“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,” (Titus 1:1 (ESV)
Whenever anyone wrote an epistle (letter) in the ancient world, they immediately identified who was writing. In the case of The Epistle to Titus, the author was Paul. As was noted in the introduction to this study, Titus probably served with Paul on both the second and third missionary journeys. Titus, like Timothy (2 Tim. 1:2), was a beloved disciple (Titus 1:4) and fellow worker in the gospel (2 Cor. 8:23).
It should be noted how Paul introduced himself in this letter. He wrote that he was a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Both of these descriptions are significant.
What is a servant of God? A servant (δοῦλος; doulos) meant a slave. An individual who was subservient to his master (Matt. 8:9; Mark 10:44; John 8:34; 15:15; Rom. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:21; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:5; 1 Tim. 6:1; Phm. 16). While servant is a less offensive term, slave is a more accurate meaning.
“Hence we have a service which is not a matter of choice for the one who renders it, which he has to perform whether he likes or not, because he is subject as a slave to an alien will; to the will of his owner. Oἰκέτης (Oiketes) is almost exactly synonymous, but in δοῦλος the stress is rather on the slave’s dependence on his lord, while οἰκέτης emphasizes the position of the slave in relation to the world outside and in human society,” states the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
Paul’s servanthood was solely to God the Father. It was an exclusive slavery. Paul was obligated to solely serve the One, True God; the creator and sustainer of the universe and the author of salvation (Eph. 1:3-6).
“Paul pictures himself as the most menial slave of NT times (see notes on 2:9; 1 Cor. 4:1–2), indicating his complete and willing servitude to the Lord, by whom all believers have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20; cf. 1 Pet. 1:18–19). This is the only time Paul referred to himself as a “servant of God” (cf. Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 1:1). He was placing himself alongside OT men of God (cf. Rev. 15:3),” writes Dr. John MacArthur.
What was an apostle? An apostle (ἀπόστολος; apostolos) was a special messenger. The title referred to a special messenger of Jesus Christ. It also meant a restricted group, the exact number variously reckoned (Matt. 10:2; Acts 1:2, 26; Acts 14:14; 1 Cor. 12:28, 29). In other words, an apostle was an envoy, or a sent one (John 13:16; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25).
“The word apostle has the basic meaning of messenger or lit., “sent one” and, though often used of royal emissaries who ministered with the extended authority of their sovereign, Paul’s exalted position as “an apostle” also was an extension of his service to “God,” which came with great authority, responsibility, and sacrifice,” explains Dr. MacArthur.
Paul was a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a slave and a messenger solely belonging to the One True God. The emphasis is on God’s authority.
Each believer in Christ is a servant and a sent one in some form or fashion. Let us be faithful in what God has called us to do to glorify Him. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!
The His Word Today Weekly Podcast begins Monday, September 5 featuring expository messages from the Epistle to the Ephesians.