Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity.—It must be remembered that many of the slaves in the Roman empire were employed in other duties besides those connected with the house or on the farm. Some were entrusted with shops, and these being left often quite to themselves, of course great opportunities for dishonesty and fraud were constantly present. Others received an elaborate training, and as artists, or even physicians, worked in part for their masters. A slave in the days of St. Paul had a hundred ways of showing to his owner this true and genuine fidelity, opposed to mere assumed surface obedience and service.
That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.—A slave cheerfully accepting his hard yoke, and striving with hand and brain to please and advance the interest of his earthly master only for the dear love of Christ, must have been in those days of cynical self-love a silent, yet a most powerful preacher of a gospel which could so mould and elevate a character so degraded. Calvin remarks that it is indeed noteworthy how God deigns to receive an adornment from slaves, whose condition was so mean and abject that scarcely were they considered to rank among men at all; “they were ranked as ‘possessions.’ just like cattle or horses.” Professor Reynolds very happily remarks here: “This teaching of St. Paul is in harmony with the words of the Lord Jesus—out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise. God gets His highest praise from the lips of little children, His robes of glory from the faithfulness, honour, and simplicity of born slaves.”
CHRISTIANS MAKING THE GOSPEL BEAUTIFUL
Titus 2:10THAT is a wonderful hope to hold forth before any man, that he may add beauty to the gospel. And it is still more wonderful when we remember that these words were originally addressed to a handful of slaves - the lowest of the population, whose lives were passed in sordid squalor; whose duties Were narrow and often repulsive, and yet they in their limited sphere and lowly lot might make fairer the truth which is already beautiful with all the beauty of God.
I. Let us then think for a moment of this wonderful possibility that is opened out here before every Christian, that he may add beauty to the gospel.
He may paint the lily and gild the refined gold; for men do quite rightly and legitimately, judge of systems by their followers. It would not be a fair thing to test a philosophy or a body of political or scientific truth by the conduct and character of the men who professed it; but it is a perfectly fair thing, under certain conditions and in certain limits, to test a system of practical morality, which professes to do certain things with people’s character and conduct, by its professors. It is just as fair, when a creed comes before our notice which assumes to influence men’s conduct, to say:
‘Well, I should like to see it working,’ as it is for any of you mill-owners to say, when a man comes to you with a fine invention upon paper, ‘Have you got a working model of it? Has it ever been tried? What have been the results that have been secured by it?’ Or as it would be to say to anybody that claimed to have got a ‘medicine that will cure consumption,’ to say:
‘Have you any cases? Can you quote any cures?’ So when we Christians stand up and say, ‘We have a faith which is able to deaden men’s minds to the world; which is able to make them unselfish; which is able to lift them up above cares and sorrows; which is able to take men and transform their whole nature, and put new desires and hopes and joys into them’; it is quite fair for the world to say: ‘Have you? Does it? Does it do so with you? Can you produce your lives as working models of Christianity? Can you produce your cure as a proof of the curative power of the gospel that you profess?’
So, dear friends, this possibility does lie before all Christian men, that they may by their lives conciliate prejudices, prepare people to listen favourably to the message of God’s love, win over men from their aura-gonism, and make them say: ‘Well, after all, there is something in that Christianity.’
It is not altogether and without limitation a fair thing to do to argue back from the lives of disciples to the truth of the creed, because all men are worse than their principles; and because, too, though a Christian man’s goodness ought to be put down to the credit of his creed, a Christian man’s badness ought to be put down to the debit of himself. But somehow or other the world, when it sees Christian people that do not live up to the level of their profession, does say, however illogically, both of two things, both of which cannot be true; first of all, ‘A pretty kind of Christians these are!’ and second, ‘There cannot be much in the system that produces such!’ One or other of the two things they ought to say. They ought either to say: ‘You are a hypocrite!’ or they ought to say: ‘Your Christianity is not worth much!’ But, illogically enough, they generally say both. And so you both damage yourselves in their eyes, and damage the religion you profess, by your inconsistencies and your faults.
Our lives ought to be like the mirror of a reflecting telescope. The astronomer does not look directly up into the sky when he wants to watch the heavenly bodies, but down into the mirror on which their reflection is cast. And so our little, low lives down here upon earth should so give back the starry bodies and infinitudes above us that some dim eyes, which peradventure could not gaze into the violet abysses with their lustrous points, may behold them reflected in the beauty of our life. The doctrines of Christianity, when they are only in words, are less fair than the same truths when they are embodied in a life. It is beautiful to say: ‘If ye love Me keep My commandments’; but the beauty of the words is less than when they are illustrated in a life. Our lives should be like the old missals, where you find the loving care of the monastic scribe has illuminated and illustrated the holy text, or has rubricated and gilded some of the letters. The best Illustrated Bible is the conduct of the people who profess to take it for their guide and law.
II. So much, then, for the first point, the wondrous possibility that is opened in this text. Now let me say a word about the other side the solemn alternative.
If you look at the context you will see that a set of exhortations preceding these to the slaves, which are addressed to the wives, end with urging as the great motive to the conduct enjoined, ‘that the Word of God be not blasphemed.’ That is the other side of the same thought as is in my text. The issues of the conduct of professing Christians are the one or other of these two, either to add beauty to the gospel or to cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. If you do not the one you will be doing the other. If my life is not throwing back honour upon the gospel from which it manifestly flows, and by which it is manifestly molded, it will be throwing back discredit. Your lives, professing Christians, are not neutral in their effect upon men’s estimate of your creed. Either you attract or repel. The one pole of the magnet or the other you do present. Either you make men think better of God’s truth, or you make them think worse of it. There are no worse enemies of the gospel than its inconsistent friends. That is especially true in lands where the Christian Church is a little band amongst heathens, as was the case with the churches of which Titus had charge. Who is it that thwarts missionary work in India? Englishmen. Who is it that, wherever they go with their ships, put a taunt into the lips of the enemy which Christian workers find it hard to meet? English sailors. The notorious dissipation and immorality amongst the representatives of English commerce in the various Eastern centers of trade puts a taunt into the mouth of the abstemious Hindu and of the Chinaman. ‘These are your Christians, are they?’ England, that sends out missionaries in the cabin, and Bibles and rum side by side amongst the cargo, has to listen, and her people have to take to themselves the awful words with which the ancient Jewish inconsistencies were rebuked: ‘Through you the name of God is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles.’
And in less solemn manner perhaps, but just truly, here, in a so-called Christian land, the inconsistencies, the selfishness, the worldliness of professing Christian people, the absolute absence of all apparent difference between them and the most godless man in the same circumstances, are the things which perhaps more than anything else counteract the evangelistic efforts of the Christian Church. What is the good of my one voice preaching, if so many live in diametrical opposition to that which has been preached? One man pulls one way for twenty-five minutes, and hundreds pull the other way for a week; which will pull the most? If the Christian Church, and we as members of it, were living as we ought to do, and as we might do, far more than all eloquent teaching would be the result of our simple lives of transparent godliness. My brother! I bring to each of you the very solemn question: Do you repel or attract? You have, perhaps, children. Are they favourably disposed to Christianity because of what they see in the lives of their father and mother? or do your inconsistencies, which the sharp eyes that see you in your easy moments at home cannot hut notice however loving they may be, drive them away and disgust them with a profession of religion, and with religion itself?
You have friends and acquaintances, and a circle whom you influence. Do you influence them to look with favour upon that Word which has made you what you are? Or do you turn them away from it?
either you beautify or
you blaspheme the gospel by your conduct.
III. Once more, let me ask you to consider the sort of life that will thus commend and adorn the gospel
First of all it must be a life conspicuously and uniformly under the influence of Christian principles. I put emphasis upon these two words ‘conspicuously’ and ‘uniformly.’ You will be of very little use if your Christian principle is so buried in your life, embedded beneath a mass of selfishness and worldliness and indifference as that it takes a microscope, and a week’s looking for to find it. And you will be of very little use, either, if your life is by fits and starts under the influence of Christian principle; a minute guided by that and ten minutes guided by the other thing ; - if here and there, sprinkled thinly over the rotting mass, there be a handful of the saving salt. We want uniformity and we want conspicuousness of Christian principle in our lives if they are to be a power to witness for our Master.
And remember, too, as the context teaches us, that the lives which commend and adorn the doctrine must be such as manifest Christian principle in the smallest details. These slaves, in their smoky huts, with their little tasks, and by the exercise of very homely virtues, were to ‘adorn the doctrine.’ Do you ever notice what it is that Paul tells them to ‘do that they may’ adorn the doctrine’? Here is the list - ‘Obedient to their masters, not answering again, not purloining but showing all good fidelity.’ Very homely virtues; there is nothing at all lofty or transcendent or above the pedestrian level of a prosaic life in that. Obedience, keeping a civil tongue in their heads in the midst of provocation, not indulging in petty pilfering, being true to the trust that was given to them. ‘That is no great thing,’ you may say, but in these little things they were to adorn the great doctrine of God their Saviour. Ay! the smallest duties are in some sense the largest sphere for the operation of great principles. For it is the little duties which by their minuteness tempt men to think that they can do them without calling in the great principles of conduct, that give the colour to every life after all. You can write the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments in the space of a three penny bit; you can make all the beauty and all the sanctifying power of the gospel visible and manifest within the narrow circle of the smallest duties that the lowest station has to perform. The little banks of mud in the wheel-tracks in the road are shaped upon the same slopes, and moulded by the same law that carves the mountains and lifts the precipices of the Himalayas. And a handful of snow in the hedge in the winter time will fall into the same curves, and be obedient to the same great physical laws which shape the glaciers that lie on the sides of the Alps. You do not want big things in order, largely and nobly, to manifest big principles. The smallest duties, distinctly done for Christ’s sake, will adorn the doctrine: -
‘A servant, with this clause, Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a house as by Thy laws
Makes that and the calling fine.’
‘Adorn the doctrine of God in all things.’ And then again, I may say that the manner of life which commends the gospel will be one conspicuously above the level of the morality of the class to which you belong. These slaves were warned not to fall into the vices that were proper to their class, in order that by not falling into them, and so being unlike their fellows, they might glorify the gospel For the things that Paul warns them not to do are the faults which all history and experience tell us are exactly the vices of the slave - petty pilfering, a rank tongue blossoming into insolent speech, a disregard of the master’s interests, sulky disobedience or sly evasion of the command. These are the kind of things that the devilish institution of slavery makes almost necessary on the part of the slave, unless some higher motive and loftier principle come in to counteract the effects.
And in like manner all of us have, in the class to which we belong, and the sort of life which we have to live, certain evils natural to our position; and unless you are unlike the non-Christian men of your own profession and the people that are under the same worldly influence as you are - unless you are unlike them in that your righteousness exceeds their righteousness, ‘Ye shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ My brother, if you and the godless man whose warehouse is up the same staircase pursue your business on the same maxims, have the same ideas as to what is desirable, press towards the same end, take the same short cuts through some morality in order to reach it, what is the good of your saying you are a Christian? If there is no difference between you and them, to your advantage and to the advantage of the gospel that you profess, say no more about your being dead to the world by the Cross of Christ, and living for higher and other motives.
If you are to adorn the doctrine you must conspicuously and uniformly, in great things and in small things, be living by other laws than those obey who believe not the doctrine. Unless it can be said of us: ‘There is a people here whose laws are different from all people that be on the earth,’ we shall never beautify the gospel of Christ.
And now one last word. How is such a manner of life to be attained? I know of only one way, and that is by continually living near Jesus Christ. If we are to beautify Him, He must first beautify us. If we are to adorn the doctrine, the doctrine must adorn us. That is to say, it is only when we live near Him, are in constant touch of His hand, and communion with His spirit, it is only then that His beauty shall pass into our faces, and that beholding the glory of the Lord ‘we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory.’ We must be on the mountain like Moses in fellowship with our Master, if we are to come down and walk amongst men with radiance streaming from our countenance, so as that all that look upon us shall behold our face ‘as it had been the face of an angel.’ ‘Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord; this people have I formed for Myself, they shall show forth My praise’Acts 5:2.
But showing all good fidelity - In laboring, and in taking care of the property intrusted to them.
That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things - That they may show the fair influence of religion on them, in all respects, making them industrious, honest, kind, and obedient. They were to show that the effect of the religion which they professed was to make them better fitted to discharge the duties of their station in life, however humble; or that its influence on them was desirable in every respect. In this way, they might hope also that the minds of their masters might be reached, and that they might be brought to respect and love the gospel. Hence, learn:
(1) that one in the most humble walk of life may so live as to be an ornament to religion, as well as one favored with more advantages.
(2) that servants may do much good, by so living as to show to all around them that there is a reality in the gospel, and to lead others to love it.
(3) if in this situation of life, it is a duty so to live as to adorn religion, it cannot be less so in more elevated situations. A master should feel the obligation not to be surpassed in religious character by his servant.
showing—manifesting in acts.
good—really good; not so in mere appearance (Eph 6:5, 6; Col 3:22-24). "The heathen do not judge of the Christian's doctrines from the doctrine, but from his actions and life" [Chrysostom]. Men will write, fight, and even die for their religion; but how few live for it! Translate, "That they may adorn the doctrine of our Saviour God," that is, God the Father, the originating author of salvation (compare Note, see on 1Ti 1:1). God deigns to have His Gospel-doctrine adorned even by slaves, who are regarded by the world as no better than beasts of burden. "Though the service be rendered to an earthly master, the honor redounds to God, as the servant's goodwill flows from the fear of God" [Theophylact]. Even slaves, low as is their status, should not think the influence of their example a matter of no consequence to religion: how much more those in a high position. His love in being "our Saviour" is the strongest ground for our adorning His doctrine by our lives. This is the force of "For" in Tit 2:11.Not purloining; nosfizomenouv the word signifieth taking something away from others to our own use, and it signifies properly the taking not the whole, but a part of a thing; it is used to signify the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, who kept back part of what they sold their estate for, Acts 5:2,3.
But showing all good fidelity; honesty, and truth, and diligence.
That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; that they may not be a scandal or reproach to the gospel to which they make a profession, but may be an ornament to it in all things, as remembering that it is the doctrine of God our great Preserver, and of Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour. Acts 5:2,
but showing all good fidelity; approving themselves to be faithful servants in everything they are intrusted with:
that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; Christ is our alone Saviour, and he is truly and properly God, and so fit and able to be a Saviour; and the Gospel is his doctrine, not only what he himself preached, when on earth, but it is a doctrine concerning him; concerning his deity, and the dignity of his person, and concerning his office as Mediator, and the great salvation by him; and which are so many reasons why it should be adorned by a suitable life and conversation; for this is what becomes the Gospel of Christ, throws a beauty upon it, and is ornamental to it; and in this way the doctrine of Christ may be, and ought to be, adorned by servants, as well as others: to adorn the Gospel, is first to believe and receive it, then to profess it, and hold fast that profession, and walk worthy of it. Two of Stephens's copies read, "in", or "among all men".Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Titus 2:10. μὴ νοσφιζομένους: non fraudantes (Vulg.), not purloining. The particular form of theft implied is the abstraction or retention for oneself, of a part of something entrusted to one’s care.
πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγαθήν: displaying the utmost trustworthiness. There is a similar phrase in ch. Titus 3:2, πᾶσαν ἐνδεικ. πραΰτητα. See note on 2 Timothy 4:14. On this use of πᾶς, See on 1 Timothy 1:15. πίστιν has a qualifying adj. elsewhere, e.g., ἀνυπόκριτος (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:5. Cf. ch. Titus 1:4. 2 Peter 1; Judges 1:20), but the addition of another adj. after πᾶς is unusual. In Clem. Rom. 1 Cor. 26 πίστις ἀγαθή is rendered by Lightfoot honest faith; but honest fidelity would be an odd expression. Von Soden would give ἀγαθή here the sense of kind, wishing well, as in Titus 2:5, and as a contrast to ἀντιλεγ., as πιστιν is to νοσφ. W.H. suggest that the original reading here was πᾶσαν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγάπην. See apparat. crit.
διδασκαλίαν: See note on 1 Timothy 1:10.
Θεοῦ refers to God the Father. See Titus 1:3. Von Soden takes it here as objective genitive; the διδασκαλία being set forth in Titus 2:11-14.
κοσμῶσιν: cf. 1 Timothy 2:9, κοσμεῖν ἑαυτάς … διʼ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν. The διδασκαλία, though really practical, can be plausibly alleged to be mere theory; it must then, by good works, be rendered attractive to them that are without. Cf. Matthew 5:16, Php 2:15.10. not purloining] Old French purloigner, i.e. pour-loin, to convey far, to ‘make away with,’ rendering the adverb in the Greek ‘afar,’ ‘apart.’ The verb only occurs in N.T. here and Acts 5:2-3, ‘put away part of the price.’
But ‘purloin’ has come to have so petty a meaning as to narrow unduly the thought here. Almost all trades arts and professions were at this time in the hands of slaves; and so all tricks of trade, all mercantile or professional embezzlement and dishonesty, are covered by the word; just as ‘all good fidelity’ ‘covers the whole realm of thought, of speech temper and gesture, as well as embraces the sanctity of covenants, the sacredness of property, and the dignity of mutual relations.’
all good fidelity] The weight of ms. authority is in favour of this reading, though ‘all love’ has strong support.
God our Saviour] God the Father, as above, 1 Timothy 1:1, &c.; render our Saviour God. The phrase fits with the thought, ‘quo vilior servorum conditio eo dignior Deus Salvator, dignior Dei redemptio.’ Dr Reynolds quotes Chrysostom, ‘The Greeks judge of doctrines, not from the doctrine itself but from conduct and life; women and slaves may be, in and of themselves, teachers,’ and adds, ‘God gets his highest praise from the lips of little children, his robes of glory from the faithfulness honour and simplicity of bondslaves.’ Sec Appendix, J, on St Paul and Slavery.Titus 2:10. Ἀγαθὴν, good) in things not evil.—κοσμῶσιν, may adorn) The lower the condition of servants, the more beautifully is their piety described. [Even such as they should not cast themselves away, as if it were of no importance what sort of persons they were.—V. g.]Verse 10. - Purloining (νοσφιζομένους); literally, separating for their own use what does not belong to them. So Acts 5:2, 3, "to keep back part." It is used in the same sense by the LXX. Joshua 7:1 of Achan, and 2 Macc. 4:32 of Menelaus, and occasionally in classical Greek (Xenophon, Polybius, etc.). Showing (ἐνδεικνυμένους). It occurs eleven times in the New Testament, viz. twice in Hebrews, and nine times in St. Paul's acknowledged Epistles. All good fidelity. All fidelity means fidelity in everything where fidelity is required in a faithful servant - care of his master's property, conscientious labor, keeping of time, acting behind his master's back the same as before his face. The singular addition ἀγαθήν, coming after ἐνδεικνυμένους, must mean, as Bengel says, "in all good things." The duty of fidelity does not extend to crime or wrong-doing. The word "good" is like the addition in the oath of canonical obedience, "in all honest things," and is a necessary limitation to the preceding "all" (see Titus 3:1, and note). The doctrine (τὴν διδασκαλίον) as in ver. 1 (where see note). In Titus 1:9 (where see note) ἡ διδαχή is used in the same way. This use of διδασκαλία is confirmed by the reading of the R.T., which inserts a second τήν before τοῦ σωτῆρος. Adorn the doctrine. The sentiment is the same as that in 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 4:11. Christians are exhorted to give glory to God, and support and honor to the gospel of God's grace, by their good works and holy lives. God our Savior (see 1 Timothy 1:1; 1 Timothy 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:10; and above, Titus 1:3, note). In all things (ἐν πᾶσιν); as 1 Peter 4:11.
Only here and Acts 5:2, Acts 5:3. lxx, Joshua 7:1; 2 Macc. 4:32. Often in Class. From νόσφι apart. The fundamental idea of the word is to put far away from another; to set apart for one's self; hence to purloin and appropriate to one's own use. Purloin is akin to prolong: prolongyn or purlongyn "to put fer awey." Old French porloignier or purloignier.
Shewing all good fidelity (πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνομένος ἀγαθήν)
The phrase N.T.o. This is the only instance in N.T. of ἀγαθός with πίστις.
Adorn the doctrine (τὴν διδασκαλίαν κοσμῶσιν)
The phrase N.T.o. For κοσμῶσιν adorn, see on 1 Timothy 2:9.
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