The Expository Files



Saved by Mercy

Titus 3:1-7


Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  – Titus 3:1-7

Preachers of the Word are charged to “remind” brethren (see also 2 Tim. 2:14 & 2 Pet. 1:12). The human memory is not like a locked safe that keeps nothing from leaving. The pressures of this world and the laxity that can creep into our lives make us subject to lapses in memory. Within these lapses, there can be willful forgetfulness (2 Pet. 3:5).

So Titus is to “remind them,” that is, the Christians he exhorts and rebukes “with all authority,” (see 2:15), to “be submissive to rulers and authorities.” All of us live under various appointed authorities (government, work, education, etc.).

Unless those over us demand we sin, we are obligated to follow the rules: “be sumissive.” However distasteful and burdensome the rules may be, unless they conflict with God’s law, our duty of obedience remains.

Christians are people who are “obedient,” first to God, then toward all who are over us. And, the good disposition of obedience will be accompanied by being “ready for every good work.” If the work or undertaking is good (as measured by God’s rule), and we have both ability and opportunity – our duty is clear to become engaged, to the glory of God.

As we live in pursuit of what is good and right, we are to “speak evil of no one.” This is not legitimate rebuke (see 2:15 & Gal. 6:1-5). This is the malicious, immature critical and hypocritical judging (condemned by the Lord in Matt. 7:1-5 and Jas. 4:11).

“Avoid quarreling.” The spirit that seeks contentious arguing, that is passionate to win the battle of wits and defeat opponents – without honorable consideration for truth and the glory of God – AVOID!

“Be gentle.” You cannot go wrong, in your efforts to learn what it means to be gentle, to set yourself to the task of reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Christ is the perfect model of what it means to be gentle. Are you following Him in this respect?

“Show perfect courtesy.” In all of his dealings with all people, Titus is to “show perfect courtesy.” This is not merely a show of charm, flattery or interests that gains some advantage for the charmer. This is good-will, kindess and sincere care for people. It is essential for every gospel preacher. And, every Christian.

These instructions are to characterize the manner of Titus in reminding bret

To this Paul adds: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hatred by others and hating one another,” (verse 3).

Titus is not to hold himself above the brethren. He is to be determined to remember his sinful past. What this implies is, we guard against the “holier than thou” attitude.

All who are Christians were once not Christians, and while we have been forgiven, there is no right to hold ourselves above others in some sort of self-righteous tone. We were saved when we obeyed the gospel (“the washing of regeneration”), and that salvation is to be attributed to “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior. We have the hope of eternal life because of our choice to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. We stand justified “by his grace.”


From Gary Fisher

Thus, Titus is to issue rebuke and reminders, fully aware of his own participation as a recipeient of the mercy of God. The most effective rebukers and reminders are those who are humbled by their own awareness of God’s goodness to them.

Thus, those who teach the gospel must not only teach the work, worship and organization of the church, but must also “remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1–2). God wants me to obey the government and respect its leaders; to love and discipline my children; to love my wife as myself; to work diligently on the job as if He were my boss; to care for the unfortunate. These obligations cannot be fulfilled at church. No quantity of songs, prayers or contributions can offset a failure to honor the Lord in our home or to serve Him in our society. If I do not serve God in my individual life, He will view even the worship that conforms to his prescribed rules as an abomination. (1)


(1) Fisher, G. (1996). Individual Christians in Home and Society. In P. Earnhart (Ed.), Christianity Magazine: December 1996, Volume 13, Number 12 (P. Earnhart, Ed.) (14). Jacksonville, FL: Christianity Magazine.


By Warren E. Berkley

Expository Files 23.1; January, 2016