Few passages in all the New Testament identify the people of God as fully and as richly as Titus 1:1-4. If ever there were a section of Scripture that should motivate us in restoring New Testament Christianity, this should be it! In a world of skepticism and religious pluralism, there is another, far better way. In these verses, Paul marvelously introduces what it means to be a Christian. How are God’s people described?
People “of the faith” (1:1). These people had believed and fully embraced God’s revelation of Himself and His will for us in Christ Jesus (cf. 1 Tim. 3:9, 13; 4:1, 6; 5:8; 6:10, 12). Note that this faith is singular, objective and is exclusively based on Jesus (Acts 4:12).
“Elect” people (1:1). This statement brings to mind the awesome mind and eternal plan of God in making salvation possible in Christ. God chose a way for sinful man to be delivered from sin through Jesus and His gospel (cf. 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:20). Thankfully, there IS a way people can know and come to God through Jesus and the Cross! God has a special group of people He calls His own (Tit. 2:11-15; 1 Pet. 2:5-9). One can and must choose to follow Jesus if they would be saved.
People of “knowledge of the truth” (1:1). This expression must not be minimized or neglected. It IS possible to know the truth and to so believe and embrace it that we enter God’s family as people of “the faith” (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7). Because the knowledge of this truth is so precious, we joyfully proclaim it to all and seek to guard its purity.
People of “godliness” (1:1). The greatness of Christianity is seen in that anyone who lovingly and humbly obeys the gospel can be changed from sinner to saint, from lost to saved and from ungodly to godly! Because of Jesus and His Cross, there has been a change of heart, a change of mind and a change of life in people. Having come to a liberating knowledge of Jesus, Christians seek to pursue the way of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8; 6:6, 11).
People of “hope” (1:2). As has often been said, Christian hope involves eager anticipation and confident expectation. People who have lost hope are the saddest, most pitiful in the world. Yet Christian hope is “living” (1 Pet. 1:3), “good” (2 Thess. 2:16) and “abides” (1 Cor. 13:13). Because Christians have the confident expectation that every promise of God will come to pass we presently live in eager anticipation of a glorious future. God IS good!
People who have experienced and extend “grace” (1:4). Grace has to do with “unmerited favor at Christ’s expense when anger was owed.” This grace extended in Jesus is super-abundant (Rom. 5:15-21), sufficient for every occasion (2 Cor. 12:7-9) and rich (Eph. 2:4-7; 2 Cor. 8:9). Not only were we undeserving of grace, we were ill-deserving due to our sin! Those who know something of God’s grace as Christians appropriately seek to “see” God’s grace at work in others (Acts 11:22-24). We desire to “speak” graciously (Eph. 4:29) as well as to act and think that way too (1 Cor. 15:9-10; 2 Tim. 2:1). Grace typically is very lacking in the world; however, it never ought to be lacking among the people of God. This does not mean that we compromise with sin but it does mean we reflect the character of Christ in dealing with sinners.
People of “peace” (1:4). Christians have peace with God (Rom. 5:1-2). What a glorious thought! This is due to the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf (John 14:27; Eph. 2:14-18). There is no real, ultimate joy and peace apart from Christ! We are admonished to pursue peace and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Matthew Henry beautifully penned, “Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.” The only way to truly know peace is to know peace with God.
“Saved” People (1:4). The people of God have come to know Him as Father and Jesus as Savior. Christians have been rescued and delivered by Jesus from darkness to light, from being lost to saved (Col. 1:12-13). There simply is no other way sinners can get right with God without responding to Jesus and the gospel. There is a real and exclusively biblical answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Any other answer than that actually indicated in God’s word is a partial one at best and cannot save! (Cf. Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Notice this passage speaks of God’s people in at least eight different ways. May our lives exhibit the richness and fullness of truly being the people of God!