Which Accords with Godliness
Paul’s letter to Titus was written roughly the same time as his first letter to Timothy, probably after his first imprisonment at Rome recorded in Acts 28. Sometime between this imprisonment in Rome and his last (A.D. 62-64), Paul and Titus must have gone to the island of Crete (of ancient fame) where they either planted a church or found a church already planted since Cretans were in attendance on the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up to preach (Acts 2:11), though the first option seems more feasible. Paul left Titus there “so that [he] might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as [Paul] directed [him].” As for the man himself, Titus shows up in twelve places in the New Testament, mostly in 2 Corinthians as Paul’s emissary. He also shows up in Galatians (written some fifteen years before these letters to Timothy and Titus) where Paul relates an earlier trip to Jerusalem “taking Titus along with [him],” thus showing that whereas Timothy was a young understudy needing encouragement, Titus was by this time an older and trusted companion of Paul.
A commentary I have states, “It is only in the life of godliness…that the ‘knowledge of the truth’ can be fully learned” (Mounce, WBC, 379-80). I shall count this as the theme for this brief letter; that is, godly living as the fruit of salvation, as Paul plainly indicates in these four verses and teaches throughout. Paul writes that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ “for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began, and at the proper time manifested in his word” which Paul was commanded by the Lord to preach.
So Paul makes it plain here that he, and truly all the apostles, was called for the purpose of calling out God’s chosen ones (the elect) that they may know the truth which produces godliness. And this is what his letter to Titus is about: knowing the truth so that one may live a godly life. Indeed, without knowledge of the truth, one cannot hope to live a godly life; and the absence of a godly life is evidence that one does not know the truth (hence, Paul’s warning, “Do not be deceived…,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And this godliness is captivated and driven by the hope of eternal life, “hope” meaning “certainty” and not associated as it is in our day with “wishful thinking.” And this hope is certain because our God never lies but indeed had this in mind from ages past and promised so, fulfilling His promise at the appointed time (Luke 2:1-20). To be saved is to live a godly life in the hope of eternal life.