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Bible Commentaries
Titus 1

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-4

Superscription and Benediction

Titus 1:1-4

1Paul, a servant of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ,1 according to [for] the faith of God’s elect, and [for] the acknowledging [knowledge] of the truth 2which is after [which leads to] godliness; in [upon] hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie [lieth not], promised before the world began [before eternal 3times]; but [and] hath in due times [in his time] manifested his word through [the] preaching, which is committed [entrusted] unto me according to the commandment 4of God our Saviour; to Titus, mine [his] own [genuine] son after the [in virtue of] common faith: Grace [mercy],2 and peace, from God the Father and [the Lord]3 Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


Titus 1:1. Servant of God. This appellation does not occur in the two other Pastoral Epistles, which use the word “Apostle:” here the phrase is “servant and Apostle,” the first more general, denoting the religious, the other, more specific, indicating the Christian character, in which the author presents himself.—For the faith, κατὰ πίστιν. Not according to the faith (as Matthies and Luther) [also Ital. Vulg. A. V.; this would make the faith of the elect the rule and measure of the Apostle’s office.—D.], but indicating the object of Paul’s apostleship: in order to bring about the faith of God’s chosen ones (which proceeds, according to Romans 10:14, from the preaching of the gospel; comp. Acts 13:48; Romans 1:5).—And further: for the knowledge of the truth,καὶ επίγνωσιν� [and (for producing) the full knowledge of the truth, i.e., the gospel.—D.]. Not without indirect reference to the Gnosticism of those days, which was becoming developed, the Apostle says that it was certainly his aim also, to lead the ignorant to knowledge, but to such a γνῶσις as is derived from faith, and then in turn leads to godliness, and which consequently has a different root and a different aim from the “science” falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20). The ethical rules of the false teachers were in some respects too rigid, and in others far too lax: in opposition to these he insists upon a knowledge of the truth which is for godliness,i.e., which makes godliness its aim and end. Thus explained, κατά has the same signification as in the phrase κατὰ πίστιν just before; while the other explanation, “the truth which is according to godliness,” gives neither a clear nor a Pauline thought.

Titus 1:2. On hope of eternal life,ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι (comp. Romans 4:18; Romans 8:21; 1 Corinthians 9:10.—Eternal life is here, as in Romans 6:22, and elsewhere, the object of hope. The clause “on hope of eternal life” is not to be exclusively referred to “truth” nor to “godliness,” but to the whole of the preceding sentence. The Apostle having, in Titus 1:1, stated the end of his apostleship, now says (Titus 1:2) that he discharges this duty in or on [resting on] the hope of eternal life, and thus intimates not obscurely by what power he was enabled to fulfil that mission, since he immediately testifies of the security of this hope. [The believer already possesses eternal life, but in its complete fulness he is to receive it hereafter (comp. Colossians 3:3-4). Huther.—D.]—Which [sc. eternal life. De Wette, Huther.] God,ἀψευδής, &c., exhibiting the character of God as true and faithful—a word selected, perhaps, with a reference to the deceitfulness of the Cretans (Titus 1:12), promised, namely, through the prophets (Romans 1:2), before eternal times, not to be taken absolutely, as in 2 Timothy 1:9, but to be understood of the Old Testament period, which dates from the first annunciation of the gospel (Genesis 3:15).—[The solution of the difficulty, that no promise was actually made till the race of man existed, must be found by regarding, as in 2 Timothy 1:9, the construction as a mixed one—compounded of the actual promise made in time, and the Divine purpose from which the promise sprung, fixed in eternity. Thus, as there God is said to have given us grace in Christ from eternal ages, meaning that the gift took place as the result of a Divine purpose fixed from eternity, so here He is said to have promised eternal life from eternal ages, meaning that the promise took place as the result of a purpose fixed from eternity. Alford.]

Titus 1:3. And [But] in His time, &c. [Lit. His own (appointed) times. De Wette.] Here again we have the same antithesis between the period of the hidden and the revealed mystery, as in Romans 16:23; Ephesians 3:5. The time of this revelation is described as that which God fixed and arranged in His eternal wisdom (see also 1 Timothy 2:6 ; Galatians 4:4).—Through the preaching, &c., ὅ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγώ (comp. on 1 Timothy 1:11). “Paul’s designation of his preaching, as the means by which that revelation was made, rests upon the ground that he knew beyond any other apostle the depths of the Divine purpose, and that through him it was made known to all nations (2 Timothy 4:17).” Huther.—According to the commandment, &c., referring to the charge which the Apostle, immediately upon his conversion, and frequently afterwards in various ways, had received. By the addition of this clause, Paul emphatically denies that in his preaching he has acted in any way on his own authority. On the representation of God as Saviour, which is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles, see on 1 Timothy 1:1. [The idea in its connected form is, that it was the will of God that Paul should publicly preach the gospel, the proper time having now arrived for the universal knowledge of eternal life.—D.]

Titus 1:4. To Titus, see Introduction, § 1.—His genuine son,γνησίῳ τέκνῳ, the same name by which Timothy is called in 1 Timothy 1:2, on which see note.—By virtue of common faith,κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν. The Apostle probably lays special emphasis upon this communion of the faith, with reference to the heathen descent of Titus, as distinguished from his own Jewish extraction. The principle in the case is that stated in Colossians 3:11; Galatians 5:6. Κατά indicates the point of view from which Titus could be regarded as a son of Paul: fidei respectu, Beza.—Grace [mercy], peace. The second word of this affectionate trilogy is omitted by C.1 D. E. F. G. [Cod. Sin.], &c. It is possible, however, that this omission is a correction, designed to bring the phrase into agreement with the one employed in the other epistles of Paul, in forgetfulness of the fact, that, in the Pastoral epistles, a slight variation might not unnaturally occur. On internal grounds it is at least not improbable that in these epistles, the composition of which falls into one and the same period of his life, the Apostle should have sent his greeting to his fellow-laborers in a somewhat more extended form than was customary with him when writing to the churches (see on 1 Timothy 1:2).


1. The copiousness and richness of this introduction, when the brevity of the Epistle itself is considered, are an internal proof of its genuineness. An impostor would have regarded such copiousness, which is not found in many of the other epistles of Paul, as superfluous and unadvisable.
2. The explanation of the Apostle in regard to his special calling is of permanent value, because it brings before us in a few lines his entire work as an Apostle. Its origin is from God; its end, to bring the elect to faith, through faith to the knowledge of the truth, and through this again to true, sincere, and hearty godliness; its support and prospect is the hope of eternal life; its proper centre, the announcement of salvation, which, through the agency of God, was predicted before eternal times, and at a later period was provided; its measure, the command of God, to which his servants owe unconditional obedience. It is not difficult to show that the principal part of what the Apostle here testifies of himself applies equally to every true and worthy minister of the gospel.
3. The doctrine of Divine election, the cor ecclesiœ reformatœ, so far from being, in the view of Paul, a point of subordinate importance, is one which he makes prominent and emphatic at the very beginning of this Epistle. Much of the abuse heaped upon this doctrine, and still more of controversy respecting it, would have been avoided, if it had always been stated in a manner so decidedly practical and so little speculative as this great Apostle presents it. Paul does not teach that a man must obtain an assurance of his salvation before he can venture to believe on the Lord: on the contrary, he bids the believer, who, at the invitation of the gospel, rests upon Christ, and is thus assured of his salvation, gratefully look back and upward, in order that he may find the beginning and ground of this unspeakable salvation, not in anything in himself, but solely in the free mercy of the electing counsel of God. The doctrine of gracious election is not intended to be a stone of stumbling to the unbeliever, who in fact has nothing whatever to do with it, but for comfort to the believer, who regards God’s free, sovereign, and independent good pleasure as the ground of his highest glory and consolation, in life and in death.

4. “He applies the same epithet, Saviour, to the Father and to Christ, inasmuch as certainly each of them is our Saviour, but for a different reason; for the Father is our Saviour, because He redeemed us by the death of His Son, that He might make us heirs of eternal life; but the Son, because He shed His blood as the pledge and price of our salvation. Thus the Son has brought salvation to us from the Father, and the Father has bestowed it through the Son.” Calvin.


The true Apostle of Jesus Christ is at the same time a servant of God.—He who believes in Christ, may reckon himself among God’s elect, but only he.—The Christian is called to add to his faith, knowledge (1 Corinthians 14:20).—The connection between Christian faith, Christian knowledge, and Christian godliness.—It is impossible that God should lie: (1.) truth, (2.) comfort, (3.) solemnity of this thought.—The gradual progress of the revelation of salvation from promise to fulfilment, a striking illustration of the manifold wisdom of God.—The true preacher of the gospel is nothing less and nothing more than the interpreter of the Divine revelation of salvation.—The whole introduction of this Epistle an expression of the faith, the hope, and the love of the Apostle himself.—The distinction between Jew and Greek resolved into a higher unity, through the common faith in Christ.—The Christian greeting: (1.) What should the disciples and friends of the Lord especially wish for each other? (2.) Why just this? (3.) How, and from whom?

Starke: Be not ashamed to be called a servant of God! Thou servest the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. Thine associates and fellow-servants are not only Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, but also the holy angels (Revelation 19:10), yea, the Son of God himself.—Cramer: Believers and the elect have all one faith (Ephesians 4:5).—Hedinger: Knowledge, godliness, hope, a beautiful triad. Neither without the other.—Where no true faith exists, there is no true, spiritual, and vital knowledge.—He who would enjoy aright the hope of eternal life, must have true faith exhibiting itself in godliness. If such an order exists, hope maketh not ashamed.—What is more sure than the salvation of believers? God, who doth not and cannot lie, has fixed and established it in eternity (Hebrews 10:23; Ephesians 1:4).—Preachers and hearers, teachers and scholars, should be in hearty accord with each other, like parents and children; as Elisha calls Elijah his father (2 Kings 2:12), and the disciples of the prophets, children (2 Kings 4:38), and the Corinthians and Galatians are described as new-born children (1 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 4:19).—Through the sacred office of preaching, spiritual children are born to God (James 1:18).

Lisco: What does a genuine Apostle preach, and what does genuine preaching accomplish?—Wherein consists the glory of the office of the preacher of the gospel?—We also are servants of God and apostles of Jesus Christ.—How children must be trained to be true Christians.


Titus 1:1; Titus 1:1.—[Tischendorf, who maintains the invariable sequence of ἀπόσταλος Χρ. Ιησ. in the introductory salutations of Paul, would invert the order of these words, and read “Christ Jesus;” but the weight of authority—D.3 E. F. G. H. I. K., to which Cod. Sin. is now added—is against him.—D.]

Titus 1:4; Titus 1:4.—[The genuineness of ἔλεος is doubtful. Lachmann retains, Tischendorf rejects it. It is wanting in Cod. Sin.

Titus 1:4; Titus 1:4.—The word rendered the Lord is rejected by Lachmann and Tischendorf, and is wanting in Cod. Sin. [also in A. C. D.1—D.].

Verses 5-16

Directions in respect to the Selection of Superintendents in the Church, enforced by a reference to local necessities and circumstances

Titus 1:5-16

5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in [further bring into] 4 order the things that are wanting [defective], and ordain [appoint] elders 6in every city, as I had appointed [as I prescribed to] thee: If any [one] be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, [who are] not accused of riot [debauchery], or [nor] unruly. 7For a bishop [the superintendent] must be blameless, as the [a] steward of God; not self-willed [arrogant], not soon angry, not given to wine [no drunkard], no striker, not given to filthy lucre [eager after base gain]; 8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men 9[the good], sober [discreet], just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught [the trustworthy doctrine according to the teaching], that he may be able by [the] sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince 10[correct] the gainsayers. For there are many [and] 5 unruly vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who [as those who] subvert [overturn] whole houses, teaching [since they teach] things which they ought not [what is not right], for filthy lucre’s sake [on account of shameful gain]. 12One of themselves [them], even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13This witness is true: Wherefore rebuke them sharply [correct them with severity], 14that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving [and not give] heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men that turn from the truth. 15Unto the pure all things are6 pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they know God; but in [with the] works they deny him [it], being [since they are] abominable and disobedient [men], and unto every good work reprobate.


Titus 1:5. Crete. This is probably the same island which, in the Old Testament, is called Caphtor (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:6); by the Greeks in ancient times, Telchinia, and at present Kriti, and by Europeans, Candia. It is the most southern island in Europe, and is situated in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, almost equidistant from the three great divisions of the ancient world. On account of its considerable size and its long and narrow form, it was often anciently styled Makronesus (Great Island). To this “Queen of the Islands,” as it was very early called, Hippocrates sent his patients, on account of its mild and salubrious climate. Its productions were far superior to those of all other lands (Plin. H. N. 25, 8), and its fertility, which since then has been much diminished, was widely celebrated. The population, originally the Caphtorim, who descended from Ham (Genesis 10:14), was subsequently increased by the Pelasgi, who, however, were in a great degree supplanted by the Dorians, who were at a later period joined by Achaians, Ætolians, &c. Homer mentions, in the Iliad ii. 149, a hundred, in the Odyssey xix. 174, ninety cities, of which Gortyna, Rhytion, Phœstus, Gnossus, Lyktos, Hierapytna, Kydonia, Pergamum, Tarrha, figure both in mythology and in actual history. Crete was a prominent seat of idol worship, and its government and laws excited the admiration of Plato (De Legg. i. 6). After various internal dissensions, however, the brave islanders were conquered by the Romans under G. Cecilius Metellus, B. C. 69; and under Augustus the island, along with Cyrene, was constituted a Roman province. That, in the time of the Apostle, Jews in the dispersion were dwelling there, is clear not only from Acts 2:11, but also from Josephus and Philo. The first knowledge of the gospel may perhaps have been brought by Jews returning to Crete from the first Christian Pentecost. In what year, however, the church, which is here (Titus 1:5) spoken of as having been a considerable time in existence, was founded, history does not in-form us. It is highly probable that the Apostle Paul himself established it: there is also nothing to hinder the supposition that, after his liberation from his first imprisonment at Rome, he spent some time on the island. So much at least is clear, that he could only have made a passing journey, or remained but a short time in Crete. For not only had Christianity obtained a firm foothold, but it was mixed with not a few foreign elements, and the ecclesiastical regulations required still further extension and completeness. The number of believers must have been considerable; and in the cities everywhere churches were established, which could not have been the work of a few days or weeks. We find evidence, accordingly, in these facts, if our view is correct, of the abundant labor and success of the Apostle Paul in the latter period of his life, as well as the former.—For this cause, τούτου χάριν, scil.,that thou shouldest [further] bring into order (ἑπιδιορθώσῃ) the things that are wanting [in respect to ecclesiastical organization.—D.], and [and especially, indicating more particularly the work to be done.—D.], in every city,κατὰ πόλιν, from city to city, appoint elders—left I thee in Crete. These words shed important light upon the condition of things in Crete. Paul had himself laid the foundation there, but (in consequence of want of time; Bengel) had left the special organization of the church to Titus. In this was included the appointment of not only one, but several elders or presbyters in each church (comp. Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2. On these church offices, see on 1 Timothy 3:1). “The words sound as if Paul was making Titus acquainted, for the first time, with the reasons why he left him behind in Crete, since otherwise he would only have reminded him of them” (De Wette). True; but the key to this peculiar appearance is given in the words of Calvin, cited in the Introduction, § 2, and it is therefore entirely arbitrary to find here an argument for the spuriousness of the Epistle, and to add: “The author forgot to put himself in the place of both persons.” No; the critic, rather, forgot to penetrate into the true nature of the Epistles.

Titus 1:6. If any one is unaccused,εἰ δέ τις, not an expression of doubt whether, among the Cretians, such an one could be found, but a statement of the requisites to which Titus should attend in the selection of presbyters. On the manifold coincidences with the directions in 1 Timothy 3:1 sqq., which of course must be expected to occur, see the Notes on that passage.—Husband of one wife, who has believing children;πιατά, “in opposition both to no Christianity and to merely nominal Christianity” (Huther).—Not under the charge, &c., μὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ�. For he who was open to such a charge would not only be offensive to the church, but, by his unrestrained debauchery (ἀσωτία, comp. Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:4), would waste the church property. [This remark would seem to imply that the author supposed the bishop himself to be here referred to. But the grammatical form and the connection both show that the sentence, “not accused of dissoluteness, nor insubordinate,” relates to the superintendent’s children. If they were profligate or disobedient, it was proof that he had trained them wrongly, and was not fit to guide the church. See 1 Timothy 3:4.—D.]—Not disobedient, to parents, rulers, and whoever else might be placed over them (Titus 1:10).

Titus 1:7. For the superintendent [“here most plainly identified with the presbyter spoken of before;” Alford. It is to be noted, that here the title ἐπίσκοπος occurs; the presbyter is indicated thereby as the overseer of the church; Huther.] should be blameless (comp. 1 Timothy 3:2). The Apostle now exhibits the moral necessity of these directions: Steward of God,οἰκονόμος, who presides over the church as the οἶκος θεοῦ, and guides it (comp. on 1 Timothy 3:15).—[The qualities which are now specified show in what respect a bishop must be blameless, and are undoubtedly mentioned with reference to vices prevalent in Crete.—D.].—Not arrogant,μὴ αὐθάδη (Luther: not stubborn), literally, not having pleasure in himself, compounded of αὐτός and ἥδομαι. [Not self-willed; Alford. “Describing a self-loving spirit, which, in seeking only to gratify itself, is regardless of others;” Ellicott.—D.]—Not irascible, μὴ ὀργίλον (only here in the N. T.), not choleric.—No drunkard, no striker [i.e., not quarrelsome], (see 1 Timothy 3:3).—Not eager after base gain,μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, who acts not like the shepherd, but like the hireling. “Boni pastoris est, tondere pecus, non deglubere.” [Not disposed to make his ministry the means of gain; comp. Titus 1:11. The three leading disqualifications for the ministry mentioned above are pride, passionateness, and avarice; Huther.—D.]

Titus 1:8. But, &c. The negative directions in the preceding verse the Apostle now follows with several which are positive.—Hospitable (see on 1 Timothy 3:2).—A friend of the good, φιλάγαθον, not merely kind (Luther), but loving everything good in persons, things, and actions.—Discreet (see on 1 Timothy 3:2). [Sober-minded, descriptive of calmness and self-control, the opposite of the passionateness spoken of in the former verse. Alford renders the word self-restrained, though not quite satisfied with it.—D.]—Just, holy, temperate. It may here be remarked, as in Titus 2:12, that Paul embraces our duties toward God, our neighbor, and ourselves, in three comprehensive terms. “Him whom we call holy, the Greeks call ἅγιον; but him whom they style ὅσιον, we may denominate pious toward God;” Jerome. The last word, ἐγκρατῆ, expresses not only chastity in the strict sense of the word, but also self-control, which overcomes every lust contrary to the will of God.

Titus 1:9. Holding fast the … doctrine. To the moral qualities which the Apostle requires in the superintendent, he now adds the possession of a sound orthodoxy. Holding fast the trustworthy doctrine according to the teaching. The πιστὸς λόγος is the sound apostolic preaching, essentially different from that of the false teachers. The teaching here meant can be no other than that given, whether by Paul or Titus, to the candidates for the office of presbyter. To this instruction they were to hold fast, and to abide in the same (2 Timothy 3:15); their conformity with it, in distinction from others who permitted themselves to be led astray by false teachers, was the evidence of their qualification for the episcopate (comp. on 1Ti 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:3).—That he may be able … to exhort, and to correct the gainsayers [literally, those speaking against, viz., the pure doctrine of the gospel, i.e., the false teachers.—D.]. Unshaken firmness in holding the apostolic type of doctrine, is desirable in two respects: first, in reference to believers, whom he is to exhort and cheer, and next in respect to errorists, whom he is to correct and refute.—[By means of the sound doctrine. As a person is said to be sound or healthy when he is free from disease, so doctrine is sound when free from error, and from everything that impairs its legitimate power. In the Cretian churches the enfeebling element consisted in Jewish fables and commandments of men (Titus 1:11). According to Paul, the true mode of exhorting believers is to instruct them thoroughly in the truths, duties, and privileges of the gospel.—D.] Calvin: “That bishop is truly wise, who holds the right faith; he makes a proper use of his knowledge, when he applies it to the edification of the people. And this is a signal commendation of the word of God, that it should be affirmed to be sufficient, not only for governing the teachable, but for subduing the obstinacy of enemies. And, certainly, such is the power of truth revealed by the Lord, that it easily triumphs over all falsehoods. Let the Popish bishops now go and boast of the Apostolic succession, when a good part of them are so ignorant of all doctrine as to reckon ignorance no small part of their dignity.”

Titus 1:10. For there are many, &c. The necessity of the preceding direction is now brought out and made prominent by a severe description of the character of the gainsayers spoken of (comp. on 1 Timothy 1:6-7). The different reading (see the critical note) has no influence of importance upon the explanation of the meaning. It is plain that the Apostle characterizes the false teachers in almost exactly the same manner as he often does in the Epistles to Timothy. They are refractory persons, who refuse to submit to the ordering of the apostolic doctrine, which ought to be authority to them.—Vain talkers and deceivers (comp. 2 Timothy 3:13). [Men who make much of foolish questions, matters of no consequence, and which contribute nothing to Christian edification; such as fables, genealogies, and precepts of human origin; Titus 1:14; Titus 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:7.—D.]—Especially they of the circumcision (comp. Galatians 2:12), Christians, who were originally Jews, although (μάλιστα) they were not exclusively of this class, “champing the bit in their unwillingness to submit to the obedience of faith;” Bengel.

Titus 1:11. Whose mouth must be stopped; literally, muzzled, since otherwise they would incessantly oppose (Titus 1:9). So our Lord silenced the Sadducees (Matthew 22:34), when he held the truth before them so decidedly and powerfully, that no farther opposition was possible.—As those who (οἵτινες = quippe qui) overturn (ἁνατρέπω = everto, here, and in 2 Timothy 2:18, a figure corresponding to the idea of a house) whole houses, not individual persons merely, but even entire families. In what way [they lead astray entire families from the faith.—D.], is stated in what immediately follows: since they teach … for the sake of gain (comp. on 1 Timothy 6:5; 1 Timothy 6:10). Selfishness was the spring of the pretended zeal of the false teachers, and the disgracefulness of the gain they acquired consisted mainly in this, that it was obtained by the most contemptible means [viz., the seeking to please men and flatter their prejudices. There were certain topics, such as the perpetual obligation of the Mosaic ritual, the preëminence of those descended from Abraham, and the importance of preserving the Jewish genealogies, which would be sure to make a preacher popular with many, and render them willing to contribute to his support. Such a man Paul describes in 1 Timothy 6:5-6, as “supposing that gain is godliness,” i.e., regarding godliness as a source or means of gain.—D.] Calvin: “He points out the source of the evil, the desire of dishonest gain; by which he reminds us how destructive in teachers is this plague; for, as soon as they give themselves up to the pursuit of gain, they must needs labor to obtain the favor and countenance of men. This is quickly followed by the corruption of pure doctrine.”

Titus 1:12. Cretians are always liars. That the Apostle, in the preceding verse, has not spoken too strongly, he now maintains by quoting one of their own poets: Κρῆτες�, κ.τ.λ.—a perfect hexameter. [The only other quotations from heathen poets in Paul’s writings are found in Acts 17:28 and 1 Corinthians 15:33.—D.] These words are borrowed not from Callimachus, in whom only the two first words are found, but from a work of Epimenides, a philosopher and poet who lived at Gnossus, in Crete, six hundred years before Christ, and gave this description of his countrymen, probably in a work περὶ χρησμῶν. From other sources, likewise, we learn the lying, deceitful character of the Cretians, so that κρητίζειν, according to Hesychius, was synonymous with ψεύδεσθαι καὶ�, just as κορινθιάζειν was with scortari. Of course, this is not an affirmation respecting every individual Cretan—for, in that case, the poet would likewise have condemned himself, and his verse would have been only one lie the more—but a general description of the national character, notwithstanding many favorable exceptions. It is plain, also, that Paul styles Epimenides a prophet, not in the literal, but in the improper popular sense in which the original word is often used. Lying, rudeness, sensuality, and idleness, were thus, according to this passage, intimately connected; and this description deserved the greater confidence, since it proceeded from a man to whom the Greeks had already ascribed the gift of prophecy, and whom Cicero himself (De Divinat., L. i.) reckoned among vaticinantes per furorem. It is entirely unnecessary and inappropriate to refer τις ἐξ αὐτῶν to the preceding “many,” or to “they of the circumcision.” As is often the case, the pronoun here anticipates the substantive: Cretians, who indeed were not themselves false teachers, but who yet lent a willing ear to them (see Titus 1:11).—[Evil beasts, i.e., rude and lawless.—Slow bellies, idle and gluttonous.—D.]

Titus 1:13-14. This witness is true. The prophetical authority of Epimenides was of such a nature, that, in order to be here of any value, it must have an apostolic confirmation. It is not impossible that Paul, from his own experience in Crete, was justified in quoting with so much emphasis the unfavorable judgment of the poet; but it is certain that he did not do it with any vindictive, feeling. He puts them to the blush, by setting before them, through Titus, their national character, not to humiliate, but to save them.—Wherefore correct them with severity, ἀποτόμως, prœcise, severe, decisively, rigorously, earnestly. As the surgeon cuts out the proud and diseased flesh, in order, by the painful operation, to restore the patient, so Paul would vigorously take their sins in hand, in order that they might no longer be liars, evil beasts, idle bellies, but rather become holy men; that they may be sound in the faith, ἐν τῇ πίστει, faith being the sphere which constitutes the centre and starting-point of the entire internal and external life, and therefore, if it is to be good, must be the seat of health. In what this health is to be manifested, is indicated by what immediately follows: And not give heed to Jewish fables … of men, that turn from the truth [who turn away from the truth, i.e., reject the gospel.—D.]. (Comp. on 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 6:20). Here, too, it is evident how intimately theoretical and practical error are connected with each other. [That these precepts related to external things, and were ascetic in their nature, is evident from the next verse.—D.] In the absolute rejection of such human commandments, the teachings of Paul accord entirely with those of our Lord in Matthew 15:1-20.

Titus 1:15. To the pure all things are pure. The warning against the false teachers leads the Apostle to express a general thought, which, however, is shortly applied to the particular persons already mentioned. The false teachers held that the moral perfection of man was dependent upon the observance of certain carefully-defined prescriptions; so that he who submitted to their “commandments” had already, in this very act, taken a step forward, while they who neglected these prescriptions must be regarded as unclean to the core. In opposition to this, Paul reminds Titus that all objects in themselves, to which the actions of men are directed [with special reference, however, to meats and drinks.—D.], are pure and innocent, since God has created nothing impure, although they are pure only to the pure. Bengel: “All outward things are pure to those who are pure within.” A similar thought is expressed in Romans 14:20. By nature no one is pure, and they who are here styled καθαροί, are those who have purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). As such, they stand in diametrical opposition to those who are next described: But to the polluted [i.e., by sin.—D.] (τοῖς δὲ μεμιαμμένοις, according to the best reading; see Lachmann and Tischendorf) and unbelieving [i.e., those who reject the gospel.—D.] is nothing pure; even that which, in and of itself, is pure and inoffensive, becomes defiled by their perverseness. “The relation in which the sinful subject places himself to the object he possesses or desires, is an impure one;” Matthies. Hence, whatever they may do to obtain moral perfection, as, for instance, the laws they observe in respect to food and purification, brings them no assistance.—But their mind (νοῦς) and conscience (συνείδησις). The distinction between these words may be thus stated: the former denotes not only the intellect, but the whole inner habitus, the mind and bent of a man, the direction of his whole inner life; while the latter denotes the moral consciousness which follows his actions, and pronounces judgment upon them. If, therefore, his inner life, including the activity of his will, is corrupted, it is utterly impossible that anything with which such a man comes into connection should to him remain pure and unsoiled. “By no laws or rules, therefore, will they obtain the cleanness which they desire to have, since, being impure themselves, they will find nothing in the world that is clean to them;” Calvin.—Is defiled; here spoken not in the Levitical, but, as in Hebrews 12:15, in the moral sense.

Titus 1:16. They profess, &c. A more particular description of the unbelieving and impure in concreto, in which the heaven-wide difference between seeming and being is made prominent, and we are involuntarily reminded of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:0).—That they know God (“whom to know is the height of wisdom;” Bengel), whether with reason Paul does not decide: it is here simply his aim to point out the fact that they boast, and publicly also (δμολογοῦσιν), of the knowledge of God.—But with the works they deny it (ἀρνοῦνται), namely, that they know God: they manifest by their conduct exactly the opposite of what they testify with their lips. [This is the rendering of Luther, Wiesinger, and some others; but De Wette, Huther, Ellicott, and Alford would supply “Him” (God) as the object of “deny;” comp. 2 Timothy 2:12. The emphatic position of θεόν in the sentence appears to confirm the latter view.—D].—Since they are abominable and disobedient men, βδελυκτοί (“towards whom God has detestation;” Luther), abominandi (comp. Luke 16:15), ἀπειθεῖς, refractory against everything which stands above them, but especially against the gospel of grace, and therefore abominable in the eyes of God, who is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:34).—Unto every goodwork worthless—the consequence of what has just been stated; from which it is clear, also, that in their case the design of the gospel was defeated (comp. Ephesians 2:10). Ἀδόκιμοι, literally, not standing the test (comp. on 2 Timothy 3:8), and hence reprobate in the passive, and not the active signification. Should any one feel that somewhat greater distinctness and fulness might be desirable in this and the preceding description of the false teachers, he should never allow himself to forget that the Apostle is not warning Titus against persons entirely unknown to him, but that the hints he gives are concerning men and circumstances familiar to Titus, and which he could supplement from his own daily observation and experience.


1. There are not a few in our days, who, most legitimately, indeed, insist upon personal faith and repentance, but have very little interest in church life as such, and little or no sense of the importance of a good church government. On the other hand, there are those who lay emphasis, in the regulation of the church, upon organic laws and definite rules, but undervalue the maintenance of doctrine, and would abandon the church of the Lord to all the ravages of an unlimited freedom of teaching. This one-sidedness, in either direction alike, is emphatically reproved in this chapter. Church government is, to a certain degree, simply the presentation of a worthy form, in which the life of the church may freely, and at the same time in an orderly way, develop itself. Now the form is of no value, if the spiritual substance is wanting; but, on the other hand, the spirit cannot live without taking on a worthy and adequate form.
2. “The greater the Master is, the greater should be his servant’s virtues. Paul calls the ministers of the gospel the stewards of God. A bishop’s power, therefore, is indeed limited, but not abrogated. He is a steward, and the steward of God; but a steward has certainly some authority and power; something is entrusted to his fidelity and skill; he does not merely use his bodily power—he is not an instrument or a machine; the steward of God is not men’s slave, not a drudge or a sutler; only let him be a true steward. Note this remark in opposition to the false politicians, who desire the ministers of Christ, and the princes whose names they abuse, and believers, and all things, to belong, not to God, but to themselves;” Bengel.

3. On Titus 1:12. We have here one of the three passages which exhibit the familiarity of Paul with the classical literature. The two others are Acts 17:28 and 1 Corinthians 15:33. To attribute to him, on this ground, a distinctly learned acquaintance with the Greek poets, is undoubtedly to go too far; but so much is clear—that he was sufficiently acquainted with them to be able to quote their sayings when he deemed it necessary, or had before him an audience whom he might regard as likely to be influenced or impressed by such a quotation: a very different use, certainly, from that which is often made in the pulpit of belles-lettres literature, where many a beautiful passage serves only to display the preacher as a man of taste and cultivation. It is easy, however, to make a mistake in either direction; and it is only the Spirit of truth, received through the prayer of faith, that can teach us the right mean, or rather resolve the apparent contradictions in the highest unity. The decided opposers of the use of profane literature in the pulpit should remember Calvin’s truly liberal note on this passage: “From this passage we gather, that those persons are superstitious who do not venture to borrow anything from heathen writers. For, since all truth is from God, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, it ought not to be rejected, because it has come from God. Besides, since all things are of God, why should it not be lawful to dedicate to His glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose?” To those, on the other hand, who, from a well-meant but not well-considered zeal, may be in danger of going too far, we present for consideration a saying of Erasmus: “There is one scruple in my mind, lest, under cover of ancient literature, Pelagianism should seek to lift up its head” (Enchir. Milit. Christ.). Here, too, to confirm our view by a non-biblical quotation, applies the saying of the master-poet of modern times: “It is not all that one thing suits.” In this matter each one must know himself, and especially must keep in view the various wants of his audience, since congregations cannot everywhere and at all times bear the same thing. The only rule for all which can be laid down, is, that regard must be had to way and manner, time, place, and measure; that a citation from a profane author should never be put on the same level with a saying of our Lord or a declaration of His apostles; and finally, that such quotations should never be used to prove to a Christian congregation what would else be doubtful, but merely to impress in a forcible manner the preacher’s view by an argumentum ad hominem. Excellent hints on this subject are given by Tholuck in the preface to the first volume of his Sermons, p. 19 sqq. See also the able lecture of Lange before the Barmen Church Diet, 1860, on the Relation of Secular Literature to Christianity, &c., reprinted in the official edition of the Papers of the Church Diet, Berlin, 1860, p. 29 sqq.

4. The principle, “to the pure all things are pure,” may be sadly abused, unless it is explained and limited by the principle stated by the Apostle in 1 Timothy 4:4. Since no one is absolutely pure, and even the best men are exposed to various temptations, there are, in the case of every man, things which, although in themselves innocent, had better be avoided by him; hence conscientious, daily self-observation, which is often attended with mortifying experience, is necessary to make us observant of those breakers which specially threaten us.


God is not a God of disorder, “but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).—“Let all things be done decently and in order” (Ib., 1:40).—The importance of an orderly and wise election of elders.—The laborers on the spiritual temple must work with one hand and with the other hold their weapons, like the Jews of old (Nehemiah 4:17).—The dangers to which the free development of church life is exposed from the Jewish leaven.—The enemies of the kingdom of God must sometimes be opposed with their own weapons.—Even sin has its peculiar physiognomy in different nations.—The Cretian character in diametrical opposition to the requirement of the perfect law of freedom (see Titus 2:12).—The power of grace, which is able to make even the worst Cretians sanctified citizens of the kingdom of God.—True love must sometimes be stern, and, while patient with the erring, inexorably severe towards their errors.—“To the pure all things are pure,” use and abuse of this doctrine.—How God’s noblest gifts are abused and ruined by sin.—Threefold acknowledgment of the true God: (1.) By words without deeds; (2.) by deeds without words; (3.) by words and deeds united.—The combination of impurity, hypocrisy, and impotency for good in the false teachers of the early church, both from its shocking and also its instructive side.

Starke: Cramer: It is great stumbling-block, when preachers have godless children. Bette none, than such. They are not always to blame for it. Be ashamed, ye vicious children of ministers, stains upon the sacred office, and reform!—There are two kinds of calling to the sacred office of the ministry: one from God directly, the other through the instrumentality of men, and yet from God (Galatians 1:1; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28).—Preachers are model persons, set of God to be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3; 1 Timothy 4:12).—Goodness, friendliness, moderation, righteousness, chastity, are ornaments to any one, but especially to preachers, in whom they should be preëminently conspicuous.—Never has the Christian profession reached such a point in the Christian Church, that the devil was not able to sow tares (Matthew 13:25).—Most errors in doctrine, and even real heresies, have come from the Jews—from those, namely, who, although professing the Christian religion, have not rightly apprehended it, but have mixed and defiled it with Mosaic or Cabalistic, or even heathen elements.—Starke: It is not left with us to choose whether or not to refute the false teachings of errorists. It reads δεῖ, we must do it; we must at once expose and prevent the errors and injurious speeches of the enemies of the truth, before they spread too much, and take possession of many minds.—The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is mighty and piercing, that the hearers may become so strongly convinced of the truth, that they can no longer give credence to lies, but be compelled to feel ashamed of their wickedness.—Cramer: A true teacher must be no dumb dog (Isaiah 56:10).—A false teacher can poison and kill whole households. Repel him, and reject his poison (2 John 1:9-10).—Starke: Lying is a heathen vice; and when their own poets, themselves heathen, have rebuked it, how shall we, Christians, allow it to pass unrebuked ?—We must not only rebuke individuals, but also a whole nation, for the sins which are common among them (Isaiah 58:1).—Hedinger: The teacher’s office of correction should never be used for evil, or in revenge, but for good, that souls may not be chafed, but rather edified and improved.—Soundness of faith in the heart, and soundness of faith in doctrine, are so connected that one cannot exist without the other.—Starke: Although believers have still many infirmities, they are called pure, and are really so, because they have accepted by faith the sufficient ransom paid for them, the dear blood of Christ, no longer suffer any sin to rule over them, and take no pleasure in the infirmities which still cleave to them, and strive earnestly against them, and through Christ gain one victory after another.—God will have the mouth and heart together; for as the striking of the clock must agree with the pointer on it’s face, our words must agree with our actions: the striking must not be different from the pointing.—Langii Opp.: True illumination and sanctification are always so united, that a man without illumination cannot be sanctified, and without sanctification cannot be enlightened.—Theoretical atheists, who deny God with their lips, are few in number; but there are enough practical atheists.

Lisco (Titus 1:5-9): On the elders of the church.—The necessity of established order in the church.—(At the election or ordination of presbyters): On the necessity of church-elders.—How is a Christian head of a family to regard the general call of all Christians to the priesthood?—(Titus 1:10-16): How should a minister of the gospel conduct towards an unruly church?—That the truth dwells only in pure hearts.—To the pure all things are pure: (1.) Meaning of these words; (2.) that this is true only of the pure.


Titus 1:5; Titus 1:5.—[The question, hitherto about evenly balanced, whether the reading should be επιδιορθωση in the middle voice, or επιδιορθωσης, active, the Cod. Sin. decides in favor of the former.—D.]

Titus 1:10; Titus 1:10.—Of doubtful authority. Lachmann omits, Tischendorf retains it. It is wanting in Cod. Sin.

Titus 1:15; Titus 1:15.—The μεν of the Recepta is omitted by A. C. D.1 E. F. G., Cod. Sin., &c.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Titus 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/titus-1.html. 1857-84.
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