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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Titus 3

 

 

Verses 1-3

Titus 3:1-3. Put them. — All the Cretian Christians; in mind to be subject — Passively, not resisting; to principalities — Supreme rulers; and powers — Subordinate governors; and to obey magistrates — Actively, as far as conscience permits. It is probable that the reason whey the apostle enjoined this so particularly was, because the Judaizing teachers in Crete affirmed, that no obedience was due from the worshippers of the true God to magistrates who were idolaters, and because by that doctrine they were beginning to make not only the Jewish, but the Gentile believers, bad subjects, and liable to be punished as evil-doers. To be ready to every good work — In every relation which they sustain; to speak evil of no man — Neither of magistrates, nor of any others. “The word βλασφημειν, besides evil-speaking, denotes all those vices of the tongue which proceed either from hatred or from contempt of others, and which tend to hurt their reputation, such as railing, reviling, mocking speeches, whisperings, &c.”

To be no brawlers — Greek, αμαχους ειναι, not to be contentious: or quarrelsome, to assault none; but gentle επεικεις, yielding, when assaulted, and often giving up their own right rather than contend; showing — In their tempers, words, and actions; all meekness — A mild, inoffensive, and kind behaviour; unto all men — Even enemies, and such as we ourselves once were. For we ourselves also — Or, even we ourselves, though now new creatures in Christ Jesus; were sometimes, ποτε, formerly, foolish ανοητοι, ignorant, of God and divine things; unreasonable, particularly in rejecting the Lord Jesus, though demonstrated to be the true Messiah by the most incontrovertible evidences; and imprudent, or destitute of true wisdom, (as the word also implies,) being enemies to ourselves, in that we were disobedient to the divine commands, though holy, just, and good; and refused to hearken to the glad tidings of salvation announced in the gospel of his grace. The cause of this unreasonable and foolish conduct was, that we were deceived by the grand enemy of our souls, the subtle serpent that lies in wait to deceive; deluded by the allurements of this insnaring world, and erred, or wandered, (as the word πλανωμενοι means,) from the right way of truth and righteousness into by-paths of error and sin, promising ourselves liberty; but serving δουλευοντες, enslaved to, divers lusts επιθυμιαις, desires, irregular and inordinate; (see on Titus 2:12;) and pleasures — Which perished in the using, but nevertheless were alluring us forward to everlasting miseries. Such was the state of our understanding, will, and affections. But what were our tempers? Such was our conduct toward God and ourselves; but what was it toward our fellow-creatures? The apostle tells us: living in malice — Instead of exercising benevolence and love toward all men; and envy — Grieving at the good enjoyed by others, instead of rejoicing therein, as it was our duty to have done; hateful — Ourselves, while under the tyranny of such detestable passions, worthy to be abhorred by God and man; and hating one another — On account of little clashings and oppositions in our temporal interests, while we forgot the great ties and bonds which ought to have endeared us to each other. Dr. Whitby, arguing from Acts 23:1; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philippians 3:6, pleads that the above description could not be applicable to Paul himself, even while he was in his unconverted state; and with him Dr. Macknight agrees; forgetting, it seems, the malicious and vengeful passions which evidently dwelt in him while he was Saul the persecutor, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the best people upon earth, the disciples of the Lord Jesus; binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, and being exceedingly mad against them, punishing them oft in every synagogue, pursuing them into strange cities, and persecuting them even unto death, Acts 9:1; Acts 22:4; Acts 26:11. On account of which conduct, when the eyes of his understanding were opened by the wonderful miracle of grace which the Lord Jesus wrought for him, he always reckoned himself the chief of sinners. But besides the persecuting spirit which he manifested toward the Christians, when he had a just view of his temper and behaviour in other respects, and became acquainted with the purity of God’s holy law, he was so convinced of the depravity of his nature, and of the imperfection of his best obedience, that, notwithstanding all he says in the passages above quoted by Whitby, he could undoubtedly, as Dr. Doddridge justly observes, “apply what he here wrote to much of his own character while an enemy to Christianity.” The reader will easily see that the duty inculcated in this passage is highly reasonable, and of peculiar importance, namely, that we should be ready to show that mercy to others which God hath shown to us; and that, from a recollection of the errors and sins which we were chargeable with in our unconverted state, we should exercise compassion toward those who are still ignorant and out of the way, but who may hereafter be brought to the saving knowledge of the truth, and be created anew in Christ Jesus, as we have been.


Verses 4-7

Titus 3:4-7. But after that the kindness — χρηστοτης, the goodness, the benignity, και φιλανθρωπια, and philanthropy, love toward man, of God our Saviour, appeared επεφανη, was manifested, or shone forth, namely, through the preaching of the gospel. The Father is here called God our Saviour, as is evident from Titus 3:6, where the same person is said to have poured out the Holy Ghost on believers, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Indeed, the title of our Saviour justly belongs to the Father, because he formed the scheme of our salvation, and sent his Son into the world to accomplish it; on which account the title of Saviour is given to the Son likewise. Not by works of righteousness which we have done — The best of which were so defective and polluted by sin while we were in our unregenerate state, that, instead of meriting acceptance, they needed forgiveness. But according to his mercy — His compassion for us in our state of sin and misery, and his free, unmerited love; he saved us — From our state of ignorance and guilt, of depravity, weakness, and misery. Observe, reader, the apostle does not say, he will save us, but, he hath saved us, true believers in Christ being already enlightened, justified, and made new creatures, and therefore in a great measure saved. See on Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9. By the washing of regeneration — That is, by regeneration itself, the thing signified, and not merely by baptismal water, the outward and visible sign; which regeneration cleanses the soul from the filth of sin, (as water washes the body,) implying the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost: see on Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 5:26-27. Which he shed on us abundantly πλουσιως, richly, through our believing with our heart unto righteousness, on Jesus Christ our Saviour — In virtue of whose sacrifice and intercession it has been imparted to us, sinful and guilty children of men. That being justified — Acquitted from the guilt of sin, and accounted righteous; by his grace — His mere mercy, his unmerited favour, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; see on Romans 3:24-28; we should be made heirs — All who are justified being adopted into God’s family, born of God’s Spirit, and made his children, and therefore his heirs, Romans 8:17; according — Agreeably; to the hope of eternal life — With which we are inspired, and for which his promises, in and through Christ Jesus, made to all such, lay a firm foundation, 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:2.


Verse 8

Titus 3:8. This is a faithful saying — A saying of infallible truth and infinite importance; (see on 1 Timothy 1:15;) and these things I will that thou affirm constantly βουλομαι σε διαβεβαιουσθαι, I will that thou strenuously, zealously, and continually assert, as a matter of unspeakable moment; that they who have believed in the living and true God — Or rather, who have believed God, (as the words οι πεπιστευκοτες τω θεω signify,) namely, with respect to the revelation which he has made of his will; might be careful — ινα φροντιζωσι, may think, consider, contrive, prepare, and take care; to maintain — Greek, προιστασθαι, to excel, take the lead, and go before others; in good works — Of all kinds which they have ability and opportunity to perform, namely, works of piety toward God, and of justice and mercy for the good of men. Though the apostle does not lay these for the foundation of men’s confidence and hope of eternal life, yet he brings them in, as we see here and elsewhere, in their proper place, and then mentions them, not slightly, but as affairs of great importance. He insists that all believers should fix their thoughts upon them, use their best contrivance, their utmost endeavours, not barely to practise, but to excel, to be eminent and distinguished in them, because, though they do not procure our reconciliation with God, yet they are goodκαλα, amiable and honourable, as the word means, namely, to the Christian profession, and bring glory to God; and are profitable to men — To those who do them, and to those who are the objects of them: to the former, as being the means of exercising, and thereby increasing, their grace, and preparing them for a greater reward in the everlasting kingdom of their God and Saviour; and to the latter, as lessening their miseries and increasing their happiness in a variety of ways.


Verse 9

Titus 3:9. But avoid foolish questions — Questions of no consequence; and genealogies — See on 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; and contentions, &c., about the law — About the observance of the ceremonial law, or some little things contained therein; for they are unprofitable, &c. — Not only consuming to no purpose that time which is capable of being much better improved, but also tending to discompose men’s minds, to alienate the affections of Christians from each other, and to render them indifferent to the proper duties of life.


Verse 10-11

Titus 3:10-11. A man that is a heretic — Greek, αιρετικον, a party or schism-maker, namely, in the church, among the true, genuine people of God; or one that causes divisions among those that are united in Christian fellowship; see on Romans 16:17; after the first and second admonition — From thee and the elders of the church, given with proper solemnity; reject — Avoid, and declare him unfit to be any longer looked upon as a member of your community. “This is the only place in the whole Scripture where this word heretic occurs; and here it evidently means a man that obstinately persists in contending about foolish questions, and thereby occasions strifes and animosities, schisms and parties, among the faithful. This, and this alone, is a heretic in the Scripture sense. And his punishment likewise is here fixed. Shun, avoid, leave him to himself, have no fellowship with him. As for the Popish sense of the word, ‘A man that errs in fundamentals,’ although it crept, with many other things, early into the church, yet it has no shadow of foundation either in the Old or New Testament.” — Wesley. Knowing that such a one — Who is so fond of his own darling notions, that he will ruin the peace of the church: and will not submit to thy remonstrances, and those of the wiser and better part of the society; is subverted — Or perverted, as εξεστραπται maybe properly rendered; and sinneth — In making such obstinate efforts to diffuse his notions, and form a party to himself; being condemned of himself — Convinced in his own conscience that he acts wrong, as he cannot but see it to be evil to cause strife, animosity, contention, and disunion among those that fear God, and were, before he thus troubled them, united in Christian love. “In the first age, when the doctrines of the gospel were delivered by the apostles in person, under the guidance of inspiration, and when the true meaning of the doctrines was not liable to any doubt, because it was ascertained by the apostles themselves, if any teacher taught differently from them, and made a party in the church in opposition to them, he must have done these things contrary to his conscience, either from the love of money, or the lust of power, or from an immoderate propensity to sensual pleasures.” — Macknight; who observes further, “This method of treating heretics is worthy of attention; for the Spirit of God doth not order heretics to be banished, and their goods confiscated; far less doth he order them to be imprisoned, tortured, and burned, if they will not retract their errors. He doth not even give allowance to rail at or speak evil of them. Such methods of treating heretics never proceeded from the college of the apostles, but from the synagogue of Satan. To disown a wicked man as a Christian brother, and to avoid all familiar society with him, and to cast him out of the church by a public sentence of excommunication, is what the church and every society hath a right to do, agreeably to our Lord’s rule, (Matthew 18:15; Matthew 18:17,) and is all that should be done in such a case.”


Verse 12

Titus 3:12. When I shall send Artemas to thee, or Tychicus — To succeed thee in thy office; be diligent to come unto me — Tychicus is often mentioned in St. Paul’s epistles, but of Artemas we know nothing: only from this passage it appears that he was a faithful and able teacher, and fit to supply Titus’s place in Crete. At Nicopolis — There was a city of this name in Macedonia, on the confines of Thrace; also one in Epirus, and another in Pontus. The one in Epirus was built opposite to Actium, and named Nicopolis, or the city of victory, in memory of the victory which Augustus obtained over Antony and Cleopatra. It is probable that this was the Nicopolis here referred to: many think the Nicopolis in Macedonia was intended. For I have determined to winter there — This manner of speaking shows that the apostle was at liberty when he wrote this epistle, and consequently that it was written in the interval between his first and second imprisonment, and not from Nicopolis; for he was not there when he wrote it, but only expected to be there by and by. See the preface.


Verses 13-15

Titus 3:13-15. Bring — Or send forward; Zenas the lawyer — Zenas is mentioned in this passage only, and called νομικον, the lawyer, because, according to Jerome’s interpretation, which is also that of Dr. Benson, he had formerly been a teacher of the law among the Jews; see Matthew 22:35, where the same appellation is given to one of that profession. He might possibly, however, as others think, be a Roman lawyer; and Apollos — It is probable that Zenas and Apollos were to pass through Crete, either in their way to the apostle, or to some place whither he had sent them. He therefore desired Titus to help them forward on their journey by supplying them with such necessaries as they were in want of, that they might not be retarded. And let ours also — All our brethren in Crete, whether ministers or private members of the church; learn — By thy admonition and example; to maintain good works — Works of charity and bounty; for necessary uses — For the relief of the poor brethren, that they may not want any necessary; that they — The Cretian believers; be not unfruitful — Unserviceable to those among whom they dwell. Perhaps, at some former period, they had not assisted Zenas and Apollos as they ought to have done. Greet them that love us in the faith — That is, for the faith’s sake, and with such a love as Christianity requires.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Titus 3:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/titus-3.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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