Studies in the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon
14. Titus 3:4-7 - Saved by God's Mercy
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (verses 4-5). God’s love appeared to us in the form of Jesus (Rom. 5:8), and he saved us not because we deserved it, but because of his mercy and grace.
We were not living a righteous life, but even if we were, those righteous things would not be good enough to save us. We are saved by God’s mercy, not by anything we could ever do to earn it.
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” He did not save us through a physical washing, but by a spiritual washing and renewal. The word “washing” is an allusion to baptism, suggesting that our physical baptism symbolizes the rebirth that comes from the Holy Spirit.
God poured the Holy Spirit on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (verses 6-7). We are saved by God the Father, working through the Son and Holy Spirit.
We are justified by grace — put right with God — as his gift to us (and as Paul explains elsewhere, we receive it by faith). The result is that we become inheritors of eternal life, which gives us tremendous hope and confidence about our future. But the Bible also says that we have eternal life now, in this age (John 6:47). We have it as a down payment of much more yet to come.
Author: Michael Morrison, PhD