Paul, a servant of God,.... So James styles himself, James 1:1 and others of the apostles, as Peter and Jude, call themselves the servants of Jesus Christ; and as does the Apostle Paul also; and both seem to be esteemed by them as high characters and titles of honour, by which they chose to be described and known. Paul, before his conversion, was a servant of sin, of divers lusts and pleasures, and which he owns in this epistle, Titus 3:3 but being called by grace, he became free from the vassalage of sin, and became a servant of God, and of righteousness; and henceforward, from a principle of grace, and being constrained by love, served the Lord, and yielded obedience to his commands and ordinances, with all readiness and cheerfulness: though this character belongs to him in a higher sense than it does to believers in common; and respects his ministerial service, or his serving God in the Gospel of his Son; in which he, and others, were eminently the servants of the most high God, whose business greatly lay in showing unto men the way of salvation.
And an apostle of Jesus Christ: constituted, qualified, and sent by him to preach his Gospel; and who had his mission, commission, and doctrine from him; and was an ambassador of his, who represented him, and preached him; and had a power of working miracles to confirm his mission and ministry; and so had all the signs and proofs of an apostle in him; See Gill on Romans 1:1.
And according to the faith of God's elect: which may either denote the agreement there was between the ministry of the apostle, and the faith of the choice and eminent saints of God, under the former dispensation; he saying no other things than what Moses, and the prophets did; and laying no other foundation of salvation than they did, and which is therefore called the foundation of the apostles and prophets; and directing souls to the righteousness, sacrifice, and blood of Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, to which the faith of Old Testament saints looked, and by whose grace they were justified, pardoned, and saved, as we are: or else the way and manner in which he became an apostle; it was "by, in, or through the faith of God's elect", as the Syriac version renders it; he was chosen of God, and brought as such to believe in Christ, and then called to be an apostle: or rather this may regard the end of his apostleship, and be rendered, "unto the faith of God's elect"; that is, either he was appointed an apostle, to preach the doctrine of faith, which once he destroyed, and which is but one, and is common to all the elect, and what is commonly received, and embraced by the elect of God, in all ages; or to be a means and instrument of bringing the elect of God to that faith in Christ, which is peculiar to them; see Romans 1:5. There are some persons who are styled the elect of God; these are not all men, some are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, ungodly men, foreordained to condemnation and given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned; nor the Jews only, nor all of them, for though, as a nation, they were chosen, above all others, to many outward privileges, yet they were not chosen to special grace, and eternal glory; only a remnant, according to the election of grace: but these are some of both, Jews and Gentiles; some of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; these were chosen in Christ from eternity, and are the peculiar objects of the affection and care of God, whom he calls, justifies, and glorifies: and there is a special "faith" that belongs to these; which is a spiritual looking to Christ, a going to him, a laying hold and leaning on him, and trusting in him for salvation; and this faith is peculiar to the elect of God; all men have it not, and those that have it, have it through the free gift of God; nor is it given to any but to the chosen ones. The reason why the Jews did not believe in Christ, was, because they were not of this number, John 10:26. And this faith is secured and, made sure to them by their election; they are chosen to it, and through it to salvation; they believe in consequence, and by virtue of it; and certainly obtain it in all ages, as well as righteousness, life, and salvation; and it is that by which they are known to be the elect of God: and the apostle mentions it in this form, and manner, to distinguish it from other faith; the faith of devils, and of reprobates, and the historical and temporal faith of hypocrites, and nominal professors.
And the acknowledging of the truth; by which is meant the Gospel, often called the truth, and the word of truth; in distinction from that which was shadowy, the ceremonies of the law; and in opposition to that which is false, it being from the God of truth, concerning Christ, who is the truth; and containing nothing but truth, and what is led into by the Spirit of truth. Now to preach, spread, and defend this, was the apostle constituted in his office as such; and which he did preach with all clearness and faithfulness, to bring souls to a spiritual and experimental knowledge of it, and so to an acknowledgment, a public owning and professing of it:
which is after godliness; the Gospel is a doctrine according to godliness; the truths of it have an influence, both on internal and external godliness; they direct to, and promote the worship and fear of God, and a religious, righteous, sober, and godly life and conversation.