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The Salutation, 1-4.
Titus 1:1. The title servant of God, occurring in James 1:1, but nowhere else in Paul’s inscriptions, is a peculiarity which tells against suspicion of forgery.
According to (better, ‘with a view to’), introduces the double design of his apostle-ship, viz: (1) the production of faith in God’s chosen ones (or of that genuine faith which only the chosen have) (cf. Romans 1:5); and (2) the production in believers of a full knowledge ( not ‘acknowledging’ ) of the truth, or entire Gospel revelation. A dual design: faith and knowledge. Against certain errorists, this truth tends to godliness, a Pauline word frequent in Pastoral Epistles, denoting that religious fear of God in the heart which penetrates and rules the whole conduct.
Titus 1:2. These two ends of the apostolate rest upon (not ‘in’) the hope of eternal life, which is the sum of Old Testament prediction, fulfilled in the Gospel.
Cannot lie. Cf. Hebrews 6:18.
Before the world began; literally, before eternal times, meaning probably from the most ancient periods, as in Luke 1:70. To understand with Ellicott and Alford ‘from all eternity,’ gives an incorrect sense. Promised must then mean ‘decreed to promise.’
Titus 1:3. New construction begins. What is ‘manifested’ is not the ‘eternal life’ of Titus 1:2, but the ‘word.’ Yet the sense is the same: the Gospel is the final revelation of life eternal. Things promised are still in part concealed; performance alone is full manifestation.
Due times (rather, ‘proper seasons’) denotes either, as in Galatians 4:4, an epoch in history when all things fitted, or at God’s own time. Former preferable. Read ‘our Saviour God,’ a phrase of the Pastoral Epistles (see marginal references). Saviour is applied elsewhere to God only in Luke 1:47 (with Old Testament reference) and Jude 1:25.
Titus 1:4. Titus, called Paul’s brother in 2 Corinthians 11:12, is here his ‘legitimate son,’ as converted by him and sharing the same faith.
Qualifications of the Elders to be appointed, 5-9.
Titus 1:5. Note the importance of organization to preserve pure doctrine in the Church. It was part of the apostolic function to institute Church officers. Paul engaged in this when he left Crete. But the word ordain (used of deacons in Acts 6:3) tells nothing of how the elders were selected or appointed.
Elders probably more than one in every city. [See Excursus on the Eldership.]
As I had appointed, verbally, before leaving.
Titus 1:6. Blameless, unaccused, as 1 Timothy 3:10; possibly with allusion to a summons to the people to lay objections against the candidate. In view of the prevailing Cretan immorality, unblemished reputation was wisely made the first qualification.
One wife. Is this against polygamy, or against second marriages, as most early fathers suppose, and as the ancient Church sanctioned by canon law? For the latter view, it is urged ( a) polygamy could hardly be forbidden here, since it was then illegal; ( b) the expression should in that case be negative (‘husband of no more than one’); ( c) 1 Timothy 5:9, which is a parallel expression, can only refer to a second marriage; ( d) the feeling of antiquity was unfavourable to re-marriage. On the other hand, it is answered ( a) such a sense is but obscurely expressed by these words, for they have no necessary reference to any past condition of the candidate for eldership; ( b) 1 Timothy 5:9 is not parallel, since it expressly speaks of widows, but this not of widowers; and ( c) elsewhere Paul never forbids, but in certain cases (1 Timothy 5:14) counsels re-marriage. Others conjecture a reference to re-marriage after divorce, or to conjugal infidelity; but these appear far-fetched. It is difficult to decide. Perhaps the safest course is to understand the injunction as simply requiring men to be chosen whose marriage relations had been at every point normal or unexceptionable, a condition not so easily realized in that age.
Faithful ( i.e. believing) children shews Christianity had for some time been professed in Crete. The succeeding words, not accused of dissolute-ness, or unruly against parental authority (comp-1 Timothy 3:4-5), describe the elder’s children.
Titus 1:7 breaks into details the general word ‘blameless’ of Titus 1:6: first giving as a reason for this qualification the nature of the office itself. Therefore he substitutes for the title elder or presbyter the more descriptive synonym bishop, or overseer. The elder’s function is to superintend the congregation, and be a steward or head servant over the house of God. Therefore he ought to be (1) not stubborn or unconciliatory; (2) not a hot-tempered man; or (3) loud over his cups; and (4) too ready with his fist. The three latter requirements describe one character, and give a low idea of the Cretan Christians. Also (5) not abusing his office for gain (cf. 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Peter 5:2), as Paul accuses the heretics of doing, see below, Titus 1:11.
Titus 1:8. On the contrary, he should be (6) hospitable, having then frequent occasion to entertain brethren on their travels (cf. 3 John 1:5-8; Romans 16:2; Romans 16:23; Acts 21:16 , etc.); (7) a lover of good, i.e. disposed to generous actions; (8) sober: this word, which with its derivatives occurs so often in Pastoral Epistles, denotes ‘the well-balanced state of mind resulting from habitual self-restraint’ (Ellicott). In that time of morbid religious excitement, Paul greatly missed as he grew older moral and intellectual soundness or perfect sanity. (9) Just toward men; (10) holy towards God, combining piety with purity; and (11) temperate, as to one’s own appetites and passions self-restrained.
Titus 1:9. So far of character: now of doctrine. The elder is to be one who (12) holds fast by the word, or doctrine, ‘which agrees with the teaching’ of the apostles, as a word worthy of credit (so ‘faithful’ means). The necessity for this qualification lies in another department of the presbyterial office. The elder has first to exhort (address for edification) the congregation of believers in that instruction, which being ‘wholesome’ (‘sound,’ another word of the Pastoral Epistles), tends to holiness, and next to convict or confute the opponents. This leads Paul to describe the Cretan errorists, whose teaching, instead of nourishing a healthy piety, fostered morbid and even immoral tendencies.
Character of both the Teachers and the People of Crete, to show the danger to which that Church was exposed, and from which the new Presbyters were to rescue it, 10-16.
Titus 1:10. Unruly; for Jews of that age, of whom many inhabited Crete, were noted for seditious tendencies.
Vain talkers (1 Timothy 1:6), or chatterers, and deceivers, or misleaders of opinion, are two leading substantives, to which the adjective ‘unruly’ applies.
Titus 1:11. Stopped; literally, muzzled; best done by exposing them as persons who ‘overturn entire houses,’ i.e. families, through anarchic doctrine subversive of domestic authority: probably lax theories of Christian freedom in reference to wedlock and the duties of children and of slaves. Their motive was ‘base gain’ (better than ‘filthy lucre’) to be won from their perverts.
Titus 1:12. Themselves, i.e. Cretans. The hexameter verse quoted is from a lost poem by Epimenides, a Cretan sage of the sixth century B.C., who is well called ‘a prophet of their own,’ for he is described by classic writers as a philosophic seer and priest, venerated for his predictions, around whose memory popular legends gathered, and to whom almost sacred honours came to be paid. Impossible to infer that Paul ascribed an inspired character to heathen sages. The vices here ascribed to the national character (falsehood, violence, and gluttony) find confirmation from other authors.
Slow bellies, ‘do-nothing gluttons’ (Ellicott).
Titus 1:13. Paul boldy adds his own testimony to base on it an exhortation to a sharp or severe handling of the people.
Rebuke is ‘confute,’ as in Titus 1:9 the elders were to do.
Sharply, or unsparingly, with a view to their becoming sound in the faith. The Gospel has power to subdue the wildest natures.
Titus 1:14 defines the evil to be cured (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:1).
Fables; literally, ‘myths, fantastic fictions about the world of spirits, nourished by the secret teaching traditional among the Jews’ (Matthies); ‘Rabbinical fables and fabrications, whether in history or doctrine’ (Ellicott). Word only found in Pastoral Epistles and in 2 Peter 1:16.
The commandments were late glosses on the Mosaic law with no moral basis, chiefly turning on distinction between clean and unclean (cf. Matthew 15:9 and Mark vii 7). Against these last, Titus 1:15 lays down the broad rule of Christian faith which cuts false asceticism to the root.
Titus 1:15. All things are pure for the pure; for their use, that is. (Comp. our Lord, Matthew 15:10-20.) ‘Because created good by a good God, and because blessed by Him and sanctified by Christ, and because restored to man for his free use by Him’ (Wordsworth). When the morally defiled are also unbelieving, they abide in their sin (John 8:24).
Nothing pure, i.e. to them; it ministers to the impurity of their own nature.
Mind and con-science describe the intellectual and the ethical side of the mind. False asceticism imputes un-cleanness to the mere use of material objects. Christianity teaches that all objects are antecedently and in themselves good; the polluted man makes this or that unclean to himself.
Titus 1:16. It was part of the religious ‘confession’ of these errorists, that the knowledge of God was their own (in an exceptional degree?) ; practically they denied what in words they confessed. Vice is a denial that we have any true knowledge of God.
Abominable, a strong word not elsewhere in New Testament, implying the disgust with which a pure mind contemplates certain sins.
Disobedient, i.e. to moral law.
Reprobates, or rejected after trial, a word of Paul’s.
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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Titus 1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany