Biblical Christians are by definition in a predicament. Christians must live in this world, but they are not of this world. As the Father sent Christ into this world to minister, so he sends believers to be ministers in the world (Jn 17:14-18).
Titus 2:1—3:8 is concerned with living in this world. The previous passage stresses engagement in the world, by enforcing Christian respectability in a way that shows sensitivity to accepted social rules and relationships. At this point the question of the Christian's general attitude toward all people and political institutions is raised. What is the Christian's obligation in relation to the world—that is, to its unbelieving inhabitants and its political structure? The early church had to deal with this question (1) because it was compelled by Christ's missionary mandate to reach the world with the gospel, a task that requires interaction, and (2) because the political system was generally opposed to the exclusive claims of Christianity.
What Paul has to say in Titus 3 is not new, but reflects agreement with both his own earlier thinking and that of 1 Peter 2:13-17. The instruction in 3:1-8 divides into three parts: verses 1-2 give the instructions; verses 3-7 give the theological foundation for the behavior that is prescribed; and verse 8 adds a missionary motive.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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