This epistle chiefly contains directions to Titus concerning the elders of the Church, and the manner in which he should give instruction; and the latter part tells him to urge obedience to magistrates, to enforce good works, avoid foolish questions, and shun heresies. The instructions the apostle gave are all plain and simple. The Christian religion was not formed to answer worldly or selfish views, but it is the wisdom of God and the power of God.
The apostle salutes Titus. (1-4) The qualifications of a faithful pastor. (5-9) The evil temper and practices of false teachers. (10-16)
Verses 1-4 All are the servants of God who are not slaves of sin and Satan. All gospel truth is according to godliness, teaching the fear of God. The intent of the gospel is to raise up hope as well as faith; to take off the mind and heart from the world, and to raise them to heaven and the things above. How excellent then is the gospel, which was the matter of Divine promise so early, and what thanks are due for our privileges! Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; and whoso is appointed and called, must preach the word. Grace is the free favour of God, and acceptance with him. Mercy, the fruits of the favour, in the pardon of sin, and freedom from all miseries both here and hereafter. And peace is the effect and fruit of mercy. Peace with God through Christ who is our Peace, and with the creatures and ourselves. Grace is the fountain of all blessings. Mercy, and peace, and all good, spring out of this.
Verses 5-9 The character and qualification of pastors, here called elders and bishops, agree with what the apostle wrote to Timothy. Being such bishops and overseers of the flock, to be examples to them, and God's stewards to take care of the affairs of his household, there is great reason that they should be blameless. What they are not to be, is plainly shown, as well as what they are to be, as servants of Christ, and able ministers of the letter and practice of the gospel. And here are described the spirit and practice becoming such as should be examples of good works.
Verses 10-16 False teachers are described. Faithful ministers must oppose such in good time, that their folly being made manifest, they may go no further They had a base end in what they did; serving a worldly interest under pretence of religion: for the love of money is the root of all evil. Such should be resisted, and put to shame, by sound doctrine from the Scriptures. Shameful actions, the reproach of heathens, should be far from Christians; falsehood and lying, envious craft and cruelty, brutal and sensual practices, and idleness and sloth, are sins condemned even by the light of nature. But Christian meekness is as far from cowardly passing over sin and error, as from anger and impatience. And though there may be national differences of character, yet the heart of man in every age and place is deceitful and desperately wicked. But the sharpest reproofs must aim at the good of the reproved; and soundness in the faith is most desirable and necessary. To those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; they abuse, and turn things lawful and good into sin. Many profess to know God, yet in their lives deny and reject him. See the miserable state of hypocrites, such as have a form of godliness, but are without the power; yet let us not be so ready to fix this charge on others, as careful that it does not apply to ourselves.
Titus 1:1-16 . ADDRESS: FOR WHAT END TITUS WAS LEFT IN CRETE. QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELDERS: GAINSAYERS IN CRETE NEEDING REPROOF.
1. servant of God--not found elsewhere in the same connection. In Romans 1:1 it is "servant of Jesus Christ" ( Galatians 1:10 , Philippians 1:1 ; compare Acts 16:17 , Revelation 1:1 , 15:3 ). In Romans 1:1 , there follows, "called to be an apostle," which corresponds to the general designation of the office first, "servant of GOD," here, followed by the special description, "apostle of Jesus Christ." The full expression of his apostolic office answers, in both Epistles, to the design, and is a comprehensive index to the contents. The peculiar form here would never have proceeded from a forger.
according to the faith--rather, "for," "with a view to subserve the faith"; this is the object of my apostleship (compare Titus 1:4 Titus 1:9 , Romans 1:5 ).
the elect--for whose sake we ought to endure all things ( 2 Timothy 2:10 ). This election has its ground, not in anything belonging to those thus distinguished, but in the purpose and will of God from everlasting ( 2 Timothy 1:9 Romans 8:30-33 ; compare Luke 18:7 , Ephesians 1:4 , Colossians 3:12 ). Acts 13:48 shows that all faith on the part of the elect, rests on the divine foreordination: they do not become elect by their faith, but receive faith, and so become believers, because they are elect.
and the acknowledging of the truth--"and (for promoting) the full knowledge of the truth," that is, the Christian truth ( Ephesians 1:13 ).
after godliness--that is, which belongs to piety: opposed to the knowledge which has not for its object the truth, but error, doctrinal and practical ( Titus 1:11 Titus 1:16 , 1 Timothy 6:3 ); or even which has for its object mere earthly truth, not growth in the divine life. "Godliness," or "piety," is a term peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles: a fact explained by the apostle having in them to combat doctrine tending to "ungodliness" ( 2 Timothy 2:16 ; compare Titus 2:11 Titus 2:12 ).
2. In hope of eternal life--connected with the whole preceding sentence. That whereon rests my aim as an apostle to promote the elect's faith and full knowledge of the truth, is, "the hope of eternal life" ( Titus 2:13 , 3:7 , Acts 23:6 , 24:15:28:20 ).
that cannot lie--( Romans 3:4 , 11:29 , Hebrews 6:18 ).
promised before the world began--a contracted expression for "purposed before the world began (literally, 'before the ages of time'), and promised actually in time," the promise springing from the eternal purpose; as in 2 Timothy 1:9 , the gift of grace was the result of the eternal purpose "before the world began."
3. in due times--Greek, "in its own seasons," the seasons appropriate to it, and fixed by God for it ( Acts 1:7 ).
manifested--implying that the "promise," Titus 1:2 , had lain hidden in His eternal purpose heretofore (compare Colossians 1:26 , 2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:10 ).
his word--equivalent to "eternal life" ( Titus 1:2 , John 5:24 , 6:63 , John 17:3 John 17:17 ).
through preaching--Greek, "in preaching," of rather as ALFORD (Gospel) proclamation (the thing preached, the Gospel) with which I was entrusted."
according to--in pursuance of (compare 1 Timothy 1:1 ).
of God our Saviour--rather as Greek, "of our Saviour God." God is predicated of our Saviour (compare Jude 1:25 , Luke 1:47 ). Also Psalms 24:5 , Isaiah 12:2 , Isaiah 45:15 Isaiah 45:21 , Septuagint. Applied to Jesus, Titus 1:4 , Titus 2:13 , 3:6 , 2 Timothy 1:10 .
4. Titus, mine own son--Greek, "my genuine child" ( 1 Timothy 1:2 ), that is, converted by my instrumentality ( 1 Corinthians 4:17 , 1:10 ).
after the common faith--a genuine son in respect to (in virtue of) the faith common to all the people of God, comprising in a common brotherhood Gentiles as well as Jews, therefore embracing Titus a Gentile ( 2 Peter 1:1 , Jude 1:3 ).
Grace, mercy, and peace--"mercy" is omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts. But one of the best and oldest manuscripts supports it (compare Notes, similarities of phrase in the Pastoral Epistles.
the Lord Jesus Christ--The oldest manuscripts read only "Christ Jesus."
our Saviour--found thus added to "Christ" only in Paul's Pastoral Epistles, and in 2 Peter 1:1 2 Peter 1:11 , 2:20 , 3:18 .
5. I left thee--"I left thee behind" [ALFORD] when I left the island: not implying permanence of commission (compare 1 Timothy 1:3 ).
in Crete--now Candia.
set in order--rather as Greek, "that thou mightest follow up (the work begun by me), setting right the things that are wanting," which I was unable to complete by reason of the shortness of my stay in Crete. Christianity, doubtless, had long existed in Crete: there were some Cretans among those who heard Peter's preaching on Pentecost ( Acts 2:11 ). The number of Jews in Crete was large ( Titus 1:10 ), and it is likely that those scattered in the persecution of Stephen ( Acts 11:19 ) preached to them, as they did to the Jews of Cyprus, &c. Paul also was there on his voyage to Rome ( Acts 27:7-12 ). By all these instrumentalities the Gospel was sure to reach Crete. But until Paul's later visit, after his first imprisonment at Rome, the Cretan Christians were without Church organization. This Paul began, and had commissioned (before leaving Crete) Titus to go on with, and now reminds him of that commission.
ordain--rather, "appoint," "constitute."
in every city--"from city to city."
as I . . . appointed thee--that is, as I directed thee; prescribing as well the act of constituting elders, as also the manner of doing so, which latter includes the qualifications required in a presbyter presently stated. Those called "elders" here are called "bishops" in Titus 1:7 . Elder is the term of dignity in relation to the college of presbyters; bishop points to the duties of his office in relation to the flock. From the unsound state of the Cretan Christians described here, we see the danger of the want of Church government. The appointment of presbyters was designed to check idle talk and speculation, by setting forth the "faithful word."
6. (Compare Notes, The thing dwelt on here as the requisite in a bishop, is a good reputation among those over whom he is to be set. The immorality of the Cretan professors rendered this a necessary requisite in one who was to be a reprover: and their unsoundness in doctrine also made needful great steadfastness in the faith ( Titus 1:9 Titus 1:13 ).
having faithful children--that is, believing children. He who could not bring his children to faith, how shall he bring others? [BENGEL]. ALFORD explains, "established in the faith."
not accused--not merely not riotous, but "not (even) accused of riot" ("profligacy" [ALFORD]; "dissolute life" [WAHL]).
unruly--insubordinate; opposed to "in subjection" ( 1 Timothy 3:4 ).
7. For . . . must--The emphasis is on "must." The reason why I said "blameless," is the very idea of a "bishop" (an overseer of the flock; he here substitutes for "presbyter" the term which expresses his duties) involves the necessity for such blamelessness, if he is to have influence over the flock.
steward of God--The greater the master is, the greater the virtues required in His servant [BENGEL], ( 1 Timothy 3:15 ); the Church is God's house, over which the minister is set as a steward ( Hebrews 3:2-6 1 Peter 4:10 1 Peter 4:17 ). Note: ministers are not merely Church officers, but God's stewards; Church government is of divine appointment.
not self-willed--literally, "self-pleasing"; unaccommodating to others; harsh, the opposite of "a lover of hospitality" ( Titus 1:6 ); so Nabal ( 1 Samuel 25:1-44 ); self-loving and imperious; such a spirit would incapacitate him for leading a willing flock, instead of driving.
not given to
not given to filthy lucre--not making the Gospel a means of gain ( 1 Timothy 3:3 1 Timothy 3:8 ). In opposition to those "teaching for filthy lucre's sake" ( Titus 1:11 , 1 Timothy 6:5 , 1 Peter 5:2 ).
8. lover of hospitality--needed especially in those days ( Romans 12:13 , 1 Timothy 3:2 , Hebrews 13:2 , 1 Peter 4:9 , 3 John 1:5 ). Christians travelling from one place to another were received and forwarded on their journey by their brethren.
lover of good men--Greek, "a lover of (all that is) good," men or things ( Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:9 ).
sober--towards one's self; "discreet"; "self-restrained" [ALFORD],
temperate--"One having his passions, tongue, hand and eyes, at command" [CHRYSOSTOM]; "continent."
9. Holding fast--Holding firmly to (compare Matthew 6:24 , Luke 16:13 ).
the faithful--true and trustworthy ( 1 Timothy 1:15 ).
word as he has been taught--literally, "the word (which is) according to the teaching" which he has received (compare 1 Timothy 4:6 , end; 2 Timothy 3:14 ).
by--Translate as Greek, "to exhort in doctrine (instruction) which is sound"; sound doctrine or instruction is the element IN which his exhorting is to have place . . . On "sound" (peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles), see 1 Timothy 1:10 , 6:3 .
convince--rather, "reprove" [ALFORD], ( Titus 1:13 ).
and--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. "There are many unruly persons, vain talkers, and deceivers"; "unruly" being predicated of both vain talkers and deceivers.
vain talkers--opposed to "holding fast the faithful word" ( Titus 1:9 ). "Vain jangling" ( 1 Timothy 1:6 ); "foolish questions, unprofitable and vain" ( Titus 3:9 ). The source of the evil was corrupted Judaism ( Titus 1:14 ). Many Jews were then living in Crete, according to JOSEPHUS; so the Jewish leaven remained in some of them after conversion.
deceivers--literally, "deceivers of the minds of others" (Greek, Galatians 6:3 ).
11. mouths . . . stopped--literally, "muzzled," "bridled" as an unruly beast (compare Psalms 32:9 ).
who--Greek, "(seeing that they are) such men as"; or "inasmuch as they" [ELLICOTT].
subvert . . . houses--"overthrowing" their "faith" ( 2 Timothy 2:18 ). "They are the devil's levers by which he subverts the houses of God" [THEOPHYLACT].
for filthy lucre--( 1 Timothy 3:3 1 Timothy 3:8 , 6:5 ).
12. One--Epimenides of Phæstus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise "concerning oracles." Paul also quotes from two other heathen writers, ARATUS ( Acts 17:28 ) and MENANDER ( 1 Corinthians 15:33 ), but he does not honor them so far as even to mention their names.
of themselves . . . their own--which enhances his authority as a witness. "To Cretanize" was proverbial for to lie: as "to Corinthianize" was for to be dissolute.
alway liars--not merely at times, as every natural man is. Contrast Titus 1:2 , "God that cannot lie." They love "fables" ( Titus 1:14 ); even the heathen poets laughed at their lying assertion that they had in their country the sepulchre of Jupiter.
evil beasts--rude, savage, cunning, greedy. Crete was a country without wild beasts. Epimenides' sarcasm was that its human inhabitants supplied the place of wild beasts.
slow bellies--indolent through pampering their bellies. They themselves are called "bellies," for that is the member for which they live ( Romans 16:18 , Philippians 3:19 ).
13. This witness--"This testimony (though coming from a Cretan) is true."
sharply--Gentleness would not reclaim so perverse offenders.
that they--that those seduced by the false teachers may be brought back to soundness in the faith. Their malady is strifes about words and questions ( Titus 3:9 , 1 Timothy 6:4 ).
14. Jewish Gnosticism; as yet the error was but profitless, and not tending to godliness, rather than openly opposed to the faith.
commandments of men--as to ascetic abstinence ( Titus 1:15 7:7-9 Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:20-23 1 Timothy 4:3 ).
that turn from the truth--whose characteristic is that they turn away from the truth ( 2 Timothy 4:4 ).
15. all things--external, "are pure" in themselves; the distinction of pure and impure is not in the things, but in the disposition of him who uses them; in opposition to "the commandments of men" ( Titus 1:14 ), which forbade certain things as if impure intrinsically. "To the pure" inwardly, that is, those purified in heart by faith ( Acts 15:9 , Romans 14:20 , 1 Timothy 4:3 ), all outward things are pure; all are open to, their use. Sin alone touches and defiles the soul ( Matthew 23:26 , Luke 11:41 ).
nothing pure--either within or without ( Romans 14:23 ).
mind--their mental sense and intelligence.
conscience--their moral consciousness of the conformity or discrepancy between their motives and acts on the one hand, and God's law on the other. A conscience and a mind defiled are represented as the source of the errors opposed in the Pastoral Epistles ( 1 Timothy 1:19 , 3:9 , 6:5 ).
16. They profess--that is, make a profession acknowledging God. He does not deny their theoretical knowledge of God, but that they practically know Him.
deny him--the opposite of the previous "profess" or "confess" Him ( 1 Timothy 5:8 , 2 Timothy 2:12 , 3:5 ).
abominable--themselves, though laying so much stress on the contracting of abomination from outward things (compare Leviticus 11:10-13 , Romans 2:22 ).
disobedient--to God ( Titus 3:3 , Ephesians 2:2 , 5:6 ).
reprobate--rejected as worthless when tested