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Greeting. Directions For Organising the Cretan Church
1-16. ’Paul an Apostle, to Titus his own son in the faith. In appointing elders in the towns of Crete, see to their character, and be sure that they keep the faith. There are Judaisers in the island, and the Cretans are liars; so Church officers must be especially careful that their discourse may be sound.’
1. Paul, a servant of God] St. Paul does not elsewhere use this designation in his superscriptions; so an imitator would be unlikely to use it. According to the faith, etc.] i.e. to promote the true faith. Which is after godliness] i.e. which leads to godliness.
2. That cannot lie] A bad translation. The single Gk. word means ’absolutely truthful.’ It is irreverent to say of the One Self-determined Being, ’cannot’; ’will not’ is sufficient and final. Here AV and RV both add an idea not in the original, borrowing, doubtless, from Hebrews 6:18: cp. Romans 3:4 and 1 Corinthians 1:9. Before the world began] lit. (as RV) ’Before times eternal.’
3. RV’ But in his own seasons manifested his word in the message’ (proclamation) ’wherewith I was entrusted,’ etc. His word] To the Hebrew, ’word’ or ’name’ stood for the being whose it was; so we might safely translate,’ himself.’ St. Augustine interpreted it definitely ’Christ.’
4. Son after the common faith] i.e. his pupil in the faith which they shared together. Titus is not mentioned in Acts, but from St. Paul’s Epistles we gather the following details: he was a Greek (Galatians 2:3); neither at his conversion nor (probably) later was he circumcised (ib.); he went on missionary journeys with and for St. Paul (Galatians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-15; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 2 Corinthians 8:16-18). We know nothing raore till we find him here.
5. Though in a personal letter, these words are so explicit that, should the Cretans resist Titus’ authority, he might read to them what the great master himself had said. We are wont to say, ’If you have trouble, show this letter.’ St. Paul, perhaps, implied this here.
Left I thee in Crete] This cannot be identified with the only visit of St. Paul to Crete elsewhere recorded (Acts 27:7.). The visit when he left Titus there was after the Roman imprisonment: see Intro. There were many Jews in Crete, and there were Cretans in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:11), but we do not know how Christianity was planted in the island. Elders] Gk. ’presbyters.’ Rectors, or pastors, we should say today.
6. The husband of one wife] not necessarily of any wife, but of not more than one. Probably not an objection to polygamy, which was rare, but to divorce and remarriage, which was common. It is hardly likely that remarriage, after the death of a first wife, was to be a disqualification for office: cp. 1 Timothy 3:2.
Faithful children] i.e. brought up as Christians.
7. A bishop] This officer seems simply to be one of the ’elders’ in Titus 1:5: though the difference in name and number may suggest the beginning of a distinction between them. At any rate, the Church is here more highly organised than when St. Paul wrote, e.g. 1Cor, but not nearly so much so as when Ignatius wrote, e.g. to the Ephesians, circ. 115 a.d.: cp. 1 Timothy 3:1.
8. Lover of good men] better (as RV), ’lover of good,’ including both men and things.
9. As he hath been taught] RV (which is lit.) ’according to the teaching’; i.e. the teaching which he has received, perhaps referring to a gradually forming statement of the essentials of the faith, such as culminated, in the 2nd cent., in the ’Roman symbol,’ or early form of the Apostles’ Creed.
10. Here begins the arraignment of the false teachings which the elders will have to meet (Titus 1:10-16). They of the circumcision] i.e Jewish converts who insisted that to be a Christian one must also submit to Jewish ordinances.
12. One of themselves] i.e. one of the Cretans. The reference is to Epimenides, a poet, circ. 600 b.c. St. Paul calls him a, prophet because, (1) poets and prophets were apt to be classed together, and (2) his ’witness’ was still true in St. Paul’s day. One reason why the Cretans were called liars was because they said that Zeus was buried in Crete. Slow bellies] i.e. gross and corpulent through self-indulgence.
14. Jewish fables] e.g. the sort of rules, for maintaining which our Lord condemned the Pharisees (Matthew 15, 23, etc.).
15. Unto the pure all things are pure] St. Chrysostom said, ’God made nothing impure.’ Used, not abused, all things are right; abused, the seemingly innocent thing is sin. St. Paul does not mean to limit this principle to ceremonial distinctions (about meats, etc.), with which the Judaisers would be apt to vex the Cretans. Their mind and conscience is defiled] cp. Matthew 15:4 to Matthew 8:16. They profess] Not mere pretence, but blatant self-confidence.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Titus 1". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25