The Letter to Titus CHAPTER 3
Life in the World for the Sanctified Believer
THE preceding chapter was mainly concerned with the personal conduct of brethren and sisters and their ecclesial relationships, although they were to realise that even in that they would come under public scrutiny. Paul now turns to their behaviour in society and their attitude to the ruling authorities. Their subjection was not to be out of mere necessity—because rulers are "sent ... for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well" (1 Peter 2:14)—but because of an attitude of mind which governed behaviour towards all men, whatever their status or condition.
3:1-2—Attitude towards Rulers and All Men
Verse 1: "Put them in mind to be subject ... to obey . . . ": The injunction to remind the Cretan brethren especially of the duty of obedience is entirely consistent with what we have already learned of their background from chapter 1. They had no doubt been made aware of it when the Gospel had first been preached, since it was a fundamental duty of the believer to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's", which included obedience as well as the payment of taxes and tribute. This is made abundantly clear in such extended passages as Romans 13 and 1 Peter 3 and 4:15-19. We have already commented fully on 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (pages 54-59, 81), but there is an important additional point to be made here.
Well aware though the Cretan ecclesias might have been of their duties, the social climate rendered such powerful reminders as Titus was to give both necessary and timely. Both Jews and Greeks felt there was good cause to resist the authorities, the Jews for the same reason that made them seditious particularly in Judaea itself, the Greeks for a similar historical reason. A proud and independent people looking for a Messiah to deliver them, hated the Roman yoke. A people with a long democratic tradition found subservience to the emperor equally distasteful, for the Romans, like all non-Greeks who could not speak Greek without "barbaring" or mispronouncing it, were regarded simply as barbarians, for all their military prowess. Add to this the fact that, according to the Greek historian Polybius (vi. 46,9), the Cretans were outstanding for their character and revolutionary spirit and the Apostle's concern for the brethren and sisters living in such a society is readily understood. Thus while in 1 Timothy the reasons why we should pray for rulers are given, in Titus the elementary duty of obedience is stressed. Since "rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil" (Romans 13:3), disciples are ' 'to be ready to every good work'' (agatha). The '' good works'' of verse 8 are kala, on which see 1:16 and notes.
Verse 2: "To speak evil of no man . . . shewing all meekness unto all men": Here the scope of self-disciplined behaviour is extended. It imposes the highest possible standards upon ecclesial members which are not always readily perceived by us even today. So often "zeal for the truth" or the need to dissociate oneself from certain beliefs and practices, within or without the Brotherhood, is taken to be a licence for downright rudeness. A moment's reflection upon this verse should disabuse us of any such idea and a consideration of the doctrinal foundation for the opposite kind of behaviour set out in the following verse should banish it for ever.
We may readily concede that we should be "no brawlers", and that not even for the sake of the Truth can the protest march, the "demo" or any political strife form part of the disciple's life. But to "speak evil of no man" is "not an easy precept to observe, if we are surrounded by persons whose principles of faith and conduct we believe to be quite unsound and mistaken" (J. H. Bernard, The Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges). Blasphemein and its cognate words carry this sense of evil speaking against men as well as God in the Pastoral Epistles and characterises the "perilous times" of 2 Timothy 3 (verse 2)— significantly, likely to be manifest in the ecclesia itself!
Instead, the attitude was to be one of meekness and forbearance. Moreover, the attribute was to be a recognised characteristic of the Christian, to be displayed beyond the limits of the household of faith: "Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5, RV). Verse 3 introduces us to the reasons why.
Verse 3: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived": "Sometimes" should read "sometime" or "aforetime' ', for the verse refers to behaviour which should by now have been put far behind us, though we should still remember what it had been like to be so in bondage to the flesh—slaves to "divers lusts and pleasures''. The fearful list of effects of that past conduct are spelled out as "living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another".
The truth of this assessment of human nature is seen in every aspect of private and public life, in domestic tragedy, social disorder and political strife. "And such were some of you" the Apostle had said of some of the grosser forms of misconduct (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but he could never forget that even he himself, though as touching the law, a Pharisee, "was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious", "breathing out threatenings and slaughter" and showing himself to be "exceedingly mad" against the disciples. Indeed, the "for we ourselves'' makes it clear that he is associating himself with this description of the Cretan brethren's former state.
That Paul was no longer in such condition was because "the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus", a grace which had made him what he was, transformed from being "the chief of sinners" into a great apostle. In this context, as in Titus 3, Paul gives us, in the first of the "faithful sayings", the doctrinal basis for such a transformation in conduct and status:
"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. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first (i.e. as chief) Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
3:4-7—The Doctrinal Basis of the Foregoing Commandments
In Titus 3:4-7, the fifth "faithful saying" (see Essay 50), the Apostle emphasises the same point: we were all "concluded under sin" until "the kindness and love of God toward man appeared". This philanthropia of God should have found a response in the behaviour of those renewed by it with their own philanthropy towards all men. As we have said (page 393), this is in effect a "Statement of Faith" version of the doctrinal statement of 2:11-14. The "Faithful Sayings" in general form the subject of Essay 5 and the first four are discussed in the notes on the relevant verses.
The use which the Apostle has made of this statement of faith is masterly in its context. Throughout the Letter to Titus the "God that cannot lie" is contrasted with "the Cretans always liars" (1:2,12). The failure of men in general to respond to the offer of salvation by the God whose very nature it is to save men through His kindness and love-toward-man (philanthropia), does not alter the purpose of God, but only limits its application to those who believe. This was beautifully expressed in the metrical Greek of 2 Timothy 2:12,13 (Essay 32):
"If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: He cannot deny himself."
Hence the urgent exhortations in Titus 2 to continue in the hope of the everlasting life promised before the world began, and to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. This passage in chapter 2 is therefore the pivot of the whole
epistle, and it is reinforced by these words of the "faithful saying".
When we look now at the content of the saying in closer detail we see the great depth and beauty of the teaching it enshrines.
Verse 4: "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared": The words for "kindness" and "love-toward-man' ' in combination were familiar enough in the philosophical writings of the Hellenistic world. But as we have seen before in these Letters, the Apostle Paul, while often using the vocabulary of the educated speaker or writer of the period, invariably imparts to the words a profound spiritual meaning which has its roots in the Old Testament rather than in contemporary thought. Sadly
a later generation has tended to work in the opposite way by weakening the force of Scriptural words in an effort to make them "relevant".
The root meaning of the Greek words chrestos, 'kind', and chrestotes, 'kindness', is "useful" or "profitable", and is also translated by all the words italicised below in this paragraph. It is a quality, therefore, which goes far beyond a simple generous impulse towards others, for it is a fruit of the Spirit (gentleness, Galatians 5:22), it is a distinctive quality of that deep love or charity of 1 Corinthians 13—"love is kind"—and is above all an attribute of God Himself: "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:3). We are immediately back in Psalm 34, invited to "taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him", and many other Old Testament Scriptures proclaiming the goodness of God come into mind. It is from this goodness, kindness, and gentleness that the saving work of God in Christ takes its origin; for it is out of "the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering" that "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans 2:4). The frequent exhortations to Christ's followers to manifest the same spirit to one another, and indeed to all men, form the background to our verse in Titus 3.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us." (Ephesians 4:32—5:2)
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness ..." (Colossians 3:12)
This kindness and love of God, like the grace of God of which it is the expression, "shone forth" (epiphane).
Verses 5, 6: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done": Israel were frequently reminded that it was "not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, (but) ... that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers" (Deuteronomy 9:5) that God had become their salvation. Paul makes the same point here as he had done to the ecclesia at Ephesus:
"... that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness (chrestotes) toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh ..." (Ephesians 2:7-11)
No doubt Paul had in mind that the root meaning of the Old Testament word for "mercy" (chesed) is "covenant love", for the sake of which the LORD was prepared to "perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham" which He had sworn unto the fathers from the days of old. So he adds, "but according to his mercy he saved us".
"By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit": It does not affect the meaning if, with the Revised Version margin, we speak of the "laver" instead of the "washing" (cf. also Ephesians 5:26). Either meaning is supported by the text, but "laver" seems to point more clearly to a bath for immersion and has overtones of the priestly laver through which all who would minister in the tabernacle had to pass.
That the two elements, water and Spirit, are essential to the baptism which is true regeneration, or rebirth, is abundantly clear from the Lord's own words to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). This is borne out by the Apostle Peter when he writes of being "saved by water, the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not.the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:20-21).
That this does not involve any concept of receiving the Spirit in the Trinitarian, or even evangelical, sense has been amply demonstrated above. Nevertheless, baptism is more than a dipping of oneself into water. Accompanied by faith in, and therefore a participation in, the promises of God, the once-for-all act is a genuine death unto sin and a rising to newness of life. The best explanation of the Titus passage is provided by the words of Scripture itself:
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever .. . And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
(1 Peter 1:22-25)
Or, as Paul expresses it in Ephesians 5:25-26, in words which virtually offer a parallel definition to those from Titus:
"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."
Verse 7: "That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs ...": Only through this grace could "he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified be all of one" (Hebrews 2:11), heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ and thus, though by nature sinners, made partakers of a righteousness which is not their own. The inheritance is none other than that "eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (1:2).
What God can do for us, what He can make of us, prompts the exploration of a rewarding Scriptural theme. By divine workmanship the sinful can become sanctified; this "vile body" can become "fashioned like unto his glorious body". We follow through this train of thought in Essay 51.
"Washing of regeneration"
To conclude the comments on this section of Titus the two passages, from Ephesians 5 and Titus 3, are set out below in a way which demonstrates that "by the word" and "renewing of the Holy Spirit" are parallel expressions. This brings out the meaning of the second passage and shows how clearly linked it is with the birth of water and of spirit of John 3:5. Grammatically, the expression "the washing" or "the laver" can cover both "regeneration" and "renewing", so that the sense is, "the laver of being born again and of renewing of, or by, the Holy Spirit". Thus a man or woman is renewed by the power of God through Christ at the time of baptism. It is not a bestowal of the Holy Spirit but essentially a renewal of the mind, as in Colossians 3:10, Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24.
3:8-11—Final Commands for the Ecclesias
Verse 8: "These things I will that thou affirm constantly": The reason for this constant affirmation becomes clearer the more we contemplate what has gone before. The Revised Version says "confidently unto the end" for "constantly", which adds to the idea of persistence, in the certain knowledge that the hope will be realised by those who endure. In the discharge of his own responsibility to the brethren and sisters in Crete Titus must be unwearying. For God cannot lie and Titus could be "confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). The essential thing was that ' 'they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works". Appropriately, as we have observed before, the word for "good" here is kala, carrying the sense of beauty and grace in action. It is used 24 times in the Pastoral Epistles, usually in connection with work or works.
"These things are good and profitable unto men": The word for "profitable" is not found anywhere in Scripture outside the Pastoral Epistles. It occurs in 1 Timothy 4:8 and 2 Timothy 3:16, in both cases applied to the Scripture which is profitable to the man of God. The full force of the expression is discussed in the respective notes.
Verse 9: "But avoid foolish questions . . . for they are unprofitable and vain": The things to be avoided are parallel with those already spelt out in 1 Timothy 1:4, with the additional qualification that these things are folly. The separate elements of these aspects of unhealthy teaching— "genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law"— are dealt with in the notes on 1 Timothy 1, and their unprofitable nature is discussed under 1 Timothy 6:3-5 (also 2 Timothy 2:23). All such questions and disputings are "vain" because they never lead to any settled conviction.
Verses 10-11: "A man that is an heretick . .. reject": Paul now passes from the "other-teaching" to the man who propagates it. The reader is referred to the notes on "From such withdraw thyself and "Flee these things" (page 186). At a time when questions of "heresy" are being widely discussed in the Brotherhood it will be profitable to look closely at this apostolic injunction: this we do in Essay 52.
3:12-15—Fraternal Communications and Farewell
Verse 12: "Be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis": Of the Artemas named in this verse nothing outside tradition is known. Tychicus, on the other hand, is mentioned several times as a companion or messenger of Paul. With Trophimus he came with Paul from Greece to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4) and as "a brother and faithful minister of the Lord" he was sent to Ephesus to bring tidings of Paul and comfort to the ecclesia there. He performed a similar mission to Colossae (4:7) and was later sent back to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12). From the fact that this was after Paul had been imprisoned once more we may surmise that it was in fact Artemas who was sent to relieve Titus in Crete. The form of the expression "When I shall send Artemas" refers to some time, certain but up to that point still undefined, for which Titus was to be prepared. Similar instructions were given Timothy (see the end of the Second Letter) which make it plain that the respective commissions of both these men were to set things in order in Ephesus or Crete and then commit the ecclesias "to faithful men able to teach others also", while they executed other commissions.
Of the three cities called Nicopolis the one mentioned here is most probably in Epirus; it derived its name of "City of Victory" from the decisive battle of Actium which confirmed Augustus as Emperor. Did Paul actually go there "to winter", to be joined by Titus? And was it at Nicopolis that he was arrested and taken back to Rome in company with Titus who later went on to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10)? Or was that winter in fact the one he would be spending in the chill Mamertine prison at Rome, comforted by the prospect of the coming of Timothy with the warm cloak he was asked to bring with him (2 Timothy 4:13,21)?
Verse 13: "Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently": We do not know whether Zenas was skilled in Greek or Hebrew law; of Apollos, however, there is much recorded. He is the same "eloquent and learned Alexandrian" who learned the truth from Priscilla and Aquila and played a leading role in the ecclesia at Corinth (Acts 18:24; 19:1). Tradition has it that he retired to Crete to escape the controversies at Corinth, but it seems most improbable that any of the Apostle's men should adopt that method of avoiding personal unpleasantness. All we know is that Paul was unable to persuade him to return to Corinth at the time of the writing of the First Letter, although there was a promise that he would visit there "when he shall have convenient time" (16:12). We do not know what was the journey envisaged in this verse in Titus.
The New Testament Letters are full of the commendations of brethren and sisters to and from various ecclesias, together with requests that they be given all necessary assistance for their journey, "that nothing be wanting unto them". The unsavoury atmosphere in the inns and taverns and the possibility of being robbed or molested on the way made the offering of hospitality a prudent act as well as a gesture of fellowship. Even in our safer times the generous welcome is still offered throughout the worldwide fellowship.
Verse 14: "And let ours also learn to maintain good works": The Apostle here is not simply repeating the exhortations of the preceding chapters, although they are implied as well. Rather is it a reminder that all of "our people", and not just Titus alone, should cooperate in the work of hospitality and welfare. The Revised Version suggests that they were to "profess honest occupations" in the spirit of 2 Thessalonians 3:7-13. It seems more probable that the "necessary uses (RV, wants)" were the acts of hospitality and response to similar needs which would become apparent from time to time and in which they should be prepared to offer assistance. In this way their fellowship would be a genuine sharing together and "not unfruitful".
Verse 15: "All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith": The "thee" tells us that this was a personal message to
Titus from all who were personally acquainted with him or knew him by repute. It breathes out the very spirit of worldwide fellowship which transcends both space and time. In those days there were closer links than we perhaps realise between "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2); and with very many of those called to be saints in the "churches in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ" we have a sense of closer affinity than with any in the outside world of our twentieth century.
"Grace be with you all. Amen": For the general pattern of first century correspondence and the apostolic use of it, see the Introduction, page 8. After the emphasis upon the grace of God throughout this epistle what more appropriate farewell and benediction could there be?
ESSAY 50 The Fifth Faithful Saying
THE last of the faithful sayings is perhaps the most difficult of them all to define, since the statement which precedes the characteristic formula "This is a faithful saying" (Titus 3:8) is much longer than any we have considered and does not have the same quality of terseness. For this reason some commentators take the actual words of the saying to be verse 8:
"That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."
The verbal construction used in this verse is plainly a purpose clause, however, and it seems obvious that it expresses what is to be Titus's aim in constantly affirming that actual "word of the faith'' which has gone before in verses 4-7 and urging those who have believed in what God has done in the work of salvation to express their faith in works consistent with it.
The saying itself is noteworthy because it emphasises the part played by baptism in the salvation wrought by God in Christ, and is one of the few passages in the Pastoral Epistles where the title of Saviour is applied to Christ as well as to God (see page 255). In fact, this ' 'word of the faith'', with its reference to the renewing of the Holy Spirit, is a confirmation of the fact that the Lord's command to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19) was well understood in the early ecclesias, not necessarily as a set formula to be used at every baptism but as a description of the end and aim which would be secured in and through baptism.
This whole point has received extended treatment in two articles on "The Lord's Command to Baptize" by L. G. Sargent in The Christadelphian, 1963, pages 152 and 202, where the authenticity of the Matthew passage and the importance of the linking together of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are ably discussed. In view of its relevance to our own comments on the Titus passage, we reproduce the following extract:
"The difficulty, of course, comes in the words 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit', commonly referred to as the 'Trinitarian formula'. Yet this is not unique: the three are named together several times in the New Testament, and (as will be shown later) at least twice in direct connexion with baptism. The existence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is inwrought into the New Testament. We cannot deny that there are three, or that they are intimately related. We need not turn to paganism to find a 'threeness'. What we can and must deny on scriptural ground is that they are three coequal and co-eternal persons. It is this belief which constitutes the Doctrine of the Trinity, and has corrupted and distorted the theology of the Church. This we must repudiate decisively. Our concern is not whether there are three, but what is their nature and what is the relationship between them. Here we must affirm with Paul that there is 'one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him'; and 'one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling' (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:4, RV). Yet the Son is born at a point in history, and the Spirit is defined as 'the power of the Highest' (Luke 1:35) rather than a distinct Person. The Spirit, as the words used for it indicate, is indeed the 'outbreathing' of God. This character it retains, even though (like 'the Word') it can sometimes be spoken of as though it were in some way independent and acting on its own ...
"(The passage in Titus) names (1) 'God our Saviour', (2) the Holy Spirit, and (3) 'Jesus Christ our Saviour'. Of God it is said, 'According to his mercy he saved us'—a past act; His salvation is on His part an accomplished fact, whatever men do with it. His kindness and love to man have been made manifest. The saving is 'through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit'. It is a washing of rebirth and renewal through or by means of the Holy Spirit. If verse 6 ('which he poured out upon us richly'—RV) seems to be an allusion to Pentecost, it cannot mean that all are recipients of a Pentecostal outpouring at baptism, for that would be accompanied by visible signs. Nor did the Holy Spirit come on that day upon those who were baptized as it had come upon the apostles. It was truly said to them, 'Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit', but the 'gift' was that of the Holy Spirit's redeeming action. No mention is made of those three thousand converts receiving 'spirit gifts' or such visible outpouring as had endowed the apostles with their powers, or indeed in any obvious sense 'receiving the spirit' at all.
"In what way can it be said, then, that there is an 'outpouring' for us now? First it is to be noted that the outpouring is for us 'through Jesus Christ'. Whether or not he bestows Spirit gifts, he is the channel through whom the Spirit is active. Receiving the Spirit without measure and accomplishing the work of the Spirit in his death and resurrection, and being presented to us as the object of our faith, he is the Spirit to us. In him the Spirit works for our salvation; and through the grace that is in him we are justified and made heirs in the hope of eternal life. Thus Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all actively involved in our salvation, which has its beginning in our new birth through baptism.
"So far, then, from Matthew 28 being unique in the New Testament in its mention of the threefold Name, the redemptive activity of God through the Holy Spirit in His Son is essential to Paul's doctrine of baptism. Whether or not he has the threefold Name in Matthew directly in mind—as indeed he may—Paul's teaching on baptism forms an exposition of the words spoken by the Lord. That teaching, so far as it concerns the threefold Name, can hardly be better expressed than in the ascription of glory which concludes one of our hymns—a hymn which surely could only have been written by a Christadel-phian steeped in Scripture and in the writings of Dr. Thomas: Glory to the Father be By the Son's supremacy In the Spirit's mystery:
Hallelujah! Yea, Amen."
ESSAY 51 For we are his workmanship"
AS we noted when cosidering Titus 3:3 onwards, the Apostle associates himself and Titus with the Cretans when describing the transformation in status and behaviour which the grace of God that bringeth salvation could bring about. It is as though he is encouraging us with the greatest examples of the workings of this grace. Even the Cretans, with their national reputation and natural disposition, even an apostle who was a persecutor and injurious (the latter word in 1 Timothy 1:13 is almost equivalent to being a "bully"!), were not beyond the scope of God's mercy and indeed were the living proofs of its efficacy. He cannot restrain the expression of his praise for the grace he had received: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God ('our Saviour', Jude 25), be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17).
God, therefore, was able to "make something of them"; or as it is expressed in Ephesians 2:10, "We are his workmanship". The word for "workmanship" appears twice only in the New Testament, here and in the plural in Romans 1:20, translated there as "the things that are made". When we learn that the word is poiema, the usual word for "poem", we become aware that it means more than a mere work of construction. In Greek the word "poet" means a "maker", and in its artistic sense refers to someone who takes the basic material of words and language and, by means of rhythm, metaphor and symmetry, fashions a thing of beauty which expresses his own feelings and personality.
This is exactly what God our Maker has done. The Scriptural meaning of glory, indeed the very Hebrew word, implies all that God is—His substance, weight, honour and majesty. So Paul contrasts "light affliction" with the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" which God will reveal in His sons (2 Corinthians 4:17). So "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Psalm 19:1), and "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).
So out of the material things of the universe God set in order something of beauty, described by the greatest of earthly poets as covering himself "with light as with a garment", "stretching out the heavens like a curtain", "laying the beams of his chambers in the waters", "making the clouds his chariots" and "walking upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104).
In God's Image
"God hath made every thing beautiful in his time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and the crown of His work was man. Out of the dust of the ground man was fashioned "in his image, and after his likeness", an image soon to become sadly disfigured and a likeness overlaid with something which became fashioned according to man's own lusts (cf. 1 Peter 1:14).
Then, like the poet, who out of the letters which make words fashions something beautiful, so God sent forth a man "born of a woman", yet in very truth His only begotten Son, "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person". He was the Alpha and Omega, the A to Z of God's purpose, the very Word expressed in human form; "and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". God's purpose was to bring "many sons unto glory", men and women of flesh and blood who, ' 'having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" could "become partakers of the divine nature".
Thus the people redeemed by God's grace in Christ Jesus to become His very own, a "peculiar treasure", should be truly beautiful in their holiness and gracious in their speech and actions, in hope of eventually having their vile body changed, to become "fashioned like unto his glorious body", the perfect expression of God in them as He was in Christ. For they are "God's poem, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them".
"We shall be like him"—pure in heart, and sinless; But his redeeming mercy ends not there; These bodies like to his shall then be fashioned,
And we his resurrection glory share.
A final thought in this connection: "rejoicing in his present gift of grace", we are even now able to appreciate something of the beauty of music and poetry, particularly that of the "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" of our worship. How much will that appreciation be enhanced, how much deeper will be our enjoyment when, in God's mercy, we ourselves become the instruments sounding forth the pure tones, the rich harmonies and the gracious words of the new song unto the Lord!
We can deduce from the foregoing that either teaching or conduct on the part of one who seeks to form a "party", or lead a dissident group, often in the name of "enlightenment", which runs contrary to the Brotherhood's code of faith and practice or even the arrangements of an ecclesia for its smooth running and discipline, would come under the apostolic censure. There was an apostolic procedure for dealing with it also: "After the first and second admonition reject" (Titus 3:10). For only a wilful determination to go against the agreed wishes of the ecclesia, or the hope that by persistence sufficient support would be found for the opinion to triumph, could lead one to refuse such admonition. It was the mark, says Paul, of one with a perverted mind—and he knew it (verse 11): "Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. "
THE subtitle to our book on the Letters to Timothy and Titus is "Sound Words for Ecclesias under Pressure". While it was being written the needs of the twentieth century ecclesias were kept very much in mind, in the belief that the timeless nature of Divine principles makes these Letters for first century ecclesias a valuable document for our own times. A great deal of the background to life in the first century has been presented in order to show the value of the Pastoral Epistles as contemporary writings and to help us to relate them to the problems and needs of the present-day ecclesia. Much of that material is contained in the Essays, which have also provided the opportunity to expound at greater length the Scriptural basis of many a passage in the Letters and to reveal a depth and richness in many a phrase, unsuspected beforehand by this author at least.
The Subject and Scripture Indexes at the end of this book give some idea of the range of spiritual topics covered and the extent of the Biblical quotations. But that of course would be entirely expected by those who believe that—
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
May we all continue in the things which we have learned and have been assured of.