The Source of Good Citizenship, Part 2
Topic: Citizenship Scripture: Titus 3:3-7
How is it possible to model good citizenship like Paul exhorts in Titus 3:1-2 while living in an ungodly, uncivil society? Paul gives the answer in Titus 3:3-7. The Apostle exhorts believers to remember their post-conversion state of salvation. Paul reminds us not only what we have been saved from (v. 3) but what we are saved to (vv. 4-7).
Paul reveals how the gospel (3:4-7) gives what the law demands (3:1-2). The gospel produces what guilt, sheer duty or mere command could never produce. Today, we will see how Paul reminds us of the positive cause of our salvation- the goodness and lovingkindness of God the Father (vv. 4-5a). God the Father is the planner and initiator of our salvation.
NOTE: It is important to note that this passage seems to have functioned as an early creedal statement of the church—reminding us that creeds matter. This passage gives us insight into the early church’s theological formulations and beliefs concerning the saving work of the Trinity.
In this Trinitarian creedal statement, Paul reveals how each person of the Trinity is mutually involved in the believer’s salvation, and yet each in His own distinct way. One NT scholar writes, “This passage has one of the most elegant descriptions of the Trinity in the NT. It shows the three members of the Godhead actively involved in the salvation of sinners: God the Father as the planner and initiator (v 4), Jesus Christ as the agent of redemption (v 6), and the Holy Spirit as the instrument of regeneration and renewal (v 5),” (Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 447).
Paul presents the saving work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a manner that makes it impossible to think of one without immediately being led to think of the three, as Gregory of Nazianzen writes: “No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the Splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish Them than I am carried back to the One,” (Gregory Nazianzen, “Oration on Holy Baptism,” 7:375).
Paul shows us how the Father in the Son by the Holy Spirit brings delivers us from our pre-conversion state of bondage into our post-conversion state of salvation, which enables us to be models of good citizenship. We can sum up Paul’s argument as moving from vice (3:3-guilt), to the Father-the Son-the Holy Spirit (3:4-7- grace), to virtue (3:1-2- gratitude).