For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
I. THE FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUE RELIGION. Not our own reason or wisdom, which cannot give us light and knowledge; not our own righteousness, which can never merit salvation or recommend us to God; not our own strength or ability, which is insufficient to help us to do or suffer the will of God, to be pious or virtuous (John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 3:5); but the grace of God in these different senses — viz., Divine Light from the Word and Spirit of God; this instructs (παιδευουσα), "teaching us," as a master his pupils, as we are able to receive it, the free favour and unmerited love of God; this, by justifying and adopting, encourages and inclines, adds correction and discipline to instruction, and gives us the will to be the Lord's: the influence of the Spirit; this gives resolution, fortitude, and power. We may infer from this that they who are not acquainted with, nor possessed of, the grace of God, can have no true religion; or their religion is a superstructure without a foundation; that is, it is only imaginary, illusive, unreal.
II. THE SUPERSTRUCTURE TO BE RAISED ON THIS FOUNDATION. Religion itself is the superstructure that must be raised on this foundation, the stream that must flow from this fountain. It consists of two parts.
1. It is negative; "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts." In this way true religion first appears, and manifests its reality: it makes us "cease to do evil" before we can "learn to do well;" it strips us of "the old man" before it clothes us with "the new." Without this there can be no religion; there is not even repentance if there be not its fruits (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8).
2. But it has a positive part, which is to "live soberly, righteously, and godly." Man is here considered as an individual on earth, as a member of society connected with his fellow creatures, and as a creature — a redeemed creature — a subject and servant and child of his Creator, Preserver, King, and Lord.
III. THE HAPPINESS THAT AWAITS ALL THAT DO THIS, AND THE BLESSED PROSPECT OPENED BEFORE THEM. "Looking for that blessed hope," etc. Hope here is put for the object of hope, a state of future and eternal blessedness, perfection, and felicity, both in soul and body. The grace of God begets us again to a well-grounded and "lively hope" of it; the gospel enlightens us as to this hope, and reveals it; the free, unmerited mercy and love of God justifies, adopts, and entitles us to it; the Spirit of Grace renews and fits us for it. In the way of godliness, righteousness, and sobriety, we wait for it, and are brought to it. "The glorious appearing of the great God," or, of our great "God and Saviour," shall raise our bodies, and after the process of the final judgment, shall put us in the possession of it.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,