Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.
(Titus 3:1-15 KJV)
Believers – love and are beloved
Tit_3:1. From this and other passages, it is evident that the apostle thought it most important for believers to be law-abiding, peaceful people, submitting to those in authority. We are all by nature desirous of power and prone to have our own way. It takes much grace to be an obedient servant, a submissive wife or child, a peaceful citizen, especially if those in authority are opposed to Christ (Rom_13:1-3; 1Pe_2:13-18).
‘Be prepared and willing to do any upright and honorable work.’ Let our lives be characterized by goodness and gentleness to all (Rom_13:7-8). The grace of Christ is not limited to religious affiliations, but controls the whole of our lives.
Tit_3:2. The good minister of Christ will remind believers to ‘speak evil of no man.’ This is the method of maintaining peace and friendship with all men! A man’s name, reputation and character are tender topics and ought to be handled carefully!Contempt for others is usually followed by insult. A thought of contempt usually gives birth to words of unkindness. Speak not evil of those in power and authority.
‘To be no brawlers.’ The word here is ‘be not contentious, quarrelsome and always fighting.’ There are other ways of fighting than with fists and guns; the believer is to engage in neither! Church members, married people, parents and children, neighbors who are forever quarreling, striving and bickering are very unbecoming to Christ and generally reveal by their attitude their ignorance of his grace. Let us be gentle and forbearing showing real courtesy and kindness to all people (Eph_4:32).
Tit_3:3. Nothing will subdue a man’s pride, moderate his severity toward others and cause him to be gentle and forgiving like remembering what he was by nature before Christ forgave him and made him a new creature! Ignorance of our past sins and our present faults is the only reason why we are unforgiving, unmerciful and critical! In order that we might be more gentle and loving toward others, Paul exhorts us to remember what we were: ‘Foolish, disobedient to God, deceived in heart and mind, serving our fleshly lusts, living in hatred and envy.’ This knowledge of what we were and what God has been pleased to do for us by his grace alone should bring forth great grace and kindness toward those whom we regard to be wrong. Since our Lord by these marks distinguishes the children of God from unbelievers, we must both love and be beloved (1Jn_4:7-8).
Tit_3:4. ‘The goodness and love of God our Saviour’ was made known to all of the saints of the Old Testament in promise, prophecy and blessings. The goodness and love of God our Saviour is said to have ‘appeared’ (was manifested) when our Lord Jesus came to earth in the flesh. He gave actual demonstration that he did not in vain promise salvation to men. This verse refers to the manifestation of his goodness and love to us personally and in a special manner by his Spirit. The grace and love of Christ ‘appeared’ to us when we were enlightened in the knowledge of the gospel!
Tit_3:5. The Lord saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but wholly and completely because of his mercy and grace (2Ti_1:9). The motive and reason for our redemption are found in God, not in us. It is foolishness to think that a man comes to God by his own merit, works, or deeds. We by nature depart further and further from God until he puts forth his hand and brings us to himself by the ‘washing of regeneration’ (that is, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit)! We are born of water and the Spirit. The cause of regeneration is the Spirit and the means is the word of God, whereby we are washed and cleansed. Our hearts are purified by faith and our consciences are purged by the blood of Christ. ‘The renewing of the Holy Ghost’ refers to the new creature, the new man, the new heart and the newness of life and conduct under the influence of the Spirit of God. We have no cause to boast in ourselves or over others (1Co_4:7). Let us show mercy as we have received mercy!
Tit_3:6. The love and kindness of God the Father come through Christ. The mercy of God is through Christ. Salvation itself is by and through Christ. The grace communicated in regeneration and renewing is out of Christ’s fullness, the Spirit himself being given forth through Christ. Christ’s every supply of grace, by which the work is carried on, is wrought in us by Christ’s hands (Eph_2:8-10).
Heirs, hope, holiness and heretics
Tit_3:7. The design of Paul in Tit_3:5-7 is to ascribe to the grace and mercy of God all that we are, all that we have and all that we shall be. We must not exalt ourselves proudly against others nor treat them unkindly (see Tit_3:2-3). Neither regeneration, justification, nor sonship is acquired by labour, works, or law, but by the free gift of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ.
‘Made heirs.’ In eternity past God made us his sons in Christ and heirs of the grace of life by his gracious act of adoption (Eph_1:3-5; Eph_1:11; Rom_8:29-31).
‘Justified by his grace.’ Justification is the act of God by which he wills not to impute sins to his people, but to Christ their Surety. We are righteous through the righteousness of Christ. We are totally free from all judgment, condemnation and sin by the sacrifice of Christ (Rom_8:33-34). When Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised in him, justified, acquitted and freed from guilt (Rom_4:7-8; Rom_4:23-25).
‘According to the hope of eternal life.’ We are still in the world, though we are heirs of life and certain to possess all of his blessings in Christ. We do not yet enjoy the reality of it, but our hope in Christ and Christ, ‘who is our hope,’ give us the full and complete certainty of eternal life.
Tit_3:8. ‘A faithful saying.’ Paul uses this expression when he wishes to make a very strong point and solemn declaration (1Ti_1:15; 2Ti_2:11). Titus is cautioned to teach those things which are certain, to dwell on those things and leave others to talk idly about other things of little importance! One thing is quite certain – those who believe God (who are justified, regenerated and children of God by his grace) are to live holy and godly lives, being very careful to maintain works of faith and labors of love. One cannot separate faith and conduct (Jas_2:17; Jas_2:20). Applying ourselves to honorable occupations and doing good to others is profitable to us and to all men.
Tit_3:9. ‘Avoid foolish questions’ which contribute nothing to godliness. It is necessary to seek in order to find, but there is a limit to seeking. We bow to things God has revealed and leave the secret things to him (2Ti_2:23).
‘Avoid genealogies.’ Foolish men spend time studying the lineage of tribes, races and leaders. This is a total waste of time (1Ti_1:4).
‘Avoid contentions and strivings about the law.’ The law itself does not produce contention, for those who love God love God’s law. Legalists and ceremonialists disturb the peace of the church by their absurd controversies over the observance of ceremonies, foods and drinks, holy days and circumcision. In our preaching and teaching, we should always be concerned for those things that are true, that bring glory to Christ and that are profitable and useful to believers. Contentions and strivings about the law are not!
Tit_3:10-11. A ‘heretic’ is one who denies a fundamental doctrine of Christianity having to do with the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the doctrines relating to the person, office and work of Christ and the inspiration of the Scriptures. (A heretic prefers his own opinion to the clear revelation of scripture.) ‘After his error has been solemnly admonished by the church at least twice, have nothing to do with him socially, privately, or in church communion.’ Such a person has departed from the faith, is corrupted and will go on sinning against God, proving himself unworthy of fellowship. The church is justified in its rejection and exclusion of him.
Tit_3:12-13. These men were evidently ministers of the gospel, friends and co-laborers with Paul. He would send one of them to Crete to aid the church while Titus came to confer with him. Paul wanted Titus to bring Zenas and Apollos with him, seeing that they wanted for nothing. The church should always see that God’s true servants are properly cared for.
Tit_3:14. Two popular applications of this verse are:
1. Let our people apply themselves to honest labour and employment so that they can supply their families, help those in need, support the gospel and relieve the poor. We must not live idle and unfruitful lives.
2. All good works in general are intended and done from a principle of love, with a view to the glory of God. Good works are the fruit of the Spirit and of God’s grace. They are fruits of righteousness. People who are without them are like trees without fruit – useless and unprofitable!
Tit_3:15. ‘All who are with me wish to be remembered to you.’ They send their greetings. ‘Greet those who love us in Christ. God’s favour and blessings be with you all. Amen; so be it.’
Henry Mahan (Bible Commentaries)