For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
That the message which Jesus was anointed to deliver emanated from the sovereign goodness and everlasting mercy of Jehovah, whereby before all worlds He had devised a plan for the restoration of ruined man, and contains a revelation of His will, is a truth at once most animating and important. It is a firm conviction of this momentous truth which induces the believer to set a proper value on the gospel as the message of glad tidings of great joy.
I. Our thoughts are directed, first, to THE SOURCE OF THE GOSPEL, and that source is the grace of God. The proper signification of the word "grace" is favour — unmerited goodness and mercy in a superior conferring benefit upon others. The grace spoken of in the text is the revelation of the Divine will set forth in the gospel, which, in the strictest sense, may be termed "the grace of God"; it being a revelation to which man had no title, setting forth promises of which man was utterly unworthy, unfolding a plan of redemption which man had no reason to expect. This grace "bringeth salvation." Herein consists its importance. "What shall I do to be saved?" "What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life?" "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?" These are vitally important questions — questions which will frequently present themselves even to the most careless, and they can be satisfactorily answered in the gospel alone. The gospel bringeth salvation, for it points out to man the means of his recovery from guilt and degradation. This salvation is complete and infinite, including all the blessings of the everlasting covenant — that covenant which displays to us the mercy and love of God the Father; the benefits of the incarnation, life, crucifixion, ascension, and intercession of God the Son; and all the enlightening, enlivening, and sanctifying influences of God the Holy Ghost. In the possession of these consists our salvation. The gospel directs man to a Saviour who has promised, and is able and willing, to bestow any blessing upon those who believe in Him: it promises pardon, reconciliation, peace; it unfolds the glories of the eternal world; and it invites and stimulates the sinner to strive, through grace, to become meet for the heavenly inheritance.
II. Now consider THE PERSONS for whose benefit this grace of God hath appeared. The apostle says, "The grace of God, that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men"; or, according to the translation in the margin of our Bibles, "The grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared"; and this rendering I conceive to be the more correct. The gospel, then, is described as bringing salvation to all men; that is, as offering to all who accept it free and full remission of sin, through the blood of the Lord Jesus; as opening to all believers the gate of the kingdom of heaven. The gospel is precisely suited for all the wants of a fallen sinner; it meets him in the hour of difficulty; and, consequently, its offers of mercy are addressed to every sinner. In the manifestation of Jesus to the wise men, who came from the east to worship Him; in the prophetic declaration of the aged Simeon, that the Child whom he took up in his arms should be a light to lighten the Gentiles; in the rending of the veil of the temple, when Jesus had given up the ghost; in the unlimited commission "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"; and in their qualification for this important work, by the miraculous gift of tongues, we discover that the new dispensation was designed for the spiritual and eternal benefit of the whole human race. The rich dispensation of mercy revealed in the gospel beautifully illustrates the gracious character of our heavenly Father. It is calculated to remove all erroneous views of His attributes, His mercy, His compassion, His tenderness towards the works of His hands. Why that gospel should not have been clearly manifested for so many ages after the fall of man — why eighteen centuries should have elapsed, and millions of our fellow creatures should still be immersed in the gross darkness of heathen superstition — is one of those secret things which belong to the Lord our God. It is not our province to sit in judgment on the wisdom of Jehovah's plans to weigh the wisdom of Jehovah's counsels; neither are we to seek to pry into the mysterious dealings of His providence. We are, rather, thankfully to acknowledge the blessings bestowed upon ourselves, and earnestly seek to improve them to the uttermost; recollecting that responsibility is commensurate with privilege.
(T. Bissland, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,