“In hope of eternal life, which God…promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).
In the Law of Moses, God promised the people of Israel that they could “live” (Lev. 18:5)—live eternally—if they kept His commandments. We know that’s what Leviticus 18:5 meant because the Lord quoted that verse to a man seeking eternal life (Lu. 10:25-28).
But God promised us Gentiles eternal life before the Law, even “before the world began.” But unlike the promise of life He made to the Jews in the Law, He didn’t reveal His promise to us Gentiles for thousands of years! Speaking of that promise (Tit. 1:2), Paul added,
“But hath in due times manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me…” (Titus 1:3).
When God finally decided to reveal His promise to give the Gentiles eternal life, He chose Paul to break the news. The due time had finally come to disclose His promise!
But what does that phrase due time mean? Well, that exact phrase is used when some unbelieving Jews were persecuting some believers in Israel, and the believers were wondering how long God would allow this to go on! God answered them,
“To Me belongeth vengeance… their foot shall slide in due time… the LORD shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone” (Deuteronomy 32:35,36).
God told those persecuted believers, as it were, “I’ll judge the unbelievers among My people in due time, and the due time will come when I see that My servants (you believers) have no power to save yourselves from their persecution.” So the phrase due time refers to a time when God looks at men and sees “that their power is gone.” This helps us understand the next time the phrase appears:
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
The Jews had vowed they could keep the Law (Ex. 24:7), but over the next 1500 years they showed that they had no power to keep it. And when they showed that they were “without strength” to keep it, Christ died for the ungodly. But as far as anyone knew, He only died for ungodly Jews, Isaiah’s people (Isa.53:8). He only died “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28), the “many” in Israel, for that was all that God had revealed up until that time.
It isn’t until you come to Paul’s writings that you read that “Christ…gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Tim. 2:5,6). And the thing that made it the due time for Paul to testify this was that that’s when it became obvious that the Gentiles were without strength to save themselves too!
If you’re not sure what I mean by that, consider that if a Gentile wanted to be saved in time past, he had to become a Jew—a true Jew, a believing Jew—by believing on the God of the Jews. For Gentiles, salvation was found “in the remnant” in Jerusalem (Joel 2:32). That’s why the Lord sent the remnant of the 12 apostles to the Gentiles in “all nations” (Lu. 24:47).
But the 12 were told to take the gospel to all nations “beginning at Jerusalem” (Lu. 24:47). When the Jews in Jerusalem stoned Stephen instead of sending forth “the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3), it looked like the Gentiles were going to remain without strength to get saved.
That’s when God raised up Paul to testify that the Gentiles didn’t have to become Jews to get the eternal life that God promised Israel in the Law, for He had promised them eternal life before the world began!
Isn’t it about time you received “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 1:1 by believing that He died for your sins and rose again (I Cor. 15:1-4)?
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.