a brief thought on Titus 3:3

“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.”

Titus 3:3

As with verse 11 of chapter two, the word “for” here indicates that this section is the reason and motivation behind the exhortations given in verses one and two. The only way for us to sincerely treat others with gentleness and kindness is by first remembering who we were before Christ saved us. The string of descriptions is quite powerful. Before Christ, we were foolish, disobedient, and led astray.

We would do well to remember that non-Christians are deceived by other gods (even if that god is themselves); they are led astray from the truth just as we once were.

Paul then emphasizes the slavery of sin. Most secularists today believe true happiness can only be found in chasing our personal passions and pleasures; however, the Bible is clear that these things will destroy us. In fact, Peter goes so far as to say that the passions of our flesh wage war against our souls (1 Pet. 2:11).

Malice, hatred, and envy go hand in hand. They lead into one another, feeding and making the others stronger. The cycle typically begins with envy. Covetousness is the great enemy of joy because joy has its root in contentment, while envy is anti-satisfaction. As we envy others, our joy diminishes, and our hatred and malice toward others begins to crescendo. Not surprisingly, the Bible’s two books about joy, Ecclesiastes and Philippians, also have much to say about contentment.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 tells us:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

Similarly, Paul wrote to the Philippians about his contentment, saying,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:11-13).

In Christ, we leave behind all envy, malice, and hatred for others because we have found true joy and contentment in Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Copyright© B.C. Newton 2016
Good Works | Sound Doctrine

Church Discipline | Titus 3:9-15

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9)

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

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. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. (Titus 3:12-15)           


Titus is a letter by the apostle Paul written to his disciple, Titus, to help him organize the churches of the island of Crete. To begin the letter, Paul addressed leadership within the church. He established that each church would ideally have multiple pastors, and he then listed the qualifications for such leadership (as well as what false leaders would look like). Paul then covered the role of church members, encouraging them to share the gospel to all people (a.k.a. discipleship and evangelism). Finally, in the third chapter, the apostle discusses how the church should function as a whole and in general.

After discussing the gospel and our lifestyle as Christians in verses 1-8, Paul now closes the letter with two topics that are less than simple to hear: church discipline and sacrificial giving. In contrast the profitable nature of the gospel, the apostle lists things that worthless and unprofitable for us, like foolish controversies and quarrels about the law. Because we have been saved by the great grace of God, we should be united around the gospel in order to better take its message to the ends of the earth. These controversies and dissensions are unprofitable ultimately because they distract us from the eternally profitable good news.

The letter then closes with Paul giving more personal instructions to Titus. In the midst of his urging of Titus to visit him, he encourages Titus to prepare the churches of Crete for receiving Zenas and Apollos, making sure that they would send them away from Crete in need of nothing. Using this as an example, Paul encourages the churches of Crete to be ready for every good work, so they can help cases of urgent need. This is a great reminder of how the church should display the love of Christ, sacrificial meeting the needs of other brothers and sisters in the faith.

Read verse 9 and discuss the following.

  1. In contrast to the profitable nature of the gospel, Paul lists four items for us to avoid: foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law. What are some examples of each? Why are they unprofitable and worthless?

Read verses 10-11 and discuss the following.

  1. Here Paul warns that after warning a division-causing person twice have nothing more to do with them. What are some characteristics of someone who stirs up divisions?
  2. How do these verses relate to Matthew 18:15-17 in describing the procedures for church discipline?

Read verse 12-15 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul urges Titus to make certain that Zenas and Apollos lack nothing when they pass through Crete, which the apostle uses as an example for urging him to help urgent needs. In what ways is the love of Christ proclaimed through our helping others needs?


  • Obey. Reflecting upon the subject of church discipline, let it remind us to be quick to repent, to forgive, and to resolve conflict, and in considering Paul’s final call to good works, let us be prepared in all circumstances to help cases of urgent need.
  • Pray. Continuously pray that for the church to focus upon the profitable gospel rather than worthless diversions and conflicts, and pray for brothers and sisters around the world to continue spreading the good news.

a brief thought on Titus 2:12

training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age

Titus 2:12

Even in sections of theology like this one, Paul cannot refrain from disclosing doctrine’s application. Here the emphasis is that the gospel trains us in godliness. In believing the truth of Scripture, we must conform ourselves to the pattern of life that it outlines.

This means that we renounce, or reject, ungodliness and worldly passions. Our passions are, instead, upon the things of God. In fact, Peter goes so far as to claim that worldly and fleshly passions ‘wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11).”

Thus, the battle over what we desire is exactly that—a battle.

Whether for war, athletics, or other things, training is difficult; it’s a fight. It requires discipline and work, and spiritual training is no different. Anyone who has spent any length of time in prayer, fasting, and the study of the Scriptures will readily verify the strenuous nature of the growing in godliness.

Fortunately, we can always rely upon the truth that the Jesus’ grace is entirely sufficient (meaning we now work from gratitude, not obligation) and that God is training us (He is our coach).

Or we could say it like this: though we are called to work hard, we can only do so because God worked first in us and continues to work through us.

With this in mind, we would do well to remember that spiritual warfare is not merely waged over what we do but also what we want. Our desire must be to live lives that are pleasing to the One who graciously saved us.

Good Works | Sound Doctrine

He Saved Us | Titus 3:3-8


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. (Titus 3:3)

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 he irs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:8)


Paul’s letter to Titus is all about Jesus’ church. The first chapter centered on church leadership, where the apostle addressed pastors, their qualifications, and how to spot false teachers. The second chapter took aim at church members, calling all Christians to make disciples and evangelize the lost. Of course, Paul was quick to remind us that we only share the gospel because we have been saved by the glorious grace of God. We then began the final chapter by discussing Paul’s seven exhortations for living out the gospel in our daily life.

As with chapter two, this penultimate section of our study provides the motivation behind the commands of the previous verses. Even if, under our best effort, we were able to flawlessly obey the exhortations that Paul gave, they would be pointless without the proper inspiration propelling them forward. In other words, good works without a God-loving heart are not godly works.

This is why Paul dives back into the gospel message with these verses. The apostle is entirely aware that our hearts are prone to forget the great grace and mercy that we have received, which can lead us to believe that our works are sufficient for salvation. For this reason, it is important that we remember that God saved us, “not because words done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”

Read verse 3 and discuss the following.

  1. In this verse, Paul reminds us who we were before Jesus saved us. Are Paul’s descriptions true of you before Christ?
  2. What is the great enemy of joy and why?

Read verses 4-7 and discuss the following.

  1. Here Paul claims that God’s mercy saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. What is baptism’s relationship to salvation?
  2. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation?

Read verse 8 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul urges Titus to insist upon these things. Why does Paul insist upon the gospel?


  • Obey. Paul’s aim in these verses are to give us the proper motivation for obeying verses 1-2; therefore, live gentle, loving lives because God first loved us.
  • Pray. Thank God for the His mercy in saving you from your sins.
Good Works | Sound Doctrine

Remembering Godliness | Titus 3:1-2


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. (Titus 3:1-2)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)


As we enter the final third of Titus, we must recall briefly what was said thus far. Chapter one was primarily concerned with pastoral leadership within the church. Paul envisions churches being lead by multiple pastors, giving their qualifications and listing characteristics of false teachers. Chapter two focused upon church members as Paul encouraged everyone to be active in the works of discipleship and evangelism. The apostle then closed the chapter by reminding Titus and all Christians of our motivation for doing all forms of good works: the gospel.

As we enter chapter three, we will notice that it has a much more universal feel to it. This is because Paul’s attention is no longer upon church members or leaders specifically; instead, he uses the final chapter to address the overall nature of living as the church, the body of Christ. He will once again present commands for us to live by, the gospel as our motivation for obeying, and closes with how the church is to remain a faithful witness of Jesus.

Our present text is a list of seven exhortations for all Christians to heed. By beginning with the words “remind them,” we know that Paul considered each of these to be basic knowledge for Christ-like behavior, yet as with most things, our forgetful minds need continuous reminders and encouragements. Let us, therefore, approach these urgings toward godly living in light of the gospel, praying to display Christ in our lives each day.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul opens by urging us to be submissive to rulers and authorities (earthly leaders, particularly in governments) and to be obedient. In what ways does the Bible encourage us to be submissive to ruling authorities? Under what circumstances (if any) is disobedience permitted biblically for Christians?
  2. Verse two begins by commanding us to speak evil of no one. What are a few characteristics of biblical and godly speech? Do you meet these standards?
  3. Paul also exhorts us to refrain from being quarrelsome and to be gentle instead. How is a reasonable and gentle attitude a greater display of strength than being quarrelsome? How does this go against society’s ideals?
  4. Finally, the apostle encourages us to show perfect courtesy toward all people. How might we continue to show respect, kindness, and meekness even toward those who do appear to deserve it?


  • Obey. Since this text is simply an encouragement toward seven Christ-like actions, resolve to obey the Scriptures. These verses tell us what to do, so do it, remembering that we act in gratitude of God’s grace, not from obligation or in attempt to earn God’s favor.
  • Pray. Ask God for grace to live more like Christ each day.
Good Works | Sound Doctrine

Trained, Redeemed, Purified, & Zealous | Titus 2:11-15


For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

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 from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:13-14)

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:15)


As a guide for how to organize Cretan churches, Paul’s letter to Titus is also abundantly applicable to us today. We have already studied chapter one in which Paul presented his vision of leadership within the church. His idea of multiple pastors living above reproach lives was in sharp contrast to the false teachers that surrounded them. In chapter two, Paul brought the discussion to church members as a whole, encouraging them toward intentional discipleship and evangelism.

Thus far in Titus, it is easy to notice how many commands and exhortations Paul gives to us. Good works seem to be emphasized much by the apostle with little time spent on defining sound doctrine. These verses, however, give attention to the reason behind every command and work: the gospel. The opening word “for” ties our present text as being the motivation for living a life of discipleship and evangelism.

The reasoning behind God’s commands is never “just because”. He always has a plan and a purpose (even if we may not see it presently). Paul contends that we share the gospel because the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people. That God did not leave us condemned in sin is truly good news. That God offers that salvation to everyone is even better. We are not to share the gospel because God commanded it; rather, we must do so because God’s offer of salvation is too great to keep to ourselves.

Read verses 11-12 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul begins this section by stating that the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people. Does this good news mean that all people will be saved? Why or why not?
  2. How does the gospel train us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives?

Read verses 13-14 and discuss the following.

  1. In addition to being trained by the gospel to live godly lives, we are to also wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of Jesus, our God and Savior. Why is the second coming of Christ so important. Why is it called our blessed hope?

Read verse 15 and discuss the following.

  1. Just as the chapter began, Paul ends by urging Titus to proclaim the truth of God. From where does Titus’ authority for exhortations and rebukes come?


  • Share the gospel. Because this text provides the motivation for discipleship and evangelism, it is best to consider both how and why we do them. Our proper response to a true understanding of the gospel must be to share it with those we love.
  • God has given salvation by grace for all people; therefore, pray that those who do not know God’s grace would hear and receive it.
Good Works | Sound Doctrine

Living Evangelism | Titus 2:6-10


Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:9-10)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)


Because Paul wrote this letter to Titus to guide him in putting order to churches in Crete, the letter lends itself well to being a summary for a church should function and serve. In the first chapter, Paul dove into the method and theology behind church leadership. He urged Titus to appoint multiple elders in each church, while paying careful attention to the personal qualifications of each elder. Chapter two then led into Paul’s desire for each church’s members, which he began with a thought on biblical discipleship.

Having addressed the need for discipling one another in how to follow Christ more closely, the apostle now moves into a closely related area: evangelism. There is a clear reason for why discipleship and evangelism are brought up back to back because they are two sides of the same coin. Both activities are about sharing and living the gospel. Evangelism has us sharing the gospel with non-Christians in the hope that they will also follow Christ. Discipleship has us sharing the gospel with Christians in the hope that they will follow Christ in an ever deeper relationship. Evangelism is discipleship for non-Christians, and discipleship is evangelism for Christians. The two cannot be separated from one another.

That being said, like discipleship, most Christians feel the need for evangelism but are unaware of how to do it. Too many of us assume that before sharing Christ with others we must have a mastery-level understanding the Bible, be a minister or aspiring minister, or be supernaturally gifted in it. Though we should all aim for a great understanding the Bible, every Christian is a minister, and God does supernaturally use all of us for evangelism, the actual action behind evangelism are not so strange or complicated as we make them. Instead, Paul emphasizes our need to proclaim Christ with our lives before we ever open our mouths.

Read verses 7-8 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul urges Titus to be a model of good works in everything. How might our lives be a model for others?
  2. The teaching of a Christian is meant to be marked by integrity, dignity, and sound speech. What is biblically sound (or healthy) speech?

Read verses 9-10 and discuss the following.

  1. Paul addresses these verses to slaves working for their masters, but we can apply it today as employees and employers. How is being an employee similar and different to being a slave?
  2. The reasoning behind the Christian slaves’ good works is their desire to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. How do our lives adorn the truth of the gospel?


  • Consider particularly Paul’s words in verses 9-10. Do you, as an employee, live out those verses? Take time to plan for how to better obey Scripture.
  • Pray for God’s grace to live a life that adorns the gospel message.