Titus 1:1 Slavery

Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the tenth lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Titus. In this lesson we’ll look at Titus 1:1 and talk about being a slave of God.

Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.


Hi, thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the 10th lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Titus. 

In previous lessons I talked about why Titus was written and why it’s in the Bible, and I talked about the context. Then I worked my way through Titus section by section to take a broad overview of the book. In this lesson I’m going to go back to the beginning of Titus and start working through Titus verse by verse and sentence by sentence to take a deeper look at what Titus teaches us. 

So let’s start at the beginning and read the first verse of Titus. 

Titus 1:1  Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to Godliness,

Notice the third word. The third word is slave. Paul identified himself as a slave of God. This is somewhat common in the New Testament. I want to take some time to look at this in-depth and talk about why Paul identified himself as a slave of God and what this means for you and me. First, I’m going to go through the Bible and look at several verses that talk about slavery.

Let’s look at Genesis 17. This is the chapter where Abraham was told to circumcise himself, his son, and his household. Let’s read verse 23. 

Gen. 17:23   Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.

Abraham did what God told him to do. Notice the phrase “bought with his money”. Abraham had servants whom he had bought. This is a clear indication of slavery. Abraham lived roughly 2000 BC, so this is evidence that there was slavery as far back as 2000 BC. 

Let’s look a little bit later in the book of Genesis at chapter 37. This has to do with the life of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers did not like Joseph very much. They threw Joseph into a pit, intending to kill him, but then they decided to sell him as a slave instead. Let’s read verse 28. 

Gen. 37:28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Now let’s go to Genesis 39 where we see that Joseph was sold again. This is verse 1.

Gen. 39:1   Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.

This is an example of how, at that point in time, people were being bought and sold as slaves. 

Slavery was so prevalent that the Mosaic law made reference to it and acknowledged the fact that slavery was a reality. Let’s look at Leviticus 19 verse 20. This is one of the precepts of the Mosaic law. 

Lev. 19:20   ‘Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free.

Notice the word acquired. This acknowledges the fact that slavery was a reality. The Mosaic Law was given around 1500 BC.

Several centuries later, roughly 1000 BC, Solomon wrote about owning slaves. We see that in one of the books he wrote. This is Ecclesiastes two verse seven. This is Solomon talking about himself. 

Eccl. 2:7 I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves.

We see that in 1000 BC, slavery was a reality. 

Several centuries later, roughly 500 BC, we see that slavery was still a reality in the story of Esther. Let’s read from Esther chapter seven. This is when Esther was before the king, pleading for herself and her people, the Jewish people, to be saved from their impending doom. Esther said the following to the king.

Esth. 7:4 for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.” 

This is a reference from around 500 BC to the practice of buying and selling humans. 

In the first century AD Jesus mentioned the buying and selling of humans. We see this in Matthew 18. This is one of the parables that Jesus told. Let’s start reading at verse 23. 

Matt. 18:23   “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 

This is one of Jesus’s parables. This is not a true story. Nevertheless, I think the fact that Jesus mentioned slavery reflects the reality that slavery is something that was a reality. I don’t think Jesus would have made a reference to slavery if it’s something that was not being practiced.

We have looked at multiple references to slavery throughout the Bible. Slavery has been part of the human experience for thousands of years. Slavery is a very ugly business. Obviously, we wish that slavery would never happen. Despite the ugliness of it, God used it to illustrate our relationship with God. 

We see this in Romans six. Let’s start reading at verse 15. Paul wrote this.

Rom. 6:15   What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Paul used the practice of slavery, as ugly as it was, to illustrate a truth. He drew a contrast between being a slave of sin and being a slave of righteousness. Just as a master owned their slaves, so too Paul wanted us to think about being owned by sin versus being owned by righteousness. As Christians we’re supposed to be slaves of righteousness. We are supposed to be owned by righteousness. 

Paul also used slavery as an illustration in 1 Corinthians. Here he was a little more blunt in what he said about slavery and how it illustrates the Christian life. Let’s take a look at First Corinthians six. Let’s start reading at verse 18. 

1Cor. 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Paul wrote that we have been bought with a price. Jesus Christ bought us with His blood. Therefore, we are slaves of Jesus Christ. Jesus owns us. 

That is what Paul acknowledged in the very first verse of Titus. Let’s go back to Titus and look again at chapter one verse one.

Titus 1:1  Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to Godliness,

Paul, identified himself as a slave of God. He did that because that’s what he was. 

That’s what we are. Jesus Christ bought us with His blood; therefore, we are slaves. Do you think of yourself as a slave of God? Does your life provide evidence of being a slave of God? 

We need to think of ourselves that way. We need to identify ourselves as slaves of Jesus. Furthermore, once we understand that we’re slaves of Jesus and we are here to serve Him, then our behavior and our choices in life need to reflect the fact that we are slaves of God. We are not here on earth to serve ourselves. We are here to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are His slaves.

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Scripture quotations from Titus taken from a translation by Bible Mountain.

“All other Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)