Titus 2:14; 1:16 & Revelation 3:5-16 – Three Types of “Good Works”

By Wayne Jackson

No informed person will deny that the practice of “good works” is an obligation of the child of God. Such “works” are an expression of one’s commitment to his Creator. The New Testament depicts three attitudes/practices relative to “good works.” This makes for a fascinating study.

First, Paul contends that one of the purposes of Jesus’ death was that he might “purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous [zelotes] of good works” (Titus 2:14). The word denotes a striving after, an enthusiasm for. Its meaning is perhaps best illustrated in the intense attitude that Saul of Tarsus had for the Mosaic system (Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:5).

Second, Paul writes about those who are “abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate [adokimos]” (Titus 1:16). This word basically has to do with that which is “not approved,” e.g., a metal that does not pass the test (cf. Isaiah 1:22 LXX – "Your silver is worthless. . . "). Some members of the church, when compared to the divine standard pertaining to “good works,” just do not measure up. What will be their fate?

Finally, it may be suggested that there is an area, somewhere in between the extremes of red-hot devotion to the Lord, and stone-cold deadness. It may be designated as the “lukewarm” zone. To the church at Laodicea, Jesus sent this message: “I know your works; that you are neither cold nor hot: I would rather you be cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm [chliaros – tepid], and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). The tepid mineral springs near Laodicea were nauseating, and such illustrated that sort of church member who still evinces a faint pulse, but who demonstrates no real dedication for truth. Their number is legion. In your Bible, reference these three passages — Titus 2:14; 1:16; Revelation 3:15-16 — and note the differences emphasized.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.