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Address and Opening Salutation.
v. 1. Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
v. 2. in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
v. 3. but hath in due times manifested His Word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God, our Savior;
v. 4. to Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.
The character of the letter is immediately indicated by the expression of apostolic dignity combined with the glory of the evangelical ministry: Paul, a servant of God, but an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of truth which is in agreement with godliness. A servant of God the apostle calls himself, finding an especial distinction in connecting the idea of milling and humble service with the work of his office. For his is a ministry entrusted to him by God and in the interest of God's kingdom for the purpose of gaining souls for heaven. But not only does he bear this honoring distinction, it is rather his highest honor to be an apostle of Jesus Christ in the most restricted sense of the term. He furthermore explains his apostolic work and office as being in accordance with the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of the truth which is in agreement with godliness. Paul himself possessed the faith which is peculiar to the elect of God, and this faith furnished both the motive and the power for the proper exercise of the duties which devolved upon him in this office. This faith is based upon the knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, of the salvation in Christ Jesus. It was no mere head-knowledge of which he speaks, for this would at best have made him a competent servant of men, but it was a grasping of the truth with spirit and mind, a realization of its wonderful blessings. The fact that the Word of the Gospel is the truth was his firm conviction, and he knew that this was in agreement with true piety. The pure doctrine of the Gospel and true righteousness of life are correlates; if a person has sincerely accepted the former, he will give evidence in his whole life of the latter.
The apostle gives a further characterization of his office: Upon the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the times of the world, but has revealed at His own time in the preaching with which I was entrusted according to the precept of God, our Savior. Paul is a servant of God and an apostle of Christ Jesus on the basis of the hope of eternal life, 1 Corinthians 15:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:1: Romans 6:22. The hope: the firm conviction of the certainty of salvation, fills the apostle with courage and joy and strength to fulfill the duties of his office properly. This hope of the Christians cannot fail, because God has already given the promise, and this promise is certain by virtue of his faithfulness and truth; for God cannot lie, Psalms 33:4. Before the times of this world, before the foundations of the earth were laid, from eternity, He gave a promise based upon the grace which He also granted in Christ Jesus, namely, to give eternal life to His own. This counsel of God, according to which He set forth eternal life as a prize or reward of merry, was then proclaimed. At His own time, in the fullness of time as determined by Him. He revealed His Word in the preaching of the Gospel as it was entrusted to Paul. This counsel and will had indeed been made known ever since the first announcement of the Savior's coming, in the Garden of Eden, but chiefly in type and prophecy. The full revelation came with the incarnation of Christ, Hebrews 1:1: Galatians 4:4-5, but particularly through the Gospel as preached by Christ and the apostles. The Word of the Gospel thus, as a true means of grace, actually transmits the true spiritual life from God, as the Source of all life. And God, who chose Paul to be His apostle, thereby entrusted him with the proclamation of this life-giving message. It was not his own choice, he did not seek the honor for himself, but now that it has been given to him, he emphasizes very strongly that he holds his office according to the precept or commandment of God, the Savior. It is the same thought which the apostle voices also in other passages of the Pastoral Letters. Titus, therefore, as the recipient of the letter, could claim for its contents apostolic and therefore divine authority. Note that the designation of God as the Savior serves as a tender invitation to all men not to regard Him as a stern Judge, whose greatest delight is the damnation of sinners, but as a loving Father in Christ Jesus, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Having established his authority and thus that of Titus as his representative in proclaiming the truths contained in this letter. Paul now addresses his pupil directly: To Titus, my true son according to the common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Savior. It appears from these words that Titus had also been converted through the preaching of the great apostle, that he was his spiritual son. At the same time Paul's words indicate that Titus had his spiritual father's mind and spirit. Even though Titus, who was a descendant of Gentiles, had not grown up in the blessings of the Old Testament people, yet his relation to Paul was no less intimate for that reason. On the contrary, they are united by the bonds of the same faith, whose object is Christ the Savior, as revealed in the Gospel. And so Paul adds his apostolic salutation and wish that grace and peace from above might rest upon Titus. He is to become a partaker of the riches of God's grace and mercy, of the peace which belongs to the believers the reconciliation effected by Christ, and thus of the fullness of salvation. In calling God the Father and Christ Jesus the Savior, Paul again stresses the character of the Gospel as a message of redemption, as a proclamation of salvation, in the granting of which the Father and the Son are equally interested.
The Qualifications of Christian Pastors.
v. 5. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee;
v. 6. if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
v. 7. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
v. 8. but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temper ate;
v. 9. holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
See 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The Lord of the Church wants all things to be done decently and in order, and the precepts which He here lays down should be observed in every well-established congregation. We here find out what special field had been assigned to Timothy at this time: For this reason I left thee in Crete, in order that thou shouldest set in order what remained, and appoint presbyters in every city, as I had given thee directions. The island of Crete, or Candia, is the largest island in the eastern Mediterranean, one which in olden times had had a large population, some ninety to a hundred cities being ascribed to it. It had been conquered by the Romans in 69 B. C. and united with Cyrene as a Roman province. It may be that the first Christian congregations had been founded on the island through the efforts of some of the men that had been converted on the great Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-47; Acts 11:1-30. Paul visited the island after his first Roman imprisonment, and, together with Titus, extended the preaching of the Gospel throughout the length and breadth of it. When his office demanded his presence elsewhere, he left Titus behind, at least temporarily, as his representative, with orders to set matters right, to see to it that a decent order of worship and of conducting the business of the congregations be introduced everywhere. This included, among others, that all the congregations should choose presbyters or bishops under his direction and with his help. Nothing is said of an archbishop or of some supreme presbyter over the entire island; it is clear that every congregation had its own bishop or minister. These directions Paul had given, these things he had explained to Titus. With this letter of the apostle to back up his words, Titus might hope to have success in his efforts. A hierarchy in the Christian Church cannot be defended or upheld on the basis of Scriptures.
The apostle now names some of the qualifications, largely of a moral nature, which should be found in a Christian minister. He should be blameless, beyond the reach of an accusation which would be apt to bring disgrace upon the holy office: no man should be able to prove anything against him which would place the stigma of immorality upon him. This demand holds true especially with regard to the Sixth Commandment, for he should be the husband of only one wife, his married life should be without a blemish. To this end it is good and advisable that the bishop have a wife; for there are comparatively few men that possess the gift of absolute chastity and continence in such a degree as to remain pure without entering into the holy estate of matrimony. But if the pastor be in that holy state, then the apostle assumes, by virtue of the blessing of creation, that he have children, and such children as are believers and cannot come under the suspicion and accusation of being addicted to profligacy or insubordination. Of a man that holds such an important position it is expected that he show his ability in this regard first of all in his own house, in the midst of his own family. True, he cannot work faith in the hearts of his children, but he can and should provide adequate training and instruction in the Christian doctrine for them, that he at least, so far as his own person is concerned, has done his duty in leading them to Christ, in showing them the value of a true Christian life. At any rate, he can hinder any attempt on the part of the children to indulge in luxury, profligacy, and dissipation, and he must be able to quell and quench disobedience and insubordination. If the children are persistently unruly and refractory, this condition of affairs reflects upon the training of the parents, especially of the father.
The apostle gives a reason why he feels obliged to insist upon a pastor's blameless reputation in this respect: For it is necessary that a bishop be irreprehensible as an administrator of God. As one commentator remarks: "Blameless, not absolutely without fault, or unblamed; but not grossly or scandalously guilty. " The steward of God, that has charge of His affairs in the Church, cannot afford to have the reputation of being guilty of some act that would defame him before men. A feeling of reverence for the holy office is out of the question when the pastor is not beyond the reproach of being guilty of gross sins. For this reason he should not be arrogant, self-assertive, presumptuous; for such a person is apt to think himself better than others, to look down upon those not holding the office as below his dignity. Since this, however, often results in proud obstinacy in insisting upon one's own opinion, and thus leads to the cultivation of a supercilious temper, the apostle adds that a minister must not be hot-tempered, that he must be able to control himself at all times, even when he meets with foolish opposition, with objections that are positively silly in the light of the Word of God. A pastor that cannot keep his temper may also not be able to observe temperance. Therefore St. Paul writes that he must not be addicted to wine, not be a striker, making use of violence. If a minister has so little control over his own appetites that he becomes a habitual drinker, thus permitting his senses to become muddled with drink, if, in addition, he is always ready to resort to violent measures, even to fisticuffs, in trying to uphold his opinion, then he lacks the firmness of character which is necessary in the holy office. A servant of the Lord must also not be eager for base gain, not desirous of making his ministry a means of making money. The Lord expects, instead, that a pastor be hospitable, not with that false hospitality which encourages loafing, but which is always ready to share with others. There is a hint to all Christian congregations in these words to provide for their pastors in such a way that the latter are not compelled to make the gaining of filthy lucre an object in life, and always have enough to enable them to practice hospitality.
A further qualification of a true pastor is to love everything that is good, to acknowledge the good qualities of his neighbor whenever and wherever they are in evidence, even if he should thereby renounce some of the honor that might rightfully belong to himself. Over against the lack of self-command the apostle mentions the necessity of self-mastery, according to which a person has full control of all his passions and desires, thus possessing true strength of character. A servant of God will finally he righteous, pious, and temperate, or just, holy, and abstemious; he will exercise the proper righteousness of life toward all men, but at the same time not neglect the demands of sanctification over against the perfect God. As a person consecrated to the service of the Lord he will abstain from all that is unholy and profane, guarding especially against all fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Thus the bishop, in showing himself an example in all Christian virtues before his entire flock, will encourage and stimulate his members to exercise themselves likewise in a life which is well-pleasing to the Lord.
But in addition to such qualities and attributes which should be found in all Christians, the apostle also mentions one that is peculiar to the office of bishop: Firmly holding to the faithful Word according to the doctrine, that he may be able as well to admonish in the wholesome teaching as to refute objectors. Of a Christian teacher it may be expected above all that he be so firmly grounded in the truth as to stand unmoved against all attacks. If this is the case, then such a person will hold firmly to the Word which he knows to be faithful, worthy of absolute trust, concerning which he has the conviction that it is the truth of God and is in full agreement with the doctrine of Christ and the apostles, 2 Timothy 3:14; he should hold fast the faithful Word as he has been taught. Such a teacher will be able both to defend the truth and to teach. The earnest admonition and exhortation which he practices continually includes a careful and detailed instruction in the wholesome words of divine knowledge as well as the invitation to live a consecrated life in accordance with this doctrine. Only he can control and direct this power properly that is thoroughly familiar with the doctrine. Such a pastor will, however, also be able to show the objectors the errors of their opinion, to convince the gainsayers, a use of the Word which requires the greatest wisdom. In our days, indeed, when teachers of the Church, for the sake of a dubious union, are willing to sacrifice true unity, this passage is not very welcome. But the fact remains that no man should consider himself qualified to teach, nor should he be given the position of a teacher in the Church unless he can satisfy the requirements as here stated.
The False Teachers Characterized and the Question of How to Deal with Them Discussed.
v. 10. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision,
v. 11. whose mouths must be stopped; who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
v. 12. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
v. 13. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith,
v. 14. not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
v. 15. Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
v. 16. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate.
The term "objectors" or "gainsayers" used by the apostle in the previous paragraph was not a general term, which might cover almost any form of heresy that Titus chose to connect with it, but Paul wanted it applied to a certain class of people, who, indeed, bore the distinguishing characteristics common to the heretics of all times. He writes: For there are many insubordinate people, vain talkers, and seducers, for the most part they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped. There were difficulties to battle with in Crete which resembled those that were troubling Timothy in Ephesus, 1 Timothy 1:4-7. There were certain Judaistic teachers that professed adherence to the Christian religion and therefore had little difficulty in entering the congregations. Their number was by no means small, and that fact probably accounts for the boldness which they displayed. They were disobedient, insubordinate, to their Pharisaic minds the simple truths of the Gospel were not sufficiently strict, they refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostolic doctrine. This conviction of theirs they, moreover, did not keep for themselves, but took every opportunity to spread it by loose and vain talk, by empty arguments, with a great show of wisdom. In doing so, they displayed the dangerous ability of presenting falsehood in the garb and guise of truth, a proceeding which naturally resulted in their deceiving many people that did not penetrate the disguise. Very likely these men claimed to have just as much right to teach as Paul himself, and their efforts to introduce Jewish rites and ceremonies into the Christian congregations could well arouse apprehension in the mind of the apostle. He therefore insists upon using only one method of dealing with them, namely, that of stopping their mouths, of continuing the rebuke of their false position so long until they no longer were able to answer and would keep the peace for the sake of their own peace of mind. The same method ought to be applied in similar cases also in our days, lest the pernicious activity of such disturbers of the peace harm the work of the Lord.
The apostle now substantiates his recommendation of such a radical suggestion: Who are subverting entire households, since they teach what they ought not, for the sake of gain. If these false teachers, who made a specialty of insinuating themselves into individual families, would continue in their pernicious activity unmolested, the omission of proper reproof would soon result in a most deplorable condition. For entire households had given car to their seductive talk, dissension had been eon-n in the midst of families, and the end promised to be still worse. This situation was the result of their teaching such doctrines as should not be taught at any time. They pretended that their empty tall; was sound Gospel-truth. What made the entire matter SO extremely sordid and disgusting was the fact that they were active along the lines just indicated only for the sake of filthy gain; their avowed object was to make money. Note: Even today people will become the ready dupes of similar enthusiasts, readily paying the false teachers great sums of money, as the history of various recent sects shows, while the Church of the pure confession is almost invariably battling with financial difficulties.
Since the false teachers of whom Paul speaks were Jews by descent, but Cretans by nationality, St. Paul adds a sentence for their benefit: There said one of them, their own prophet: Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. The apostle here places deceivers and deceived into one category, reminding them of the saying of one of their own poets, Epimenides, of the sixth century before Christ, who was regarded by the Cretans themselves as a prophet. The Cretans as a people are represented as liars, as men who deliberately made use of hypocritical, shady methods. Like evil beasts they are, that lie in wait to pounce upon unsuspecting men. Lazy gluttons they are, that shun the work and yet want to live profligate lives. It was not vindictiveness which caused Paul to quote this remark, which certainly is anything but flattering, but the desire to work a consciousness and knowledge of their national weaknesses in the Cretans, and thus probably lay the foundation for the proper remedy.
For the Holy Spirit here confirms the judgment contained in the ancient verse: This testimony is true. The divine inspiration declares that the remark agrees with the situation. For that reason Paul urges his young coworker: On this account rebuke them sharply, that they may show wholesomeness in the faith. No consideration should induce them to identify themselves with the morbid methods of the errorists. With the most emphatic sharpness Titus was to impress upon the Christians the need of wholesome saneness in all matters of faith. They had accepted the Word of Reconciliation, but they were not yet steadfast and certain in their faith. They were like a convalescent person, who is on the way to recovery, but is still in danger of a relapse.
The apostle points out the specific danger and the manner in which faith should overcome it: Not paying attention to Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn from the truth. Both the Jewish traditions and fables concerning genealogies and the Jewish precepts taken from the ceremonial law mere doctrines of men which could under no circumstances be coordinated with the Gospel-teaching. Just as today many people find it extremely interesting to speculate about many things concerning which the Bible is silent, as, for instance, the youth of Christ, so the Judaizing teachers, following the lead of the rabbinical doctors, placed their empty speculations above the Word of God and in its stead. They still wanted to be regarded as members of the Christian congregations, but had, as a matter of fact, already turned from the sound and wholesome truth of the Gospel to their own foolish ideas.
The apostle continues to characterize the false teachers by adding: All is pure to the pure: But for the polluted and unbelieving nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are polluted. As with the Pharisees, so with these false teachers all the thoughts of men revolved about the terms "pure" and "impure. " Matthew 15:1-11; Matthew 18:23; Matthew 16:1-28; Matthew 17:1-27; Matthew 18:1-35; Matthew 19:1-30; Matthew 20:1-34; Matthew 21:1-46; Matthew 22:1-46; Matthew 23:1-39; Matthew 24:1-51; Matthew 25:1-46; Matthew 26:1-75; Matthew 27:1-66; Matthew 28:1-20. But in the New Testament this distinction is no longer valid. The purity of the soul and of the body does not depend upon eating or rejecting certain foods, but the condition of the heart in the sight of God is the deciding factor. He that comes into contact with, and makes use of, God's creatures with a heart purified by faith, is free from all legal prejudice and sees in all things only pure creatures of Almighty God. But the opposite is true in the case of the polluted and unbelievers. The very people that insist most loudly upon the fulfillment of the Ceremonial Law and of many other precepts that men have devised, are often suffering with impurity of heart and mind. Their unbelief will not permit them to accept the true purity of the heart. They cannot get rid of their evil conscience, because they reject the purifying power of the Gospel. Even things that are in themselves pure and holy are contaminated by the attitude of these people. They are conscious always of acting under false pretenses, and therefore they always pollute their mind and their conscience anew.
The most objectionable feature of their behavior, however, is this, that they have the temerity to insist upon being considered teachers: They profess to know God, but with their works they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and unfit for every good work. They confess boldly, with a deceitful pretense that they know God. Their declaration of loyalty to Christ was intentionally brief and general, lest someone might hold them to a clear statement. At the same time such people deny the Lord with their works: their works mark their words as lies. It is not necessary to think of flagrant transgressions and crimes, for it is altogether sufficient to know that they sow dissension in the congregations. Detestable such people are: they are an abomination in the eyes of God; they deserve that God and men should turn from them as nauseous and offensive. Disobedient they are: they refuse to yield to the truth, they do not want to fulfill the will of God. And so they are finally unfit for any good work, they are of no use in the Christian congregation. Nothing that they do flows from the fear and love of God. Therefore the warning contained in these words, bidding Christian congregations be very careful about receiving members that are not fully approved, is altogether timely, also in our days.
After the salutation and address the apostle gives instructions regarding the qualifications of bishops, adding a few hints regarding the treatment of false teachers and their followers.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Titus 1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent