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Ch. 3. The Apostolate its Ministry of Goodwill and Good Works
The last verse of chap, 2, in gathering up the previous counsels, also makes a link for passing to the further consideration of social and civil duties generally . So the R.V. in printing the verse as a separate paragraph. Westcott and Hort connect entirely with chap. 3.
The duty is laid down in verses 1 and 2 of living ‘in the bond of peace,’ (‘even if tyrannical’ is implied, but with Pauline tact not expressed), and ‘in dutiful allegiance to the constituted authority.’ This is enforced (verses 3 5) by the motive of God’s saving love to men ‘even when they were enemies,’ and (verses 6, 7) of the power , conveyed through the gift of the Spirit, for such a spiritual life. The appeal to this high calling closes the last of the special counsels in practical duty; as a similar lofty strain closed the last but one, ver. 14. St Paul, in drawing to an end, recapitulates (as at the end of the first letter to Timothy) the main points of the letter, viz., (1) the practical issues of religion in all the duties of life, in verse 8; a summary of 2:1 3:7; the silencing of false teachers through his appointment of good and sound elders, and his own vigorous soundness, in verses 9 11; a summary of 1:5 16. The chapter and letter then close with personal directions (ver. 12 14), and salutations (ver. 15).
1 7 . The duty of living in peace from a sense of God’s love and through the Spirit’s power
1 . Put them in mind ] ‘Them’ must be ‘the Cretan Christians’ generally: St Paul is gathering all up in his mind for his final counsel. The verb for ‘put in mind,’ and its substantive, occur twice in St John, once in St Luke, but in St Paul only in the Pastoral Epistles three times; in St Peter’s Epistles three times; and once in St Jude’s. John 14:26 shews the full construction, accus. of person and of thing, ‘He shall bring all things to your remembrance.’ The A.V. in 3 John 1:10 , ‘I will remember his deeds,’ is surely in the old sense of ‘remember,’ which survives in our valedictory request ‘remember me to all your circle;’ R.V. ‘bring to remembrance,’ cf. note on the similar compound 2 Timothy 1:6 .
to be subject to principalities and powers ] Rather, more fully as R.V. to be in subjection . Elsewhere in St Paul’s Epistles the phrase ‘principalities and powers’ refers to spiritual and angelic powers, good or evil, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24 ; Ephesians 3:10 ; Colossians 1:16 . But the word in its old sense (see Bible Word-Book , p. 477) was used of any ‘chief place,’ as in 2 Macc. 4:27 of the office of high priest. And the meaning here is the same as in the two places where it occurs in the Gospels, Luke 12:11 , where our Lord prophesies that His disciples shall be brought before ‘the rulers and the authorities,’ and 20:20, ‘so as to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor.’ There is not sufficient warrant for the connecting ‘and’ here; render to rulers to authorities . Both words illustrate the idiom ‘res pro persona.’ Vulg. ‘potestates’ from whence the Italian podestà a magistrate. The difference between the two words is that the former expresses a governing de facto , whether also de jure or not, the latter a governing de jure , a duly constituted authority. ‘They who rule’ occurs with ‘the authorities’ in the locus classicus , Romans 13:1 , where, however, R.V. has retained ‘power,’ apparently because from that passage the phrase ‘the powers that be’ has become an English household word in the sense of ‘lawful authority.’ The other household use of ‘powers’ in the phrase ‘The Great Powers,’ seems to belong rather to the synonym dynamis as expressing material force. In Matthew 28:18 the change from ‘power’ to ‘authority’ in R.V. enhances the kingly office and prerogative.
to obey magistrates ] The word only occurs Acts 5:29 , Acts 5:32 ; Acts 27:21 , where a dative follows; and so it may be here, if we join it with the preceding; but it seems more Pauline to add the verb absolutely. From note on 2:5 we should expect it to differ from the preceding clause, in being more specific in its reference to the official system of government; render perhaps to obey their rules , ‘to obey state laws.’ Fairbairn refers to the earlier history of the island and a ‘known tendency on the part of the Cretans to insubordination and turmoil,’ quoting from Polybius vi. 46, ‘constantly upset by seditions and murders and tribal wars.’
to be ready to every good work ] This takes us on a step still further; first a general submission, then a loyal acceptance and execution of public orders, then the learning and labouring truly to get one’s own living and to do one’s duty, domestic, social and civil. That ‘the good work’ has such a reference is implied in Romans 13:3 . The ‘ready’ is exactly ‘whatsover ye do, do it heartily unto the Lord,’ cf. Colossians 3:23 . ‘The true workman never shirks when the overseer is not by; he has not one rule for work done for himself, and another for work done for his master. There is a work that is mean and pitiful; all grudging unwilling toil, all ‘scamped’ work, fair to the eye but second rate in reality, is mean and pitiful; it is like work done by the slave at the whip’s end, or like the labour of the convict in gaol; it is forced and unwelcome and as badly done as possible.’ M. A. Lewis, Faithful Soldiers and Servants , p. 58.
2 . to speak evil of no man] Cf. 1 Timothy 1:20 , 1 Timothy 1:6 :1; Titus 2:5 . In the first place used absolutely ‘to blaspheme,’ as Acts 26:11 , ‘I strove to make them blaspheme.’
to be no brawlers , but gentle ] Better, as R.V., not to be contentious ; the word only occurs in N. T., 1 Timothy 3:3 , where it is joined, as here, with ‘gentle’ or ‘forbearing’; see note there.
shewing all meekness ] The compound form of the word has occurred 1 Timothy 6:11 , coupled with ‘patience,’ see note. The distinction between ‘gentleness’ above and ‘meekness’ is given by Aquinas (quoted in N. T. Syn . p. 152), as twofold, (1) ‘gentleness,’ clementia , is ‘lenitas superioris ad inferiorem’; meekness, mansuetudo , is ‘cuiuslibet ad quemlibet’: (2) ‘gentleness’ is in outward acts, ‘est moderativa exterioris punitionis’; ‘meekness’ is in the inner spirit, ‘proprie diminuit passionem irae.’ But besides its separateness of force in combination with ‘gentleness,’ the ‘meekness’ here is especially fitted to lead on to the argument of the next verse from its own proper sense. ‘It is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God, when we accept His dealings with us without disputing. He that is meek indeed will know himself a sinner amongst sinners; or if there was One who could not know Himself such, yet He too bore a sinner’s doom and endured therefore the contradiction of sinners, Matthew 11:29 , “I am meek and lowly of heart;” and this knowledge of his own sin will teach him to endure meekly the provocations with which they may provoke him, and not to withdraw himself from the burdens which their sin may impose upon him (Galatians 6:1 ; 2 Timothy 2:25 ).’ N. T. Syn . p. 150.
3 . For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish ] ‘Sometimes’ in the old sense of ‘sometime,’ Ephesians 2:13 , ‘ye who sometimes were afar off.’ Cp. Shaksp. Rich. II . 1. 2. 54 ( Bible Word-Book , p. 551):
‘Farewell, old Gaunt: thy sometimes brother’s wife
With her companion grief must end her life.’
The position and tense of the verb and particle justify our rendering For there was a time when we too were foolish . ‘Foolish’; ‘in this word there is always a moral fault lying at the root of the intellectual,’ N. T. Syn . § 75; as in Luke 24:25 , ‘O foolish men and slow of heart ,’ and Galatians 3:1 ‘O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you?’ so ‘wanting in spiritual sense,’ ‘blind’; cf. 1 Timothy 6:9 ; 2 Timothy 3:9 .
disobedient, deceived ] disobedient , as 1:16, 2 Timothy 3:2 , and all other N.T. passages; ‘insuadibiles,’ Theod. Mops. Lat.; ‘inobedientes,’ Jerome; not as Vulg.’ increduli,’ ‘distrustful;’ going astray , rather than ‘deceived;’ the verb is no doubt used in both passive and neuter sense, but compare the use of the pres. part., Matthew 18:12 , ‘doth he not leave the ninety and nine … and seek that which goeth astray?’ and 1 Peter 2:25 , ‘For ye were going astray like sheep;’ where the argument for patience from a sense of having erred and strayed is just the same. May not St Peter have taken up this very force of the word, and so been led to the quotation from Isaiah 53:0 ? It is a question whether even in 2 Timothy 3:13 ‘leading astray and going astray’ would not express the antithesis better than ‘deceiving and being deceived.’ There is no stress on their ‘being deceived,’ which might furnish rather an excuse than an aggravation.
serving divers lusts and pleasures ] The Greek is stronger, being the slaves of , as Luke 16:13 ‘to be God’s slave and Mammon’s slave’ and elsewhere. ‘Divers’ is only used by St Paul in these ‘Pastoral’ letters; of diseases, Luke 4:40 : twice in Heb., twice in St Peter, once in St James. But the compound is used of ‘wisdom,’ Ephesians 3:10 . ‘Pleasures’ in the N.T. use is stronger than our English word. It only occurs James 4:1 , James 4:3 of lusts and adulteries, 2 Peter 2:13 of day-revels and debauchery, and Luke 8:14 of their ‘choking’ effect, along with carking care and riches.
living in malice and envy ] ‘Malice’ is the ‘evil habit of mind’ which manifests itself in positive evil and harm-doing, see note on 2:9 and Trench, N. T. Syn . § 11. It comes between a state of envy and the actual working of ill to a neighbour.
hateful , and hating one another ] Vulg. ‘odibiles odientes invicem’; ‘hateful’ in the particular form of the Greek word here does not occur elsewhere in N.T., but is formed just as ‘abominable’ in Titus 1:16 . The full sense is well seen in the compound ‘hateful to God’ (not as A.V. ‘haters of God’) Romans 1:30 .
The whole verse seems an echo, in brief, of the fuller description of heathen life written ten years before in Romans 1:18-32 . As in 2:12, St Paul identifies himself with the Cretans in self-condemnation, and divine mercy; exemplifying the ‘meekness’ he inculcates.
4 . The contrast is striking; God hated the sinners’ sins, and the sinners hated one another, but God loved all the sinners through it all, and at the right time let His ‘loving kindness’ ‘appear.’ Render: When the kindness of our Saviour God and his love toward man appeared . ‘Kindness’ is the word in Ephesians 2:0 , the passage of which the present seems a reminiscence; there its colleague is the Pauline ‘grace,’ 2:5, 7, 8. The proper force of the word is well given N. T. Syn . § 63 ‘Wine is chrestos which has been mellowed with age, Luke 5:39 ; Christ’s yoke is chrestos , as having nothing harsh or galling about it, Matthew 11:30 .’ Jerome’s definition from the Stoics is quoted, ‘Benignitas est virtus sponte ad benefaciendum exposita.’ Abp Trench adds: ‘This chrestotes was so predominantly the character of Christ’s ministry that it is nothing wonderful to learn from Tertullian (Revelation 3:0; Revelation 3:0 ) how ‘Christus’ became ‘Chrestus,’ and ‘Christiani’ ‘Chrestiani, on the lips of the heathen with the undertone, it is true, of contempt.’ In N.T. usage the word is peculiar to St Paul. ‘Love toward man’ our ‘philanthropy’ occurs Acts 28:2 , and the adverb 27:3, ‘shewed us no common kindness,’ ‘treated Paul kindly.’ But St Paul, as with many other words, elevates it to a higher height than that of man’s kindness to man, and ‘philanthropy’ is thenceforth even in its ordinary sphere transfigured with the brightness of the character of God. The best Christian should be the best philanthropist.
God our Saviour ] As before, so frequently, of the Father; while below the same title is given to the Son, ver. 6; as in chap. 2:10, 11 followed by 13.
5 . not by works of righteousness ] The exact grammatical form is rendered by not by virtue of works, works in righteousness which we did . We should read the neut. accus. of the relative with the best authorities, rather than the genitive here. Bp Wordsworth well explains the reason of the clause: that when those false teachers were asked what was their ground of hope of salvation, they would reply ‘The works wrought in righteousness which we did’; but St Paul would answer ‘God’s mercy.’
he saved us ] Vulg. ‘salvos nos fecit.’ Compare the aorist tenses in Colossians 2:13-15 . Bp Lightfoot thus brings out the force ( Revision of N.T . p. 85): ‘St Paul regards this change from sin to righteousness, from bondage to freedom, from death to life, as summed up in one definite act of the past; potentially to ail men in our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, actually to each individual man when he accepts Christ, is baptized into Christ.’ ‘It is the definiteness, the absoluteness of this change, considered as a historical crisis, which forms the central idea of St Paul’s teaching, and which the aorist marks.’ See also note on 1 Timothy 2:4 .
by the washing of regeneration ] Properly through the washing or through the laver ; the preposition expresses the channel or means through which; the ‘washing’ or ‘laver’ ‘of regeneration’ is evidently one phrase for the sacrament of Holy Baptism. The genitive marks the attribute or inseparable accompaniments,’ Winer § 30 2 b, who quotes Mark 1:4 , ‘repentance-baptism.’ Cf. Colossians 1:22 , ‘his flesh-body,’ i.e. His material, natural body, distinguished from the mystical body before mentioned. Cf. also ‘the fire of testing,’ Teaching of the Twelve Apostles xvi. 5.
Should we render here ‘washing’ or ‘laver’? It has been usual among English commentators as Wordsw., Alf., Conybeare, Ellicott, to render ‘laver,’ and to understand the baptismal font, on the ground that the Greek word ‘means always a vessel or pool in which washing takes place.’ So no doubt the form in tron properly signifies, as e.g. arotron a plough, alabastron , an ointment-bottle. But classical usage is in the plural ‘a bath,’ Hom. Il . xviii. 489, Æsch. Ag . 1080; in the sing , ‘the act of washing,’ Hes. Op . 755, ‘expiatory libations,’ Soph. El . 84, ‘water for washing,’ Œd. Col . 1599; Aristoph. Lys . 378. The Septuagint usage is only in the sing., Jeremiah 31:25 , ‘A man baptized from the death of sin, and again taking hold of it, what does he gain from his washing?’ Song of Solomon 4:2 ‘Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes that are newly shorn, which are come up from the washing.’ The N.T. usage is only in the sing., Ephesians 5:26 , ‘having cleansed it (the Church) by the washing of water with the word,’ R.V., with margin ‘Gr. laver,’ and the present passage where R.V. gives ‘washing,’ with margin ‘Or, laver.’ According to R.V. rules this inconsistency neutralises its verdict. For in Ephesians 5:26 it is implied that ‘laver’ is more exact ; in Tit. that ‘washing’ is more, and ‘laver’ less likely, as the meaning of the Greek. On the whole the classical usage, the A.V. and R.V. text, support the rendering ‘washing.’ As to the form of the word, the Greeks may have been at liberty to divert it from its proper meaning, having the kindred form loutêr for ‘a bath,’ which, according to analogy, should be ‘a bathing man.’ Somewhat similarly having astêr for ‘a star’ they used astron for ‘a cluster of stars.’
regeneration ] ‘ Palingenesia is one of the many words which the Gospel found, and, so to speak, glorified.’ Abp Trench, who admirably draws out the enlargement here, N. T. Syn . § 18. The word had been used by the Pythagoreans, in the doctrine of transmigration of souls, for their reappearance in new bodies; by the Stoics for the periodic renovation of the earth in spring; in Cicero it describes his restoration to his dignities and honours after his return from exile; in Josephus the restoration of the Jewish nation after the captivity. The word does not occur in the Septuagint; and in N.T. only here and Matthew 19:28 . ‘In our Lord’s words there is evident reference to the new birth of the whole creation (Acts 3:21 ), which shall be when the Son of Man hereafter comes in His glory; while St Paul’s “washing of regeneration” has to do with the new birth not of the whole travailing creation, but of the single soul, which is now evermore finding place.… The palingenesia which Scripture proclaims begins with the microcosmus of single souls; but it does not end there; it does not cease its effectual working till it has embraced the whole macrocosmus of the universe.’
But if, as seems most consistent with the whole chapter, and with St Matthew’s grand aim to paint a present ‘kingdom of the heavens,’ the reference of Matthew 19:28 is to the Church , Catholic and Apostolic , then ‘regeneration’ in both passages refers to the same act and epoch, when our Lord having ‘overcome the sharpness of death’ opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers, and on the day of Pentecost 3000 souls said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ and were baptized by them ‘unto the remission of their sins,’ and ‘continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship.’ In our Lord’s words and in St Paul’s the setting up of this kingdom, the entrance into it, is life from the dead, a second birth; and John 3:3 , John 3:5 ‘Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God; Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,’ (summed up in palingenesia Matthew 19:28 ) explains and is explained by Ephesians 5:25 , Ephesians 5:26 , ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it, that he might cleanse it by the washing of water with the word’ (summed up in palingenesia :, Titus 3:5 ).
and renewing of the Holy Ghost ] R.V. keeps this rendering of A.V. which necessarily makes ‘renewing’ depend like ‘regeneration’ on ‘the washing’; giving in the margin as a good, but not so good, construction ‘and through renewing,’ where the government is carried back to the preposition. It is only a question of the naturalness of the order of words, and of the doctrine that ‘renewing’ or ‘renovation’ depends on Baptism being expressly stated or left to be inferred. The doctrine itself cannot but be true, as life must precede growth , and growth must depend upon life . Compare Ephesians 5:26 , where the purpose of Christ giving Himself up for the Church is stated to be, first that He might cleanse it by the washing of water through the word (as above), and then that He might sanctify it, till there should be no spot nor blemish; and Romans 12:2 , ‘Be ye transformed (present tense) by the renewal of your mind;’ see that the gradual restoration of the Divine image be ever going forward. No nobler commentary on the phrase has been written than the ancient ‘Veni Creator.’
6 . which he shed on us abundantly ] More closely in R.V. which he poured out upon us richly ; the verb is the same, in the same tense, as in Acts 2:33 , ‘he hath poured forth this’; the aorist there being used according to Greek idiom of what has just happened, here of God’s objective act once for all, in which all His successive giving was potentially included.
through Jesus Christ our Saviour ] ‘As its channel and medium,’ Alford. ‘All the spiritual Blessings of the New birth, and of the New life, are represented as flowing down to us from and out of the one fountain and well-spring of the love of God the Father ; and are all derived to us through God the Son, God and Man, Who is the sole channel of all grace to men; and are applied to us personally by the agency of God the Holy Ghost. All these Blessings come to us through the Incarnation of God the Son, Who took our nature and died for us, and washed us from our sins by His blood. And the Incarnation is, as it were, the point of contact at which the Channel of Filial Grace joins on to the Well-spring of Paternal Love. And the point of contact at which the living water of Grace, which flows from the Well-spring of Paternal Love through the Filial channel of Grace, is poured forth into our souls is in the laver of our New Birth in Baptism.’ Wordsworth.
7 . being justified … be made heirs ] The word ‘justifying’ and ‘justification’ occur 25 times in the great group of Epistles, written 10 years before this to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, whose subject is ‘Christ the Redeemer,’ ‘Christ for us.’ It has not been used in the next great group written five years before this, to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians, whose subject is ‘Christ the Life,’ ‘Christ in us,’ ‘Christ our Sanctification.’ ‘Righteousness,’ however, that right relation between God and man, the restoration to which is justification, occurs seven times against 50 times in the former group. So in Ephesians 5:26 (already quoted as parallel in form and sense to our present passage), ‘the cleansing’ is the justifying, and the ‘sanctifying’ follows, as here ‘being heirs’ follows. This verse then, in its two clauses, repeats, with reference to God the Son, what in verse 5 was said with reference to God the Father as to the twofold saving mercy; just as in the former ‘Gospel’ passage, 2:11 14, ‘renunciation’ and ‘obedience’ are both spoken of, first as the work of God the Father’s grace (11, 12), and then as the result of God the Son’s gift of Himself (14). The justification by God the Father’s grace the regeneration effected potentially once for all by Christ through His death, resurrection and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and appropriated individually by Faith (expressed or implied) in Baptism, is to be followed by a ‘life of heirship’ or ‘sanctification’; so the Latin translation of Theod. Mops. ‘ut heredes efficiamur,’ and the comment, ‘at segregavit nos in ditissimam quam nobis bonorum praestitit fruitionem,’ the third of the Baptismal Blessings, ‘inheritors of the kingdom of heaven,’ with a right and title to receive now ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’
according to the hope of eternal life ] (1) In A.V. and R.V. it is implied that these words are to be taken together and ‘made heirs’ left absolute; then this last clause finds an eloquent expansion in Ephesians 5:27 (see above), and ‘glorification’ crowns ‘sanctification,’ as sanctification followed justification. (2) The R.V. margin gives ‘heirs, according to hope, of eternal life.’ in this case ‘eternal life’ must most fittingly be interpreted as usually in St John, and 1 Timothy 4:8 , 1 Timothy 4:6 :12, 19, ‘the spiritual life that is and is to come;’ ‘according to hope,’ will be as Ephesians 4:4 , ‘called in one hope of your calling,’ and 1 Timothy 1:1 , ‘Christ Jesus our hope,’ where this life’s state of salvation must be included in the object of hope; and ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’ will be the only two objects named of the Spirit’s outpouring. But the phrase in Titus 1:2 , as there interpreted, favours (1).
8 14 . The abiding practical holiness of Good Works
8 . See summary at the beginning of the chapter, and note in Appendix E on The Faithful Sayings .
This is a faithful saying ] Render as 1 Timothy 1:15 , where see note, Faithful is the saying . We begin a new paragraph embodying ‘another of the compendious fruitful utterances,’ thus uniting the wisdom of many, the wit of one, of God’s prophets. As in the other cases, it is to be referred to the following clause, and here to that which comes after the parenthesis, see to it that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works . So Bp Wordsworth, ‘a formula introducing a solemn asseveration which declares the practical character of the doctrine of Regeneration by Baptism … the teaching of St Paul in the Pastoral Epistles on the necessity of good works,’ 1 Timothy 2:10 , 1 Timothy 2:5 :10, 1 Timothy 2:6 :18; 2 Timothy 2:21 ; Titus 1:16 , Titus 1:2 :7, Titus 1:14 , Titus 1:3 :14 … ‘they who have been born anew in baptism have entered into a solemn covenant with God, by which they obliged themselves to a new and holy life .’ The particle ‘in order that’ may be taken as part of the quotation, as Conybeare suggests, and as used with the subjunctive for an imperative; cf. Ephesians 5:33 , ‘and (let) the wife (see) that she fear her husband;’ Mark 5:23 ‘(I pray thee), that thou come and lay thy hands on her;’ Cic. Fam . 14, 20, ‘ibi ut sint omnia parata.’ See Winer § 43, 5, a.
these things] should be rather, concerning these things .
affirm constantly ] Rather, the compound implies affirm confidently . The word is only (in N.T.) here and 1 Timothy 1:7 ; the middle as there and Titus 1:5 .
they which have believed in God ] Lit. believed God , the least emphatic of the constructions with ‘believe,’ that is, the earliest and simplest form of faith, the personal going out of the soul to the personal God and Father, that ‘takes Him at His word.’ So how natural, at the end of a life’s experience which built up the Christian Creed, is St Paul’s return to the simplest elements of the personal trust which has underlain the life and doctrine all the time (perfect tense as here) ‘I know whom I have believed and do believe,’ ‘I know who is my trust,’ 2 Timothy 1:12 ; cf. Acts 16:34 .
might be careful ] May make it their study ; nowhere else in N.T. but frequent in LXX., e.g. 1 Samuel 9:5 , ‘leave caring for the asses and take thought for us,’ and in classical Greek.
to maintain good works ] Lit. to ‘stand forward,’ in N.T. only in St Paul, as in 1 Timothy 3:4 , 1 Timothy 5:17 , of ‘presiding over’ ‘ruling’; so in LXX.; but in classical Greek in the sense here, ‘to be master of,’ ‘practised in,’ as a secondary sense, as well. Here the word carries further the thought in the Greek of ‘good;’ the good works are not only to be good in themselves, but seen to be good; Christians are not only to do such good works, but to let their light shine, to be to the front, in doing them. The corresponding word for a wrong zeal is used by St John: 2 John 1:9 , ‘Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching.’ The use of these two verbs in their special sense, and the order of the words for evident special emphasis, confirm the view taken here, as by Bp Wordsworth and others (A.V. certainly, R.V. probably), that this clause is the ‘Faithful saying.’ We may perhaps render it as such, and try to mark the several points noted, in a proverbial couplet;
‘Is God thy trust? Then make the study thine
In all good works to let thy candle shine.’
These things are good ] As is St Paul’s way, the word ‘good’ from the immediately preceding context, serves to make the transition to another point. ‘Good works’ are necessary, all these practical counsels in fact are good and will bring their profit to men; for positive teaching of plain duties is the best safeguard against error.
9 . The summary of the other chief topic of the letter; the dealing with the false teaching and evil living of the day. See note above.
avoid foolish questions ] The Greek puts the errors first in stronger contrast to the good; ‘questions’ should be ‘questionings’ as in 1 Timothy 1:4 . see note there; where also ‘genealogies’ is considered. ‘Genealogies’ would be a special and prevailing theme of the ‘questionings,’ and ‘fightings about the law,’ of the ‘contentions,’ as Bp Ellicott points out, following Wiesinger. Cf. 1 Timothy 6:4 ; 2 Timothy 2:23 ; and Introduction on the Gnostic heresy. Keeping the A.V. avoid we may give it the due emphasis at the close, as we cannot with ‘shun’ of R.V. ‘Avoid’ from Fr. vuider, vider , ‘to make empty,’ is used intransitively and transitively, exactly as the Greek word here is also used to ‘give a wide berth,’ ‘to stand off and make a circuit.’ Cf. 1 Samuel 18:11 , where R.V. still has ‘David avoided out of his presence twice;’ Proverbs 4:15 , ‘walk not in the way of evil men: avoid it, pass not by it.’
unprofitable and vain ] ‘Vain’ is added to intensify ‘unprofitable’; from its use here then it should mean ‘vain’ in its results, and be opposed to ‘good,’ which is ‘seen to be good’ above. So in 1 Corinthians 15:17 , ‘your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins .’ While above, ver. 14, ‘our preaching is void; your faith also is void: we are found false witnesses;’ there is no true basis of fact for preaching or faith; the word there being different. See Bp Ellicott’s note, and references.
10 . This and the next verse seem to close the last instruction; St Paul reviews the counsel given as to doctrine and discipline; similarly at the close of 1 Tim. See summary at beginning of ch. vi.
A man that is a heretick ] This being so, it would be unnatural if the epithet here were required to have the definite narrowed meaning which we now give to the word ‘heretic’. The internal consideration favours a meaning which covers quarrelsome opinionative controversy and speculation, contentiousness in faith and morals. The external consideration is from St Paul’s usage of the word and its substantive. Prof. Reynolds misrepresents Bp Ellicott as saying ‘St Paul uses the word for contentious conduct, not heterodox opinions: divisions, not doctrinal error.’ His words are, ‘the word does not imply specially the open espousal of any fundamental error in 1 Corinthians 11:18 , 1 Corinthians 11:19 ; Galatians 5:20 ; but more generally, “divisions in church matters,” possibly of a somewhat maturer kind.’ In that early day the ‘self chosen divergence,’ which is the essence of the word, included both religious belief and practice. Theod. Mops. Lat. Comm. defines ‘ haereticum illum qui ea quae contraria sunt pietatis praeelegit.’ And Augustine’s definition was exact, ‘haeresis schisma inveteratum.’ it was not till later that Jerome’s distinction held good, ‘haeresis perversum dogma habet; schisma propter Episcopalem dissensionem ab ecclesia separatur.’ This distinction as to doctrine and discipline found illustration in the Council of Nicæa, Arius being condemned as a heretic for maintaining that Christ was a Divine being but created, Meletius as a schismatic for ordaining bishops without the authority of his metropolitan or consent of his fellow bishops in the province of Egypt. Here the R.V. by its rendering heretical and its marginal ‘factious’ adopts this more general meaning for the word.
after the first and second admonition, reject ] A first and second admonition . Cf. Ephesians 6:4 , ‘nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.’ ‘Discipline’ or ‘chastening’ (see the verb ch. 2:11) is per poenas , ‘admonition’ is verbis , encouraging or reproving words according to the occasion. Here the reference must be to 1:13, the reproof of confutation and condemnation. ‘Reject’ should be rather refuse , as in 1 Timothy 4:7 where see note; and (of the widows) 5:11; refuse, that is, to argue with, or to countenance. St Paul’s use is against the interpretation which has classical support, ‘exclude’ from Church membership, as in Lucian of divorcing a wife. But his use is for a stronger meaning than ‘avoid.’
11 . he that is such is subverted ] Is perverted , the word is used by Lucian for ‘turning inside out,’ in LXX. for ‘a very froward generation,’ Deuteronomy 32:20 . Vulg. has ‘subversus,’ but Theod. Mops. Lat. ‘perversus.’ it does not occur again in N.T., the usual compound being with the preposition ‘through and through’ instead of ‘out and out.’ Cf. Acts 20:30 ‘speaking perverse things,’ Philippians 2:15 ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.’ It cannot, as Professor Reynolds thinks, describe ‘the effect of the isolation’ recommended, but is rather the state of obstinate wrongheadedness (to use a similar English metaphor), which, after two chances of enlightenment rejected, becomes wilful sin . The present tense should have its full force, is a wilful sinner . Cf. Ephesians 4:26 ‘Be ye angry and sin not,’ 1 John 3:6 ‘Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not,’ is not a sinner in wilful purpose and habit.
being condemned of himself ] Self-condemned , as such, by callousness to the two approaches of God’s minister: the word does not occur again in N.T.
12 14 . Personal directions. As to the conjectural chapter of biography of which we have traces here, see introduction, pp. 40 44. We may suppose that the object of the sending Tychicus or Artemas was to take the place of Titus during his stay with St Paul. From 2 Timothy 4:12 , Tychicus would seem to have been sent to Ephesus, so that Artemas may have been finally chosen for Crete. Of him nothing is known. Tychicus is one of the most valued of the ‘fellow helpers,’ ‘the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord,’ entrusted with the Ephesian and Colossian letters, and the ‘comfortable words,’ five years before, in the enforced absence of the first imprisonment at Rome, Ephesians 6:21 ; Colossians 4:7 .
12 . When I shall send ] Lit. ‘when I shall have sent,’ aor. subj.: Vulg. ‘cum misero.’ Titus would of course wait for his deputy’s arrival.
to Nicopolis ] The town of that name in Epirus most probably, since ‘there was a large population, a good harbour, and numerous opportunities of coming into contact with old friends from the churches of Achaia.’ The Nicopolis in Cilicia has nothing to recommend it; that in Thrace is preferred by the Greek commentators; compare too the subscription at the end of the Epistle ‘Nicopolis in Macedonia.’ But this has no authority; and the supposed better fitting in of this Nicopolis with the last journey west (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10 ) is too uncertain to have weight against the evident fitness of a well-known post as the rendezvous for the winter, and a base of further operations.
for I have determined there to winter ] Shewing that St Paul was at liberty; that is, between (as may be safely assumed) the first and second imprisonment. Cf. Introduction, p. 44.
13 . Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey ] The verb ‘bring on their journey’ is literally ‘send forward,’ and so Vulg. here ‘praemitte’; but in the other eight places of its use in N.T. ‘deduco’ is used, that is, ‘conduct,’ ‘take them a certain part of the way.’ So in old provincial English ‘I will send you a mile,’ meaning ‘accompany you.’ R.V. in four places has ‘bring on the way,’ in five, ‘set forward on the journey;’ but in only one, Acts 21:5 , does the context require that the ‘accompanying’ should be prominent, ‘they all with wives and children brought us on our way till we were out of the city.’ Here set forward with less thought of bringing (A.V.) seems sufficient.
Zenas the lawyer and Apollos ] Zenas is the Greek form of Zenodorus, as Apollos of Apollodorus, Artemas of Artemidorus. Nothing is known of him, but the phrase itself suggests that he was one of the class of Jewish scribes or lawyers, i.e. experts in Jewish law who were especially numerous among the Pharisees. On his conversion he may have retained the name, as Simon the Zealot and Matthew the publican did theirs. As his class had for their fuller title ‘teachers of the law,’ ‘doctors,’ Luke 2:46 , Luke 5:17 , he would be especially fitted to become one of the order of the Christian ‘teachers’; cf. Ephesians 4:11 , ‘some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers .’ Apollos, on the other hand, was recognised as an apostle. He was an Alexandrian by race, a learned (or eloquent) man, mighty in the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, to whom Priscilla and Aquila ‘expounded the way of God more carefully’ (Acts 18:26 ) at Ephesus. He became a most successful evangelist in Achaia and at Corinth, and was regarded by St Paul as a brother apostle, independent in will and action, 1 Corinthians 16:12 , but preaching and serving an undivided Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:12 , 1 Corinthians 1:3 :22, 1 Corinthians 1:23 . From this passage we may infer, not that they had been resident in Crete, which introduces an unnecessary complication with the official authority of Titus, but that they had undertaken such a ‘pastoral mission’ there as St Paul had invited Apollos to undertake to Corinth, 1 Corinthians 16:12 ; perhaps, with Mr Lewin, that they were on the way from Corinth to Alexandria, and were the bearers of this letter to Titus.
This visit of ‘an apostle’ and ‘a teacher,’ and the hospitality to be exercised towards them by Titus, are to stimulate, St Paul adds, the zeal and liberality of the whole body of Christians, the Cretan Church.
diligently ] Vulg. ‘sollicite’ Theod. Mops. Lat. ‘velociter’; but the following clause ‘that nothing be wanting unto them,’ favours ‘attention’ rather than ‘speed,’ and implies provision for the journey as part of the sympathetic attendance; so in 3 John 1:6 ‘set forward on their journey worthily of God ,’ i.e. with supplies worthy of their service to God, the following verses making this clear, ‘we therefore as fellow Christians ought to give them hospitable support.’
14 . let ours also learn ] More clearly as R.V. and let our people also learn . Theod. Mops, excellently, because Titus (as a poor person) could not be expected to do all, ‘teach,’ he says, ‘your people to attend carefully to the support of their religious teachers.’ St Paul quotes again half of the ‘Faithful saying’ of ver. 8, ‘maintain good works,’ and gives this as a most important and primary application of the general law for a practical Christian life, by adding ‘for such necessary wants’ for the needful wants of the ministry . The article requires this interpretation; these well-known and existing wants that are inevitable, when your ministers have to spend their time in saving, not money, but men’s souls. For the usage of this word (in the plural) always as ‘wants,’ not ‘uses,’ cf. Acts 20:34 ‘these hands ministered unto my necessities,’ Romans 12:13 ‘communicating to the necessities of the saints.’
This passage recording the visit of an ‘apostle,’ and a ‘teacher,’ and dwelling on the support of the ministry, finds a striking illustration in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles , which dwells with especial prominence on the work of travelling and resident apostles , and prophets , and teachers , and on their support. It is noticeable too how in the twenty or thirty years which probably elapsed between this Epistle and the ‘ Teaching ’ the large-hearted law here laid down had been liable to abuse, and required guarding. Three out of the sixteen chapters. xi., xii., xiii., are occupied with this subject. See introduction, pp. 22 24.
15 . Closing Salutation
15 . All that are with me salute thee ] The companions of his journey or sojourn, cf. Galatians 1:2 ; Colossians 4:7-14 . They are not specified and would be changing, as his needs and their feelings changed, cf. 2 Timothy 4:9-12 .
Greet them that love us in the faith ] Rather: salute them that love us in faith , ‘in faith,’ as 1 Timothy 1:2 ‘my true child in faith,’ i.e. spiritually, where see note. The phrase marks the gradual crystallising of the word ‘faith,’ somewhat as ‘our Christian friends’ has become a modern formula: cf. Titus 1:4 ‘in communion of faith.’
Grace be with you all. Amen ] The shortest form of the Benediction, the fullest being at the end of 2 Cor. ‘An inclusive benediction that comprehends the episcopus and those committed to his oversight, Titus and all the faithful in Crete.’ Bp Ellicott; who rejects the final ‘Amen,’ as at the end of both the letters to Timothy, though the ms. authority for it is stronger here, on the ground that accidental omission seems less probable than insertion. The end recalls the beginning; the Apostle, whose sphere of ministry was the faith and full knowledge of the Cretan Christians, prays for ‘grace’ to be with them ‘all.’
The subscription given above has no sufficient authority; see note at end of 1 Tim.; and for ‘Macedonia’ note above, v . 12. The best supported subscription here is simply To Titus.
A. Christology of the Pastoral Epistles
In this Note the attempt is made to arrange systematically the references scattered through Liddon’s Divinity of our Lord , but to retain mainly his own description of the passages, to supplement them where necessary, and to combine with them the statements of Pearson On the Creed .
I. The distinguishing character of these epistles is the stress they lay upon the vital distinction between heresy and orthodoxy.
The true faith is to the soul what the most necessary conditions of health are to the body; it is
‘the healthful doctrine,’ 1 Timothy 1:10 ; Titus 1:9 , Titus 1:2 :1;
‘healthful speech,’ Titus 2:8 , 2 Timothy 1:13 .
The orthodox teaching is styled
‘the good doctrine,’ ‘the doctrine,’ 1 Timothy 4:6 , 1 Timothy 6:1 .
Any deviation is self-condemned as being such;
‘not to teach a different doctrine,’ 1 Timothy 1:3 , 1 Timothy 6:3 .
The heretic prefers his own self-chosen private way to the universally received doctrine;
‘heretical,’ Titus 3:10 ;
he is to be cut off after two admonitions from the communion of the Church;
‘a man that is heretical after a second admonition refuse,’ Titus 3:10 , on the ground that he
‘is perverted and sinneth, being self-condemned,’ Titus 3:10 .
Heresy is spoken of by turns as a crime and a misfortune;
‘made shipwreck concerning the faith,’ 1 Timothy 1:19 ;
‘have been led astray from the faith,’ 1 Timothy 6:10 ;
‘concerning the truth have erred,’ 2 Timothy 2:18 .
Deeper error is characterised in severer terms;
‘giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils … branded in their own conscience,’ 1 Timothy 4:1 , 1 Timothy 4:2 .
Cf. 2 Timothy 3:8 , 2 Timothy 4:4 .
Heresy is said to destroy the spiritual body like a gangrene;
‘their word will eat as doth a gangrene,’ 2 Timothy 2:17 .
II. What then is orthodoxy in these epistles?
To hold ‘the Faith,’ the objective body of truth, 1 Timothy 1:19 , 1 Timothy 1:3 :9, 1 Timothy 1:4 :1, 1 Timothy 1:6 , 1 Timothy 1:5 :8, 1 Timothy 1:6 :10, 21; 2 Timothy 3:8 , 2 Timothy 3:4 :7; Titus 1:13 , Titus 2:2 .
And the Church is
‘the pillar and ground of the truth,’ 1 Timothy 3:15 .
This truth, which the Church supports, is already embodied in
‘the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me,’ 1 Timothy 3:15 .
Cf. 1 Timothy 1:15 , 1 Timothy 1:3 :16; 2 Timothy 2:12 ; Titus 3:4 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to rest the soul upon a support which guarantees its safety; that support is Christ;
‘believe on him unto eternal life,’ 1 Timothy 1:16 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to have entered into an atmosphere which encircles and protects and fosters the growth of the spiritual life; that atmosphere is Christ;
‘the faith which is in Christ Jesus,’ 1 Timothy 3:13 ; 2 Timothy 3:15 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to accept God’s salvation by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost
‘ through Jesus Christ our Saviour,’ Titus 3:5 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to believe in Christ’s Person as being the Centre of the New Dispensation;
‘He was believed on in the world,’ 1 Timothy 3:16 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to believe Christ’s own guarantee of the truth of the whole object-matter of faith;
‘I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which he hath committed unto me against that day,’ 2 Timothy 1:12 .
To hold ‘the Faith’ is to have all hope, all trust, all love, all life, centred in Christ;
‘Christ Jesus our hope,’ 1 Timothy 1:1 ;
‘trust and love which is in Christ Jesus,’ 2 Timothy 1:13 ;
‘live godly in Christ Jesus,’ 2 Timothy 3:12 .
III. Who then is the Christ? What is the body of truth about the Person of Christ, indicated in these epistles?
(1) He is ‘perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting’;
‘ himself man, Christ Jesus,’ 1 Timothy 2:5 , 1 Timothy 2:6 .
What makes up the complete human being, the ‘perfect man’? Human nature is divided sometimes into body, soul and spirit, sometimes into body and soul; in the latter case ‘soul’ includes both the natural affections and emotions and desires, and also the reason and will and conscience.
‘He who was manifested in the flesh was justified in the spirit,’ 1 Timothy 3:16 .
For a fuller understanding of these brief phrases of the earliest creed, compare the general statements of Holy Scripture respecting these elements of Christ’s human nature, as thus given by Bp Pearson ( On the Creed , Art. iii.); “As then man consisteth of two different parts body, and soul, so doth Christ: He assumed a body, at His conception, of the blessed Virgin. ‘Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same’ (Hebrews 2:14 ). The verity of His body stands upon the truth of His nativity, and the actions and passions of His life show the nature of His flesh.… And, certainly, if the Son of God would vouchsafe to take the frailty of our flesh, He would not omit the nobler part, our soul, without which He could not be man. For ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and stature’ (Luke 2:52 ); one in respect of His body, the other of His soul. Wisdom belongeth not to the flesh, nor can the knowledge of God, which is infinite, increase; He then whose knowledge did improve together with His years must have a subject proper for it, which was no other than a human soul. This was the seat of His finite understanding and directed will, distinct from the will of His Father, and consequently of His divine nature; as appeareth by that known submission, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22:42 ). This was the subject of those affections and passions which so manifestly appeared in Him: nor spake He any other than a proper language when before His suffering He said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’ (Matthew 26:38 ). This was it which on the cross, before the departure from the body, He recommended to the Father, teaching us in whose hands the souls of the departed are: for ‘when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus he gave up the ghost’ (Luke 23:46 ). And as His death was nothing else but the separation of the soul from His body; so the life of Christ as man did consist in the conjunction and vital union of that soul with the body. So that He which was ‘perfect God, was also perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.’ Which is to be observed and asserted against the ancient heretics (Arians and Apollinarians), who taught that Christ assumed human flesh, but that ‘the Word,’ or His Divinity, was unto that body in the place of an informing soul.”
Again, He is a ‘sinless man’;
‘was justified (lit. was proved righteous) in his spirit,’ 1 Timothy 3:16 .
Compare 2 Corinthians 5:21 , and especially Romans 5:18 , Romans 5:19 , where the corresponding noun is used, ‘one lifelong mighty act of righteousness.’
Further, He is more than ‘a sinless man’; He is ‘man.’ ‘Christ’s manhood is representative of the human race … and it is in virtue of His manhood that He is our Mediator, our Redeemer.’
‘One mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all,’ 1 Timothy 2:5 .
‘Great stress indeed does St Paul lay upon the Manhood of Christ as the instrument of His mediation between earth and heaven, as the channel through which intellectual truth and moral strength descend from God into the souls of men, as the Exemplar wherein alone human nature has recovered its ideal beauty, as entering a sphere wherein the Sinless One could offer the perfect world-representing sacrifice of a truly obedient will.’
(2) He is ‘perfect God,’ ‘very God of very God.’ ‘Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Messias, is the true, proper and natural Son of God, begotten of the substance of the Father, … the only Son of God, the true Jehovah, who hath that being which is originally and eternally of itself, and on which all other beings do essentially depend’ (Pearson, On the Creed , Art. ii.).
He is the Source of ministerial power;
‘putting me into the ministry,’ 1 Timothy 1:12 ;
‘a good minister of Jesus Christ,’ 1 Timothy 4:6 .
Cf. 1 Timothy 5:11 ; 2 Timothy 2:3 .
He is the Sun and Centre point of orthodox truth; moral, social and religious;
‘the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ 1 Timothy 6:3 ;
‘the Lord shall give thee understanding,’2 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 2:7 .
He is the Redeemer of the whole world, not as the humanitarian heresies would suggest of races or classes;
‘who gave himself a ransom for all,’ 1 Timothy 2:6 .
He is the Awarder of indulgence and mercy and judgment;
‘that in me as chief might Jesus Christ shew all his longsuffering,’ 1 Timothy 1:16 ; cf. ver. 13.
Cf. 2 Timothy 1:18 ; 2 Timothy 4:1 , 2 Timothy 4:8 , 2 Timothy 4:14 .
He is invisibly present among angelic attendants;
‘I charge thee in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels,’ 1 Timothy 5:21 .
Cf. 6:13; 2 Timothy 4:1 .
He is ready at hand to aid in trouble;
‘out of them all the Lord delivered me,’ 2 Timothy 3:11 .
Cf. 4:17, 18, 2:1, 10.
He is the object of prayer and thanksgiving;
‘I thank Christ Jesus our Lord,’ 1 Timothy 1:12 ;
‘them that call on the Lord,’ 2 Timothy 2:22 .
He was pre-existent before the incarnation;
‘who was manifested in the flesh,’ 1 Timothy 3:16 ;
‘Christ Jesus came into the world,’ 1 Timothy 1:15 .
He has the same titles as God the Father. In Ep. to Titus the epithet ‘Saviour,’ given four times to God the Father, is given four times also to Jesus Christ; one of these passages, according to the truer rendering, expressly speaks of Him as God;
‘our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,’ Titus 2:13 .
Cf. Titus 1:3 , Titus 1:4 , Titus 1:2 :10, Titus 1:11 , Titus 1:13 , Titus 1:3 :4, Titus 1:6 .
IV. We see then in conclusion from these epistles, as is plainly to be seen from all his former letters, that ‘St Paul insists with particular earnestness upon the truth of our Lord’s real humanity.’ But we see equally that ‘to suppose that he believed Jesus Christ to be merely a man is a paradox which could be maintained by no careful reader of his epistles. Take St Paul’s doctrine as a whole and it must be admitted to centre in One who is at once and truly God as well as Man.’
And at the same time, in spite of the dogmatic form in which the truth is to be held, and along with all the resulting moral counsels of ‘good works,’ St Paul’s fervour of thought and expression makes us understand fully, no less from his latest letters than from the rest, that, as Bp Lightfoot puts it ( Philippians , p. viii.), ‘though the Gospel is capable of doctrinal exposition, though it is eminently fertile in moral results, yet its substance is neither a dogmatic system nor an ethical code, but a Person and a Life.’
B. Judaistic Christianity
It is only right to draw attention to the important view taken by Dr Hort of the passages in these Epistles bearing on heresy and false teaching. See his Lectures on ‘Judaistic Christianity’ delivered in a.d. 1887, but published since his death, in a.d. 1894. Bp Lightfoot’s opinions on the subject as published in Biblical Essays in a.d. 1893 were expounded in his Lectures of a.d. 1865, attended by the present writer, but are in entire harmony with the line followed in the Introduction to the Colossians, a.d. 1875. In contrast to the view he takes (see above, Introd. pp. 46 53) Dr Hort sees only Judaistic teaching in the false doctrine condemned. This will be seen from the following interpretations given by him of some of the chief phrases.
‘ To teach a different doctrine ,’ 1 Timothy 1:3 , 1 Timothy 6:3 , he explains as merely ‘unfitness and irrelevance of teaching,’ and compares Hebrews 13:9 .
‘ Fables and endless genealogies ’ he describes as merely ‘the rank growth of legend respecting the patriarchs and other heroes of early Mosaic history, which had grown up among the Jews both in Hebrew and Greek before the time of the Apostles … included in the Haggada, extant still in the Talmud, much more in the Midrash, partly also in Philo and Josephus; we can perhaps form a still better conception of it from the Book of Jubilees (extant only in translations) the legends of which are strung upon a basis of numbered generations.’
‘ Oppositions ,’ 1 Timothy 6:20 , he explains as only ‘the endless contrasts of decisions founded on endless distinctions which played so large a part in the casuistry of the Scribes as interpreters of the Law; it would thus designate frivolities of what was called the Halacha as the ‘myths’ and ‘genealogies’ designate frivolities of the other great department of Jewish learning, the Haggada.’
‘ Knowledge which is falsely so called ,’ 1 Timothy 6:20 , he defines as ‘the barren traditionalism which ‘the lawyers’ called ‘knowledge’ and of which they boasted themselves to have the key; cf. Luke 11:52 … the distinctive lore of a class of canonists and casuists’ which ‘lies behind the familiar exclamation “this multitude which knoweth not the law” are accursed.’
Dr Hort thus thinks, with Weiss, that the duty laid on Timothy and Titus is not that of refuting deadly errors, but of keeping themselves clear, and warning others to keep clear, of barren and mischievous trivialities usurping the office of religion. But surely this is to neglect or minimise the force and bearing of the many weighty passages set out in the previous note (Appendix A), and which deal with much more vital and solemn questions than need be, if mere ‘barren and mischievous trivialities’ were alone in question. If it were not for this, the meaning of the words and phrases might be sufficiently exhausted by the Jewish usages quoted. Neither is it contended that the words have any full philosophic technicality, for which contemporary evidence should exist; but that they are the old Jewish phrases, with some of their old meaning, but with a new oriental meaning also, to express the new oriental speculations; which is the earlier literary stage, to be followed later by the defined technical use. And Dr Hort admits Cerinthus to have flourished at a date not more than 25 years later, as ‘a Judaistic Christian at last, if indeed he can rightly be called a Christian who was at the same time in the conventional sense a Gnostic.’ See Appendix I (3).
C. The Christian Ministry
The following passages from Bp Lightfoot’s essay, Philippians , pp. 264 6, give clearly his conclusions on some points connected with the Christian ministry.
‘According to the broader meaning of the sacerdotal office the priest may be defined as one who represents God to man, and man to God. It is moreover indispensable that he should be called by God, for no man “taketh this honour to himself.” The Christian ministry satisfies both these conditions. The threefold ministry can be traced to Apostolic direction; and short of an express statement we can possess no better assurance of a Divine appointment or at least a Divine sanction.… The Christian minister is God’s ambassador to men: he is charged with the ministry of reconciliation; he unfolds the will of heaven; he declares in God’s name the terms on which pardon is offered; and he pronounces in God’s name the absolution of the penitent.… Throughout his office is representative not vicarial.… Again, the Christian minister is the representative of man to God of the congregation primarily, of the individual indirectly as a member of the congregation. The alms, the prayers, the thanksgivings of the community are offered through him.… His acts are not his own but the acts of the congregation.’
Compare also his latest judgment on the organisation of the early Church given in The Apostolic Fathers , Pt. ii. vol. i. p. 390.
‘The whole subject has been investigated by me in an Essay on the Christian Ministry: and to this I venture to refer my readers for further information. It is there shewn if I mistake not that though the N.T. itself contains as yet no direct and indisputable notices of a localized Episcopate in the Gentile Churches, as distinguished from the moveable Episcopate exercised by Timothy in Ephesus and by Titus in Crete, yet there is satisfactory evidence of its development in the later years of the Apostolic age; that this development was not simultaneous and equal in all parts of Christendom; that it is more especially connected with the name of S. John; and that in the early years of the second century the Episcopate was widely spread and had taken firm root, more especially in Asia Minor and Syria. If the evidence for its extension in the regions east of the Ægean at this epoch be resisted, I am at a loss to understand what single fact relating to the history of the Christian Church during the first half of the second century can be regarded as established; for the testimony in favour of this spread of the Episcopate is more abundant and more varied than for any other institution or event during this period, so far as I recollect.’
We may add from The Church and the Ministry , pp. 265 sqq., some of Canon Gore’s conclusions from his investigation of the Gospels and Epistles.
(1) The Apostolate . The Apostles are empowered by Christ and inspired by the Spirit as the primary witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, stewards of the divine mysteries, ambassadors and ministers of the effected reconciliation of man to God. Their function is the ministry of the word. It involves also a ministry of grace. The Apostles appear as the ordainers of an official clergy in the Churches, by communicating to them through the laying on of hands an empowering gift of the Holy Ghost.
(2) The apostolate is not a localized but a ‘general ministry of the word.’ We recognise an extension of the apostolic function in some of its main features ( a ) to prophets, ( b ) to apostolic men like Timothy and Titus, known probably as ‘teachers’ and ‘evangelists,’ who, without as far as we know, sharing miraculous power had yet imparted to them by the laying on of apostolic hands what was essentially apostolic authority to guard the faith, to found and rule Churches, to ordain and discipline the clergy.
(3) Presbyter-bishops . Under this general ministry of the Apostles and their fellow-workers we find a local ministry of ‘presbyters’ or ‘bishops’ who are appointed by the Apostles and ordained by the laying on of hands to share in some particular community the pastorate and stewardship which Christ instituted in His Church. They are the local ministers of discipline this being the function which was attached of old to the Jewish presbyterate but they are as well the ‘superintendents’ in general of local affairs, the administrators of the Churches; and as the Churches are spiritual societies, so their function is spiritual. These local pastors are called also ‘teachers’ in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and we have no reason to suppose that they were not from the first, in a sense, ‘ministers of the word’ though in subordination to apostles, prophets and teachers. Again, since the earliest sub-apostolic writers speak of ‘the offering of the gifts’ or the ministry of the Eucharist as the special function of the ‘bishop,’ and St James presents the presbyters to us as exercising a ministry of healing, both physical and spiritual, we need not hesitate to regard them as having been from the first the ministers of the sacraments.
(4) Deacons . We are also presented with a subordinate ministry of deacons. If their primary function was to administer alms, yet they are also presented to us as baptizing and teaching at least when they were endowed with qualifying gifts though probably this function did not belong to their office. Besides we find a female ‘diaconate’ as well as instances of ‘prophetesses’ in the Church, who however do not seem to have exercised any public ministry. We also hear of other leading Christians who specially addicted themselves to works of mercy and received a corresponding authority.
D. St Paul and Conscience
Following up the Interpretation of ‘Conscience’ given in the Note on 1 Timothy 1:5 , as drawn from its derivation, we may add the Definitions given on the side of moral philosophy by Bp Butler and Dr Whewell, and the Exemplification furnished in St Paul’s own case.
Bp Butler in his Dissertation on Virtue , speaks of ‘a moral faculty; whether called conscience, moral reason, moral sense , or divine reason ; whether considered as a perception of the understanding, or as a sentiment of the heart; or, which seems the truth, as including both.’ And Dr Whewell’s teaching agrees with this in describing Conscience as ‘the Faculty or Habit of referring our acts to a moral standard; as an authority not ultimate or supreme, but depending, for its validity, upon its coincidences with the supreme rule; the supreme rule being one which requires the exercise of reason for its discovery and application.’ See Elements of Morality , 3rd ed., Art. 262 &c. Butler’s phrase ‘the natural supremacy of Conscience’ over Appetite, Desire and Affection (see his Second Sermon on Human Nature ) should be understood as ‘the natural authority ’; since ‘Conscience has not, according to his own view, a supreme authority, but is herself subject to the Supreme rule which enjoins all virtue and duty and which is in reality the Law of God. Hence arises the correctness of the two apparently inconsistent maxims: that to act against one’s conscience is always wrong ; but that to act according to one’s conscience does not ensure being right . For the Conscience may be darkened or misled or perverted in various ways, and so may lead men into error and even into crime; but still Conscience, however erroneous, is superior to mere appetite and desire, and is in the right when she controls those inferior springs of action’ (Whewell).
In a.d. 58, some 20 years after his conversion, St Paul began his speech before the Sanhedrim: ‘I have lived in all good conscience (whether blinded or enlightened) before God until this day’ (Acts 23:1 ). He said to Felix, ‘Herein do I exercise myself (by an open strict enquiring intelligence) to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men’ (Acts 24:16 ). Two years later he tells Festus and Agrippa of his persecuting days, ‘I thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus.’ The painful enlightenment of his blinded conscience he refers to by quoting Christ’s own word ‘it is hard for thee to kick against the goad.’ The following his conscience then on the right path he speaks of as being ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision.’ See Acts 26:9-19 .
Nine years passed; but, as John Bunyan says of him, ‘Paul was like the nightingale with his breast against the thorn.’ He begins his last letter with nearly the same words, ‘I thank God whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience’ (2 Timothy 1:3 ). In their light we see the force of what he had said the year before in 1 Timothy 1:13 , that ‘blasphemer, persecutor, injurious’ as he had been, yet he obtained mercy because he ‘did it ignorantly in unbelief.’ Even then he had not disobeyed his conscience, though of its blinded state with the resulting sin he speaks with the deepest self-condemnation and penitence. It Isaiah 30:0 years since his conversion, but he has an abiding sense of being still ‘the chief of sinners.’ Conscience in itself he did not regard as a sufficient standard: compare 1 Corinthians 15:9 ; Galatians 1:13 . Howson, who draws this subject out as above at some length in his Character of St Paul , pp. 97 107, quotes Bp Sanderson, ‘the error was in his understanding: that erroneous judgment poisoned all,’ and adds, ‘in what degrees the error was caused by want of candid enquiry into the facts of Christianity, by prejudice in the study of the Old Testament, by the pride which sought to satisfy God’s law by mere legal obedience and by the indulgence of the passion of bigotry, we cannot ascertain.’
We do not wonder that from such a personal experience should come the last repeated earnest warnings and appeals; ‘the end of the commandment is charity out of a good conscience’ (1 Timothy 1:5 ), ‘hold fast faith and a good conscience, which some having put away have made shipwreck’ (ver. 19), ‘the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience’ (1 Timothy 3:9 ), ‘consciences seared with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:2 ), ‘mind and conscience denied’ (Titus 1:15 ).
E. The Faithful Sayings
These occur five times in these Epistles; and if, according to the view taken in the Notes, the formula refers in all cases to the sentences following, we may briefly describe them according to their subject-matter as way-marks of the earliest Christianity, sign-posts of ‘The Way’ (Acts 9:2 ), witness-stones of Him Who is ‘The Way’ (John 14:6 ).
Thus we have:
(1) Christ’s Coming the way of sin’s forgiveness: 1 Timothy 1:15 .
(2) Christ’s Ministry the way of noble service: 1 Timothy 3:1 .
(3) Christ’s Life the way of spiritual progress: 1 Timothy 4:9 .
(4) Christ’s World the way of honourable work: Titus 3:8 .
(5) Christ’s Strength the way of successful suffering: 2 Timothy 2:11 .
Dr Cox ( Expositions , 3rd Series, p. 231) gives a clear account of the probable origin of these Sayings as due to the teaching of the New Testament Prophets; and of the special force arising from the circumstances of the time, and from the truths enshrined, which may well have been at work, to make them win their way as Faithful Sayings.
These accounts may be summarized briefly.
“These Faithful Sayings are in all probability prophetic sayings, sayings first uttered by the prophets of the Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28 , ‘God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets , thirdly teachers’). Obviously St Paul quotes them from some other lips than his own, adducing them in proof or confirmation of his own words. Obviously too from the very tone in which he cites them, they were well known and widely approved, sayings which carried authority in many or even in all the churches of the time; words which were found to be so apt and simple and terse that they spread from church to church and were tossed from lip to lip, as proverbs are at this day, until they became ‘household words’ at least in the ‘household of faith.’ And if we remember that these sayings are found only in the Pastoral Epistles, and that these Epistles were not written till more than 30 years after the Day of Pentecost, i.e. after the Christian prophets had commenced their work, we shall at least admit that there had been ample time for some of their sayings to have crept into common use, to have won general acceptance as true, trustworthy and most happy expressions of the fundamental truths of the Gospel.”
(1) Christ’s Coming the way of sin’s forgiveness:
1 Timothy 1:15 . It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners .
“That ‘Christ Jesus came Christ Jesus advented into the world’ could be said of none but Him. For it implied that His coming, His advent, was a conscious and voluntary act, a self-determining effort of His will. It implies His pre-existence in some other world; the eternal being and the incarnation of the Divine Word and Son, God manifest in the flesh. For Who is this that comes into the world, not by the decree of a Will higher than His own, but by His own act and deed? Who is this if not God Himself?
“No doubt this Saying won universal acceptance in the Church and was commended as a faithful saying by St Paul, partly because it thus met the test by which the Apostles had demanded that all ‘spirits’ and all utterances should be tried. But we may well believe that the Apostolic Church loved and adopted it not so much for its opening as for its closing words, that Christ Jesus came into the world was much; but that He came into the world to save sinners ; God in Christ came into the world, not, as a Jew would have expected of Him, to succour and reward His faithful servants, not, as a Greek would be prepared to believe, to indulge His caprice and lust, or aid and rescue His devotees; but to save sinners , to bless His enemies, to redeem ‘this people that is accursed,’ and ‘the foolish and wretched herd, debarred from wisdom’ this was the pathetic surprise, this the mystery of grace, which broke men down into tears of penitence and love and rapture.”
(2) Christ’s Ministry the way of noble service:
1 Timothy 3:1 . It is a faithful saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work .
“That which gave vogue and acceptance in the primitive Church to the words ‘if a man seek the pastorate, he craves an honest occupation’ or an occupation morally honourable and beautiful, was the fact that in that early time, surrounded by an hostile world, the pastors of the Christian congregations filled an arduous and perilous position. The post of danger is the post of honour. And they were exposed to danger of many kinds. The first to suffer, when all suffered for the Faith, they had to risk, and commonly to endure the loss of all things dear to the natural heart.… Any pastor who scruples to call his work an honest occupation or to confess that it can bring no honour to him save as he closely dedicates himself to its duties, delights in them and throws himself into them, lacks the mind that was in Christ, Who ‘emptied Himself,’ and humbled Himself to manhood, to death, to the cross. It is to a work that he has been called; and by his work he will be judged. The more profuse and lofty his claims, the sorrier is the figure he presents, if his toil and pains do not correspond with his claims.”
(3) Christ’s Life the way of spiritual progress:
1 Timothy 4:9 . It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, For therefore we both labour and wrestle on, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of the faithful .
“The God Who had long been known as the Redeemer of the Jews was now revealed to faith as the Redeemer of the whole world. To men who had lived so separate a life as the Jewish members of the Church, and had begun to feel that their singularity and isolation was a barrier and a hindrance, if also a privilege; to its Gentile members, who had been divided from each other by rival divinities, by different customs and creeds, and who were beginning to suspect that ‘Great Pan’ with all the other immortals ‘was dead’ the conviction that there was but one God for all men a living God, over Whom time and the changeful thoughts of men had no power a Saviour Who could really help them where they most needed help by taking away that brooding sense of sin and that awful looking for of judgment, by which the prophetic soul of the world was then oppressed; this Catholic and reconciling conviction could not fail to be most welcome to every generous and aspiring spirit, whether of Jew or Gentile.
“St Paul’s application of this Saying is plain in connexion with his exhortation to Timothy to ‘exercise’ gymnasticise himself unto godliness. For this, viz. to attain the godliness he had been enforcing, those who have this hope in God ‘toil and wrestle,’ as in the gymnasium, labour even to weariness and strive even to agony. This is the worth of ‘godliness,’ its power to build up, to train and to develop the energies of the spiritual life.”
For the incidental bearing of the passage in its closing phrases on the ‘larger hope’ see Appendix.
(4) Christ’s World the way of honourable work:
Titus 3:8 . It is a faithful saying and these things I will that thou affirm confidently, that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works, honest or honourable occupations and callings .
“What gave the Saying its authority and acceptance in the Apostolic Church was the feeling that life, not words, was wanted; in the Rabbinical schools Judaism had run to mere words which had no influence on life and conduct; in the academies of the Sophists philosophy had also run into mere words which bred only intellectual questionings and strifes; pure examples were wanted, not windy speculations, loving and helpful service, not new theories of ethics. And the Church acted on the faithful saying. For hardly 40 years after St Paul wrote this epistle, the accomplished Roman statesman Pliny wrote a letter in which he gave the earliest description which has come down to us from a non-Christian source of the very Churches which the Apostle had founded; how they assembled on certain stated days before it was light, and repeated in alternate verses with one another a hymn or form of prayer to Christ as to some God, binding themselves by a sacrament not for any criminal purpose but to abstain from fraud, theft and adultery, from falsifying their word, and from retaining what did not belong to them.”
(5) Christ’s Strength the way of successful suffering:
2 Timothy 2:2-13 . It is a faithful saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we should deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he abideth faithful, for he cannot deny himself .
“This Faithful Saying fits into St Paul’s general course of thought. The husbandman, the athlete, the soldier, Timothy, Paul himself, all help to illustrate it and prove it worthy of all acceptation. No Cross, no Crown. To the early disciples just redeemed from ignorance, superstition and vice, the substance of the Gospel thus expressed in terse, winning and memorable forms would be most precious. We forget how large, impressive and wonderful a fact the death of the Cross must have been to men who might any day be hung on a Cross like that of Christ, simply because they believed on His name. And the words ‘we died with Him’ would also recall the most sacred and momentous act of their lives. Baptism was to them far more than it is or can be to us. To them it was putting on Christ in face of a hostile world; it was avowing a faith for which they had to risk the loss of all things, even of life itself. Again, how could they be exhorted to endure and not recall all that was most heroic and yet most tender and pathetic in the Man of Sorrows, all that they might have to bear for His sake? Any one of their assemblies might be broken up by the mob or the legionaries. At any moment an envious rival, a morose servant, a delator who lived by his base trade, might denounce them to the Roman magistrates. They might be called to fight with gladiators or wild beasts in the arenas; or to see wife, sister, child torn or trampled to death on its sands. And what if there were some who shrank even then, as afterwards, from leaving all for Christ’s sake and the Gospel? What if with trembling hand and averted eyes they should throw a few grains of incense on the altar of the reigning Cæsar and thus renounce Christ and salvation?
“A Saying such as this would be true and faithful indeed to such lives; would strike the profoundest chords in the memories and hearts of men to whom these facts, these scenes, these prospects, were the very stuff of daily experience, and on which, as they held, their very life and the life of the world depended.”
F. St Paul and the Larger Hope
Bp Isaac Barrow, the famous Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, has four well-known Sermons on Universal Redemption, in which, taking 1 Timothy 4:10 for his text, he adopts the position maintained by the Apology of Robert Barclay “(1) that God, Who out of His infinite love sent His Son our Lord Jesus Christ into the world, Who tasted death for every man, hath given to every man , whether Jew or Gentile, Turk or Scythian, Indian or barbarian, of whatsoever nation, country or place, a certain day or time of visitation, during which day or time it is possible for them to be saved and to partake of the fruits of Christ’s death. (2) That for this end God hath communicated and given unto every man a measure of the light of His own Son, a measure of grace, or a measure of the Spirit. (3) That God, in and by this light and seed, invites, calls, exhorts and strives with every man, in order to save him, which, as it is received and not resisted, works the salvation of all, even of those who are ignorant of the sufferings and death of Christ and of Adam’s fall.”
He sums up, in reference to the passage in 1 Timothy 4:11 ; “Since we are plainly taught that our Lord is the Saviour of all men, and it is consequent thence that He hath procured grace sufficiently capacifying all men to obtain salvation, we need not perplex the business or obscure so apparent a truth by debating how that grace is imparted, or by labouring overmuch in reconciling the dispensation thereof with other dispensations of Providence” (Serm. 72).
And again; “The undertakings and performances of our Saviour did respect all men, as the common works of nature do; as the air we breathe in, as the sun which shineth on us; the which are not given to any man particularly, but to all generally, not as a proper enclosure, but as a common; they are indeed mine, but not otherwise than as they belong to all men” (Serm. 74).
See further Plumptre, The Spirits in Prison , p. 178.
A different interpretation of the passage is put forward by Prof. Birks ( Victory of Divine Goodness , p. 190):
“The Apostle, again, declares of the living God, that ‘he is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.’ This name of God will be most fully and completely revealed in the future happiness and glory of believers alone. But He is also ‘the Saviour of all men.’ Can this apply to temporal benefits alone, which will wholly cease, and are to be wholly followed by total absolute destruction and ruin? Can it be satisfied with conditional benefits made wholly void through the perverseness of the sinner? How will this agree with our Lord’s reasoning on another Divine title ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’? Such a name, He then teaches, implies no transient, but an enduring relation. Here, too, it would seem that the same law of reasoning must apply. Unbelievers are not saved from judgment, from righteous punishment, from the second death, from shame and everlasting contempt, from everlasting fire. Is there any sense in which they may still be saved, consistently with the inflexible truth of these solemn messages of God? They will be saved from bodily corruption ‘for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ They will be saved from the curse of hopeless vanity, from that first death, in which the creature is self-ruined and God Himself is not glorified, but for ever blasphemed. They will be saved from the abyss unfathomable and unsearchable in its depth and darkness, when ‘death and hell are cast into the lake of fire.’ Will they not also be saved from that utter hopeless misery, where no ray of light or comfort breaks in on the solitude of everlasting despair? Will they not be saved, in a strange mysterious sense, when the depth of their unchangeable shame and sorrow finds beneath it a still lower depth of Divine compassion, and the creature, in its most forlorn estate, is shut in by the vision of surpassing and infinite love?”
G. The N.T. Use of ‘Mystery’
The derivation and classical usage of the word are explained in Note upon 1 Timothy 3:9 . A fuller understanding of what took place at the Eleusinian Mysteries will guide us in following the N.T. use of the phrase. Preller in his account of Eleusis and the Mysteries, p. 399 sqq. has summed up the performance as consisting of the following elements: hymns, sacred dances, musical scenes, sudden apparitions, with solemn utterances and precepts to accompany them. He regards it as certain that the crowning and consummation of the whole celebration at Eleusis consisted in certain representations of a dramatic character, mysteries or miracle plays, which were acted in the sacred meeting-hall and which contained the revelations to be made to the initiated. ‘A ceremony,’ he adds, ‘affects people by its symbolism, and each man interprets the symbolism according to the state of his heart and his belief. Of dogmatic teaching there was none at Eleusis; only pleasing sights to remain in the imagination, and short enigmatical sentences to be stored in the memory, all likely to recur to the mind at the critical moments of life, and whenever that state of nervous exaltation recurred which had existed when they were first received at Eleusis.’
Following this guidance we may trace in the N.T. use of the word ‘mystery’ (1) a narrower and (2) a wider conception of its meaning.
(1) The narrower conception seems to be found in the Gospels, the Revelation and the earlier usage of St Paul.
(2) The wider conception is limited to St Paul’s later usage.
(1) We seem to have, as the proper idea connected with the word, a symbol conveying a truth .
( a ) In the Synoptists, the successive parables, with different symbols, convey different aspects of the great truth of the Spirituality of the New Kingdom . The typical parable of the Sower is followed in each Gospel by our Lord’s words ‘unto you it is given to know the mysteries (St Mark ‘the mystery’) of the divine, the heavenly kingdom’ (Matthew 13:11 ; Mark 4:11 ; Luke 8:10 ).
( b ) In the Revelation the symbol of ‘seven stars’ (1:20) shews the present and continuing government of His Church by Christ; the symbol of ‘seven trumpet-angels’ (10:7) points to the successive triumphs of the Church over sin; the symbol of ‘Babylon, the woman, the beast’ (17:5, 7) points to the obstinate development of evil against the Church. In each case the word used of these symbols is ‘mystery.’
( c ) In St Paul’s earliest writings we find the symbol of ‘the lawless man’ akin to the last passage quoted described as ‘the mystery’ (2 Thessalonians 2:7 ). In the second group of writings we trace still the idea of the ‘symbol’ ‘proclaiming to you the mystery of God Jesus Christ the crucifixus ’ (1 Corinthians 2:1 , 1 Corinthians 2:2 ), and again ‘God’s wisdom in a mystery had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’ (ver. 7, 8). That is, Christ upon the Cross is the symbol of symbols, proclaiming the truth of truths, the Atonement.
Henceforth the word seems for St Paul to have passed over from the sign to the thing signified, from the symbol to the doctrine symbolised. But our ecclesiastical use of ‘mystery’ for ‘sacrament’ appears to be a survival of this narrower use where ‘symbol’ is still part of the notion of the word.
(2) We seem to trace in St Paul’s very writing of his first letter to Corinth his passage from the narrower to the wider conception, from the half-concealing symbol and parable to the wholly revealed truth and doctrine . When we reach 1 Corinthians 4:1 , we find him speaking of the doctrines of Christ generally as ‘the mysteries of God’ which he and other ‘ministers of Christ’ are ‘dispensing’ freely and fully, and so again of the N.T. prophets in 13:2 and 14:2 as ‘speaking’ ‘all mysteries and all knowledge.’ And lastly in 15:51 he calls the particular doctrine of the ‘new spiritual bodies’ of which he is ‘telling’ them plainly ‘a mystery.’ So in the Epistle to the Romans, written almost immediately after, he calls the particular doctrine of the temporary fall of Israel a ‘mystery’ (Romans 11:25 ); while at the close of the same epistle (Romans 16:25 ) he has the same name for the particular doctrine of the universality of the Gospel, or Christ’s oneness with both Jews and Gentiles in His ‘one body’ the Church, which is now ‘revealed’ and ‘manifested’ far and wide. This use of ‘mystery’ bridges over the five years’ interval before the writing of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians which are filled entirely with this doctrine thus described (see Ephesians 6:0 passim . Colossians 4:0 passim ). And the one possible exception to this meaning of the word throughout these letters Ephesians 5:32 is more apparent than real. For the exact point of the ‘mystery’ there is the completeness of the union of Christ with His whole Church, no part being separated; after which analogy the marriage state is completely to unite husband and wife.
Five years more pass; and all these different doctrines and proclaimed mysteries are gathered up in the expressions now used in the Letter to Timothy where the singular word in ‘the mystery of the faith’ (1 Timothy 3:9 ) and ‘the mystery of godliness’ (1 Timothy 3:16 ) embraces ‘the whole doctrine of Christ,’ ‘the historic Faith,’ the creed of ‘Christ the Life,’ the life of ‘Christ the Creed.’
The medieval use of ‘mystery’ in mystery plays appears to be a survival of St Paul’s later use of the word in the wider conception. For they were representations, acted revelations (so to speak) of the Scripture story in its different parts and bearings.
H. Pudens and Claudia
The late Dean Merivale, the author of the History of the Romans , gives the following reasonable estimate of the recent efforts made to throw light on these members of the Christian Church at Rome.
“The attempt has been made to identify the Pudens and Claudia, whose greetings are mentioned, 2 Timothy 4:21 , with persons of distinction in the city. Pudens, it is surmised, is the son of the Pudentinus, whose name is read together with his own in a well-known British inscription at Chichester. This was the seat of a king Cogidubnus, who had attached himself to the gens of the Emperor Claudius and assumed his gentile designation. It is conjectured that this Claudius Cogidubnus may have had a daughter called after himself Claudia; that she may have married Pudens, and have eventually settled at Rome with him. These two suppositions granted, she may, very possibly, it is said, be the same Claudia who is complimented more than once by Martial as a British lady of great accomplishments, and the wife of a certain Pudens, a friend of his own. The dates of Martial’s compositions are too uncertain to allow us to argue upon them one way or the other; but, at least, it must be remarked that the Pudens of the poet was a man of licentious morality, such as might pass indeed with little comment among men of the world at the time, but from which the Apostle would surely have turned with indignation. Another guess that the Claudia of the epistle was the daughter of the British hero Caractacus, brought up as a client of the emperor’s during her father’s captivity at Rome, is hardly less attractive, but this can only be regarded as at best an idle fancy, besides that it is liable to the same fatal objection as the former.”
St Paul at Rome , p. 149.
I. The Crete of St Paul
The story of the Crete of St Paul is the story of those ‘white-marked’ eventful years a.d. 33 70, when between Pentecost and the Fall of Jerusalem Crete gained the blessings of the Gospel and the Church. ‘ Cressa ne careat pulcra dies nota .’ The notices in the Acts and the Epistle to Titus gain in clearness and brightness, if we pass in review what is known otherwise of the natural features and products of the island, the history and character of its inhabitants, and their religious life.
(1) Natural Features and Products
Physically Crete is the southernmost of the “Isles of Greece,” being ‘a prolongation of that mountain chain which breasts the waters at Cape Malea, with the island of Cythera interposed.’ The inhabitants still use the name of St Paul’s days and of previous historic and mythical times, Kriti ; the name Candia , now in general use by foreigners, being the Italian form of Khandax , the Saracenic name of Megalo-Kastron , formerly Heracleum, the chief northern port. The island is 160 miles in length, a continuous mass of highland from 2000 to 5000 feet high running through its whole length, from the centre of which rise the three lofty peaks of Mt Ida (8,059 ft.), now called Psilor-iti , or ‘the smoother wooded Ida,’ and further west the White Mountains (8,081 ft.), still bearing the old name, Leuca-Ori , but called also now Asprabuna , ‘the rougher heights.’ The snow-clad summits of both these mountain heights have looked down for centuries before and since St Paul on very varied scenes of hill and valley, rock and plain, wood and water. As one consequence of this variety of climate, the natural fertility of Crete in old days was remarkable; according to Pliny (xxv. 8) everything grew better in Crete than elsewhere. Particular mention is made of the Cretan wines, and especially of the passum or raisin wine called ‘sack’ in Bekker’s Gallus , p. 493, Eng. Trans. So Pliny (xiv. 9), ‘Passum a Cretico Cilicium probatur et Africum,’ and Juvenal (xiv. 270) ‘pingue antiquae de litore Cretae Passum.’ Martial (xiii. 106) calls this wine ‘the poor man’s mulsum ’ or ‘honey-wine cup,’ used by bon vivants at the beginning of banquets. All these Roman writers were living when St Paul was working in and writing to Crete. The repute of wine from Crete was not confined to the ancient world, but has apparently descended through the middle ages to our own day. We remember how the Duke of Clarence in a.d. 1478, being allowed to choose the mode of his death, chose that of being drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine; and Stanford’s recent work, Geography and Travel in Europe p. 321, informs us that ‘the best wine is still made from grapes, in the district of Malevesi , near Candia, a district which gave its name to the famous Malvoisie or Malmsey.’ Cf. Titus 1:7 , Titus 1:8 , Titus 1:12 ; Titus 2:2 , Titus 2:3 .
(2) History and Character
The character of the Cretans as ‘always liars’ (Titus 1:12 ) may have been originally won by the supreme magnificence of the claims made in their early myths. Minos, King of Gnossus, the early capital of Crete, the son and friend of Zeus, was their ideal ruler and lawgiver, lord of a navy that mastered the whole Ægean, who forced, they said, the proud Athenians to send him an annual tribute of seven youths and seven maidens, to be devoured in the legendary ‘labyrinth’ at Gnossus by the fabled man-bull, the Minotaur. In a cave on the western slope of Mt Ida they dared to shew the birthplace of Zeus himself; and they claimed too to possess the tomb of Kronos his sire, ‘the father of gods and men’; while ‘the Dorian invaders made Crete the headquarters of the worship of Apollo.’ But this character must also have been sustained by the degeneracy from the Homeric traits of hardy, daring corsairs the vikings of Greece, and from the Spartan principles of their early communities, into the isolated quarrelsomeness and turbulent license of the historic days of Epimenides (b.c. 600). The bickerings and fightings among themselves, of the ‘hundred cities’ of Virgil and other writers, and their making common cause only when attacked from outside, from which the term syncretism was coined, were brought to an end some hundred and thirty years before St Paul’s visits by Q. Metellus Creticus taking the island and attaching it to the Roman province of Cyrene, on the opposite coast. It remained in this connexion with Africa till the days of Trajan (a.d. 100), when it was more naturally united with Achaia and Macedonia.
A glimpse of the government of the island by Roman Cretarchs is given us 250 years after by an inscription on the walls of the theatre at Aphrodisias in Lycia, of date a.d. 357, which is given by Fellowes ( Lycia , p. 304) and seems to breathe the spirit of the classical revival under Julian, against the recently-established State Christianity of Constantine, ‘May fortune be favourable! For the good health and the safety and the honours and the victory and perpetual welfare of our lords Fl. Jul. Constantius, the pious the never-vanquished Augustus, and [Fl. Cl. Julianus], the most excellent and noble Caesar, Fl. Qu. Eros Monaxius, the most distinguished governor and one of the Cretarchae, has erected it on his own expense … for the splendid metropolis of the Tauropolitans, the relations of the Cretans.’ If Fellowes’ conjecture is correct, the name of Julian was erased, as that of an apostate, after his death by the Christians. Subsequently the island, after being held successively by the Arabs, the Greeks, and the Venetians, passed under the sway of the Turks, a sway against which the old turbulent independent spirit is frequently still asserting itself.
With all this change, the fashions and manners of the people have changed but little. ‘Mr Pashley ( Trav . vol. 1. p. 245) has detected in the games and dances of modern Crete the tumblers and the old cyclic chorus of 3000 years ago. The dress of the peasant continues to resemble that of his ancestors; he still wears the boots described by Galen, and the short cloak, Creticum , mentioned by Eupolis and Aristophanes’ ( Dict. Geog ., s. voc.). We can realise from these particulars something more vividly of the life amid which St Paul and his lieutenant moved, and can appreciate the force of the Apostle’s plea for plain practical exhortation. ‘Naturally turbulent, the Cretans are to be constantly reminded of the duty of submission in all things right and good. Naturally ferocious, they are to be exhorted to meekness of word and deed towards all men. For even so God showed gentleness to us when we were living in foolish and disobedient error, the slaves of various passions, in a bitter atmosphere of reciprocal hatred’ (Farrar, Life of St Paul , p. 828).
(3) Religious Life
Looking back to the native religion of Crete, we trace a natural connexion with the Ophite form of the incipient Gnostic heresy sketched in the Introduction. ‘There is an evident analogy between the religion of Crete and Phrygia; and the legendary Curetes and Idæan Dactyls are connected on the one hand with the orgiastic worship and on the other with the arts of Phrygia.’ And again we see the naturalness of the Judaic character of the budding Gnosticism from the very early connexion formed between the Cretans and the Jews. Tacitus, himself a boy at Rome probably at the date of St Paul’s martyrdom, bears witness to this in giving the following as one of the reputed traditions in the Roman world respecting the origin of the Jews: ‘Some say that the Jews were fugitives from the island of Crete who settled on the nearest coast of Africa about the time when Saturn was driven from his throne by the power of Jupiter. They look for evidence in the name. There is a famous mountain in Crete called Ida; the neighbouring tribe, the Idæi, came to be called Judæi by a barbarous lengthening of the national name’ ( Hist . v. 2, Church’s Trans.). Among the historic notices we find mention made of Gortyna as the chief place of Jewish residence in Crete about b.c. 143; when ‘the prudence and wisdom of Simon, the last of the Maccabæan brothers, gained for the Jews the active support of Rome’ (Westcott, Dict. Bib . ii. p. 166), and notices of this were sent to all the Jewish populations, among others ‘ to Gortyna and Cnidus and Cyprus and Cyrene ’ (1 Macc. 15:23). And again Philo reports the embassy of Jews to Caligula, a.d. 40, as speaking of the many Jews in Crete and all the larger islands of the Mediterranean ( Leg. ad Cai . § 36). Cretan Jews were among the multitudes gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost, a.d. 30; and they probably carried back to the island the first scanty message of the Gospel. We hear of no visit to Crete of apostle or evangelist till St Paul in a.d. 61 involuntarily reached the southern shores in the ‘ship of Alexandria,’ which, prevented by the Etesian winds from taking the direct course to the north of the island, steered past Cape Salmonè, the eastern promontory, and coasted half way along Crete as far as Fair Havens, which still is called by the same name. There the ship stayed some weeks apparently, till towards the beginning of October, waiting for a change of wind. It is possible, as Captain Pratt supposes, that St Paul may have used this breathing-time to preach to the natives, as the ruins of a church dedicated to St Paul are found on the ridge above the bay (Lewin, Life of St Paul , ii. p. 192). And the mention of Lasæa, whose ruins were discovered in 1856, a few miles east of Fair Havens, perhaps suggests some action or intercourse beyond what the narrator has room to relate. An attempt was made at length, on the wind becoming favourable, to reach Phœnix, a safe harbour in all weathers, some 40 miles to the west, for the purpose of wintering there; but a sudden gale from the N.-E. coming down from the high ground of Crete between the lofty peaks of Mt Ida, swept the ship along some 25 miles to the little island of Clauda, and thence to St Paul’s Bay, as it has been known ever since, at Malta. Such a visit, made under such critical circumstances as the narrative in Acts 27:0 indicates, may well have made St Paul determine, if he were spared and set at liberty, to bring his gospel to shores of which he had only so tantalising a glimpse.
That Christianity had been spreading in Crete for some time before St Paul’s visit with Titus (see Int. p. 74), a.d. 64, and his subsequent letter (a.d. 66) seems probable from the fact that St Paul charges Titus ‘to appoint elders in every city ,’ or ‘city by city’ (Titus 1:5 ), implying that there were a considerable number already possessed of a Christian congregation and in need of supervision; and further from the stipulation implying a Christianity of some standing, that the ‘elder’ or ‘bishop’ is to be the father of a family with children who are believers and orderly persons (Titus 1:6 ); and again from the notice of heresies already existing among the Cretan Christians. There is teaching of a seriously erroneous kind, not merely the errors of ignorance or the misbelief of the newly-converted (Titus 1:11-16 &c.). See Plummer, Pastoral Epistles ; p. 212.
The Christian Church long continued to remember with veneration the ministry and work of Titus, as appears from Howson’s note, Life and Epistles of St Paul , ii. 475. ‘The cathedral of Megalo-Castron, on the north of the island, was dedicated to him. His name was the watchword of the Cretans when they fought against the Venetians, who came under the standard of St Mark. The Venetians themselves when in the island seem to have transferred to him part of that respect, which, elsewhere, would probably have been manifested for Mark alone. During the celebration of several great festivals of the Church, the response of the Latin clergy of Crete, after the prayer for the Doge of Venice, was Sancte Marce, tu nos adiuva ; but after that for the Duke of Candia, Sancte Tite, tu nos adiuva .’
The same Christian Church in Crete at the present day claims a share in the prayers and sympathies of Christendom, contending as it does feebly and imperfectly for ‘the faith once delivered’ by a Paul and a Titus against the dominant persecuting rule of the Moslem creed. The cave of Melidóni, on the western slope of Mt Ida, which is noticed above p. 177, and which is remarkable for the beauty of the stalactites which bedeck its walls, was the scene in a.d. 1822 of such ‘an evil-entreating and wandering in mountains, caves and the holes of the earth’ (Hebrews 11:38 ), when about 300 Christians mostly women, children and aged men who had taken shelter in the cavern were suffocated by the Turks, who burnt a quantity of straw, sulphur and other combustible matter at its entrance. See Stanford, Geography and Travel , p. 322.
And these all having had witness borne to them through their faith received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39 , Hebrews 11:40 ).
J. St Paul And Slavery
The striking character of St Paul’s teaching as to the duty of slaves in 1 Timothy 6:1 , 1 Timothy 6:2 ; Titus 2:9 , Titus 2:10 , is well illustrated by the following remarks on slavery in the Roman Provinces under the Empire by Dr E. C. Clark, Regius Professor of Laws in the University of Cambridge. They are quoted from Dr Moule’s ‘Colossians and Philemon’ in this Series, p. 191, as shewing the intolerable condition of things from the legal point of view. “Little is known of the administration of ordinary justice in the Provinces. But almost all except serious cases seem to have been left to the native local authorities. I should think that no treatment of a slave by his master could come under the cognizance of a Roman governor; and I see no reason to suppose that the local authorities would be more likely to interfere than the Roman magistrates in similar cases at Rome. Power of life and death would be, I imagine, the rule. The introduction of a theory of the Law of Nature may have led to a few ameliorations in the slave’s condition mediately, i.e. through the individual action of humane emperors. But these modifications of the old barbarity have been overrated. I doubt whether any prohibition of the arbitrary killing of a slave was regularly made before the time of Hadrian. Philemon would have power to treat Onesimus exactly as he pleased .”
Socially and morally the condition of slaves was no less deplorable. Dr Plummer hardly overstates the case when he writes of it as ‘inhuman,’ or Wallon (quoted by Lightfoot, ‘Colossians and Philemon,’ p. 389 note) who says, “L’esclave appartenait au maître: par lui-même, il n’était rien, il n’avait rien.”
And yet St Paul advocates no political revolution. “The institution of slavery in the Roman Empire in the first age of Christianity was not only unchristian but inhuman; and it was so widespread that the slaves outnumbered the freemen. Nevertheless the Apostles and their successors taught neither to the slaves that they ought to resist a dominion which was immoral both in effect and in origin, nor to the masters that as Christians they were bound to set their servants free. Christianity did indeed labour for the abolition of slavery but by quite other methods. It taught masters and slaves alike that all men have a common Divine parentage, and a common Divine redemption, and consequently are equally bound to show brotherly love and equally endowed with spiritual freedom. It showed that the slave and his master are alike children of God, and as such free; and alike servants of Jesus Christ, and as such bondmen, bondmen in that service which is the only true freedom. And thus very slowly, but surely, Christianity disintegrated and dispersed those unwholesome conditions and false ideas, which made slavery to be everywhere possible, and to seem to most men to be necessary. And wherever these conditions and ideas were swept away, slavery gradually died out or was formally abolished.… St Paul knew what he was about when he urged Titus to commit the ‘adorning of the doctrine of God’ in a special manner to slaves.… by cultivating precisely those virtues which contribute most to their masters’ comfort and interest submissiveness, gentleness, meekness, honesty, truthfulness, and a faithful discharge of all duties.” (Dr Plummer, Pastoral Epistles , pp. 248 258.)
The past and present results of Christian life and progress in this respect are summed up by Bp Lightfoot, ‘Philemon,’ p. 394. “It is a broad and patent fact that throughout the early and middle ages the influence of the Church was exerted strongly on the side of humanity in this matter. The emancipation of slaves was regarded as a principal aim of the higher Christian life; the amelioration of serfdom was a matter of constant solicitude with the rulers of the Church. And at length we seem to see the beginning of the end. The abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire at an enormous material sacrifice is one of the greatest moral conquests which England has ever achieved. The liberation of 20 millions of serfs throughout the Russian dominions has thrown a halo of glory round the name of Alexander II. which no time can dim. The emancipation of the negro in the vast republic of the New World was a victory not less important than either to the well-being of the human race. It is a fit sequel to these achievements that at length a well-directed attack should have been made on the central fortress of slavery and the slave trade, the interior of Africa. May we not venture to predict that … this epoch will stand out in the history of mankind as the era of liberation? If so, the Epistle to Philemon, as the earliest prelude to these magnificent social victories, must be invested with more than common interest for our generation.”
May we not add that the Epistles to Timothy and Titus gain new lustre, as their seed principles are seen to bear this noble fruit after so many ages? ‘ We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men ,’ ‘ Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is .’ ‘ Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession .’ (1 Timothy 4:10 , 1 Timothy 4:8 ; Titus 2:14 .)
K. St Paul’s Metaphors
The following list of the metaphors occurring in the Pastoral Epistles will shew to the student of St Paul’s letters generally that in this characteristic of authorship it is the same St Paul, free to use, eithei largely or sparingly, the old familiar metaphors, and yet not barren in brain or limited to the old well-worn stock. For the special force of the words used in the metaphors see the notes upon them in the commentary.
a . Imperial Warfare.
1 Timothy 1:18 , ‘thou mayest war the good warfare.’
1 Timothy 5:14 , ‘give none occasion to the adversary.’
The word for ‘occasion’ is peculiar to St Paul in N.T.; is frequent in Classical Greek, e.g. Thuc. 1. 90, ‘a base of operations’ in war.
2 Timothy 2:3 , ‘as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’
2 Timothy 3:6 , ‘take captive silly women.’
b . Classical Architecture.
1 Timothy 3:13 , ‘a good standing.’
1 Timothy 3:15 , ‘the house of God which is … the pillar and ground of the truth.’
1 Timothy 6:19 , ‘a good foundation.’
2 Timothy 2:19 , ‘the firm foundation of God standeth.’
c . Ancient Agriculture.
1 Timothy 4:10 , ‘we labour and strive.’
1 Timothy 5:17 , ‘those who labour in the word.’
1 Timothy 5:18 , ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire.’
1 Timothy 6:10 , ‘a root of all kinds of evil.’
Titus 1:13 , ‘reprove them sharply’ (lit. ‘cutting away as with a sharp pruning knife’).
Titus 3:14 , ‘that they be not unfruitful.’
2 Timothy 2:6 , ‘the husbandman that laboureth.’
d . Greek Games.
1 Timothy 4:7 , ‘exercise thyself unto godliness.’
1 Timothy 6:12 , ‘play thou the man in the good contest of the Faith.’
2 Timothy 2:5 , ‘if a man contend in the games.’
2 Timothy 4:7 , ‘I have finished the course.’
e . Roman Law.
Titus 3:7 , ‘that we might be made heirs.’
f . Medical Science.
1 Timothy 6:3 , ‘consenteth not to sound words.’
Titus 1:9 , ‘to exhort in the sound doctrine.’
Titus 1:13 , ‘that they may be sound in the faith.’
Titus 2:1 , ‘things which befit the sound doctrine.’
2 Timothy 2:17 , ‘eat as doth a gangrene.’
2 Timothy 3:17 , ‘complete, furnished completely.’
2 Timothy 4:3 , ‘not endure the sound doctrine.’
g . Seafaring Life.
1 Timothy 1:19 , ‘made shipwreck concerning the faith.’
1 Timothy 6:9 , ‘such as drown men in perdition.’
h . Mercantile Life.
1 Timothy 6:5 , ‘godliness is a way of gain.’
2 Timothy 1:12 , ‘my deposit.’
2 Timothy 1:14 , ‘the good deposit.’
i . The Fowler’s Craft.
1 Timothy 3:7 , ‘the snare of the devil.’
1 Timothy 6:9 , ‘fall into a temptation and a snare.’
2 Timothy 2:26 , ‘out of the snare of the devil.’
Of these nine classes of metaphor, the first five recur very frequently in the other Epistles of St Paul. Compare, for example, the metaphors from Roman law; adoption , Romans 8:14 , Romans 8:21 ; Galatians 4:3 ; Ephesians 1:5 ; subjection of the son to the father , Romans 3:25 ; Galatians 1:4 , Galatians 1:4 :1; Phil, 2:8; Colossians 1:19 ; testation and inheritance , Galatians 3:15 , Galatians 3:4 :1, &c. The word for ‘heirs’ and its kindred phrases occur 18 times in St Paul.
The words and phrases in the last four classes of metaphors are almost entirely peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles.
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the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29