1.  Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,

Titus is to remind the Cretans to be subject to rulers and authorities.  Cretans were generally a troublemaking people.  As believers, these Cretans needed to be reminded not to act this way.  They were rather to be subject to those who ruled over them.

“Rulers” indicates what we might think of as the principle authorities, whereas “authorities” are lower rulers, such as the leaders of a city and the police.  As believers, they were to submit to and obey such rulers.  This may have been especially crucial at that time, for the persecution under Caesar Nero was soon to begin.  The best policy for believers was to obey and give the rulers no reason to consider them a threat.  Yet the same is true today as well.  As believers, we are to subject ourselves to the agents of law and order in society.

The exception, of course, is if those rulers demand things of us that would cause us to disobey God.  As Peter and John said to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:19-20, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.”  If obeying rulers would bring us into conflict with the commands of God, then we are to listen to God, not to men.  Yet this does not change the fact that our general attitude towards rulers should be one of obedience and submission.

Then the Cretans need to be reminded to be ready for every good work.  Too often men are ready and eager for anything that will entertain them, or anything that will feed their sinful desires.  The believer, on the contrary, should be ready and eager, not for the things this world has to offer, but rather for every good work.

2.  To speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Earlier, Paul had made this same command to speak evil of no one to the elder women (Titus 2:3.)  Now, he makes it to all the believers.  Speaking evil of someone and spreading idle gossip benefits no one, and rather drives a wedge between believers.  God’s people should not be stirring up trouble in this way.

Then, they are to remember to be peaceable.  The idea is pacific, as a body of water that sits calm without clashing waves or spraying water.  The believer is to be a peaceful person, just like a calm and peaceful sea.

Then they are to be gentle.  This has the idea of fairness, kindness, and forgiveness.  We are not harsh and unforgiving with our fellow believers.  Rather, we are to show forth a spirit of gentleness.

Finally, showing all humility to all men.  The King James had “meekness.”  Yet we do not really understand what this means today.  One who is meek can still be full of self-confidence.  A meek person is one who acts considerately and humbly with those who are around him.  It has nothing to do with weakness or a lack of confidence.  Believers are to show a thoughtful and humble consideration to their fellowmen.

“Men” here is “anthropos,” which is the generic term for all humanity.  This is another case of what is common in Scripture: the use of the masculine to indicate all people, male or female.  This was a widely used practice in both Greek and English.  It is only recently that some who quibble about words have seen a problem with this, and have tried to produce things like gender-neutral translations of the Bible!  Although there is nothing wrong with translating “anthropos” by “people” rather than “men,” these translations almost invariably take the idea too far and try to translate words gender-neutral that cannot be so translated.  It is not good to ever translate the Bible while having an ax to grind.  The Bible should be translated for what it actually says, not to satisfy some pre-conceived idea like gender neutrality.

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

Our attitude towards others should be motivated by a realistic outlook on ourselves.  In forgiving others for their faults and actions against us, we are acknowledging that we too had at times acted in ways that were wrong.  Paul could certainly look back on his past life and see ways that he had acted foolishly, for we know how he opposed the Lord and persecuted His people.

The word “foolish” means without wisdom.  Some of us before we came to the Lord were prone to act like this.  Alas, sometimes we still act like this afterwards!  Then disobedient.  This may have reference to disobedience to rulers and authorities, as discussed in the verses above.  We may have been lawbreakers, but we are not to be so anymore.  But this also can have reference to God’s authority.  Before we came to Him, we were disobedient to His rule.

We were also deceived.  We realize that we have a great enemy who goes about to deceive all whom he can.  The devil has been a liar for six thousand years now, and he is very good at it!  At one time we were deceived by his craftiness.  Thus, we can be considerate of those who are still thus deceived.

Then we served various lusts and pleasures.  This can include bad lusts, such as for sex or wealth or power.  Yet these are not necessarily bad desires, as it sounds to the English ear when we say these words.  This can be speaking of good and healthy desires, like the desire for food, or even for someone who cares about us.  Yet these desires and lusts are things that should not rule us, but only our desire to serve and obey God.  Yet in the past we certainly were ruled by such desires.  This should be a consideration for us when we deal with those who still are subservient to such things.

Then we were living in malice and envy.  Malice is just plain badness.  We lived badly in our thoughts and actions.  We were envious.  How many are this way today!  Indeed, there are whole political platforms based totally on people’s envy for one another.  Envy is tied up with covetousness or the desire for things that belong to others that we have no right to have.  Envy is not fitting for a believer.

Then, hateful is just what it sounds like, being “full of hate.”  And hating one another.  Love is the characteristic of a believer who is evidencing the fruit of the spirit, yet hate is just as much a natural emotion for one who does not know God.  Yet hate is the opposite of the spirit we are to display to others as believers.

4.  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

This is what changed us.  We did not change ourselves.  We did not “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” so to speak.  What changed us was this: the kindness and love of God our Savior.  His kindness is His goodness and gentleness towards us.  “Love toward man” is the Greek word “philanthropia,” from which we get our word “philanthropy.”  It basically means a love (philos) of mankind (anthropos).  We need to understand that God loves humanity.  There is no other explanation for why He has allowed us to continue in spite of all the wickedness and perversion we have brought to this world.  God loves humanity, and it is His love that preserves us.

Then we have His love appearing.  Again this is the word “epiphaino” and means “blazed forth.”  This may well have reference to the beginning of the dispensation of grace, when salvation was sent to all men, not just the Jews, and thus “blazed forth” to the world.  Yet it also has reference to when it appeared personally to us and led us to salvation.  God’s kindness and love blazed into our lives, and they have never been the same since.

5.  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

This is an important truth.  We are not saved by our own works of righteousness.  Many do not believe this.  Yet there are many men out there who are not saved who nevertheless do many great acts of righteousness and self-sacrifice.  Yet we need to understand that such things do not save them.  Many today look with great respect upon Mother Teresa and all the good she did for the helpless, sick, and starving people of India.  Yet I tell you that if Mother Teresa did not know the Lord, then she was not saved.  I have no idea if she had faith in Him or not.  Yet when it comes to salvation, none of her good works could have saved her, no matter how many of them she did or how great they were.  Works of righteousness cannot save anyone!  How then are we saved?  By God’s mercy!  It is His grace that saves us through faith, as we read in Ephesians 2:8-9.

Then through the washing of regeneration.  This is something that takes place at salvation.  We are washed and regenerated or made new.  The word “washed” usually refers to the PLACE where washing takes place, and might be translated “the bathtub of regeneration.”  It was in the place of washing that we were regenerated or made new.

Then we read “and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  Yet this is not a separate thing from the “washing of regeneration,” but rather the same event.  The washtub wherein we are regenerated is the Holy Spirit by Whom we are renewed.  He it is who makes us something new, and when this is done is at the time of our salvation.  This has nothing to do with water baptism, and nothing to do with some sort of “second filling” of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, this is something that takes place the moment we are saved.  We are changed from the way we used to be to the way God would have us to be.  We are made something new.

6.  Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

The Holy Spirit was abundantly poured out on us.  This again refers to the time of salvation, when He was given to us to seal us as belonging to God.  Ephesians 1:13-14.

Then He was poured out through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Notice God our Savior had kindness and love toward us in verse 4.  Now Jesus Christ our Savior pours out the Spirit abundantly on us in verse 6.  There cannot be two Saviors.  One person cannot be saved by God and another by Jesus Christ.  We cannot be saved by God one day and by Jesus Christ the next.  Jesus Christ must indeed be God!

7.  That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Being saved by His mercy and renewed by His Spirit, we can now be justified.  Being justified means to be “declared righteous.”  Yet this does not come about because we are physically righteous.  This is because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.  Once we are identified with Him in His death and resurrection, and once we receive His Spirit, we then become justified in the sight of God.  This again is something that happens at salvation.  This does not happen because we earn it, but because of His grace.  Then, once we are justified, we can become His heirs.  Like Christ, we will now receive an inheritance from God!

This is according to the hope of eternal life.  We do not inherit these things from God in this life.  Rather, this is something that happens in the life to come.  Here again “hope” is not something we “hope” will happen, but a sure and certain expectation.  We KNOW that we have eternal life, thus we KNOW that we are heirs of God.  “Eternal life” is again “eonian” life.  It is not just life that lasts forever, but a life that flows from God, not just in longevity but also in unfathomable blessing.  It speaks not just of the length of life, but of the quality of it.  It is not just life forever, but a life forever that is worth living.

8.  This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable to men.

The Holy Spirit through Paul calls the gospel as he just set it forth a “faithful saying.”  The words God calls “faithful sayings” are invariably important passages that we need to make note of.  The words of Titus 3:4-7 give us the truth about salvation.  They are a “trustworthy saying,” and the things they tell us about salvation are crucially important.  Moreover, Paul calls on Titus to affirm these things constantly.  It seems people are always getting into difficulties when it comes to the truth of salvation.  False doctrines abound, and our enemy is constantly trying to get people off track in this regard.  Thus, those who lead God’s people should constantly be affirming the truth about salvation for all who will hear to learn and take note.

Why do we need to remember the truths about salvation?  Not just so we understand them ourselves and not just so we can spread them to others.  We need to remember them so we who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.  It is a right understanding of God’s graciousness towards us and His great love that saved us that should inspire us to perform the good works that God truly desires us to do.  There is no better motivation for good works than an understanding of the love and grace of God.  Moreover, it is good and profitable for men to know these things.  They help us, they are good for us, they profit us in ways that really matter in our lives.  We cannot overestimate the importance of understanding these truths!

9.  But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

This is a reference back to the false teaching mentioned in Titus 1:14.  There were people on Crete who were starting foolish and stupid disputes.  They started arguments about genealogies.  In times past, it was crucial for a Jew to be able to trace his lineage all the way back to Abraham.  A Levite had to trace his lineage to be able to prove he was part of the ministering tribe, whereas a priest had to prove he could trace his lineage back to Aaron.  Yet now in the dispensation of grace the advantage to being a Jew had disappeared.  Now, contending about whether or not a person could trace their lineage back to Abraham was a useless thing, and should be avoided.  There is now no difference between nations (Ephesians 2:6,) and being a proven Israelite was no longer an advantage.  Others were contending and striving about the law.  We already saw that they were trying to get the Cretan believers to perform circumcision and keep various dietary rules kept in the law.  These people were also starting arguments about the true nature and purpose of the law.  These arguments were stupid, and Titus was to avoid partaking in them.

This does not mean that we should not discuss Scriptures, or that when two people have two different views on a Bible topic that debating about it is wrong.  If we never hear other people’s viewpoints we will never be able to set forth our own.  And when we set forth our viewpoints, it is inevitable that some will disagree and challenge us on them.  If we refuse to discuss these things, then we will appear to be the “loser,” and people will be swayed to the opposing viewpoint.  Yet what Titus was to avoid was the silly and self-serving arguments of these people who were trying to force law-keeping on the Cretans.  Their arguments were not for the purpose of finding truth, and for Titus to become mixed up in them would have legitimized the questions they were asking.  Thus he is to avoid the discussion all together, and keep on teaching the truth: that no one, Jew or Gentile, is responsible today for keeping the law.  (Ephesians 2:14-15.)

10.  Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,

The King James version has “an heretick.”  This is a transliteration of the Greek word here, “hairetikos.”  In our day, “heretic” has come to mean one who does not hold with accepted doctrine, usually the accepted doctrine of the one accusing the other of heresy.  Yet this word did not mean this in Greek.  Rather, it meant someone who was a sectarian, a divisive person who wanted to break off and form their own little group.  In the case of Titus, this sort of person was probably common among those who insisted that keeping the law was necessary for believers.  Yet there have been many people who have been sectarians since.  They seem to be convinced that they alone are right, and many of them end up making the claim that they alone are truly saved, or that they alone enjoy God’s richest blessings because of their beliefs.  People like this are argumentative, and refuse to listen to anything that opposes their viewpoint.  Titus is warned to warn these people twice, and then reject them.  This does not mean warn them about their wrong beliefs, but rather about their attitude of divisiveness.  It is this that ends up dividing believers, and it is this that cannot be tolerated in a group, for it will end up tearing the group apart.

What would be the result of Titus rejecting people like this?  They would probably break with Titus entirely and go off to form their own little group.  God seems to indicate that this would be a better solution than trying to keep such a person in the group.  Why would He suggest this?

11.  Knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

A person like this is warped.  The idea is that he simply has the wrong set of values.  He is placing such great emphasis on things that don’t really matter that it skews his perspective on the things that do.  He is rejected because his actions condemn himself.  Indeed, he may know deep down that what he is doing is wrong, but he is not willing to admit it.  As such, having warned him twice, Titus is to simply leave him alone.  He must suffer under his own set of warped values, and eventually perhaps he will be willing to admit the truth and turn back to what is right.  Some who are like this do, but alas, many never do.  We must leave all such in the hands of God.  And which one of us has never been guilty of placing too great an emphasis on things that aren’t really important?  This is something we all must guard against.  But unlike this stubborn example, we should hear admonition and admit to our mistake.  That is all that we as sinful people can do.