As he begins his letter of Titus, Paul identifies himself as a “servant” of Jesus Christ. As a “servant,” he’s been given a task. The first three verses of this epistle say, “Paul, a servant of God and 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 through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” We see that God, according to Paul, promised “eternal life” before the ages began. The promise has materialized in the person of Jesus Christ, and that’s the message entrusted to Paul and commanded to share with the whole world.

The promise of eternal life was made before the world began. It was always part of God’s plan. It was not plan “B.” God created Adam and Eve to live eternally. Death came only because of sin. God explained this situation from the beginning. You won’t die if you don’t eat from the tree. If you do, that is when death will become part of the human experience. But because of God’s grace and mercy, He promised us resurrection to eternal life after death in this world. Job understood God’s promise well. In Job 19:25-27 we read, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh, I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” It’s also clear from the book of Isaiah as well. Isaiah 26:19 says, “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” This is seen in other early Jewish literature as well. In The Psalms of Solomon 3:16 we read, “But those who fear the Lord will arise into eternal life, and their life will never cease in the light of the Lord.”

There are two references to time in verse 3. The first has to do with “time past.” The other has to do with the “right time.” The first word is “Chronos.” It refers to ongoing time. The New International Version translates the phrase “before the beginning of time.” The promise of eternal life existed with God before the creation of the world. Paul says the same thing to Timothy in his second letter to him. 2 Timothy 1:9 says that God, “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” The second reference to time uses the word “Kairos.” It refers specifically to a particular moment. The birth of Christ was at just the right time. In Galatians 4:4, Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman.” It was Christ who came to fulfill the promise of eternal life for all who would believe in him.

According to Black and McClung, “Paul makes three similar assurances about our hope of eternal life. First, God promised [it] before the beginning of time. What we now experience in Christ was in the mind of God before the creation of the world. Second, Paul assures his reader that we can rely upon God’s character, for He does not lie. In Greek mythology, the gods often deceived humans, and the Cretans themselves were known as dishonest. Not so with the eternal God. His character is without blemish; He always tells the truth. If God promises our ultimate salvation, and He does, we may be sure that it will be accomplished. Third, Paul affirms that God has finally revealed our hope. At his appointed season, he brought his word to light. Designed in eternity, this great hope was manifested in time.” [1] The manifestation is the person of Jesus Christ. In Him is life, and that life is the light of the world.

[1] Black, Robert, and Ronald McClung. 2004. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: A Commentary for Bible Students. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.