One Family in Common Faith

“To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (v. 4).

- Titus 1:3–4

Even the opening salutations of Paul’s epistles are theologically rich, and his letter to Titus is no exception. When we look at Titus 1:1–4, we find several doctrinal themes that will reappear throughout the epistle. First of all, we find Paul’s emphasis on God’s authority and how it functions in the ministry of the apostle. Paul does not choose to be the Lord’s appointed herald but is compelled to go forth as His messenger on account of the decree of “God our Savior” (vv. 1–3). Consequently, the eternal life our Creator promised “before the ages began” becomes the possession of the elect as they trust in the preaching of Paul’s gospel, which is the Word of God itself (Rom. 1:1; 16:25; 1 Cor. 1:18–25).

Likewise note the high Christology (doctrine of Christ) displayed in Titus 1:1–4: Both the creator God and Christ Jesus are called “our Savior,” clearly identifying the Father and Son as equal in authority and glory. This text, among many others, helps us to see that Jesus is the incarnation of the Almighty and therefore truly God as well as truly man. Moreover, applying the title savior to Jesus implicitly denounces all other pretenders. In an age when the Roman emperor was increasingly deified and hailed as “savior,” Paul’s use of the title exclusively for the Father and the Son reminded his readers of the identity of the true Lord over all creation. Today we also deny the false deities in our culture and across the world when we call upon Jesus as the Savior (Isa. 43:11).

Third, Paul’s reference to salvation being manifested “at the proper time” shows us how the work of Jesus forms the very center of human history. Kairos, the Greek word for “time” in Titus 1:3, is the term used for events of great significance, not the ordinary passage of time. The gospel arrived at the proper kairos, at the time God appointed for its arrival (Gal. 4:4), and now we look back on the cross as the center point of history, much as the old covenant saints looked forward to their ultimate redemption.

Finally, note Paul’s identification of Titus as his “true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). Blood ties were important to Paul, but for him our true, eternal family in Christ supersedes mere physical relations.

Coram Deo

Scripture says in many places that our real family is formed not by blood ties but through faith in Christ (Mark 3:31–35). Ultimately, only our relationships with true believers will endure eternally, and so we must look to the church to be our family and allow ourselves to be family to other believers. Do you have close relationships with other believers in your congregation? Let us all do what we can to strengthen the bond of love with other Christians.

Passages for Further Study

2 Samuel 22:1–3
Psalm 68:11
Ephesians 1:3–10
Hebrews 2:10–17

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.