Summary: 1) Our duties as Christians (Titus 3: 1–2), 2) Our former condition of unbelief and sin (Titus 3: 3), 3) Our salvation through Jesus Christ (Titus 3: 4–7), and 4) Our mission to an unbelieving, lost world (Titus 3: 8).
This week, Ray Pennings co-founder and executive vice-president of the think tank Cardus. wrote about how faith plays a big role in how Canadians see the world. A majority of respondents — 52 per cent — told the pollster that personal faith or religious beliefs were an important factor in how they thought “about public issues and problems facing society.” Fully two-thirds of the religiously committed prioritized helping others. Asked whether “rich people” should enjoy spending their money as they wished or should share the wealth with the less fortunate. Almost 70 per cent of the religiously committed said that those with wealth had a responsibility to share it. Only 54 per cent of non-believers said the same. Religious faith has a role to play in Canada’s public life. It’s key to personal identity for most of us and helps us to make sense of the world. It doesn’t push us to the extremes. It impels us to care for others. That’s worth thinking about when we consider the next 150 years of Canadian society. (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/religion/canada-is-not-the-secular-society-that-we-thought-it-was)
In Titus 3, the Apostle Paul moves from how believers are to live in the church (chapter 2) to how they are to live in society. The section opens with a collection of commands concerned especially with the relations of believers to outsiders. It deals specifically with subjection to the civil authorities, positive good works, avoiding contention with other people, and showing gentleness and courtesy to people in general. Similar teaching on the believers’ relation to society is found in 1 Tim 2:1–2; Rom 13:1–7; 1 Pet 2:13–3:17. The passage is analogous to Rom 12:17–13:7, but there is more stress here on meekness and gentleness. The qualities required here stand in contrast to the life style of the writer’s opponents (Marshall, I. H., & Towner, P. H. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (p. 298). London; New York: T&T Clark International.).
Paul obviously was consumed with the divine mandate to evangelize when he wrote this letter to Titus. It was not his desire for Christians living in the pagan culture of Crete to turn on the unbelievers and try to force changes in cultural standards and personal behavior in order to be less offended by their society. But we must repudiate our confused loyalties and concerns for the passing world and put aside our misguided efforts to change culture externally. To allow our thoughts, plans, time, money, and energy to be spent trying to make a superficially Christian country, or to put a veneer of morality over the world, is to distort the gospel, misconstrue our divine calling, and squander our God-given resources. We must not weaken our spiritual mission, obscure our priority of proclaiming the gospel of salvation, or become confused about our spiritual citizenship, loyalties, and obligations. We are to change society, but by faithfully proclaiming the gospel, which changes lives on the inside.
In Titus 3:1-8, Paul admonishes Titus to remind Christians on Crete of realities they had heard many times before. The four major areas of remembrance pertain to 1) Our duties as Christians (Titus 3: 1–2), 2) to our former condition of unbelief and sin (Titus 3: 3), 3) To our salvation through Jesus Christ (Titus 3: 4–7), and 4) To our mission to an unbelieving, lost world (Titus 3: 8).
1) Remember Your Duties (Titus 3:1–2)
Titus 3:1–2 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people (ESV).
These seven Christian duties apply to all believers at all times. They are the attitudes and dispositions that should always characterize our lives among those who do not belong to God. The Holy Spirit here defines our obligation to pagan culture. Paul’s instruction to Titus is expressed with the present tense and imperative mood of the verb “remind” (hupomimnesko) and means keep reminding them. The choice of this term “remind” suggests that Paul may already have taught the Cretans concerning their obligations and standards of behavior within a pagan culture. Reminding Christians of these truths should keep them from feeling hostile toward and superior to the unconverted (Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, p. 317). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)..
First, we are to be submissive/subject to rulers and authorities. This duty pertains to our attitude and conduct in regard to secular government. It is important to note that Paul specifies no particular kind or level of government or any particular kind or level of government official. He allows for no exceptions or qualifications (cf. Mt. 17:15-21, 22:15-21; Rom. 13). This a PRESENT MIDDLE INFINITIVE, meaning “continue to put yourself under authority.” It was a military term for the chain of command. This same term is used of Christian wives in 2:5 and Christian slaves in 2:9. It is also used of all Christians in Eph. 5:20. It is basically an attitude of life for Christians in all areas (Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy (Vol. Volume 9, p. 122). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.).