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1. Put them in mind Give them a reminder of what they know, but are ever inclined to forget. Morality is a simple science, if men were ready to acknowledge and remember its truths.
Be subject… obey The former term expresses quiet submission, the latter active performance of laws and commands.
Principalities The living magistrates.
Powers The laws and authorities.
Obey magistrates The lesser rulers.
Ready to every good work, as member under authorities of civil and social life.
2. Speak evil Literally, blaspheme; that is, revile or insult no one; prohibiting that style of obloquy usually exchanged in the rude Cretan neighbourhood.
All men In order to inspire the tone of a commencing Christian civilization in Crete.
3. For This meekness in the midst of a violent community would be a very hard task but for the high motives the Gospel presents to encourage it. We were once as bad as our fellow Jews and Cretans, and have been saved only by availing ourselves of God’s pure mercy through Christ. St. Paul here, as often elsewhere, includes himself with his readers in depreciatory passages. The vices here detailed are very much a repetition of the ideal of Titus 3:2.
Foolish Galatians 3:1; a defect of the higher or moral mind.
Hateful Deserving to be hated, while hating others. Upon this dark picture (as in Titus 2:11-14, where see notes) St. Paul now lets down (Titus 3:4-7) a grand illumination, brought from the advent of the gospel of mercy.
4. But Introducing the contrast between the depraved previous and the blessed after.
Love Literally, philanthropy; in the etymological sense of the word, love to man.
Appeared Made its glorious epiphany. Note on Titus 2:11. This refers not to the first preaching of the Gospel in Crete, but to the revelation of Christ at his advent to the world as Saviour of all that believe.
5. Not… righteousness It was not man’s righteousness, but his sin, that brought the Saviour and the plan of salvation.
By works Literally, out from works; as the outcome of works.
We have done The Greek is, literally, not by works in righteousness which we did; that is, did at the time we were potentially saved.
He saved us When? Not when we were converted, but when the love of God appeared at the advent of the Incarnate, (Titus 3:4;) for appeared, have done, and saved, are all in the same tense, the Greek aorist, and all denote the same period of time. The whole work is conceptually viewed as completely done by Christ at his first coming. It is true, the vast process of our salvation is going on, and will not be completed until the second advent. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere, St. Paul’s aorist conceptually contemplates the entire process, through all its means and stages, as one great act. See notes on 2 Corinthians 5:14, and Romans 5:12.
By As an instrumental means used by Christ through his ministry.
The washing Or bath; either the bathing vessel or the act, which could be performed secularly, either by plunging into the water or by the application of water to the person.
Of regeneration Not a washing that consisted spiritually of regeneration; nor a washing that caused or effected regeneration; nor a washing necessarily simultaneous with regeneration; but a washing which was sign or seal of regeneration, as its intentional and appointed authentication. Just so (Romans 4:11) circumcision is called a “seal of righteousness.” It is a washing which implies regeneration. It is a sacrament; an “outward sign of an inward grace;” and the “outward sign” does assume that the “inward grace” already exists. In adults it is recognised as existing by faith; in infants, being quasi or virtual believers, as existing by the justifying power of the grace of Christ.
By the early fathers baptism was itself usually called regeneration. This was done either as using the sign for the thing signified, or as embracing both in one comprehensive term. Baptism was that external act of faith by which regeneration, as both an internal and external process, was completed. In this view the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration” is correct enough. But so external a use of the word regeneration tends to produce a superstitious trust in the mechanical act of baptism, as if it were a saving process, or an absolute condition of salvation. Yet it is in a good sense true that baptism, when rightly performed, does save us. See note on 1 Peter 3:21.
Renewing We view the washing of regeneration as covering the negative side of our sanctification, namely, the cleansing from sin; and renewing, the positive side, the empowering and invigorating the soul to active holiness. Both these are, indeed, ordinarily included under the term regeneration.
6. Which Refers not to washing, but to Holy Ghost. Spiritually, our regeneration is wrought by the shedding, or affusion, of the Holy Ghost; by parity, corporeally, we are regenerated by the affusion of the baptismal element. If baptism by water is duly to picture and symbolize God’s baptism by the Holy Spirit, the water must be shed by affusion on us.
Abundantly Literally richly, not only in quantity but in affluent value and gracious liberality.
7. That In order that. Commentators differ as to whether it depends upon shed or upon saved. By the former (Huther, Wiesinger, and Alford) the Holy Spirit is shed upon us in order to our heirship, etc. But that is tracing the grand result described in this verse to too special a point in the process described in Titus 3:4-6. Make that depend upon saved, and Titus 3:7 describes the divine outcome of the whole process. We, then, are saved, by means described in Titus 3:5-6, in order that we might be heirs of hope and glory.
Being justified As Alford notes, this may be rendered having been justified, and so be referred back to our first pardon. Or, better, we may identify it with the “justifieth” of Romans 8:33, by which God continuously exonerates the faithful believer from charges of guilt and condemnation.
Heirs What kind of heirs? Heirs (as divinely defined in the following clause) according to the hope not of a mere temporal patrimony, but of eternal life.
8. This… saying Trustworthy is the statement; namely, the statement of 5-7.
Affirm constantly As the sum and substance of that Gospel which the errorists oppose, but which Crete must be made to hear and believe.
That In order that. Titus’s constant affirmation of the Gospel aims at the end of reforming and saving men. The purpose of the doctrine is, to transform the pagan and the Jew to holy Christians.
Maintain good works By shunning the prevalent Cretan vices, and exhibiting all the Christian virtues.
Profitable unto men Making them holy and happy.
Concluding Directions Official and Personal, Titus 3:8-15.
Titus 3:8 tells Titus what he must do; Titus 3:9, what he must avoid; Titus 3:9-10, how he must deal with inveterate heretics.
9. But, introduces the contrast of the unprofitable to the profitable of the last verse. These foolish questions, etc., (note 2 Timothy 2:23,) are the reverse of the above faithful saying.
Genealogies Note, 1 Timothy 1:4. By them we cannot be saved, (Titus 3:5,) nor justified, nor (Titus 3:7) made heirs. They amuse, bewilder, demoralize, and destroy.
10. A heretic A maintainer of the above profitless dogmas, yet in the Church, seeking to form a party.
Admonition That his are not Christian doctrines, and that the Christian Church is not the place for their propagation.
Reject Rather, abandon, let alone. And as the Church is supposed to follow its bishop, the Church will leave him to his own fellowship.
11. Subverted He has ceased to be a believer, and has become, perhaps, a Gnostic. He has gone over from St. Paul to Simon Magus. He has ceased to be a true Christian, and has become a true Cretan.
Condemned of himself By his persistent maintenance of his heresy he pronounces his own anti-Christianity. He is, therefore, self-defined and self-judged. You need not utter any excommunication nor any anathema, he is condemned of himself.
12. Artemas Though named, and probably sent, for this high mission as superintendent of Crete in Timothy’s place, he is nowhere else in the epistle mentioned. Tradition makes him to have been bishop of Crete. Tychicus was probably sent to Ephesus to fill the place of Timothy while the latter was visiting the apostle. See note on 2 Timothy 4:12. So that a substitute was provided both for Timothy at Ephesus, and for Titus at Crete, on their leaving.
Nicopolis Signifying victory-city, was a favourite name bestowed upon a number of cities; but scholars are generally agreed that this
Nicopolis was the city founded at Actium by Augustus as a monument of the victory by which he became emperor of Rome and sole master of the civilized world. This took place about thirty years before St. Paul gathered his little apostolic band within its walls. It was situated on the western shore of Epirus in Greece, and looked out over the Adriatic Sea towards the Italy and the Rome over which the spot had made Augustus the lord. On its northwest it looked towards the Illyricum where Paul had preached, and the Dalmatia which Titus soon visited. The city was now prosperous, and its easy communication with the various points of the world rendered it a promising rallying point for Christian missions. Here, probably, Paul was projecting a system of Christian enterprise, and for this purpose invited Titus and Timothy to be on hand. Whether the assemblage took place we know not. Probably Paul was there apprehended and taken to Rome and martyrdom.
Winter 2 Timothy 4:21.
Bring Rather, send or forward on their journey. Titus should, as superintendent of Crete, see that these apostolic evangelists should be provided with travelling expenses for their journey.
Zenas Contraction of Zenodorus, ( gift of Jove,) as Apollos is contraction of Apollodorus, ( gift of Apollo.) See our vol. ii, p. 11
The lawyer A professed master of either Jewish or of Roman law.
Apollos This is the last mention of this “eloquent man,” and fully shows that he was faithful to Christ and to Paul to the last. See notes on Acts 18:24-28.
12-15. These closing personal directions, if not written by St. Paul, must have been fabricated by a forger with great particularity, to make the letter appear to be his.
14. Ours Our Christian converts; who should learn to be liberal contributors as well as Titus.
Good works for necessary uses Benevolent contributions to necessary expenses.
Unfruitful Unproductive of benefit to the Church and world. He who is fruitful in holy emotions and holy professions should never be barren in liberal benefactions.
15. All… with me Though Paul now calls Titus and others to him, there are a number with him. These were his retinue (see notes Acts 20:4; Acts 21:18) of fellow-labourers. They came and went by his direction.
Love us Christian acquaintances who specially cherished his remembrance.
You all Not all the Churches of Crete, but all the attendant labourers of Titus. It was a salutation from Paul’s retinue to Titus. The subscription affirming that the epistle was written from Nicopolis is clearly erroneous, as is shown by the word there in Titus 3:12.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Titus 3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany