Paul begins his letter to Titus by writing “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” These are really momentous words because this where leadership begins.
We can take it for granted that Paul was the servant of Christ. It is a familiar phrase that we have heard many times – leadership is about servant-hood. But in all honesty I have meet very few leaders who have grasped this point fully – and if you are in a place where God is moving you towards the role of leadership, either in the church or in other areas of your life, you need to understand what Paul meant by the phrase “a servant of God.”
Paul’s journey to the place of being a servant of Christ is one that is both remarkable and challenging.
We can forget that it was the Pharisee Saul who became the Apostle Paul.
The Pharisee Saul really did have it made. He was not just a Pharisee – he was a Shammaite Pharisee; the strictest form of Pharisee – a militant right-winger if you could use that term. Saul was taught by Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) – one of the most famous of Pharisees – and Saul had an agenda – his agenda as a Shammaite Pharisee would be his utter zealousness for God and the Torah.
Saul believed that one day soon, Yahweh would be king of all the earth; evil would be decisively defeated; Israel, or at least the true Jews within Israel, would be vindicated as the true people of the one true God. Saul would have been eager for these prophesies to come true and would have believed that there was a coloration between the Israelites zeal for the Torah & God and when the prophecies would be fulfilled. Hence, Saul and the Pharisees would not sit around and wait – they would take matters into their own hands. Israel must become faithful in observing the torah, and if necessary be forced into observing the torah.
To be disloyal to the torah as a Jew meant disloyalty to God and such behavior must be stamped out. It must be stamped out by aggressive teaching – rebuke, exhortation, punishment (expulsion from the synagogue) and, if all this has failed, by violence and death if necessary. Hence Saul’s passion to persecute the early church – the belief in Christ. From Saul’s perspective the followers of Jesus Christ were renegade Jews, disloyal to the Torah, disloyal to Yahweh and it had to be stamped out to preserve and fulfill God’s word.
Saul’s life, his direction and his purpose were as complete as any life could possibly be. He had an impeccable pedigree. Phil 3:4-6 says If others think they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. – Trained by the very best, incredibly bright, passionate – a loyal servant of Yahweh and almost certainly would have become The High Priest. He had it made at every level.
And then he met Jesus Christ.