We are not only servants of our Lord, but we are also secure in the Lord. Paul understood that radical service for the Lord Jesus Christ must be grounded in a security in Christ that sets us free to serve Him with an otherworldly abandonment that knows, no matter what: I am His! In verses 2-3, Paul places before us two avenues of a sure and certain security. One is God's witness; the other is God's Word.
Paul here addresses one of the great promises of Scripture, placing all its weight on the character of God. Note the wonderful "chain reaction"! The saving faith of those who belong to God leads to a knowledge of the truth, which will lead to godliness, all of which rests on the hope of eternal life in a God who cannot lie! What a promise! What a hope!
Hope is a confident certainty and expectation of something that is not yet ours but will be. Eternal life is the very life of God. It is both a229 quantity of life (forever) and a quality of life ("Christ in you, the hope of glory," Col 1:27). This "hope of eternal life" is founded upon the character and integrity of the God "who cannot lie" (cf. 1 Sam 15:29; Heb 6:18). In stark contrast is Satan, who "is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44), as well as the Cretans, who are described as being "always liars" (v. 12). Paul points out that this hope of eternal life was "promised before time began." The plan of salvation, the promise of eternal life, looks both ways down "God's highway of grace"; it runs into eternity past and it lasts into eternity future (Hughes and Chapell, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 277).
Some theologians see in verse 2 an allusion to what is called "the covenant of redemption" whereby the Father showed His love for His Son by promising Him a redeemed people who would love, serve, and glorify Him forever (cf. John 6:37, 40; 17:23-24, 26). However, to complete the picture we must add that the Son showed His love for the Father by becoming the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (1 Pet 1:19-20) and that the entire plan of redemption was an eternal promise made to sinful humanity as a demonstration of God's love for us. Our salvation is no afterthought with God. He planned it down to the last detail a long time ago. Our security and confidence in the Lord rest not only in His witness; they also rest on His word.
The eternal promise of eternal life entered time and space at "just the right time" (NLT). The HCSB says "in His own time"; the NIV says "at his appointed season"; Peterson in The Message paraphrases: "When the time was ripe, he went public with his truth." Now the "chain reaction" of God's wonderful plan adds another crucial link.
The eternal promise of eternal life from the God who cannot lie stepped into history as the Word of God made known through preaching, which message had been entrusted to Paul (and now us) by the commandment of God our Savior (cf. Titus 2:10; 3:4).
Amazingly, God has placed His eternal plan of salvation in the hands of people like you and me. We as heralds of the gospel are recipients of a divine trust, a sacred treasure. The message we preach is not our word; it is His Word. This is our commitment. This is His commandment. This is our calling. We preach His Word and no other word. We preach His gospel and not another gospel. Certainly some may preach the gospel better, but no one will preach a better gospel.230
We Are Separated unto the Lord
Paul now introduces us to the recipient of this letter, a man named Titus. Titus is mentioned 13 times in the New Testament (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13, 14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18 [2 times]; Gal 2:1, 3; 2 Tim 4:10). He was a Greek, a non-Jewish convert who became something of a "test case" for the gospel and the fact that one does not need to become a Jew, evidenced by circumcision, to be saved. Titus had a special relationship to the troubled church at Corinth, and his work there and here on the difficult island of Crete revealed Paul's confidence in him. Playfully, we can say he was Paul's "hit man," his "Green Beret," his "spiritual Navy Seal" who could go into the hard places and set things in order, get things fixed, make things right.
Paul again provides a word of encouragement concerning our security in Christ and the fountain of blessings from which we drink as we draw strength for service.
Titus was a "true son in our common faith." Paul used this same expression "true son" for Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:2. It suggests that Paul was their spiritual father, having led both to faith in Christ. The phrase "common faith" may refer to the same saving faith both Paul and Titus had experienced. More likely it refers to "the faith," the body of Christian truth, "that was delivered to the saints once for all" (Jude 3).
Titus was to preach the same message Paul preached. It is the faith that was to be taught in the first century, and it remains the faith that is to be taught in the twenty-first century. Like Titus we share in this common faith and have been entrusted to proclaim it faithfully. While methods may change, the message always remains the same. The "sound teaching" (v. 9) necessary to build a vibrant, dynamic, and genuine New Testament church is rooted and grounded in this common faith. There is no room for wavering or compromise on this.
Many beautiful metaphors and images describe the relationship of God to His people. We are His temple, a building, a body, His bride. We are also family, and that was Paul's focus as he brought his greeting to an end.231
When we receive Jesus as Savior we also receive God as Father. As "God our Savior" in verse 3, the Lord (deity) Jesus (humanity) Christ (God's anointed) is "our Savior" in verse 4. The title Savior appears 12 times in the New Testament, six of those times in Titus. The question of who is Savior must have been an issue on the island of Crete. Three times it is applied to God (1:3; 2:10; 3:4), and three times it is applied to Jesus (1:4; 2:13; 3:6). The equality of essence as God and yet their distinction in person is plainly and clearly revealed.
Because we are family, we are loved by our Father and our Savior. Flowing from that love are the three Christian blessings of grace, mercy, and peace. "Grace" is unmerited favor; it is what gets us into the family. "Mercy" is unlimited compassion; we could say it is what keeps us in the family. "Peace" is unsurpassing wholeness; it is what we enjoy once we're in the family. All of this and more is ours because we share a common faith and we are a part of God's family.
Grace inspires godliness. Salvation inspires service. Those who understand that God's love for them and His desire for their salvation originates in eternity past and continues through eternity future will be compelled to love Him and serve Him. They will do so not out of obligation but out of gratitude, "gospel gratitude." A man who is captured by the love of his wife will return that love not because he has to but because he wants to. A person captured by the love of Jesus will love Him in return, not because he has to but because he wants to. He saved you that you might serve Him. He saved you that you might enjoy Him.