V11Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,. In the previous chapter Paul speaks about how the different groups must behave in the house of God. In this chapter he deals with the attitude of the Christian in the world. Of course the Cretans have the security to be saved from their lawless deeds (Tit 2:1414who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.), but that doesn’t mean that they should ignore the governing authorities (cf. 1Pet 2:13-1413Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.; Rom 13:11Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.).
They know indeed that they ought to subject themselves to the government, but it seems that they have forgotten that. Titus must remind them of that. They possibly are influenced by their former life. In those days they did not care about anybody, even not about the civilian authorities.
How is that with you? Do you also struggle with acknowledging the government’s authority? How do you comply with the traffic instructions or filling out forms for a student grant or your income tax declaration or other forms of the government by which you claim to be entitled to a certain compensation? It might be necessary for you to be reminded not to be swayed by the spirit of rebellion against authority or the softer form of civil disobedience. I certainly need that.
Besides, not only obedience is required, but it is expected of you that you are “ready for every good work”. In this case it implies that you cooperate with the government in all things what is good for the nation and society. That means that what you do, has to meet the will of God.
V22to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.. In this verse it is not only about the government, but about “all men”. What is written here applies towards all people. How do your neighbors, fellow classmates or colleagues know you? Be careful not to speak with contempt about your unbelieving neighbor who may live like a ‘lazy glutton’ or an ‘evil beast’. How do you consider your unbelieving colleague? The command “to malign no one” regards the unbelievers here. I hope you do not participate in a gossip that may be going around about a colleague.
I also hope that you are known as someone who is “peaceable” and not as someone who is argumentative or contentious, but much more as someone who is “gentle”, kind and helpful. It cannot be right that you are kind to your brothers and sisters and in the meantime quarrel with your neighbor because he parked his car on the very spot where you normally park yours, even if he did that on purpose just to annoy you. You then miss the chance to show “every consideration for all men”. ‘All men’ is not ‘all men except for your annoying neighbor’.
When you show gentleness you show a wonderful feature of the Lord Jesus, Who says to you that you can learn this from Him (Mt 11:2929Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.). In that way people will see that you are a citizen from another realm. The whole conduct radiates gentleness, always kind and helpful to ‘all men’, not only to nice people.
V33For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.. The remembrance of how you were will help you to bring the previous into practice. Then you will be able to show people the same love that God has shown to you. The most terrible things that other people may possibly insult you with in the heart of your being, do not come from a source that is more evil than your old nature. Consider therefore that if the Lord does not preserve you, you too may return to commit the most terrible deeds. Therefore you cannot speak with contempt about a criminal, how great and just your abhorrence may be about his deeds.
How were you yourself once (and unfortunately may possibly still be at times)?
1. You were “foolish”, which means: without reason. That is not flattering for people who think of themselves to be very smart.
2. You were also “disobedient”, not be willing to do anything you were asked to do.
3. You also did not see the purpose of your life, you were “deceived” or were “wandering”, for you were just wandering without knowing in which direction you would come out.
4. That led you to a life where you were ‘addicted to’ and were “enslaved to various lusts and pleasures”.
5. You were spending your life “in malice and envy”. You did not tolerate the other to enjoy anything he had; you wanted to have what he had.
6. Your whole performance was “hateful”, revolting.
7. The pleasure you had was unreal, for the atmosphere where you abided was one where people were “hating one another”.
V44But when the kindness of God our Savior and [His] love for mankind appeared,. If God had dealt with you according to your behavior, you would have been lost. But fortunately He did not. Instead on the contrary he dealt with you in His “kindness … and love for mankind”. Therefore you are still alive and you have not ended up in the ditch, or worse, in hell.
His ‘kindness’ has totally changed you. That kindness is supposed to be seen in you by people. You are not kind because others are kind to you, but because you are a Christian. While you were hateful He showed His ‘love toward man’ to you. In that way He showed you that He cares about you, because of who you are as a man. Speaking with reverence, God acted that way, because He could not otherwise. That love towards man must be visible in you for others, not because they show you love, but because you cannot otherwise.
V55He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,. How did God save you? Certainly not on the basis of your own works, for those were all unrighteous before your conversion. Even your so-called good works of which you thought that God should consider for righteousness were condemnable (Isa 64:66For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
). You were absolutely totally unable to present anything to God that He could reward with salvation.
But what you were not able to do, God did as an expression of “His mercy”. Instead of pouring out His righteous wrath over you He held that back and gave you in His grace what you could never achieve: salvation. Mercy presumes the greatest need of its object and also the necessary means for help, in order to fulfill the need.
So God has saved you because He is merciful. In order to save you He used two means. The first means is “the washing of regeneration”. Although regeneration looks very much like the new birth (Jn 3:3-63Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.), yet it is not the same. While the new birth happens in you, inwardly, the regeneration is more an outward matter.
You can conclude that from the only other time that the word ‘regeneration’ appears and that is in Matthew 19 (Mt 19:2828And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.). In that case regeneration refers to the time that the kingdom of God has outwardly come, whereby the Lord Jesus reigns on earth and His own reign together with Him. Creation will then be regenerated as it were. All things you will then see are new.
What then will be the general situation now already applies to you personally. To you that new condition has come already. The sins you were living in formerly (verse 33For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.), have been washed away. This washing happened through the Word (Eph 5:2626so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,; cf. Jam 1:1818In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.; 1Pet 1:2323for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, [that is], through the living and enduring word of God.). Due to that your behavior has totally changed. What people see of you is not anymore what you once were, but is from the world that is to come.
Nevertheless the only way for you to live like that is when something has happened to you inwardly. Your outward life happens from the inside, where “the renewing by the Holy Spirit” has taken place. The renewing of the Holy Spirit means the renewing because of the Holy Spirit, the renewing that comes from Him and is worked by Him. Through this renewing work of the Holy Spirit you have received a new spiritual ability through which you are able to see and think in accordance with God (see Romans 12 (Rom 12:22And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.), the only other place where the word ‘renewed’ is used). The Holy Spirit is the source of a completely new life, of totally new thoughts.
V66whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,. There is not only mention of the work of the Spirit, but also of the gift of the Spirit. He has been given to you (Eph 1:1313In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,) and gives power to the new life, that this new life may be expressed. He works a daily renewal in you and also liberates you from the old life you lived. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event that has taken place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3333Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.; 1Cor 12:1313For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.). The Lord Jesus has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father as a result of and because of His work, Whom He afterwards poured out. He did not do that scarcely, but “richly”.
Consider that: You are not only born of Him, but He works in you and is available to you. He dwells in you and abides in you and reveals everything to you what is yours in Christ. Because of the Holy Spirit you can richly enjoy the true life, the life in abundance (Jn 10:1010The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly.).
Now read Titus 3:1-6 again.
Reflection: What are the differences between the past and present in your life?