It has been observed by many that one of the sources for the development of unbelief or skepticism in some results from a wound caused by the hypocrisy of someone claiming to be a devout believer in God. As Paul wrote to Titus, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (Tit. 1.16a).
Biblically, however, Christians living is a genuine response to strive to live in such a way so that “the word of God may not be reviled” (Tit. 1.5). To embrace the teachings of Jesus is to give God access to affect all of our choices, emotions, and behavior. In this way, Christians “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Tit. 1.10). In Titus 2.11-14, Paul provides the foundation for Christian living – God’s grace revealed in Jesus at the cross, godly living, and the anticipation for the second coming of Jesus.
The Grace of God
The driving force in the Christian’s life should be the grace/favor that has been extended to them by their Creator. In the Old Testament, Noah found “grace” (Heb. hen) in the eyes of the Lord, and was warned and prepared for the upcoming global flood (Gen. 6.8). Also, through the prophet Amos, grace is potentially spoken of for the “remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5.15). Hen is used generally of providing deliverance from enemies, evils, and calamities.
In the New Testament, the Greek term charis is often translated as “grace”, and is the main word used to express the “kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved”. This is the fundamental aspect of the grace of God that grants sinners pardon and entrance into the spiritual blessings in Christ. Thus, in Titus 2.11, it is this unmerited redemptive favor that “has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (cf. 1 John 2.2).
The Grace of God – Its Appearance
Paul is speaking of a historical event in which God “revealed” his grace for all humanity (Tit. 3.4-5). This is borne out in the grammatical setup of verse 11. “Has appeared” (epiphaino), is a past tense, passive verb of reality (Aorist Passive Indicative).
This means that God has made the appearance of grace to occur in an event that had already happened – the historical events of the Gospel. As in many other passages, the Father was demonstrating the great love he has for us in the giving of Jesus (Rom. 5.6-11; 2 Cor. 5.17-21; 1 John 4.7-12).
The Grace of God – Brings Salvation (2.11)
The grace of God then is about salvation given to humanity. In Jesus’ story we see how far God will go to provide us with his Divine favor, protection, and love (John 3.16). The word “salvation” (soterios) is the very nature of grace; in fact, Louw and Nida make this clear in their rendition of the verse: “the saving grace of God has appeared to all people”.
This “saving grace” is the cornerstone of the Christian life. It is, on the one hand, a statement of the “deliverance” (= the rescuing) potentially offered to all of humanity (“all people”), but experienced by the faithful Christian, of the coming judgment upon sinful living (Jude 21). On the other hand, it amplifies that the historical basis of salvation (i.e. Jesus) was a demonstration of God’s “unpurchaseable” favor upon his creation.
The Grace of God – Provides Training (2.12)
The implication of God’s intervention as seen, in history, in the ministry of Jesus is its demand for both (1) a disavowal of ungodly behavior, and (2) the moral and spiritual reconditioning provided by the teaching found in the “saving grace of God”. This “instruction-training” (paideuo) is found in the Word of God (2 Tim. 3.16-17); moreover, the term reflects an ongoing dimension to the training. Longevity is a vital component to Christian living (Heb. 12.1-2).
Training to Reject
Paul lists here two broad categories of conduct that Christians are to “renounce”. This term (arneomai) suggests not only a denial on the Christian’s part, but they must “disown” ungodliness and worldly passions. No longer should these attitudes be allowed to govern their actions; in fact, elsewhere, Paul uses the metaphor of an execution to drive this point against worldly misconduct (Col. 3.1-11).
Training to Embrace a New Life
The new life is to be characterized by three descriptives: “self control”, “uprightness”, and “godly living”.
First, “self control” (sophronos) is behavior grounded in “good sense”, so that a person’s passions may be kept in line with revealed righteousness (Rom. 12.1-2). The “I can’t help it” excuse finds no harbor in the Christian life.
Second, “uprightness” (dikaios) describes a life that is ideally based upon what is morally, and judiciously, correct and true. For example, the thieves on the cross knew they were “justly” sentenced for their crimes (Luke 23.41). Even Jesus entrusted himself the One who judges “justly” in face of all the falsehoods spread about him (1 Pet. 2.23ff). Living an honest life may be hard at the beginning of the Christian life; but once secured, there is no better life.
Third, “godly living” (eusebos) may best be understood in the following expanded way, “to live like one should who believes in God” or “to always do what God requires”. This is not a term of legalism, but a term of faithfulness as in the case of Cornelius, described as “a devout man” (Acts 10.1-2). To be genuine, godly living is visibly expressive.
Anticipating Jesus (2.13-14)
Finally, the Christian life is grounded in an expectation/hope (elpis) of the Second Coming (1 Thess. 1.9-10). Christians expect to “wait to receive” (prosdechomai) Jesus to themselves. This appearance of the Redeemer is the final closer to the gospel message. It demonstrates that the Christian expectation for Jesus is grounded in joy and tremendous anticipation (1 John 3.1-3), largely because of two things: (1) the redemption of the Christian, and (2) the inclusion into the community of the people of God. Now, the redeemed people of God – the church – can receive their reward.
While this passage shows a positive view toward the Second Coming (“blessed hope”), it is important to observe that Scriptures teach that Christians will also stand in judgment for their conduct (1 Pet. 4.17-19). In the words of Matthew 25.31-46, the Lord will sift through his people and divide the faithful from the unfaithful. The faithful will be received and rewarded (Matt. 25.34ff), but the unfaithful will be rejected and punished (Matt. 25.41ff).
It is unfortunate that some use Christians “hypocrisy” as a scapegoat for their rejection of Christianity or even God. The very nature of the Christian faith is that Jesus came to seek and save sinners (1 Tim. 1.15). Nevertheless, the Scriptures advise, “depending on a traitor in a time of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a wobbly foot” (Prov. 25.19). Moreover, “it is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust any human being” (Psa. 118.8). For the Christian, these words from the letter to Titus ought to be encourage faithful living in a world of onlookers.
- William E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr, 1984, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson), 1:100-01.
- Joseph H. Thayer, 1889, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1962), 666.
- Barclay M. Newman, 1993, Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (Germany: United Bible Society), 71.
- Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, 1996, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Society), 21.28.
- Newman, 1993, 25.
- ibid. 178; Louw and Nida, 1996, 88.94.
- Louw and Nida 53.6.
- Newman 152; Louw and Nida 85.60.