The three opening verses of Paul’s letter to Titus are:
(1) Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, (2) in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, (3) but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.
We want to examine what we can learn about eternal life from these statements, whether stated directly or implied.
Eternal life was prepared. By whom? By the Lord. Eternal life is a gift from Him (Romans 6:23). Giving eternal life to mankind was part of God’s plan, a plan that was in His mind “before time began” (Titus 1:2). That would have been before He created the universe.
Before humans ever knew there was such a thing as eternal life, the Lord made preparation for it. He knew He would make eternal life available to mankind in His Son (1 John 5:11).
Eternal life was promised. Who promised it? God did (Titus 1:2). How dependable are His promises? In that same verse, we read that God “cannot lie.” That same truth is reflected in the statement that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Why is that an impossibility? It would be against God’s perfect nature to lie.
Over and over, the Scriptures depict the Lord as being faithful. He is true to His word in every case. Because of God’s faithfulness, we completely accept what He says about eternal life. First-century Christians were told, “And this is the promise that He has promised us — eternal life’ (1 John 2:25). In addition, His faithfulness helps motivate His children to be faithful to Him: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
There is a sense in which God’s children have eternal life while living in this world (1 John 5:13). At the same time, we read in Titus 1:2 that eternal life is something for which we hope. In the Bible, “hope” looks to the future, pointing to something which we do not yet possess (Romans 8:24,25). Jesus said eternal life is something we will receive in the age/world to come (Mark 10:30). A Christian’s hope is to receive an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:3,4).
Here is a third truth from Titus 1: eternal life must be preached. God’s word, including what it says about eternal life, is manifested through preaching (1:3). If we want lost people and saved saints to know the truth about eternal life, we must teach the Bible.
When we preach eternal life, we are preaching Jesus. He Himself is described as “eternal life”: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1,2).
When we preach eternal life, we not only preach the person of Jesus, but also the message that comes from Him. Peter was correct when he declared that Jesus had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Thus, biblically speaking, preaching eternal life includes not only talking about Jesus, but also declaring the teaching which comes from Him.
There is more. To preach eternal life includes the truth that is set forth in John 17:3, which is a record of something Jesus spoke to the Father in a prayer: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” In the Bible, to “know” the Lord means more than knowing He is real, and it includes more than believing in His Deity. Hear this truth: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar . . .” (1 John 2:3,4). If eternal life involves knowing the Lord, and knowing the Lord means we obey Him, then eternal life is for those who obey Him. That truth helps us understand the meaning of John 3:16, where we read of “believing” in Jesus in order to receive life eternal.
From Titus 1:1-3, we have seen three aspects of eternal life: prepared, promised, and preached. God does not want us to keep what the Bible teaches about eternal life a secret. No, our loving Lord wants His people to tell the great news of eternal life to all people in all places. Folks need to learn that they can walk with the Lord in this life and live with Him forever in heaven. May each of us make it our life’s goal to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).
— Roger D. Campbell