Online Bible Commentary
Kindness and Love
Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Titus, who was helping to organize the new churches on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Greece. Sometime after Paul’s two-year house arrest in Rome, he and Titus traveled to Crete and evangelized several towns.
Paul then left Titus there to complete the organization of churches. This letter was written about mid 62 to mid 64 A.D. from Nicopolis, Greece or Philippi, Macedonia. Paul’s scribe, or amanuensis, is believed to be Luke.
The letter was written at about the same time as Paul wrote 1Timothy. This book is one of the three pastoral epistles of Paul. 1 and 2 Timothy are the other two.
Titus was a Gentile from Macedonia. He was led to Christ by Paul. He was a travelling companion of Paul’s at times, as they went about their missionary work.
Paul wrote this letter to Titus to help him with the organization of churches in Crete. Titus was being confronted by Judaizers, Jewish Christians who wanted to enforce some of the Jewish religious traditions, such as circumcision.
Previously Paul wrote to Timothy who was helping the established churches in Ephesus. Both Titus and Timothy are having to deal with false teachers in the churches.
In Timothy’s case the false teaching is primarily Gnostic in nature. In Titus’ case the false teaching is primarily Judaism in nature.
The island of Crete has a large Jewish population, and their teaching is creeping into the churches as Jews convert to Christianity. Paul and Titus had evangelized the people, and then Paul had to depart for other duties leaving Titus to appoint and train overseers, pastors. In this Pastoral Epistle Paul is giving Titus instruction on such training.
Paul begins this passage by writing “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (v. 1). His instruction is for Titus to remind the new Christians of three things.
First, Titus is to remind them “to be subject to rulers and authorities” (v. 1a). The Greek word translated “authorities” refers to the government.
When Paul uses the words translated “rulers and authorities” together there is more of a spiritual meaning. The “rulers” are those forces that are guiding decisions.
If the government is against the teachings of Christianity, Paul would say that they are being ruled by Satan, not God. That is the government we in the United States now find ourselves living under.
The second thing of which Titus is to remind the new Christians ties in with the first. Christians are “to obey” (v. 1b) God. Christians must always obey God before the laws of men.
But they also must be subject to the consequences of breaking the laws of men, even if they are following the laws of God. Paul lived out this teaching.
Thirdly, Titus is to remind them “to be ready for every good work” (v. 1c). This is a reminder to not be like the false teachers in the church, who are not doing “good work”.
Next, Paul elaborates on the behaviors of the false teachers and their converts which are to be avoided. He writes “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (v. 2).
Paul continues by writing “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (v. 3). The new Christians are to be reminded that they, and all non-Christians, “were also once” (v. 3a) like the false teachers and their converts.
The literal Greek translation for verse three is “were For then also we senseless, disobedient, being led astray, slaving for lusts and pleasures various, in malice and envy living, hateful, hating one another.” With the use of the word “we” Paul includes himself.
This was our nature, before becoming Christians. We are either under the control of Satan, or under the control of God.
Next, Paul writes “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” (vv. 4-5a). When “the kindness and love” of Christ “appeared” in the world, we were “saved”.
Jesus Christ came from Heaven to this world and died on the cross, so that all who believe in Him would be saved from the penalty of sin, from eternity in Hell,
We were not saved by doing good works, but by the grace of God.
Grace is defined as undeserved and unmerited favor. We were given grace through the “mercy” of God.
Paul writes “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5b). The literal Greek for verse 5b is “He saved us through washing of regeneration and renewal of the Spirit Holy.”
The “washing of regeneration” is the spiritual cleansing, the changing of our heart, that occurs when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The “renewal of the Spirit Holy” happens when we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit upon that acceptance of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is a symbol of “spiritual cleansing”, and is our public announcement of that event. The act of baptism is also in obedience to the command of Jesus Christ.
Paul closes this passage by writing “whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 6). The Holy Spirit is poured out on us abundantly by the Lord Jesus.
God the Holy Spirit renews us. He changes our hearts. He is the helper Jesus sent to us when He had to depart this earth.
He is the “power” (Acts1:8) to live a Godly life. He is everything we need. The rest is up to us.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, controlling our decisions, our life. Then we also can display the “kindness and love of God our Savior.”