In his epistle to young Pastor Titus, the Apostle Paul spoke of his apostleship in a unique way, saying,
“Paul…an apostle…according to the faith of God’s elect…” (Titus 1:1)
What could Paul have meant when he said that he was made an apostle “according to the faith of God’s elect?”
Well, the word “elect” means chosen, of course. When we have an election, we choose a candidate to be our leader. And when it comes to God’s elect, even the Lord’s enemies knew that He was God’s chosen (Lu. 23:35). You yourself became part of God’s elect when you believed the gospel and God placed you “in Christ” (I Cor. 1:30). That’s how it has always worked, in every dispensation. Isaiah identified the Lord Jesus as God’s elect (Isa. 42:1 cf. Mt. 12:18,19), but later identified believers in Israel as God’s elect (65:9,22).
But when Paul said that he’d been made an apostle according to the faith of God’s elect, that can’t be talking about the faith that we put in Christ to become part of the elect. Our faith didn’t come along until long after Paul was made an apostle, so he couldn’t have been made an apostle according to that faith. Whatever faith he’s talking about here, it must have existed before Paul was an apostle, and he was made an apostle according to it.
Here it helps to remember that the phrase “the faith” can refer to a body of truth, as it does when Paul and Barnabas “returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch…exhorting them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:21,22). We see this same definition of the phrase “the faith” when Paul later helped some churches become “established in the faith” (Acts 16:5). In these verses “the faith” clearly referred to the body of truth given to Paul. That’s the thing in which believers should be established, and that’s the thing in which they need to continue, as those verses—and others—insist (cf. Rom. 16:25; Acts 13:43, I Tim. 4:16, II Tim. 3:14).
And that’s what the phrase “the faith” means in Titus 1:1 as well. The body of truth that was given to Paul existed in the mind of God before the world began, and Paul was made an apostle according to it. That is, he was made an apostle to reveal that faith and preach it, and make known that body of truth. Paul calls it “the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal. 3:23) because while it existed in the mind of God before the world began, he says that God “manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me” (Tit. 1:3). It is the message of God’s grace, and it is the reason Paul wrote that he had “received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations” (Rom. 1:5).
Have you been obedient to the faith, and “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” through Paul (Rom. 6:17)? Paul says that God will impute His very own righteousness to us “if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24,25).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.