“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle…” (Titus 1:1)
Did you ever wonder why Paul, an apostle, began his epistle to Titus by first referring to himself as a servant, the Bible word for a slave? Well, it helps to learn why the apostle opened two of his other epistles this way.
First, he identified himself as a servant to the Romans (Rom. 1:1) because Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire, and the citizens of Rome were used to owning slaves, not being slaves. Paul himself had been born with all the rights and privileges of Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25-28), yet he was humbly willing to acknowledge that he was a servant of God. So in writing the saints in Rome, the apostle introduced himself as a servant to remind them that they too might be free citizens, but that “he that is called in the Lord…being free, is Christ’s servant” (I Cor. 7:22).
Paul also introduced himself as a servant to the Philippians, where two of the ladies were feuding (Phil. 4:2), and everyone in the church was taking sides. When they received Paul’s letter, they probably thought that he was going to take a side in their squabble and settle it in so doing. But rather than siding with either faction, he made it clear that he was writing to them “all” (1:1), praying for them “all” (1:4), thought highly of them “all” (1:7), longed after them “all” (1:8), rejoiced with them “all” (2:17), and wished them “all” well (4:23). His marked and repeated use of the word all in this epistle shows that he refused to take sides in their feud. Instead, he told them to get on the Lord’s side, saying,
“…be likeminded…being…of one mind…let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God…took upon Him the form of a servant…” (Phil. 2:2-7).
When two believers are not of one mind, the only way they can become of one mind is to let the mind of Christ govern their lives—the Christ who “took upon Him the form of a servant.” If you have a dispute with a brother in Christ, I can tell you whose side Paul would be on. He’d be on the side of whoever was willing to be the other one’s servant. Lowliness like that will solve any and all disputes, but it is high spiritual ground. But then, isn’t that what you have in mind when you sing “Lord plant my feet on higher ground?”
Finally, the reason Paul called himself a servant in addressing Titus was because Titus was an intimidating man (II Cor. 7:15). Spiritual leaders like that sometimes need to be reminded that the strongest leaders of men are nothing more than servants of God. Titus might have been a tough man, but that’s not what made him fit to pastor a church. His fitness was found in his willingness to be a servant of God and lead His people in serving Him by example, and not by force (cf. I Peter 5:3). I’ve heard horror stories of pastors who act like little Napoleons—and some of you have lived such horror stories. Men like that would do well to remember the humility Paul displayed when he referred to himself as a servant, and stop dominating the faith of God’s people (II Cor. 1:22), and “by love serve one another” instead (Gal. 5:13).
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.