For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.Titus 2:11-14
Here is a brief but glorious presentation of the gospel that is inextricably linked to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. That humble Galilean carpenter who was crucified in shame is here called “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” These words were written by the apostle Paul, who once described himself as “a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6) and who studied under the renowned rabbi Gamaliel. The Old Testament makes clear that the Israelites often struggled with idolatry up until the Babylonian captivity but that through the revival that took place under Ezra, they finally became consistent monotheists. So for a first century Jew like Paul to acknowledge Jesus as God is truly remarkable and evidence of the transformation caused by his encounter with the risen Christ (Acts 9:1-19).
It was through the birth of Jesus that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11, ESV). This salvation is generated by God’s gracious character as He freely offers salvation to all who will respond; for “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Those who respond to this offer of salvation can look forward with confident expectation to the promised return of Jesus Christ, beautifully described here as “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:13, ESV).
Some are concerned that this emphasis on receiving salvation as a free gift will cause people to abuse the grace of God and live in blatant disregard for His holiness. But those who have truly experienced His grace are transformed by grace to live “soberly, righteously and godly” and to long for His return. And when He comes again, He will have accomplished His goal: “to purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”