SSL 13 - Titus 3:1-11
LAST WEEK: In Titus 2:1-15, we covered Paul's instructions to Titus regarding how various age and gender groups within the church should be treated and taught, how God's grace is the doctrinal foundation on which desired traits such as self-control, respect, and godliness are built, and finally, an explanation of the divine source which delegates authority to churches to teach and do these things. The three major points of application were: (1) The church should develop into a beautiful body so as to attract others to our Savior. The church is the family of God, and in the family there are all ages for the benefit of the entire family and God's design is that we learn to live harmoniously and learn from one another. (2) God's grace first saves and then trains His people for godliness and good deeds. At the heart of everything is the crucial concept of God's grace. If we fully grasp the theological basis of our salvation-grace-it should naturally lead to a life of godliness and good deeds. (3) All authority on the human level is delegated authority. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus has all "authority" in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18), and He delegated this authority to His Apostles, and their authority has been passed on to leaders in the local church.
THIS WEEK: Titus 3:1-11 could be entitled "A Friendly Reminder." In it, we will hear Paul remind Titus of the types of behavior, both good and bad, of which Christians need to be conscious in order to be strong witnesses to an ungodly world. Paul's next reminder is a detailed list of how we behaved and thought in our sinful condition before we knew Jesus as Savior. Paul then reminded Titus of the (1) reasons for our salvation; (2) the effects of our salvation; (3) the agent of our salvation; and (4) the goal of our salvation. Finally, Paul reminds Timothy to guard the church against two dangers: (1) Not to allow believers in the church to waste time bickering over irrelevant things that detract from teaching sound doctrine and spiritual truth; and (2) the need to take action against factious people whose action will damage the church.
Read Titus 3:1-3 - GODLY BEHAVIOR AND LIVING IN AN UNGODLY WORLD
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
v. 1: "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed - When Paul says "remind," he's stressing that you've already heard this (he probably gave these instructions to Titus before he left Crete), but you need to hear it again, and "them" refers to members of the church. The first 3 of 7 virtues are: 1. Being "subject to authorities," is a frequent NT theme. Christians are to "submit" to secular authorities such as government. 2. Believers are required to "obey" secular laws regardless of whether they believe such laws to be unfair or unjust, however, there's an exception when faced with a law that plainly requires disobedience to God, a believer must "submit" to government by accepting punishment for the violation of the law (i.e., various types of conscientious objection). 3. The term "every good deed," can have two meanings: (i) any deed done in obedience to Christ out of love for others; and (ii) involvement in good causes that benefit the community, which could include public school activities, youth sports, city government projects in poor neighborhoods, etc. While Christians need to be careful about choice of "good causes," they should take the lead as people who do good deeds as a witness to an ungodly world.
v. 2: "to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men" - Now, the next 4 virtues: 4. The word "malign" (Gk. blasphémeó) lit. to speak evil or abuse against God or a person. E.g.: If someone wrongs you in some way, your tendency is to tear him down when you speak of him to others. But regardless of what he said to you, you are trying to damage him in violation of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Mk. 12:31). 5. Being "peaceable" (Gk. amachos) Lit. uncontentious; the opposite of macho. Christians don't need to act "macho" and should control themselves not to be touchy or easily offended. It's more important to maintain good relations with your neighbor and thus avoid alienation than to stand up for your "rights." 6. Being "gentle" (Gk. epieikeis) lit. a moderate and tolerant attitude, which imparts a sense of giving way to someone in order to avoid hard feelings or offence. 7. Finally, "showing consideration" (Gk. prautēta), which is also translated as humility or meekness in some texts. Listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 3:23, humility doesn't mean weakness but strength under control. The idea here is that in our dealings with others, we should be under the control of the Holy Spirit, responding to people graciously and kindly even when we are wronged.
TRUTH 1: As Christian believers, we must remember how we need to act towards this ungodly world. If you have been a believer for any length of time, the seven virtues that Paul shared in vv. 1-2 aren't new, but Christian principles of Spirit-led behavior that should be very familiar to us.
v. 3: "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another" - Here are 7 sins in one compact verse: 1. "Foolish" (Gk. anoétos) lit. not understanding. Paul is saying that before we knew Jesus as Savior, we lacked spiritual wisdom or understanding. We thought we were wise but in fact, were fools-spiritually ignorant. 2. "Disobedient" (Gk. apeithés) lit. unbelieving, not persuaded. We did not obey God at all and only obeyed the laws of government out fear of the consequences. We disliked the idea of submission-to any authority. 3. "Deceived" (Gk. planaó) lit. to wander, go astray, lost. We didn't understand spiritual truth and were led astray by our sin nature-by Satan. We thought we could find fulfillment through the lusts of the flesh and the accumulation of material wealth. We were, in fact, deceiving ourselves. 4. "Enslaved to various lusts and pleasures" (Gk. douleuontes) for enslaved lit. subject to something that takes charge of you. Drugs, liquor, and sexual gratification at first all seem pleasurable. They can make you feel good and dull the pain of problems and pressures. But in the end they trap you and ultimately destroy you. 5. "Malice" (Gk. kakia) lit. a an evil, wicked, or vicious disposition. It means ill will against others, even if it causes harm, whether financial, emotional, or physical, even death (that's murder). 6. "Envy" (Gk. phthonō) lit. a grudge or a spite that carries the sense being glad when someone experiences misfortune or pain. It's a sin that stems from greed-wanting what someone has and resenting them for having it. Envy led the Pharisees to plot against Jesus and ultimately have him killed because He was gaining more followers than them (Mk. 15:10). 7. "Hateful" (Gk. stygētoi) lit. hating good things. Hatred is essentially the self-centered disregard for the needs and feelings of others. Even if it didn't take the outward form of trying to hurt someone, we were all marked by hate before we knew Jesus because we lived for ourselves and were indifferent toward others unless we gained some benefit from it. If we know our own heart as God knows it, every one of these seven sins is lurking below the surface-that's the reason Paul put it here in v. 3, for the Cretan church and for you and me. He understood that in order for us to act with love and good deeds towards unbelievers who mistreat us, malign us, and falsely accuse us, we need to remember that we used to be just like them.
TRUTH 2: If we expect to be witnesses who act with love and good deeds towards unbelievers who mistreat us, malign us, and falsely accuse us, we need to remember that we used to be just like them. Take a minute and re-read v. 3, meditate on it. If we know our own heart as God knows it, every one of these seven sins is lurking below the surface-that's the reason Paul put it here in v. 3, not only for the Cretan church but as a message to you and me today.
Titus 3:4-7 - WHEN THE KINDNESS OF GOD OUR SAVIOR APPEARED
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the wash- ing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Note: vv. 4-7 constitutes one long sentence in the Greek because Paul intended these verses to tie together as a common thread which states four truths: (1) The Reason for our salvation-God's kindness, love, and mercy; (2) the Effects of our salvation-renewal, regeneration, and justification; (3) the Agent of our salvation-the power of the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ; and (4) the Goal of our salvation-heirs according to the hope of eternal life. "He saved us" is the key phrase-everything that precedes it and follows it explains how God saved us.
v. 4: "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared" - the first word, "But," connects this verse to v. 3, the seven great sins that described our life before we knew Jesus as Savior. This sets up the contrast between our condition prior to salvation with our condition after God saved us. This is one of the great reversals where God takes something familiar (i.e., the sinful condition of man in v. 3) and turns it upside down like He did with the cross, the empty tomb, and the resurrection-where God reversed the judgment of the world. The word for "kindness" used here (Gk. chrēstotēs) involves more than just being nice but pictures a person who will reach out to help someone in need. The phrase, "love for mankind" (Gk. philanthrōpia), from which we get the word philanthropy, has nothing to do with money but denotes a concern for the wellbeing of man-kind itself. The word "appeared" (Gk. epiphainō) lit. to bring light, signifies the coming of Christ.
v. 5: "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" - The Greeks thought of righteousness as adhering to custom and tradition; the Jews thought of it as obedience to the Torah; but Christians understand it in an entirely different way: righteousness comes entirely from God's mercy alone, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. The word "mercy" (Gl. eleos) also means compassion and pity. And "regeneration" (Gk. palingenesia) lit. means new life or re-birth, in effect, born-again. The human problem is that we can't live the life that God intended us to live apart from the re-birth available only through the grace of God. God created us in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), but our sin defaced that image, so that God must once again exercise His creative powers to re-create us in His image by regeneration. Note: A minority of scholars and some denominations hold that the washing of regeneration inserts baptism as necessary for salvation, but a majority disagree (as does the SBC) because that makes it seem as if a person's salvation would be contingent upon his or her decision to be baptized, which implies that works are a necessary part of salvation, rather then it being solely attributable to the grace of God. In the final phrase, "the renewing of the Holy Spirit," the word "renewing" (Gk. anakainōsis) lit. to again make new. Earlier, Paul said it this way: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17a). The point is that this renewing was the work of the Holy Spirit, not any personal effort on our part.
v. 6: "whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" - The "whom is the Holy Spirit that God poured out on us richly. We received 100% of the Holy Spirit the moment we were saved. If we allow it to guide us in all of our speech, behavior, and actions, we are walking in the Spirit. When we do anything against it-sin-we are grieving our Spirit. Note this verse contains all three persons of the Trinity: (1) "whom" = Holy Spirit; (2) "He" = God the Father; and (3) Jesus Christ.
v. 7: "so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" - The word "justified" (Gk. dikaioó) lit. to make righteous or to acquit as innocent. And "grace" (Gk. charis) lit. to be in favor with. Thus, we are made righteous by God's favor. Being justified, we are "heirs" (Gk. klēronomoi) lit. someone who inherits, which means we have a right, in this case, to an eternal inheritance. And "hope" (Gk. elpida) is the expectation of something that is certain. To summarize, because we have been made righteous by God's favor, we've received the right to an eternal inheritance that's completely certain.
TRUTH 3: Remember that it was God's undeserved kindness and mercy that changed you. The clear thrust of vv. 4-7 is that salvation was not due to anything good in us, but rather it is totally due to God's abundant grace and mercy. We were just as Paul describes in verse 3, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved to sin. There was nothing in us deserving of salvation. To the contrary, we deserved God's wrath and judgment. But, because of His great kindness, love, and mercy, He saved us! Paul's point is, if you received mercy when you deserved judgment, then do your best to show God's kindness, love and mercy to unbelievers who don't deserve it.
Read Titus 3:8-11 - PROFITABLE VERSUS UNPROFITABLE
8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
v. 8: "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men." - In this section, Paul uses the poetic term "a trustworthy statement" to stress the doctrine he explained in vv. 4-7, above, about how and why God saved us in the first place. In short, because what God has done for us-calling us as born-again believers destined for eternity-we need to dedicate ourselves to accomplishing good deeds while we're still here.
v. 9: "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless" - After the positive, "trustworthy" statement v. 8, Paul warns Titus of four negative subjects he needs to keep in check: (1) foolish controversies; (2) genealogies; (3) strife; and (4) disputes about the law. He says "avoid" (Gk. periistémi) lit. face the other way, an about face. "Foolish controversies" (Gk. zētēseis) lit. pointless questions that encourage arguments. This is bickering over immaterial things (e.g., politics, weather, economy, personal peeves) that pollute the Christian life. "Genealogies" - This issue related to Jewish Christians who talked endlessly about non-Biblical genealogies connected to particular Biblical characters that had no relevance to anything Scriptural-absolutely a pointless waste of time. The term "strife" (eris) lit. an affection for dispute and "disputes" (Gk. suzéteó) lit. debating and arguing. Again, this mainly concerned Jewish Christians (i.e., self-appointed amateur rabbinic scholars) who loved to debate obscure points of OT Law that were irrelevant to the Christian life-another pointless waste of time. Paul's point is that all of these things were "unprofitable and worthless" obsessions that detracted attention away from teaching the sound doctrine and spiritual truth the church needed to focus on.
TRUTH 4: Church leaders and teachers need to guard against "unprofitable and worthless" obsessions that detract attention away from the teaching the sound doctrine spiritual truth on which the church should be focused. It's no accident that in Paul's final three letters to his two co-workers, Timothy and Titus, that there was great emphasis on teaching spiritual truth and sound doctrine. God did not give us His truth so that intellectuals and self-appointed experts can sit around and make endless speculations about it. It's given to us to change our lives as we submit to it, obey it, and live it out.
v. 10-11: "Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned." - The word "factious" (Gk. hairetikos) lit. in this context, a person who specializes in half-truths to win people over and create divisions. His problem isn't theology but that he's a power-seeker who plays politics and causes splits in the church. He considers himself a law into himself with no concern over church unity and won't submit to leaders in the church. Paul is explicit in saying that he's to be given two warnings-the goal being a Christian discipline process designed to win him back correct church behavior-but if the warnings fail, he's to be removed from (i.e., excommunicated) from further church membership. The phrase, perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned, in the final verse, described a person who willingly brought disaster on himself out of a sinful motives. He offered church leaders no other option except to expel him before he could cause further damage to the church.
TRUTH 5: Church leaders must deal effectively and promptly with factious people. The problem with "factious" people isn't theology but that they are power-seekers who plays politics and cause splits in the church. They consider themselves to be a law into themselves with no concern over church unity and they refuse to submit to leaders in the church. Paul is explicit in saying that such a person is to be given two warnings-the goal being a Christian discipline process designed to win him or her back correct church behavior-but if the warnings fail, the person must be removed from (i.e., excommunicated) from further church membership.