“…the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
Christians often wonder about the apostle Paul’s words here, for they know God’s saving grace hadn’t appeared to “all men” everywhere in the world in Paul’s day. But what Paul was doing with those puzzling words was announcing a revolutionary dispensational change.
You see, before God raised up Paul, the grace of God that brought salvation couldn’t appear to “all men,” it could only appear to Jewish men, for under the law the Lord declared: “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). But once the Lord’s death on the cross “abolished in His flesh the enmity” between Jews and Gentiles (Eph.2:15), He sent Paul to announce that He had “broken down the middle wall of partition” between them (v.14), and now “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).
Of course, if you really know your Bible, you may be thinking that this wasn’t a revolutionary change, that the grace of God that brings salvation had appeared to the Gentiles long before Paul. After all, didn’t David declare:
“The LORD hath made known His salvation… in the sight of the heathen… His mercy… toward… Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Ps.98:1-3).
On the surface, David seems to be saying that God’s saving grace had appeared “in the sight of the heathen” Gentiles back then. But this psalm isn’t saying that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” had appeared to the heathen. It’s talking about the wrath of God that brought physical salvation to Israel, when “His right hand…got…Him the victory” over Pharaoh (v.1). The “new song” in this psalm (v.1) is the new song that Moses sang after God parted the Red Sea:
“Then sang Moses… the LORD… is become my salvation… Pharaoh’s chariots… hath He cast into the sea… Thy right hand… hath dashed in pieces the enemy” (Ex.15:1-6).
The salvation God wrought for Israel at the Red Sea is the “salvation” Moses told the Jews to “stand still, and see” (Ex. 14:13) right before God drowned the Egyptians in His wrath (v.28). That’s the salvation David said the heathen had seen—the wrath of God on Pharaoh that brought “mercy” to Israel (Ps.98:3), not the grace of God that brought spiritual salvation to the Gentiles.
But the physical salvation wrought by God’s wrath for Israel did bring spiritual salvation to at least one Gentile, a woman named Rahab in Jericho. When the inhabitants of her city heard about the Red Sea crossing it terrified them (Josh. 2:9-11), just as Moses said it would (Ex. 15:14-16). But it prompted Rahab to believe on Israel’s God and turn from being a harlot to a seamstress who had “stalks of flax” on her roof (2:6) instead of men in her parlor. When she then complied with the terms of salvation for Gentiles under the Law by blessing Israel (Gen. 12:2,3 cf. Josh. 2:12), the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to her in that way, and she received it!
But as you know, God is not parting the Red Sea for Israel these days, nor for anyone else. So how are men supposed to see the grace of God that brings salvation today, in the dispensation of grace? I mean, it’s offered to all men today, but what can they see with their eyes that will help them believe, as the physical salvation of the Red Sea deliverance prompted Rahab to believe?
The context of Titus 2:11 provides us with the answer. If people are going to see the grace of God that bringeth salvation today, they are going to have to see it in the “aged men” (2:2) to whom the grace of God appears, as well as the “aged women” (2:3), the “young women” (v.4), the “young men” (v.6) and the “servants” (v. 9). When all those different kinds of men “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (v.10) by doing what Paul tells them to do in this passage (2:1-10), the grace of God that brings salvation appears to all men in a very practical way.
May we ever be found faithful in this most holy of callings in all of our walks of life!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.