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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Titus 3

Verses 1-2

The Christian and Government

God set up three institutions to provide for man's needs. Those are the home, the church and the government. He established governments to keep civil order. For that reason, Paul urged Christians to be subject to governmental authority ( Tit_3:1 ). Their authority comes from God. They are permitted to use the sword to punish evil doers. Only those involved in wicked acts should have reason to fear them ( Rom_13:1-7 ).

When the Pharisees questioned the Lord about paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus drew their attention to Caesar's image on the coin. He said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. He even paid the temple tax to avoid giving offense ( Mat_22:15-22 ; Mat_17:24-27 ).

Peter learned well the Lord's teaching on submission to those in authority. He insisted our obedience reflects the thinking of our Lord. Of course, he also knew those in authority had no right to ask anyone to disobey his Lord ( 1Pe_2:13-17 ; Act_4:18-20 ; Act_5:29 ). Civil disobedience becomes necessary when man's law requires one to violate God's law. That may be the reason Paul said "to be ready for every good work." Certainly, we would not, even in obedience to man's law, want to be ready to do any evil work.

Nero was a wicked ruler who did much harm to Christians in his day. Yet, he would be included in the admonition of Tit_3:2 . No Christian should allow any evil to come out of his mouth ( Eph_4:29-32 ; Col_4:5-6 ). The New King James Version says to be peaceable where the King James puts, "to be no brawlers" and the Revised Standard has, "to avoid quarreling." Christians should also be known for their gentle nature and humble spirit ( 1Ti_3:3 ; Gal_6:1 ). Such attitudes ought to make the Christian stand out and will open doors of opportunity ( 2Ti_2:24 ).

Verse 3

Past Sinful Lives

Those who were Christians at the time of Paul's writing were once involved in all sorts of sin ( Tit_3:3 ). They were without spiritual understanding (foolish; 1Ti_6:9 ). Being disobedient toward God, they were led astray ( 2Co_11:3 ). They became enslaved to the passions and pleasures of a fleshly existence ( Luk_8:14 ; 2Ti_2:22 ). All of their time was spent in harboring ill will toward others ( Eph_4:31 ; Col_3:8 ; 1Pe_2:1 ). Like many in the world, they had resented the good that they saw in the lives of others ( Mat_27:18 ; Gal_5:19-21 ; Php_1:15-16 ; 1Ti_6:3-5 ). Others hated them because of their actions and they hated others in return.

Verses 4-7

Saved By God's Mercy

Yet, God was gently disposed toward all mankind. He initiated efforts to save man by sending the Savior to earth. Though man may do a multitude of good deeds, he cannot earn salvation. Instead, man's salvation comes as a result of God's mercy. The loving Father extends that mercy through the washing of regeneration ( Tit_3:4-5 ). Joseph H. Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament , says the word "regeneration" means "new birth." A careful comparison with Rom_6:3-4 clearly shows Paul is talking about baptism since it is in that watery grave that one finds newness of life (see also 1Co_6:11 ; Eph_5:26 ).

Of course, salvation is not complete without the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Peter told the Pentecost assembly to "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" ( Act_2:38 ). Christians are bought with a price and have become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. He is the symbol of our hope in God's love which has been given to us ( 1Co_6:19-20 ; Rom_5:5 ). In Tit_3:6 , Paul describes Christ as having poured out the Spirit upon those penitents who were baptized.

The Revised Standard Version begins Tit_3:7 with the words "so that." When we obey God in the washing of the new birth and receive the renewing of the Holy Spirit, God justifies us by his grace ( Gal_2:16 ). Obedience then is a means of access to God's favor, not a work of merit. It is the means by which a sinner reaches the blood of Christ which is found in his death ( Joh_19:31-34 ; Col_2:12 ; Rom_3:24-26 ; Rom_5:9 ). After he is washed in the blood, God adopts him and makes him an heir of the hope of heaven ( Gal_3:26-29 ; Gal_4:1-7 ).

Verses 8-11

A Response to the False Teachers

The false teachers would have had one believe salvation was through works of the law of Moses. However, Paul has just shown it is by God's mercy which man finds through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Spirit. On the basis of this truth, Paul instructed Titus to teach it with confidence. False teachers are not timid, so the man of God cannot be either. Instead, Titus was to instruct the Cretan Christians to be careful to do good works ( Eph_5:15-17 ). Such would be profitable because it is the means by which one maintains contact with the cleansing blood of Christ ( Tit_3:8 ; 1Jn_1:7 ).

Paul urged Titus to stand aloof from, or avoid, useless arguments. Such would likely involve questions man does not have an answer to which do not effect one's eternal welfare. The Jews, and apparently the Judaizing teachers, spent long hours trying to determine their relationship to Abraham. Further, they would wrangle over things in the law of Moses. Such discussions were like trying to catch the wind in a box ( Tit_3:9 ).

Some would likely persist in dragging men's minds away from good works to those useless matters. When they pressed their opinions to the point of dividing the church, he should be warned and urged to change. Even those involved in such a public sin were to be given the second warning before they were finally rejected ( Mat_18:15-17 ). How sad to have to treat one who had once been called a brother as a heathen! Yet, he is so corrupted and sinful as to obviously no longer be living the Christian life. Christians must avoid them lest the leaven of their sin spread through the whole church ( Tit_3:10-11 ; 1Co_5:4-8 ; 1Co_5:11 ).

Verses 12-15

Closing Words

Paul apparently planned to send either Artemas or Tychicus to take Titus' place in Crete (compare 2Ti_4:12 ; Act_20:4 ; Eph_6:21-22 ; Col_4:7 ). Titus was then to join Paul in Nicopolis where he planned to spend the winter. Titus was also instructed to help Zenas and Apollos on their way. Zenas is called a lawyer, but we do not know whether he worked with the Jewish or Roman law. Apollos was a gospel preacher ( Act_18:24-28 ; 1Co_3:5-9 ; 1Co_16:12 ). Hospitality was important to travelers of that day. To bring someone on his way, one would have to provide all he needed to continue his journey ( Tit_3:12-13 ; Rom_15:24 ; 1Co_9:9 ; 1Co_9:14 ; 1Co_16:6 ; 1Co_16:11 ).

Perhaps in conjunction with helping Zenas and Apollos on their journey, Paul repeated his instruction for Titus to urge the brethren to maintain good works. They were to be especially mindful of pressing needs. Caring for the needs of others causes one to bear fruit in the Lord's service ( Tit_3:14 ; Tit_3:8 ; Tit_2:7 ; Tit_2:14 ; 1Ti_2:10 ; 1Ti_5:10 ; 1Ti_6:18 ; 2Ti_2:21 ; Mat_25:31-46 ). Paul closed by relaying the greetings of all the brethren with him to Titus. In turn, he asked Titus to convey his greetings to those who loved him because of their common faith. His final prayer for the young preacher and brethren, since this "you" is plural, is for God's unmerited favor to be on them ( Tit_3:15 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Titus 3". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.