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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
Titus 3

 

 

Verses 1-15

Chapter 4

Godliness In The World

Titus 3:1-15

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. (vv. 1-15)

In the third chapter we have the Christian’s relationship to the world outside. He must not plead heavenly citizenship in order to free himself from his responsibilities as an earthly citizen. The same apostle who wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” declared himself a Roman citizen on more than one occasion, and claimed rights thereby.

And so Titus was to teach these restless Cretans to be subject to proper authority, always ready to participate in anything for the good of the community; speaking evil of none, but manifesting the meekness and gentleness of Christ unto all.

This of course does not mean that the Christian is to immerse himself in politics. He will only be defiled if he attempts it, and he will fail in the very thing he is trying to do. Lot could not purify conditions in Sodom by running for office, and many a Christian has found that it was in vain for him to attempt to stem the tide of iniquity by becoming a politician. But the Christian is to set an example of piety in his civic responsibilities. He is to be obedient to law and to pay honestly his taxes, or tribute as the case may be, and to pray for all who are in positions of authority. Then, too, he is to remember the admonition, “[As much as in you is], do good unto all men.” Therefore he should be interested in anything which is for the blessing of mankind. This, however, does not leave him at liberty to take part in plans and schemes that are manifestly contrary to the Word of God, even though they may be loudly vaunted as for the upbuilding of humanity. But by generosity, by uprightness of life, and by compassionate interest in his fellows, he is to commend the doctrine of Christ.

It is by such behavior that Christians prove to the world that they are indeed a new creation in Christ Jesus. There was a time when we were like others, “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving [various unholy desires] and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” We were not all guilty to the same extent, but we were all in non-subjection to God, self-willed, and living in disobedience to His Word.

But He in grace undertook our salvation. Not that we became at last so distressed about our sinfulness that we longed after Him, but He in infinite kindness reached down to where we were. “The love of God our Saviour toward man,” is literally, “the philanthropy of God.”

God is a lover of men, and because He so loved He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And so we have been saved not through merit of our own-“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

The washing is the application of the Word of God to heart and conscience, thus producing through the Spirit’s power, the new nature. Having been thus washed from our old behavior, we are daily being renewed by the Holy Spirit, which God shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

And God’s purpose in thus working on our behalf and in us was that we, being justified by His grace, should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Every believer has eternal life now as a present possession. Nevertheless, we are exhorted to lay hold on eternal life as a matter of practical experience, and by and by at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall enter into life eternal in all its fullness.

I have eternal life now in a dying body. In that day body, soul, and spirit will be fully conformed to the image of God’s blessed Son. That will be life indeed.

It is a question whether the opening of verse 8 refers to what has already been put before us in verses 4-7 or whether it introduces the words that follow.

If we take it in the latter way, then it balances with 1 Timothy 1:15, where we read, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Here we are told, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” All such things as these are good and profitable to men.

But occupation with idle theories is of no value toward a holy life, and so we read: “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” It is easy to give one’s self to the defense of certain views which may not in themselves be of a sanctifying character, but the servant of Christ is exhorted to avoid everything of a merely contentious nature, and first of all to have in mind the edification of the people of God.

Verses 10-11 have to do with one who refuses these admonitions. “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

The heretic is really a factious person, more concerned about gathering adherents to himself and maintaining some sectarian view of truth, than falling into line with the entire body of revelation, seeking the blessing of all the people of God. His particular hobby may or may not be true, but he uses it to form a school of opinion.

Such a man is to be shunned after he has been twice admonished to refrain from his behavior. It is the same word as in 1 Timothy 4:7; 1Ti_5:11; and 2 Timothy 2:23, and in those passages translated “refuse” and “avoid.”

There is no hint here of excommunicating the man. False doctrine opposed to fundamental truth is not in question, but the factious man is to be refused; in other words, people are not to listen to him. The result will be, if he persist in his course, that he will eventually go out himself.

The closing verses are all of a personal nature. Paul is about to send either Artemas or Tychicus to Crete to relieve Titus, who is then to come to him at Nicopolis, for there the apostle had made up his mind to winter.

Zenas, the lawyer-possibly a converted Jewish lawyer, that is, a teacher of the law of Moses, or (what seems more likely from his Gentile name) a legal advocate who has become a servant of Christ-and Apollos were evidently also visiting Crete. Titus was exhorted to help them forward in their journey, seeing that they were cared for in temporal things, in order that they might not be left in need.

The saints themselves are exhorted to labor in useful occupations in order to provide for their necessities. This seems to be the true meaning of the admonition. The Christian should shun merely gainful professions or means of livelihood if they are not really “honest trades” for the good of mankind.

Paul and his companions salute Titus, sending their greetings to all who love them in the faith.

The epistle closes with the customary Pauline benediction, “Grace be with you all. Amen.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Titus 3:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/titus-3.html. 1914.

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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