They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
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But in works they deny him - Their conduct is such as to show that they have no real acquaintance with him.
Being abominable - In their conduct. The word here used - βδελυκτοὶ bdeluktoi - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means that which is detestable, or to be held in abhorrence.
And disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate - Margin, "void of judgment." On the word here used - ἀδοκίμος adokimos - see the Romans 1:28 note; 2 Corinthians 13:5 note. It means here that in reference to everything that was good, their conduct was such that it could not be approved, or deserved disapprobation. It was for this reason; from the character of the people of the island of Crete, and of those who claimed to be teachers there enforcing the obligation of the Mosaic law, that it was so important for Titus to exercise special care in introducing men into the ministry, and in completing the arrangements contemplated in the organization of the churches there. Yet is this character confined to them? Are there none now who profess that they know God, but in works deny him; whose conduct is such that it ought to be abhorred; who are disobedient to the plain commands of God, and whose character in respect to all that pertains to true piety is to be disapproved by the truly pious, and will be by God at the last day? Alas, taking the church at large, there are many such, and the fact that there are such persons is the grand hindrance to the triumphs of religion on the earth. "The way to heaven is blocked up by dead professors of religion."
But in works they deny him - Their profession and practice were at continual variance. Full of a pretended faith, while utterly destitute of those works by which a genuine faith is accredited and proved. Dio Cassius represents Caesar as saying of his mutinous soldiers: Ονομα Ῥωμαιων εχοντας, εργα δε Κελτων δρωντας. "Having the name of Romans, while they had the manners of the Gauls." How near are those words to the saying of the apostle!
Being abominable - Βδελυκτοι. This word sometimes refers to unnatural lusts.
And disobedient - Απειθεις· Unpersuadable, unbelieving, and consequently disobedient. Characters remarkably applicable to the Jews through all their generations.
Unto every good work reprobate - Αδοκιμοι· Adulterate; like bad coin, deficient both in the weight and goodness of the metal, and without the proper sterling stamp; and consequently not current. If they did a good work, they did not do it in the spirit in which it should be performed. They had the name of God's people; but they were counterfeit. The prophet said; Reprobate silver shall men call them.
1. Though the principal part of this chapter, and indeed of the whole epistle, may be found in nearly the same words in the First Epistle to Timothy, yet there are several circumstances here that are not so particularly noted in the other; and every minister of Christ will do well to make himself master of both; they should be carefully registered in his memory, and engraven on his heart.
2. The truth, which is according to godliness, in reference to eternal life, should be carefully regarded. The substantial knowledge of the truth must have faith for its foundation, godliness for its rule, and eternal life for its object and end. He who does not begin well, is never likely to finish fair. He who does not refer every thing to eternity, is never likely to live either well or happily in time.
3. There is one subject in this chapter not sufficiently attended to by those who have the authority to appoint men to ecclesiastical offices; none should be thus appointed who is not able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. The powers necessary for this are partly natural, partly gracious, and partly acquired.
1. If a man have not good natural abilities, nothing but a miracle from heaven can make him a proper preacher of the Gospel; and to make a man a Christian minister, who is unqualified for any function of civil life, is sacrilege before God.
2. If the grace of God do not communicate ministerial qualifications, no natural gifts, however splendid, can be of any avail. To be a successful Christian minister, a man must feel the worth of immortal souls in such a way as God only can show it, in order to spend and be spent in the work. He who has never passed through the travail of the soul in the work of regeneration in his own heart, can never make plain the way of salvation to others.
3. He who is employed in the Christian ministry should cultivate his mind in the most diligent manner; he can neither learn nor know too much. If called of God to be a preacher, (and without such a call he had better be a galley slave), he will be able to bring all his knowledge to the assistance and success of his ministry. If he have human learning, so much the better; if he be accredited, and appointed by those who have authority in the Church, it will be to his advantage; but no human learning, no ecclesiastical appointment, no mode of ordination, whether Popish, Episcopal, Protestant, or Presbyterian, can ever supply the Divine unction, without which he never can convert and build up the souls of men. The piety of the flock must be faint and languishing when it is not animated by the heavenly zeal of the pastor; they must be blind if he be not enlightened; and their faith must be wavering when he can neither encourage nor defend it.
4. In consequence of the appointment of improper persons to the Christian ministry, there has been, not only a decay of piety, but also a corruption of religion. No man is a true Christian minister who has not grace, gifts, and fruit; if he have the grace of God, it will appear in his holy life and godly conversation. If to this he add genuine abilities, he will give full proof of his ministry; and if he give full proof of his ministry, he will have fruit; the souls of sinners will be converted to God through his preaching, and believers will be built up on their most holy faith. How contemptible must that man appear in the eyes of common sense, who boasts of his clerical education, his sacerdotal order, his legitimate authority to preach, administer the Christian sacraments, etc., while no soul is benefited by his ministry! Such a person may have legal authority to take tithes, but as to an appointment from God, he has none; else his word would be with power, and his preaching the means of salvation to his perishing hearers.
but in works they deny him. The Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "in their own works"; they were not professed, but practical atheists; they owned there was a God, and boasted of their knowledge of him; but their lives and conversations showed that they had no true knowledge of him, and that the fear of him was not before their eyes; these gave the lie to their profession; they practically denied that faith they professed to hold, and the power of godliness, of which they had the form.
Being abominable; in the sight of God, however esteemed by men; and notwithstanding the vizor and mask of sanctity and religion they put on, which could not screen them from the omniscience of God, who will one day declare he knows them not, and will bid them depart from him, being workers of iniquity.
And disobedient; to God; to his law, and Gospel; to his ministers and churches; and even to parents and civil magistrates; for of this cast were the false teachers, and their followers, as maybe learned from many passages.
And unto every good work reprobate: or "unaccustomed", unused to them, as the Arabic version renders it; or rather "without judgment", and understanding, concerning them; there was no good in them, nor was it in them to do good; to do good they had no knowledge, nor any inclination; they were unfit for it, and had not a capacity to perform it; they were not good themselves, and therefore could not do good; the tree must first be made good, ere its fruit will be good; they were without Christ, and without his Spirit, and grace, without which no man can do anything that is spiritually good; they had no true faith, and therefore what they did was sinful; they had neither right principles, from which, nor right ends to which they acted, and therefore were not qualified for the performance of good works; which require that men should be good men, created in Christ Jesus, be believers in him, and have principles of truth and love, and views to the glory of God.They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
deny him—the opposite of the previous "profess" or "confess" Him (1Ti 5:8; 2Ti 2:12; 3:5).
abominable—themselves, though laying so much stress on the contracting of abomination from outward things (compare Le 11:10-13; Ro 2:22).
disobedient—to God (Tit 3:3; Eph 2:2; 5:6).They profess that they know God. These teachers of Jewish fables and carnal ordinances profess to know and serve God, yet their immoral lives are a denial of him.Verse 16. - By their for in, A.V. They profess that they know God (comp. Romans 2:17-20). The arrogant claim to be God's people and to superior holiness, while all the while they were denying God by their evil deeds, and bringing dishonor upon his Name among the Gentiles, was a marked feature of the Jews in St. Paul's time (comp. 2 Timothy 3:5). Abominable (βδελυκτοὶ); objects or causes of disgust; only here in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. But βδέλυγμα and βδελύσσομαι are not uncommon. Reprobate (ἀδόκιμοι); as 2 Timothy 3:8 (where see note). This picture of the circumcision is indeed sad (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 16; Acts 28:25-28).
reprobate. or, void of judgment.
Better, confess. See on 2 Corinthians 9:13, and comp. 1 Timothy 6:12. Not loudly and publicly profess (as Huther), but confess as opposed to deny (John 1:20); comp. Hebrews 11:13; Romans 10:9, Romans 10:10.
N.T.o. Class. lxx, Proverbs 17:15; Sir. 41:5; 2 Macc. 1:27. See on βδέλυγμα abomination, Matthew 24:15, and comp. Revelation 17:4, Revelation 17:5; Revelation 21:27. The kindred verb, βδελύσσεσθαι abhor, Romans 2:22; Revelation 21:8.
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