Paul was the human author of the tiny letter to Titus. This letter is very small, but it is deep. From beginning to end this letter is packed to the brim with life transforming truth for the church of Jesus Christ.
As the author of this letter, Paul identifies himself as the slave of God. Most translations have “servant” or “bond servant” here. This translates the Greek word doulos, which is best translated “slave.” There is a lot of baggage with that word. There are deep wounds associated with it, and I have no intention of minimizing the darkness of slavery. However, we do not want to miss the beauty and freedom of the word in this particular context.
Paul writes as the slave of God. God is his Master. That changes the darkness to beauty. It is wicked for one human being to purchase and misuse another human being. However, in this context, slavery is the doorway to real freedom. Paul is not owned by sinful man. Paul is owned by God Himself.
Consider some of the aspects of being a slave:
1. To be purchased or claimed by another
2. To be owned by another
3. To exist for the service of another
4. To have no self-purpose or self-will, but to exist for the purposes and will of another
Now plug that into Paul’s title as the slave of God, and look at this in light of Titus 2:11-14 as well:
1. Paul had been purchased and claimed by God through the death of Jesus Christ (see also Ephesians 1:7-8)
2. Paul was owned by God, not himself or sin
3. Paul existed to serve God
4. Paul had no purposes or will of his own; he existed for the purposes and plans of God
This is the only place where Paul refers to himself as the slave of God, but he indicates the same by calling himself the slave of Jesus Christ, who is our great God and Savior (Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1). Here, in Titus 1:1, Paul calls himself the slave of God. This is not unusual or unique to Paul. James calls himself the slave of God (James 1:1).
The Old Testament prophets were called the servants or slaves of the Lord (Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 7:25, 25:4; Ezekiel 38:17; etc.). The Hebrew word translated “servant” is ebed. It means a “slave.” So, the prophets are the “slaves of the LORD.” Moses is also called the ebed of the LORD five times in Joshua chapter one (verses 1, 2, 7, 13, 15). Revelation 15:3 calls Moses the doulos of God. Revelation also calls prophets the slaves of God (Revelation 10:7, 11:18).
So, Paul stood in a long line of men. He is part of a godly heritage. The individuals that God has called for a specific purpose are His slaves. This is not a dark or demeaning reality. It is a thing of beauty. The called of God are purchased by God, through the death of Jesus Christ, to no longer live for themselves but for God (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). They no longer serve their own purposes, but the eternal purposes of God. They no longer have a life of their own, but they live for God.
This is the reality of everyone of Jesus’ followers. Everyone of us is the slave of God, and we are to present ourselves as slaves of righteousness. We are to live out who we are (Romans 6:15-23). We have all been purchased by our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who has given Himself for us to redeem us and purify us as a people for Himself to do His work (Titus 2:11-14). It is in this slavery to God that we are actually free to serve God by His grace (Romans 6:18, 22; 1 Corinthians 7:21-22).
You see, no one is the master of himself and his own destiny. We are all owned by someone. We are all born as slaves to sin and Satan (read Romans 6! Also Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:13-14). Through the death of Jesus Christ in our place for our sin, God sets us free from this slavery to sin and purchases us from Himself. He redeems us from all lawlessness. He purifies us for Himself as a people for His own possession to do His work (again Titus 2:11-14).
We are all slaves to one of two masters. We are either slaves to sin by birth, or we are slaves of God through faith in Jesus. Paul was the slave of God. He was purchased by God, owned by God, and existed for God’s purposes.
What about you?
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