Having examined Christian behavior within the church fellowship, Paul now examines right behavior in the wider society. As in chapter 2, he supports his exhortation with a word on God's grace in salvation and on the renewing work of the Spirit.
v1-2. Paul asks Titus to remind the Cretan believers of some of the basic implications that flow from the gospel. When it comes to relating to secular society consider the following: i] Civil obedience, cf. Rom.13:1-8, 1Tim.2:2. Of course, if the State demands that we act against the will of God then we may have to defy the State, Rev.6:9-11, 12:11, 13-14; ii] Be ready for every good work. A general cover-all exhortation; iii] Slander no one; iv] Don't be quarrelsome; v] Be conciliatory; vi] Show true humility. These exhortations serve to maintain the reputation of believers in secular society for evangelistic purposes, but are also, in themselves, worthy of a follower of Christ.
v3. Paul now lists some vices that were part of his readers' old life: i] Without understanding; ii] Disobedient to God; iii] Misguided - duped by Satan; iv] Driven by passion; v] Living with malice and envy; vi] Full of hate.
v4. It seems likely that v3-7 serve as a creedal gospel outline providing a theological basis for the ethical exhortations in v1-2: we once lived in sin, v3, but ...... v4-7. Although a Christmas Epistle, "the goodness and loving-kindness of God" in this passage is more likely referring to the justifying work of Christ, rather than to his incarnation.
v5. Out of kindness God saved us, not because of our goodness, but because of his mercy. God's salvation entails: i] a washing of the Spirit that brings regeneration - rebirth and renewal (both are probably synonymous metaphors).
v6. It is the Father, "he", who pours out the Spirit, expedited through the work of Christ. Note the Trinitarian formula here.
v7. The salvation referred to in v5 also entails: ii] a justification through the work of Christ - the restoration of a new relationship with God. The means of this justification is "by his grace". Paul's typical statement "through faith" is missing because it is not offsetting the statement "by works (obedience to) the Law". "By grace through faith" is the full Pauline formula, Eph.2:8-9. Paul is simply reminding his readers that salvation flows from God's mercy, a salvation by which we become heirs of God's glory.
v8. The above creedal statement is a "trustworthy (faithful) saying." Other "trustworthy" sayings are also found in 1 and 2 Timothy. Paul wants Titus to drive home this doctrinal statement to the congregation. Paul's aim is that the Cretan believers' behavior and attitudes will be worthy of their standing in Christ. Such good deeds have a positive effect on everyone.
What do we buy the kids for Christmas? This is likely to be the most daunting question of all times. Getting the answer right requires stacks of nervous energy, while getting in wrong involves massive disappointment on Christmas morning. Like the Christmas morning I got a penknife instead of a pushbike - I mean, what was Santa thinking of.
There is a classic blunder we often make in the present-buying stakes. We head off to the shops to get some good ideas. Pure stupidity, really! Whenever we do this we end up with hundreds of possibilities and no present. A clear knowledge of hopes and dreams is essential.
Anyway, the presents are all purchased now, although maybe not paid for. Some of them may survive till Boxing Day, a week even. So, is there something we can we give the kids or grandkids that will actually last? Our world is changing and so the "little people" are all going to travel roads that we have never even thought of. What can we give them to negotiate the pitfalls of life? What do we give them to take on the journey? Attention; A hope of each person's inalienable place in the scheme of things; A sense of humour; The meaning of discipline; The will to work - satisfying work is certainly a lasting joy; The knowledge of being loved beyond the demand of praise or blame, for those so loved grow strong to meet the challenges of life?
What should we give our children this day and every day?
An awareness of the beauty of life; The brilliance of a full moon, the glow of the setting sun; The flowers of spring, of growing grass, of crickets and birds; A good book on a wet day in a soft lounge; A warm bed, and a harty meal; A hand grasping and helping, impromptu praise, an unexpected kiss and a straight answer; Enthusiasm and a sense of wonder? What about a sense of God's immanence and respect for a fellow traveler who long ago trod the dusty roads of Palestine?
Yes indeed, a living faith in Christ. There is no greater gift than rebirth and renewal, the eternal gift of God's grace, for it is then we possess "the hope of eternal life."
Consider again the substance of the "faithful saying."