Hence in the opening verses of chapter 2 the Apostle turns the
thoughts of Titus away from the bishops to those whom we may call the
rank and file of the church. There were more bishops than one in each
of these early assemblies yet not all elder men were bishops.
Consequently there were found aged men who could be addressed as a
class by themselves, as also aged women, young women and young men.
Instructions suitable to their varying conditions are given as to each
class. It is striking how the words "sound" and "sober" occur in these
verses. Each is found three times, though the words in the original may
not be in each case precisely the same. It is worthy of note however
that the word, occurring again and again, translated "sound" is one
from which we get the word "hygienic" which is so often upon people's
lips today. It means
healthful. Sound doctrine is in very deed doctrine which makes for spiritual health.
In verse 9 he turns to servants. Any kind of service would be like a
galling yoke on the neck of one who was an evil wild beast by nature.
Yet here were some of these converted. In their old wild beast days
they had served under the lash, as a wild beast serves: they answered
again and contradicted as much as they dared, they robbed their masters
whenever an opportunity offered. Now they are to be obedient to their
masters, acting in an acceptable way in all things, strewing all good
fidelity, the effect of which would be the adorning of the doctrine of
God our Saviour in everything. The doctrine is beautiful in itself, so
beautiful, it might be thought, that it is impossible to adorn it
further. Yet it may be. When the doctrine of God is exemplified and
carried into effect in the beautiful life of a poor slave, who before
his conversion was a perfect terror of a man, it is adorned indeed, and
made beautiful in the eyes even of careless onlookers.
Now, what can produce such an effect in our lives? What produced it
in the lives of some of the degraded Cretians? Nothing but the grace of
God. Of that grace and its appearing verse 11 speaks. The law was given
by Moses and was made known in the small circle of Israel's race. The
grace of God has risen like the sun in the heavens to shine upon all
men. Into its shining we have come, for which we shall bless God for
ever and ever.
The marginal reading of verse 11, "The grace of God that bringeth
salvation to all men, hath appeared," is to be preferred to the text.
The point is that now there is salvation for all, and that the grace of
God which has brought that world-wide salvation teaches us how to live,
while we await the appearing of the glory. The passage is not as clear
as it might be in our Authorized Version inasmuch as in verse 13 the
words "of the glory" are turned into an adjective, "glorious." There is
this striking connection and contrast between the grace which has
appeared and the glory which is yet to appear.
The grace of God has shone forth in all its splendour in Christ and
His redeeming work. In its scope and bearing it is not confined to
Israel, as was the law, but it embraces all; though in its application
it is of course limited to all that believe. Hence verse 12 begins,
"Teaching us." Not teaching all but us, who believe. Those who receive
this salvation that grace has brought are thereby introduced into the
school that grace has instituted.
How often is this great fact overlooked to much harm and loss. Why,
there are those who refuse and denounce the fact of the eternal
security of the true believer because they think it opens the door to
all kinds of loose living! They imagine that if once we were assured of
an eternal salvation restraint would be gone; as though the only
effective restraint is fear of the whip-the whip of eternal damnation.
Grace is far more powerful in its effects than fear, even that fear
that was engendered by the law of Moses.
The law, we read, was "weak through the flesh" (Rom. 8: 3) and it
failed altogether to restrain its workings. Every true believer is
however a subject of the new birth and possesses therefore a new
nature. The flesh, the old nature, still remains within him, yet it is
a judged and condemned thing and upon it grace lays a restraining hand
whilst fostering all that is of the new nature. "Ungodliness and
worldly lusts" are the natural expression of the old nature, and grace
teaches us to deny all these. The new nature expresses itself in
sobriety, righteousness and godliness, and the teaching of grace is
that these things should characterize us.
There was of course teaching of a sort under the law, for the Jew
had "the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law" (Rom. 2: 20).
It consisted in the clear laying down of what was right and what was
wrong. The law was like a schoolmaster who impartially hands round a
code of rules, very peremptory, very clear and well printed, yet
without offering to his scholars the least assistance in putting those
rules into effect. Grace teaches in a far more effectual way. There is
of course the same clearness about all that it enjoins and the standard
set is even higher than that which the law demanded, but there is this
in addition, it works IN us. When Paul preached the grace of God to the
Thessalonians and they received his message in its true character as
the Word of God he was able to say that it "effectually worketh also in
you that believe" (1 Thess. 2: 13).
That is the way of grace. It works in us, it subdues us. It not only
sets a lesson-book before our eyes but bit by bit produces within us
the very things that the lesson-book indicates. This is the case of
course where the grace of God is really received. Where it is not
really received men may do all kinds of things under cover of it,
"turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness" as Jude puts it in
his fourth verse. But this is because they are ungodly men and not true
Grace teaches us to live soberly, that is, "with self-restraint and
consideration." It thus puts us each right in regard to ourselves. It
teaches us to live righteously, that is, in a way that is right in
regard to our fellows. It teaches us to live godly, that is, to give
God His right place in our lives. It puts us right in regard to God and
man and self, and it sets us in expectation of the appearing of the
Here is a converted Cretian. This wild beast of a man is thoroughly
tamed and now plods on serving his master in a sober, righteous and
godly way. But suppose he had no prospect! Life to him might then wear
a very drab aspect. But grace teaches him to lift up his eyes and look
for the approaching glory; the glory being that of "our great God and
Saviour Jesus Christ." The glory will be the fruition of all the hopes
that grace has awakened. It may well be that by, "the blessed hope" the
Apostle indicated the coming of the Lord for His saints, of which he
writes to the Thessalonians in his first epistle (1 Thess. 4: 15-17),
and if so we have both His coming
for and His coming
with His saints set before us as our hope in verse 13.
The One who is soon to appear is the One who gave Himself for us
upon the cross, and verse 14 very strikingly states one of the great
objects He had before Him in giving Himself. It was in order to redeem
us from the "iniquity" or "lawlessness" under which we had fallen, so
that being thoroughly cleansed we might be a people for His own special
possession and filled with zeal for good works. It is not enough that
we should be delivered from the practice of evil; we are to be keen in
the pursuit of what is good, and that not only in a theoretical but
also a practical way. We are not only to do good works but also to do
them with zeal. How strikingly will all this "adorn the doctrine of God
our Saviour." Once a liar, an evil wild beast, a lazy glutton: now,
redeemed from lawlessness, purified before God, a zealot for good
works. What a transformation!