Study of Titus 2:11
Study on the Extent of the Atonement)
of this doctrinal tract is to set forth, in a readable outline
form, a positive polemic for the doctrine of definite atonement
— a doctrine which the author is firmly convinced glorifies
the triune Jehovah to whom salvation belongs.
outline method is used to assist the reader in his study of
three theologically controversial verses in the Pastoral Epistles
on the "salvation of all men." The outlines which
follow were originally prepared as separate theological tracts
in conjunction with an exposition of 1Timothy and Titus at Grace
Reformed Fellowship in 1974-1975.
author gratefully acknowledges the assistance received from
William Hendriksen's Exposition
of the Pastoral Epistles —
an excellent work by one of the foremost, if not the foremost,
sovereign grace, New Testament commentators in our generation.
AN OUTLINE OF THE
THEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATIONS CONCERNING TITUS 2:11: "FOR
THE GRACE OF GOD THAT BRINGETH SALVATION *HATH APPEARED TO ALL
MEN" (A.V.) — "FOR THE GRACE OF GOD HAS APPEARED,
*BRINGING SALVATION TO ALL MEN" (NASB).
PROBLEM IN TITUS 2:11. Does this verse actually teach
that the saving grace of God has appeared (been manifested)
to each and every member of the human race (all mankind without
exception), or to all classes of mankind without distinction
(i.e., all men without distinction of age, sex, or social position)?
As a result of this problem, two related questions arise: first,
has or does God's saving grace really appear to all men without
exception or all men without distinction: second, does this
verse support universal redemption (indefinite atonement) or
particular redemption (definite atonement)?
I. THE UNIVERSALIST
A. The grace of God has appeared merely to
assist all men in helping them to restore themselves to full
favor with God because external evil influences have caused
them to come into varying degrees of disfavor. Man is innately
good. There is no hell or eternal punishment. All mankind will
live in eternal bliss and favor with God.
B. Objection. No orthodox believer
holds this interpretation simply because universal salvation
has absolutely no biblical foundation
II. THE ARMINIAN
A. The grace of God has appeared, bringing
salvation to all mankind without exception it they will only
receive it. Through the merits of Christ's death, God's grace
enables each and every individual to receive the saving benefits
of Christ's atonement when they hear and believe the gospel
by the exercise of their own free will. God's saving grace is
truly universal for all men, but it may be effectually resisted
by the obstinacy of man's sinful heart.
It makes little difference whether "the grace of God
bringing salvation to all men" refers to the bestowal
of salvation upon each and every person if they will receive
it, or if it means the preaching of the gospel to all mankind
without exception. "In either case it is impossible
to make 'all men' mean 'every individual on the globe without
exception'" (William Hendriksen, "Exposition of
the Pastoral Epistles"). Strictly speaking, the Arminian
interpretation views the grace of God in this verse as enabling
grace, not saving grace.
(2) Theological. The term "all men"
must be theologically understood in a relative sense like
in I Timothy 2:4 (cf. notes on this
verse). Furthermore, it is not true that God's grace,
in Christ, brings salvation to all mankind absolutely. Myriads
have lived and died and have never heard of Christ, let
alone heard and rejected the gospel
"The context makes the meaning very clear. Male or
female, old or young, rich or poor: all are guilty before
God, and from them all God gathers his people. Aged men,
aged women, young women, young(er) men, and even slaves
(see verses 1-10) should live consecrated lives, for the
grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to men of all
these various groups or classes. 'All men' here in verse
11 = 'us' in verse 12. Grace did not bypass the aged because
they are aged, nor women because they are women, nor slaves
because they are merely slaves, etc. It dawned upon all,
regardless of age, sex, or social standing. Hence, no one
can derive, from the particular group or caste to which
he belongs, a reason for not living a Christian life"
III. THE MODIFIED OR FOUR-POINT
A. The grace of God has appeared, providing
salvation to all mankind without exception upon the condition
that each one believes in Christ. The benefits of Christ's redemption
are universally provided for all mankind, but they are only
applied by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to God's elect
upon the condition of faith.
(1) Logical. There is no theological
disagreement within orthodox Christianity that the grace
of God, in this verse, refers to God's saving grace through
Christ (although the Arminians, in practice, interpret it
to mean enabling grace). The modified Calvinists say that
this verse teaches a provisional universal redemption (indefinite
atonement) for all mankind without exception, to be applied
upon the condition of faith. Consequently they interpret
"all men" In an absolute sense. (See the logical
objection to this interpretation of this term in the
Arminian interpretation above.)
(2) Theological. It may be asked: "If
the grace of God brings salvation to each and every individual,
then why are not all of them saved"? The answer given
is that saving faith is the condition for salvation, but
only the elect are enabled to believe by the Holy Spirit,
not the non-elect. But, if "all men" means "all
men," like the universal redemptionist says, why are
not all men saved? The verse does not say that the grace
of God provides salvation to all men upon the condition
that they believe. It says that the grace of God has appeared,
bringing salvation to all men. The issue, then, centers
upon the meaning of the term "all men." The context
alone must decide the biblical meaning of the term. (See
the biblical objection
to the Arminian interpretation above and the biblical
proof for the Historic Calvinist interpretation below.)
(3) Biblical. (See the biblical
objection to the Arminian interpretation above.)
IV. THE HISTORIC OR FIVE-POINT
A. This interpretation is correct. The grace
of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men without distinction
of age, sex, or social standing. The term "all men,"
in this context, does not mean each and every individual, rather
it "describes individual classes, or various ranks of life.
And this is not a little emphatic, that the grace of God that
let itself down even to the race of slaves; for, since God does
not despise men of the lowest and most degraded condition, it
would be highly unreasonable that we should be negligent and
slothful to embrace his goodness" (Calvin's Commentary
on Titus 2:11). The grace of God is special and distinguishing,
designed only for those chosen to be holy and without blame
in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph.
1:4). Christ's redemption is particular not universal, definite
not indefinite, actual not hypothetical.
(1) Logical. (See the logical objections
to the above views and the logical proof for the Historic
Calvinist Interpretation on I Timothy 2:4.)
(2) Theological. (See the logical objections
to the above views and the theological proof for this interpretation
on I Timothy 2:4. Also see the writer's book on Definite
Atonement which is to be published in the Fall of 1975.)
The strongest biblical proof is the context. Who are "all
men"? All mankind without exception, or all mankind
without distinction? Each and every individual, or some
out of every rank and class of mankind, which includes older
men, older women, young women, young men — of all classes,
even slaves. (See the biblical
objection to the Arminian interpretation above.)
V. A SUMMARY
PARAPHRASE OF TITUS 2:11 ACCORDING TO THE ABOVE FOUR THEOLOGICAL
A. The Universalist Interpretation: "The
grace of God has appeared merely to assist all men in helping
them to restore themselves to full favor with God."
B. The Arminian Interpretation: "The
grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all mankind
without exception if they will only receive it by an exercise
of their free will."
C. The Modified or Four-Point Calvinist Interpretation:
"The grace of God has appeared, providing salvation to
all mankind without exception upon the condition that each one
believes in Christ."
D. The Historic or Five-Point Calvinist Interpretation:
"The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all
men without distinction of age, sex, or social standing."
VI. A PARAPHRASE
OF TITUS 2:ll-12a: "The saving grace of God
has appeared in the person and work of Christ. Indeed, it brings
salvation (lit., is salvation for) to all classes of men without
distinction of age, sex, or social standing. And one of the
primary purposes of God's saving grace is to teach all of us
to whom salvation has appeared (been manifested) to deny ungodliness
and worldly desires .
GOD'S SAVING GRACE
IN CHRIST EITHER BRINGS SALVATION TO ALL FOR WHOM IT IS INTENDED
OR IT DOES NOT. IT EITHER PROVISIONALLY OR ACTUALLY SAVES, HYPOTHETICALLY
OR CERTAINLY SAVES. BOTH CANNOT BE TRUE. IF IT IS THE FORMER,
NO ONE WILL BE SAVED, IF IT IS THE LATTER, SOME OF ALL MANKIND
WILL BE CERTAINLY SAVED (I.E., ALL MANKIND WITHOUT DISTINCTION
OF AGE, SEX, OR SOCIAL STANDING), FOR THE GRACE OF GOD HAS APPEARED,
BRINGING SALVATION TO ALL MEN"!
*The A.V. (KJV) translation connects the
phrase "to all men" with the verb "has appeared,"
rather than the substantival adjective "salvation."
In gender, "salvation" agrees with "grace"
and, since it is used substantively as a predicate adjective,
the connecting verb is understood, i.e., "the grace of
God . . ., bringing salvation (lit., is salivation for) to all
men." Principles of grammar strongly favor the NASB translation
because of word order. (in the Greek text "salvation"
is positioned next to the phrase "to all men," whereas
the passive verb "has appeared" Is the first word
in the verse, occurring before the phrase "the grace of
God" and is complete with or without the predicate adjective
"salvation" and the following phrase "to all
men." Therefore, it Is best to connect the phrase "to
all men" with "salvation" (like the NASB) not
with "has appeared" (like the A.V.). The purpose of
the predicate adjective Is to present an additional explanatory
statement concerning the grace of God which actually becomes
the main point in the sentence. Hence, the nuance of verse 11
is this: "The grace of God has appeared; indeed, it brings
salvation to all men." And the connection between verse
11 and 12 is this: "The grace of God has appeared, instructing
us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires . . ."
This article is taken from a
tract written by Dr. Gary D. Long, The Salvation of All Men,
Grace Abounding Ministries, 1977. pp 10-13.
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