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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Titus 1

 

 

Verse 1

Apostolic Title and Address, Titus 1:1-4.

1. Paul—See note on 1 Timothy 1:1.

Servant of God… apostle of… Christ—An antithesis of the general against the special. He is God’s servant, as a generality, shared with all good men; but apostle of Christ is his rare specialty, shared with a choice very few. The and of the English translation, which obscures the antithesis, should be but. The whole passage, after this divine epithet apostle, to the end of Titus 1:3, is an expansion of the great import of that epithet; an assertion of the divinity of Paul’s office, as based upon the divinity of the gospel system, with which it accords, and of which it is an integral part. It takes the whole three verses to fully express Paul’s style and prerogative as apostle, preparatory to his to Titus, mine own son. Even then it is but a summary of his self-assertion in Part First of 1 Timothy, as shown in our Plan, vol. iv, p. 411. Hence this is an official letter—a certificate and a diploma, which apostolically authenticates Titus to the Churches of Crete, while it warns him to stand firmly and exclusively upon the high apostolic platform as against surrounding errorists.

According to—See notes on this phrase Ephesians 1:9 and Romans 16:25-27. In that passage of Ephesians the Greek κατα, according to, occurs five times, as here four times—an occult proof that Paul was author of both; so occult, indeed, as to have escaped the critical commentators. We are, also, warned thereby from giving different meanings to the words in the different parts of this passage. The apostleship, as an institute, accords with the whole Gospel as a doctrine and a plan. Both, fitting to each other, form the divine system. This apostleship accords with the faith of God’s elect, as being embraced therein in the belief of all the faithful. Hence the substitution by Alford (following Huther) of for, instead of according to, is not only unjustified by the Greek, but contrary to Paul’s special use of the word κατα, and unrequired by the current of this passage.

The faith of God’s elect— Namely, that faith by which they become and stay the chosen of God— harmonizes with and sustains the apotolate; and if any professed faith rejects it, as does the prevalent Jewish fabulism; it is not the faith of God’s elect. And hence the apostolate of St. Paul accords with the genuine acknowledging of the truth which is after ( κατα, according to) godliness. The meaning is not (as Wiesinger, Huther, Alford, and others) that the apostolate is “for,” that is, conducive to, the acknowledging, but that the apostolate, and a right acknowledging, correspond and are firmly bound together. He who questions the apostolate does not acknowledge the truth.

According to—Another κατα, which all are obliged to render rightly. The apostleship accords with just that truth which accords with godliness, or piety. Godliness is a rectitude of heart and faith in communion with God, and under control of the Divine. Yet the divine name does not enter into the Greek word, which word is compounded of ευ, (right,) and σεβεω, (worship,) and signifies true devotion, or piety. The words of Chrysostom, approvingly quoted by Huther, do not hit the mark: “Other truth there is which is not according to godliness, as truth of agriculture or trade.” St. Paul’s phrase is not opposed to any secular truths, but only to the pretended truths, though real falsehoods, of Gnosticism and fallen Judaism, with which both Timothy and Titus were to contend in their respective charges. For throughout this entire paragraph of St. Paul’s self-assertion, the opposition of the Ephesian and Cretan gainsayers is silently presupposed. His office is in accordance with God’s truth; their teaching is in accordance with a conscience defiled. Titus 1:15.

The truth which is after godliness—It must be emphatically noticed that this accordance and identification of truth with rectitude is St. Paul’s leading test of his true Christianity. To stay Christian, as he holds Christianity, is to stay (Titus 1:8) sober, just, holy, temperate; to leave Christianity and relapse into heathenism, or run into Gnosticism, is to become like the Cretans, (Titus 1:12,) or like the reprobate, (Titus 1:16.) It is, therefore, not of mere theoretic or doctrinal truth, but it is of reformatory, saving, divine truthtruth which is after godliness—that he is, and Titus in his place must be, the unflinching champion at Crete. He purposes to raise Crete into a true Christian civilization through his Gospel and organized Church.


Verse 2

2. In hope—Literally, upon hope. But what is it that rests upon this hope? Afford, translating it in hope, misses by saying it is the whole clause after apostle, from not seeing that the whole passage to Titus 1:4 expands St. Paul’s apostle. Paul is apostle, according to godliness; and based upon hope, etc., to end of Titus 1:3. The apostolate is based, not, as is the mission of the gainsayers, (Titus 1:9,) upon Jewish fables, (Titus 1:14,) but upon a hope of eternal life, eternally promised by a truthful God. This is his and Titus’s platform over all rival systems in Crete.

Eternal lifeAEonic life; that life which belongs to the endless and glorious aeons, ages, or time-worlds, of the future. See notes on Matthew 25:46; Galatians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:10. In this transcendent object of hope St. Paul’s Gospel stood alone.

Cannot lie—Literal Greek, unlying. Hence the assured fulfilment of the apostolic hope.

Before the world beganπρο χρονων αιωνιων, before aeonic times; before the time-worlds began to roll on their events; from the anterior eternity. See notes on Galatians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; and 2 Timothy 1:9. As Alford rightly says, against Huther, the same phrase in 2 Timothy 1:9 forbids interpreting it here as merely equivalent to απαιωνος, “from of old.” Luke 1:70. The promise, from eternity, is explained in our note to Ephesians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:9. From his very nature God eternally promises eternal life to all who come into accord and unison with himself. The temporal promises of eternal things in the Gospel are the external expressions of the true eternal promise. And so the apostle declares that the aeonic life of the gospel hope is not a thing of to-day, but lies in ideal in the anterior eternal ages. And hereby is, perhaps, made clear the error of Huther, who tells us that if the phrase means from eternity, then promised must mean decreed. Just as if a mental promise, and that a conditional one, too, could not be as truly eternal as a mental decree! And he quotes the questionable authority of Calvin, who says: “As the phrase treats of a promise, it does not embrace eternal ages, so as to bring us to before the world began, but teaches us only that many temporal ages had passed since the promise was made.” But the true meaning is, that there are the “promise and potency” of holy and blessed union with God himself for all who thereto consent in his own appointed way; an eternal election of all who voluntarily come into that election.


Verse 3

3. But—Contrastive between the ideal and the manifested promise.

In due timesIn its own times; the times divinely held to be suitable for such manifestation.

His word—We might have expected it as referring to promise, as manifested; but St. Paul uses the term his word to identify the promise with the gospel word.

Preaching—Literally, proclamation.

Committed unto me—Note 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

According to—The third κατα in the paragraph. Paul’s apostleship accords with “elect faith;” which accords with “godliness;” the preaching of which accords with the divine order. And the passage ends, as it began, at Paul’s personality, showing that the whole is the import of the word apostle, so that at this point he makes transition to Titus.


Verse 4

4. Own son—Literal Greek, genuine or legitimate son; son, that is, by regeneration, as Paul does not hesitate to call even the humble Onesimus son, as being under his ministry converted. Genuine son, as being in his own true spiritual likeness; begotten to the Pauline gospel, and competent to represent and establish it in Crete. Extended as is his own style and title, that assigned to Titus is brief and simple. Note, 1 Timothy 1:2. Yet, as son, Titus seems to be made heir to a very full amount of apostolic authority, as appears in the very strong terms conveying functions in this epistle and in this chapter. Even if it could be supposed that Timothy was appointed pastor of but a single Church in Ephesus, Titus was certainly a super-presbyterial superintendent of several Churches, with their pastors, in Crete. He was, however, more an itinerant bishop than a diocesan.

Common faithCommon to all the elect, Titus 1:1. The sonship of Titus was not after the flesh, but after the faith.

Grace—Note 1 Timothy 1:2.


Verse 5

5. Left I thee in Crete—As he left Timothy in Ephesus on departing for Macedonia. 1 Timothy 1:3.

Set in order—The Greek word implies a supplementary ordering in an incomplete work.

Wanting—Left undone by St. Paul for want of time.

Ordain—Constitute or appoint. Same word is used Acts 6:3, where see note, and Luke 12:14. The word itself decides nothing as to the mode; but undoubtedly all St. Paul’s ordinations were performed with the solemn laying on of hands. Adverse criticism has objected that St. Paul’s delineation of the eldership is not very complete or symmetrical, and that it says no more than Titus ought to have known without it. The portraiture consists, we may admit, of rough strokes rather than flowing lines. But it doubtless selects the points which most contrasted with the evil traits of the errorists; and furnished not so much information as reminder to Titus and to the elders.

In every city—This implies that there were many cities in Crete in which one or more Churches existed. Christianity had been known for some time in the island, and St. Paul’s work had been revival and extension rather than first introduction. It was also Titus’s work to complete the reorganization. His alone was the work of ordaining. If we ask why no old Cretan presbyter or presbyters were authorized to ordain? a reason probably was, that, if there were such elders, not one was fully qualified to maintain Paul’s true apostolic type of Christian faith and order. A second reason may have been that an ordination, and the grade and office it authenticates, are more impressive and authoritative when coming from a higher organic authority.

I had appointed thee—Titus was thus an apostle’s vicar, by an apostle appointed to do apostolic work.


Verses 5-9

Portraiture of the suitable Eldership in Crete, Titus 1:5-9.

A miniature edition of the fuller picture in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, the characterization of the deacons being omitted. The reason assigned by Wiesinger for the omission of the deacons is, that deacons are less necessary to the completeness of a Church. And no doubt the eldership is the main trunk of the ministry, practically necessary to a Church, and the deaconship and episcopate are less essential branches; important, but not necessary to a valid Church.


Verse 6

6. If—Perhaps it was a contingency whether many such men could be found in Crete, but the words do not necessarily so imply.

Blameless— Possessed of such known innocence of character as makes imputation of wrong at the start improbable.

One wife—Note on 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 4:9.

Children—Notes 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

Accused—Refers to children. There is a common but fallacious notion prevalent that ministers’ children, instead of being after Paul’s model, are worse than other people’s children. A modern Greek proverb is, that “the parson’s son is the devil’s grandson.” Impartial statistics, however, show that in this country, at any rate, the reverse is the truth. The fallacy arises from the fact that people demand a ministerial rectitude of ministers’ children. When a minister’s son, therefore, commits a gross fault, it is usually told with the awful addendum, “and a minister’s son, too!” No one thinks of exclaiming, “and a lawyer’s,” or, “a mechanic’s, son, too!” The transgressing minister’s son will be remembered for a quarter of a century as standing proof that ministers’ sons are the worst of young men.


Verse 7

7. Steward of God—Not a mere employe of the charge he serves, but a called appointee of God, certified through the ordaining hand of the Church.

Not—The blamelessness of the elder is now described with five negatives, showing what he must not be. Compare 1 Timothy 3:3-6.


Verse 8

8. But—Contrastively, the elder must possess the six qualities expressed in the text.


Verse 9

9. Holding fast—Passing from his moral qualities to his doctrinal firmness and abilities.

Faithful word—Comp. 1 Timothy 1:15.

Taught—From Christ through his apostles.

Able—The elder must be a sound theologian, and a competent public defender of truth and corrector of error. The elder is thus the spokesman and preacher of his Church.

Exhort—Encourage believers, inquirers, and all willing auditors.

Convince—Refute, and produce conviction if possible.

Gainsayers—Contradictors, whether in the Church or in the circle of listeners and attendants upon the congregation. As possessor of the truth of Christ, he was to judge, refute, and condemn all opposing heresy.

Counter Portraiture of the Cretan Errorists, 10-16, 10. Ample are the reasons for such ability, for opposers are many.

Unruly—Repudiating the apostolic authority and doctrine, and setting up their own invented dogmas.

Vain talkers—Utterers of the vain jangling of 1 Timothy 1:6, where see note.

Deceivers—Mind-deluders, who cheat men’s brains with fancy dogmas.

Circumcision—Here, as at Ephesus, the main errorists were Jews. See note on 1 Timothy 1:4.


Verse 11

11. Mouths must be stopped—Not by physical force, nor usually by pure ecclesiastical authority. Yet, while church authority is less peremptory as to what private members believe, it is rightly exerted over what the minister whom it authorizes shall preach. In the present verse the meaning is, that the gainsayers shall be silenced by the ability of the elder to convince. Titus 1:9. Who not only seduce individuals, but subvert, that is, overthrow, (a Greek word physically expressive of overthrowing a building,) whole houses, or families. St. Paul, doubtless, speaks from memory here, of houses like that of the Philippian jailer, all baptized, (Acts 16:33;) or like that of Stephanas, baptized by himself, (1 Corinthians 1:16;) or like that of Onesiphorus, administering to and sustaining him, (2 Timothy 1:16;) but houses unlike those in being subverted and drawn from the Church into the Jewish or Gnostic fold.


Verse 12

12. The fictions of these errorists have a congenial soil in the character of the Cretan population, as attested by a prophet of their own. The poet Callimachus, mentioning that it was said that the tomb of Jupiter was in Crete, responded, “The Cretans are always liars.” But the real prophet who first uttered the words quoted by St. Paul was Epimenides, born in Crete about the year 600 B.C. He was held to be a prophet in the literal sense of the word as predictor of future events. So says a Roman writer, Apuleius, “Cretan Epimenides, a renowned fore-teller and poet.” Cicero speaks of those “who by a certain excitement of the mind, and with a liberated and free movement, predict future events, as Baris the Beotian, and Epimenides the Cretan.” His biographer, Diogenes Laertius, gives instances of his predictions, and says, that “some say that the Cretans sacrifice to him as to a god.” He was invited to Athens to purify the city after its pollution in the case of Cylon. He is said to have lived to an extreme old age, and to have been buried at Lacedemon.

The Cretians— The generally profligate character of the Cretins was proverbial. To Cretanize was to be a liar, as to Corinthianize was to be a debauchee. See our vol. iv, page 9. They had a rival in roguery in the islanders of AEgina, and the proverb was, “A Cretan against an AEginetan.” The three worst K’s were said to be “Krete, Kappadocia, and Kilicia.”

Always liars— Suidas, the lexicographer, says, “Kretanize refers to Cretans, for they were liars and deceivers.”

Evil beasts—Referring to roughness and ferocity. The island once ruled by the just Minos became a piratical nest, and Polybius and Strabo tell us that the Cretans were unrivalled in making incursions by land and sea. Cretan soldiers were often mercenaries in foreign service.

Slow bellies—Whose god was their belly. Philippians 3:14. Slow implies sluggishness and stupidity, arising from gluttony.


Verse 13

13. This witness is too universal not to be true. St. Paul had not only read the fact, but he had seen it. He adds his own confirmation to the ancient testimony. It was not mere slander and witty sarcasm, but sober and solemn truth, with the consequent solemn duty now to be apostolically enjoined. Rebuke all these vices in them. Sound, or healthful, (see note, l Timothy Titus 1:10,) in the faith—For it is a very unhealthy Christian faith that accords with lying, brutality, or gluttony.


Verse 14

14. Jewish fables—Note, 1 Timothy 1:4.

Commandments—It seems strange that commentators such as Wiesinger, Huther, and Alford should uniformly say that these commandments were ascetic in their character, when gluttony is one of the prominent traits of these slow bellies. Nor does asceticism appear to have any association with the Jewish fables, though it formed part of one side of Gnosticism, (note, 2 Thessalonians 2:7,) which is not the heresy here rebuked. Simon Magus, long before this time of St. Paul’s writing, had no difficulty in blending a licentious Gnosticism with the Judaism of Samaria, and imposing his commandments upon a herd of followers, founding his licentious system on the assumption of the essential evil of matter. Acts 8:9. Similarly, Nicolas, the deacon, (Acts 6:5,) and the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:6, appear like licentious Jewish Gnostics. To the same class belonged the “filthy dreamers” of Judges 1:8. The commandments were the moral, or rather immoral, precepts of these men.


Verse 15

15. Pure all things… pure—Just so far as the heart is pure the eye is pure. The heart, under complete control of the law of purity, sees no effective incitement to lust in the external object. That control is the joint resultant of the divine law, the indwelling Spirit, and the firm will. Just so far as all concur, the world presents no objective temptation that wakes the sinful response from within.

Them that are defiled—The slow-bellies of Titus 1:12. Their inward nature is tinder, that takes fire at every presented spark; and the sparks are flying in perpetual circles around it. Every hour of the day objects are occurring to awaken lust, gluttony, rapine. Such men frame to themselves a dim theory of life that nothing is pure, and that all virtue is sham. To them no woman is chaste, no man is honest. All apparently good people are hypocrites; and your only honest man is the free liver, who commits all rascality and makes no pretensions to a moral life. Nothing and nobody is pure, just because they themselves are defiled.

And unbelieving—Without that faith which works by love and purifies the heart, as these gainsayers, and slow-bellies, and their subverts (Titus 1:11) were.

Their mind—Their intellect, so that they think in accordance with systematic wrong, and believe that they believe it, in spite of an under-current of moral misgiving.

And conscience—Their moral sense is abolished, (save the above under-current, which cannot be destroyed,) and a false conscience is constructed, by which wrong is seen by them to be their right.


Verse 16

16. Profess… know God—Rather, they confess; the verb implying the truth of what they acknowledge. They are monotheists, acknowledging the holy God of Israel.

But—Contrastive. There is a contradiction between their confession and their conduct.

Works… deny—Their actions ignore the God who requires holiness of life.

Abominable—The Greek rendering of that most expressive Hebrew term by which the Old Testament designates that horrible blend of sexual licentiousness with religious worship of which the Phenician Sidon was the apparent centre, and Ashtoreth (the Ishtar of the Babylonian tablets and the Astarte of Greek literature) the idol goddess, against which all the force of the Jehovah worship was for ages arrayed. This was that “goddess of the Zidonians,” denounced 1 Kings 11:5, And the present gainsayers were the true successors of the old abominable sensualists against whom St. Paul—true successor of the prophets of old—arrays all the force of Jehovah-Jesus.

Disobedient—To the true decalogue which the holy Jehovah, whom they profess, enjoins.

Reprobate—Cannot stand the test of scrutiny as to being real doers of any good work. The word has no reference to an eternally predestined reprobation. See notes on 1 Corinthians 9:27; and 2 Corinthians 13:5, where the same Greek word occurs.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Titus 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/titus-1.html. 1874-1909.

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