At this point, we raise three questions in this text. First, whom will Christ’s death purify? “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). Christ’s death purifies the redeemed people of God, the church, composed of redeemed Jews and Gentiles.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10; cf. Rom. 9:24-25).
Second, how does Paul describe redeemed people? “To purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). Paul used the words laon periousion—“a people for his own possession” (ESV). The root word periousios means “costly, special.” (Gingrich) It refers to “property owned as a rich and distinctive possession.” Paul refers to “God’s redeemed people as his costly possession and a distinctive treasure special, choice, chosen (TI 2.14).” (Friberg) The redeemed of Christ are more than a people of His own possession. They are a costly and special people of His own possession and not merely His own possession. (Marshall) The NKJV captures it—“purify for Himself His own special people (Tit. 2:14). Thus, the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice is to purify a costly and special people for His own possession.
Third, what does Christ want His own people to do? “To purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14). Christ wants them to be zealous of good works.
In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves.
Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats.
Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month.
A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets.
The adjective “zealous” is from the word zelotes, which refers to an “enthusiastic adherent, one who is eager.” (Gingrich) Hence, Christ wants His own special people to be zealous, eager, or enthusiastic to do good works.
What are the good works? The good works are the works listed in Tit. 2:1-10. The good works are our response to God’s grace. Because God’s grace trains us to renounce sin and to live godly lives in Christ, while waiting for Christ, we should then be eager to do good works for Christ. Because Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us and to purify us from sin, we should then be enthusiastic to do good works for Him. We do not do good works as a requirement of God’s grace. We do not do it to earn God’s grace. Rather, we do good works as a worshipful response to God’s grace.
Are you serving Christ today? Have you become cold or lukewarm towards Christ? Why are you not serving the Lord today? I urge you to think of God’s grace that saves you. Reflect on the grace that you have received from God. Then respond to that grace by doing good works.
 Our Daily Bread, December 31, 1988 (“No Reserves—No Retreats—No Regrets,” Bible.org. Cited March 19, 2017. Online: https://bible.org/ illustration/no-reserves%E2%80%94no-retreats%E2%80%94no-regrets.