Titus 3:1-8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 17, 2000


Paul is writing to another young pastor, Titus, who has been one of Paul’s disciples.  Paul is towards the end of his life, writing this letter around the same time as 1Timothy.

While Timothy was in Ephesus, Titus was in Crete.  As we’ll see tonight, the people on the island of Crete weren’t the greatest group of people.  Paul writes,

(Titus 1:12 NASB)  One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."

As you’ll see, Paul will be addressing the issue of people like this throughout his entire letter to Titus.

Titus 3

:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

put … in mindhupomimnesko – to cause one to remember, bring to remembrance

principalitiesarche – beginning; the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader; the first place, principality, rule, magistracy

powersexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed); one who possesses authority; a ruler, a human magistrate

be subject tohupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection; to subject one’s self, obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice; to obey, be subject

to obey magistratespeitharcheo – to obey (a ruler or a superior)

be readyhetoimos – prepare ready

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable


Obey the government

It doesn’t matter whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat, we need to respect those in authority over us and obey the law.

:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.

speak evilblasphemeo – to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, blaspheme

to be no brawlersamachos –not contentious; abstaining from fighting

gentleepieikes – seeming, suitable; equitable, fair, mild, gentle

showingendeiknumi – to point out; to show, demonstrate, prove, whether by arguments or by acts; to manifest, display, put forth

meeknesspraotes – gentleness, mildness, meekness; It is the attitude of mind and behavior which, arising from humility, disposes one to receive with gentleness and meekness whatever may come to him from others or from God.

The world teaches us to be strong and assertive, pushing our way in life.

Jesus teaches us to step back from the argument and be kind.

:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

foolishanoetos – not understood, unintelligible; not understanding, unwise, foolish

disobedientapeithes – impersuasible, not compliant

deceivedplanao – to cause to stray; lead aside from the right way; metaph.  to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive

serving douleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service

In this week’s Newsweek (12-18-00), there’s an article about the return of slavery to the United States.  They estimate that something close to one million undocumented immigrants are currently trapped here in slavelike conditions.  These are often people who tricked to coming to America and then are forced to work for nothing.

“Whatever lot they draw, they all share the two defining traits of slavery though the ages:  they are not paid and they cannot leave.” (pg.62).
An interesting insight to “slavery”. These sins we become enslaved to, we never find satisfaction in them, and we cannot find the way out by ourselves.

diverspoikilos – a various colours, variegated; of various sorts

lustsepithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

pleasureshedone – pleasure; desires for pleasure

malicekakia – malignity, ill-will, desire to injure; wickedness, depravity

envyphthonos – envy

hatefulstugnetos – hated, detestable

hatingmiseo – to hate, pursue with hatred, detest; to be hated, detested

Slaves to lust –


This from 1986 –
There is no slave like the man free to do as he pleases because what he pleases is self-destructive.  A California psychiatrist recently complained that four out of every ten teenagers and young adults who visited his medical center have a psychological sickness he can do nothing about.  According to the Los Angeles Times it is simply this:  “Each of them demands that his world conform to his uncontrolled desires.  Society has provided him with so many escape routes that he never has to stand his ground against disappointment, postponement of pleasure and the weight of responsibility—all forces which shape character.”  The psychiatrist adds, “If the personality disorder persists far into adulthood there will be a society of pleasure-driven people hopelessly insecure and dependent.”
- sounds like we’re there.


Our life before Jesus.

As we’ve seen, Paul has reminded Titus (Tit. 1:15) that the Cretans were pretty bad people and needed some shaping up.
But here Paul clarifies to say that we all used to be pretty bad too.
I’ve had people share with me about their past life before coming to Christ.  Sometimes a person is so ashamed of what they used to be like, that they ask me not to tell anyone about what they’ve told me.  They are afraid that these “fine upstanding people” in the church might not accept them if they knew what they were really like.
The truth is, we’ve all been pretty bad.  We’ve all been enslaved to our own lusts and evil desires.  We’ve all known what it is to be filled with hate.

:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

kindnesschrestotes – moral goodness, integrity; benignity, kindness

love … toward manphilanthropia – love of mankind, benevolence

This is what Christmas is REALLY all about.

It’s about a God who has seen what a mess we’ve made with our lives and our world.

It’s about a God who has such a love for mankind that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son to pay for the sins of the world.

:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,

God didn’t send His Son to die and save us because we deserved it.  He saved us because we needed it.


“John, Greg and The Drawbridge”

As an illustration of God’s sacrificial love, the story is often told of John Griffith, a Missouri man who was the controller of a great railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi during the Great Depression.  One fine summer day in 1937, John decided to take his 8 year old son, Greg, to work with him.  At noon, John raised the bridge to allow transit to any ships that might pass by and sat on the observation deck with Greg to eat their lunch.  The minutes passed lazily as the noon day beat down on them.  Suddenly, John was jolted by the sound of shrieking train whistle in the distance.  He quickly looked at his watch.  It was 1:07 and the Memphis Express, with 400 passengers was roaring toward the raised bridge!  He leaped up from the observation deck and ran back to the control tower. Before throwing the master lever, he looked down to see if any ships were passing below.  The sight he saw caused his pounding heart to leap into his throat.  Greg had slipped from the observation deck and had fallen into the massive gears that operate the bridge.  His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears!  Desperately, John’s mind raced to devise a rescue plan.  The seconds were quickly ticking away and he knew there wasn’t enough time for him to rescue his son before the train reached the bridge.  Again, with alarming closeness, the train’s shrill whistle cut through the summer air.  He could hear the wheels as they clicked along on the tracks. That was his son trapped below!  Yet there were 400 passengers on the train. John knew what he had to do, so he buried his head in his left arm and pushed the lever forward to lower the bridge.  Just seconds after the massive bridge settled into place, the Memphis Express, with its 400 passengers barreled across the river.

When John lifted his tear-streaked face, he looked into the passing windows of the train.  There were businessmen casually reading their newspapers; finely dressed ladies in the dining car sipping coffee; and children eating bowls of ice cream.  No one looked at the control tower.  No one saw the great gear box.  With wrenching agony, John Griffith cried out at the retreating steel monster, “I sacrificed my son for you people!  Don’t you care?”  The train let out one parting whistle and then sounds that were left were the sobs of the broken man and the clicking wheels fading in the distance recalling the words from Lamentations 1:12:  “Is it nothing to you, all who pass by?”

God allowed His Son to be a sacrifice and die in our place.  We should have been the ones who faced hell as a result of our sins.  But God had Jesus die in our place and pay the price to save us from hell.

He didn’t do it because we were nice people and deserved to be saved from hell.  He did it because we were hopeless without Jesus.  He did it because He loved us.

:5  by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

washingloutron – bathing, bath, the act of bathing

regenerationpaliggenesia (“again” + “born”) – new birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation, regeneration

Paul is talking about a kind of washing that takes place when we have become “born again”, when God has given us a new start through Jesus Christ.

renewinganakainosis – a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better


Clean or filthy?

Earlier, Paul wrote to Titus and talked about how a person’s heart and mind can affect how he faces life.
(Titus 1:15 KJV)  Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

The world likes to make jokes that are filled with innuendos.  There are all kinds of jokes where the plays on words are meant to put filthy pictures in your minds.

But if a person is “pure” (literally, “cleansed”), then there are a lot of those kinds of jokes that are going to go right over their head because they’re not looking for the impure things.

For a person who is “defiled” (literally, “stained”), just about everything in life can be turned into something filthy and dirty.

When a person has exposed their mind to pornography, it begins to color how they look at everything in life.  Everything becomes “impure”.  There is no longer any way of looking at a person of the opposite sex without putting something perverse into the picture.

When Jesus comes into your life, He gives you a new start, a new beginning.  He is able to wash your mind and give you a chance to start looking at life in a pure, clean way.
(Heb 9:13-14 NIV)  The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. {14} How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Let Him cleanse your mind.  Let Him give you a fresh start.

But once He cleans house, don’t go filling up the Living Room with a lot of garbage again.

:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

shedekcheo – to pour out, shed forth; metaph. to bestow or distribute largely

abundantlyplousios – abundantly, richly

:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

being justifieddikaioo – to render righteous or such he ought to be; to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour

heirskleronomos – one who receives by lot, an heir; in Messianic usage, one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship

God has made us right before Him and now we will receive an inheritance from God.

:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

faithful saying – This is something that Paul wants Titus to remember, one of those things to write down in the back of your Bible.

Paul uses this Greek phrase 6 times as he writes to his young protégés Timothy and Titus:

(1 Tim 1:15 KJV)  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
(1 Tim 3:1 KJV)  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
(1 Tim 4:8-9 KJV)  For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. {9} This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
(2 Tim 2:11-13 KJV)  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: {12} If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: {13} If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
(Titus 1:9 KJV)  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
(Titus 3:8 KJV)  This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

The phrase is even found a couple of times in Revelation:

(Rev 21:5 KJV)  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
(Rev 22:6 KJV)  And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

I willboulomai – to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded

affirm constantlydiabebaioomai – to affirm strongly, assert confidently

might be carefulphrontizo – to think, to be careful; to be thoughtful or anxious

to maintainproistemi –to superintend, preside over; to care for, give attention to

good (works) – kalos – beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable

worksergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

they which have believedpisteuo – to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in; the verb is a perfect participle, the action taking place in the past with the results continuing on into the present.


Faith works

Saved by faith.
Paul has already made it clear that a person is not made right with God by doing good things (3:5 “not by works of righteousness which we have done”).
A person is made right with God when they choose to believe in Jesus and receive God’s forgiveness that was made possible when Jesus died on a cross in their place.
But once you cross the line and choose to really believe in Jesus and follow Him, you’re going to find that your life will change.
For the lazy Cretans, being a Christian was not just about coming to church on Sunday, singing songs, and going home to do the same old things in the same old ways.
It’s about “bearing fruit”.  Even at the end of the letter, Paul will reiterate:
(Titus 3:14 KJV)  And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Benjamin Franklin learned that plaster sown in the fields would make things grow.  He told his neighbors, but they did not believe him and they argued with him trying to prove that plaster could be of no use at all to grass or grain.  After a little while he allowed the matter to drop and said no more about it.  But he went into the field early the next spring and sowed some grain.  Close by the path, where men would walk, he traced some letters with his finger and put plaster into them and then sowed his seed in the field.  After a week or two the seed sprang up.  His neighbors, as they passed that way, were very much surprised to see, in brighter green than all the rest of the field, the writing in large letters, “This has been plastered.”  Benjamin Franklin did not need to argue with his neighbors any more about the benefit of plaster for the fields.  For as the season went on and the grain grew, these bright green letters just rose up above all the rest until they were a kind of relief-plate in the field—“This has been plastered.”

Can people see the “fruit” in your life?  Can they see the results of what Jesus has done for you?