Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Titus 3 (web)

Living Productive Lives

3:1 Remind them to be in subjection to rulers and to authorities,
to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
3:2 to speak evil of no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle,
showing all humility toward all men.

3:3 For we were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived,
serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared,
3:5 not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy,
he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
3:6 which he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior;
3:7 that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

3:8 This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently,
so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works.
These things are good and profitable to men;

3:9 but shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law;
for they are unprofitable and vain.
3:10 Avoid a factious man after a first and second warning;
3:11 knowing that such a one is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned.

3:12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me to Nicopolis,
for I have determined to winter there.
3:13 Send Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollos on their journey speedily,
that nothing may be lacking for them.
3:14 Let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses,
that they may not be unfruitful.

3:15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in faith.
Grace be with you all. Amen.

Discussion Questions

vs 1-2 What kind of behavior should Christians have in the society?
How do Christians often behave differently around other Christians in church than around non-Christians in the society?
vs 3 To what extent does this describe you before you became a Christian?
To what extent does it still describe you after becoming a Christian?
vs 4-7 What does it mean to be saved?
What are we saved from?
On what basis are we justified?
What does it mean by the washing of regeneration (rebirth) and renewal by the Holy Spirit?
vs 8 How do these facts motivate a Christian to do good works?
vs 9 What kind of arguments should Christians avoid?
How should you deal with "heretics"?
vs 14 What characterizes the kind of good works Paul refers to?


Peaceably Submit to Authority

Titus 3:1
,2 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 to show true humility toward all men.

Many of the commands in the letters has to do with vertical relationships, part of which involves those under authority being subordinate to those in authority over them, whether it be the children to their parents, the wife to her husband, or the slave (employee) to his master (employer). And likewise with regards to civil authorities.

Of course in practice human authority only has a limited realm of authority outside of which they are not legitimate authority. Thus if an authority were to command you to do something outside of their realm of authority, you are not obligated to obey them in that regard seeing as they are not in authority with regards to that command. But with regards to acting within their legitimate realm of authority, believers are to comply. And this regardless of the authority is a believer, or whether they are harsh.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives" 1Peter 3:1

"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Peter 2:18

Live the Christian life intentionally, not passively. Prepare yourself to do good. And in your zeal, beware of misrepresenting others. Attempt to be conciliatory in conflicts. True humility will be revealed by how you and others respond to personal criticism and by complying to legitimate authority within their legitimate realm of authority.

The Way We Were

Titus 3:3 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.

This is much along the lines of Eph 2:1-3 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

But despite this being our characteristic behavior and attitude prior to coming to faith, notice in both these cases the past tense is used. Likewise in 1Cor 6:9-11 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Saved and Reborn by Grace

Titus 3:4-7  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.

The reason for the characteristic change in our behavior and attitude from verse 3 is due to the effect of regeneration brought upon by the impartation of the Holy Spirit. Thus John writes, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9,10

This is the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, just previously noted concerning 1Cor 6:11 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Ezekiel prophecied, "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Eze 36:35-37

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2Cor 5:17

God having graciously justified us, we become heirs to a new life by that same grace. A life of Christ-likeness. This gracious impartation of the Holy Spirit and the regeneration he brings was prior to and not related to any righteous act we had performed, such as good works, water baptism, repentance from sin, all of which are intended to be outworkings of our faith - the faith that saved us. Thus "it is by grace you have been saved" (Eph 2:5b) and works follows.

Saved Unto Good Works

Titus 3:8 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.

While those of a "salvation by works" mentality tend to add the phrase "in order to be saved" at the end of every command and instruction in the New Testament, the Apostles teaches us that we should do good not in order to be saved, but rather because we are saved and thus we do because we are, rather than we are because we do. Doing what is right is characteristic of our new nature. It is what we were made to be. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph 2:10

Indeed this is the identifying mark of those born of God. "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

Therefore identify what good things the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. Get in the habit of doing good. Find some good things to devote yourself to. For having been saved and made an heir to eternal life, this is now your purpose in Christ Jesus. "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15

Avoid Divisive Christians

Titus 3:9-11 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 him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Paul's alluding back to chapter 1 concerning those like the cult of the circumcision, but the principle applies more generally today. Discourse over the Word is valuable. Many times people will come up with arguments and interpretations they claim to be based upon the Bible, but which are highly speculative, not well founded upon a comprehensive inductive study of the Word. Some are worth arguing about just to show their weakness. But if it ends in a quarrel, might be best to leave the matter.

Consider how the book of Acts ends, Paul explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."’ "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. Acts 28:23-29

So the idea is not to dimiss a divisive person at first, nor second. But there will come a time if he continues, then stop arguing with him. But be careful not to mischaracterized people. For that would be slander on your part. But as for characterizing this man, "divisive" is literally "heretic" or "hairetikos" in the greek. So we're not talking about a small matter. And secondly "sinful" is "sinning" in the present tense, which from our study of 1John indicates that such a person has not been born of God. So understand, this is the kind of person Paul is referring to. In general avoid arguing about mere arm-chair theology and non-application oriented issues. The immature in faith are quick to get caught up in tabloid issues. And if you are not doing what the Bible clearly says then why should God reveal more to you?

Meet Daily Necessities

Titus 3:12-15 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 that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Although this is the only time Atemas is mentioned in his letters, Tychicus had been mentioned as accompanying him on his missionary journey in Acts 20:4. It was also apparent that he was the one who delivered the letter to the Ephesians to Ephesus. (Eph 6:21) He was sent again to Ephesus near the end of Paul's life in 2Tim 4:12. He was a faithful and persevering Christian who Paul often used as a messenger. Paul also endorsed the ministry of Zenas, the lawyer. And yes, in Greek he doesn't simply say "a lawyer", but "the lawyer", there being something prominent about his profession. Likely along with Apollos he was a powerful apologist, as lawyers often are who come to Christ. Apollos was a very powerful preacher and the pastor of the Corinthian church. I would infer that Zenas and Apollos teamed up to do evangelism among skeptic Greeks.

As for verse 14, this is a common theme in Titus - namely the purpose of the Christian life is to do good. Now in particular here the emphasis of doing good is with regards to meeting practical needs. This is not simply about making people feel good. It's about meeting practical necessities. The problem with Christians in affluent societies where practical needs are largely already met, is that there is often confusion between desires and needs. Consequently Christians in affluent societies should consider perhaps focussing their generosity towards Christians in the Third World.

"Greet those who love us" is really "greet those who like us". "Phileo" is used rather than "agape". This may sound kind of strange. Greet only those who like us or prefer us. But if they don't like us, then don't greet them. He is referring to the heretics in this, to which he is applying the separation idea of verse 10.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015