Jesus' Parables for Disciples
8. Christ's Return and Redemption (Titus 2:13-3:15)by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Gustave Doré, detail from 'The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism' (1860), oil on canvas, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario.
Two of the theological highlights we encounter in the second half of Paul's Letter to Titus point us to the "Blessed Hope" of Christ's return, as well as, spiritual birth or regeneration in believers through the Holy Spirit that Christ taught about. All this is woven together with Paul's theme of building godly lives in these new believers on Crete.
We pick up our study in mid-sentence, where Paul has been urging Titus to teach believers "
"... To live godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope." (Titus 2:12b-13a)
This patient waiting is an expression of our faith. The Greek verb prosdechomai means "to look forward to, wait for."398 This kind of eager expectation for the future, decisive act of God in the End Time -- "the Day of the Lord" -- has been found in many godly men and women.
- Simeon: "waiting for399 the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25).
- Anna the Prophetess: "looking forward to400 the redemption of Israel" (Luke 2:38).
- Joseph of Arimathea: "waiting for the kingdom of God" (Matthew 15:43; Luke 23:51).
- Paul: "have a hope in God ... that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15).
- Jude: "as you wait for401 the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life" (Jude 21).
James, the Lord's brother, compares it to a farmer's patient waiting for the harvest.
"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for402 the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5:7-8)
Jesus' Teaching on His Second Coming
Jesus was quite clear to his disciples that he would return at the End of the Age.
"As lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.... (Matthew 24:27)
"30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:30--31)
39b ... That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." (Matthew 24:39--41)
"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40)
Jesus gave several parables that teach us to remain expectant and ready for Christ's coming.
- Parables of the Watching Servants (Luke 12:35-39; Mark 13:34-37)
- Parable of the Burglar (Luke 12:39-40; Matthew 24:43-44)
- Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
The Blessed Hope, the Glorious Appearing (Titus 2:13)
Paul picks up on this expectation on Christ's Second Coming in his exhortation to Titus:
"13 ... while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:13-14)
Paul calls Christ's coming "the blessed hope." "Blessed" here means "especially favored, blessed, fortunate, happy, privileged."403 "Hope" means "expectation, that for which we hope."404 In spite of our struggles, in spite of our circumstances in this life, we have something wonderful to look forward to -- the Blessed Hope of Christ's Return. Hallelujah!
Paul calls Christ's coming, an "appearing," a Greek word related to our English word "epiphany." "As a technical term relating to transcendence, [the Greek noun epiphaneia] refers to a visible and frequently sudden manifestation of a hidden divinity, either in the form of a personal appearance, or by some deed of power or oracular communication by which its presence is made known."405 We see it used several times to refer to Christ's return in judgment:
"... until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Timothy 6:14)
"In view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge." (2 Timothy 4:1)
"... to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)
"... by the appearance of his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
"Appearing, appearance" is similar to the idea of Christ being "revealed"406 or "revelation" (apokalypsis), at which time God reveals the resplendent Christ and unveils his plan for the End Time. This what the Book of Revelation is all about.
In our text, Paul refers to Christ's "glorious appearing." Christ's coming will be glorious in that it will be accompanied by angels, various phenomena in earth and heaven, and great power -- the coming of the Great King! Here are some verses that hint at the power and glory of the occasion:
"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:27; Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26)
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels.... (Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38)
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him...." (Matthew 25:31-32)
"This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.... the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed." (2 Thessalonians 1:7b, 9-10)
"The Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones...." (Jude 14)
Christ's coming will be seen all over the earth in glory, the last trumpet will sound, the dead in Christ will rise from their graves, Christ will judge the world, and reign forever with his saints -- you and me. Hallelujah!407
Q1. (Titus 2:12-13) If we were convinced that Christ
would soon return, what effect would that have on the way we conduct ourselves?
Why is this hope "blessed"? In what way will Christ's return exhibit his glory?
Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13b-14)
"13 ... while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:13-14)
Now Paul turns from the event of Christ's coming to its result: full salvation. How are we to understand Paul's words? They can be seen as:
- Our great God and Savior" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB, NJB), a two-fold designation of one divine Person, or
- "Our great God and our Savior" (KJV), referring to the two divine Persons.
Fee argues that Paul intends Our Great God to refer to Jesus our Savior. He gives three reasons.
- A single definite article before "great God" is best understood as controlling both nouns together;
- God and Savior" is stereotyped terminology in the Septuagint and Hellenistic literature of the time; and
- Nowhere else is God the Father understood to be joining the Son in the Second Coming.408
Thus, Fee concludes that this verse "becomes one of the few unambiguous statements in the Pauline corpus that Jesus is God."409
Christ's Redemption (Titus 2:14)
Paul concludes this section outlining the purpose of Christ's redemption.
"... Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:14)
The word "redeem" (lytroō) comes from the realm of slavery, "to free by paying a ransom."410 It refers to manumission, not by declaration where one frees his slaves out of the goodness of his heart, but through the payment of a price based on the value of the slave. This should raise all sorts of thoughts in us -- such as the infinite value of the human soul.
Notice that Paul emphasizes Jesus "gave himself" for us. He wasn't part of some deal God had worked out. He gave himself! As he told his disciples before his crucifixion:
"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28)
"... who gave himself as a ransom412 for all men" (1 Timothy 2:6).
"Christ is the mediator of a new covenant ... now that he has died as a ransom413 to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." (Hebrews 9:15)
Jesus "gave himself" with clear intentionality. It was very, very costly. Make no mistake! But his goal was to achieve two things:
- Redeem us from sin and wickedness.414 Here he forgives us and releases us from the slavery and power of sin.
- Purify415 a people so they are eager416 to do good works. He purifies our hearts and motives, so that we want to do good of our own free will, not as a means to an end that improves our status with man or God.
God's purpose for us is not just getting us to heaven, but so that we might be able to display his glory here on earth through us, in our everyday lives, and shed his mercy abroad to the world he loves.
Q2. (Titus 2:14) According to verse 14, what are the two
purposes of Christ's redemption? Why do we need to purified so that we can do
truly "good" works?
Correcting Bad Doctrine and Lifestyle (Titus 2:15)
As You'll recall, after evangelizing the island of Crete together, Paul left Titus behind to set up church leadership in every congregation and to establish them in sound doctrine. The Cretans seem like a tough lot. As Paul described them:
"There are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced!" (Titus 1:10-11a)
It takes a tough, aggressive leader to work effectively in this situation -- one who is not easily intimidated by his opponents. Paul has outlined what should be taught; now he exhorts Titus:
"These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you." (Titus 2:15)
Notice the four verbs in verse 15, for they teach us how to lead.
- Speak out.417 Titus is to speak and not be silent. He is to teach clearly.
- Exhort.418 Titus is to urge his hearers strongly. A mild discourse won't work. He must put his heart and soul into it with the intent to influence his hearers.
- Rebuke with authority.419 Titus must expose the false doctrine and corrupt lifestyles and convince his hearers that a fully Christian faith and lifestyle are superior. He must speak with the authority of one sent by God with command authority. This is hard for some of us, but sometimes it is the course a leader must take.
- Don't be bullied.420 Don't let anyone get away with putting you down, showing disrespect or contempt. As a pastor, I learned the hard way that we can put up with a lot -- and must. We must certainly choose our battles. But we cannot allow open disrespect among our leaders. If we don't deal with open disrespect firmly, it will destroy our ability to lead the flock.
I expect that Titus was a bit older than Timothy, since Paul doesn't talk about his age. But Paul's direction to Titus is quite similar to what he said to Timothy:
"Let no one despise421 you for your youth" (1 Timothy 4:12, ESV)
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2-3)
Final Teaching Guidelines (Titus 3:1-2)
Much of Paul's Letter to Titus outlines how he should teach and deal with various groups within his congregations. He concludes this with a catch-all sentence -- general guidelines for all groups -- final reminders.
"1 Remind422 the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men." (Titus 3:1-2)
Submissive to rulers. The first two teaching points discuss to a Christian's relationship to governing authorities. Paul sometimes refers to "principalities and powers" (KJV) to refer to an evil hierarchy in the spirit world423 that we are to resist (Ephesians 6:10-18). In our passage, the "rulers and authorities"424 (NIV, NRSV, ESV) refer to government leaders. We are to show them submission, to voluntarily submit ourselves425 -- except when they require us to do something prohibited by God (Acts 5:29).
Obedient to leaders. Paul adds the word "obey." Where submit (hypotassō) suggests voluntary submission, "obey" (peitharcheō)426 is a bit stronger. This accords with teaching elsewhere in the New Testament.
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1)
"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:13--14)
This isn't caving in to government -- and in the first century, these were pagan governments. It is voluntarily submission "for the Lord's sake," in that we acknowledge that He is behind proper order in society. In addition to governmental leaders, we are to render obedience to congregational leaders:
Doing good deeds. Doing good works has been a theme in the Pastoral Epistles, mentioned five times in Titus.429 Readiness430 to do good deeds suggests an eagerness to please God and a preparation to make oneself available to make a difference in His world (2 Timothy 2:21; 3:17).
The next four characteristics seem to go together. They consist of a manner, an approach, to relationships with "all people," both government officials, people in the town, as well as people in the Christian community and our family.
"To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men." (Titus 3:2)
Not backbiting. Now Paul turns to relationships with people. "To slander no one" means we are not to "speak in a disrespectful way that demeans, denigrates, or maligns."431 A couple of years ago, God convicted me that every time I recommended a certain art teacher, I always qualified it with a criticism of her character. I stopped. My parents taught me, "If you can't say something good about someone, don't say it." Our political speech has degraded much in recent years. Christians need to speak respectfully of everyone, even those we disagree with. Anything else reflects badly on our Savior. To say, "It's just politics!" is a worldly excuse!
Peaceful. "To be peaceable" (NIV), "to avoid quarreling" (ESV, NRSV), "to be no brawlers" (KJV)432 comes from the word for fighting (machē). We are instructed to be "not contentious, disinclined to fight."433 Yes, there is a time to stand our ground, but, as Paul tells us,
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)
Reasonable. "Considerate" (NIV), "gentle" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is "not insisting on every right or letter of law or custom, yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant."434 It's the opposite of picky, prickly, unreasonable -- the kind of person you have to handle with "kid gloves."
Humble. The Greek word suggests, "the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance, gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness" in the older favorable sense.435
These are words that describe a woman or man of true Christian character, gracious, winsome, easy to get along with, mature in Christ. When I compare myself with some of these descriptions, I fall short. Lord, help me grow!
Q3. (Titus 3:1-2) What should be a Christian's response
to civil government, even government by those who do not share our values? How
does an anti-government stance hurt the cause of Christ? How does gossip or
backbiting hurt the cause of Christ? How does it hurt the unity of the church?
We' re going to spend considerable time on these verses, since they capsulize in condensed form the core of the Christian faith. Observe these steps in verses 3-7
- Verse 3 -- Condition, our desperate situation,
- Verse 4 -- Cause: God's love for us
- Verse 5a -- Action: Salvation by grace,
- Verses 5b-6 -- Means: The Holy Spirit's work to make us new.
- Verse 7 -- Result: Heirs of eternal life.
Paul caps it off by observing in verse 8a: "This is a trustworthy saying." Let's look at these verses one at a time.
Condition: Our Desperate Situation (Titus 3:3)
Before Christ, we were a mess. If not all of the following descriptors applied to us, perhaps many would be apt.
"At one time we too were foolish,436 disobedient,437 deceived438 and enslaved by439 all kinds of passions440 and pleasures.441 We lived in malice442 and envy,443 being hated444 and hating445 one another." (Titus 3:3)
In short, our value system and motivational system were faulty, causing our life to be in confusion and disorder -- at the very least. And because of that, we nursed grudges towards others, just as they held grudges against us.
But when things are at their worst, grace shines brightest, since it is so undeserved.
Cause: God's Love for Us (verse 4)
Let's pause here and look carefully at God's attitude towards us. We lived for ourselves, refusing God's sovereignty and direction for our lives. Thank God, he didn't reciprocate! Look at verse 4:
"When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared...." (Titus 3:4)
Goodness, kindness, translate a Greek noun that means "usefulness, helpfulness," here, "the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity."446 The word is often used by Paul to describe God's character.447
Love, loving kindness, here, is not agapē, as we might expect, but philanthrōpia (from which we get our word "philanthropic"), an "affectionate concern for and interest in humanity."448
Savior. This love shows itself in God being to us "one who rescues, savior, deliverer, preserver."449 We've seen this title "God our Savior" three other times previously in Titus (1:1; 1:3; 2:10), and once more of Jesus himself (Titus 2:13).450 God is in the saving business, and to save all mankind, he sent his Son to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, thus releasing us from their power and forgiving us.
Appeared.451 God's saving work "appeared" in Jesus his Son and his saving act as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross.
Action: Salvation by Grace (verse 5a)
Now the amazing salvation is addressed in verse 5.
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy...." (Titus 3:5)
Again, let's consider each element here.
Saved. Instead of looking at this word as Christian jargon, think in terms of "rescue," specifically, "save, keep from harm, preserve, rescue," here, "save/preserve from eternal death."452
Not our goodness. We are so prone to look to ourselves, to the "righteous things453 we had done," as the cause of God's acceptance. But this kind of thinking is blind to all our sins and only sees our supposed goodness. But even our goodness, our so-called "righteousness" is flawed by mixed motives and self-interest. As Isaiah puts it, "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) -- literally, a "menstruation cloth or garment."454
Mercy. Justice would require severe penalty for our sins, which are many. But instead, God offers mercy, "kindness or concern expressed for someone in need, mercy, compassion, pity, clemency."455 Our salvation is "because of" or "according to" God's mercy.456 This is God's grace (charis), a concept very closely related to mercy. Grace refers to God's favor towards us without regard to being earned or deserved. Mercy refers to God's compassion for us in our desperate situation.
Paul says something similar to Timothy near the end of the apostle's life:
"[God] who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace." (2 Timothy 1:9a)
Don't miss this, my friend. At the very center of Christianity is the belief that we needed a Savior, that we couldn't get to God on our own. If we believe that good works save us, then the cross becomes irrelevant and unnecessary.
Q4. (Titus 3:4-5) Why is it important to stress that our
salvation has nothing to do with our righteous actions? How can otherwise
"good" works be corrupted by self-serving motives? How can pride and
self-deceit keep us from salvation?
Means: Washing, Rebirth, Renewal by the Spirit (verses 5b-6)
As we mentioned, Paul considers:
- Verse 3 -- our desperate condition
- Verse 4 -- God's love for us
- Verse 5a -- Salvation by grace, and now,
- Verses 5b-6 -- the Holy Spirit's work to make us new.
"[He saved us] through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:5b-6)
These verses allow us to focus on the Christian Doctrine of Regeneration. It can be defined as:
"A secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called 'being born again' (using language from John 3: 3--8)" (Grudem).457
"An inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit" (Packer).458
Again, let's examine the words of verse 5b:
Washing is a modifier of the next word "rebirth." It probably refers to baptism, but deeper than that, it is the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit within us that baptism signifies. We see a similar concept in Ephesians:
"Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word...." (Ephesians 5:25b-26)
Rebirth, regeneration translate the Greek noun paliggenesia, "state of being renewed, renewal," here, "experience of a complete change of life, rebirth."459 This is a compound word formed from two words: palin, "anew, again" + genesis, "birth, nativity." Jesus talks to Nicodemus using this language:
"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3)
Nicodemus objects that physical rebirth is impossible. Jesus disagrees -- no, insists -- on a spiritual application using the language of birth.
"5b I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:5-8)
Jesus is not talking about two physical births, but a second birth by means of the Spirit. What wasn't previously alive to God in our spirit -- our connection to God -- suddenly comes alive through the Holy Spirit who comes to live within us.
Evangelicals have sometimes reduced "born again" to religious jargon describing an emotional experience of inviting Christ into one's life so that He might dwell there through His Spirit. And it is! But it is more than jargon. It is more than an emotional experience. It is a spiritual reality. Once Nicodemus was very religious but spiritually dead. Then, through Christ's Spirit, he became spiritually alive and put his life and career on the line by joining Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus (John 19:39).
The importance of the Doctrine of Regeneration is that we Christians are convinced that a person doesn't become a child of God by intellectual assent to a theological truth (though that is surely involved), by repentance (which is required), or by surrender to Christ (and that is a necessity), but by a sovereign act of God, sending his Spirit to dwell inside the person and permanently alter his spiritual condition. Rebirth is God's work! Paul says:
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Renewal, renewing, is the third key word in this powerful sentence. The Greek noun is anakainōsis, "renewal," "a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better,"460 a compound word derived from ana-, "repetition, renewal" + kainōsis, "renewal."
"By the Holy Spirit" expresses the agent of this change, this renewal -- God's Holy Spirit.
Result: Heirs Who Are Justified by Grace (Titus 3:7-8)
This passage is capped off by the result:
"... 7 So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying." (Titus 3:4-8)
Verse 7 mentions four powerful ideas, some repeated from earlier sentences:
Justified is a legal term that means, "to render a favorable verdict, vindicate, justify, treat as just," here, "to be acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous."461 Because of the gracious act of Jesus dying on the cross, taking our sins upon him, taking our judgment in our place, God now declares us acquitted, as in a righteous standing before him. Amazing as it sounds, that is what Christ did for us.462 As Paul puts it:
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Grace, we looked at above under the closely-related word "mercy."
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:5)
As noted above, "grace" (charis) is, at its root, "favor," specifically, "a beneficent disposition toward someone, favor, grace, gracious care/help, goodwill,"463 that has nothing to do with whether it is deserved. It is one-sided, unilateral, all in the inclination of the benefactor. I remember it as God's favor that is neither earned nor deserved. For more on this, see my study, Grace: Favor for the Undeserving (JesusWalk Publications, 2022; www.jesuswalk.com/grace/ ).
Heirs means that we qualify to inherit -- "one who is designated as heir," then, "one who receives something as a possession, beneficiary."464 As Paul puts it:
"You are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 4:7)
Being born again, children with God as our Father this time, we are now his heirs. We inherit everything!
"All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
Hope of eternal life. The inheritance is ours, but hasn't been fully received yet. Thus the "hope" or future "expectation"465 Christ's return is the event that precipitates all the blessings bestowed on God's people. Peter, too, links our new birth with being heirs.
"In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope ... and into an inheritance ... kept in heaven for you ... ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3-5)
A Trustworthy Saying (Titus 3:8a)
Paul caps off this section with a phrase found several times in the Pastoral Epistles:
"This is a trustworthy saying." (Titus 3:8a)
The saying is "trustworthy" (NIV, NASB, ESV), "sure" (NRSV), "faithful" (KJV), that is -- in contrast to speculative, false teaching -- it is "pertaining to being worthy of belief or trust, trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust/faith."466 Paul uses this formula to highlight main points and draw attention to them. Often the phrase refers to what Paul is about to write (1 Timothy 1:15: 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11). In our verse, it looks back to what he has just written.
Q5. (Titus 3:5-8) If "regeneration" is necessary, what
does that imply about our spiritual state before salvation? What is "new" after
salvation? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our salvation? In our
Now, Paul turns back to the message of authentic Christian living that he has been urging Titus to teach and model over the last couple of chapters, the kind of living that will be a good advertisement for Christianity in the larger community.
Doing Good, Not Quarrelling (Titus 3:8b-14)
Paul concludes with positive and negative reminders:
- Stress these things in your ministry -- elements of godly living.
- Don't be argumentative and associate with argumentative people.
First, the positive:
"8b And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." (Titus 3:8b)
When there is misinformation all around us, it is easy to become reactive and try to set the record straight. But Paul urges Titus not to waste his time this way. Rather, positively, he is to "stress" or "insist on"467 right living. A way of life that leaves sin and tawdriness behind and begins to "devote"468 itself to good and excellent behavior469 that bears fruit in a better life470 for the individual, the family, and the Christian community.
Yes, Titus is to rebuke bad and divisive behavior, but not waste much time on it.
"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." (Titus 3:9)
He is to avoid controversial topics that aren't central to the faith. The Greek verb suggests skirting or going around the topic so as to avoid it.471 Such arguments472 don't lead to anything positive, but are empty of any value.473 Spending time teaching good behavior is "profitable" (verse 8b); controversies are "unprofitable" (verse 9).
I'm sure You've found that some people love to argue. They seem to thrive on it. But controversy feeds division and is a serious threat to unity. There are divisive people!474 So Paul commands.
"10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." (Titus 3:9-11)
Give a verbal "warning," an "admonition,"475 Paul tells Titus. Give a second warning, if necessary. After that, "have nothing to do with" the person. The Greek verb carries the idea of "to avoid, reject," perhaps even "discharge, dismiss, drive out."476 It's a strong word!
Paul gives similar advice at the end of his Letter to the Romans:
"17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from477 them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." (Romans 16:17--18)
I've found that optimism is both a strength and a weakness. I'm generally an optimistic person. That's good. But it also means that I don't want to give up on a person. I've learned the hard way, however, that the job of a leader is to show the door to leaders or others to endanger and poison the body. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn.
Some people, Paul says, can't be helped unless they seriously repent. He describes people like this with three words:
Divisive people, people who keep stirring up controversy, have serious problems -- sins. To allow such people to remain in the body puts it in danger. They are self-condemned, in that, by persisting in sinful behavior they have put themselves on the outside of the fellowship. So warn, pray that they will repent (2 Timothy 2:24-26), and then move on. Don't waste time. If they persist and it is causing problems in the body, deal with it.
I am dismayed when I see churches embrace political positions and become vocal advocates of political candidates and political parties. They embrace controversy! They put down the opposite view publicly. They seek to wield political power. But the gospel is now overshadowed by controversy and politics. That congregation becomes known for its politics rather than its good news of Jesus' salvation. And the sins of the political leader they endorse become identified with the church itself.
8.4 Conclusion (Titus 3:12-15)
Now, as in nearly all Paul's letters, he gives some personal greetings and instructions.
Titus to Return to Paul (Titus 3:12)
"As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there." (Titus 3:12)
Location of Nicopolis. Larger map.
Titus, you recall, is on temporary assignment in Crete. Paul plans to send either Artemas or Tychicus to replace him so he can return to attend Paul personally.
This is the only time that Artemas is mentioned -- probably a Greek name. Tychicus, on the other hand is mentioned five times in the New Testament.481 Tychicus (Greek "chance") is from the Roman Province of Asia with its capital in Ephesus. Elsewhere, Paul refers to Tychicus as a "dear brother" "faithful servant," "fellow servant," and "faithful minister" (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). He is a trusted co-worker that Paul is able to send to trouble spots to represent him.
The expression "to winter in" refers to the necessity for ships in the Mediterranean to find safe harbor during the dangerous stormy season when travel by sea is impossible.482
Many scholars believe Titus and 1 Timothy were written in a two- or three-year period after Paul's first imprisonment in Rome and before his final imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:6-8). During this time, it seems that he travelled to Crete, Nicopolis, Corinth, Troas, Miletus, and perhaps even to Spain. Nicopolis is an ancient Greek city on the west coast of Achaia. For more on this, see my study on Apostle Paul: Passionate Discipleship (JesusWalk, 2019), Lesson 10.
Zenas and Apollos (Titus 3:13)
"Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need." (Titus 3:13)
Zenas is the contraction of a Greek name meaning "gift of Zeus." Apparently, he is a Christian missionary ministering in Crete, probably an expert Roman or Greek law (rather than Jewish law). This is the only time Zenas appears in the New Testament. Apollos may be the Alexandrian Jew who ministered in Ephesus and Corinth (Acts 18:24-19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-6; 16:12), and may have been the bearer of Paul's Letter to Titus.
Titus is instructed to help Zenas and Apollos and "see that they have everything they need." They, too, are God's itinerant evangelists, deserving of food, shelter, as well as provisions and money for their journey ahead.483
The early church was largely built through itinerant evangelists who spread the gospel and started churches throughout the Mediterranean region -- with the assistance of the believers "to send them on their way," as was the custom among the early Christian Church.484 They would be followed by the appointment of local elders who would disciple the new believers.
Living Productive Lives (Titus 3:14)
Reminding Titus to help Zenas and Apollos brings Paul back to one of the major themes of this short letter -- teaching new Christians how to conduct themselves so their lives begin to shine the light of Christ in their communities.
Verse 14 can be interpreted as working hard to provide for their own necessities (NIV), or to provide for the urgent needs of others (ESV, NRSV),488 though the latter seems to fit the context of verse 13 better. Titus is teaching hard work, love, generosity, care for others. As Guthrie puts is, "All who engage in such works of mercy need never fear that they will be unfruitful."489
Final Greetings (Titus 3:15)
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Paul concludes with his characteristic blessings.
"Everyone with me sends you greetings.490 Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all." (Titus 3:15)
Paul's final word is "grace" -- God's favor that is undeserved and unearnable, but which is to be cherished above all. Amen.
Thank you, Lord, for redemption, for rebirth, for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Help us to live as you would have us to live -- lives of purpose and significance, in which people around us can see your love oozing out. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7)
 Participle of prosdechomai.
 Participle of prosdechomai.
 Participle of prosdechomai.
 "Waits for" is ekdechomai, "to remain in a place or state and await an event or the arrival of someone, expect, wait" (BDAG 300).
 Makarios, "pertaining to being especially favored, blessed, fortunate, happy, privileged," here, of things or experiences, "blessed" (BDAG 611, 2bγ).
 Elpis, BDAG 320, 3.
 Epiphaneia, BDAG 385.
 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; etc.
 Fee, Pastoral Epistles, p. 196. Fee sees "Jesus Christ" as standing in apposition to "the glory of God" -- "What will be manifested is God's glory, namely, Jesus Christ." Guthrie (Pastoral Epistles, p. 200) asserts that "the evidence seems to weigh slightly in favor of" the translation "our great God and Savior" (NIV, etc.). Knight (Pastoral Epistles, pp. 322-326) looks at the question in some depth, evaluates the arguments pro and con, and concludes that one divine person is spoken of, Jesus, not two.
 Fee, Pastoral Epistles, p. 326. Other verses include Romans 9:5; John 1:1; 1:18; 20:28; Hebrews 1:8ff; 2 Peter 1:1; and possibly 1 John 5:20.
 "Redeem" is lytroō, "to free by paying a ransom, redeem," then figuratively, "to liberate from an oppressive situation, set free, rescue, redeem" (BDAG 606, 2).
 Lytron, BDAG 605.
 Antilytron, "ransom" (BDAG 89).
 Apolutrōsis, "buying back" a slave or captive, that is, "making free" by payment of a ransom. Here, "redemption, acquittal" (BDAG 117, 2a).
 "Wickedness" (NIV), "iniquity" (NRSV, KJV), "lawlessness" (ESV) is anomia, "lawless," here, "the product of a lawless disposition, a lawless deed" (BDAG 85, 2).
 "Purify" is katharizō, "make clean, cleanse," here of moral and cultic cleansing, "cleanse, purify" from sin (BDAG 488, 3bα).
 "Eager to do" (NIV), "zealous" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the noun zēlōtēs, "one who is earnestly committed to a side or cause, enthusiast, adherent, loyalist" (BDAG 427, 1aβ).
 "Teach" (NIV), "declare" (ESV, NRSV), "speak" (KJV) is very common verb laleō, "speak" (BDAG 582, 2b).
 "Encourage" (NIV), "exhort" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is parakaleō, "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage" (BDAG 765, 2).
 "Rebuke" (NIV, ESV, KJV), "reprove" (NRSV) is elegchō, which can have three senses: (1) "to scrutinize or examine carefully, bring to light, expose, set forth;" (2) "to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince someone of something, point something out to someone;" (3) "to express strong disapproval of someone's action, reprove, correct." BDAG points this verse to definition 1, with possibility for definition 3 (BDAG 315). "Authority" is epitagē, "right or authority to command, authority" (BDAG 383), from epitassō, "to order, command" someone.
 "Despise" (NIV, KJV), "disregard" (ESV), "look down on you" (NRSV) is periphroneō, "to have disdain for, disregard, look down on, despise" (BDAG 808).
 "Look down on" (NIV), "despise" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is kataphroneō, "to look down on someone or something with contempt or aversion, with implication that one considers the object of little value, look down on, despise, scorn, treat with contempt" (BDAG 529, 1).
 "Remind" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "put them in mind" (KJV) is hypomimnēskō, "remind someone of something" (BDAG 1039, 1a). This is "a prolonged form" of mnaomai, cf. mimnēskō, "remind" (Strong's #3403).
 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:10, 15.
 "Rulers" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "principalities" (KJV) is the plural of archē, "an authority figure who initiates activity or process, ruler, authority" (BDAG 138, 6). "Authorities" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "powers" (KJV) is the plural of exousia, "bearer of ruling authority," here, "human authorities, officials, government" (BDAG 353, 5a).
 "Be subject" (NIV, NRSV, KJV) "be submissive" (ESV) is the passive of hypotassō, "subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey" (BDAG 1042, 1bβ).
 "Be obedient" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "obey magistrates" (KJV) is peitharcheō, "obey" (BDAG 791). Literally, "to obey (a ruler or superior)," which is brought out in the KJV (Thayer 497).
 "Obey" is peithō, "obey, follow" (BDAG 792, 3b).
 "Submit" is hypeikō, "give way to," here, "to yield to someone's authority, yield, give way, submit" (BDAG 1030).
 1 Timothy 2:10; 5:10 (twice), 25; 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:21; 3:17; Titus 1:16; 2:7; 3:1, 8, 14.
 "Ready" is "hetoimos, "ready" (BDAG 401, b).
 "Slander" (NIV), "speak evil of" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is blasphēmeō, "slander, revile, defame" (BDAG 178, a).
 Amachos, "peaceable" (BDAG 42).
 Amachos, Thayer 31; Liddell-Scott 78, 2.
 Epieikēs, BDAG 371, from eikos, "what is reasonable."
 Prautēs, BDAG 861.
 "Foolish" is anoētos, "unintelligent, foolish, dull-witted" (BDAG 84, a).
 "Disobedient" is apeithēs, "disobedient" (BDAG 99, a).
 "Deceived" (NIV, KJV), "led astray" (ESV, NRSV) is planaō, from which we get our word "planet," from the belief that planets were wandering stars. Passive (though frequently in an active sense), "to proceed without a sense of proper direction, go astray, be misled, wander aimlessly," here, "go astray, be deluded" or perhaps, "be deceived, be misled" (BDAG 822, 2cα or δ).
 "Enslaved by" (NIV), "slaves to" (ESV, NRSV), "serving" (KJV) is douleuō, literally, "to be owned by another, be a slave," here, "to act or conduct oneself as one in total service to another, perform the duties of a slave, serve, obey" (BDAG 259, 2b)
 "Passions" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "lusts" (KJV) is epithumia, "desire, longing," then, "a desire for something forbidden or simply inordinate, craving, lust" (BDAG 372, 2). See 2 Timothy 3:6, "led astray by various passions" (ESV). This word also appears in Titus 2:12.
 "Pleasures" is hedonē, "state or condition of experiencing pleasure for any reason, pleasure, delight, enjoyment, pleasantness" (BDAG 434, 1). Also in 2 Peter 2:13; Luke 8:14; James 4:1, 3.
 "Malice" is kakia, "depravity, wickedness, vice," here, "a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity" (BDAG 500, 2).
 "Envy" is phthonos, "envy, jealousy" (BDAG 1054).
 "Hated" (NIV, ESV), "despicable" (NRSV), "hateful" (KJV) is stygētos, "loathsome, despicable" (BDAG 949), from stygeō, "to hate." "Hated, detestable" (Thayer 591).
 "Hating" is miseō, "to have a strong aversion to, hate, detest" (BDAG 652, 1a).
 Chrēstotēs, BDAG 1090, 2b.
 Romans 2:4; 9:23; 11:22; and Ephesians 2:7.
 Philanthrōpia, BDAG 1055-1056), literally "love/affection" (philos) + "humanity" (anthrōpos). Also used at Acts 28:2, of the Malta islanders.
 Sōtēr, BDAG 985.
 "God our Savior" is a title used of God often in the Old Testament (Psalm 25:5; 68:19; 79:9; etc.). In the New Testament it is used of God in Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 2:3; Titus 1:3. In 1 Timothy 1:1 and Jude 25, "God our Savior" is differentiated from Christ here, as well as our passage in Titus 3:4.
 "Appeared" is epiphainō, "show oneself, make an appearance" (BDAG 385, 4). Also at Titus 3:4.
 Sōzō, BDAG 982, 2aα.
 "Righteous things" (NIV), "works ... in righteousness" (ESV), "works of righteousness" (NRSV, KJV) is three words: (1) the plural of ergon, "deed, action," (BDAG 390, 1cβ); (2) the preposition en, probably here, a marker of close association within a limit, "in," "under the control of, under the influence of, in close association with" (BDAG 327, 4c); and dikaiosunē, "righteousness."
 This is two words in Hebrew ʿiddâ, "menstruation, (menstrual) period" (Holladay 265; TWOT #1564a) and begged, "garment," a very general word that can be used of any kind of garment or cloth (TWOT #198d).
 Eleos, BDAG 316, b.
 "Because of" (NIV), "according to" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the preposition kata, here, a marker of norm of similarity or homogeneity, "according to, in accordance with, in conformity with, according to," to introduce the norm which governs something, in this instance, the norm is at the same time the reason, so that "in accordance with" and "because of" are merged (BDAG 512-513, 5aδ).
 Wayne A Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Zondervan, 1994, 2000), p. 699).
 J. I. Packer, "Regeneration," in Walter A. Elwell (editor), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker, 1984), p. 924.
 Paliggenesia, BDAG 752, 2.
 Anakainōsis, BDAG 64; Thayer 38. Also in Romans 12:2.
 Dikaioō, BDAG 249, 2aβ.
 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Isaiah 53:4-6; Romas 5:6-8; 8:3; Hebrews 9:26, 28.
 Charis, BDAG 179, 2.
 Klēronomos, BDAG 548, 2b.
 Elpis, "the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment, hope, expectation" (BDAG 319-20, 1bβ).
 Pistos, BDAG 823, 1b.
 "Stress" (NIV), "insist on" (ESV, NRSV), "affirm constantly" (KJV) is diabebaioomai, "speak confidently, insist" (BDAG 226), from dia, "through" (completeness of action) + bebaioō, "make firm, confirm."
 "Be careful" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "constantly" (KJV) is phrontizō, "to give sustained thought to something, think of, be intent on, be careful/concerned about" (BDAG 1066). "Devote" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "affirm" (KJV) is proistēmi, "to have an interest in, show concern for, care for, give aid" (BDAG 870, 2). Also in Titus 3:8.
 "Excellent" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "good" (KJV) is the adjective kalos, "pertaining to being in accordance at a high level with the purpose of something or someone, good, useful," here, of moral quality (BDAG 504, 2b). In this sense also in 1 Timothy 5:10, 25: 6:18; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8 (twice), and here.
 "Profitable" is the adjective ōphelimos, "useful, beneficial, advantageous" (BDAG 1108), from the verb ōpheleō, "to be advantageous, to profit." Also in 1 Timothy 4:8 (twice) and 2 Timothy 3:16.
 "Avoid" is peristēmi, "to go around as to avoid, avoid, shun" (BDAG 801, 2). Also in 2 Timothy 2:16.
 "Foolish" (NIV, ESV, KJV), "stupid" (NRSV) is mōros, "foolish, stupid" (BDAG 663, b). "Controversies" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "questions" (KJV) is the plural of zētēsis, "matter for dispute, controversial question, controversy" (BDAG 428, 2). Also in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:23. "Arguments" (NIV), "dissensions" (ESV, NRSV), "contentions" (KJV) is eris, "engagement in rivalry, especial with reference to positions taken in a matter, "strife, discord, contention" (BDAG 392). Also in 1 Timothy 6:4. "Quarrels" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "strivings" (KJV) is machē, "fighting, quarrels, strife, disputes" (BDAG 622). Also in 2 Timothy 2:23.
 "Unprofitable" is anopheles, "useless," or perhaps "pertaining to being damaging, harmful" (BDAG 92). It is the opposite of "profitable" in verse 8. "Useless" (NIV), "worthless" (ESV, NRSV), "vain" is mataios, "pertaining to being of no use, idle, empty, fruitless, useless, powerless, lacking in truth" (BDAG 621).
 "Divisive person" (NIV), "person who stirs up division" (ESV), "anyone who causes divisions" (NRSV), "an heretick" (KJV) is two words: anthrōpos, "human" and the adjective hairetikos (from which we get our English word, "heretic"), "pertaining to causing divisions, factious, division-making" (BDAG 28), from hairesis, "sect, party, faction."
 "Warn/ing" (NIV, ESV), "admonition" (NRSV, KJV) is the noun nouthesia, "counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct, admonition, instruction" (BDAG 679). Also in verse 10.
 "Have nothing to do with" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "reject" (KJV) is the imperative of the verb paraiteomai, "ask for," here, "to avert something by request or entreaty," specifically, "decline, refuse, avoid, reject." BDAG sees the word probably in the sense of "discharge, dismiss, drive out" (BDAG 764, 2bα).
 "Keep away" (NIV), "avoid" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is ekklinō, "to keep away from, steer clear of" (BDAG 304, 1a).
 "Warped" (NIV, ESV), "perverted" (NRSV), "subverted" (KJV) is ekstrephō, "to cause to aside from what is considered true or morally proper, turn aside, pervert," here "perverted = he has gone the wrong way" (BDAG 309).
 "Sinful / sinneth" is hamartanō, "to commit a wrong, to sin (in the sense 'transgress' against divinity, custom, or law' )" (BDAG 49a).
 "Self-condemned" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "condemned of himself" (KJV) is the adjective autokatakritos, "self-condemned" (BDAG 152), from auto, "self" + katakritos, "condemned."
 Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:12; and here.
 Acts 27:12; 28:11; 1 Corinthians 16:6.
 "Help" (NIV), "speed" (ESV), "send" (NRSV), "bring" (KJV) is propempō, "to assist someone in making a journey, send on one's way" with food, money, by arranging for companions, means of travel, etc. (BDAG 873, 2). From pro-, "forward" + pempo, "send." "Have everything they need" (NIV), "lack nothing" (ESV, NRSV), "nothing be wanting" (KJV) is the negative plus leipō, "to be deficient in something that ought to be present for whatever reason, lack" (BDAG 590, 2).
 Acts 15:3; 21:5; Romans 15:24; 1 Corinthians 16:6, 11; 2 Cor 1:16; 3 John 6.
 "Devote" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "maintain" KJV) is proistēmi, "show concern for, care for, give aid" (BDAG 870, 2), which we just saw in verse 8.
 "Provide for daily necessities" (NIV), "help cases of urgent need" (ESV, cf. NRSV), "for necessary uses" (KJV) is two words: anagkaios, "necessary" as meeting need (BDAG 60, 1). "What one cannot do without, indispensable" (Thayer 36, a); and chreia, "that which is lacking and needed, need, lack, want, difficulty" (BDAG 1088, 2a).
 "Unproductive" (NIV, NRSV), "unfruitful" (ESV, KJV) is akarpos, literally, "not bearing fruit," here, figurative, "pertaining to being useless, unproductive" (BDAG 35, 2).
 So Kelly, p. 258; Guthrie, p. 210.
 Guthrie, p. 210.
 "Send greetings" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "salute" (KJV) is aspazomai, "greet," to engage in hospitable recognition of another, "greet, welcome." In verse 15a, "wish to be remembered, greet, send greetings"; the imperative in verse 15b is: "greetings to (someone), remember me to (someone)" (BDAG 144, 1a). This is characteristic of the conclusion of Paul's letters.
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