“To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
Greetings are some of the most overlooked words, not only in the Scriptures, but also in our worship. Pastors should probably preach on greetings at least once per year, just so that we don’t take those words from God at the beginning for granted. Like all parts of our worship, we need to be actively engaged with what’s being said and done.
Paul addresses Titus as his true child. In our churches, we have a habit of referring to ministers as “Reverend.” We sometimes criticize the Roman Catholic Church for calling their priests “Father.” However, when the exegetical rubber hits the road, there actually is more scriptural defense for calling your pastor “Father” than there is for calling him “Reverend” or (even worse) Dominee (a Dutch title derived from the Latin dominus, Lord). Paul not only calls Titus his child in the faith, but also Timothy (see 1 Tim. 1:2) and the Corinthian believers (see 1 Cor. 4:14 and 2 Cor. 6:13). The apostle was like a father to them all.
Therefore, Paul addresses Titus as his true child according to the common faith. All believers share this faith which Paul preached and which led to the spiritual birth of people like Titus.
Then we find the familiar words of “Grace, mercy, peace.” We need to consider those words individually, but we also need to realize that they have a common source: God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour. Notice how the Holy Spirit is not mentioned here. He takes a background role — which is more common for him in Scripture. But nevertheless, we do know from elsewhere that he has a place in this equation. He is the one through whom these blessings are distributed. Here we can think back to the common faith which he has worked in Titus and in all who believe.
Now let’s briefly look at each of the words in the apostolic greeting here:
Grace — this is when you receive the opposite of what you deserve. We deserved God’s wrath and justice, but because of Christ we receive God’s favour and love. We deserve to be cast out forever, but because of Christ we are justified, adopted, and sanctified.
Mercy — the opposite of justice. We deserved God’s wrath on account of our actual and original sin, but because of Christ we don’t encounter it.
Peace — the result of grace and mercy is relational. In the Bible, peace is not to be confused with what the Eagles called “a peaceful, easy feeling.” Peace is about two previously warring parties being reconciled. Peace is about a relationship brought back to what it was created to be. This is what Christ does for us and in us.
Reflecting on grace, mercy and peace, our thoughts go entirely to Christ. He is our grace, mercy and peace. Without him, not one of those words has any depth or real meaning.