Obedience to magistrates, and becoming behaviour towards all, are enforced from what believers were before conversion, and what they are made, through Christ. (1-7) Good works to be done, and useless disputes avoided. (8-11) Directions and exhortations. (12-15)
Verses 1-7 Spiritual privileges do not make void or weaken, but confirm civil duties. Mere good words and good meanings are not enough without good works. They were not to be quarrelsome, but to show meekness on all occasions, not toward friends only, but to all men, though with wisdom, ( James 3:13 ) . And let this text teach us how wrong it is for a Christian to be churlish to the worst, weakest, and most abject. The servants of sin have many masters, their lusts hurry them different ways; pride commands one thing, covetousness another. Thus they are hateful, deserving to be hated. It is the misery of sinners, that they hate one another; and it is the duty and happiness of saints to love one another. And we are delivered out of our miserable condition, only by the mercy and free grace of God, the merit and sufferings of Christ, and the working of his Spirit. God the Father is God our Saviour. He is the fountain from which the Holy Spirit flows, to teach, regenerate, and save his fallen creatures; and this blessing comes to mankind through Christ. The spring and rise of it, is the kindness and love of God to man. Love and grace have, through the Spirit, great power to change and turn the heart to God. Works must be in the saved, but are not among the causes of their salvation. A new principle of grace and holiness is wrought, which sways, and governs, and makes the man a new creature. Most pretend they would have heaven at last, yet they care not for holiness now; they would have the end without the beginning. Here is the outward sign and seal thereof in baptism, called therefore the washing of regeneration. The work is inward and spiritual; this is outwardly signified and sealed in this ordinance. Slight not this outward sign and seal; yet rest not in the outward washing, but look to the answer of a good conscience, without which the outward washing will avail nothing. The worker therein is the Spirit of God; it is the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Through him we mortify sin, perform duty, walk in God's ways; all the working of the Divine life in us, and the fruits of righteousness without, are through this blessed and holy Spirit. The Spirit and his saving gifts and graces, come through Christ, as a Saviour, whose undertaking and work are to bring to grace and glory. Justification, in the gospel sense, is the free forgiveness of a sinner; accepting him as righteous through the righteousness of Christ received by faith. God, in justifying a sinner in the way of the gospel, is gracious to him, yet just to himself and his law. As forgiveness is through a perfect righteousness, and satisfaction is made to justice by Christ, it cannot be merited by the sinner himself. Eternal life is set before us in the promise; the Spirit works faith in us, and hope of that life; faith and hope bring it near, and fill with joy in expectation of it.
Verses 8-11 When the grace of God towards mankind has been declared, the necessity of good works is pressed. Those who believe in God, must make it their care to maintain good works, to seek opportunities for doing them, being influenced by love and gratitude. Trifling, foolish questions must be avoided, and subtle distinctions and vain inquiries; nor should people be eager after novelties, but love sound doctrine which tends most to edifying. Though we may now think some sins light and little, if the Lord awaken the conscience, we shall feel even the smallest sin heavy upon our souls.
Verses 12-15 Christianity is not a fruitless profession; and its professors must be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. They must be doing good, as well as keeping away from evil. Let "ours" follow some honest labour and employment, to provide for themselves and their families. Christianity obliges all to seek some honest work and calling, and therein to abide with God. The apostle concludes with expressions of kind regard and fervent prayer. Grace be with you all; the love and favour of God, with the fruits and effects thereof, according to need; and the increase and feeling of them more and more in your souls. This is the apostle's wish and prayer, showing his affection to them, and desire for their good, and would be a means of obtaining for them, and bringing down on them, the thing requested. Grace is the chief thing to be wished and prayed for, with respect to ourselves or others; it is "all good."
Titus 3:1-15 . WHAT TITUS IS TO TEACH CONCERNING CHRISTIANS' BEHAVIOR TOWARDS THE WORLD: HOW HE IS TO TREAT HERETICS: WHEN AND WHERE HE IS TO MEET PAUL. SALUTATION. CONCLUSION.
1. Put them in mind--as they are in danger of forgetting their duty, though knowing it. The opposition of Christianity to heathenism, and the natural disposition to rebellion of the Jews under the Roman empire (of whom many lived in Crete), might lead many to forget practically what was a recognized Christian principle in theory, submission to the powers that be. DIODORUS SICULUS mentions the tendency of the Cretans to riotous insubordination.
to be subject--"willingly" (so the Greek).
principalities . . . powers--Greek, "magistracies . . . authorities."
to obey--the commands of "magistrates"; not necessarily implying spontaneous obedience. Willing obedience is implied in "ready to every good work." Compare Romans 13:3 , as showing that obedience to the magistracy would tend to good works, since the magistrate's aim generally is to favor the good and punish the bad. Contrast "disobedient" ( Titus 3:3 ).
2. To speak evil of no man--especially, not of "dignities" and magistrates.
no brawlers--"not quarrelsome," not attacking others.
gentle--towards those who attack us. Yielding, considerate, not urging one's rights to the uttermost, but forbearing and kindly different from the innate greediness and spirit of aggression towards others which characterized the Cretans.
all--all possible. severity.
unto all men--The duty of Christian conduct towards all men is the proper consequence of the universality of God's grace to all men, so often set forth in the pastoral Epistles.
3. For--Our own past sins should lead us to be lenient towards those of others. "Despise none, for such wast thou also." As the penitent thief .said to his fellow thief, "Dost thou not fear God . . . seeing that thou art in the same condemnation."
were--Contrast Titus 3:4 , "But when," that is, now: a favorite contrast in Paul's writing, that between our past state by nature, and our present state of deliverance from it by grace. As God treated us, we ought to treat our neighbor.
foolish--wanting right reason in our course of living. Irrational. The exact picture of human life without grace. Grace is the sole remedy for foolishness.
deceived--led astray. The same Greek, "out of the way" ( Hebrews 5:2 ).
serving--Greek, "in bondage to," serving as slaves."
divers--The cloyed appetite craves constant variety.
pleasures--of the flesh.
hateful . . . hating--correlatives. Provoking the hatred of others by their detestable character and conduct, and in turn hating them.
4. To show how little reason the Cretan Christians had to be proud of themselves, and despise others not Christians It is to the "kindness and love of God," not to their own merits, that they owe salvation.
kindness--Greek, "goodness," "benignity," which manifests His grace.
love . . . toward man--teaching us to have such "love (benevolence) toward man" (Greek, "philanthropy"), "showing all meekness unto all men" ( Titus 3:2 ), even as God had "toward man" ( Titus 2:11 ); opposed to the "hateful and hating" characteristics of unrenewed men, whose wretchedness moved God's benevolent kindness.
of God our Saviour--Greek, "of our Saviour God," namely, the Father ( Titus 1:3 ), who "saved us" ( Titus 3:5 ) "through Jesus Christ our Saviour" ( Titus 3:6 ).
appeared--Greek, "was made to appear"; was manifested.
5. Not by--Greek, "Out of"; "not as a result springing from works," &c.
of righteousness--Greek, "in righteousness," that is, wrought "in a state of righteousness": as "deeds . . . wrought in God." There was an utter absence in us of the element ("righteousness") in which alone righteous works could be done, and so necessarily an absence of the works. "We neither did works of righteousness, nor were saved in consequence of them; but His goodness did the whole" [THEOPHYLACT].
we--emphatically opposed to "His."
mercy--the prompting cause of our salvation individually: "In pursuance of His mercy." His kindness and love to man were manifested in redemption once for all wrought by Him for mankind generally; His mercy is the prompting cause for our individual realization of it. Faith is presupposed as the instrument of our being "saved"; our being so, then, is spoken of as an accomplished fact. Faith is not mentioned, but only God's part. as Paul's object here is not to describe man's new state, but the saving agency of God in bringing about that state, independent of all merit on the man's part
by--Greek, "through"; by means of.
the washing--rather, "the laver," that is, the baptismal font.
of regeneration--designed to be the visible instrument of regeneration. "The apostles are wont to draw an argument from the sacraments to prove the thing therein signified, because it ought to be a recognized principle among the godly, that God does not mark us with empty signs. but by His power inwardly makes good what He demonstrates by the outward sign. Wherefore baptism is congruously and truly called the laver of regeneration. We must connect the sign and thing signified, so as not to make the sign empty and ineffectual; and yet not, for the sake of honoring the sign, to detract from the Holy Spirit what is peculiarly His" [CALVIN], ( 1 Peter 3:21 ). Adult candidates for baptism are presupposed to have had repentance and faith (for Paul often assumes in faith and charity that those addressed are what they profess to be, though in fact some of them were not so, 1 Corinthians 6:11 ), in which case baptism would be the visible "laver or regeneration" to them, "faith being thereby confirmed, and grace increased, by virtue of prayer to God" [Article XXVII, Church of England]. Infants are charitably presumed to have received a grace in connection with their Christian descent, in answer to the believing prayers of their parents or guardians presenting them for baptism, which grace is visibly sealed and increased by baptism, "the laver of regeneration." They are presumed to be then regenerated, until years of developed consciousness prove whether they have been actually so or not. "Born of (from) water and (no 'of' in Greek) the Spirit." The Word is the remote and anterior instrument of the new birth; Baptism, the proximate instrument. The Word, the instrument to the individual; Baptism, in relation to the Society of Christians. The laver of cleansing stood outside the door of the tabernacle, wherein the priest had to wash before entering the Holy Place; so we must wash in the laver of regeneration before we can enter the Church, whose members are "a royal priesthood." "Baptism by the Spirit" (whereof water baptism is the designed accompanying seal) makes the difference between Christian baptism and that of John. As Paul presupposes the outward Church is the visible community of the redeemed, so he speaks of baptism on the supposition that it answers to its idea; that all that is inward belonging to its completeness accompanied the outward. Hence he here asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in the believing appropriation of the divine facts which it symbolizes, whatever is realized when baptism fully corresponds to its original design. So Galatians 3:27 ; language holding good only of those in whom the inward living communion and outward baptism coalesce. "Saved us" applies fully to those truly regenerate alone; in a general sense it may include many who, though put within reach of salvation, shall not finally be saved. "Regeneration" occurs only once more in New Testament, Matthew 19:28 , that is, the new birth of the heaven and earth at Christ's second coming to renew all material things, the human body included, when the creature, now travailing in labor-throes to the birth, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Regeneration, which now begins in the believer's soul, shall then be extended to his body, and thence to all creation.
and renewing--not "the laver ('washing') of renewing," but "and BY the renewing," &c. following "saved us." To make "renewing of the Holy Ghost" follow "the laver" would destroy the balance of the clauses of the sentence, and would make baptism the seal, not only of regeneration, but also of the subsequent process of progressive sanctification ("renewing of the Holy Ghost"). Regeneration is a thing once for all done; renewing is a process daily proceeding. As "the washing," or "laver," is connected with "regeneration," so the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" is connected with "shed on us abundantly" ( Titus 3:6 ).
6. Which--the Holy Ghost.
he shed--Greek, "poured out"; not only on the Church in general at Pentecost, but also "on us" individually. This pouring out of the Spirit comprehends the grace received before, in, and subsequently to, baptism.
abundantly--Greek, "richly" ( Colossians 3:16 ).
through Jesus Christ--the channel and Mediator of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
our Saviour--immediately; as the Father is mediately "our Saviour." The Father is the author of our salvation and saves us by Jesus Christ.
7. That, &c.--the purpose which He aimed at in having "saved us" ( Titus 3:5 ), namely, "That being (having been) justified (accounted righteous through faith at our 'regeneration,' and made righteous by the daily 'renewing of the Holy Ghost') by His grace (as opposed to works, Titus 3:5 ) we should be made heirs."
his grace--Greek, "the grace of the former," that is, God ( Titus 3:4 , Romans 5:15 ).
heirs--( Galatians 3:29 ).
according to the hope of eternal life-- Titus 1:2 , and also the position of the Greek words, confirm English Version, that is, agreeably to the hope of eternal life; the eternal inheritance fully satisfying the hope. BENGEL and ELLICOTT explain it, "heirs of eternal life, in the way of hope," that is, not yet in actual possession. Such a blessed hope, which once was not possessed, will lead a Christian to practice holiness and meekness toward others, the lesson especially needed by the Cretans.
8. Greek, "faithful is the saying." A formula peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles. Here "the saying" is the statement ( Titus 3:4-7 ) as to the gratuitousness of God's gift of salvation. Answering to the "Amen."
these things, &c.--Greek, "concerning these things (the truths dwelt on, Titus 3:4-7 ; not as English Version, what follow), I will that thou affirm (insist) strongly and persistently, in order that they who have believed God (the Greek for 'believed in God' is different, John 14:1 . 'They who have learnt to credit God' in what He saith) may be careful ('Solicitously sedulous'; diligence is necessary) to maintain (literally, 'to set before themselves so as to sustain') good works." No longer applying their care to "unprofitable" and unpractical speculations ( Titus 3:9 ).
These things--These results of doctrine ("good works") are "good and profitable unto men," whereas no such practical results flow from "foolish questions." So GROTIUS and WIESINGER. But ALFORD, to avoid the tautology, "these (good works) are good unto men," explains, "these truths" ( Titus 3:4-7 ).
9. avoid--stand aloof from. Same Greek, as in 2 Timothy 2:16 ;
foolish--Greek, "insipid"; producing no moral fruit. "Vain talkers."
genealogies--akin to the "fables" much direct heresy as yet is here referred to, as profitless discussions about genealogies of aeons, etc . . . which ultimately led to Gnosticism. Synagogue discourses were termed daraschoth, that is, "discussions." Compare "disputer of this world (Greek, 'dispensation')."
strivings about the law--about the authority of the "commandments of men," which they sought to confirm by the law ( Titus 1:14 ; and about the mystical meaning of the various parts of the law in connection with the "genealogies."
10. heretic--Greek "heresy," originally meant a division resulting from individual self-will; the individual doing and teaching what he chose, independent of the teaching and practice of the Church. In course of time it came to mean definitely "heresy" in the modern sense; and in the later Epistles it has almost assumed this meaning. The heretics of Crete, when Titus was there, were in doctrine followers of their own self-willed "questions" reprobated in Titus 3:9 , and immoral in practice.
reject--decline, avoid; not formal excommunication, but, "have nothing more to do with him," either in admonition or intercourse.
11. is . . . subverted--"is become perverse."
condemned of himself--He cannot say, no one told him better: continuing the same after frequent admonition, he is self-condemned. "He sinneth" wilfully against knowledge.
12. When I shall send--have sent.
Artemas or Tychicus--to supply thy place in Crete. Artemas is said to have been subsequently bishop of Lystra. Tychicus was sent twice by Paul from Rome to Lesser Asia in his first imprisonment (which shows how well qualified he was to become Titus' successor in Crete); Ephesians 6:21 ; and in his second, 2 Timothy 4:12 . Tradition makes him subsequently bishop of Chalcedon, in Bithynia.
Nicopolis--"the city of victory," called so from the battle of Actium, in Epirus. This Epistle was probably written from Corinth in the autumn. Paul purposed a journey through Ætolia and Acarnania, into Epirus, and there "to winter." to the Pastoral Epistles.
13. Bring . . . on their journey--Enable them to proceed forward by supplying necessaries for their journey.
Zenas--the contracted form of Zenodorus.
lawyer--a Jewish "scribe," who, when converted, still retained the title from his former occupation. A civil lawyer.
Apollos--with Zenas, probably the bearers of this Epistle. In 1 Corinthians 16:12 , Apollos is mentioned as purposing to visit Corinth; his now being at Corinth (on the theory of Paul being at Corinth when he wrote) accords with this purpose. Crete would be on his way either to Palestine or his native place, Alexandria. Paul and Apollos thus appear in beautiful harmony in that very city where their names had been formerly the watchword of unchristian party work. It was to avoid this party rivalry that Apollos formerly was unwilling to visit Corinth though Paul desired him. HIPPOLYTUS mentions Zenas as one of the Seventy, and afterwards bishop of Diospolis.
14. And . . . also--Greek, "But . . . also." Not only thou, but let others also of "our" fellow believers (or "whom we have gained over at Crete") with thee.
for necessary uses--to supply the necessary wants of Christian missionaries and brethren, according as they stand in need in their journeys for the Lord's cause. Compare Titus 1:8 , "a lover of hospitality."
15. Greet--"Salute them that love us in the faith." All at Crete had not this love rooted in faith, the true bond of fellowship. A salutation peculiar to this Epistle, such as no forger would have used.
Grace--Greek, "The grace," namely, of God.
with you all--not that the Epistle is addressed to all the Cretan Christians, but Titus would naturally impart it to his flock.