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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Titus 3



Verses 1-11

1–3:11.] Directions to Titus, how to exhort the believers of various classes, and how to comport himself. For intermediate divisions, see below.

Verse 1-2

1, 2.] Rules concerning behaviour to those without. Put them in mind (as of a duty previously and otherwise well known, but liable to be forgotten) to be in subjection to governments, to authorities, to obey the magistrate ( πειθαρχεῖν here probably stands absolutely, not, as Huther, connected with the dat. ἀρχαῖς ἐξ. So Xen. Cyr. viii. 1. 4, μεγιστον ἀγαθὸν τὸ πειθαρχεῖν φαίνεται εἰς τὸ καταπράττειν τὰ ἀγαθά. The other construction has however the reff. in its favour), to be ready towards every good work (the connexion seems to be as in Romans 13:3, where the rulers are said to be οὐ φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ, ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. Compare also the remarkable coincidence in the sentiment of Xen. quoted above. Jerome in loc., Wetst., De W., al., suppose these exhortations to subjection to have found their occasion in the insubordination of the Jews on principle to foreign rule, and more especially of the Cretan Jews. In the presence of similar exhortations in the Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere, we can hardly perhaps say so much as this: but certainly Wetst.’s quotations from Diod. Sic., al., seem to establish the fact of Cretan turbulence in general.

The inference drawn by Thdrt., al., from these last words,— οὐδὲ γὰρ εἰς ἅπαντα δεῖ τοῖς ἄρχουσι πειθαρχεῖν, does not seem to be legitimately deduced from them), to speak evil of no one (these words set forth the general duty, but are perhaps introduced owing to what has preceded, cf. 2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:8), to be not quarrelsome (ref. and note), forbearing (ib., and note on Philippians 4:5. “The ἐπιεικής must have been, it is to be feared, a somewhat exceptional character in Crete, where an ἔμφυτος πλεονεξία, exhibited in outward acts of aggression, καὶ ἰδίᾳ καὶ κατὰ κοινόν (Polyb. vi. 46–9), is described as one of the prevailing and dominant vices.” Ellicott), manifesting all meekness towards all men (from what follows, πάντας ἀνθρ. is evidently to be taken in the widest sense, and especially to be applied to the heathen without: see below).

Verse 3

3.] For (reason why we should shew all meekness, &c: οὐκοῦν μηδενὶ ὀνειδίσῃς, φησί· τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἦς καὶ σύ, Chrys. ὃ καὶ ὁ λῃστὴς πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον λῃστὴν ἔλεγεν, ὅτι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ κρίματί ἐσμεν. Thl.) we (Christians) also (as well as they) were (emphatically prefixed) once without understanding (of spiritual things, see Ephesians 4:18), disobedient (to God, ch. Titus 1:16; he is no longer speaking of authorities, but has passed into a new train of thought), led astray (so Conyb.: the passive sense should be kept, as best answering to N. T. usage, ref. 2 Tim.: reff. Heb. and James, which Huther quotes for the neuter sense, are both better rendered passive. Ellic. advocates the neuter ‘going astray’), slaves to divers lusts and pleasures (see reff.: an unusual word in N. T., though so common in secular Greek), passing our lives (in ref. 1 Tim. βίον is expressed) in malice (reff.) and envy,—hateful, hating one another (the sequence, if there be any, seems to be in the converse order from that assumed by Thl., ἄξιοι μίσους ἦμεν, ὡς ἀλλήλους μισοῦντες. It was our natural hatefulness which begot mutual hatred. Or perhaps the two particulars may be taken separately, as distinct items in our catalogue of depravities).

Verse 4

4.] But when the goodness (reff.) and love-towards-men (I prefer this literal rendering of φιλανθρωπία to any of the more usual ones: cf. Diog. Laert. Plat. iii. 98, τῆς φιλανθρωπίας ἐστὶν εἴδη τρία· ἓν μὲν διὰ τῆς προσηγορίας γινόμενον, οἷον ἐν οἷς τινὲς τὸν ἐντυγχάνοντα πάντα προσαγορεύουσι καὶ τὴν δεξιὰν ἐμβάλλοντες χαιρετίζουσιν· ἄλλο εἶδος, ὅταν τις βοηθητικὸς ᾖ παντὶ τῷ ἀτυχοῦντι· ἕτερον εἶδός ἐστι τῆς φιλανθρωπίας ἐν ᾧ τινὲς φιλοδειπνισταί εἰσι. The second of these is evidently that here intended, but Huther’s view of the correspondence of this description of God’s kindness to us with that which we are required (Titus 3:2) to shew to others, appears to me to be borne out: and thus His φιλανθρωπία would parallel πραΰτητα πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους above, and the fact of its being ‘love toward men’ should be expressed. Bengel’s remark also is worth notice: “Hominum vitia plane contraria enumerantur versu 3.” The junction of χρηστὸς, - ότης, with φιλάνθρωπος, - ία, is very common: see the numerous quotations in Wetst.) of our Saviour, God (the Father: cf. διὰ ἰησ. χρ. below, and see note on ch. Titus 2:13), was manifested (viz. in Redemption, by the Incarnation and Satisfaction of the Redeemer),—not by virtue of ( ἐξ, as the ground out of which an act springs. Cf. besides the frequent ἐκ πίστεως, ἐξ ἔργων,—Matthew 12:37 bis: Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4) works wrought in (I have thus represented the τῶν ἐν:— ἔργων (general, ‘any works’) τῶν ἐν δικ. (viz. ‘which were,’ particularizing out of those, ‘in righteousness’) ἐν δικ. in righteousness, as the element and condition in which they were wrought) righteousness which we (emphatic) did (not, ‘have done,’ as E. V., nor ‘had done,’ as Conyb.,—which in fact obscures the meaning: for God’s act here spoken of was a definite act in time—and its application to us, also a definite act in time (see below): and if we take this ἐποιήσαμεν pluperfect, we confine the Apostle’s repudiation of our works, as moving causes of those acts of God, to the time previous to those acts. For aught that this pluperfect would assert, our salvation might be prompted on God’s part by future works of righteousness which He foresaw we should do. Whereas the simple aoristic sense throws the whole into the same time,—“His goodness, &c. was manifested … not for works which we did.… He saved us,”—and renders the repudiation of human merit universal. On the construction, cf. Thl.: ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ὧν ἐποιήσαμεν, ἀντὶ τοῦ οὔτε ἐποιήσαμεν ἔργα δικαιοσύνης, οὔτε ἐσώθημεν ἐκ τούτων, ἀλλὰ τὸ πᾶν ἢ ἀγαθότης αὐτοῦ ἐποίησε), but according to (after the measure of, in pursuance of, after the promptings of: see Ellic.’s note) His compassion He saved us (this ἔσωσεν must be referred back to the definite objective act of God in Redemption, which has been above mentioned. On the part of God, that act is one—in the application of it to individuals, it is composed of many and successive acts. But this ἔσωσεν, being contemporaneous with ὅτε ἐπεφάνη above, cannot apply, as De Wette, to our individual salvation alone. At the same time, standing as it does in a transitional position, between God’s objective act and the subjective individual application of it, it no doubt looks forward as well as backward—to individual realization of salvation, as well as to the divine completion of it once for all in Christ. Calvin, h. l., refers the completeness of our salvation rather to God’s looking on it as subjectively accomplished in us: “De fide loquitur, et nos jam salutem adeptos esse docet. Ergo utcunque peccato implicit corpus mortis circumferamus, certi tamen de salute nostra sumus, si modo fide insiti simus in Christum, secundum illud (John 5:24): ‘Qui credit in filium Dei, transivit de morte in vitam.’ Paulo post tamen, fidei nomine interposito nos re ipsa nondum adeptos esse ostendit, quod Christus morte sua præstitit. Unde sequitur, ex parte Dei salutem nostram impletam esse, cujus fruitio in finem usque militiæ differtur.”

The ἡμᾶς here is not all mankind, which would be inconsistent with what follows,—nor all Christians, however true that would be,—but the same as are indicated by καὶ ἡμεῖς above,—the particular Christians in the Apostle’s view as he was writing—Titus and his Cretan converts, and himself) by means of the laver (not ‘washing,’ as E. V.: see the Lexx.: but always a vessel, or pool in which washing takes place. Here, the baptismal font: see on Ephesians 5:26) of regeneration (first, let us treat of παλιγγενεσία. It occurs only in ref. Matt., and there in an objective sense, whereas here it is evidently subjective. There, it is the great second birth of heaven and earth in the latter days: here, the second birth of the individual man. Though not occurring elsewhere in this sense, it has its cognate expressions,—e.g. ἀναγεννάω, 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:23; γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν, John 3:3 &c. Then, of the genitive. The font is the ‘laver of regeneration,’ because it is the vessel consecrated to the use of that Sacrament whereby, in its completeness as a Sacrament (see below), the new life unto God is conveyed. And inasmuch as it is in that font, and when we are in it, that the first breath of that life is drawn, it is the laver of,—belonging to, pertaining to, setting forth,—regeneration.

Observe, there is here no figure: the words are literal: Baptism is taken as in all its completion,—the outward visible sign accompanied by the inward spiritual grace; and as thus complete, it not only represents, but is, the new birth. Cf. Calvin: “Solent Apostoli a Sacramentis ducere argumentum, ut rem illic significatam probent, quia principium illud valere debet inter pios, Deum non inanibus nobiscum figuris ludere, sed virtute sua intus præstare quod externo signo demonstrat. Quare Baptismus congruenter et vere lavacrum regenerationis dicitur. Vim et usum Sacramentorum recte is tenebit qui rem et signum ita connectet, ut signum non faciat inane aut inefficax: neque tamen ejus ornandi causa Spiritui sancto detrahat quod suum est.” The font then, the laver of regeneration, representing the external portion of the Sacrament, and pledging the internal;—that inward and spiritual grace, necessary to the completion of the Sacrament and its regenerating power, is not, as too often, left to follow as a matter of course, and thus baptismal regeneration rendered a mere formal and unmeaning thing, ‘ex opere operato,’—but is distinctly stated in the following words) and (understand διὰ again: so Thdrt. apparently,—Bengel (‘duæ res commemorantur: lavacrum regenertionis, quæ baptismi in Christum periphrasis,—et renovatio Spiritus sancti’), al. On the other hand, most Commentators (see Ellic. here) take ἀνακαινώσεως as a second gen. after λουτροῦ: and for the purpose of making this clearer, the τοῦ seems to have been inserted before λουτροῦ (see var. readd.). The great formal objection to this is, the destruction of the balance of the sentence, in which παλιγγενεσίας would be one gen., and ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος ἁγίου the other. The far greater contextual objection is, that thus the whole from παλ. to ἁγίου would be included under λουτροῦ, and baptism made not only the seal of the new birth, but the sacrament of progressive sanctification) the renewal ( ἀνακαίνωσις, see reff., is used of the gradual renewal of heart and life in the image of God, following upon the new birth, and without which the birth is a mere abortion, not leading on to vitality and action. It is here treated as potentially involved in God’s act ἔσωσεν. We must not, as Huther, al., for the sake of making it contemporaneous with the λουτρόν, give it another and untenable meaning, that of mere incipient spiritual life) of (brought about by; genitive of the efficient cause) the Holy Spirit (who alone can renew unto life in progressive sanctification. So that, as in 1 Peter 3:21, it is not the mere outward act or fact of baptism to which we attach such high and glorious epithets, but that complete baptism by water and the Holy Ghost, whereof the first cleansing by water is indeed the ordinary sign and seal, but whereof the glorious indwelling Spirit of God is the only efficient cause and continuous agent. ‘BAPTISMAL REGENERATION’ is the distinguishing doctrine of the new covenant (Matthew 3:11): but let us take care that we know and bear in mind what ‘baptism’ means: not the mere ecclesiastical act, not the mere fact of reception by that act among God’s professing people, but that, completed by the divine act, manifested by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the heart and through the life),

Verse 6

6.] which (attr.; not = ἐξ οὗ, as Heydenr. οὗ, viz. the Holy Spirit, not λουτροῦ, as even De W. confesses, who yet maintains the dependence of both genitives on λουτροῦ) He poured out (reff.) on us richly (again, it is mere waste of time to debate whether this pouring out be the one general one at Pentecost, or that in the heart of each individual believer: the one was God’s objective act once for all, in which all its subjective exemplifications and applications were potentially enwrapped) through (as its channel and medium, He having purchased it for us, and made the pouring out possible, in and by His own blessed Sacrifice in our nature) Jesus Christ our Saviour (which title was used of the Father above: of Him,—ultimately: of our Lord, immediately: “Pater nostræ salutis primus auctor, Christus vero opifex, et quasi artifex,” as Justiniani in Ellicott, whose own remarks are well worth consulting),

Verse 7

7.] in order that (this ἵνα, in the form of the sentence, may express the aim either of ἔσωσεν (Beng., De W., Huther, Ellic.) or of ἐξέχεεν: more naturally, I believe, of the latter (Wiesinger): and for these reasons, that ἔσωσεν seeming to have its full pregnant meaning as it stands, (1) does not require any further statement of aim and purpose: but ἐξέχεεν being a mere word of action, is more properly followed by a statement of a reason why the pouring out took place: and (2) that this statement of aim and purpose, if it applies to ἔσωσεν, has been already anticipated, if ἔσωσεν be understood as including what is generally known as σωτηρία.

Theologically, this statement of purpose is exact: the effusion of the Spirit has for its purpose the conviction of sin and manifestation of the righteousness of Christ, out of which two spring justifying faith) having been justified (the aor. part. here (expressed in English by ‘having been’) is not contemporaneous with the aor. subj. below. Ordinarily this would be so: but the theological consideration of the place of justification in the Christian life, illustrated by such passages as Romans 5:1, δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην ἔχωμεν πρὸς τ. θεόν, κ. τ. λ., seems to determine here the aor. part. to be antecedent to γενήθωμεν) by His ( ἐκείνου, referring to the more remote subject, must be used here not of our Lord, who has just been mentioned, but of the Father: and so, usually, χάρις θεοῦ (Acts 9:23; Acts 20:24; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 1:4, &c.) is the efficient cause of our justification in Christ) grace, we might be made (perhaps passive, see however on 1 Thessalonians 1:5) heirs (see especially Galatians 3:29) according to (in pursuance of, consistently with, so that the inheritance does not disappoint, but fully accomplishes and satisfies the hope; not ‘through’ (?) as Conyb., referring to Romans 8:24-25, where, however, the thought is entirely different) the hope of eternal life (I cannot consent, although considerable scholars (e.g. De W., Ellic.) have maintained the view, to join the gen. ζωῆς with κληρονόμοι, in the presence of the expression, in this very Epistle, ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ch. Titus 1:2. The objection brought against joining ἐλπίδα with ζωῆς here is that thus κληρονόμοι would stand alone. But it does thus stand alone in every place where St. Paul uses it in the spiritual sense; viz. Romans 4:14; Romans 8:17 bis ( θεοῦ is a wholly different genitive): Galatians 3:29; Galatians 4:1; Galatians 4:7; and therefore why not here? Chrys.’s two renderings, both of which Huther quotes for his view, will suit mine just as well: κατʼ ἐλπίδα, τουτέστι, καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν, οὕτως ἀπολαύσομεν, ἢ ὅτι ἤδη καὶ κληρονόμοι ἐστέ. The former is the one to which I have inclined: the latter would mean, “we might be heirs, according to the hope”—i.e. in proportion as we have the hope, realize our heirship—“of eternal life”).

Verse 8

8.] Faithful is the saying (reff.: viz. the saying which has just been uttered, ὅτε ἡ χρηστότης κ. τ. λ. This sentence alone, of those which have gone before, has the solemn and somewhat rhythmical character belonging for the most part to the “faithful sayings” of the apostolic church quoted in these Epistles), and concerning these things (the things which have just been dwelt on; see above) I would have thee positively affirm (‘confirmare,’ Vulg.; ‘asseverare,’ Beza: cf. Polyb. xii. 12. 6, διοριζόμενος καὶ διαβεβαιούμενος περὶ τούτων. The διὰ implies persistence and thoroughness in the affirmation), in order that (not, ‘that,’ implying the purport of that which he is διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, nor is what follows the πιστὸς λόγος, as would appear in the E. V.: what follows is to be the result of thorough affirmation of Titus 3:4-7) they who have believed (have been brought to belief and endure in it: the present would perhaps express the sense, but the perfect is to be preferred, inasmuch as πιστεύειν is often used of the hour and act of commencing belief: cf. Acts 19:2; Romans 13:11) God (trusted God, learned to credit what God says: not to be confounded with πιστ. εἰς, John 14:1, 1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 1:21—or πιστ. ἐν, Mark 1:15 (not used of God), or πιστ. ἐπί, Romans 4:5. There appears no reason for supposing with De W. that these words describe merely the Gentile Christians) may take care to ( φροντίζειν with an inf. is not the ordinary construction: it commonly has ὅπως, ἵνα, ὡς, εἰ, μή, or a relative clause. We have an instance in Plut. Fab. Max. c. 12, τὰ πραττόμενα γινώσκειν ἐφρόντιζεν. See Palm and Rost, sub voce) practise (a workman presides over, is master and conductor of, his work: and thus the transition in προΐστασθαι from presiding over to conducting and practising a business was very easy. Thus we have, tracing the progress of this transition, οὗτοι μάλιστα προειστήκεισαν τῆς μεταβολῆς, Thuc. viii. 75: πῶς οὐ φανερὸν ὅτι προστάντες τοῦ πράγματος τὰ γνωσθένθʼ ὑφʼ ὑμῶν ἀποστερῆσαί με ζητοῦσιν, Demosth. 869, 2: ἀσπασία οὐ κοσμίου προεστῶσα ἐργασίας, Plut. Pericl. 24: τέχνης προΐστασθαι,— ὣ τοῖσιν ἐχθροῖςπροὐστήτην φόνου, Soph. El. 968: χειρὶ βιαίᾳ προστῆναι τοῦ πανουργήματος, Synes. Ep. 67, p. 211 d. See Palm and Rost, sub voce) good works: these things (viz. same as τούτων before, the great truths of Titus 3:4-7, this doctrine; not, as Thl., ἡ φροντὶς καὶ ἡ προστασία τῶν καλῶν ἔργων, ἢ αὐτὰ τὰ καλὰ ἔργα, which would be a tautology: see 1 Timothy 2:3) are good and profitable for men.

Verses 8-11

8–11.] General rules for Titus.

Verse 9

9.] Connexion:—maintain these great truths, but foolish questionings (ref. and note), and genealogies (ref. and note, and ch. Titus 1:14, note), and strifies (the result of the genealogies, as in 1 Timothy 1:4) and contentions about the law (see again 1 Timothy 1:7. The subject of contention would be the justification, or not, of certain commandments of men, out of the law: or perhaps the mystical meaning of the various portions of the law, as affecting these genealogies) avoid (stand aloof from, see 2 Timothy 2:16, note): for they are unprofitable and vain (“ ματ. is here and James 1:26, as in Attic Greek, of two terminations: the fem. occurs 1 Corinthians 15:17; 1 Peter 1:18.” Ellicott).

Verse 10

10.] An heretical man (one who founds or belongs to an αἵρεσις—a self-chosen and divergent form of religious belief or practice. When St. Paul wrote 1 Cor., these forms had already begun to assume consistency and to threaten danger: see 1 Corinthians 11:19. We meet with them also in Galatians 5:20, both times as αἱρέσεις, divisions gathering round forms of individual self-will. But by this time, they had become so definite and established, as to have their acknowledged adherents, their αἱρετικοί. See also 2 Peter 2:1. For a history of the subsequent usage and meanings of the word, see Suicer, vol. i. pp. 119 ff. “It should be observed,” says Conyb., “that these early heretics united moral depravity with erroneous teaching: their works bore witness against their doctrine”), after one and a second admonition (reff. and note on ref. Eph.), decline (intercourse with: ref. and note: there is no precept concerning excommunication, as the middle παραιτοῦ shews: it was to be a subjective act), knowing that such an one (a thoroughly Pauline expression: see reff.) is thoroughly perverted (ref. Deut.: and compare 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:4), and is a sinner (is living in sin: the present gives the force of habit), being (at the same time) self-condemned (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2, note,—with his own conscience branded with the foul mark of depravity: see Conyb. above).

Verse 12

12.] Whenever I shall have sent ( πέμψω, not fut. ind. but aor. subj.) Artemas (not elsewhere named: tradition makes him afterwards bishop of Lystra) to thee, or Tychicus (see Ephesians 6:21, note: Colossians 4:7), hasten (make it thine earnest care) to come to me to Nicopolis (on the question which of the three cities of this name is here meant, see Prolegg. to Pastoral Epistles, § ii. 30, note): for there I have determined to spend the winter. Forward on their journey ((see below) the word here has the sense of ‘enable to proceed forward,’ viz. by furnishing with necessaries for the journey: so in ref. 3 John) with zeal Zenas the lawyer ( ζηνᾶς = ζηνόδωρος. Probably a Jewish scribe or jurist (Matthew 22:35, note) who had been converted, and to whom the name of his former occupation still adhered, as in the case of ΄ατθαῖος ὁ τελώνης. Hippolytus and Dorotheus number him among the seventy disciples, and make him to have been subsequently bishop of Diospolis. There is an apocryphal ‘Acts of Titus’ bearing his name. Winer, Realw.) and Apollos (see on Acts 18:24; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 16:12), that nothing may be wanting to them.

Verses 12-14


Verse 14

14.] Moreover (connexion of δὲ καί: the contrast in the δέ is, ‘and I will not that thou only shouldest thus forward them, though I use the singular number; but see that the other brethren also join with thee in contributing to their outfit’), let also our people (our fellow-believers who are with thee) learn to practise (see note, Titus 3:8) good works, contributions to ( εἰς, for the supply of) the necessary wants which arise (such is the force of τάς: such wants as from time to time are presented before Christians, requiring relief in the course of their Father’s work in life), that they may not be unfruitful (implying, that in the supply by us of such ἀναγκαῖαι χρεῖαι, our ordinary opportunities are to be found of bearing fruit to God’s praise).

Verse 15

15.] SALUTATIONS: GREETINGS: APOSTOLIC BENEDICTIONS. All that are with me salute thee. Salute those that love us in the faith (not ‘in faith:’ see note, 1 Timothy 1:2. This form of salutation, so different from any occurring in St. Paul’s other Epistles, is again [see on ch. Titus 1:1] a strong corroboration of genuineness. An apocryphal imitator would not have missed the Apostle’s regular formulæ of salutation). God’s ( ) grace be with all of you (of the Cretan churches. It does not follow from this that the letter was to be imparted to them: but in the course of things it naturally would be thus imparted by Titus).

On the subscription in the rec., making our Epistle date from Nicopolis, see in Prolegg. § ii. 30 ff.


προσ τι΄οθεον


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Titus 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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