Christian Responsibility: A cry for holy living
Titus 2:15 – 3:2
The mission had been stated (1:2-3) as aiming at knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness; the directive was given (1:5) to organize the people under elders so that sound teaching may take root (1:9); the critical need in Crete was particularized (1:10-16); the appeal to Titus was made (2:1) to ensure that sound doctrine bears fruit among people groups; and the enablement for holy living was preached as anchored in the appearing of grace (2:11-14).
Now in 2:15, Paul brings all these to a summary conclusion, instructing Titus to “declare these things; to exhort and rebuke with all authority. And to let no one disregard him.” Paul is laboring to give the elements of this authoritative preaching. The word “disregard” means “to evade.” It means “to rationalize or to think”. So Paul is saying that “Let no one think around you. Let no one imagine that they can evade you by their rationalizations, by their self-justification. Hold them to the truth. Make sure that no one escapes their personal responsibility before God to enact in obedience to the truth.”
You disseminate the content by a method, but with the authority which will not allow anyone to despise you. Authority is essentially a military term that means “command” and what Paul instructs to Titus is an intensified form of that. The text should read, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all command.” In other words, the preacher is in the position of commanding people. “These things” refer to the content of everything revealed by God that constitutes sound teaching. “Speak” refers to the method, by which the preacher creates understanding among people. “Exhort” has to do with applying the spoken things, so that they can be believed and embraced. And then “rebuke” is so they may feel the weight, the guilt and the conviction of an unresponsive heart.
On account of their authority, we should never disregard this biblical instruction of Paul to Titus and all the faithful teachers who have succeeded them. Preachers have been delegated that authority, and Paul says that such influence goes beyond the church circles, to reach and permeate the entire society where the Christian has a responsibility. With this mind, Paul moves us on to Chapter 3 as he outlines Christian's responsibility which is appropriate in any pagan society, such as it was the case for Titus in Crete. And Paul is insisting that behind the kind of preaching that Titus should practice, there is some manner of living beyond church life, to responsible citizenry; some kind of life that makes the Gospel message believable by the world.
When Christ-like members of the church (2:1-10) conduct themselves together in holiness, they will image Christ to the world through their corporate testimony. Believers ought to fulfill a life of faith through obligations in chapter 2 because these are "good and profitable for all men" (3:8). Paul is saying that if you live in this way it is going to benefit everybody around you, because the importance of how you conduct yourself is beyond your own benefit; it is gainful for all men. And the Body of Christ is mandated to live and practice holiness among non-Christians as part of the cultural dynamic. If we are going to make God's saving power manifest, we have to make it manifest in our relations with Christians within the church, and with non-Christians in the world. And never is the time more crucial