Usually after addressing “servants” (v.9) Paul addressed masters (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22—4:1). But Titus was stationed in Crete, a newer work, and there were no masters yet. The gospel appeals more to base and despised servants (I Cor. 1:26-29) so they usually get saved first.
The reason Paul has to tell servants to obey masters is that all saved servants knew that “in Christ… there is neither bond nor free” (Gal. 3:26-28). But if that meant servants didn’t have to obey their masters, then wives didn’t have to obey husbands, for “in Christ… there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:26-28). This didn’t mean servants and wives were inferior for the Lord was “subject” to His parents (Lu. 2:51).
When Paul says that servants should obey their masters and “please them well in all things” (2:9) that means a servant should make himself a delight to his master (Isaiah 42:1 cf. Mt. 12:18). And what Paul says to servants is true for employees today. Employees should obey the boss, but if they please them well in all things they’ll make themselves a delight to him! And if all of God’s people did that, imagine what a testimony that would be to how Christianity can brighten the world!
Servants must also be “answering not again” (2:9)—no backtalk! And when he adds, “not purloining” (2:10) that means no stealing, but a particular kind of stealing. In this context it means stealing by a breach of trust, one of the definitions of the word. Servants were often trusted with all their master’s money (Gen. 39:1-6) making it easy to purloin. If lesser servants were given 100 shekels to buy something, and it only cost 90, they could purloin the difference.
Instead, servants were to show “all good fidelity” or faithfulness (2:10). And while we don’t have masters and servants, plenty of purloining goes on at work — about 50 billion dollars worth a year! Compare that to only 14 billion stolen by men at gunpoint or by burglary. Employees also steal about 4.5 hours a week — 6 weeks a year from their employers. More billions lost! It’s easy to think, “They don’t pay me enough so I’m evening the score,” but Paul told slaves not to purloin — men who were paid nothing.
Servants were to do all this to “adorn” the doctrine of God (2:10), which means to beautify it (cf. Isa. 61:10). But which doctrine does their service adorn? Well, the phrase “God our Saviour” is associated with the doctrine of salvation (I Tim. 2:1-4; Tit. 3:3-5). It makes the doctrine of salvation look bad if servants don’t adorn it by serving well. If they do, people think, “If Christianity can make a slave want to be a delight to his master, it must be the religion of the true God.”
Servants and aged men and women and young men and women (Tit. 2:1-9) should adorn the doctrine of salvation by doing what Paul says because the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men — old and young men and women and servants — and brought them salvation! If they didn’t do what Paul said, it made salvation look bad!
But how could Paul say the grace of God that brings salvation had appeared to “all men”? The stars tell all men there is a Creator (Ps. 19:1-3), but knowing there’s a God isn’t enough to save anyone (James 2:19). Well, “all men” sometimes means all kinds of men (I Tim. 2:1-4). The grace of God that brought salvation had appeared to old and young men and women, servants and kings!
Of course, there was a time when the grace of God that brought salvation only appeared to Jewish men (John 4:22). But now Paul says it appears to “all men,” including Jews and Gentiles. That’s another meaning of the phrase “all men” in Titus 2:10, just as it is in I Corinthians 10:32,33. As Paul went forth preaching salvation, he didn’t have to ask if men were Jews or Gentiles as the Jews did in time past.
That didn’t mean Gentiles couldn’t be saved in time past. They saw the wrath of God that brought salvation to Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:1-6 cf. Ps. 98:1-3) and the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to Rahab (Joshua 2). But today for Gentiles to see the grace of God that brings salvation, they must see it when saved men and women and servants adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.