Lecture 42: NT Survey - Titus
Titus is written between 1 and 2 Timothy, and I am arguing for Pauline authorship. Paul probably writes from the city of Nicopolis, where he in 3:12 says “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.” So, here we probably have the designation of the place where Paul is writing from. The salutation of this letter is somewhat unique,
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life [that’s not the same as wishing – it means in the expectation that is surely ours of eternal life], which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
The first three verses have materials that we don’t usually tend to find elsewhere. But if you look at v. 3, and his reference to the faith with which he has been entrusted, this fits very well with our understanding of such things as his letter to the Romans, which he writes because of the faith and responsibility with which he has been entrusted.
We pointed out that in v. 5 and 7, we have a pretty good idea that the words “elders” (which he is supposed to appoint in v. 5) and “bishops” in v. 7 (where he says “…a bishop must be…”) are synonyms, “elder” being the Hebrew term and episkopon or “bishop” the Greek term. The requirements for elders are essentially the same that we see in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (Titus 1:6), and include being a husband of one wife, not a drunkard, having a teaching ability, and a warning in v. 10 that a bishop should also be able to contradict bad doctrine and be able to teach those who are (v. 10) “… insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.” It seems that this element continued for a long time in the church. You start to wonder when they’re going to quit and give up on this issue. The world is passing them by, but there were those who continued this kind of doctrinal teaching.
There are various exhortations in 2:1, ff. You then have in 2:11 a place that I want to strongly focus our attention, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all men.” You have here realized eschatology – the kingdom of God has come.
“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us [since the kingdom of God has come] to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world. [Then you have a consistent eschatology, the ‘now’ of v. 11 (‘the grace of God has appeared’) accompanied by the ‘not yet’ that follows here], waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us form all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good deeds.”
The next event that the church is to be looking for as they train themselves to renounce irreligion, etc., is the awaiting of the blessed hope. I think that means that those kinds of heretical sects that talk about something happening between the ‘now/already’ and the ‘not yet’ are clearly wrong here. There’s nothing here saying that we should await some gold tablets to come to us. The next event is the arrival of the blessed hope. There’s nothing here about having the Lord come in the middle of the heavens that no one else sees except the person who made the prediction, and even he denied that, but his followers said that no, he really did come in 1918, etc. The next event is the coming of the Lord. We may save ourselves from a lot of heretical nonsense if we train our people to say that the next event is not some kind of a secret coming – it’s “… the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Again, the next event that the church looks for is the event of the blessed hope.
As far as the expression, “the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior…” translations often make the “appearing of our great God” what we call an appositive. For instance, the RSV has, “the blessed hope [comma], the glorious appearing of our great God and savior”; the NIV has “the blessed hope [dash] – the appearing of our great God and Savior” because it refers to the same event. And some people refer to the kai, the “and” that connects “hope” and “appearing” as an exegetical kai, which means what follows is not another event, but is describing what is previous. And that seems clear, because we’re talking about one event, “THE blessed hope … and appearing ….” If one talks about two separate events in the Greek language, they then have to put an article before each of them: “THE blessed hope … and THE appearing ….” But when there is one article that connects the two nouns in a kai, it means that what follows, these two nouns, are seen as an entity. Let’s say for instance in the gospels, that we can refer to “THE Pharisees and THE scribes”. Now we’ve emphasized two independent groups – the Pharisee group and the scribe group. However, if there is only one article there, “THE Pharisees and scribes”, this indicates that they function as a single group – the ‘Pharisee and scribe’ group. And the unity that they have in this action is being emphasized. So, when we have THE blessed hope AND appearing, this refers to a single event. In Greek some of you may have heard of the “Granville Sharp Rule” – that’s what it is. If there are two words connected by a kai, and there is one article, it means that they are assumed to be intimately related to one another – identical in a sense. If you want to refer to two separate nouns, you have “the” with the first noun, and “the” with the other noun. We don’t have that with regard to the blessed hope. The blessed hope is, in fact, the glorious appearing of our great God and savior.
That also brings in the appearing of the glory of [2 nouns] “our great God and our Savior”. There’s only one article connecting those two. We have “THE great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ,” [not THE great God and THE Savior of ours, Jesus Christ]. We have one article, which indicates that Paul is keeping them together as a unity, so that what we have is THE great God and Savior, who is one. So here is a strong passage, which the normal rules of grammar argue that Paul is talking about Jesus Christ, who is our great God and Savior. And then you have the word “theos” being used with respect to Jesus here. And there are some additional reasons to support that. The term “appearing” is not used with respect to God in Paul’s letters. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, for instance, we have, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by his appearing and his coming.” It’s the Lord Jesus who comes. In 1 Timothy [Sic.] 6:14, “I charge you to keep this commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Once again, it is Jesus appearing there. In 2 Timothy 1:10, it’s used again there, “For this has now been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Here it refers to a past event, but again an “appearing” is referred to with regard to Jesus. And in 4:1, “I charge you in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom.” Again that’s Jesus appearing 4:8 in the future, “henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on the Day, and not only to me but also to all who love his appearing.” So in all these other passage, the word “appearing” is always used with Jesus Christ. It’s not God’s appearing; it’s Jesus’s appearing. So you put that together here, and you have stronger evidence that Paul is referring to Jesus at this point as “our great God and Savior”.
Added to that, is that in the Greek world, God and Savior were frequently associated together to refer to a single person. “The emperor is our god and savior”, or something like that. And you have a single person referred to, so that the readers would have been familiar with this as a single title, “god and savior”, referred to as the individual.
If what we said is true, and Paul is referring to the blessed hope, which is the appearing of the glory of Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, we have another very strong indication in the New Testament that teaches the deity of Christ. And you could add that to other passages we have in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …”; 17:3, where you have “they know thee the only true God”; 20:28, where Thomas says “my Lord and my God”; and these other passages, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1, all of them clearly teach the deity of Jesus.
The result is, Christians have this unique dilemma of having a strong doctrine of monotheism (there is only one God), and you have these references to the deity of Christ made by people who are Jewish. So that, when you look at the doctrine of the Trinity simply from the viewpoint of an established saying (in the Nicene Creed, etc.), it is a problematic kind of thing. How can you understand this? If, on the other hand, you try to put together the biblical materials, in other words, you try to formulate how you have all these emphases on Jesus’ deity (like we have here and in the other passages I mentioned), and then you put together the unity of God, the oneness of God; then all of a sudden the trinity becomes much more understandable, and our attitude is much more sympathetic. If you put this material together, you can see where they’re coming from, and maybe there is some better way of formulating it, but for the last 16 centuries no one has come up with it. If you have something better, let me know. But remember, you have to put together how there is one God, and yet how Jesus can be deity.
The nice thing as a Biblical Theologian is that I don’t have to formulate how it all works out. Biblical Theologians express the biblical materials in biblical terminology. Then, the systematicians, the Systematic Theologians take that biblical evidence and put it together using non-biblical or philosophical terminology for the present time and day. That’s where it gets all fouled up usually, but that’s their responsibility. What I can point out is the strong emphasis on Jesus as divine. And remember, you’re reading this from a Jew who every day was taught to begin the day with (Deuteronomy 6:4) “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one.” And he never renounced that. It’s very interesting.
There’s one additional comment that I’ll call your attention to in 3:5. In my Greek text, this is laid out in a creedal formula, “He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy ….” This is a very Pauline restatement of ‘by grace you have been saved by faith’. Then he has “… by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Those do not refer to two separate things, because you have one preposition, “through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” He doesn’t say “through the washing of regeneration and through the renewal of the Holy Spirit,” so I think you have to say the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit are to be seen as involving the same experience. This is in line with what we talked about at the beginning of the semester -- we see the conversion experience being one in which the believer repents, believes, and confesses Christ, and the church baptizes, and God gives the Spirit in regeneration. That’s not a major problem, because the washing to regeneration would refer to that baptism, associated in the early church with conversion, and with the baptism experience.
Now that’s not a problem if all of these events are seen as being intimately associated in time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t illustrate my experience very well. And this is probably true for most of us who were converted and born again -- that we had a baptism at some different time. We look at this passage and we have problems, and all of a sudden we start seeing a kind of Roman Catholic doctrine in which you have baptism associated magically with receiving the Holy Spirit, but there’s no repentance, no faith in a confession of Christ associated with it. Don’t understand these words in light of a present Roman Catholic doctrine, or of present Baptist experience. Understand it in light of the Philippian jailer, and the Ethiopian eunuch, who upon faith were immediately baptized. And then the problem just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. And it’s their experience that Paul is commenting on, where adult baptism was associated very intimately with the experience of conversion, not our own. I’ve have correspondence with people in the Disciples of Christ denomination who preach baptism of regeneration, and people from the Christian Church who teach that as well. And a lot of them have read my materials, and they say, “You’re right on, you just don’t go far enough.” And what I have generally said to them is that they are trying to equate their experience (which is not typical of the first-century experience) as being the norm. If you were baptized the day you were converted, like the Philippian jailer, that makes good sense. And if you were baptized like the Ethiopian eunuch, the minute you believed, I have no problems with that. On the other hand, when you separate these things in time, then the whole pattern is broken. And I remember pointing out that ultimately, if it is not possible for baptism, like in the case of the thief on the cross, that’s not necessary. And I remember getting a letter pointing out that this was fine for the thief on the cross, but after Pentecost, he could have never been saved. I wrote back and asked if they realized what a horrible thing they just said – that, in essence, a prisoner in a Russian prison camp could not be saved. They can’t believe in Jesus because they can’t be baptized? Do you really believe that?
It’s interesting to note that there is an addition to the ending of Mark, Mark 16:9-20, called “the longer ending”. It’s in our KJV, but it’s not in the earliest manuscripts, and it’s not written by Mark, because its vocabulary is very different. But it does reveal the understanding of the early church. And it says in that section, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” But then it goes on and says, “But he who does not believe will not be saved.” In other words, believing and baptism are intimately associated together. But what damns is the lack of faith, not the lack of water. I would simply say that what you are doing is losing track of the people that this is being said of, who are being baptized right upon conversion. And that, as the early church understood it, it was not the act of not being baptized that would damn a person, but the refusal to be baptized along with that faith that would. Because that was an acknowledgement that you weren’t really ready to take up the cross, deny yourself, and risk what Jesus does in Mark 8:34. That’s how they would look at it. So I think what they’re doing it misappropriating the experience of the early church, where all of these were together, and now you have these elements which are no longer unified in a whole, but are scattered, and saying that you have to accept that. And the fact is, that many people like myself know we received the Spirit upon our faith in Christ, and it was before we were baptized. You can’t deny that.
Having said that, maybe we don’t take baptism seriously enough. I know churches that say they don’t need to do it anymore. It’s too confusing; people are offended by it, etc. But Jesus commanded it, and if that’s not enough to make you want to do it, then what other commands do you want to get rid of?
There’s one other addition that I want to comment on: no one in the first century refused to be immersed as a believer because they were Presbyterians. There’s not confusion in the early church about different views of baptism. So the rejection of baptism by some people today has perhaps nothing to do whatsoever with their heart and their love of God; it has to do with misunderstanding. In the early church, if you refused baptism it wasn’t because you’d heard different views of baptism. Paul didn’t say to those hearing the gospel for the first time, “Now, you know there are various views about baptism.” He just said, “You must be baptized”, and the believer said, “OK, I believe”, and was baptized. That’s it. But today there is great confusion about it, and some people much more godly than we, who are here and are calling ourselves Baptists maybe, simply are wrong on that issue, and they’ll have that revealed to them. But you don’t want to make salvation dependent on perfect theology, because if that were the case, I don’t know anyone aside from myself who would qualify. So, our salvation is dependent on our submitting ourselves to the grace of God, and believing that in Jesus Christ God has made salvation possible, and trusting completely in him and him alone. And it is dependent on our being obedient to the best of our ability, but not being perfect theologians. And I think they don’t understand that many of the people who might not be “accepting their baptism” have theological problems with it. There are sincere differences. They’re not saying “I don’t want to be baptized because that offends me”; but they’re saying “I don’t think this is a true teaching of baptism.” And that’s unfortunate; they may be wrong; but we don’t want to make salvation dependent on perfect theology, otherwise that excludes everybody.