The Appearing of the Glory of God, Titus 2. 13-14
David E. West, Leicester
In the closing section of Titus 2, Paul speaks of two appearings: (i) the appearing of "the grace of God", v. 11, which relates to the first advent of Christ, and (ii) the "appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ", v. 13 R.V., which has in view His second advent. So there is first the appearing of grace and then of glory in accordance with Psalm 84. 11, "the Lord will give grace and glory".
The grace that brings salvation and educates us, Titus 2. 11-12, also sheds light on the future, "looking for that blessed hope", v. 13. We who possess this hope are at present experiencing the discipline of the grace of God. The verb rendered "looking for" has an atmosphere of expectancy about it, and conveys an eagerness to welcome the person or the thing awaited.
The object of our expectation is, "the blessed hope and (or, even the) appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ". Paul here is not setting forth the two phases of the second advent, namely the rapture and the manifestation, but is rather thinking only of the Lord's return in glory, albeit considered from two different viewpoints. From the standpoint of the believer, it is "that blessed hope"; hope is used here in the sense of the thing hoped for, and no uncertainty is implied as to its fulfilment.
The second expression really defines the character of the thing hoped for. Thus, for the Lord Himself it will be "the appearing of the glory"; for Him it will mean the full manifestation of His glory, now unrecognized and disregarded by the world. We may heartily sing, "That will be glory for me!", without taking into account what the day of manifestation will mean for Him.
The reference is to the appearing of the glory, "of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ"; a phrase which does not refer to two persons, but to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in a comprehensive way. Here, in fact, we have a direct statement as to the Deity of Christ which will become manifest to all at His second advent in glory, and will likewise demonstrate His delivering power as Saviour.
It is only here in the New Testament that the adjective "great" is applied to God, and thus emphasizing in a remarkable way the greatness of Christ. The angel Gabriel said to Mary prior to His birth, "He shall be great", Luke 1. 32. The Lord Himself spoke of Jerusalem as being "the city of the great King", Matt. 5. 35. Those who witnessed His raising of the widow of Nain's son from the dead confessed, "That a great prophet is risen up among us", Luke 7. 16. Whilst in the Epistle to the Hebrews we are reminded that we have "a great priest over the house of God", Heb. 10. 21 R.V.; and also that our Lord Jesus is "that great shepherd of the sheep", 13. 20.
We learn from Luke's Gospel that Simeon, Anna and Joseph of Arimathaea were all eagerly waiting for the Messiah. Note that "waiting for", Luke 2. 25, "looked for", 2. 38, and "waited for", 23. 51, are renderings of the same Greek verb translated "looking for" in Titus 2. 13. It would seem that Simeon was waiting for a Prophet, "waiting for the consolation of Israel", 2. 25; Anna, "which departed not from the temple", was waiting for a Priest, and "spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem", 2. 35; while Joseph of Arimathaea was waiting for a King, "who also himself waited for the kingdom of God", 23. 51.
Of Simeon it is written, "the same man was just and devout", Luke 2. 25; he was evidently living righteously and godly. Anna "served God with fastings and prayers night and day", 2. 37; in fasting and saying "no" to self, she was thus living soberly, whilst in serving God she was living godly. Joseph of Arimathaea who "was a good man, and a just", 23. 50, thus lived soberly and righteously. Surely this godly remnant affords us an encouragement and an example to "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope", Titus 1. 12-13.
The relative clause "who gave himself, Titus 2. 14, evidently refers to Christ alone, confirming that one, and not two, Persons are referred to in the previous verse. The death of Christ was voluntary, "who gave himself", but it was also vicarious, for it was on the cross that He gave Himself for (i.e., on behalf of) us.
The purpose of His giving Himself is expressed in two ways, (i) "That he might redeem us from all iniquity". The ransom price has been paid and we have been released from a condition of lawlessness. Redemption is here viewed as that which rescues us from the power rather than the guilt of iniquity, (ii) To "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works". Believers are God's purified ones; the purpose of this purifying is that we might become a people for His own possession. God purifies us in order to possess us.
God has purposed to have Israel as His special possession in the land when Messiah reigns. Meanwhile, believers in this present age are His "peculiar people", and as such should be characterized by being "zealous of good works". Elsewhere, Paul uses the word rendered "zealous" of his own eagerness to maintain the traditions of his ancestors. In anticipation of "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ", we are constantly to live with a burning passion for good works, and so Christ will be magnified in our bodies.