1.1 Παῦλος δοῦλος θεοῦ, ἀπόστολος δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ κατὰ πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν θεοῦ καὶ ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας τῆς κατ’ εὐσέβειαν 1.2 ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 1.3 ἐφανέρωσεν δὲ καιροῖς ἰδίοις τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγὼ κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ, 1.4 Τίτῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν· χάρις καὶ εἰρήνην ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν.
1.1 Paul, a slave of God, and a messenger of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God’s chosen ones and the knowledge of the truth that comes from a godly walk 1.2 in the hope of life eternal, which our trustworthy God promised from the very beginning, 1.3 but in due time manifested his word by proclamation, which I was entrusted with according to the command of God our savior, 1.4 to Titus, a true son according to our shared faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.
For starters, I tried to keep the structure of the Greek, rather than breaking these verses up into smaller sentences. This makes for a rather elaborate sentence in English, but limits the amount of creative translation having to be done in order to break things up and restart thought.
I debated the use of “servant”, rather than “slave”, to translate δοῦλος. “Slave” has such negative connotations in our culture, that one fears losing the positive message in Paul’s use. “Servant” is likely more politically-correct, but does not really reflect the range of meaning of δοῦλος. In the end, I chose “slave”.
I chose to translate πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν θεοῦ as “the faith of God’s chosen ones” instead of “the faith of God’s chosen,” which is more concise, because the indistinct “chosen” possibly made the meaning unclear. One might be led to consider the “chosen” to be Jesus, which it is not. Here it is the people of God, those who share the faith that Paul proclaims, but which indeed was shared among the chosen of God before Paul was made an apostle.
κατ’ εὐσέβειαν “according to godliness/piety” I chose to translate as, “that comes from a godly walk.” I thought of using something along the lines of “that is in agreement, in accord, with godliness.” The idea of the phrase is that this knowledge of the truth is related to a godly lifestyle, a godly manner that comes from the hope of life we have in the message that God has prepared from the dawn of time. I think “godly walk” captures this demeanor or inclination nicely.
Thinking about Paul’s calling himself a “slave”, we probably need to consider our reaction to the word/concept. I would divide the negative outlook on this social arrangement from two vantages: (1) the likelihood of unfair treatment/punishment and (2) the thirst for control in our lives, a distaste for being told “what to do.” The first has to do with the fact that slaves are often treated harshly in comparison to hired laborers and those who actually own the land or have their own means of acquiring security. Our own (American) cultural experience especially leads us to very negative impressions. But if we can imagine Paul’s experience, he has given his body to God entirely. He has been stoned and shipwrecked, among other deprivations. He allows the image to be redeemed by his suffering in Christ’s name. We might benefit from remembering that these bodies are not our own, that we freely offer them to God for his service. If that means suffering, pain, deprivation – we rejoice that we share in the suffering of Christ, identifying with his death and his resurrection.
The second has to do with our distaste for giving up control. Not that individual will is inherently bad, but we must be on guard against thinking that the exercise of our wills is the greatest good. As Paul’s example declares, God’s call is often more rewarding than our own selfish motives. This does not mean a denial of identity or our unique personality, but a willing emptying of ourselves that results in us being more profitable for the kingdom, better knowing who we are and what we are capable of in Christ. Jesus’ example is here helpful, since he not only gave up the “creaturely” comforts, but emptied himself of his Godly prerogatives.
Finally, in this short introduction, there is a repeated idea of the sharing and commonality of the faith. It is the “faith of God’s chosen [ones]” that Paul is a messenger of. It is not just a message he possesses, but one shared by the community. And it is the same faith that he holds as “common” or “shared” with Titus. And the implication is that this faith is related to the proclamation entrusted to Paul, the promise from the beginning, what has been manifested in the right time.