Titus 1:1
The full representation which the apostle gives of his apostolic office is designed at once to mark the authority by which he gives the instructions that follow, and to serve as an index to the contents of the whole Epistle.

I. THE CLAIMS OF THE APOSTLE. "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ."

1. He is a servant of God. Not, as he often describes himself, "a servant of Jesus Christ." The title seems to mark the relation

(1) of one who had once been a slave to sin, but, having become free through Christ Jesus, was still, so far as obligation, service, and life were concerned, a servant of God;

(2) his devotion to God after the type of Old Testament service, Moses and the prophets being pre-eminently called the "servants of God;"

(3) his ministry in the service of a royal Master (Matthew 18:23-32), who makes him a member of his household, a pillar of his temple, a sharer of his throne (Revelation 3:21).

2. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ. This is a more exact definition of his office.

(1) He had his commission and his doctrine from him.

(2) He had all the signs and proofs of an apostle in him, for he had received power to work miracles as well as to declare Divine truth.

(3) It is, therefore, vain and deceptive for any to assume the name who cannot show the signs of an apostle.

II. THE END OF THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE. "For the faith of God's elect, and the full knowledge of the truth which is after godliness." It was designed for the furtherance of the faith and knowledge of believers.

1. The apostle felt that he was appointed to preach the doctrine of faith, and to be the instrument of bringing men to the obedience of faith. (Romans 1:5; Romans 10:17.)

(1) Therefore all claims to apostolic authority by men who have abandoned the faith, or overlaid it with error and superstition, are to be rejected by the Church of God.

(2) All true faith rests on the Divine foreordination; for it is "the faith of God's elect." Election is, therefore, not to be regarded as equivalent to faith, much less as its consequence (Ephesians 1:4); for it is its true cause. The Father is the Elector, as the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier.

2. The apostolic office was designed likewise to impart the full knowledge of the truth which is after godliness.

(1) Truth is the object - the Word of truth, which comes from him who is the God of truth, who is Christ the Truth itself, who is the Spirit of truth. It was this truth that the apostle preached with all faithfullness and clearness.

(2) Knowledge is the subjective aspect of it, and becomes ours through faith.

(3) The fruit of this truth is "godliness" It is designed to promote holiness of life and character. It is impossible that this knowledge can be morally unfruitful.

III. THE BASIS OF THIS TRUTH. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before eternal times." The ground and condition of this truth is the hope of eternal life, which is the animating principle at once of the apostle and of the Church of God.

1. The principle of hope. The word occurs fifty-two times in the New Testament, and is always connected with God, with the Mediator, and with believers.

(1) Its author is God, who is "the God of hope" (Romans 15:13), who has given us "a good hope through grace" (2 Thessalonians 2:16), and given us Christ as "our Hope," even "the Hope of glory."

(2) Hope connects us with the future as memory with the past, and is intended to neutralize the materializing influence of earthly life around us. Thus, God has given us prophecy and promise to gratify the wants, the longings, and the anticipations of the human soul.

2. The object and sum of Christian hope. "Eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before eternal times."

(1) This life is in Christ Jesus; "for the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). But it includes

(a) the full fruition of God to all eternity;

(b) the fellowship of the Redeemer's throne;

(c) the fullness of joy;

(d) likeness to Christ.

(2) It is eternal life, without a break in the happy continuity of bliss; for it is life without sin or death to mar its perfectness. It is eternal, because he is at once its Author and Support, as being that "Eternal Life that was with the Father" (1 John 1:2).

(3) The age of this promise. "Before eternal times."

(a) This is not merely before the times of the world, or

(b) before the world began,

(c) but really in the eternity past;

because the reference is not to the covenants of Adam or Abraham, but to the covenant of redemption in Christ before the foundation of the world (2 Timothy 1:9-11). The apostle does not merely say that the promise of eternal life was the result of a Divine purpose fixed from eternity, but that it was made from eternity to believers, because it was made to Christ, whose members they are. It is impossible to understand the meaning of these words without reference to the federal transaction between the Father and the Son (Zechariah 6:13). This was the very "promise of life in Christ Jesus" of which the apostle speaks to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1).

(4) The guarantee for the fulfillment of this promise. "God, that cannot lie, promised" it. God gave both a promise and an oath to Abraham, that "by two immutable things, in which it was impossible that God should lie," we should have a sure hope (Hebrews 6:18).

IV. THE MANIFESTATION OF THIS ANCIENT PROMISE. "But in his own seasons manifested his Word in the message wherewith I was entrusted, according to the commandment of God our Savior."

1. The manifestation was made in God's own seasons.

(1) It is not to be supposed that it was made only by the Apostle Paul, for it was made by the other apostles; and ages before their day it was manifested, with more or less clearness, under the Old Testament dispensation.

(2) But the Apostle Paul was one of those specially entrusted with the Word, and specially with "the revelation of the mystery hid for ages" (Romans 16:25).

2. The Word of God, and the whole order and fullness of the Church, are to be regarded as the unfolding of the ancient promise of eternal life.

3. The Word is made manifest by preaching. (Romans 10:17.) Preaching is an institute peculiar to Christianity, which it formed for itself as its chosen mode of utterance. Christianity is not a philosophy or a thaumaturgy. It is propagated, not by priests, but by preachers. There are no priests in Christianity but the one High Priest of our profession, who, if he were on earth, would not be a priest (Hebrews 8:4).

4. The preaching is done in virtue of a Divine call or commission. "Wherewith I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior." All the ministries of the New Testament, high and low, are committed as trusts to the Church. Therefore a minister ought to have a true call from on high before accepting the responsibilities of office. The apostle was very emphatic in announcing his call to the apostleship, not as in any way due to his own wilt or wish, but to Divine command, it was the command of "God his Savior;" not the Son, but the Father - the usual phrase of the apostle being "according to the will of God" (2 Timothy 1:1).

V. THE APOSTOLIC SALUTATION. "To Titus, my true son after the common faith."

1. The person thus addressed.

(1) Titus was a pure Gentile. It is interesting to remember that the dearest friends and companions of the apostle's life were Gentiles, and not Jews - such as Luke, Titus, and Timothy, who was half-Gentile. Was this leaning caused in any degree by the distrusts and enmities with which he was pursued through life by his Jewish countrymen?

(2) Titus was, like Timothy, one of the apostle's converts. This fact would endear him to the apostle's heart. He was a genuine son of the apostle in virtue of the faith common to all Christians; implying that

(a) there is but one faith (Ephesians 4:5);

(b) one Object of faith, Jesus Christ;

(c) one end of faith, eternal life.

(3) Titus was evidently one of the apostle's most trusty disciples, though he was less a companion than Timothy, and less allied to him on the terms of an affectionate intimacy. Titus was firm, strong, and capable, with adaptability in the way of administration and of repressing moral disorders among distracted or disturbed communities.

2. The greeting. "Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior."

(1) The blessings sought for Titus. "Grace and peace."

(a) Grace is the full and eternal fountain of the goodness of God, opened to the wants of men in the blessed gospel;

(b) peace is the blessing of the saints, to which they are called in one body, and the safeguard of heart and mind through him who is their Peace (Philippians 4:7).

(2) The source of these blessings, alike God the Father and God the Son, as being equally the Author and Giver of all spiritual blessings. The whole structure of the Epistle is based on the doctrine of the Deity of Christ. - T.C.







Paul, a servant of God
"Servant of God," "servant of Jesus Christ" — this is the title by which each one of the writers of the Epistles of the New Testament describes himself in one place or another. The title indicates their work in life, the place they hold in the world, and the definite object to which all their powers are devoted. For them God had tasks as much above the tasks and trials of Christians generally as the tasks of a great servant of State are above the responsibilities of those whom the State protects. St. Paul had parted company with what men care for and work for here, as the enthusiast for distant travel parts company with his home.

I. THIS CHARACTER IS EXCLUSIVE IN ITS OBJECT AND COMPLETE IN ITS SELF-DEDICATION. St. Paul knew no other interest here but the immense one of his Master's purpose in the world; this scene of experience, of pain and pleasure, of life and death, was as if it had ceased to be, except as the field on which he was to "spend and be spent" in persuading men of what his Master meant for them.

II. IT CONTEMPLATES as the centre of all interest and hope, the highest object of human thought and devotion, a presence beyond the facts of experience, THE PRESENCE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD. What St. Paul lived for, so whole-hearted, so single-minded, was to be one with the will and purpose of Him who had chosen him from the millions of mankind to bear His name before the world.

III. IT ACCEPTS, AS THE MEASURE OF ITS LABOUR AND ITS ENDURANCE, THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. For such a life a price had to be paid, and St. Paul's price was the acceptance of the fellowship of the cross of Christ. The likeness of the cross pervades every life of duty and earnestness — in lifelong trouble, in bereavement, in misunderstanding, in unjust suffering, in weary labour, in failure and defeat — God's proof and test of strength is laid upon us all. But we must not confound with this that partnership in their Master's sufferings which was the portion of servants like St. Paul, and for which he sought expression in the awful language recalling the Passion — "I am crucified with Christ"; "I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," etc. There is no reason why, without extravagance, without foolish or overstrained enthusiasm, we should not still believe that a life like St. Paul's is a natural one for a Christian to choose. We still reverence his words; and his words have all along the history of the Church found echoes in many hearts. There is a great past behind us — a past which is not dead, but lives — lives in every thought we think and every word we speak, lives in our hopes, in our confidences and joy in life, lives in those high feelings which thrill and soothe us at the grave. May we not be unworthy of such a past!

(Dean Church.)

This being the first title whereby the apostle would get himself authority, teacheth that the very name of a servant of God is full of honour and authority. The apostle, comparing the glory of Christ with the glory of the angels (Hebrews 1:14), advanceth them as far as possibly he can, that Christ's glory, being so much more excellent than theirs there described, might be most highly exalted; and yet the highest ascent of their honour which he can rise unto is to title them "ministering spirits" standing about God, from which service they are honoured with glorious names, of thrones, dominations, powers, rulers, principalities; and although the Scriptures most usually under this title express the low and humble condition of Christ, "who took on Him the form of a servant," yet also thereby the Lord would sometimes signify His great glory, as Isaiah 42:1.

1. This serves to teach ministers their duty, that seeing the Lord hath so highly honoured them as to draw them so near unto Himself, as it were admitting them into His presence chamber — yea, and unto His council table — they are in a way of thankfulness more straightly bound to two main duties —

(1)Diligence;

(2)thankfulness.

2. This doctrine ministereth comfort unto those that are faithful in their ministry, whom, howsoever the world esteemeth of them, their Lord highly respecteth, admitteth them into His privy councils, and employeth in a service which the angels themselves desire to pry into.

3. Teacheth people how to esteem of their ministers, namely, as the servants of God, and consequently of their ministry as the message of God, which if it be, Moses must not be murmured at when he speaks freely and roughly; and if Micaiah resolve of faithfulness, saying, "As the Lord liveth, whatsoever the Lord saith, be it good or evil, that will I speak," why should he be hated and fed with "bread and water of affliction"? Is it not a reasonable plea, and full of pacification in civil messages — "I pray you be not angry with me; I am but a servant"?

4. Let every private Christian account it also his honour that the Lord vouchsafeth him to become His servant; and hereby harden thyself against the scorns and derisions of mocking Michals, who seek to disgrace thy sincerity. If the ungodly of the world would turn thy glory into shame, even as thou wouldest have the Son of man not to be ashamed of thee in His kingdom, be not thou ashamed to profess thyself His servant, which is thy glory.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

Before the time when Abraham Lincoln emancipated three millions of coloured people in the Southern States of America, there was one day a slave auction in New Orleans. Amongst the number was a beautiful Mulatto girl, who was put upon the "block" to be sold to the highest bidder, like a cow or a horse. The auctioneer, dilating on the graces of the girl, her skill in working, and the beauty of her form, asked for a bid. The first offer was five hundred dollars, and the bids quickly rose to seven hundred dollars. Then a voice called from the outside of the crowd, "Seven hundred and fifty dollars!" The slave owners thereupon advanced their bids to eight hundred, eight hundred and fifty, and nine hundred dollars. The bids continued to rise, but whenever there was a pause the unseen bidder offered fifty dollars more, and at last the girl was knocked down to him for 1,450 dollars. He then came forward, and, paying the money, arranged to receive delivery of the lot in the morning. The slave girl saw that her purchaser was a Northerner, one of the hated "Yankees," and was much disgusted to become his slave. The next morning her new owner called at the house, when the poor girl said with tears, "Sir, I am ready to go with you." He gently replied, "But I do not want you to go with me; please look over this paper!" She opened the paper, and found that it was the gift of her freedom. The Northerner said, "I bought you that you might be free!" She exclaimed, "You bought me that I might be free! Am I free? Free! Can I do as I like with myself?" He answered, "Yes, you are free!" Then she fell down and kissed his feet, and almost choking with sobs of joy, she cried, Oh, sir, I will go with you, and be your servant for evermore!"

And an apostle of Jesus Christ —
The apostle, by joining these two together, a servant and apostle, teacheth us that the chiefest offices in the Church are for the service of it. Was there any office above the apostles in the Church? And yet they preached the Lord Jesus, and themselves servants for His sake. Nay, our Lord Jesus Himself, although He was the Head of His Church, yet He came not into the world to be served, but to minister and serve.

1. Ministers must never conceive of their calling, but also of this service, which is not accomplished but by service; thus shall they be answerable to Peter's exhortation (1 Peter 3:3) to feed the flock of God depending upon them, not by constraint, but willingly; "not as lords over God's heritage, but as examples to the flock."

2. Would'st thou know what ambition Christ hath permitted unto His ministers? It is even this, that he that would be chief of all should become servant of all.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

According to the faith of God's elect
I. GOD HATH SOME WHO ARE ELECT AND CHOSEN, AND OTHERS ARE NOT. Men may be called the elect of God three ways.

1. In respect of some temporal function or ministry to which the Lord hath designed them (John 6:70).

2. In regard of that actual election and choice of some people and nations above others, unto the true means of life and salvation, so to become the people of God's election.

3. In respect of that eternal election of God, which is according to grace, whereby of His good pleasure He chooseth from all eternity, out of all sorts of men, some to the certain fruition and fellowship of life eternal and salvation by Christ. These elect of God are here meant, the number of which is comparatively small; "for many are called, but few chosen" — a little flock, and a few that have found the narrow way.

II. THESE ELECT HAVE A SPECIAL FAITH, DISTINCT BY THEMSELVES.

1. For there is an historical faith, standing in an assent and acknowledgment of the truth of things written and taught.

2. There is also an hypocritical faith, which passeth the former in two degrees. First, in that with knowledge and assent is joined such a profession of the truth as shall carry a great show and form of godliness. Secondly, a kind of gladness and glorying in that knowledge; for it is ascribed to some, who in temptation shall fall away, "to receive the Word with joy." To both which may be joined sometimes a gift of prophecy, sometimes of working miracles, as some in the last day shall say, "Lord, have we not prophesied and cast out devils in Thy name?" and yet they shall be unknown of Christ. Neither of these is the faith of the elect here mentioned, but a third kind, called saving faith, the inheritance of which is the property of the elect; for the just man only liveth by this faith, which in excellency passeth both the former in three worthy properties.(1) In that here, with the act of understanding and assent unto the truth, there goeth such a disposition and affection of the heart as apprehendeth and applieth unto it the promise of grace unto salvation, causing a man to rejoice in God, framing him unto the fear of God and to the waiting through hope for the accomplishment of the promise of life.(2) In that whereas both the former are dead, and not raising unto a new life in Christ, what shows soever be made for the time, the sun of persecution riseth, and such moisture is dried up. This is a lively and quickening grace, reaching into the heart Christ and His merits, who is the life of the soul and the mover of it to all godly actions, not suffering the believer to be either idle or unfruitful in the work of the Lord.(3) Whereas both the former are but temporary, this is perpetual and lasting. The other, rising upon temporary causes and reasons, can last only for a time, as when men, for the pleasure of knowledge or the name of it, by industry attain a great measure of understanding in Divine things, or when, for note and glory or commodity, true or apparent, men profess the gospel. Let but these grounds fail a little, or persecution approach, they lay the key under the door, give up the house, and bid farewell to all profession. Thus many of Christ's disciples, who thought they had truly believed in Him, and that many months, when they heard Him speak of the eating of His flesh and drinking His blood, went back, and walked with Him no more. But the matter is here far otherwise, seeing this faith of the elect hath the promise made good to it that the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.

III. THIS PECULIAR FAITH IS WROUGHT IN THE ELECT BY THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD.

1. If this be the principal end of the ministry, let ministers herein employ their first and principal pains to bring men unto the faith.

2. The minister ought to propound before him God's end in performance of every ministerial duty, and that is by enlightening, converting, confirming, comforting, to bring and stablish men in the faith.

3. The Lord having set out the ministry for this use, let every hearer acknowledge herein God's ordinance, and yield themselves with all submission unto the ministry and the Word there preached, that thereby they may have faith wrought in their hearts.

4. Every man may hence examine himself, whether in the use of the ministry he finds saving faith begotten and wrought in his heart; and by examination some may find their understandings more enlightened, their judgments more settled, their practice in some things reformed; but a very few shall find Christ apprehended and rested in unto salvation, seeing so few there are that live by faith in the Son of God, for of all the sins that the Spirit may and shall rebuke the world of, this is the chief, because they believe not in Christ.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

And the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness
Here we have a full though compendious account of the nature of the gospel, ennobled by two excellent qualities. One, the end of all philosophical inquiries, which is truth; the other, the design of all religious institutions, which is godliness; both united, and as it were blended together in the constitution of Christianity. Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth, as to the reality of the thing, affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness; and I believe it might be easily made out that there is nothing in nature perfectly true but what is also really good. It would be endless to strike forth into the eulogies of truth; for, as we know, it was the adored prize for which the sublimest wits in the world have always run, and sacrificed their time, their health, their lives, to the acquist of; so let it suffice us to say here that as reason is the great rule of man's nature, so truth is the great regulator of reason.

I. Now in this expression of the gospel's being "THE TRUTH WHICH IS AFTER GODLINESS," these three things are couched.

1. It is a truth, and upon that account dares look its most inquisitive adversaries in the face. The most intricate and mysterious passages in it are vouched by an infinite veracity: and truth is truth, though clothed in riddles and surrounded with darkness and obscurity; as the sun has still the same native inherent brightness, though wrapped up in a cloud. Now, the gospel being a truth, it follows yet further that if we run through the whole catalogue of its principles, nothing can be drawn from thence, by legitimate and certain consequence, but what is also true. It is impossible for truth to afford anything but truth. Every such principle begets a consequence after its own likeness.

2. The next advance of the gospel's excellency is that it is such a truth as is operative. It does not dwell in the mind like furniture, only for ornament, but for use, and the great concernments of life. The knowledge of astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, and the like, they may fill the mind, and yet never step forth into one experiment; but the knowledge of the Divine truths of Christianity is quick and restless, like an imprisoned flame, which will be sure to force its passage and to display its brightness.

3. The third and highest degree of its perfection is that it is not only operative, but also operative to the best of purposes, which is to godliness: it carries on a design for heaven and eternity. It serves the two greatest interests in the world, which are, the glory of the Creator and the salvation of the creature; and this the gospel does by being "the truth which is after godliness." Which words may admit of a double sense —(1) That the gospel is so called because it actually produces the effects of godliness in those that embrace and profess it.(2) That it is directly improvable into such consequences and deductions as have in them a natural fitness, if complied with, to engage the practice of mankind in such a course.

II. There are three things that I shall DEDUCE FROM THIS DESCRIPTION OF THE GOSPEL.

1. That the nature and prime essential design of religion is to be an instrument of good life, by administering arguments and motives inducing to it.(1) Religion designs the service of God, by gaining over to His obedience that which is most excellent in man, and that is the actions of his life and continual converse. That these are the most considerable is clear from hence, because all other actions naturally proceed in a subserviency to these.(2) The design of religion is man's salvation; but men are not saved as they are more knowing or assent to more propositions, but as they are more pious than others. Practice is the thing that sanctifies knowledge; and faith without works expires, and becomes a dead thing, a carcase, and consequently noisome to God, who, even to those who know the best things, pronounces no blessing till they do them.(3) The discriminating excellency of Christianity consists not so much in this, that it discovers more sublime truths, or indeed more excellent precepts, than philosophy (though it does this also), as that it suggests more efficacious arguments to enforce the performance of those precepts than any other religion or institution whatsoever.(4) Notwithstanding the diversity of religions in the world, yet men hereafter will generally be condemned for the same things; that is, for their breaches of morality.

2. That so much knowledge of truth as is sufficient to engage men's lives in the practice of godliness serves the necessary ends of religion; for if godliness be the design, it ought also, by consequence, to be the measure of men's knowledge in this particular.

3. That whatsoever does in itself or its direct consequences undermine the motives of a good life is contrary to, and destructive of Christian religion.

(R. South, D. D.)

I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE GOSPEL IS THE TRUTH ITSELF —

1. Because the Author of it is truth itself, and cannot lie, it being a part of His Word, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

2. Because the penmen of it were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and spake and wrote as they were moved by Him, who is called "the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:17).

3. Because it is a doctrine of Christ, and aimeth at Him who is the Truth principally, as well as the Way of our salvation.

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS TRUTH IS THE GROUND OF FAITH.

1. Then slight is the faith of most, whatsoever men profess.

2. Waverers in religion and unsettled persons in their profession may hence be informed to judge of themselves and their present estate. We hear more than a few uttering such voices as these: "There is such difference of opinion among teachers that I know not what to hold or whom to believe; but is not this openly to proclaim the want of faith, which is not only assuredly persuaded of, but certainly knoweth the truth of that it apprehendeth?"

3. If the elect are brought to the faith by the acknowledging of the truth, then, after long teaching and much means, to be still blind and not to see the things of our peace is a most heavy judgment of God; for here is a forfeit of faith and salvation.

III. WHOSOEVER IN TRUTH ENTERTAIN THE DOCTRINE OF THE GOSPEL, THE HEARTS OF SUCH ARE FRAMED UNTO GODLINESS.

1. If this be the preeminence of the Word, to frame the soul to true godliness, then it is a matter above the reach of all human learning; and therefore the folly of those men is hence discovered who devote and bury themselves in profane studies, of what kind soever they be, thinking therein to obtain more wisdom than in the study of the Scriptures.

2. Every hearer of the truth must examine whether by it his heart be thus framed unto godliness, for else it is not rightly learned; for as this grace "hath appeared to this purpose, to teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and justly and godly in this present world," so it is not then learned when men can only discourse of the death of Christ, of His resurrection, of His ascension, except withal there be some experience of the virtue of His death in themselves.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

I. A GRAND ENTERPRISE.

1. An enterprise devoted to the highest purpose.

(1)The promotion of the faith of God's elect;

(2)the promotion of the knowledge "of the truth which is according to godliness."

2. An enterprise employing the highest human agency.

II. A TRANSCENDENT PROMISE.

1. Transcendent in value.

2. In certitude.

3. In age.

III. A GRADUAL REVELATION.

1. It was manifested at a proper time.

2. By apostolic preaching.

3. By the Divine command.

IV. A LOVE-BEGETTING POWER. "Mine own son." The gospel converter becomes the father in the highest and divinest sense of the converted.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. AN HONOURABLE DESIGNATION.

1. "Servant of God."

2. Apostle of Christ."

II. A GLORIOUS PURPOSE — "According to," or rather, perhaps, "with reference to," the faith of God's people. Sent by Jesus Christ in order to promote the faith of "God's elect."

III. THE REASONABLENESS OF RELIGION — "The acknowledging of the truth." Faith is the central doctrine of Christianity, but is to be distinguished from blind credulity. The faith of the Christian is based on knowledge, on fact, on truth (2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3).

IV. THE PRACTICAL CHARACTER OF RELIGION — "The truth which is after godliness"; that is, piety. Original word probably derived from one signifying "good, brave, noble." Paul was himself emphatically a model of manliness and devout courage.

(F. Wagstaff.)

Homilist.
In this verse the apostle speaks of himself as —

1. Possessing a character common to the good of all worlds — "Servant of God." All creatures are servants of God — some without their will, some according to their will. Paul served God freely, cordially, devotedly.

2. Sustaining an office peculiar to a few — "Apostle." Peculiar in appointment, number, and authority.

3. Engaged in a work binding on all Christians. To promote "the faith of God's elect" — that is, of His people — and "the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness."

I. GODLINESS IS THE GRANDEST END OF BEING. In the Old Testament the good are called "godly" (Psalm 4:3; Psalm 12:1; Psalm 32:6; Malachi 2:15). In the New Testament goodness is called "godliness" (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 4:7, 8; 1 Timothy 6:3, 5, 6; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Peter 1:3, 6, 7; 2 Peter 3:11). Godliness is moral likeness to God.

II. TRUTH IS THE GRANDEST MEANS OF BEING. All truth is of God, natural and spiritual. The truth here referred to is the gospel truth — "the truth as it is in Jesus" — which, while it illustrates, vivifies and emphasises all other truth, goes beyond it, opens up new chapters of Divine revelation. It is not only moral truth, but redemptive truth, and redemptive truth not in mere propositions, but in a Divine life. This truth is the power of God unto salvation; it delivers from depravity, prejudice, guilt; it raises to purity, truth, peace.

(Homilist.)

Suppose that a person wishing to send a message from London to Edinburgh by lightning knows how to construct an electric battery; but, when he comes to consider how he will transmit the impulse through hundreds of miles, he looks at an iron wire and says, "This is dull, senseless, cold; has no sympathy with light: it is unnatural, in fact irrational, to imagine that this dark thing can convey a lightning message in a moment." From this he turns and looks at a prism. It glows with the many-coloured sunbeam. He might say, "This is sympathetic with light," and in its flashing imagine that he saw proof that his message would speed through it; but when he puts it to the experiment, it proves that the shining prism will convey no touch of his silent fire, but that the dull iron will transmit it to the farthest end of the land. And so with God's holy truth. It alone is adapted to carry into the soul of man the secret fire, which writes before the inner eye of the soul a message from the Unseen One in the skies.

(T. W. Jenkyn, D. D.)

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