For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
The apostle now sets forth the real foundation on which this exhortation to practical duty on the part of servants, and, indeed, of people of every age and sex, is based.
I. THE GRACE OF GOD. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared."
1. This grace is from God, as its eternal Fountain, from which it flows to men.
(1) He was not made gracious by the work of the Son, for he was the God of grace from the beginning. The work of the Son only manifested it (John 3:16).
(2) The grace is from the Son as well as the Father. Grace is in every conceivable way connected with the Person of the Mediator in Scripture (1 Corinthians 16:23; Galatians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:28). The Father and the Son are one in the freeness of their love to mankind.
(3) Grace is also connected with the Holy Ghost, who is called "the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:29), because he applies it and seals us to the day of redemption. Thus grace has its origin in the Father, its manifestation in the Son, its end in the Holy Ghost.
2. The nature of this grace.
(1) It is the free gift of God to mankind in the gospel of Christ. It is thus opposed to the idea of merit in man. Works, therefore, do not procure our salvation.
(2) The grace must necessarily be worthy of the character of God.
(a) The gift is worthy, for it is his own Son.
(b) The end is worthy, for it is his own glory and man's salvation.
(c) The instrumental condition is worthy, for it is faith.
3. The scope of this grace. "That bringeth salvation to all men."
(1) It is the only thing that can bring salvation to man. He cannot be saved by works, nor by philosophy, nor by man.
(2) It has a wide scope. It "bringeth salvation to all men."
(a) This does not imply that all men will eventually be saved, for Scripture expressly asserts the very contrary.
(b) The connection of the passage explains the universality of the reference: "Servants, be obedient to your masters, that you may adorn the doctrine of God your Savior; for his grace is for slave and master alike." There is no respect of persons with him.
(c) It signifies that grace is the only means by which salvation is possible for the race of man.
4. The manifestation of grace.
(1) In the Incarnation.
(2) In the work of Christ.
(3) In the energy of the Holy Spirit. "The darkness is past; the true light now shineth" (1 John 2:8).
II. THE EFFECTS OF THE GRACE OF GOD. "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
1. This grace first manifests itself by teaching, just as the first thing in creation was light. It must begin with teaching, and the Spirit of God is given "to teach us all things" (John 14:26). The original word implies the idea of a disciplining process, effected by the grace of God to correct the inherent naughtiness of the heart.
2. The grace of God works toward the rejection of evil, for it teaches us "to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts."
(1) The denial is in heart and deed. It involves the denial of self (Luke 9:23).
(2) It is the repudiation of ungodliness in heart and life.
(a) Ungodliness includes impiety, blasphemy, and infidelity.
(b) It includes all living without relation to God, whether we are blasphemers or not. Thus a man may be ungodly who seeks his own pleasure, or distinction, or happiness in the world.
(c) It implies the deeper enmity of the heart to God (Romans 8:7).
(3) It is the denial of worldly lusts; including the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and vain glory of life - "all that is in the world" - which embody the enmity to God. Thus it denies
(a) sensual lusts (2 Timothy 2:22);
(b) the inordinate desire of worldly things, which may be lawful in themselves.
3. The grace of God produces certain positive effects. "We should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
(1) It secures the due regulation of individual life. "Soberly." This refers to the duties we owe to ourselves.
(a) In keeping a fair balance of judgment intellectually;
(b) in keeping a due mastery over our passions - "a sobriety in speech, in behavior, in apparel, in eating and drinking, in recreations, and in the enjoyment of lawful satisfactions."
(2) It secures the faithful discharge of all duties to our fellow-men. "Righteously." Justice is an exact virtue, which can be easily measured, and is therefore the basis of commercial and civil life. A single failure in justice makes a man unjust. Therefore it is most necessary we should give our neighbor his due, and not compromise ourselves by conduct redounding to the injury of the gospel.
(3) It secures godliness. "Godly;" that is, with God, in God, for God. This godly life is a life dedicated to God and spent in his fear.
III. THE SPHERE IN WHICH THIS GRACE OF GOD PRODUCES ITS EXTENSIVE AND INTENSIVE EFFECTS. "In this present world."
1. True piety does not disregard or despise the duties of common life.
2. It is in a hostile world this grace is to operate with such purifying results. It is called "this wicked world" (Galatians 1:4); for the devil is its god, and sin is its prevailing character.
3. It is a world that cannot be overcome but by faith. (1 John 4:4, 5.)
4. It is a transitory world, in contrast with the world to come, of which the apostle immediately speaks.
IV. THE ATTITUDE OF THE BELIEVER IN RELATION TO THE FUTURE GLORY. "Looking for the blessed hope and manifestation of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." This attitude of blessed expectation tells powerfully upon the life of grace. The believer's position is that of waiting for and looking unto the coming of the Lord. The patriarchs waited for his first coming; we wait for his second coming.
1. The believes waiting attitude is lit up by a blessed hope.
(1) This is "the hope of glory" laid up for us in heaven, which is associated with the Son of God, when we shall see him as he is.
(2) It is a blessed hope, because of all the blessings it brings to the believer.
2. The believer's waiting attitude has respect to the manifestation of the Lord's glory. This is connected with his second coming. It is the glory of "our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," and not of the Father, because:
(1) In all the five places in which the manifestation is spoken of, it is Christ, not the Father, who is referred to. The term "Epiphany" is never, indeed, applied to the Father.
(2) This is the grammatical interpretation of the sentence, and is accepted by the Greek fathers generally.
(3) The immediate context applies only to the Son.
(4) The term "great God" would seem to be called for as applied to the Father, but stands in Scripture the perpetual and emphatic witness of the Deity of Christ. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,