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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Titus 3



Verse 1

1. ὑπομίμνησκε αὐτούς. Put them in mind (cp. 2 Timothy 2:14) &c. The injunctions which follow would not be novel to the Cretan Christians; but, though familiar, they will bear repetition.

ἀρχαῖς ἐξουσίαις ὑποτάσσεσθαι, to be subject to rulers, to authorities, a very necessary injunction to men who might be apt to presume on their possession of the true faith, so as to offend the pagan government under which their lot was cast. It is said by Polybius (VI. 46.9) that the Cretans were notorious for their seditious character, and it has been supposed that St Paul had this revolutionary spirit of theirs in his mind; but the qualities which he proceeds to mention in the next verse do not seem to have any such special reference, and, as a matter of fact, he addressed like counsel to the Romans (Romans 13:1); cp. also 1 Timothy 2:1-3, where the Ephesian Christians are directed to pray for ‘all in authority.’

πειθαρχεῖν, to be obedient, sc. to the civil law and to the magistrates; St Paul never underrates the duties of citizenship.

πειθαρχεῖν is not found anywhere else in St Paul’s writings, but it occurs in a speech of his (Acts 27:21).

πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἑτοίμους εἷναι, to be ready unto every good work; for, as he explains in the parallel passage Romans 13:3, ‘rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil.’ see on 2 Timothy 2:21.

Verse 1-2


Verse 2

2. μηδένα βλασφημεῖν, to speak ill of no man (cp. Judges 1:8); not an easy precept to observe, if we are surrounded by persons whose principles of faith and conduct we believe to be quite unsound and mistaken. see on 2 Timothy 3:2.

ἀμάχους εἶναι, ἐπιεικεῖς, not to be contentious, to be forbearing. These two adjectives are coupled again among the qualifications of the ἐπίσκοπος at 1 Timothy 3:3, where see the note.

πᾶσαν ἐνδεικνυμένους πραὒτητα πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους, shewing all meekness to all men. For the form of the sentence cp. ch. Titus 2:10 above; and for πραὖτης see on 2 Timothy 2:25. We see here that the exhibition of this grace is not to be reserved for the intercourse of fellow Christians; it is to be displayed to all men, as a mark of the followers of Him who was Himself πραὖς (Matthew 11:29).

Verse 3

3. ἧμεν γάρ ποτε καὶ ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ. For we ourselves were once &c. Before we became Christians we were even as these very heathen.

ἀνόητοι, foolish, senseless; cp. Galatians 3:1.

ἀπειθεῖς, disobedient, sc. to God. There is a general parallelism between the evil qualities enumerated in this verse, and those against which the Cretans are warned in Titus 3:2; thus ἀπειθεῖς corresponds to πειθαρχεῖν, but the disobedience which the Apostle has now in his mind is not disobedience to earthly rulers. Cp. all through the mournful catalogue in Romans 1:30 f.

πλανώμενοι may mean either deceived (as the English versions have), or ‘going astray,’ errantes (Vg.). The former seems preferable (cp. πλανώμενοι at 2 Timothy 3:13, where it is certainly passive), but the intransitive meaning might be supported by such passages as Matthew 18:12; Hebrews 5:2.

δουλεύοντες ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ ἡδοναῖς ποικίλαις, slaves to divers lusts and pleasures. It is curious that the common Greek word ἡδονή occurs nowhere else in St Paul’s writings. For ποικίλος see on 2 Timothy 3:6.

ἐν κακίᾳ καὶ φθόνῳ διάγοντες, living in malice and envy. κακία, no less than φθόνος, expresses an internal malignity, which is admirably expressed by the word malice. We have the full phrase βίον διάγειν at 1 Timothy 2:2.

στυγητοί, μισοῦντες ἀλλήλους, hateful, hating one another.

The word στυγητός does not occur again in the Greek Bible; we have it in Philo (de Dec. Orac. 24).

Verses 3-7


Verse 4

4. ὅτε δὲ ἡ χρηστότης καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπεφάνη τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ. But when the kindness of our Saviour God and His love toward man appeared, sc. at the Advent of Christ (cp. John 3:16). Thus Titus 3:4-8 are appointed as the Evening Second Lesson for Christmas Day.

The combination of χρηστότης καὶ φιλανθρωπία, benignitas et humanitas (Vulg.) is very common in Greek, as Field has shewn by many examples.

χρηστότης is a specially Pauline word, not occurring in the N.T. outside St Paul’s writings; he applies it to man at 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12, and uses it, as here, of an attribute of God at Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:7. It signifies the graciousness of the Divine love for man; the yoke of Christ is called χρηστός (Matthew 11:30).

φιλανθρωπία in Greek generally means simply kindness to individuals in distress (e.g. 2 Maccabees 6:22), and does not involve the thought of mankind at large, as the English word philanthropy does. However, when φιλανθρωπία is used of superior beings (e.g. 2 Maccabees 14:9) and especially when it is used of God it has this widest range. The two attributes χρηστότης καὶ φιλανθρωπία are here in striking contrast to the στυγητοί, μισοῦντες ἀλλήλους of the last verse; love of man for man is best engendered by the thought of God’s all-embracing love.

For the epithet σωτήρ, here applied to God the Father, see on 1 Timothy 1:1.

Verse 5

5. οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνη ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν ἡμεῖς, not by works done in righteousness which we did ourselves. This is the side of St Paul’s teaching so prominent in the Second Group of his Epistles (cp. Romans 9:11; Galatians 2:16 &c.). No more pregnant statement of the doctrines of the Gospel is found anywhere in his writings than we find in these verses. see on 1 Timothy 2:10 and 2 Timothy 1:9.

For the reading see the critical note.

ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς, but according to His own mercy He saved us. The position of αὐτοῦ makes it emphatic, and marks its contrast with ἡμεῖς of the preceding clause.

That man’s salvation is ‘according to’ God’s mercy is deep-rooted in the O.T.; cp. Ps. 108:26, σῶσόν με κατὰ τὸ μέγα ἔλεός σου.

διὰ λουτροῦ παλινγενεσίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος ἁγίου, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

That the ‘washing of regeneration’ is the Water of Baptism is undoubted; see Ephesians 5:26 καθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος. It is the instrument (διά) of salvation (cp. 1 Peter 3:21 ὅ καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σώζει βάπτισμα), the means, that is, through which we are placed in a ‘state of salvation,’ in union with the mystical Body of Christ; cp. Galatians 3:27. For λουτρόν ‘washing,’ cp. Song of Solomon 4:2; Sirach 34:25.

Two constructions are grammatically possible. [1] διά may govern λουτροῦ and also ἀνακαινώσεως, ‘through the washing of regeneration and through the renewing of the Holy Spirit,’ as the margin of the R.V. and, by its punctuation, the A.V., suggest. So it is taken by Tyndale, “by the fountain of the New Birth and with the renewing of the Holy Ghost”; and, of ancient versions, the Peshito also takes the words thus. Indeed D2*E*G d e g bear witness to the insertion in the text of διά before ἀνακαινώσεως. Or, [2] we may take ἀνακαινώσεως (with the Greek Fathers generally) as a second genitive after λουτροῦ, the meaning being ‘through a washing which was a washing of regeneration and of renewal of the Holy Spirit.’ This is the rendering of the Vulgate, “per lavacrum regenerations et renovationis Spiritus sancti,” and of the Bohairic and Armenian versions, and is adopted by the R.V. Both [1] and [2] being admissible in grammar, [2] seems to preserve better the balance of the sentence, and to bring out better the double function, as it were, of the baptismal water, which is not only the instrument of the New Birth (cp. John 3:5), but a pledge of the abiding grace of the Holy Ghost. It is this second aspect of baptismal grace, the Renovation of the Spirit, which is prominent in Confirmation. παλινγενεσία is, as it were, a ‘new creation’ (cp. Matthew 19:28, the only other place where the word is found in the N.T.); ἀνακαίνωσις (cp. Romans 12:2) is the daily renewal of grace which the Holy Spirit gives; cp. 2 Corinthians 4:16.

The Christmas Day Collect (while leaning to interpretation [1] above) supplies a good devotional paraphrase, where we pray that “we being regenerate, and made God’s children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by His Holy Spirit.”

Verse 6

6. οὖ ἐξέχεεν ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς πλουσίως, which, sc. the Holy Spirit, He, sc. God the Father, the subject of the whole sentence, poured out upon us richly.

By the ordinary rules of attraction, οὖ is attracted into the case of the immediately preceding genitive, to which it refers.

The verb ἐκχέειν is the verb used to signify the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:17 (Joel 3:1) and 33. In the former passage the occasion was the Day of Pentecost; here the reference is to that outpouring of grace in baptism which is always pledged to the penitent and faithful soul: cp. Acts 2:38.

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν. This is closely connected with the preceding ἐξέχεεν and not, of course, with the more distant ἔσωσεν of Titus 3:5. The co-operation of all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in the work of grace is tersely and pregnantly expressed in this short verse. If the Father is σωτήρ (Titus 3:4, see on 1 Timothy 1:1), so also the Son is σωτήρ, in a sense undreamed of under the Old Covenant.

Verse 7

7. ἵνα δικαιωθέντες τῇ ἐκείνου χάριτι, in order that, having been justified by His grace &c. The ἵνα has its full telic force; this heirship now spoken of is the final purpose of that rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit just described.

The mention of justification in such a context is characteristically Pauline; cp. Romans 3:24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι, a parallel which determines the reference (which grammar does not forbid) of ἐκείνου to God the Father.

κληρονόμοι γενηθῶμεν, we might be made heirs, sc. heirs of all the evangelical promises in Christ. κληρονόμοι is used thus absolutely by St Paul; cp. e.g. Romans 4:14; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29.

κατʼ ἐλπίδα ζωῆς αἰωνίον, according to the hope of life eternal. See on ch. Titus 1:2 for this phrase. The heirship is κατʼ ἐλπίδα ζωῆς αἰωνίου, for if there were no such hope, then the heirship would be vain and disappointing; cp. Hebrews 9:15.

Verse 8

8. πιστὸς ὁ λόγος. The ‘faithful saying’ in question is certainly to be found in the preceding Titus 3:4-7; it has even been supposed by some that we have here a fragment from a hymn on the way of salvation (see on 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:10), but there is not sufficient evidence to confirm the hypothesis. No nobler statement of doctrine is found anywhere in the Pauline Epistles than these verses present.

καὶ περὶ τούτων βούλομαί σε διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, and concerning these things I will (see on 1 Timothy 2:8) that thou affirm confidently. See for διαβεβαιοῦσθαι on 1 Timothy 1:7.

ἵνα φροντίζωσιν καλῶν ἔργων προἶστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ, that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. Right belief must exhibit its fruits in life; this is the continual burden of St Paul’s exhortations in the Pastoral Epistles; see on 1 Timothy 2:10. φροντίζειν does not happen to occur again in the N.T., but it is frequent in the LXX. For the translation maintain good works the R.V. gives the marginal alternative “profess honest occupations.” There is no doubt that this is an admissible meaning for προῑ̓στασθαι, and ‘honest trades’ would give a very good sense to the injunction here, and again at Titus 3:14. But the usage of the phrase καλὰ ἔργα in the Pastorals (see on 1 Timothy 2:10) is decisive for the rendering good works here, as in the other instances of its occurrence; and προῑ̓στασθαι may very well mean ‘be forward in,’ ‘be foremost in the practice of’ (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12, and 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Timothy 3:12). We therefore retain with confidence the ordinary rendering of the words.

ταῦτά ἐστιν καλὰ καὶ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. These things, sc. the preceding injunctions, are good and profitable unto men. For ὠφέλιμος see on 1 Timothy 4:8.

Verses 8-11


Verse 9

9. μωρὰς δὲ ζητήσεις καὶ γενεαλογίας καὶ ἔρεις καὶ μάχας νομικὰς περιίστασο, but shun foolish questions and genealogies and strifes and fightings about the law.

The corresponding advice in the Epistles to Timothy will be found 1 Timothy 1:4 ff; 1 Timothy 6:4, and 2 Timothy 2:23, where see the notes. The language descriptive of the forms of heresy to be avoided, and of the dangers resulting from idle and irrelevant speculations, is remarkably similar in all three Epistles. See Introd. chap. IV. For περιίστασο cp. 2 Timothy 2:16.

εἰσὶν γὰρ ἀνωφελεῖς καὶ μάταιοι, for they are unprofitable and vain. The word ἀνωφελής does not occur elsewhere in St Paul; cp. Hebrews 7:18. Ellicott notes that, although the adjective μάταιος is treated here and at James 1:26 as of two terminations, as in Attic Greek, yet the feminine form is found 1 Corinthians 15:17; 1 Peter 1:18. The simple adj. μάταιος does not occur again in the Pastorals, but the false teachers are called ματαιολόγοι (Titus 1:10) and their doctrine ματαιολογία (1 Timothy 1:6).

Verse 10

10. αἱρετικὸν ἄνθρωπον μετὰ μίαν καὶ δευτέραν νουθεσίαν παραιτοῦ. A man that is heretical after a first and second admonition avoid. We must be careful not to read into the adjective αἱρετικός all that it came to imply at a later stage of the Church’s life. The essence of the idea of αἵρεσις in St Paul (see 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20) is that wilful ‘choosing’ for oneself, which is the root of division and schism. The duty of the Christian teacher, in his view, is to ‘guard the deposit’ of doctrine which has been entrusted to him, and to refrain from vain and irrelevant speculations on matters where our only possible source of knowledge is revelation. The αἱρετικὸς ἄνθρωπος, on the other hand, is the man who is always trying to strike out a new line, and who is a cause of faction in the Church. αἱρετικός, thus, means rather ‘one who causes divisions’ than ‘one who holds false doctrine,’ a meaning which the word did not connote until a later date.

παραιτεῖσθαι (see on 1 Timothy 4:7) has no reference to anything like formal excommunication; the counsel here offered to Titus is simply to avoid persons who cause strife by their unedifying disputations and theories.

Verse 10-11


Verse 11

11. εἰδὼς ὅτι ἐξέστραπται ὁ τοιοῦτος. Knowing, as you do, that such an one is perverted.

ἐκστρέφεσθαι does not occur again in the N.T., but cp. Deuteronomy 32:20; Amos 6:12.

The use of τοιοῦτος is thoroughly Pauline; cp. 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 2:6; Galatians 6:1.

καὶ ἁμαρτάνει ὤν αὐτοκατάκριτος, and sinneth, being self-condemned. This principle is difficult to carry into practice. There is nothing more common, or more lamentable, in theological controversy than the assumption that a theological opponent is at heart dishonest and ‘self-condemned.’ It is not possible to believe that any justification for this temper of mind is to be found in St Paul’s words here or in 1 Timothy 4:2, where he speaks of the “speakers of lies who are branded in their conscience.” At the least it may be laid down that for anyone possessed of a less keen insight into character than was given to St Paul for his special work, it is not only unseemly, but presumptuous and wicked to impute hypocrisy to those who seem to be ‘heretically’ minded. That may indeed be true; but we can never be sure of it, and it is probably far less often true than we are prone to believe. In all men the power of self-deceit is so strong that self-condemnation is very unusual. αὐτοκατάκριτος is ἅπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible.

Verse 12

12. ὅταν πέμψω Ἀρτεμᾶν πρὸς σὲ ἢ Τυχικόν. Whenever I shall have sent Artemas or Tychicus to thee, sc. probably to supply the place of the Chief Pastor of Crete during the absence of Titus. We learn from 2 Timothy 4:12 that, at a later date, Tychicus, who was a trusted friend of the Apostle, was sent to Ephesus; so there is just a slight probability that it was Artemas who was sent to Crete, but we do not really know anything certain of the course of events (see Introd. p. xxxii.). Of Artemas we have no knowledge; though there is a late tradition that he was bishop of Lystra.

For the construction of ὄταν with the aor. subj. see on 1 Timothy 5:11.

σπούδασον ἐλθεῖν πρός με εἰς Νικόπολιν, ἐκεῖ γὰρ κέκρικα παραχειμάσαι. Use diligence (cp. 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 4:21) to come to Nicopolis, for there I have determined to winter.

There were at least three cities called Nicopolis, in Cilicia, in Thrace, and in Epirus respectively. Of these the third seems in every way more likely to be the city where St Paul proposed to winter (see Introd. p. xxxii.) than either of the other two. It was an important place, built by Augustus after the battle of Actium, and deriving its name ‘the City of Victory’ from that event. The use of ἐκεῖ (‘there’ not ‘here’) plainly indicates that the Apostle was not at Nicopolis at the time of writing. Despite this, the colophon appended to Titus 3:15 of the rec. text reports that the Epistle was written ἀπὸ Νικοπόλεως ΄ακεδονίας (see crit. note), which makes the further mistake of identifying the Nicopolis of this verse with the Macedonian or Thracian city of that name.

See further on 2 Timothy 4:10, where Titus is said to have gone to Dalmatia, a notice which agrees well enough with the present verse if, as we have assumed, the Nicopolis in Epirus on the Ambracian Gulf is the place whose name is recorded. It is worth adding that, as no such city is mentioned anywhere else in connexion with St Paul’s history, the detail has the appearance of truth, and is extremely unlikely to be the invention of a forger of a later age, who would be careful to confine his allusions to places already associated with the name of St Paul.

For the construction of κέκρικα followed by an infinitive cp. 1 Corinthians 5:3; 1 Corinthians 7:37.

Verse 12-13


Verse 13

13. Ζηνᾶν τὸν νομικὸν καὶ Ἀπολλὰ σπουδαίως πρόπεμψον κ.τ.λ. With diligence (cp. 2 Timothy 1:17) set forward on their journey Zenas the lawyer and Apollos, that nothing may be wanting to them.

The duty of speeding fellow-Christians on their journeys, of giving them a good ‘send-off,’ as we say, is often mentioned by St Paul; cp. Romans 15:24; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:11; 2 Corinthians 1:16, and see also 3 John 1:6. It is, in fact, a point of hospitality, on which so much stress is naturally laid in these early years of the Church’s life.

Of Zenas we know nothing further, not even whether the epithet ὁ νομικός is intended to describe him as skilled in Roman or Hebrew law. The Gospel use of the term (Luke 7:30) might seem to favour the latter interpretation, but there is no certainty. He was by late tradition counted the author of apocryphal Acts of Titus.

Of Apollos, on the other hand, we hear several times. He is the learned and eloquent Alexandrian whom we find (Acts 18:24) at Ephesus receiving instruction from Priscilla and Aquila, and then proceeding to Corinth, where all too soon parties arose claiming respectively Apollos and Paul as their leaders (1 Corinthians 3:4 &c.). Jerome accounts for the presence of Apollos in Crete by supposing that he had retired thither until the unhappy controversies among the Corinthians should have died out. But this is not a probable account of the matter.

Verse 14

14. μανθανέτωσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἡμέτεροι καλῶν ἕργων προῑ̓στασθαι. And let our people also, sc. the Christian brethren at Crete, learn to maintain good works. Although the letter is primarily for Titus, yet it also has words of counsel for his flock. Probably a letter like this would be read aloud when the brethren were assembled for public worship.

For καλῶν ἔργων προῑ̓στασθαι see on Titus 3:8 above; here it is directly connected with what follows, viz:

εἰς τὰς ἀναγκαίας χρείας, ἵνα μὴ ὦσιν ἄκαρποι, for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. The definite article τάς is significant, viz. such necessary uses as may present themselves from time to time.

For χρεία cp. Ephesians 4:28; Philippians 4:16; and for ἄκαρπος cp. 1 Corinthians 14:14.

Verse 15

15. ἀσπάζονταί σε οἱ μετʼ ἐμοῦ πάντες. All that are with me salute thee.

This exact form of salutation is not used elsewhere by St Paul (though cp. 2 Timothy 4:21), which again may be urged as a point in favour of the genuineness of the letter, a forger not being likely to introduce unfamiliar features.

Cp. Galatians 1:2, οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοί; it is worth remarking that σύν is not once found (save in composition) in the Pastoral Epistles, its place being always supplied by μετά[515].

ἄσπασαι τοὺς φιλοῦντας ἡμᾶς ἐν πίστει. Salute them that love us in faith. ἐν πίστει seems to be used as at 1 Timothy 1:2, their πίστις being as it were the bond which unites Paul and the Cretan Christians.


ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. The Grace, sc. of our Lord, be with you all. This is the σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ (2 Thessalonians 3


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Titus 3:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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