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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Titus 1


A.M. 4069. A.D. 65.

Here Paul, after asserting his apostolic character, and saluting Titus,

(1,) Reminds him of the special reasons for which he left him in Crete, Titus 1:1-56.1.5 .

(2,) Directs him on what principles he should act in the ordination of those elders, who were to take the oversight of particular churches, Titus 1:6-56.1.9 .

(3,) He cautions him against seducing teachers, whom it was necessary zealously to confute, and represents the bad national character of the Cretians, directing him to rebuke them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith, Titus 1:10-56.1.16 .

Verse 1

Titus 1:1. Paul, a servant of the one living and true God In some of his other epistles, Paul calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ; but this is the only one in which he calls himself a servant of God: an appellation which some think he took because the Judaizing teachers in Crete affirmed that he had apostatized from God, by receiving into his church the uncircumcised Gentiles, and thereby freeing them from obedience to the law of Moses, as a term of salvation. And an apostle of Jesus Christ By this title he distinguishes himself from other pious and holy men, who were all servants of God; and asserts his apostleship, not to raise himself in the estimation of Titus, but to make the false teachers in Crete, and all in every age who should read this letter, sensible that every thing he ordered Titus to inculcate was of divine authority. According to the faith of God’s elect That is, God’s true people; the propagation of which faith was the proper business of an apostle. And the acknowledging of the truth That is, the doctrine of the gospel here termed the truth, to distinguish it from the errors of heathenism, and the shadows of the Mosaic law; and because it teaches the true, and the only true way of salvation for Jews and Gentiles; which is after godliness Which in every point agrees with and supports the true, vital, spiritual worship and service of God; and indeed has no other end or scope. These two verses contain the sum of Christianity, which Titus was always to have in his eye.

Verses 2-4

Titus 1:2-56.1.4. In hope Which doctrine lays a foundation for, and shows us how we may attain a well-grounded and lively hope; of eternal life The grand motive and encouragement of every apostle and every servant of God. Which God, that cannot lie Nor deceive any of his creatures, hath not only, as in the former dispensation, intimated to us, but expressly promised To all obedient believers; before the world began Or, before the times of the ages, as Macknight renders προ χρονων αιωνιων , observing, “the promise here referred to is that which God made to Adam and Eve, and their posterity, at the fall, when in passing sentence on the serpent, he said of the seed of the woman, It shall bruise thy head. The same promise was renewed in the covenant with Abraham: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” That this included a promise of eternal life to all believers has frequently been shown. It is true, “supposing the word αιωνιος , in this clause, to signify eternal, the literal translation of the passage would be, before eternal times. But that being a contradiction in terms, our translators, contrary to the propriety of the Greek language, have rendered it, before the world began. As Locke observes on Romans 16:25, the true, literal translation is, before the secular times, referring us to the Jewish jubilees, by which times were computed among the Hebrews, as among the Gentiles they were computed by generations of men.” But hath in due times Or, in his own times, as the phrase καιροις ιδιοις properly signifies. God’s own times are fittest for his own work. What creature dares ask, Why no sooner? Manifested his word His gospel, containing that promise, and the whole truth which is after godliness; through preaching The public declaration thereof; which is committed unto me Or, wherewith I am intrusted. According to the commandment Or sovereign pleasure; of God our Saviour And who dares exercise this office on any inferior authority? By affirming that Christ intrusted him with the preaching of the gospel according to the commandment of God, or as it is expressed 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, by the will of God, the apostle carried his own authority to the highest pitch. To Titus, mine own son Begotten of God by my preaching, and a true follower of me, and my assistant in the Lord’s work. See on Philippians 2:22. After the common faith Common to me and all my spiritual children. Grace, mercy, and peace, &c. See on 1 Timothy 1:2.

Verse 5

Titus 1:5. For this cause left I thee in Crete Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, being in length, from east to west, about 250 miles, in breadth about 50, and in circuit about 600; and anciently it must have been very populous, being famous for its 100 cities. It is now called Candia, from its chief city, which bears that name. In the year 1204 the Venetians took Canea, the second greatest city in Crete, and with it the whole island. That city they held till the year 1645, when the Turks conquered it, and almost entirely expelled the Venetians from Crete; and they have kept possession of it ever since. After the gospel was planted in Crete by the apostle and his assistant Titus, it took such deep root, and spread itself so widely through the island, that it has subsisted there ever since; and is at present the religion of the natives, who are in general of the Greek Church. These, on payment of a stated tribute to the Turks, are allowed the exercise of their religion without molestation. That thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting That is, that thou shouldest perfect what was left unfinished at my departure, or mightest settle the affairs which I had not time to settle myself; and ordain elders Pastors or teachers, the same with bishops, Titus 1:7; in every city Where there are churches; as I had appointed Or commanded thee. The apostle proceeds, in the four next verses, to show what ought to be the character and qualifications of the persons fit to be ordained.

Verses 6-9

Titus 1:6-56.1.9. If any be blameless As to his conduct, shunning the appearance of evil, and walking in all the ordinances and commandments of God; the husband of one wife See on 1 Timothy 3:2; having faithful, or believing children As τεκνα πιστα may be properly rendered; that is, not infidels, but such as embrace the Christian faith; not accused of riot Ασωτιαστυ of luxury, or intemperance; or unruly Ανυποτακτα , refractory or disobedient. The apostle required that the children of the person who was to be ordained an elder should be believers in Christ, and of a sober, exemplary behaviour, because the infidelity and vices of children never fail to reflect some blame on their parents. And the children of ministers ought certainly, from that consideration, as well as in order to the salvation of their own souls, carefully to avoid every irregularity, and even impropriety of conduct. For a bishop Or elder, as he is called, Titus 1:5; must be blameless In order to his being useful; as the steward of God One intrusted by God with the care of immortal souls, and with the dispensation of the mysteries of the gospel; not self- willed Αυθαδη , literally, pleasing himself; but all men for their good to edification; not soon angry Or easily provoked: as οργιλον means; not given to wine, &c. See on 1 Timothy 3:2-54.3.7; sober Or prudent: as σωφρονα may be properly rendered. It implies, especially, the proper government of our angry passions; so that on all occasions we behave with prudence; temperate In the use of every sensual pleasure; one who has so the command of himself that he keeps all his appetites under due restraint. Holding fast the faithful word That is, the word of the truth of the gospel. There is a great beauty, says Macknight, in the word αντεχομενον , as here used. It signifies the holding fast the true doctrine, in opposition to those who would wrest it from us; as he hath been taught Κατα την διδαχην , according to the teaching, namely, of the apostles; that by sound, or salutary doctrine, he may be able both to exhort Believers to zeal and diligence in the performance of their duty; and to convince gainsayers Those that oppose the truth, of their errors and sins.

Verses 10-11

Titus 1:10-56.1.11. For there are many unruly Subject to no order; and vain talkers Ματαιολογοι , persons who utter a multitude of foolish and trifling things, especially concerning genealogies and fables; and deceivers Φρεναπαται , deceived in their own minds, or deceivers of the minds of others; who delude their disciples with false opinions, in order to reconcile their consciences to wicked practices; specially they of the circumcision Namely, the Jewish teachers, who, though converted to Christianity, taught the necessity of observing the Jewish law, together with faith in Christ, Acts 21:20. Whose mouths must be stopped Namely, by conviction from reason and Scripture; who subvert whole houses Overthrow the faith of whole families by their false doctrine, and as he seems to mean, carry them over to Judaism; teaching things which they ought not Which are most false and mischievous; for filthy lucre’s sake For the sordid purpose of drawing money from their disciples.

Verses 12-14

Titus 1:12-56.1.14. One of themselves That is, one of their own countrymen, who could not be unacquainted with their conduct, or disposed to belie them; even a prophet of their own This was the poet Epimenides, who, among the Romans, was reputed to have foretold future events. Cicero, speaking of him, ( De Divinat., lib. 1.,) says he was futura præsciens, et vaticinans per furorem; one who foreknew and foretold things future by ecstasy. Besides, as all poets pretended to a kind of inspiration, the names prophet and poet were used as synonymous, both by the Greeks and Romans. The Cretians are always liars, &c. Epimenides said this in his book concerning oracles, a passage which Glassius hath quoted entire, p. 2075. According to Bishop Warburton, ( Div. Legat., vol. 1. p. 159,) the Cretians were universally hated, and branded as liars, by the other Greeks, because, by showing in their island the tomb of Jupiter, the father of gods and men, they published what the rest of the Greeks concealed in their mysteries, namely, that their gods were dead men. Evil beasts Or wild beasts, rather, as θηρια signifies, fierce, savage; slow bellies Lazy gluttons, as averse to action as wild beasts are after gorging themselves with their prey. So that in these words the poet suggests “a remarkable contrast, to show what a mixture there was of fierceness and luxury in the characters of the Cretians. Savage beasts are generally active and nimble, but these men, while they had the fury of lions and tigers, indulged themselves so much in the most sordid idleness and intemperance that they grew, as it were, all belly. As for their proneness to falsehood, it is well known that κρητιζειν , to talk like a Cretian, was a proverb for lying; (as κορινθιαζειν , to live like a Corinthian, was for a luxurious and debauched life;) and it is remarkable that Polybius scarce ever mentions this nation without some severe censure.” This witness is true Namely, in the general, though some particular persons may be found of a different character. Wherefore rebuke them sharply Αποτομως , with a cutting severity. From this Blackwall infers, “that it is a vain pretence that only gentle and soft expressions are to be applied to people that renounce good principles, and corrupt the gospel.” But it ought to be observed, that St. Paul speaks of reproving vice, not error. Besides, though Titus was to reprove the Cretians sharply, “the sharpness of his reproofs was not to consist in the bitterness of the language which he used, nor in the passion with which he spake. Reproofs of that sort have little influence to make a person sound, either in faith or practice. It was to consist in the strength of the reasons with which he enforced his reproofs, and in the earnestness and affection with which he delivered them; whereby the consciences of the offenders being awakened, would sting them bitterly.” Not giving heed to Jewish fables See 1 Timothy 1:4; and commandments of men Of Jewish and other teachers; that turn from the truth Forsake the true doctrine of the gospel. “It appears, from the following verse, that the apostle, in saying this, had in view the precepts of the Judaizers concerning meats, clean and unclean, which, although originally the precepts of God, were now abolished under the gospel. Therefore, if these things were any longer enjoined as obligatory, they were not enjoined by God, but by the precepts of men.” See Doddridge and Macknight.

Verses 15-16

Titus 1:15-56.1.16. Unto the pure Namely, believers whose hearts are purified by faith, Acts 15:9; all things are pure All kinds of meats are lawful to be used; but unto them that are defiled Who are still under the guilt and power of sin; and unbelieving Destitute of true, saving faith, to purify them; nothing is pure Nothing they do, enjoy, or possess: they are still defiled with guilt, and are exposed to condemnation and wrath from God. The apostle joins defiled and unbelieving, to intimate that nothing can be clean without true faith. For even their mind Their understanding, whereby they should distinguish between what is lawful and what is unlawful, and their conscience, whereby they should judge of their own actions; is defiled Blinded, perverted, and polluted with past guilt and present depravity; and consequently so are they, and all they do. They profess that they know God And glory in their relation to him as his peculiar people, and boast of having the true knowledge of his will from the Mosaic revelation; see Romans 2:17; but in works they deny him Live in contradiction to the very law they profess to know, as if they were utterly ignorant of him and it; being abominable Worthy to be abhorred and avoided by all; and disobedient To the plainest dictates of duty to God and man; and unto Or, with respect to; every truly good work reprobate Αδοκιμοι , without discernment; neither judging truly, nor acting rightly: or disapproved and condemned, when brought to the standard of God’s word, though almost among the first to condemn others.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Titus 1". Benson's Commentary. 1857.