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The Apostle is following up the same Directions to Titus, in this Chapter, as the former. His Doctrine, and Commands to the Aged, and Youthful, and Servants, are dwelt upon. The Apostle, blessedly speaks, of the Grace of God in Christ, and the Design of its appearing.
(1) ¶ But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (6) Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. (7) In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (8) Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (9) Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; (10) Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
I admire the Apostle's expression, when he calls the great, and distinguishing truths of the gospel, sound: meaning, what is firm to depend upon, in opposition to what is rotten, and deceitful. The doctrines of grace, by which Paul means, the electing love of God to his Church; redemption by Christ; justification by his blood, and righteousness; the regeneration of the Holy Ghost; and the final perseverance of the saints. These are sound, solid, substantial truths; founded in the promise of God, who cannot lie; and such as God will have his people taught, and established in. For to this purpose, the Lord himself hath confirmed the whole, by word and oath. And at the time the Lord, did it, he expressly said, that it was on this very account, because, he was willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel. Hebrews 6:17-18 . And can any man be so presumptuous as to suppose, that God hath appointed the means, and will not bless the end. Will any man daringly put forth his hand to touch the ark, as if God cannot without him, preserve it from falling? It is astonishing, what the proud presumptuous reasoning of the human heart is capable of producing on subjects of this nature. And hence; while the Lord declares, that he will have the heirs of promise comforted with the assurance of his unalterable purpose, and counsel; such men wish to guard, as they term it, the Gospel, lest the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, should lead to licentiousness. If those men would, or could, but attend to one single point of the Gospel; and make this the standard by which to ascertain their opinions, they might be modest enough to learn, that Christ himself hath formed the fence, which none can go over. Those five words of our Lord, puts an everlasting silence to all their presumptuous reasoning: Ye must be born again. John 3:7 . everyone that is born again (and it is to such only that assurance is given) hath in him the testimony of God the Father's electing love; Christ's redeeming grace, and the Holy Ghost's sovereign work upon their souls. And all that are thus born again, are infallibly secured from finally falling. And it is awful, in any one, to call it unscriptural, and highly dangerous, to question concerning such, their final perseverance, or to withhold from them the Lord's assurance, when the Lord himself hath commanded concerning them saying; Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her: that her warfare is accomplished: that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand; (and so she hath, in the Personal sufferings, and death of her Head, and Husband, and Surety,) double for all her sins. Isaiah 40:1-2 . Reader! do you look to God the Spirit, for the testimonies and evidences, of the new-birth. And if through grace, you discern the precious marks, of the Lord the Spirit's regenerating work, upon your soul; listen to the same Almighty Teacher's own witness, to your sonship in God, and your redemption by Christ, against an host of self-righteous, and self-taught men! Romans 8:16-17 ; 2 Corinthians 5:5 .
Let not the Reader overlook the very beautiful, and striking inferences which the Apostle raiseth, from the subject of sound doctrine. The aged men and women: the younger women, in their married state; and the young men; and servants also in families; all orders in social life, which are here commanded to be spoken to, by Titus, are the sound in faith. Let not the Reader overlook this: for this is the foundation, on which the Apostle grounds his exhortation. They are therefore the members of the Church; truly regenerated believers. It is to them, the precept is given, that they may all act, under the influence of the Spirit, which they have received, as becometh sound doctrine. Paul is not teaching Titus to expect those things from the unconverted. Make the tree good, (saith the Lord Jesus himself,) and his fruit good. Matthew 12:33 . But without the change of heart by the regenerating work of God the Holy Ghost: neither the aged, nor the young, can be sound in good works, not being sound in the faith. Men do not gather grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles. And that Paul so meant, and so said, is evident, from what he observes will follow, lives of grace, manifested in lives of practice; that the word of God, (saith he,) be not blasphemed; and that they of a contrary part, (mark the expression,) may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. By which, as plain as words can make it, the Apostle draws the line of distinction, between the Church of regenerated believers, and the contrary part of the ungodly and unawakened. All which plainly prove, that those scriptures are all along as Paul intended them designed for, the saints of God and the faithful in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:1 ; Titus 1:4 .
(11) ¶ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (15) ¶ These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
I beg the Reader's close attention to the whole paragraph. And I pray God the Spirit to be my Teacher. By the grace of God which bringeth salvation, is evidently meant the Gospel, which makes it known. And by its having appeared unto all men; can mean no more, than that now it is no longer hid as it was before the revelation by Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:5-11 . But being now preached openly to both Jew and Gentile, the obvious tendency of it is, to make known salvation by Jesus Christ. And in this sense, it hath appeared unto all men, wheresoever the Gospel is preached; though the effects of it will be different, as the Gospel itself declares. But in no other sense, can it be said, to have appeared unto all men; for thousands, and tens of thousands, have never heard of the Gospel, nor ever will. Millions have died without the knowledge of it; as was designed they should. And multitudes, to whom the outward ministry of the word hath been delivered, have never felt or known, the inward saving power. Hence, when the Lord Jesus Christ himself was the Preacher, what troops of hearers turned from him, with the most fastidious indifferency, and even contempt. Chorazin, and Bethsaida and Capernaum in this sense, were exalted to heaven, it might be said, by reason of their gospel privileges. But they were cast down to hell, by reason of their despising them. Matthew 11:20-24 .
It is curious to behold, in the present day, the great concern which some men seemingly profess, for the salvation of others; who never felt any real concern for their own. And it is among the signs of the times, that multitudes are engaged in societies as all eager to send the Bible abroad, to be read by all the world, who never, in numberless instances, read it themselves. But where is the path of duty, and the consolation by grace to the truly regenerated child of God? Surely it is written, as with a sun-beam. To wait like the Prophet, on his watch-tower, the leadings of the Lord. Habakkuk 2:4; Habakkuk 2:4 . Where Jesus leads, there follow. Where the Lord, and not man, opens the door, there enter. In the mean time, to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. Exodus 14:13 ; Isaiah 30:7 . The cause of Christ is of no doubtful issue. His Church must stand. His cause must prosper. Not one of his little ones hath perished in all the dark ages which are past. Not one shall perish in all that is to come. This sweet and consoling promise of the Lord, brings up after it, all that is necessary: All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me. And of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. John 6:37-40 .
But while these grand events are made everlastingly sure, and certain, by Covenant-settlements; (2 Samuel 1:5; 2 Samuel 1:5 . and the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared for the accomplishment of them; the Holy Ghost hath very blessedly added in this sweet scripture, that it teacheth us, (that is, the regenerated Church,) that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Reader! do mark the loveliness and force of the words here used. That it is the us, who are truly, and savingly called by grace, which are thus expected to live, is obvious to the plainest sense. For we know, by woeful experience, in the awful crimes going on daily in this nation of professing christianity, and the sad instances of capital punishments which continually follow; that no teaching of the Gospels no, nor all the threatened punishment to disobedience, can give the least bias to the carnal, and ungodly, to restrain from evil, and to compel to good. Grace only can accomplish this purpose. Some that have the privilege of hearing of this grace of God, which bringeth salvation, and hath appeared to them in the outward ministry of the word; only manifest a greater bitterness of heart against it, by awakening, and calling forth their greater enmity against God and his Christ. And others, when they hear of the restraints of the Gospel, to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, only feel their corrupt passions the stronger, as dropsical persons thirst the more, because the very nature of their disorder is to drink. And, it is among the plainest truths of our most holy faith, that as without the new birth in regeneration, not one of the fallen race of Adam, hath the least tendency to any real act of good; so, by this quickening principle from the Spirit of holiness alone, is imparted the desire, both of denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts; and of living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. And, as this is a point of such immense consequence; and the Apostle hath also in this same sweet scripture, added to what is here said, a further testimony concerning it, in that he tells us, Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity; and purify to himself a peculiar people? zealous of good works. I would crave my Reader's indulgence, to dwell a little longer on the interesting subject.
I stay not to remark, the nature of that claim, which Christ hath upon his redeemed, by virtue of his having bought them out of the hands of justice, by his blood. This, though a most blessed consideration, would lead rather to another subject. Here it might bit shown, that, according to all the principles of law and equity, what a man redeems is his own; and what he buys, is his property. And Christ, having bought his Church with his blood, might justly make her his servant forever. But I am not now taking up the subject in that point of view. I am simply considering, how the blessed consequences are induced, whereby the redeemed, and regenerated Church, is both taught, and by grace is made, this peculiar people, Christ, and not they, hath purified unto himself; whereby they do become zealous of good works, and deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
In confirmation of these precious things, I beg the Reader to observe, first; that by the original, and eternal purposes of God in election, this was one great point, when God chose the Church in Christ, that the whole body should be holy and without blame before him in love. Ephesians 1:4 . And hence, by this will and act of God, the Church, when quickened, which was before in the Adam-nature of the fall, dead in trespasses and sins, is said to be created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that the Church should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 . I beg that this may be marked down, in the memorandum of the Reader's mind, in characters strongly impressed, suited to its importance. Oh! Lord the Spirit! well knowing the treachery of my poor, forgetful heart; do thou write the blessed truth therein with thine own living principles of grace.
Secondly. It is said among the Covenant-promises of the Father to the Son: Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. Psalms 110:3 . Hence, in that blessed day, when the Lord calls the poor sinner from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the living God; there is a willingness imparted, to follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goeth. They are then made volunteers, in the service of God; and, amidst all the corruption of the flesh, with their spirit they serve the law of God. Hence David cried out, under the feeling sense he had of quickening mercies: I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou hast enlarged my heart. Psalms 119:32 .
Thirdly. A willingness, without ability, would not be sufficient; and the Lord doth not leave his purposes to a peradventure. And, moreover, his people are here said to be a peculiar people, not merely willing, but zealous of good works. Here, therefore, comes in, to our joy and comfort, what this scripture so blessedly adds; that when Christ redeemed his Church from all iniquity, it was to purify her unto himself. Hence, therefore, it will follow, that while the Lord wills his people to this zeal for good works, he imparts also an ability at the same time, to perform them. It were much to be wished, that those who are so fond of exhorting the world, to what the world hath no power to do; would turn their attention, to what the scripture declares, of the Lord's people, they are enabled through grace to do. Such derive from Christ all the power they have, and by which they are enabled to perform what is enjoined them. Hence that beautiful scripture: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will, and to do, of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 . Reader! ponder well these things. Behold how the Lord hath made provision, that the good works he hath created his people to, he hath ordained and given ability to walk in. His willings, are enablings. With the precept, there is accompanied the promise; and with the teaching to deny ungodliness, and to walk godly, there is a power imparted, to the restraining from the one, and to the performance of the other.
One word more on this very blessed paragraph. The Apostle saith, that the Church, in the daily exercise of godliness, is to be looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ: or, as it might have been rendered, the great God, even our Savior Jesus Christ. For I must take the freedom to say, that it is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He only, who is here spoken of. And this appears very evident for several reasons. First. The Greek article, which is placed before the words great God, is not used again before the words our Savior Jesus Christ, as is usually done, except when meaning one and the same Person; and therefore, the omission in the latter part, implies, that it is exegetical of the first. Secondly. The Greek article here rendered and, before our Savior, is, in many places in the New Testament; translated even. See Rom 15:6 ; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 2 Corinthians 11:31 ; Php 4:20 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:16 ; 1 Peter 1:3 , etc. Thirdly. The appearing which is here spoken of, uniformly means Christ, through all the scripture. We are taught to expect Christ to appear, but never is it said of the Father. Col 1:27 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:10 . Fourthly. It is one of the peculiar characters of Christ our SAVIOR. But never under the article of redemption, do we find the Person of the Father, or of the Holy Ghost, so spoken of. From all these causes there cannot be a doubt, but that it is the Person of Christ for whom the Church is said to look. Reader! ask your own heart then, who less than God can be so described?
Concerning this appearing of Christ, and the hope and expectation of his coming, which the Church is said to be looking for, I beg the Reader to remark with me, one or two striking particularities. First. It is spoken of, as a blessed hope, and a glorious appearing to the Church, who are described, as looking for it with delight, in a life of faith and holy conversation. A plain proof, that the Church is considered, as in a justified state before God. For it could never be called a blessed hope, if there were any doubts remaining, in what state the child of God would be then found. If any sin should then remain on the conscience, unwashed by the blood of Christ, the hope, and expectation of Christ's coming, could not be called blessed. Many there are, that under the garb of a supposed humility, suppose it somewhat presumptuous to talk with certainty, on this infinitely momentous point. But this is more an affected humility, than real. It is no more than faith warrants to every child of God, to believe the record which God hath given of his dear Son. And he that hath the Son, it is said, hath life. 1 John 5:10-11 . He hath it now by faith, as much in reality, as the Church in heaven, hath by sight. And, therefore, to a child of God, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, and justified by the blood, and righteousness of Christ; he is as really, and truly saved now by Christ, as the Church is in heaven.
Secondly. The Church is said to be looking for Christ's appearing, with a blessed hope of expectation, as if bringing into present enjoyment by faith, that glory which will then be realized to their possession; and thus embracing by anticipation, their inheritance, which nothing but their minority of being, now prevents them from entering upon. And this becomes an absolute confirmation, of the final perseverance of the saints. It was this assurance made Paul call it blessed. And Peter no less speaks as of not only looking for it, but hasting unto the coming of it. 2 Peter 3:12 . Both which were impossible, if the shadow of a doubt remained on the mind, as to the final issue of the great event.
I only detain the Reader just to remark, how the Apostle enforceth on the mind of Titus, in the close of this Chapter, his dwelling on these things, in his preaching among the people. These sound doctrines of grace and salvation, founded, and secured in the everlasting love of God and the redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, confirming the faith of the saints, and their eternal safety in Christ: these, (saith he,) boldly, firmly, and faithfully, do thou speak, and exhort. And, if any dare oppose, rebuke all such with all authority, that none may despise thee, as if ignorant of these great truths; or for thy keeping them back. Reader! who can disprove what God the Spirit teacheth! Who shall presume to question the hope of the faithful in Christ Jesus, which God the Holy Ghost calleth blessed?
READER! is there not renewed occasion at the close of this, and every Chapter, for all the marked attention, God the Holy Ghost hath shown the Church, in watching over the interests, and happiness of his people, that both young men and maidens, old men and children, may praise the name of the Lord: for his name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth? And what a lovely family of the Lord's would it be, if all were sound in doctrine, sound in faith; and all adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things!
Blessed be the Father, Son, and Spirit, that the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared. And blessed be the Lord, that He hath both taught his Church, and given her members ability, by a life of faith, upon the Son of God, to deny all ungodliness, and worldly lusts; to put off the old man, which is corrupt; and to put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness, and true holiness. Oh! for grace, to be always on the lookout, for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of Jesus. Lord! we groan being burthened, under the weaknesses, and unworthinesses of our vile body. Haste, haste my Beloved, and bring on that blessed day, when thou wilt change our vile bodies, and fashion them like unto thy glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby thou art able even to subdue all things unto thyself.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Titus 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24