Thoughts on Titus II: The Hope of Eternal Life

In Thoughts on Titus I, we explored Paul’s statement, “Paul, bondslave of God and apostle of
Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth… (Titus 1:1)”
Paul was sent by Jesus Christ to safeguard the Christian faith and to encourage the
saints to live lives that are in accordance with it. This is the purpose of Paul’s apostleship, but it
is not the only thing that the apostle tells us about his mission from our Lord. He continues,
telling us that he is an apostle, “…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. (Titus 1:2-3)” In our
consideration of this hope on which Paul’s mission from God is based, we will see that we have
the same hope as Paul.

Paul let his life’s mission come from God and not himself. He did not let his own desires for his
life get in the way, but as he refers to himself, he is a bondslave of God, completely given over to
the will of Him Who called him on the way to Damascus. The salvation that he accepted by
grace through faith on his way to persecuting saints was won by Jesus on the cross. Paul’s
fellow apostle Peter writes: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that
He might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). That is just what Paul experienced. Christ delivered
him from the path of Phariseeism which would have led him to hell and brought him to God. In
other words, God let Paul enjoy eternal life in His presence.

Now, Paul the bondslave of Christ his Savior, tells Titus that he is an apostle in hope of the very
same eternal life that he, Titus, and all the body of Christ enjoy. What a comfort this hope must
be to Paul, who encountered obstacles and opposition in his mission to safeguard the Christian
faith and make sure that the saints lived according to it. Considering just his letter to Titus alone,
Paul and his co-laborers had to deal with “…many rebellious men, empty talkers, and deceivers,
who must be silenced because they upsetting whole families, teaching what they should not teach(1:10-11).” This, in addition to all the time that Paul spends telling Titus how to live “…so that
the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:8)” shows that
men tried to thwart the mission on which God had sent Paul. The hope of eternal life must
have been a constant balm to him when the pressures of promoting a godly lifestyle among the
saints in the midst of false teaching and perversion threatened to overwhelm him.

In one sense, the hope of eternal life on which Paul’s apostleship finds a basis is as old as
humanity itself. Paul says in Titus 1:2 that God promised eternal life long ages ago. Some
translations even go so far as to say that God made this promise before time even began. The
earliest recorded hint of this promise is Moses’ record of the judgment on the serpent in the
garden: “The LORD God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:14-15)’”

This judgment on the serpent must have given a glimmer of hope to the exiled pair, Adam and
Eve. It was the serpent’s deception that set the stage for their sin. It was the serpent’s desire to
rupture the fellowship that God had with His creation, and he succeeded. In the judgment that
God pronounces on the serpent, however, the Lord sowed the seeds in the hearts of Adam and
Eve that God was going to restore what Satan had destroyed. The seed of the woman is Christ,
who would bruise the serpent and also be bruised by the serpent, all at once at the cross.
Remember that it is through the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection that eternal life
is made possible. God restored the possibility of fellowship with God—eternal life—via the cross. In this first-recorded prophecy, do we not see the germ of all other biblical prophecy that has to do with Christ’s death and resurrection? Do we not see this theme developed from beginning to end in the Old Testament, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah? A Hebrew of the Hebrews, Paul must have been aware of the entirety of Old Testament prophecy well. In
In other words, he knew the hope of eternal life well.

In another sense, however, the hope of eternal life of Paul’s apostleship is recent. In Titus 1:2,
Paul says that the Word was manifested at the proper time. What is the Word, and how does it
relate to the promise of eternal life on which Paul’s mission is based? If we read the grammar of
the Greek, “the word” is parallel with “which (whose antecedent is eternal life).” They are both
direct objects of verbs, and both those verbs have the same subject, God. The question is are they synonymous? I have contemplated this relationship for a while, and it seems that the Word is, “…the divine revelation through Christ and his messengers… ” In other words, Jesus is the
author of eternal life, and his messengers are the authors of the communication of that eternal life through the word. If MacDonald’s estimation is right and Paul wrote to Titus in the mid-60s AD, then this manifestation of the word of eternal life has only been about for about 30 years. And now Paul has been entrusted, on his part, to make sure that the world hears about the word: “In the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior. (Titus 1:3)”

The New Testament canon is closed; no one can add to the letter. The Spirit, however, continues
to work in and through the people of God. He works in us assuring us of His saving work. The
assurance stands up against the obstacles and opposition against Christ that we face in daily
life. This is the hope of eternal life that we have—the consolation that no matter how hard it gets to stay faithful to God, we can trust in Him because He cannot lie. He fulfilled the many promises
concerning His Son in the Old Testament. He will also fulfill all the future promises that have to
do with eternal life. He is also working through us to bring as many people to God through Jesus
Christ as possible. Paul was entrusted By God our Savior in a special sense with the
proclamation of the word. His letters make up much of the New Testament, and only the Lord
knows how much he proclaimed in His preaching. God has entrusted us Christians, too. We have our Bibles and the very Spirit of God within us Who wants and helps us to share the promise of eternal life with the Lost. Let us be faithful like Paul to the Lord Jesus who sends the saints out to
preach the Word!

Matthew lives in Northern Virginia. He is a teacher by trade and loves to study the Scriptures and the history of the church. His wife Marina and he fellowship at Nokesville Bible Chapel.

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