Titus 1:1-4 – Opening Greetings

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POSTED 11 FEBRUARY, 2018

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume II

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Yeshua the Messiah, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, to Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua our Savior.”

Paul’s letter to Titus includes some significant ascriptions to both God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah, which bear importance on evaluating whether the Apostle considered Yeshua to be a supernatural but created agent of God, or genuinely integrated into the Divine Identity.[1] Paul introduces his letter to Titus with the statement, “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Messiah Yeshua, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness” (Titus 1:1, PME). Paul labels himself as doulos Theou, apostolos de Iēsou Christo, as his service and apostleship involve the activity of both the Father and the Son. Paul’s ministry is one which activity declares “the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:2, NRSV).

Such a hope is further described by Paul as being something how “in His own time He made His message known, through a proclamation with which I was entrusted, by the command of God our Savior” (Titus 1:3, TLV). The kairois idiois or “appointed season” (TNIV) is also used in 1 Timothy 6:15 to describe the future arrival of Yeshua the Messiah at His Second Coming, although in Titus 1:3 it is employed to detail the manifestation of the good news and the proclamation of it via servants like Paul. The manifestation of such good news occurred at a specific time or right time, not just some time in general (Grk. chronos). While Paul has stated that Abraham had the good news proclaimed to him (Galatians 3:8), no one can argue against how it is only with the arrival of Yeshua onto the scene via His sacrifice and resurrection that the gospel message can now be fully understood in all (or at least most) of its respects (Romans 16:25-26; Colossians 1:25-26).

There are some significant questions posed in the opening statements of Paul’s letter to Titus, in Titus 1:3b-4:

“[B]y the command of God our Savior. To Titus, a true child of our common faith: Grace and shalom from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua, our Savior!” (TLV).

In Titus 1:3 a reference is made to tou sōtēros hēmōn Theou or “God our Savior,” and in Titus 1:4 a reference is made to Christou Iēsou tou sōtēros hēmōn or “Messiah Yeshua our Savior.” God, meaning of course the Father, is referred to as Savior (Grk. sōtēr) in Titus 1:3 and elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 2:10; 3:4), and Yeshua the Messiah is also referred to as Savior in Titus 1:4 and elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles (2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 2:13; 3:6). Seeing this, it is very difficult to argue that Yeshua being “Savior” is just akin to His being the Father’s agent of salvation, and with the Messiah being a largely human figure or even a highly ranked supernatural figure. In Isaiah 45:21 we see that God alone is Savior and there is no other: “there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me.”

Marshall & Towner observe how “Behind the NT usage [of sōtēr] lies that of the OT/LXX in which God is designated some thirty times as the deliverer of his people from dangers and the bestower of benefits.”[2] In a passage like Isaiah 45:21, the Hifil (casual action, active voice) participle moshiya is derived from the main verb yasha, the same root for the Messiah’s Hebrew name Yeshua, and rendered as sōtēr in the Septuagint. Given the quotation of Isaiah 45:23, “that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance,” in Philippians 2:10 where “at the name of Yeshua EVERY KNEE WILL BOW,” it is down near impossible to argue against Yeshua the Messiah being God, as much as He is also Savior (discussed previously). Fee concludes, “The interchanging of this title between God and Christ Jesus (cf. 3:4, 6) reflects the high Christology found in Paul from the beginning.”[3] D. Guthrie also states, “The apostle evidently used [this title] indiscriminately of Father and Son.”[4]

Recognizing how both the Father (Titus 1:3) and Son (Titus 1:4) function together as Savior, some further observations need to be made from Titus 1:4, as Paul issues Titus “Grace and peace from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua our Savior,” apo Theou patros kai Christou Iēsou tou sōtēros hēmōn. Looking at the grammar here, Mounce asserts “The single preposition [apo], ‘from,’ governs both [Theou], ‘God,’ and [Christou], ‘Christ,’ and is common in Paul’s writings, attesting to his high Christology.”[5] Here, there should be no doubting that Paul considers Yeshua to be integrated into the Divine Identity as Savior. Later in Titus 2:13 he will actually speak of “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua.”


NOTES

[1] This entry has been adapted from the author’s commentary The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic.

[2] Ibid., 131.

Included among their references are: Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 24:5; 25:5; 28:8; 42:6; Isaiah 12:2; 17:10; 43:3; 60:16.

[3] Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 170.

[4] Guthrie, Pastoral Epistles, 195.

[5] Mounce, 382.