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4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. (NLT)
4 Ia ni sa rairai mai kivei keda na tamata na yalovinaka kei na yalololoma ni Kalou na nodai Vakabula, 5 sa qai vakabulai keda ko koya, sa sega ga e na vuku ni cakacaka dodonu eda sa kitaka, e na vuku ga ni nona loloma, e nai silisili ni sucu tale, kei na vakavoui ni Yalo Tabu; 6 o koya sa sovaraka vakalevu vei keda ko koya e na vuku i Jisu Karisito na nodai Vakabula: 7 me da vakadonui kina e na nona loloma walega, ka me da yaco me dai taukei ni bula tawa mudu sa vakanuinuitaki. 8 Sa dina na vosa, ia ka’u sa vinakata mo vakadinadinataka tikoga na ka oqo, Me ra gumatua ni kitaka tiko nai valavala vinaka ko ira era sa vakabauta na Kalou. Sa vinaka na ka oqo, ka yaga vei ira na tamata. (Ai Vola Tabu)
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (KJV)
3:4 The dismal picture of man’s depravity is interrupted by one of the great buts of Scripture. How thankful we can be for these nick-of-time conjunctions that signal God’s marvelous intervention to save man from destroying himself! Someone has called them God’s roadblocks on man’s way to hell.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared ... This occurred when the Lord Jesus appeared to the world over nineteen hundred years ago. In another sense, God’s goodness and lovingkindness appeared to us when we were saved. It was a manifestation of these attributes that He would send His beloved Son to die for a world of rebellious sinners. The word used for love ... toward men is the Greek word from which philanthropy comes; it combines the thoughts of love, graciousness, and compassion. The title God our Savior refers to God the Father—our Savior in the sense that He sent His Son into the world as our Sacrifice for sin. The Lord Jesus is also called God our Savior (2:13) because He paid the necessary penalty in order that we might be pardoned and forgiven.
3:5 He saved us from the guilt and penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. They were all future when the Savior died, and His death covered them all. But one of the simplest, clearest truths of the gospel is the most difficult for man to receive. It is that salvation is not based on good works; one doesn’t become a Christian by living a Christian life. It is not good people who go to heaven. The consistent testimony of the Bible is that man cannot earn or merit salvation (Eph. 2:9; Rom. 3:20; 4:4, 5; 9:16; 11:6 Gal. 2:16; 3:11). Man cannot save himself by good works; all his righteous deeds are like polluted rags in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6). He cannot become a Christian by living a Christian life for the simple reason that he has no power in himself to live a Christian life. It is not good people who go to heaven; it is sinners who have been saved by God’s grace!
Good works do not earn salvation; they are the result of salvation. Wherever there is true salvation there will also be good works. So we read that God did not save us because of works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy. Salvation is a work of mercy—not justice. Justice demands that the deserved punishment be administered; mercy provides a righteous way by which the punishment is averted.
God saved us by the washing of regeneration. Conversion is really a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and here that new creation is presented under the figure of a bath. It is the same figure used by the Lord Jesus when He taught the disciples that there is only one bath of regeneration but many necessary cleansings from defilement (John 13:10). That bath of regeneration has nothing to do with baptism. It is not a bodily cleansing by water, but a moral cleansing by the word of God (John 15:3). Baptism is not even a symbol of this bath; it rather depicts burial with Christ into death (Rom. 6:4).
Our new birth is also spoken of as a renewing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God brings about a mar velous transformation—not putting new clothes on the old man, but putting a new man in the clothes! The Holy Spirit is the Agent in regeneration and the word of God is the instrument.
3:6 God poured out the Holy Spirit on us abundantly. Every believer is indwelt by the Spirit from the moment he is born again. The Spirit is sufficient to bring about the glorious renewal referred to. The Spirit is given through Jesus Christ our Savior. Just as the abundance of Pharaoh’s court was mediated to Jacob’s sons through Joseph, so the blessings of God, including the inexpressible blessing of His Spirit, are mediated to us through the Lord Jesus. Jesus is our “Joseph.”
All three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are mentioned in connection with our salvation: God the Father, (v. 4); the Holy Spirit, (v. 5); and God the Son (v. 6).
3:7 The immediate result of our regeneration is that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, God reckons us righteous by an act of amazing grace. And we become heirs of all that God has prepared for those who love Him. Everything that is included in being with Christ and like Him for all eternity is our hope.
3:8 When Paul says “This is a faithful saying” are we to understand the preceding section, or the rest of the verse? The thrust of his argument seems to be that, having been saved from so much by such a great salvation, we should live in a manner worthy of our high calling.
Titus was to insist on these things (discussed in vv. 1–7) in his ministry in Crete so that believers would be careful to maintain good works. Although the expression good works may mean honorable occupations, the wider meaning—good works in general—is probably the right one. Teaching which calls for behavior that is consistent with one’s Christian profession is excellent and profitable. All teaching should have a personal and practical application.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Tit 3:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.