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The necessity of obedience to the civil powers, and of meek and gentle deportment towards all men, is to be diligently enforced, Titus 3:1, Titus 3:2. The wretched state of man, previously to the advent of Christ, Titus 3:3. The wonderful change which the grace of God makes, and the means which it uses to bring men to glory, Titus 3:4-7. The necessity of a holy life, and of avoiding things which produce strifes and contentions, and are unprofitable and vain, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:9. How to deal with those who are heretics, Titus 3:10, Titus 3:11. St. Paul directs Titus to meet him at Nicopolis, and to bring Zenas and Apollos with him, Titus 3:12; 13. Concluding directions and salutations, Titus 3:14, Titus 3:15.
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities, etc. - By principalities, αρχαις , we are to understand the Roman emperors, or the supreme civil powers in any place.
By powers, εξουσιαις , we are to understand the deputies of the emperors, such as proconsuls, etc., and all such as are in authority - under the supreme powers wherever we dwell. See the doctrine of obedience to the civil powers discussed at large in the notes on Romans 13:1-7.
This doctrine of obedience to the civil powers was highly necessary for the Cretans, who were reputed a people exceedingly jealous of their civil privileges, and ready to run into a state of insurrection when they suspected any attempt on the part of their rulers to infringe their liberties. Suidas, under the word ανεσειον , they stirred up, gives the following fragment: Οἱ δε Κρητες, φοβουμενοι μη τι τιμωριας τυχωσιν, ανεσειον τα πληθη, παρακαλουντες την εξ αιωνος παραδεδομενην ελευθεριαν διαφυλαττειν . “But the Cretans, fearing lest they should be punished, stirred up the populace, exhorting them that they should carefully preserve that liberty which they had received from their ancestors.” What part of the history of Crete this refers to I cannot tell; the words stand thus insulated in Suidas, without introduction or connection. To be jealous of our civil rights and privileges, and most strenuously to preserve them, is highly praiseworthy; but to raise a public tumult to avoid merited chastisement, under pretense that our civil privileges are in danger, is not the part of patriots but insurgents. For such advice as that given here the known character of the Cretans is a sufficient reason: “They were ever liars, ferocious wild beasts, and sluggish gluttons.” Such persons would feel little disposition to submit to the wholesome restraints of law.
To speak evil of no man - Μηδενα βλασφημειν· To blaspheme no person, to reproach none, to speak nothing to any man‘s injury; but, on the contrary, bearing reproach and contumely with patience and meekness.
For we ourselves - All of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, were, before our conversion to Christ, foolish, disobedient, and deceived. There is no doubt that the apostle felt he could include himself in the above list, previously to his conversion. The manner in which he persecuted the Christians, to whose charge he could not lay one moral evil, is a sufficient proof that, though he walked according to the letter of the law, as to its ordinances and ceremonies, blameless, yet his heart was in a state of great estrangement from God, from justice, holiness, mercy, and compassion.
Foolish - Ανοητοι· Without understanding - ignorant of God, his nature, his providence, and his grace.
Disobedient - Απειθεις· Unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and disobedient.
Deceived - Πλανωμενοι· Erring - wandering from the right way in consequence of our ignorance, not knowing the right way; and, in consequence of our unbelief and obstinacy, not choosing to know it. It is a true saying, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Such persons are proof against conviction, they will not be convinced either by God or man.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures - Δουλευοντες· Being in a state of continual thraldom; not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living, as their slaves, a life of misery and wretchedness.
Divers lusts - Επιθυμιαις· Strong and irregular appetites of every kind.
Pleasures - Ἡδοναις· Sensual pleasures. Persons intent only on the gratification of sense, living like the brutes, having no rational or spiritual object worthy the pursuit of an immortal being.
Living in malice and envy - Εν κακιᾳ και φθονῳ διαγοντες· Spending our life in wickedness and envy - not bearing to see the prosperity of others, because we feel ourselves continually wretched.
Hateful - Στυγητοι· Abominable; hateful as hell. The word comes from Στυξ , Styx, the infernal river by which the gods were wont to swear; and he who (according to the mythology of the heathens) violated this oath, was expelled from the assembly of the gods, and was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a year; hence the river was hateful to them beyond all things, and the verb στυγεω , formed from this, signifies to shiver with horror.
It maybe taken actively, says Leigh, as it is read, hateful; or else passively, and so may be read hated, that is, justly execrable and odious unto others, both God and man.
Hating one another - Μισουντες αλληλους· This word is less expressive than the preceding: there was no brotherly love, consequently no kind offices; they hated each other, and self-interest alone could induce them to keep up civil society. This is the true state of all unregenerate men. The words which the apostle uses in this place give a finished picture of the carnal state of man; and they are not true merely of the Cretans and Jews that then were, but of all mankind in every age and country; they express the wretched state of fallen man.
Some of the Greek moralists expressed a dissolute and sensual life by nearly the same expressions as those employed by the apostle. Plutarch, in Precept. Conjug., says: Σωματος εστι κηδεσθαι, μη δουλευοντα ταις ἡδοναις αυτου, και ταις επιθυμιαις· “We must take care of the body, that we may not be enslaved by its lusts and pleasures.” And Josephus, speaking of Cleopatra, Antiq., lib. xv. cap. 4, says: Γυναικα πολυτελη, και δουλευουσαν ταις επιθυμιαις· “She was an expensive woman, enslaved to lusts.”
But after that the kindness and love of God - By χρηστοτης we may understand the essential goodness of the Divine nature; that which is the spring whence all kindness, mercy, and beneficence proceed.
Love toward man - Φιλανθρωπια· Philanthropy. It is to be regretted that this attribute of the Divine nature, as it stands in relation to man, should have been entirely lost by a paraphrastical translation. Philanthropy is a character which God gives here to himself; while human nature exists, this must be a character of the Divine nature. God loves man; he delighted in the idea when formed in his own infinite mind, he formed man according to that idea, and rejoiced in the work of his hands; when man fell, the same love induced him to devise his redemption, and God the Savior flows from God the Philanthropist. Where love is it will be active, and will show itself. So the philanthropy of God appeared, επεφανη , it shone out, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and in his giving his life for the life of the world.
Not by works of righteousness - Those who were foolish, disobedient, and deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, could not possibly have works of righteousness to plead; therefore, if saved at all, they must be saved by mercy. See the note on Ephesians 2:8; and see a discourse entitled, Salvation by Faith proved, 8vo., 1816, in which I have examined every system invented by man for his restoration to the Divine favor and image: and have demonstrated, by mere reason, their utter insufficiency to answer the end for which they have been invented; and have proved that the doctrine of salvation by faith is the only rational way of salvation.
By the washing of regeneration - Δια λουτρου παλιγγενεσιας· Undoubtedly the apostle here means baptism, the rite by which persons were admitted into the Church, and the visible sign of the cleansing, purifying influences of the Holy Spirit, which the apostle immediately subjoins. Baptism is only a sign, and therefore should never be separated from the thing signified; but it is a rite commanded by God himself, and therefore the thing signified should never be expected without it.
By the renewing of the Holy Ghost we are to understand, not only the profession of being bound to live a new life, but the grace that renews the heart, and enables us thus to live; so the renewing influences are here intended. Baptism changes nothing; the grace signified by it cleanses and purifies. They who think baptism to be regeneration, neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God; therefore they do greatly err.
Which he shed on us abundantly - Οὑ εξεχεεν· Which he poured out on us, as the water was poured out on them in baptism, to which there is here a manifest allusion; but as this was sometimes only sprinkled on the person, the heavenly gift was poured out, not in drops, but πλουσιως , richly, in great abundance.
Through Jesus Christ - Baptism is nothing in itself; and there had been no outpouring of the Holy Spirit, had there been no saving and atoning Christ. Through him alone all good comes to the souls of men.
That, being justified by his grace - Being freed from sin; for the term justification is to be taken here as implying the whole work of the grace of Christ on the heart, in order to its preparation for eternal glory.
Should be made heirs - The Gospel not only gave them the hope of an endless state of glory for their souls, but also of the resurrection and final glorification of their bodies; and they who were children of God were to be made heirs of his glory. See the note on Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7.
This is a faithful saying - Πιστος ὁ λογος· This is the true doctrine; the doctrine that cannot fail.
And these things I will - Και περι τουτων βουλομαι σε διαβεβαιουσθαι· And I will, or desire, thee to maintain earnestly what concerns these points. The things to which the apostle refers are those of which he had just been writing, and may be thus summed up: -
1.The ruined state of man, both in soul and body.
2.The infinite goodness of God which devised his salvation.
3.The manifestation of this goodness, by the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
4.The justification which they who believed received through his blood.
5.The mission of the Holy Spirit, and the purification of the heart by his influence.
6.The hope of the resurrection of the body, and the final glorification of both it and the soul through all eternity.
7.The necessity of obedience to the will of God, and of walking worthy of the vocation wherewith they had been called.
8.And all these points he wills him to press continually on the attention of believers; and to keep constantly in view, that all good comes from God‘s infinite kindness, by and through Christ Jesus.
They which have believed in God - All Christians; for who can maintain good works but those who have the principle from which good works flow, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
These things are good and profitable - They are good in themselves, and calculated to promote the well-being of men.
Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies - In these the Jews particularly delighted; they abounded in the most frivolous questions; and, as they had little piety themselves, they were solicitous to show that they had descended from godly ancestors.
Of their frivolous questions, and the answers given to them by the wisest and most reputable of their rabbins, the following is a specimen: -
Rabbi Hillel was asked: Why have the Babylonians round heads? To which he answered: This is a difficult question, but I will tell the reason: Their heads are round because they have but little wit.
Q. Why are the eyes of the Tarmudians so soft?
A. Because they inhabit a sandy country.
Q. Why have the Africans broad feet?
A. Because they inhabit a marshy country. See more in Schoettgen.
But ridiculous and trifling as these are, they are little in comparison to those solemnly proposed and most gravely answered by those who are called the schoolmen. Here is a specimen, which I leave the reader to translate: -
Utrum essent excrementa in Paradiso? Utrum sancti resurgent cum intestinis? Utrum, si deipara fuisset vir, potuisset esse naturalis parens Christi?
These, with many thousands of others, of equal use to religion and common sense, may be found in their writings. See the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, passim. Might not the Spirit have these religious triflers in view, rather than the less ridiculous Jews? See the notes on 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23 (note).
Contentions, and strivings about the law - Of legal contentions, and different and conflicting decisions about the meaning of particular rites and ceremonies, the Talmud is full.
A man that is a heretic - Generally defined, one that is obstinately attached to an opinion contrary to the peace and comfort of society, and will neither submit to Scripture nor reason. Here it means a person who maintains Judaism in opposition to Christianity, or who insists on the necessity of circumcision, etc., in order to be saved. This is obviously the meaning of the word heretic in the only place in which it occurs in the sacred writings.
After the first and second admonition, reject - Labour to convince him of his error; but if he will not receive instruction, if he have shut his heart against conviction, then - burn him alive? No: even if demonstrably a heretic in any one sense of that word, and a disturber of the peace of the Church, God gives no man any other authority over him but to shun him, παραιτου . Do him no harm in body, soul, character, or substance; hold no communion with him; but leave him to God. See the notes on Acts 5:17; Acts 24:14 (note), where the word heresy is particularly explained.
Is subverted - Is turned out of the way in which he may be saved, and consequently sinneth - enters into that way that leads to destruction.
Being condemned of himself - This refers to the Judaizing teacher, who maintained his party and opinions for filthy lucre‘s sake. He was conscious of his own insincerity; and that he proclaimed not his system from a conscientious love of truth, but from a desire to get his livelihood. Were the Church in all countries, whether established by law or unestablished, strictly scrutinized, multitudes of heretics of this kind would be found. And perhaps this is the only bad sense in which the word should be understood.
When I shall send Artemas - or Tychicus - These were either deacons or presbyters, which the apostle intended to send to Crete, to supply the place of Titus. Who Artemas was we know not; he is not mentioned in any other place in the New Testament. Tychicus was a native of Asia, as we learn from Acts 20:4 (note).
Be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis - Nicopolis was a city of Epirus, on the gulf of Ambracia, near to Actium, which Augustus built in commemoration of his victory over Mark Antony. There was another Nicopolis in Thrace, at the entrance of Macedonia, on the river Nessus; but the former is supposed to be the place here intended.
For I have determined there to winter - Hence the apostle was at liberty, seeing his spending the winter at this or at any other practicable place depended on his own determination. It was probably now pretty late in the autumn, and the apostle was now drawing near to Nicopolis; for he certainly was not yet arrived, else he would not have said, I have determined εκει , There, to winter.
Bring Zenas the lawyer - This person is only mentioned in this place; whether he was a Jewish, Roman, or Greek lawyer, we cannot tell.
And Apollos - Of this person we have some valuable particulars in Acts 18:24; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 4:6. Either St. Paul had left these at Crete when he visited that island, or he had heard that, in their evangelical itinerancy, they were about to pass through it.
On their journey diligently - Afford them the means to defray their expenses. The Churches through which these evangelists passed, bore their expenses from one to the other. See 3 John 1:6.
And let others also learn to maintain good works - There is something very remarkable in this expression. The words καλων εργων προΐστασθαι , which we translate to maintain good works, occur also in Titus 3:8; and some think they mean, to provide for our own, and the necessities of others, by working at some honest occupation; and that this was necessary to be taught to the Cretans, let Ours also learn, etc., who were naturally and practically idle gluttons. Kypke observed that the words mean,
1.To be employed in good works.
2.To defend good works, and to recommend the performance of them.
3.To promote and forward good works; to be always first in them.
For necessary uses - That they may be able at all times to help the Church of God, and those that are in want.
That they be not unfruitful - As they must be if they indulge themselves in their idle, slothful disposition.
All that are with me - He means his companions in the ministry.
Salute thee - Wish thee well, and desire to be affectionately remembered to thee.
Greet them that love us in the faith, - All that love us for Christ‘s sake, and all that are genuine Christians.
Grace be with you - May the Divine favor be your portion for ever.
Some MSS. read, The grace of the Lord be with you all; others, The grace of God be with you all; and one, Grace be with Thy spirit, as if the greeting was sent to Titus only, whereas the others send it to the whole Church at Crete.
Amen - This is wanting in ACD, and some others.
The subscriptions are, as usual, various. Those of the Versions are the following: -
The Epistle to Titus was written from Nicopolis; and sent by the hands of Zena and Apollo. - Syriac.
To the man Titus. - Aethiopic.
The end of the epistle: it was written from Nicopolis. Incessant and eternal praise be to the God of glory. Amen. - Arabic.
Written in Nicopolis, and sent by Artemas, his disciple. - Coptic.
The Epistle to Titus is ended, who was the first bishop of the Church of the Cretans: and it was written from Nicopolis of Macedonia. - Philoxenian Syriac.
There is no subscription in the Vulgate.
The Manuscripts are also various.
To Titus. - C, and Clarom.
That to Titus is completed: that to Philemon begins. - DEFG.
To Titus, written from Nicopolis. - A.
To Titus, written from Nicopolis of Macedonia. - of the Macedonians. - From Nicopolis, which is a province of Macedonia.
Paul the apostle‘s Epistle to Titus.
To Titus, ordained the first bishop of the Church of the Cretans: written from Nicopolis of Macedonia. - Common Greek Text.
To Titus, archbishop of Crete. - One of the Vienna MSS., written a.d. 1331.
There is not one of these subscriptions of any authority, and some of them are plainly ridiculous. We do not know that Titus was what we term bishop, much less that he was ordained bishop of Crete, as appointed to a particular see; and still less that he was the first bishop there. As to his being archbishop, that is the fiction of a time of deep darkness. That the epistle was written from some place near to Nicopolis, of Epirus, is very probable. That it was not written at Nicopolis is evident; and that this was not Nicopolis of Macedonia is also very probable. See the preface to this epistle for farther information on this point. And see a treatise by old Mr. Prynne entitled, The unbishoping of Timothy and Titus, 4to. Lond. 1636 and 1660, where, among many crooked things, there are some just observations.