Conduct Consistent with Sound Teaching, 1-15

2:1 But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.

‘This whole chapter deals with what might be called The Christian Character in Action. It takes people by their various ages and stations and lays down what they ought to be within the world. It begins with the senior men.’ (DSB)

‘Paul’s instructions throw no flattering light on the Cretan temperament. They were a naturally belligerent, argumentative people, uncontrolled, resentful of authority and partial to the bottle! But the Christian life calls for discipline, obedience and respect for others.’ (Lion)

We should not miss the ethical and practical thrust of this verse. Titus must teach those standards of conduct that accord with that recognizable body of teaching that is referred to here as ‘sound doctrine’.

You – emphatic, ‘as for you’, in contrast to the false teachers mentioned in ch 1.

Sound doctrine – The definite article is present (’the sound doctrine’), indicating that a body of belief is in mind here. Heresy leads to disease; sound doctrine promotes spiritual health. ‘Sound’ means ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’; it is often used in the Gospels of those who, having been healed of some sickness or disability, are now ‘whole’. Just as a healthy body has all its parts functioning in a co-ordinated way, so healthy doctrine is a co-ordinated system, with in individual parts constituting a harmonious whole. Paul refers elsewhere to ‘the whole purpose of God’, Acts 20:27. (Stott)

Titus is to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. He is to teach the practical duties that arise out of it. And, of course, that is what Paul himself immediately proceeds to do: he indicates the practical teaching that Titus is to give different groups of Christians in the Cretan church (vv2-10), and then he outlines the ‘sound doctrine’ that underlies these ethical demands (vv11-14).

‘By what is “in accord” with sound doctrine Paul means how to live in accordance with sound doctrine. From the apostle’s perspective, Christian leaders must teach not only what to think but how to live in the light of what to think.’ (Carson, For the love of God, II)

‘Titus is not unique in having been given this double ministry. Still today Christian pastors and teachers are called first to teach both doctrine and ethics; secondly to teach them in relation to each other and show how the “fit;” and thirdly to relate duty to doctrine, not in general principles only but in detailed applications.’ (Stott)

Note the emphasis in what follows on teaching by good example.

‘Many preachers think of doctrine as undesirable and impractical. A major Christian magazine recently published an article by a well-known charismatic speaker. He mused for a full page about the futility of both preaching and listening to sermons that go beyond mere entertainment. His conclusion? People don’t remember what you say anyway, so most preaching is a waste of time. “I’m going to try to do better next year,” he writes; “that means wasting less time listening to long sermons and spending much more time preparing short ones. People, I’ve discovered, will forgive even poor theology as long as they get out before noon.”’ (John MacArthur)

How do we know if our doctrine is sound?

  1. It is found in the Bible.
  2. It keeps Jesus Christ central.
  3. It results in consistently good behavior and actions.
  4. It promotes spiritual health in ourselves and others.

Those responsible for preaching and teaching must challenge people to understand sound doctrine. We may become so caught up in relating to felt needs that we ignore their connection to sound biblical knowledge. Reaching out to people where they are should not result in theological ignorance.’ (Life Application)

2:2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Paul mentions six categories of people, according to age, sex and occupation.

The older men – probably mid-50s upwards. Such should still be teachable, and not stubborn or set in their ways. They may be prone to certain failings, such as ‘slowness, timidity, forgetfulness, insensibility, irritability’ (Chrysostom). Paul’s exhortations to them may be summed up in two words: ‘dignity’ and ‘maturity’ (Stott).

Temperate – The word (nephalios) relates especially to drunkenness, 1 Tim 3:2-3, although (as here) the reference can be wider. It means moderate in the use of pleasures, not self-indulgent. ‘We might use the modern term balanced, showing that these men had placed appropriate emphasis on each of the priorities of life.’ (Life Application)

Worthy of respect – ‘semnos’ – honourable. Describes the conduct of a man ‘who knows that he lives in the light of eternity, and that before so very long he will leave the society of men for the society of God.’ (DSB) The mere passing of years does not lead to Christian maturity.

Self-controlled – This is a major emphasis throughout this passage, vv 4,5,6,12.

‘Self-control is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands-and then eat just one of the pieces.’ (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching)

‘Lack of self-control is the natural tendency for fallen human beings, as we see when the newly liberated nation of Israel, left to itself while Moses meets with God on Mt. Sinai, quickly turns to idol worship and runs wild, making itself a laughingstock to its enemies. (Ex 32:25) Because of this tendency, we are continually warned against losing self-control and are called to practice self-discipline.’ (1 Cor 7:5; 1 Thess 5:4-7; 2 Tim 3:2-4) (DBI)

Self-control is exemplified by the behaviour of Joseph in the face of attempted seduction by Potiphar’s wife, Gen 39:9. James teaches that self-control is like breaking an animal, Jam 3:2f. Note the vigour with which Paul practiced self-control, 1 Cor 9:27.

It’s possible that we in pursuit of the disciplined life focus our eyes on larger-than-life goals. We take on three jobs at church. We memorize not only verses, but chapters. We sell the TV or get up at 4:00 A.M. every morning for devotions…But it may be that we’ve overlooked more immediate and obvious things. We’ve passed over things like a clean room, or being on time, or curbing our tongue. (Joni Eareckson Tada)

Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.

Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639)

‘O God, help us to be masters of ourselves that we may be servants of others.’ (Sir Alec Paterson)

The next three characteristics of the older man (faith, love, endurance, similar to Paul’s more usual trilogy of faith, love and hope) prompt thoughts about Eriksen’s observation that some people reach old age with a sense of despair, while others face it with integrity.

Faith – ‘The years must teach us, not to trust God less but to trust him more.’ (DSB)

Love – ‘It may well be that the greatest danger of age is that it should drift into censoriousness and fault-finding. Sometimes the years take kindly sympathy away. It is fatally possible for a man to become so settled in his ways that he comes unconsciously to resent all new thoughts and ways. But the years ought to bring, not increasing intolerance but increasing sympathy with the views and mistakes of others.’ (DSB)

Endurance – (fortitude) – ‘waiting patiently for the fulfilment of their Christian hope’. ‘The years should temper a man like steel, so that he can bear more and more, and emerge more and more the conqueror over life’s troubles.’ (DSB)

‘Three key Christian virtues were to be manifested by the older men in the congregation. Sound faith meant that they were to have a healthy and personal faith in God by maintaining the Christian truth. Sound love meant that they should be loving, not bitter; their love was to be personal and outgoing. (see Jn 13:34) Sound patience required endurance and steadfastness. Endurance replaces hope in the normal list of the three key Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. (1 Cor 13:13) Paul did this to emphasize the importance for older men to finish well (2 Tim 4:7; see also Jas 5:7-8).’ (Life Application)

With these qualities, the older men will be able to maintain a watching brief and a correcting influence on the false teaching that was disturbing the church.

2:3 Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. 2:4 In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, 2:5 to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.

Likewise – ‘hinting at the closeness of the parallel.’ (Stott)

Reverent – The underlying word occurs only here in the NT. It may simply mean ‘befitting a holy person’, or, more narrowly, ‘like a priestess’. They are to ‘practice the presence of God.’

‘It is easy to see what a difference it would make to the peace and fellowship of the Church, if it was always remembered that we are engaged in sacred things. Much of the embittered argument and the touchiness and the intolerance which all too frequently characterize church activities would vanish overnight.’ (DSB)

Slanderers – ‘It is a curious trait of human nature that most people would rather repeat and hear a malicious tale than one to someone’s credit. It is no bad resolution to make up our minds to say nothing at all about people if we cannot find anything good to say.’ (DSB)

‘The two negatives, ‘not slanders or addicted to much wine’, point to the attendant dangers of indulging the Cretan penchant for idleness, Tit 1:12.’ (Wilson)

Teaching what is good – Clearly, these older women had a teaching role.  The context, however, suggests that it was limited, or mainly limited to teaching other women.

They will train the younger women – ‘There is a great need to every congregation for the ministry of mature women…They can share their wisdom and experience with the rising generation, prepare brides for their wedding, and later advise them about parenthood.’ (Stott)

‘Sometimes it would seem that the only gift experience gives to some is that of pouring cold water on the plans and dreams of others. It is a Christian duty ever to use experience to guide and encourage, and not to daunt and discourage.’ (DSB)

‘Within the church today, older women rarely become active role models for the younger women. In fact, the honor due our elders in the church is often absent. Age groups are isolated from each other, causing people to feel that little can be learned from one another. It is unfortunate when patterns in society become patterns for the church. The church must encourage intergenerational caring and sharing.’ (Life Application)

Note that this is the one group that Titus himself, as a young man, is not encouraged to teach.

Love their husbands [and] children

Don't overspecify the biblical text!

Mark Ward comments on the (otherwise excellent) conference speaker who, referring to Titus 2:4, said that because phileo is ‘friendship love’, it’s important for husbands and wives, and parents and children, to be friends.  Although there may well be some truth in this (Ward remarks), as far as the text in Titus is concerned, it is reading too much into the word; it is ‘overspecifying’ the text.  Husbands and wives are to be lovers, and not just friends.  And parents should be figures of kindly authority towards their children, not just friends.  To guard against such overinterpretations, Ward recommends:-

(a) Check the translations.  Translations uniformly render this word as ‘love’ in this verse (not ‘friend’).

(b) Ask if this method of interpretation works in the rest of the Bible.  Ward offers a sample:-

  • When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they are friends with standing and praying in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. (Matt 6:5)
  • The Father is friends with the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. (John 5:20)
  • Whoever is friends with his life loses it. (John 12:25)
  • If anyone is not friends with the Lord, let him be accursed. (1 Cor 16:22)
  • In the last days . . . people will be friends with themselvesfriends with money, proud, arrogant, abusive . . . (2 Tim 3:1–2)

Clearly, the phil- word group is not exclusively about friendship.  Look at usage and context.

(c) Check the commentaries.  Mark Ward says that of the commentaries he consulted (including Towner (NICNT), Knight (NIGTC), Griffin (NAC), Calvin, Yarbrough (PNTC), Mounce (WBC), Marshall (ICC), Guthrie (TNTC), Stott (BST)), not one suggested that Paul’s teaching here had a friendship component.  This, says Ward, should give pause for thought.

More positively, we should look at what the text does say, and then consider how it might be applied.  How might older women today fulfil Tit 2:4?  Given that ‘training’ wives to love their husbands was particularly significant in cultures where wives did not choose their husbands, how might this apply to Western marriages today?  (Might it mean, for example, that young wives should be willing to take advice and accept offers of help from older women?)

Love their husbands – ‘Thus love is the first and foremost basis of marriage, not so much the love of emotion and romance, still less of eroticism, but rather of sacrifice and service. The young wives are to be “trained” in this, which implies that it can be brought under their control.’ (Stott)

Love is not ‘caught’ like an infectious disease; it has to be learned, developed, nurtured.

V4f. What Paul says about the younger women has to be seen against the background of ancient Greek society. ‘In the ancient Greek world the respectable woman lived a completely secluded life. In the house she had her own quarters and seldom left them, not even to sit at meals with the menfolk of the family; and into them came no man except her husband. She never attended any public assemblies or meetings; she seldom appeared on the streets, and, when she did, she never did so alone. In fact it has been said that there was no honourable way in which a Greek woman could make a living. No trade or profession was open to her; and if she tried to earn a living, she was driven to prostitution. If the women of the ancient Church had suddenly burst every limitation which the centuries had imposed upon them, the only result would have been to bring discredit on the Church and cause people to say that Christianity corrupted womanhood. The life laid down here seems narrow and circumscribed, but it is to be read against its background. In that sense this passage is temporary.’ (DSB)

The importance of the home, and the centrality of the wife and mother to the home, are emphasised here. We may well think that modern society has gravely neglected these things. ‘There is no greater task, responsibility and privilege in this world than to make a home.’ (DSB)

The fact that Paul would have the older women train the younger women to love their husbands indicates that this kind of love can be brought under control.

‘Why did Paul stress that young Christian women should love their husbands and families? While such teaching may appear too obvious for mention, there are forces at work in today’s world that undermine even that very basic part of family life. Women are being told that their interests or desires come first, that they must seek what makes them happy before they can be good wives and mothers. While women should be encouraged to use their gifts and abilities, each Christian woman must align her priorities with God’s wisdom, not the world’s values. She must love her husband and her children, accepting the sacrifices that love brings. God will honor those who value what he values.’ (Life Application)


Fulfilling their duties at home – ‘Busy at home’ (cf. v11), or perhaps, ‘working hard at the home’.  And it is hard work. ‘It would not be legitimate to base on this word either a stay-at-home stereotype for all women, or a prohibition of wives being also professional women. What is rather affirmed is that if a woman accepts the vocation of marriage, and has a husband and children, she will love and not neglect them.’ (Stott)

‘Some Christians have interpreted Titus 2:5 (“workers at home,” NASB)4 to mean that any work outside the home is inappropriate for the wife and mother. But the fact that wives should care for their home does not necessarily imply that they should not work outside the home, any more than the statement that a overseer in the church should “manage his own household” (1 Timothy 3:4-5) means that he cannot work outside the home. In neither case does the text say that!’ (Knight, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)

Kind – perhaps meaning hospitable.

Subject to their husbands – This does not imply inferiority, nor does it demand unthinking obedience.

So that no one will malign the word of God – ‘Christian marriages and Christian homes, which exhibit a combination of sexual equality and complementarity, beautifully commend the gospel; those which fall short of this ideal bring the gospel into disrepute.’ (Stott)

‘The believers were being watched; if they lived righteous and blameless lives, there would be no ammunition for their enemies to use against them.’ (Life Application)

2:6 Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled, 2:7 showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, 2:8 and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us.

Self-controlled – This duty is urged on the younger, as well as the older (v2) men. It is particularly important in young men, because they have more energy, they are exposed to more opportunities for going wrong, and they tend to have more self-confidence. I read recently of an unqualified car driver who, driving at 60mph in a 30mph limit, crashed into a slow-moving hearse, injuring all four people inside and causing great distress to the family of the bereaved person. The car driver’s age? – 22.

‘Doubtless Paul is thinking of the control of temper and tongue, of ambition and avarice, and especially of bodily appetites, including sexual urges, so that Christian young men remain committed to the unalterable Christian standard of chastity before marriage and fidelity after it.’ (Stott)

‘Some valuable lessons can be learned from this verse. First, self-mastery is possible, even in young men, since there would be no point in exhorting them to an impossibility. Secondly, encouragement is an appropriate means to secure such self-control, especially if it is the sympathetic, supportive exhortation of one young man to another within the solidarity of the Christian brotherhood. Thirdly, such an encouragement must be accompanied by a consistent example, which is exactly what Paul comes to next, namely the example which Titus must set.’ (Stott)

‘The parallel with verse 5 may indicate that Paul was still thinking of marriage. If these young men were married and had children, then self-control would be doubly important. Lack of this quality creates tyrants and abusers within families. A woman attempting to practice submission in marriage to a man who lacks self-control will find that her husband may not reciprocate. All of the positive traits that a husband can contribute to a marriage-self-sacrifice, love, tenderness, compassion, listening-all flow out of self-control. Husbands who lack self-control have little right to complain about their wives’ lack of submission.

In ancient Greek society, fathers were not expected to be nurturers. Many young men today have been raised in families where fathers have neglected their responsibilities to their wives and children. Husbands and fathers who are good examples of Christian living are important role models for young men who need to see how it is done.’ (Life Application)

To achieve this, they need encouragement, example, and teaching.

Pr 16:32 – ‘Better a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

‘We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician’s instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not “disciplined”?’ (Tozer)

Titus, as a young man himself, must set an example to the other young men. He must preach, but he must practice what he preaches, he must model the message.

Integrity – This has to do with purity of motive. ‘The Christian teacher and preacher is always faced with certain temptations. There is always the danger of self-display, the temptation to demonstrate one’s own cleverness and to seek to attract notice to oneself rather than to God’s message. There is always the temptation to power. The teacher, the preacher, the pastor is always confronted with the temptation to be a dictator. Leader he must be, but dictator never.’ (DSB)

“He lived what he preached”

‘Mrs. Leon Apple, the wife of a preacher who recently died, was speaking to the 120-man committee, mostly preachers, of the North American Christian Convention in St. Louis. She said, “I always said I’d rather hear Leon Apple preach than any man I knew, because I was sure that he lived what he preached at home, and I wasn’t sure about some of you guys.” Every preacher sat there thinking, Boy, I wish my wife felt that way about me.’

Seriousness – or dignity, gravitas. This is ‘not aloofness, or arrogance, or pride; it is the consciousness of having the terrible responsibility of being the ambassador of Christ. Other men may stoop to pettiness; he must be above it. Other men may bear their grudges; he must have no bitterness. Other men may be touchy about their place; he must have a humility which has forgotten that it has a place. Other men may grow irritable or blaze into anger in an argument; he must have a serenity which cannot be provoked. Nothing so injures the cause of Christ as for the leaders of the Church and the pastors of the people to descend to conduct and to words unbefitting an envoy of Christ.’ (DSB)

‘Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest…You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them.’  (Baxter)

‘In confess freely, I cannot understand a jocular evangelist…Go back and read the lives of the men whom God has used in the mightiest manner, and you will invariably find that they were serious men, sober men, men with the fear of the Lord in them.’ (Lloyd-Jones)

Soundness of speech – Paul has been thinking of ‘sound doctrine’ primarily with reference to attitude and behaviour. But thought and speech are important too, especially in those who have a public teaching ministry, such as Titus.

‘The Christian teacher and preacher must be certain to propagate the truths of the gospel and not his own ideas. There is nothing easier for him than to spend his time on side-issues; he might well have one prayer: “God, give me a sense of proportion.” The central things of the faith will last him a lifetime. As soon as he becomes a propagandist either for his own ideas or for some sectional interest, he ceases to be an effective preacher or teacher of the word of God.’ (DSB)

‘The duty laid on Titus is the tremendous task, not of talking to men about Christ, but of showing him to them. It must be true of him as it was of Chaucer’s saintly parson: “But Cristes love, and his apostles twelve/He taught, but first he followed it himselve.”’ (DSB)

In v7f Paul refers to three aspects of Titus’ ministry: its motives (integrity), manner (seriousness) and matter (soundness of speech).

2:9 Slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to do what is wanted and not talk back, 2:10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.

All slaves were under authority, and some would experience real hardship, and would find it particularly difficult to maintain their Christian witness.

‘If the master was a heathen, the responsibility laid upon the servant was heavy indeed, for it was perhaps only through his conduct that the master could ever come to see what Christianity was. It was the task of the workman to show the master what a Christian could be; and that responsibility still lies upon the Christian workman. A large number of people never willingly darken a Church door; a minister of the Church seldom gets a chance to speak to them. How then is Christianity ever to make contact with them? The only possible way is for a fellow workman to show them what Christianity is.’ (DSB)

‘The standards set by Paul can help any employee/employer relationship. Employees should always do their best work and be trustworthy, not just when the employer is watching. Businesses lose millions of dollars a year to employee theft and time wasting. If all Christian employees would follow Paul’s advice at work, what a transformation it would make! Try to give your employer complete satisfaction by the way you do your job.’ (Life Application)

Not to steal from them – There are many who would never rob a bank, or mug an old lady, who would nevertheless willingly engage in ‘insider dealing’, corporate dishonesty, fiddling of expense accounts and so on. See Rom 13:7. In a two-and-a-half hour period, British Transport Police stopped a hundred people on Victoria Station in London who were travelling without a ticket. Employees steal from their employers by extended breaks and slack work, Tit 2:10. Other forms of stealing include failing to return an borrowed item, Ps 37:21; failing to clear a debt when able to do so, 2 Kings 4:7; wasting other people’s possessions, Lk 16:1; overcharging; tax evasion; fiddling of expenses.

‘Almost all trades, arts, and professions were at this time in the hands of slaves; and so all tricks of trade, all mercantile or professional embelement and dishonesty, are covered by the word.’ (Humphreys)

Show that they can be fully trusted – ‘It may well be that the man who takes his Christianity to his work will run into trouble; but, if he sticks to it, he will end by winning the respect of all men. E. F. Brown tells of a thing which happened in India. “A Christian servant in India was once sent by his master with a verbal message which he knew to be untrue. He refused to deliver it. Though his master was very angry at the time, he respected the servant all the more afterwards and knew that he could always trust him in his own matters.”’ (DSB)

Make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive – What was stated negatively in v5 is now put positively. By our behaviour we either tarnish or adorn the gospel.

‘There is a famous story of St. Francis. One day he said to one of his young friars: “Let us go down to the village and preach to the people.” So they went. They stopped to talk to this man and to that. They begged a crust at this door and that. Francis stopped to play with the children, and exchanged a greeting with the passers-by. Then they turned to go home. “But father,” said the novice, “when do we preach?” “Preach?” smiled Francis. “Every step we took, every word we spoke, every action we did, has been a sermon.”’ (DSB)

‘A person who cannot be trusted with small matters must not be trusted for large ones. If the Christian slaves refused to steal from their masters, even something minor, they would show that they could be fully trusted, that is, able to handle more important matters and responsibilities. But more important, they would impress their masters and other slaves with the depth of change that God had performed in their lives, making others want to know more about the Christian faith. Slaves might consider themselves of no value (indeed, their society certainly told them so), but Paul implied here an incredible opportunity for them to witness for Christ on all levels of society-to the children they cared for, the other family members, the merchants they dealt with, other slaves and their families, and the masters themselves. Being trustworthy makes the teaching about God attractive to unbelievers.’ (Life Application)

2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people.

‘This is the first of the two Evangelical outbursts of that “spring of living water” in St. Paul’s own heart which kept his life and teaching always green and fresh.’ (Humphreys)

‘There are few passages in the New Testament which so vividly set out the moral power of the Incarnation as this does.’ (DSB, on vv11-15)

In this section (11-15) we find reference to

  1. Appearing
  2. Behaving
  3. Hoping
  4. Redeeming
  5. Purifying
  6. Teaching
  7. Encouraging

Indeed, this passage sets out in a number of particulars the intimate relationship between doctrine and practice, between behaviour and the truth that that behaviour springs from. The passage refers to (a) the person of Christ – “Our great God and Saviour;” (b) his incarnation “the grace of God…has appeared;” (c) his saving work – “the grace of God that brings salvation…our great God and Saviour…who gave himself for us to redeem us;” (d) his glorious return – “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Intertwined are the practical implications of all this: “It teaches us to say”No”to ungodliness and worldly pleasures, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that his very own, eager to do what is good.”

This majestic passage (vv11-14; a single sentence in the Greek) is thought by some to have a liturgical/credal basis, quite possibly in connection with a baptismal service.

Fee’s summary of the paragraph is helpful: ‘It begins, v11, by picking up the concern from 1 Timothy – the universal scope of salvation. Then Paul appeals that the same grace that makes salvation available to all should instruct God’s people in proper behaviour, v12. Salvation, however, is not merely a present reality; it also includes a sure future for God’s people, v13, because the same Lord Jesus Christ who has already come as the manifestation of God’s grace, v14, will come again as the manifestation of God’s glory, v13. The aim of that grace was to create a people for God who would be characterised by their “zeal for good works,” v14b.’

Most translations (but not NIV or AV) and most commentators agree that this verse should be rendered: ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all’.

For – Note the connection between the sublime doctrinal teaching that follows with the apparently mundane instruction which prompted it. ‘The paragraph, in fact serves a major function in the letter providing the theological basis (the “indicative”) for the instructions of 1:10-2:10 (the “imperative”).’ (Fee)

Paul’s usual method, as Stott points out, is to begin with doctrine and then to move to practical instruction with a pivotal ‘therefore’. Here he reverses the order, beginning with ethical duties and then demonstrating their foundation with a doctrinal ‘because’. Either way, the vital link between doctrine and ethics is apparent.

The grace of God…has appeared – Paul does not spell out whether he is thinking of the historical manifestation of God’s grace or its experiential manifestation. The former seems the most likely, although the latter would be consistent with the present-tense educative function of grace referred to in v12. On the idea of God in Christ bringing grace into the world, see Jn 1:17.

Paul speaks of two ‘comings’ of Christ: compare this past ‘epiphany’ with the future ‘epiphany’ that is referred to in v13. Both are mentioned as having savnig significance.

The verb epiphaino, to appear, is a term used for the manifestation, or ‘epiphany’ of a god or hero to bring help. ‘It was used in classical Greek of the dawn or daybreak, when the sun leaps over the horizon into view; of an enemy emerging out of an ambush; and of the supposed saving intervention of a god or gods in human affairs.’ (Stott) The word is used once in the NT in a secular sense, Acts 27:20, and four times of Christ’s first coming, (Lk 1:78-79; 2 Tim 1:10; Tit 2:11 3:4) and six times of his second coming. (Ac 2:20; 2 Thess 2:8; 1 Tim 6:14 ;2 Tim 4:1,8; Tit 2:13) In the present passage, then, the word is used of both Christ’s comings.

God’s grace has ‘appeared’ in Christ’s humble birth, wonderful teaching, glorious deeds, atoning death, glorious resurrection. He himself was ‘full of grace’, Jn 1:14.

Bringing salvation to all people – The context (v10) suggests that Paul means to emphasise that God’s grace is now publicly offered to all, including all the groups just mentioned, even those whom we might think less worthy, such as slaves.

On God’s unwillingness that any should perish, see 2 Pet 3:9.

‘The Pastoral Letters contain a few references to the salvation of all. God “wills all people to be saved.” (1 Tim 2:4) God “is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.” (1 Tim 4:10) “The grace of God has been manifested for the salvation of all people.” (Tit 2:11) Some interpreters see here the Pauline thought that the gospel has a universal scope over against the heretical restriction of salvation to an elite, or the mistaken assumption that some are outside the pale of God’s redemptive purposes. Salvation is effective, however, only for believers (e.g. Fee, 64, 106). This interpretation complements the assumption in the Pastorals that some will not be saved. The verses quoted can thus be taken to express God’s antecedent or absolute will for the salvation of all, which differs from God’s consequent or conditioned will according to which only those who believe are saved.’ (DPL)

2:12 It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 2:13 as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

‘All of Paul’s instructions in verses 1-10 can be summed up in these two phrases. Believers must refuse any action that lacks reverence for God. Ungodliness means lack of love or total disregard for God. (Rom 1:18) we live in an age when many totally reject God’s influence in any area of life. Christians must renounce that attitude. Worldly passions are desires for the pleasures and activities of this world. (1Jo 2:16) These are the desires of people who have an anti-God mind-set. (see Rom 6:12 Gal 5:16,24 Eph 4:22) They must not only renounce ungodliness and worldly passions; they must also replace those desires with positive characteristics. To fight against lust, we must say no to temptation, but we must also say yes to active service for Christ. The power to live as a Christian comes from the Holy Spirit. Because Christ died and rescued us from sin, we are free from sin’s control. God gives us the power and understanding to live according to his will and to do good, thus we can live a godly life.’ (Life Application)

‘Grace does not leave its subjects in the condition in which it finds them.’ (A.W. Pink) Grace not only saves us from sin, v11, but also teaches us how to live. ‘It has been said that in the New Testament doctrine is grace, and ethics is gratitude; and something is wrong with any form of Christianity in which, experimentally and practically, this saying is not being verified. Those who suppose that the doctrine of God’s grace tends to encourage moral laxity (“final salvation is certain anyway, no matter what we do; therefore our conduct doesn’t matter”) are simply showing that, in the most literal sense, they do not know what they are talking about.’ (Packer, Knowing God)

Note here the negative, and the positive, aspects of Christian living. ‘Thus grace disciplines us to “renounce” (REB) our old life and to live a new one, to turn from ungodliness to godliness, from self-centredness to self-control, from the world’s devious ways to fair dealing with each other.’ (Stott)

Paul often presents his ethical teaching in this negative/positive form, Rom 6:5-14 Gal 5:16-26 Col 3:8-14.

‘The point of the whole paragraph is to underline the educative function of grace in transforming our present life, for the triumph of God’s grace must be shown in the fruit of godly living, Mt 6:20 Gal 5:22f.’ (Wilson)

Upright and godly

‘Let me entreat you to join the first and second tables of the law together, piety to God, and equity to your neighbor. The apostle put these two words together in one verse, Titus 2:12, “That we should live righteously and godly”: righteously, that relates to morality; godly, that relates to piety. . . . I would test a moral man by the duties of the first table, and I would test a professing Christian by the duties of the second table. Some pretend to faith, but have no works: others have works, but they have no faith.’

Thomas Watson

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions – It is not difficult to see an allusion, or even a reference, to a baptismal response here. Note Paul’s argument: we must give up such living because Jesus Christ gave himself up for us to redeem us from all wickedness, v14.

‘Teaching’ carries the idea of ‘discipling’.

‘Worldly passions’ are ‘desires that reflect the values of the present age with its antigodly mind-set.’ (Fee)

‘Chrysostom said that worldly things are things which do not pass over with us into heaven but are dissolved together with this present world. A man is very short-sighted if he sets all his heart and expends all his labour on things which he must leave behind when he quits this world. But an even simple”]r interpretation of worldly desires is that they are for things we could not show to God. It is only Christ who can make not only our outward life but also our inward heart fit for God to see.’ (DSB)

‘Some people talk as if they were hypnotized and helpless victims of their own desires. But Christians are expected and enabled to just say no.’ (Life Application)

To learn to say “No” will be of greater value than a PhD.

To live self-controlled, upright and godly lives – These correspond to three of the four cardinal virtues of Platonism/Stoicism, here adapted and placed in a Christian context.

‘Sobriety keeps the house, and moderates the mind at home; righteousness looks forth and gives every man his due abroad; piety looks up to God and gives him his right.’ (Trapp)

Stott points out that Paul’s language was evidently the basis for the expression in the General Confession of Prayer Book, in which we pray that we may ‘live a godly, righteous and sober life.’

‘If all that profess interest in Christ, be strictly bound to imitate his holy example; then it follows, that religion is very unjustly charged by the world, with the scandals and evils of them that profess it. Nothing can be more unjust and irrational, if we consider, First, That the Christian religion severely censures loose and scandalous actions in all professors, and therefore is not to be censured for them. It is absurd to condemn religion for what itself condemns: looseness no way flows from the principles of Christianity, but is most opposite and contrary to it, Tit 2:11,12.’ (Flavel)

‘Let me entreat you to join the first and second tables of the law together, piety to God, and equity to your neighbor. The apostle put these two words together in one verse, Tit 2:12 “That we should live righteously and godly?:” righteously, that relates to morality; godly, that relates to piety…I would test a moral man by the duties of the first table, and I would test a professing Christian by the duties of the second table. Some pretend to faith, but have no works: others have works, but they have no faith.’ (Thomas Watson)

Paul now moves on the the second ‘epiphany’ – the return of our Lord and Saviour.

…while we wait for… – ‘A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.’ (C.S. Lewis)

‘It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth “thrown in;” aim at earth and you will get neither.’ (C. S. Lewis)

‘The dynamic of this new life is the expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ. When a royal visit is expected, everything is cleansed and decorated, and made fit for the royal eye to see. The Christian is the man who is always prepared for the coming of the King of kings.’ (DSB)

‘Believers should always be expecting his return and live like those who will see him face-to-face.’ (Wiersbe)

‘Let me ask every day what reference it has to the Day of Judgement and cultivate a disposition to be reminded of that day.’ (Richard Cecil)

The blessed hope – That is, the hope that brings blessing. It is, indeed, a blessed hope. ‘Now is the school-time, then the eternal holiday. Now is the tossing on the waves of a troublesome world, then the quiet harbor. Now is the scattering, then the gathering. Now is the time of sowing, then the harvest. Now is the working season, then the wages. Now is the cross, then the crown.’ (Ryle)

‘The waiting is good for us: it builds our character, endurance, and perseverance. The hoping makes the waiting bearable.’ (Life Application)

The glorious appearing – Or, better, ‘the manifestation of the glory’ (NRSV etc). The second coming of Christ will be the manifestation of God’s glory, just as his first coming was the manifestation of his grace.

There is little or no biblical warrant for dividing Christ’s return into parts – the secret rapture of the Church and public revelation of Christ. ‘We can only conclude that the distinction between the Rapture of the Church and the Revelation of Christ is an inference which is nowhere asserted by the Word of God and not required by the terminology relating to the return of Christ…The parousia, the apokalypse, and the epiphany appear to be a single event. Any division of Christ’s coming into two parts is an unproven inference.’ (Ladd)

‘He will look like what he is. He will look like the world’s Saviour. He will look like God. He will come with the doxa, with the form, the splendour, the majesty, of God himself. He will come in all the paraphernalia of deity. He will come in the form that he had for a moment on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Mt 17 Mk 9 Lk 9) he will come in the kind of glory with which Yahweh came to Mount Sinai in the days of Moses (Exodus 19). He will come in the splendour with which Isaiah saw him in Isaiah 6. He will come with all the accoutrements of deity. He will come ‘in the clouds of heaven’; he will come with the holy angels. He will come with his glorified church. He will come with the voice of the trumpet that awakes the dead. (Mt 24:30-31 1 Thess 4:16) he will come to the accompaniment of events such as never were seen since the first dawn of creation: the resurrection of the dead, the great judgment and the re-formation of heaven and earth.’ (McLeod, A faith to life by)

Our great God and Saviour – Christ is so titled because his deity will be manifested at his appearing.

“Granville Sharp’s canon” states that when two nouns are connected by kai (and), the former with the definite article, the latter without, both refer to the same person. The theory was hotly debated in the unitarian controversies, but it is now a well-established principle in Greek grammar. The translation of the present phrase gives a good illustration of this principle.

‘In Tit 2:13 we find a second instance of the New International Version another being Jn 1:18 ascribing deity to Christ where the older versions do not: ‘we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us’. There is no textual problem here. We know beyond any shadow of doubt what the Apostle wrote. But the Authorised Version distinguishes between ‘the great God’ and ‘our Saviour Jesus Christ’ and renders the phrase, ‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’.

There are two reasons why the New International Version rendering must be taken as the correct one. One is grammatical: there is a rule called the Granville Sharp Rule which declares that if in such cases the definite article is not repeated before the second noun then the second noun refers to the same person as the first. That is exactly what we have here. If it was ‘our God’ and ‘our Saviour’ (two separate persons) we would expect that definite article to be repeated. But we have it only once, which means that ‘the great God’ and ‘our Saviour’ refer to the same person. That grammatical argument can be abandoned in any particular context only if there are strong grounds for doing so.

The other reason for preferring the New International Version translation is contextual. We are not expecting any appearing of our great God. We expect the epiphany of Jesus only, not of God the Father.’ (McLeod, A Faith To Live By)

Titles of Christ in the Pastoral Epistles. ‘By the time that we reach the Pastoral Epistles the rich diversity of titular usage characteristic of the earlier Pauline writings is beginning to disappear. Son of God is not used at all. Neither Jesus nor Christ is used independently (except in 1 Tim 5:11) but only in combination, usually in the order Christ Jesus. Lord is, however, used as an independent title and also in combinations. In several cases we probably have examples of formal, credal statements expressed in a dignified style and based on traditional material. (1 Tim 1:15; 2:5-6; 6:13; 2 Tim 1:9-10; 2:8; Tit 2:11-14 3:6) There is no doubt that here Jesus is given the title of God, (Tit 2:13) and he shares with God the title of Saviour.’ (2 Tim 1:10; Tit 1:4; 2:13; 3:6) (I Howard Marshall)

2:14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.

Note again the negative/positive balance, here, echoing the two-way ethical command of v12. We are saved from and also save to.

‘Paul deliberately chooses Old Testament words and images from the beginnings of Israel as a nation, so as to portray Christ’s salvation as the fulfilment of these foreshadowings…Thus we enjoy a direct continuity with the Old Testament people of God, for we are his redeemed people and he is our Passover, our exodus and our Sinai.’ (Stott)

Gave himself for us – recollects the Passover sacrifice.

Redeem us – recalls the Exodus redemption from Egyptian bondage.

‘Jesus Christ has died for our sanctification. Christ shed his blood to wash off our impurity. The cross was both an altar and a laver. ‘Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity.’ Tit 2:14. If we could be saved without holiness, Christ needed not have died. Christ died, not only to save us from wrath, but from sin.’ (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity)

Purify for himself a people that are his very own – is reminiscent of the Sinaitic covenant whereby Israel became God’s very own people. ‘Paul deliberately chooses OT words and images from the beginnings of Israel as a nation, so as to portray Christ’s salvation as the fulfilment of these foreshadowings…We enjoy a direct continuity with the OT people of God, for we are his redeemed people and he is our Passover, our exodus and our Sinai.’ (Stott)

‘Salvation is not only a change in position (set free from the slavery of sin), but it is also a change in attitude, appetite, ambition, and action. The same grace that redeems us also reforms our lives and makes us godly.’ (Wiersbe)

‘It is the great design God carries on in the world, to make a people like himself in holiness. What are all the showers of ordinances for, but to rain down righteousness upon us, and make us holy? What are the promises for, but to encourage holiness? What is the sending of the Spirit into the world for, but to anoint us with the holy unction? 1 Jn 2:20. What are all afflictions for, but to make us partakers of God’s holiness? Heb 12:10. What are mercies for, but loadstones to draw us to holiness? What is the end of Christ’s dying, but that his blood might wash away our unholiness? ‘Who gave himself for us, to purify unto himself a peculiar people.’ Tit 2:14. So that if we are not holy, we cross God’s great design in the world.’ (Watson)

Eager to do what is good – lit. ‘enthusiastic for good works’. ‘Give God thine affections, else thine actions are still-born, and have no life in them. Now zeal is the extreme heat of all the affections, when they are seething or hissing hot, as the apostle’s word is, Rom 12:11, when we love God and his people out of a pure heart fervently…Let God’s love in the work of our redemption be duly pondered (as here), and it will fire us up to a holy contention in godliness.’ (Trapp)

In summary, verses 11-14 teach the moral implications of the work of Christ. We are taught that we have been liberated from the penalty of past sins, and are being made fit for the life to come. In the meantime, we do not merely sit and simply reminisce or merely wait. In these in-between times, ‘suspended rather uncomfortably between the “already” and the “not yet,”’ we are empowered to live godly lives in an ungodly world, and are being made fit for the life to come.

‘This deliberate orientation of ourselves, this looking back and looking forward, this determination to live in the light of Christ’s two comings, to live today in the light of yesterday and tomorrow – this should be an essential part of our daily discipline. We need to say to ourselves regularly the great acclamation, “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” For then our present duties in the home will be inspired by the past and future epiphanies of Christ.’ (Stott)

2:15 So communicate these things with the sort of exhortation or rebuke that carries full authority. Don’t let anyone look down on you.

Having outlined the curriculum, Paul encourages the teacher.

These, then – these ethical duties and the doctrinal principles undergirding them – are the things you should teach.

Do not let anyone despise you – These words seem to be addressed as much to the Cretans who will hear the letter read out as to Titus himself.