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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Titus 1

Verses 1-4


Titus 1:1. Paul, a servant of God.—R.V. margin, “Gr. bond-servant.” This designation, which indicates generally the official position, is not usually found in the inscriptions of the Pauline epistles. In Romans and Philippians we have “servant of Jesus Christ.” According to the faith.—A somewhat difficult expression, but meaning apparently “with reference to the faith.”

Titus 1:2. God, that cannot lie.—Since we have no negative term that says what the adjective says in the original, we must so translate. The apostle wants to bring out God’s eternal antipathy to falsity.

Titus 1:3. In due times.—R.V. “in his own seasons”—a contrast to the words “before the world began” (A.V.) or “before times eternal” (R.V.) in Titus 1:2.

Titus 1:4. Titus, mine own son.—R.V. “my true child.” The same title of honour is given to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2). After the common faith.—The faith in which Paul and Titus alike are sharers. How the inclusion of all Christians with them would be too general does not appear.


An Apostolic Salutation

I. Sets forth the authority and scope of the apostolic office.

1. Its authority is Divine. “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). “Which is committed unto me” (Titus 1:3). In confronting the false teachers, Paul is always careful to insist upon his Divine call to the apostleship, in contrast with their self-constituted authority. There are times of doubt and trial when the minister of the gospel has to fall back upon the assurance of the Divine call: about this he has no doubt; here the anchor holds.

2. Its scope is the preaching of the gospel of hope.

(1) The hope of eternal life. “In hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). On this hope the apostle rested his desire and aim to advance the faith of God’s people and their fuller knowledge of the truth.

(2) A gospel long promised and at length revealed. “Which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested His word through preaching” (Titus 1:2-56.1.3). The gospel was in the Divine mind before the ages began, was then promised to the world in the earliest history of man, was dimly and gradually unfolded to suit the stages of human development, and finally was fully revealed by preaching.

(3) A gospel intended to promote godliness through faith. “According to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” (Titus 1:1). Faith is a faculty susceptible of growth. Faith apprehends the meaning of the gospel, and then appropriates its power to live a godly life.

II. Addressed to one who is highly esteemed.—“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith” (Titus 1:4). Paul regards Titus as his genuine child, as he was the instrument of his conversion to the faith which is common to all the people of God, comprising believers in all nations into a common brotherhood, Gentiles as well as Jews, and therefore including Titus, who was himself a Gentile. The preacher regards his converts with unusual affection, and is deeply interested in their progress in grace and usefulness.

III. Invokes the impartation of richest blessings.—“Grace, mercy, and peace” (Titus 1:4). “Mercy” is omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts; but one of the best and oldest manuscripts supports it. Mercy and peace spring out of grace, the fountain of all blessings. If we have God’s favour, we have every blessing the soul can need or that Christ can bestow.


1. The Christian teacher should have a firm grasp of truth.

2. The veteran minister is full of wise and loving counsels to the young.

3. Good wishes to others is genuine Christian courtesy.


Titus 1:1. “The truth which is after godliness.”

The Gospel of Truth.

I. The gospel is simply a truth.

II. It is an operative truth.

III. It operates to the best effect.—It produces godliness.

1. Giving a right notion of God.

2. A right notion of what concerns the duty of man.


1. The nature and prime design of religion is to be an instrument of good life.

2. That so much knowledge as is sufficient to engage men in the practice of godliness serves the necessary ends of religion.

3. That whatever undermines the motives of a good life is contrary to and destructive of religion.—South.

Titus 1:2. The Gospel Revelation.

I. A glorious prospect.—“Eternal life.”

II. A truth-speaking God.

III. An old-standing promise.—“Before the world began.”

Titus 1:3. The Preaching of the Word.

I. A timely revelation.

II. A sacred trust.

III. A Divine commission.

Titus 1:4. A Christian Greeting.

I. Recognising a spiritual relationship.

II. Invoking a threefold blessing.

III. Describing the source and medium of the blessing.F. W.

Verses 5-9


Titus 1:5. That thou shouldest set in order.—St. Paul means that Titus should completely set right, upon a thorough basis, all the affairs of the Cretan Church. It is the important work of organisation and consolidation that is entrusted to him.

Titus 1:6. Blameless.—Not liable to be arraigned by having been found in a fault. Not accused of riot.—Lit. “not in the category of extravagance.” It is a wasteful squandering of means, from which follows a dissolute, debauched manner of living (Trench).

Titus 1:7. For a bishop must be blameless.—He whose office it is to watch over other souls must himself be beyond reproach or suspicion. As God’s steward in the house he must not be accused of wasting (Luke 16:1-42.16.2). Not self-willed.—Properly, one who is so pleased with his own ideas and will that nothing pleases him besides: “Qui nisi quod ipse facit nihil rectum putat” (Terence, quoted by Trench). Not soon angry.—“Not irascible.” Is this a note of difference between Timothy and Titus? The former does not need this word in his shrinking gentleness: the capacity for sharp rebuke lies in Titus (Titus 1:13); perhaps it was necessary to guard against the outburst of the latent fire in his nature.

Titus 1:9. By sound doctrine.—Hygienic, wholesome teaching.


Qualifications of a Christian Bishop.

I. His domestic life must be irreproachable (Titus 1:5-56.1.6).—Titus was left in Crete to establish Church order, and to ordain presbyters, or bishops, over congregations in the different cities. There were many Christians in the island, but Church organisation was very imperfect. The bishop, occupying so prominent a position as overseer, must be blameless in life, and a pattern of consistency and authority in his own family, having his children under thorough Christian control. His governmental power must be evident in his own household.

II. He must possess a high moral character (Titus 1:7-56.1.8).—The Church is God’s house, over which the minister is steward. He is to be, not imperious, but temperate, not making his office a means of gain, to be hospitable—a necessary virtue in those early days—to be a lover of all that is good, self-denying, just towards men, and holy towards God.

III. He must be a competent preacher.

1. Having himself a firm grasp of truth. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught” (Titus 1:9). Whoever may be on the quicksands of doubt and error, the minister must know and keep his ground. Hesitation in the pulpit means confusion in the pew.

2. Able to present the truth with convincing power. “That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). Not only has the Church to be edified and encouraged, but unbelievers must be reproved, convinced of the error of their ways and brought to Christ. The great function of preaching is to persuade men, and to do this effectively the preacher must himself be sound in doctrine, and fully persuaded of the supreme claims of the truth.


1. Church government is an important duty.

2. Governors of the Church should possess both grace and gifts.

3. Preaching occupies a prominent place in building up and extending the Church.


Titus 1:5. Church Order.

I. Ministers have special work as well as general.

II. The work of the best men needs revision by others.

III. Every Church should have a leader or overseer.

Titus 1:6. Church Officers.

I. Character is the primary qualification for office in the Church.

II. Domestic and social relationships are helps rather than hindrances to Christian service.

III. Good family government is a guarantee for efficient Church government.

Titus 1:7. The Negative Side of a Good Man’s Character.

I. He must be without reproach.

II. Must not seek his own pleasure.

III. Must control his temper.

IV. Must be abstinent.

V. Must not be covetous.

Titus 1:8. The Positive Side of a Good Man’s Character.

I. He must be willing to share the bounties of God’s providence with Others.

II. Must be a lover of all that is good.

III. Must be prudent.

IV. Devout.

V. Must hold all his passions under control.


1. We see the twofold nature of goodness.

2. The unselfishness of goodness.

3. The dependence of a good life on a right spirit.

Titus 1:9. Characteristics of a Successful Preacher.

I. Personal conviction of the truth.

II. Aptness to teach others.

III. Power of persuasion and conviction.F. W.

Verses 10-14


Titus 1:10. Vain talkers.—Men of aimless speech, which is devoid of any good result. Men whose speech tendeth to poverty. Deceivers.—The word, which is peculiar to St. Paul, and perhaps coined by him (see Galatians 6:3), brings out the idea of subjective fancies (Lightfoot).

Titus 1:11. Whose mouths must be stopped.—The verb means “something must be put on their mouths”—they must be muzzled; but it afterwards came to mean, “to check speech.”

Titus 1:12. A prophet of their own.—Epimenides, the poet alluded to, was a contemporary of the seven wise men, and by some was reckoned as one of them. He was born in the sixth century B.C. The saying quoted by St. Paul is from a lost work. The Cretians are alway liars.—Chrysostom refers the words chiefly to the pretence that Jupiter lay buried amongst the Cretans; but in ancient times they were notorious for falsehood, so that “to Cretise” was equivalent to, “to lie and deceive.”

Titus 1:13. This witness is true.—Not only does a competent person attest it, but it agrees with fact. Rebuke them sharply.—With a sharply cut style, curtly, with thorough-going Sternness (Meyer).


The Mischief of Reckless Speech.

I. Reckless speech occasions great disorder.—“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers … who subvert whole houses” (Titus 1:10-56.1.11). Excessive speech is always foolish, and is the index to a mind too full of conceit to have any room for wisdom. Churches and families are led into quarrels and divisions by reckless talkers. They indulge in unkind and calumnious words, perverse meanings are given to the sayings of those they dislike, bitter and provoking things are said of our neighbours’ characters, and, above all, they utter those evil, corrupt words that do the devil’s work, enticing others on to sin. Such vain talkers exult in the confusion and uproar they themselves create.

II. Reckless speech is morally degrading.

1. Has no regard for the true gospel. “Specially they of the circumcision” (Titus 1:10). “Giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14). Josephus tells us there were many Jews in Crete. The Jewish leaven remained in them after conversion, and they would become an easy prey to the advocates of a corrupted Judaism and an emasculated Christianity. The voluble Jewish talkers made sad havoc of the gospel.

2. Will say anything for gain. “Teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:11). They talked for a living, and were utterly unscrupulous as to what they said, so long as they got the money. Their chief object was gain, not profitable instruction.

3. Degenerates into lying and sensuality. “The Cretians are always liars.… This witness is true” (Titus 1:12-56.1.13). The quotation is from the Cretan writer Epimenides. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollutions occasioned by Cylon, and was regarded as a diviner and prophet. “To Cretanise” was proverbial for “to lie,” as “to Corinthianise” was for “to be dissolute.” Lying and sensuality go together. Some people lie for the love of lying, and become almost incapable of speaking the truth. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin” (Proverbs 10:19).

III. Reckless speech should be emphatically condemned.—“Whose mouths must be stopped” (Titus 1:11). “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). The inveterate talker is not easily cured. Gentle methods are of no avail in dealing with him: his perversity must be boldly attacked and sharply rebuked. If he is not silenced, others he has led astray may be reclaimed.

“Words are mighty, words are living,

Serpents with their venomous stings;

Or bright angels crowding round us,

With heaven’s light upon their wings.

“Every word has its own spirit,

True or false, that never dies;

Every word man’s lips have uttered

Echoes in God’s skies.”

Lessons.Reckless speech

1. Is a sign of pitiable ignorance.

2. Is mischievous both to speaker and listener.

3. Will meet with its just punishment.


Titus 1:10-56.1.12. The Vice of Aimless Talk.

I. The chief hindrances to religion are often in the Church itself.

II. Hindrances in the Church must be removed.

1. Discipline must be exercised in love.

2. The prosperity of the Church must be considered before that of individuals.

3. Every age has its own obstructions to the truth.

III. Communities are affected by the conduct of individuals.—Aimless talk leads to—

1. Untruthfulness.

2. Sensuality.

3. Sloth.

Titus 1:13. Christian Reproof

I. Should always be based on a certain conviction.

II. Should be thorough and effective.

III. Should be for the sinner’s good.

Titus 1:14. The Perverting Power of Trivialities.

I. By distracting attention from the essentials of religion.

II. By dissipating the strength of the mind.

III. By attributing to the human an authority belonging only to the Divine.F. W.

Verses 15-16


Titus 1:15. Unto the pure all things are pure.—This saying concentrates all the opposition to fictitious holiness and purity which made the apostle the object of the cordial hatred of Judaism. A greater than Paul had paid His life for similar teaching. Unto them that are defiled … nothing is pure.—The best food in vessels all foal will only be an object of loathing. Their mind.—Their practical reason. And conscience.—The human consciousness connected with action, and expressing itself regarding the moral value of it.

Titus 1:16. They profess.—“They declare, affirm.” This seems best in view of the “deny” which follows. Compare John 1:20 : “He confessed, and denied not.” “Their confession is a true one so far, that they have the knowledge, and belie it” (Alford). Being abominable.—A strong word, meaning “to emit a stench.” For the idea of offensiveness to God compare Isaiah 65:5, and contrast 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 5:2.


Moral Defilement

I. Arises from unbelief.—“Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure” (Titus 1:15). Faith gives spiritual insight, and enables us to distinguish the moral qualities of things. Purity, like the forgiveness of sin, is attained through faith. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Unbelief is itself defiling, and leads to increased defilement. If men really believed in virtue they would never commit the wickedness they do.

II. Affects the whole man.—“Even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15). The mind is the mental sense and intelligence. Conscience is the moral consciousness of the conformity or discrepancy between our motives and acts on the one hand, and God’s law on the other. A conscience and a mind defiled are represented as the source of the errors opposed in the Pastoral epistles (Fausset). When the conscience is defiled, the whole soul is defiled. “Trust that man in nothing,” said Sterne, “who has not a conscience in everything.” When the compass loses its proper polarity at sea, the whole course of the vessel might be altered by it; and when the conscience loses its right direction, its responsibility to God, its deference and inclination to His law by its continued violation of the higher duties, the heart is filled with fears, and the dispensations of Providence are suspected to be judgments when they may be real and satisfying mercies.

III. Is evident in the outward life (Titus 1:16).—The profession of godliness is a lie, and there is no abomination with which the conduct may not be polluted, though expressing abhorrence of things indifferent. Disobedience to God and lack of faith in goodness produce a spirit of inveterate wickedness which will issue in final rejection. A sinful life when tested will be found utterly worthless, and will be eternally reprobated.

IV. Purity is not in outward things, but in a right state of the heart.—“Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). Material things have no moral quality. They are pure or impure according to the disposition and moral state of him who uses them. In the first ages of the Church a traveller exhausted with his journey called on Spiridion, Bishop of Cyprus, on a day which the Church had set apart for fasting. Spiridion instantly ordered refreshments, and invited him by his own example to eat. “No, I must not eat,” said the stranger, “because I am a Christian.” “And because you are a Christian,” replied the bishop, “you may eat without scruple, agreeably to the decision of an apostle—‘Unto the pure all things are pure.’ ”


1. Unbelief is more a moral than a mental obliquity.

2. Sin is at the root of false doctrine.

3. The heart is purified by faith in the truth.


Titus 1:15. Purity.

I. To the pure all things and all persons are pure, because their purity makes all seem pure.

II. To the pure all things not only seem pure, but are really so, because they are made such.

III. All situations are pure to the pure.


1. We learn to understand the Fall.

2. We learn to understand the Millennium. These things are not to be for ever.—F. W. Robertson.

Purity of Heart leading to Purity of Life.

I. The heart is the source of life.

II. Defilement has a tendency to spread.

Titus 1:16. The Judgment of Hypocrisy.

I. Hypocrisy the occasion of atheism.

II. Is offensive even to the ungodly.

III. Is practical disobedience.

IV. Is universally condemned.F. W.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Titus 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.