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,
according to the faith of God’s elect
The purpose of Paul’s apostleship was to serve the faith of God’s elect, to bring the elect to faith. His apostleship would nurture their faith by his writing Scripture, among other things.
God’s elect are Christians specially viewed as set apart by God. The concept of election is a central way in which God describes His people. It is a core part of how God deals with His own. No one can come to Christ without God doing His work of drawing people to Himself or convincing them to believe.
Ac 13: 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
God will bring people to salvation “according to the faith of God’s elect.” God’s elect are those chosen by Him. The standard is that you have to be one of those set apart by God. Paul said in effect, “My job is to bring the elect to faith.” This is evangelism. No one knows who the elect are except God.
Jn 6: 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Ro 8: 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
1 Th 1: 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
1 Pe 1: 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
I did not select the Lord; He selected me. I was running from Him as fast as I could, but He singled me out. He convinced me through the Holy Spirit, who convicted me of my sin (Jn 16:8f).
and the acknowledgment of the truth
The second thing God sent Paul to do was to bring God’s elect to acknowledgment of the truth. It is important for believers to get a good hold of “truth,” the truth of the Word of God. God’s truth will produce godliness in the saints (Jn 8:31, 32; 17:17). Saints must come to know the truth in the Bible. First, non-Christians must know the truth.
1 Ti 2: 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Then Christians must rightly divide the Word of God. They must handle it correctly.
2 Ti 2: 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Some Christians learn but never come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Ti 3: 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The “truth” here pertains to godliness. We must know God’s truth before we can be godly. It is necessary for believers to grasp the content of the preached message. To come to “acknowledgment of the truth” is to perceive clearly God’s truth. If an idea is true, it must also work in the world where we live. God’s truth always leads to godliness.
Truth requires rational understanding of what God says. Truth also transforms (Jn 8:32). God’s elect can trust God because they know truth comes from God.
Knowledge of the truth is important in the pastorals (1 Ti 2:4; 2 Ti 2:25; 3:7) because of the human tendency to have a defective knowledge of it (1 Ti 2:2; 3:16).
There is a double-barrel goal of ministry.
The double task of the local church is to preach the gospel to sinners and to teach the Bible to saints. It is not enough to become a Christian. Christians must grow in their faith (2 Pe 3:18).
After people become Christians, the church must teach them about the Christian life. For that, they must study the Word of God both personally and under a pastor-teacher. The pastor-teacher exposes the Word of God systematically, which they cannot get by studying the Bible personally. It is not possible to build the Christian life on religious excitement. Content is necessary. There is no alternative to this.