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Titus 2:11-15

11. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

11. Apparuit enim gratia Dei salutaris omnibus hominibus

12. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

12. erudiens nos ut abnegantes impietatem et saecularia desideria sobrie et iuste et pie vivamus in hoc saeculo

13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

13. expectantes beatam spem et adventum gloriae magni Dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi

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.

14. qui dedit semet ipsum pro nobis ut nos redimeret ab omni iniquitate et mundaret sibi populum acceptabilem sectatorem bonorum operum

15. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

15. haec loquere et exhortare et argue cum omni imperio nemo to contemnat

11 For the grace of God 248248     “We have seen that we ought to preach daily that grace which was declared at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful mystery, that God was manifested in the flesh, and that, at the same time, he hath shewn to us his heavenly glory, that we may be united to it. In this manner all pastors ought to be employed; for when they shall unceasingly illustrate that wisdom which God hath declared to us in the person of his Son, it is certain that the time will not be lost. And this is what Paul says in another passage, (Ephesians 3:18,) that it is the height, and depth, and length, and breadth, and thickness of all knowledge. When we shall have extended our views to explore as far as possible — when we shall descend into the depth to search out all that is concealed from us — when we shall go beyond the length and breadth of the sea, we shall have a wisdom (he says) as high and as deep, as long and as broad as this: when we shall know the infinite love of God which God hath showed to us in the person of his only begotten Son.” — Fr. Ser. hath appeared He argues from the design of redemption, which he shews to be a desire to live a godly and upright life. Hence it follows, that the duty of a good teacher is rather to exhort to a holy life than to occupy the minds of men with useless questions. “He hath redeemed us,” says Zacharias in his song, —

“that we may serve him in holiness and righteousness
all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74, 75.)

For the same reason Paul says, the grace of God hath appeared, teaching us; for he means that it ought to hold the place of instruction to us to regulate our life well. What is proclaimed concerning the mercy of God is seized by some as all occasion of licentiousness; while others are hindered by slothfulness from meditating on “newness of life.” But the manifestation of the grace of God unavoidably carries along with it exhortations to a holy life.

Bringing salvation to all men, 249249     “We now see why Paul speaks of all men, and thus we may judge of the folly of some who pretend to expound the Holy Scriptures, and do not understand their style, when they say, ‘And God wishes that every person should be saved; the grace of God hath appeared for the salvation of every person; it follows, then, that there is free-will, that there is no election, that none have been predestinated to salvation.’ If those men spoke it ought to be with a little more caution. Paul did not mean in this passage, or in 1 Timothy 2:6, anything else than that the great are called by God, though they are unworthy of it; that men of low condition, though they are despised, are nevertheless adopted by God, who stretches out his hand to receive them. At that time, because kings and magistrates were mortal enemies of the gospel, it might be thought that God had rejected them, and that they cannot obtain salvation. But Paul says that the door must not be shut against them, and that, eventually, God may choose some of this company, though their case appear to be desperate. Thus, in this passage, after speaking of the poor slaves who were not reckoned to belong to the rank of men, he says that God did not fail, on that account, to show himself compassionate towards them, and that he wishes that the gospel should be preached to those to whom men do not deign to utter a word. Here is a poor man, who shall be rejected by us, we shall hardly say, God bless him! and God addresses him in an especial manner, and declares that he is his Father, and does not merely say a passing word, but stops him to say, ‘Thou art of my flock, let my word be thy pasture, let it be the spiritual food of thy soul.’ Thus we see that this word is highly significant, when it is said that the grace of God hath appeared fully to all men.” — Fr. Ser. That it is common to all is expressly testified by him on account of the slaves of whom he had spoken. Yet he does not mean individual men, but rather describes individual classes, or various ranks of life. And this is not a little emphatic, that the grace of God hath let itself down even to the race of slaves; for, since God does not despise men of the lowest and most degraded condition, it would be highly unreasonable that we should be negligent and slothful to embrace his goodness.

12 Teaching us that, denying, ungodliness He now lays down the rule for regulating our life well, and how we ought to begin, namely, with renouncing our former life, of which he enumerates two parts, “ungodliness and worldly desires.” Under ungodliness, I include not only superstitions, in which they had gone astray, but irreligious contempt of God, such as reigns in men, till they have been enlightened in the knowledge of the truth. Although they have some profession of religion, yet they never fear and reverence God sincerely and honestly, but, on the contrary, have consciences that are useless, so that nothing is further from their thoughts than that they ought to serve God. 250250     “It presents us with the strongest motives to obedience. ‘The grace of God teacheth us to deny ungodliness.’ What chains bind faster and closer than love? Here is love to our nature in his incarnation, love to us, though enemies, in his death and passion: encouragements to obedience by the proffers of pardon for former rebellions. By the disobedience of man God introduces his redeeming grace, and engages his creature to more ingenuous and excellent returns than his innocent state could oblige him to. In his created state he had goodness to move him, he hath the same goodness now to oblige him as a creature, and a greater love and mercy to oblige him as a repaired creature; and the terror of justice is taken off, which might envenom his heart as a criminal. In his revolted state he had misery to discourage him; in his redeemed state he hath love to attract him. Without such a way, black despair had seized upon the creature exposed to a remediless misery, and God would have had no returns of love from the best of his earthly works; but if any sparks of ingenuity be left, they will be excited by the efficacy of this argument.” — Charnock.

By worldly desires 251251     “On the expression τὰς κοσμικὰς ἐπιθυμίας, the best comment is 1 John 2:16 Σωφρόνως denotes virtue as regards ourselves; δικαίως, as regards our fellow-creatures; and εὐσεβῶς, as respects God. Similar divisions are found in passages of the classical writers cited by the commentators.” — Bloomfield. he means all the affections of the flesh; because we look at nothing but the world, till the Lord has drawn us to himself. Meditation on the heavenly life begins with regeneration. Before we have been regenerated, our desires lean towards the world, and rest on the world.

That we may live temperately, and righteously, and piously As he formerly mentioned those three, when he wished to give a comprehensive summary of Christian life, so he now makes it to consist of those three, “piety, righteousness, and temperance.” “Piety” is religion towards God. “Righteousness” has place among men. He who is endowed with both of these lacks nothing for perfect virtue; and, indeed, in the law of God there is absolute perfection, to which nothing whatever can be added. But as the exercises of godliness may be regarded as appendages to the first table, so “temperance,” which Paul mentions in this passage, aims at nothing else than keeping the law, and, as I said before about patience, 252252     See p. 311. is added to the former as a seasoning. Nor does the Apostle contradict himself, when at one time he describes patience, and at another time temperance, as the perfection of a holy life; for they are not distinct virtues, since σωφροσύνη (here translated temperance) includes patience under it.

He adds, in this world, 253253     “En ce present monde.” — “In this present world.” because the Lord has appointed the present life for the trial of our faith. Although the fruit of good actions is not yet visible, yet the hope should be sufficient for stimulating us to doing well; and this is what he immediately adds, —

13 Looking for that blessed hope From the hope of future immortality he draws an exhortation, and indeed, if that hope be deeply seated in our mind, it is impossible that it should not lead us to devote ourselves wholly to God. On the contrary, they who do not cease to live to the world and to the flesh never have actually tasted what is the worth of the promise of eternal life; for the Lord, by calling us to heaven, withdraws us from the earth.

Hope is here put for the thing hoped for, otherwise it would be an incorrect mode of expression. He gives this appellation to the blessed life which is laid up for us in heaven. At the same time he declares when we shall enjoy it, and what we ought to contemplate, when we desire or think of our salvation.

And the appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior I interpret the glory of God, to mean not only that by which he shall be glorious in himself, but also that by which he shall then diffuse himself on all sides, so as to make all his elect partakers of it. He calls God great, because his greatness — which men, blinded by the empty splendor of the world, now extenuate, and sometimes even annihilate, as far as lies in their power — shall be fully manifested on the last day. The luster of the world, while it appears great to our eyes, dazzles them so much that “the glory of God” is, as it were, hidden in darkness. But Christ, by his coming, shall chase away all the empty show of the world — shall no longer obscure the brightness, shall no longer lessen the magnificence, of his glory. True the Lord demonstrates his majesty every day by his works; but because men are prevented by their blindness from seeing it, it is said to be hidden in obscurity. Paul wishes that believers may now contemplate by faith that which shall be manifested on the last day, and therefore that God may be magnified, whom the world either despises, or; at least, does not esteem according to his excellence.

It is uncertain whether these words should be read together thus, “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the great God and our Savior,” or separately, as of the Father and the Son, “the glory of the great God, and of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” 254254     “Of these words the most natural sense, and that required by the ‘proprietas linguae,’ is, beyond all doubt, the one assigned by almost all the ancients from Clem. Alex. downwards, and by the early modern expositors, as Erasmus, Grotius, and Beza, and also by some eminent expositors and theologians of later times, as Bishops Pearson and Bull, Wolff, Matthaei, and Bishop Middleton, namely, ‘Looking for (or rather, looking forward to; comp. Job 2:9, and see Grotius) the blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.’ The cause of the ambiguity in our common version is ably pointed out, and the above version established on the surest grounds, by Bishop Middleton and Professor Scholefield. But, besides the argument founded on the ‘propriety of language,’ that of Beza, who urges that ἐπιφάνεια is nowhere used of God, but Christ, is unanswerable. So in an able critique on Dr. Channing’s works, in the British Critic, the Reviewer justly maintains that ‘Christ must be the God here spoken of, because it is his “glorious appearing” which all Christians here are said to expect, but of God the Father we are expressly told that him “no man hath seen, nor can see.”’ Other convincing arguments for the construction here laid down may be seen in Dr. Routh’s Reliquiae Sacrae, vol. 2, p. 26. The reader is also particularly referred to Clem. Alex. Colhort. ad Gentes, sub init., where verses 11-14 are cited by that Father, and the view of Σωτὢρος here maintained is adopted. The whole of the context there is deserving of great attention, as containing such plain and repeated attestations to the divinity of Jesus Christ as can rarely be found. The passage itself may be seen in Bishop Bull’s Def Fid. Nic., p. 87.” — Bloomfield. The Arians, seizing on this latter sense, have endeavored to prove from it, that the Son is less than the Father, because here Paul calls the Father “the great God” by way of distinction from the Son. The orthodox teachers of the Church, for the purpose of shutting out this slander, eagerly contended that both are affirmed of Christ. But the Arians may be refuted in a few words and by solid argument; for Paul, having spoken of the revelation of the glory of “the great God,” immediately added “Christ,” in order to inform us, that that revelation of glory will be in his person; as if he had said that, when Christ shall appear, the greatness of the divine glory shall then be revealed to us.

Hence we learn, first, that there is nothing that ought to render us more active or cheerful in doing good than the hope of the future resurrection; and, secondly, that believers ought always to have their eyes fixed on it, that they may not grow weary in the right course; for, if we do not wholly depend upon it, we shall continually be carried away to the vanities of the world. But, since the coming of the Lord to judgment might excite terror in us, Christ is held out to us as our “Savior,” who will also be our judge.

14 Who gave himself for us. This is another argument of exhortation, drawn from the design or effect of the death of Christ, who offered himself for us, that he might redeem us from the bondage of sin, and purchase us to himself as his heritage. His grace, therefore, necessarily brings along with it “newness of life,” (Romans 6:4,) because they who still are the slaves of sin make void the blessing of redemption; but now we are released from the bondage of sin, in order that we may serve the righteousness of God; and, therefore, he immediately added, —

A peculiar people, zealous of good works; by which he means that, so far as concerns us, the fruit of redemption is lost, if we are still entangled by the sinful desires of the world. And in order to express more fully, that we have been consecrated to good works by the death of Christ, he makes use of the word purify; for it would be truly base in us to be again polluted by the same filth from which the Son of God hath washed us by his blood. 255255     “Christ expiated sin, not encouraged it; he died to make your peace, but he died to make you holy; ‘to purify a people to himself,’ (Titus 2:14.) The ends of Christ’s death cannot be separated. He is no atoner, where he is not a refiner. It is as certain as any word the mouth of God hath spoken, that ‘there is no peace to the wicked,’ (Isaiah 48:22.) A guilty conscience, and an impure, will keep up the amity with Satan and enmity with God. He that allows himself in any sin deprives himself of the benefit of reconciliation. This reconciliation must be mutual; as God lays down his wrath against us, so we must throw down our arms against him. As there was a double enmity, one rooted in nature, another declared by wicked works; or rather, one enmity in its root, and another in its exercise, (Colossians 1:21,) so there must be an alteration of state, and an alteration of acts.” — Charnock.

15 Speak these things, and exhort, and reprove This conclusion is of the same meaning as if he enjoined Titus to dwell continually on that doctrine of edification, and never to grow weary, because it cannot be too much inculcated. He likewise bids him add the spurs of “exhortations and reproofs;” for men are not sufficiently admonished as to their duty, if they be not also vehemently urged to the performance of it. He who understands those things which the Apostle has formerly stated, and who has them always in his mouth, will have ground not only for teaching, but likewise for correcting.

With all authority I do not agree with Erasmus, who translates ἐπιταγή “diligence in commanding.” There is greater probability in the opinion of Chrysostom who interprets it to mean severity against more atrocious sins; through I do not think that even he has hit the Apostle’s meaning; which is, that Titus should claim authority and respect for himself in teaching these things. For men given to curious inquiries, and eager about trifles, dislike the commandments to lead a pious and holy life as being too common and vulgar. In order that Titus may meet this disdain, he is enjoined to add the weight of his authority to his doctrine. It is with the same view (in my opinion) that he immediately adds, —

Let no man despise thee Others think that Titus is instructed to gain the ear of men, and their respect for him, by the integrity of his life; and it is indeed true that holy and blameless conduct imparts authority to instruction. But Paul had another object in view; for here he addresses the people rather than Titus. Because many had ears so delicate, that they despised the simplicity of the gospel; because they had such an itch for novelty, that hardly any space was left for edification; he beats down the haughtiness of such men, and strictly charges them to desist from despising, in any way, sound and useful doctrine. This confirms the remark which I made at the outset, that this Epistle was written to the inhabitants of Crete rather than to any single individual.

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