Titus 2:13–14 (ESV) … “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Paul brings out two aspects of Christian living that must be stressed today: waiting with anticipation and hoping for Christ’s glorious appearing. Both are essential to our Christian sanity in this present evil age. The waiting is good for us: it builds our character, endurance, and perseverance. The hoping makes the waiting bearable. We live hopefully while we wait, anticipating three great benefits of Christ’s return:
1. Christ’s personal presence—we look forward to being with our Redeemer.
2. Redemption from our sinful nature—we long for the end of the battle with sin and our perfection in Christ.
3. Restoration of creation—we anticipate the complete rule of grace when the image of God will be fully realized in people and when the created order will be restored.
Finally, Christ’s act of sacrifice is summed up in the words gave Himself. It indicates that he gave himself voluntarily. It was an act of love for us. “Gave Himself for us” indicates the substitutionary nature of his act of giving (see Mark 10:45). For us indicates “on our behalf”—Christ died in our place. His giving himself for us was totally effective and comprehensive, for we are redeemed “from every lawless deed.”
He gave his life on our behalf with a twofold purpose. First, that he might redeem us. “Redeem” means to purchase our release from the captivity of sin with a ransom (see Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 1:18–21 for more on Christ as our ransom). Christ paid the ultimate price. He removed our bondage to sin that made us lawless rebels prone to do every lawless deed. In this statement, “redeemed from every lawless deed,” Paul dispelled the arguments of the Judaizers, who wanted others to conform to petty laws and regulations. They rejected the gracious cleansing offered by Christ.
God’s second purpose was that, through his redemption, he would set apart for himself a group of holy, special people. His own special people has an important Old Testament background. In Exodus 19:5, God referred to the Hebrews: “You will be my treasured possession” (niv). (See also Deuteronomy 7:6.) The basis of the covenant was God’s choosing this people and purifying them to be set apart for his special use. In Ezekiel 37:23, God reaffirmed this special relationship: “They will be my people, and I will be their God” (niv). The apostle Peter referred to the church in this way (see 1 Peter 1:18–21).
Christ has accomplished the work required to purify for Himself those whom he died to save (see 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:12–14). This purification is a process, often called “sanctification.” We are not only free from the sentence of death for our sin, but we are also purified from sin’s influence as we grow in Christ. His redemption took care of the past; his purification makes the present and future an exciting and challenging prospect. As people who are cleansed and restored and who understand the awesome price paid on our behalf, we should thank God. We should also live according to God’s will, zealous for good works. Then, when Christ returns, he will find us ready, waiting, and doing good works.