May 13, 2017: Verse of the day

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Salvation From the Presence of Sin

looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; (2:13)

One of the marvelous truths implied in this promise is that one day, when our salvation is perfected, we will be glorified, made fully like our Lord in purity and righteousness. “Beloved, now we are children of God,” John assures us, “and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. [But] we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

That future blessed encounter with our Lord will bring total and permanent removal of sin from our lives. Not even a trace will remain. Paul could therefore say to believers in Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” because he had the overwhelming “desire to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:21, 23). The apostle could also say to believers in Rome “that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22–23).

Looking for translates a participle form of prosdechomai, which carries the meanings not only of longing and waiting but also of eager and certain expectation. Hope translates elpis, which, like prosdechomai, includes the connotation of confident certainty. It is an especially blessed, or happy, hope of believers because Paul is not speaking about a fond human wish but about a divinely promised certitude. That certitude is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. It is for that reason that the apostle calls it, and that Christians throughout the centuries have called it, the blessed hope, the hope that is above all other hopes.

Appearing is from epiphaneia, which has the root ideas of uncovering, unveiling, and disclosing. Paul uses the term both of Jesus’ first and second comings. At the first “appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,” He “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). At His second appearing, He will “judge the living and the dead” and establish His earthly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1). In the meanwhile, His people are to “keep the commandment without stain or reproach until [that second] appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14, emphasis added) and are to rejoice that “in the future there is laid up for [them] the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award … to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8, emphasis added).

I do not think Paul is speaking specifically of the Rapture—the time when, just before the seven-year Tribulation, Christ will appear and receive all believers, both living and dead, to Himself (1 Thess. 4:13–17) —as distinguished from His coming in judgment at the end of the Tribulation to establish His millennial kingdom, when “the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27). It seems rather that the apostle is here referring to Christ’s second coming in general, when He will appear in glory and power rather than in humility and submission as in His first coming.

Paul is focusing on the culmination of our salvation, which will be perfected and completed when our Lord calls us up to the place He has prepared (cf. John 14:1–3), when “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51–53; cf. Matt. 24:30–31; 25:31). Paul therefore could assure us that “now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). Even while we remain on earth, “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20–21). Even when we come back to earth to reign with Him, we will be untemptable and untouchable by sin. In the New Jerusalem, “there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3–5).

The rendering of the nasb (the appearing of the glory) is a more accurate rendering than that of the kjv (“the glorious appearing”). In this context, glory, like “grace” (2:11), “kindness,” and “love” (3:4) is not simply a description of Christ but also a personification. In his incarnation, His first appearing, Christ was grace personified. In His second appearing, He will be glory personified. He will be the blazing Shekinah glory that Peter, James, and John saw partially revealed at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–8).

Our great God and Savior is one of the many plain declarations in Scripture of the deity of Jesus Christ (see, e.g., John 1:1–18; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:1–3). Some interpreters hold that in this passage God and Savior refer to different beings, the first (great God) to the divine Father and the second (Savior) to the human Son, Christ Jesus. But that explanation has several insurmountable problems. Besides the other clear affirmations of the divinity of Christ in Scripture are several grammatical reasons found in this passage itself. First, there is but one definite article (the, tou), which indicates the singularity and identity of God and Savior. Second, both of the singular pronouns in the following verse (“who,” hos; and “Himself,” heauton) refer back to a single person. And, although the Old Testament makes countless references to God the Father as great, in the New Testament that description is used only of God the Son (see, e.g., Matt. 5:35; Luke 1:32; 7:16; Heb. 10:21;13:20). Perhaps most importantly, the New Testament nowhere speaks of the appearing or Second Coming of God the Father but only of the Son.

Salvation From Possession by Sin

who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (2:14)

Fourth, and finally, salvation delivers us permanently from sin’s possession.

The unregenerate person is in total bondage to sin. Paul asked believers in Rome, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). Because “we have become united with [Christ] in the likeness of His death,” he explains earlier in this chapter, “certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (6:5–7).

Our gracious Lord gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from our bondage to sin, delivering us from every lawless deed. Redeem is from lutroō, which refers to the releasing g of someone held captive, such as a prisoner or a slave, on receipt of a ransom payment.

Paul reminded the elders from Ephesus of their obligation to “be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Peter reminded his readers, “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ”(1 Pet. 1:18–19).

The purpose of the Son of God coming to earth in His incarnation was “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). As a divine sacrifice, He “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:4). Like Paul, every believer can say with full assurance: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). He graciously “gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2; cf. v. 25; 1 Tim. 2:6).

Paul first speaks negatively, focusing on Christ’s redeeming us from every lawless deed, from the “fleshly lusts, which,” as Peter declares, “wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).

Positively, Christ also redeems His people in order to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. Paul explains that marvelous truth more fully in his letter to the church at Rome. “Thanks be to God,” he exults,

that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Rom. 6:17–22)

In order to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25–26). The Lord’s people “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19–20).

Just as we formerly were possessed and enslaved by sin, now we are possessed by and enslaved to Jesus Christ. His possession of His people is not temporary but permanent. The Lord Himself made that truth abundantly clear. As already noted, Jesus repeatedly emphasized that a person who believes in Him will be saved with divine security. “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,” He said, “and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out …. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37, 39–40). On a later occasion Jesus repeated the promise of eternal security: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27–29). If salvation were temporary, subject to being lost, then, by definition, it could not guarantee eternal life. But even Satan himself cannot rob a believer of salvation. To be able to do so, he would have to be more powerful than the God who made him and who, as Jesus made clear, is “greater than all.”

As God’s redeemed people, we give still further evidence of our salvation by being zealous for good deeds, because “we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10; cf. Titus 3:8). Good deeds are not to be an adjunct to our Christian lives, something that we do at our convenience, but are to be a natural, integral, and zealous part of our daily living. “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). The same Spirit who cleanses us from “dead works” desires to replace them with living works.

It has always been God’s purpose for His people to be righteous and holy as a testimony to His own righteousness and holiness before the unbelieving world. “The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you,” Moses proclaimed to ancient Israel, “and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He shall set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken” (Deut. 26:18–19). Early in His ministry, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told those who believed in Him, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Emphasizing that same truth, Peter wrote, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12). Again from the Lord’s own lips, we have no less a standard than being “perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).[1]


3. verse 13 The Grace of God in Christ is
the Effective Preparer.

We—aged men, aged women, young women, young men, slaves, etc.—should live a Christian life because through the power of God’s grace we are waiting for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.

The grace of God trains us in order that we may live consecrated lives, while we are waiting for the blessed hope. The waiting for or patient looking forward to modifies the living, of which it is an attendant circumstance or further explication. It is “the blessed hope” for which believers are waiting. This is metonymy for the realization of that hope (that is, the realization of our earnest yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting). We find a similar metonymy in Gal. 5:5; Col. 1:5 (to which some interpreters would add Heb. 6:18).

This hope is called blessed. It imparts bliss, happiness, delight, and glory. The adjective blessed is used in connection with God in 1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15; see on these passages.

Now, even the possession of the hopeful spirit and the exercise of hope is blessed, because of hope’s:

(1) immovable foundation (1 Tim. 1:1, 2; then Rom. 5:5; 15:4; Phil. 1:20; Heb. 6:19; 1 Peter 1:3, 21);

(2) glorious Author (Rom. 15:13; cf. 2 Thess. 2:16);

(3) wonderful object (everlasting life, salvation, glory: Titus 1:2; 3:7; then 1 Thess. 5:8; then Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27);

(4) precious effects (endurance, 1 Thess. 1:3; “boldness of speech,” 2 Cor. 3:12; and purification of life, 1 John 3:3);

(5) and everlasting character (1 Cor. 13:13).

Then surely the realization of this hope will be blessed, indeed! Read Dan. 12:3; Matt. 25:34–40; Rom. 8:20b; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 14:14–16; 19:6–9. In fact, the certainty of the realization imparts strength to the hope, and results in the graces mentioned under (4) above.

Now the realization of the blessed hope is “the appearing in glory.” Note the two appearings. There had been one (see on verse 11; cf. 2 Tim. 1:10). There is going to be another (see N.T.C. on 2 Thess. 2:8; cf. 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8). It will be the appearing of … well, of whom? Throughout the history of interpretation that question has divided grammarians and commentators. Are we waiting for the appearing in glory of one Person or of two Persons?

Those who endorse the one-Person view favor the rendering:

“of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.” (Another reading has “Jesus Christ,” but that makes no difference in connection with the point at issue.) Now if that view be correct, those who accept Scripture’s infallibility have in this passage an additional prooftext for the deity of Christ; and even those who do not accept Scripture’s infallibility but who do accept the one-Person rendering must admit that at least the author of the Pastorals (perhaps erroneously, according to them) held Jesus to be one in essence with God the Father. The one-Person rendering is favored by the A.R.V. margin, Weymouth, Goodspeed, Berkeley Version, R.S.V., and many commentators: Van Oosterzee, Bouma, Lenski, Gealy, Simpson, etc. The great New Testament grammarian A. T. Robertson has given a strong defence of this view, from the standpoint of grammar, basing his arguments upon Granville Sharp’s rule.

Among others, John Calvin was unwilling to choose between the one-Person and the two-Persons rendering. Yet, he emphasized that on either view the purpose of the passage is to state that when Christ appears, the greatness of the divine glory will be revealed in him (cf. Luke 9:26); and that, accordingly, the passage can by no means give any comfort to the Arians in their attempt to prove that the Son is less divine than the Father.

The two-Persons theory is represented, with minor variations, in the versions of Wyclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, A.V., A.R.V. (text), Moffatt, and R.S.V. (margin). It has been supported by a long list of commentators (among whom are De Wette, Huther, White [in The Expositor’s Bible], E. F. Scott, etc.) and especially by the grammarian G. B. Winer.

The rendering then becomes:

“of the great God and the (or “and of the”) Savior Jesus Christ.”

Winer was willing to admit that his endorsement of this view was based not so much upon grammar—which, as even he admitted, allowed the one-Person rendering—as upon “the dogmatic conviction derived from Paul’s writings that this apostle cannot have called Christ the great God.” (Such argumentation encounters difficulty in interpreting Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15–20; Col. 2:9; etc.) But he should have noticed that even the very context (verse 14) ascribes to Jesus functions which in the Old Testament are ascribed to Jehovah, such as redeeming and purifying (2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 130:8; Hos. 13:14; then Ezek. 37:23); and that the word Savior is in each of the three chapters of Titus ascribed first to God, then to Jesus (Titus 1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). It is therefore evidently the purpose of the author of this epistle (namely, Paul!) to show that Jesus is fully divine, just as fully as is Jehovah or as is the Father.

The one-Person rendering must be considered the correct one. It is supported by the following considerations:

(1) Unless in any specific instance there are strong reasons to the contrary, the rule holds that when the first of two nouns of the same case and connected by the conjunction and is preceded by the article, which is not repeated before the second noun, these two nouns refer to the same person. When the article is repeated before the second noun, two persons are indicated. Examples:

  1. a. The article, preceding the first of two nouns and not repeated before the second: “the brother your and fellow-partaker.” The two nouns refer to the same person, John, and the expression is correctly translated, “your brother and fellow-partaker” (Rev. 1:9).
  2. Two articles, one preceding each noun: “Let him be unto you as the Gentile and the tax-collector” (Matt. 18:17). The two nouns refer to two persons (in this case, each representing a class).

Now, according to this rule the disputed words in Titus 2:13 clearly refer to one Person, namely, Christ Jesus, for when translated word for word the phrase reads:

“of the great God and of Savior our Christ Jesus.” The article before the first noun is not repeated before the second, and therefore the expression must be rendered:

“of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.”

No valid reason has ever been found which would show that the (Granville Sharp) rule does not apply in the present case. In fact, it is generally admitted that the words which in the original occur at the close of 2 Peter 1:11 refer to one Person, and must be rendered, “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But if that be true, then why should not the essentially identical idiom in 2 Peter 1:1 and here in Titus 2:13 be rendered, “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (or “Christ Jesus”)?

(2) Nowhere in the entire New Testament is the term epiphany (appearing or manifestation) used with respect to more than one Person. Also, the one Person to whom it refers is always Christ (see 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:8; and 2 Tim. 1:10, where the reference is to the First Coming).

(3) The phraseology here in Titus 2:13 may well have been framed in reaction to the type of language that was often used by the heathen with respect to their own idol-gods, whom they regarded as “saviors,” and particularly to the phraseology in connection with the worship of earthly rulers. Was not Ptolemy I called “Savior and God”? Were not Antiochus and Julius Cesar addressed as “God Manifest”? Paul indicates that believers look forward to the Appearing of the One who is really God and Savior, yes “our great (exalted, glorious) God and Savior, namely, Christ Jesus.”

The real “point” of the passage, in connection with all that has preceded, is that our joyful expectation of the appearing in glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus effectively prepares us for the life with him. How does it do this? First, because the Second Coming will be so altogether glorious that believers will not want to “miss out on” it, but will want to “be manifested with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). Secondly, because the blissful expectation fills believers with gratitude, and gratitude produces preparedness, by God’s grace.

4. verse 14 The Grace of God in Christ
is the Thorough-going Purifier.

Our great God and Savior Christ Jesus to whose appearing in glory believers look forward with such hope and joy is the One who gave himself for us in order to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people, his very own, with a zest for noble deeds.

For the meaning of “who gave himself for us in order to redeem us” see on 1 Tim. 2:6, “who gave himself a ransom for all.” Anyone who doubts the necessary, objective, voluntary, expiatory, propitiatory, substitutionary, and efficacious character of the act of Christ whereby he gave himself for us should make a diligent, contextual study of the following passages:

Old Testament

 

New Testament

 

 

 

 

 

Gen. 2:16, 17

 

Matt. 20:28

 

1 Cor. 7:23

 

Heb. 9:28

 

Ex. 12:13

 

Matt. 26:27, 28

 

2 Cor. 5:18–21

 

1 Peter 1:18, 19

 

Lev. 1:4

 

Mark 10:45

 

Gal. 1:4

 

1 Peter 2:24

 

Lev. 16:20–22

 

Luke 22:14–23

 

Gal. 2:20

 

1 Peter 3:18

 

Lev. 17:11

 

John 1:29

 

Gal. 3:13

 

1 John 2:2

 

2 Sam. 7:23

 

John 6:55

 

Eph. 1:7

 

1 John 4:10

 

Psalm 40:6, 7

 

Acts 20:28

 

Eph. 2:16

 

Rev. 5:12

 

Psalm 130:8

 

Rom. 3:25

 

Eph. 5:6

 

Rev. 7:14.

 

Isaiah 53

 

Rom. 5

 

Col. 1:19–23

 

 

 

Zech. 13:1

 

1 Cor. 6:20

 

Heb. 9:22

 

 

 

He gave nothing less than himself, and this for us, that is, in our interest and in our stead. The contemplation of this sublime thought should result in a life to his honor. Furthermore, by his sacrificial death he merited for us the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Apart from that Spirit it would be impossible for us to live the sanctified life.

Christ gave himself for us with a twofold purpose: the first negative (see Ps. 130:8), the second positive (see 2 Sam. 7:23). Negatively, he gave himself for us “in order to redeem us,” that is, in order to ransom us from an evil power. The ransom-price was his own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19). And the power from which we are delivered is that of “lawlessness” (see N.T.C. on 2 Thess. 2:3), that is, indwelling disobedience to God’s holy law, in whatever form that disobedience makes itself manifest (“all lawlessness”).

Positively, he gave himself for us “in order to purify for himself a people,” that is, in order by means of his blood and Spirit to purify us (Eph. 5:26; Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7, 9), so that, thus purified, we are fit to be a people, his very own (see footnote  and cf. Ezek. 37:23). Formerly Israel was Jehovah’s peculiar people; now the church is. And just as Israel was characterized by zeal for the law (Acts 21:20; cf. Gal. 1:14), so now Christ purifies his people with this very purpose in mind, namely, that it shall be a people for his own possession “with a zest for noble deeds,” deeds which proceed from faith, are done according to God’s law and unto his glory (cf. 1 Peter 3:13).

In summary, verses 11–14 teach us that the reason why every member of the family should live a life of self-mastery, fairness, and devotion is that the grace of God in Christ has penetrated our moral and spiritual darkness and has brought salvation to all men; that this grace is also our Great Pedagogue who leads us away from ungodliness and worldly passions and guides us along the path of holiness; that it is the Effective Preparer who causes us to look forward with eagerness to the Appearing in glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus; and, finally, that it is the thorough-going Purifier, so that, redeemed from all disobedience to God’s law, we become Christ’s peculiar treasure, filled with a zest for excellent deeds.[2]


13 Paul concludes his series of exhortations with a doxology, seeking to motivate believers by putting their present efforts into eternal perspective. He does so by evoking their expectation of the “blessed hope” (elpis, GK 1828; cf. Col 1:5; Gal 5:5; see also Tit 1:2; 3:7) of the “glorious appearing [epiphaneia, GK 2211; cf. epiphainō in v. 11] of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Th 4:13–18). Since “blessed hope” and “glorious appearing” are governed by the same article, they refer to the same event. While Jesus appeared in lowly form at his first coming, his return will be glorious.

The final phrase in v. 13—correctly rendered in the NIV as referring to one person, “Jesus Christ” (cf. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 276; Knight, 321–26; Mounce, 426–31; Marshall, 277–82)—represents a remarkably high christological confession (cf. M. J. Harris, “Titus 2:13 and the Deity of Christ,” in Pauline Studies, ed. D. A. Hagner and M. J. Harris [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], 262–77; Harris, Jesus as God [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992], 173–85, 301–13). While the Greeks were freely bestowing the epithets “savior” and “god” on human benefactors and rulers, the Romans were slower to deify emperors. Jews like Paul, in light of their strong monotheism, would never have done so apart from divine revelation (cf. Baugh, 506).

14 This same Savior whose return we await as our “blessed hope” is the one who, at his first coming, “gave himself for us” (echoing Mk 10:45 par. Mt 20:28; cf. Gal 1:4; 2:20; Eph 5:2; 1 Ti 2:6) for a dual purpose: (1) to “redeem [lytroō, GK 3390; adapting Ps 129:8 and Eze 37:23 (LXX); cf. Lk 24:21; 1 Pe 1:18; see also apolytrōsis in Ro 3:24; 8:23; 1 Co 1:30] us from all wickedness [anomia, GK 490; cf. Ro 4:7; 6:19; 2 Co 6:14; 2 Th 2:7],” and (2) to “purify [katharizō, GK 2751; cf. 2 Co 7:1; Eph 5:26] for himself a people that are his very own [laon periousion, GK 3295, 4342; Ex 19:5; cf. Dt 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; 1 Pe 2:9], eager to do what is good.” “Eager” (zēlōtēs, GK 2421; Dt 26:18; cf. Gal 4:18; Eph 2:10; 1 Pe 3:13) refers to enthusiasm (1 Co 14:12), not fanaticism (Gal 1:14; cf. 3:1–2 below).

In the context of slavery, both literal (vv. 9–10) and spiritual (“from all wickedness,” v. 14), redemption terminology was not a dead metaphor. Only Jesus was able to break the chains of sin and its deadly consequences by his substitutionary sacrifice. By using OT language, Paul places the NT church in salvation history that reaches from OT Israel to the NT community of God, made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles.[3]


2:13 While living as aliens in the world, we are inspired by a magnificent hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. By this are we to understand the Rapture, when Christ appears in glory to the church and conveys it to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13–18)? Or does it refer to Christ’s coming to reign, when He appears in glory to the world, puts down His foes, and sets up His kingdom (Rev. 19:11–16)? Basically we believe Paul is speaking of the first—Christ’s coming for His bride, the church. But whether it is His coming as Bridegroom or as King, the believer should be prepared and looking for His glorious arrival.

2:14 As we await His Return we never forget the purpose of His First Coming and of His self-sacrifice. He gave Himself not only to save us from the guilt and penalty of sin but to redeem us from every lawless deed. It would have been a half-way salvation if the penalty of sin had been canceled but its dominion in our lives was left unconquered.

He also gave Himself to purify for Himself His own special people. The 1611 King James quaintly says “a peculiar people.” Too often we are a peculiar people, but not in the way He intended! He didn’t die to make us an odd or strange people, but a people who belong to Him in a special way—not to the world or to ourselves. And He gave Himself for us that we might be zealous for good works. We should have enthusiasm to perform acts of kindness in His name and for His glory. When we think of the zeal of men for sports, politics, and business, we should be provoked to jealousy and inspired to good deeds.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 117–122). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 372–377). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 619). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2141–2142). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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