The Latter Epistles -Titus 3

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  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.  This is a trustworthy saying.  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.
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.  Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time.  After that, have nothing to do with them.  You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
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.  Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need.  Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.

  • Titus 3:1-15

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

On ‘subject to’: “Submission to the authority of Scripture demands submission to human authorities as part of a Christian’s testimony (see Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:12-17).”
On ‘washing of rebirth and renewal’: “See Ezek. 36:25-29; Eph. 5:26; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23.  Salvation brings divine cleansing from sin and the gift of a new, Spirit-generated, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-protected life as God’s own children and heirs (Titus 3:7).  This is the new birth (cf. John 3:5; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1).”
On ‘justified’: “The central truth of salvation is justification by faith alone.  When a sinner repents and places his faith in Jesus Christ, God declares him just, imputes the righteousness of Christ upon him, and gives him eternal life by virtue of the substitutionary death of Christ as the penalty for that sinner’s iniquity.  See Rom. 3:21-5:21; Gal. 3:6-22; Phil. 3:8, 9.”
On ‘profitable for everyone’: “That is, for the sake of evangelism.  Again ‘men’ [in MacArthur’s translation] 9cf. Titus 2:11; 3:2) is general, referring to those who respond by the holy witness to the gospel.”
On ‘foolish controversies’: “Paul again warns against becoming embroiled in senseless discussions with the many false teachers on Crete (see Titus 1:10, 14-15), especially the Judaizers who contended that a Christian must be obedient to ‘the (Mosaic) law,’ a view that assaulted the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone and, contrary to holy living, which was good and profitable, was ‘unprofitable and useless.’  Proclaiming the truth, not arguing error, is the biblical way to evangelize.”
On ‘have nothing to do with them’: “Anyone in the church who is unsubmissive, self-willed, and divisive should be expelled.  Two warnings are to be given, following the basic pattern for church discipline set forth by Christ (see Matt. 18:15-17; cf. Rom. 16:17, 18; 2 Thess. 3:14, 15).”

  • John MacArthur, One Faithful Life

Titus 3:2 ‘avoid fighting’: “Kindness and gentleness are two of the ornaments of our faith.  I would that some professed Christians would understand that unholy contentiousness is not after the mind of Christ.  The Christian must be willing to suffer wrongfully and to bear it in patience.  He is never to be one who renders evil for evil or railing for railing.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Titus 3:7 ‘justified by grace’: “The Spirit is poured out on us abundantly Jesus Christ.  We must never forget that regeneration is worked in us by the Holy Spirit but comes to us by Jesus Christ.  We do not receive any blessing apart from our Lord Jesus.  In all works of the Spirit, whether regeneration ore renewal, the Lord Jesus is putting forth his power, for he says, ‘Look, I am making everything new’ (Rv. 21:5).”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Titus 3:7 ‘Call it Grace’: “You may be decent.  You may pay your taxes and kiss your kids and sleep with a clean conscience.  But apart from Christ you aren’t holy.  So how can you go to heaven?
“Only believe.  Accept the work already done, the work of Jesus on the cross.
“Accept the goodness of Jesus Christ.  Abandon your own works and accept his.  Abandon your own decency and accept his.  Stand before God in his name, not yours.
“It’s that easy?  There was nothing easy about it at all.  The cross was heavy, the blood was real, and the price was extravagant.  It would have bankrupted you or me, so he paid it for us.  Call it simple.  Call it a gift.  But don’t call it easy.
“Call it what it is. Call it grace.”

  • Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder

My Thoughts

At the beginning of Titus 3, the Apostle Paul repeats his exhortations from Titus 2, supposedly to Titus himself, and by inference to us all.  It is odd that I quote Rev. MacArthur in being submissive when he is leading the charge in California to loosen the grip of COVID restrictions so that church services can be held, fighting for the rights thereof protected under the Constitution of the United States.  That is, at least at the time of this writing.  Yet, his distinction is on the grounds that the government has overreached their authority and violated God’s moral law.  With a government that ignores God’s moral law, it will be interesting how the legal battle unfolds.

But that aside, if we were all doing good deeds, life would be a lot better for everyone.

Thinking of ‘good deeds’, I am reminded of Boy Scouts and the classic good deed of taking an old lady across the street.  One day a boy came to the scout meeting looking extremely tired.  The scoutmaster asked if he had done his good deed for the day.  He proudly said that he had done so.  He had taken an old lady across the street ten times, and it wore him out.  The scoutmaster asked why that many times.  The boy said, “She didn’t want to go!”

The old joke is a warning that our good deeds need to be something that is useful to the other person, and not just something that makes us feel good.  As C. S. Lewis wrote that the intent of a gift is that the recipient no longer needs the gift.  In other words, meet the needs of the needy.

Just as in the letters to Timothy, Paul warns against false doctrine and entering into foolish arguments.  He hints at church discipline from a different angle.  In this case, he suggests that discipline of those introducing false doctrine or being divisive should carry two warnings and then being removed from the congregation.  I have seen this happen, and at least once without the two warnings.  It often causes division within the church.  But in the case of preaching false doctrine, in following Paul’s warnings, we could have kept our churches free of a lot of the false doctrines that most in the church consider sacred cows today – not in the Bible, but we’ve ‘always’ done it this way.

And coupled with the foolish arguments, Paul mentions “genealogies” as being foolish, unprofitable, and a waste of time.  Matthew Henry states “Some lawful and useful enquiries might be made into these things, to see the fulfilling of the scriptures in some cases, and especially in the descent of Christ the Messiah; but all that served to pomp only, and to feed vanity, in boasting of a long pedigree, these Titus must withstand as foolish and vain.”

My mother did a lot of genealogical studies, going through ancient records in every courthouse in the area, expanding her research when possible.  She had much more success with my Dad’s side of the family than with her own.  For her side, every search led to courthouses that had burned to the ground, as if someone, or Someone, wanted to put a stop to it.  Sure, I could brag about being a cousin of Thomas Jefferson, but that would be foolish and vain, counterproductive, and it really comes down to what I have done with my life.  Actually, claiming a common ancestor with a famous person, noted for their accomplishments, puts more pressure on you to achieve greatness yourself.  So, why brag about it?

But while we are on the subject of our ancestry, or might we say bloodlines, or might we say genetics?  I watched an interesting discussion last night on the “genetics of race.”  The head of the genetics department at a top university showed how the secular idea of evolving from “first man” in Africa is not much different from the descendants of Noah dispersing at the Tower of Babel.  Both concepts have a single point of origin.  But then he showed a map of “Y” chromosomes.  He showed how his Irish ancestry was more closely related to central Africans than to his British cousins on the next island over.  In fact, the dark pigmented people were scattered all over the DNA chart that he showed.  It is thought that most of the dark pigmented people in Africa have western European ancestry, probably from invaders conquering the area from the north.  He went on to say that in Genetics circles, they do not discuss differences in people by the term “race,” because genetically, it does not make sense.

So, for you purists in Asia, you may be closer related to that person that you would never let marry your daughter than you would be to the person that oddly looks like you.  And to the white supremacists, the black man that you hate is probably a closer relative than the buddy, that looks like you, but you will hang out with him.  It was a fascinating presentation.

Genealogy studies usually become boring and unproductive as soon as you find something in your ancestry that you are not proud of – thus proving Paul’s point and Matthew Henry’s interpretation of what Paul meant.

But right in the middle of this chapter, in verse seven, we come to the key point.  Your ancestry, good or bad, will not save you.  Your education, wealth, political clout, or fame will not save you.  You can only be justified by grace through faith, and even that faith is a gift from God.  Why boast about anything else, when we are all beggars looking for the next handout when it comes to salvation and an eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as usual, Paul was writing the letter to his pupil, Titus, but he ends with a salutation of Grace for all.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. What were you like before God showed you his mercy?  What were you like soon thereafter?  If there’s no dramatic ‘before and after’ story to tell, what memories do you have about what happened ‘back then’?
”2.In doing what is good, which are you motivated by: (a) Call of duty? (b) Fear of Judgment? (c) Hope of Christ’s return? (d) Gratitude for what God has done for you? (e ) Desire to make peace in your relationships? Need of others?
“3. What ‘good’ are you around your home?  Around church?  In your city, state, or nation? (Or are you ‘up to no good’?)
“4. Over the past year, where do you sense growth in leading a ‘productive’ life for God?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

Question 1 is one requiring some deep soul searching.  I have heard beautiful testimonies, but in observing from the sidelines, it sometimes looks as if there were no changes made at all, but we do not know what is going on inside the person that we are observing.  As C. S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity that we have no idea how much improvements need to be made before anything is blatantly obvious, or something on those lines.

Question 2 could easily become a series of posts, the same for question 3.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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