, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?"  You are either a slave of God (to righteousness) or a slave to sin.

Let's look deeper into Scripture.  1 Corinthians 7:22-24 says, "For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord.  Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.  So brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain in God."  So, if you are called as a slave of Christ, you are a freed man or woman.  Slavery, back in the days of the Romans, was much different than the slavery we are used to in regards to typical American nineteenth century slavery.  Slaves, in the Roman days, were given much more freedom.  In my ESV Study Bible, it says this, "Slaves generally were permitted to work for pay and to save enough to buy their freedom..... The released slave, once freed, was officially designated a 'freedman' and frequently continued to work for his former master." (1)   Now, the astounding mega fact about being a slave to Christ is that in 1 Corinthians 7:23 it says that we have been bought with a price.  We have been bought with a high price.

The price tag requires a perfect blood sacrifice.  In this state, we are chained to the ground held by the death grip of the enemy himself.  We are filing off the slave ships about to be sold.  As the auction begins, a marred figure beaten to a pulp comes up to you and quickly relays to the auctioneer that he wants you.  The man buys you, turns the corner, and hugs you with his bloody, torn up body.  He then says, "I love you" and instantly your chains fall off.  What is your response?  What is your reaction to the man who bought you?  You would want to serve this man for the rest of your life, right.  He bought you.  You had no right to even be freed at all, but He gave up His right to life in order to free you.  

Brothers and sisters, the reality is Christ has freed us from enslavement to sin.  We were once enslaved to the utter repugnance of sin itself.  But, we are now freed slaves of "God" under His direct authority.  He bought us, and now we serve Him faithfully through the act of obedience leading to sanctification.  Do we serve Him as robots?  No, of course not, which leads us onto the word "apostle".  Paul is a servant, yet He is an apostle.  An apostle of Jesus Christ was a title directly given as authoritative in order for Paul to emphasize that he has divine authority.  Divine authority has been given to him in order to carry out what is needed.  Since we are not apostles, are we left in the dust without divine authority?  Again, no, we are not.  Have you ever heard of the gifts of the Spirit?  Each person is apportioned with a gift (1 Corinthians 12:11).  This gift is to be used in order to build up the body of Christ, and it is the gift given to you by God to use authoritatively when called upon.  Though throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14, God shows you when, how, when, why, and where you are supposed to use your particular gift, but the main basis of having authority through Christ with your gift still stands firm.  

Next time, we will dig further into verse 1, which will evidently lead into the next two verses.  

Sola Deo Gloria!!!!!          

1- ESV Study Bible Footnote for 1 Corinthians 7:21 verse, pg. 2201.      

No comments: