Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE NECESSITY OF THE INJUNCTION TO POLITICAL SUBMISSION. "Put them in mind." The words imply that the duty was already known, but needed to be recalled to Cretan memory. It is but too certain that the injunction was needed. Once a democratic state, now for over a century under Roman law, and always remarkable for a factious and turbulent spirit, the Cretan impatience of authority was reinforced by the spirit of insubordination which was such a characteristic of the Jewish part of the community.
II. THE DUTY OF SUBMISSION TO CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. "Put them in mind to be subject to authorities, to powers, to obey the magistrate, to be ready towards every good work." The very redundancy of words used here is significant, as if to exclude the possibility of an evasion of the command.
2. The form of government does not affect the duty of obedience. Monarchies, republics, oligarchies, have in them alike the ordination and power of God for the welfare of society.
3. There are limits to this obedience, but the apostle does not fix them. The exceptional cases are not mentioned, because they are summed up either in the primary law of self-preservation, which is antecedent to all government, or in the supremacy of conscience, which must always obey God rather than men. A king may become insane and murder his subjects, but the first principles of nature justify their resort to force in self-protection (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:9, 20). The king may command his subjects to practice idolatry. In that case, if the Christian cannot resist, he must die.
III. POLITICAL DUTY IN THE CASE OF CHRISTIANS INCLUDES MORE THAN SUBMISSION. They must be "ready toward every good work." As the magistrate is appointed to be a terror to evil-doers and the praise of them that do well (Romans 13:3), the disposition of Christian subjects to every good work has a tendency to make government easy and light. - T.C.
governed. Lawlessness always ends in anarchy, misery, and desolation.
I. LEARN SUBJECTION TO THE STATE. This is beautiful. Restraint is better than the liberty of licentiousness. Compare a river that keeps its bounds to one that overflows its banks. Men are justified in resisting tyrannies, whether of autocrats or mobs; but they must not forget that all well-ordered societies exist only by subjection.
II. LEARN SELF-CONQUEST IN YOURSELVES. Controlling the tongue, avoiding all bitterness and "brawling," and showing that there is a magistracy of the heart as well as a magistracy of the state. - W.M.S.
searching have been the apostle's charges to Titus respecting the teachers of the Church, their doctrine and their life; very particular have been his directions, his warnings and exhortations, to men and women of different ages, on the subject of their home life. But with the exception of a slight digression, in the case of a slave to a pagan master, his words had been written with a reference generally to Christian life among Christians. But there was then a great life outside the little Christian world: how were the people of Christ to regulate their behavior in their dealings with the vast pagan world outside? Patti goes to the root of the matter at once when he says, 'Put them in mind,' etc." We have here duty in a threefold relation - in relation to civil government, in relation to general society, and in relation to moral self. Here is duty -
I. IN RELATION TO CIVIL GOVERNMENT. "Put them in mind to be subject [in subjection] to principalities [rulers] and powers [authorities], to obey magistrates [to be obedient]." It is here implied, and fully taught elsewhere (Romans 13:1-7), that civil government is of Divine appointment. "There is no power but of God," says Paul. That the principle of civil government is Divine is not only revealed but implied in the very constitution of society.
1. Man's social tendencies indicate it. Some men are royal in their instincts and powers, and are evidently made to rule. Others are servile, cringing in tendency, feeble in faculty, and made to obey. There is a vast gradation of instinct and power in human society, and it is an eternal principle in God's government that the lesser shall serve the greater.
2. Man's social exigencies indicate it. Every community, to be kept in order, must have a recognized head - one who shall be allowed to rule, either by his own will or the organized will of the whole. Hence man, in his most savage state, has some recognized chief. The principle of civil government is, therefore, manifestly of Divine appointment. We may rest assured that, civil government being of Divine appointment, it is for good and good only. Indeed, we learn that Paul's idea of a civil ruler is that he is a "minister of God to thee for good." But what is good? The answer in which all will agree is this - obedience to the Divine will. What is the standard of virtue? Not the decree of an autocrat, not public sentiment, even when organized into constitutional law; but the will of God. "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." The civil government, therefore, that does not harmonize with his will, as revealed by Christ the infallible Logos, is not the government of which Paul speaks. Taking Christ as the Revealer of God's will, we may infer that the infringement of human rights is not in accordance with the will of God, and therefore not good. Also that the promotion of injustice, impurity, and error is not according to the will of God, and therefore not good. The Bible never teaches, nor does moral philosophy, that we are bound to obey laws that are not righteous, to honor persons that are not honorworthy. If we are commanded to honor the king, the precept implies that the king's character is worthy of his office; Some kings it is religious to despise and loathe. If we are commanded to honor our parents, the language implies that our parents are honorworthy. Some parents display attributes of character suited to awaken the utmost hatred and contempt. In like manner we are commanded to be subject to the higher powers, and the injunction implies that what these higher powers enact is right. The obligation of obedience is ever dependent upon the righteousness of the command.
II. IN RELATION TO GENERAL SOCIETY. There are three duties here indicated which every man owes to his fellows.
1. Usefulness. "Be ready to every good work." The law of universal benevolence which we see in nature, our own instincts and faculties, as well as the written Word, teach us that man was made to serve his brother; the grand end of each is to promote the happiness of others. No man fulfills his mission or realizes his destiny who is not an altruist, who is not ever actuated by regard for the happiness of others. Altruism is God's social law and is binding on every one; disregard to it is the source of all social disorders and miseries. "The soul of the truly benevolent man does not seem to reside much in its own body. Its life, to a great extent, is a mere reflex of the lives of others. It migrates into their bodies, and, identifying its existence with their existence, finds its own happiness in increasing and prolonging their pleasures, in extinguishing or solacing their pains."
2. Charitableness. "To speak evil of no man." "This," says a modern author, "imports more than to speak evil in the ordinary sense: it is to act the part of a reviler or slanderer; and when used of conduct from one man towards another, always betokens the exercise of a very bitter and malignant spirit. Titus was to charge the Christians of Crete to give no exhibition towards any one of such a spirit, nor to show a quarrelsome disposition, but, on the contrary, to cultivate a mild, placable, and gentle temper." There are evils of some sort or other attaching to all men, and in some men they are of the most hideous and heinous character. To ignore them, if possible, would be wrong; to feel them is natural to the pure, and to denounce them is right. But to speak of them before others, to parade them before the eyes of others, argues a base and malignant nature. Should occasion require us to speak of them, it should be in the saddest tones of tenderness, and even with compassionate indignation.
3. Courteousness. "To be no brawlers [not to be contentious], but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men." How much there is in society, how much in every department of life - mercantile, mechanical, and mental - one meets with to annoy and irritate, especially those fated with an irascible nature. Still, amidst the strongest provocations, courtesy is our duty, yes, and our dignity too.
III. IN RELATION TO OUR MORAL SELF. The apostle urges the duty of forbearance to what was wrong in government and society, by reminding them of the wrong in their own past lives. "We ourselves also were sometimes foolish " - we had no proper understanding of the true. "Disobedient" - indisposed to do what is right. "Deceived" - swerving from the true mode of life. "Serving divers lusts and pleasures " - slaves of impure passions, reveling in the sensual and the gross. "Living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another " - we once spent our days in the atmosphere of hate and malign passions. It is a duty which every man owes to himself to remember all the wrong of his past life - remember it:
1. That he may be charitable towards others.
2. That he may be stimulated to efforts of self-improvement.
3. That he may adore the forbearance of God in his past dealings.
4. That he may devoutly appreciate the morally redemptive agency of Christ.
5. That he may realize the necessity of seeking the moral restoration of others. Two things may be inferred from Paul's language concerning the past moral condition of himself and others.
(1) The possibility of the moral improvement of souls. The rough stone can be polished, the unfertile soil can be made fertile, the wilderness can blossom as the rose.
(2) The obligation of the moral improvement of souls.
CONCLUSION. Let us find out our duty and follow it, through storm as well as sunshine, even unto death. "After all," says Canon Kingsley, "what is speculation to practice? What does God require of us but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him? The longer I live this seems to me more important, and all other questions less so. If we can but live the simple, right life, do the work that's nearest, though it's dull at whiles, helping, when we meet them, lame dogs over stiles." In the realization of our duty is our strength, our nobleness, our heaven. "Yet do thy work: it shall succeed. In thine or in another's day; And if denied the victor's raced, Thou shalt not lack the toilet's pay. "Then faint not, falter not, nor plead Thy weakness: truth itself is strong; The lion's strength, the eagle's speed, Are not alone vouchsafed to wrong." (Whittier.) D.T.
I. THEY MUST NOT BE REVILERS. "To speak evil of no man."
1. What evils spring from the wrong use of the tongue! "It is an unruly evil" (James 3:8).
2. If the evil we speak of others is false, we are slanderers; if it is true, we sin against charity. It usually betokens a malignant spirit.
3. It is to forget the example of Christ - "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again;" and the precepts of Christ, who taught us "to love our enemies." Let Christians, therefore, guard their tongues, and let their words be few and well-ordered.
II. THEY MUST NOT BE CONTENTIOUS. "No brawlers."
1. Such a disposition mars the influence of Christian people.
2. It is inconsistent with the spirit of him who did not strive, nor was his voice heard in the streets.
3. It leads to unseemly retaliations from the world, to the dishonor of Christ.
III. THEY MUST BE FORBEARING. "But gentle." It suggests the idea of giving way, of taking wrong rather than of revenging the injuries we receive.
IV. THEY MUST BE MEEK TO ALL MEN. "Showing all meekness to all men."
1. Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22.)
2. It is precious in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:4.)
3. It is a characteristic of true wisdom. (James 3:17.)
4. It is necessary to a Christian walk. (Ephesians 4:1, 2.)
I. HUMAN NATURE DEPICTED AS TO ITS MORE INWARD CHARACTER. "For we ourselves" were once foolish.
1. It is foolish. As wisdom is the choice of proper means of attaining our ends, so folly must be the direct contrary.
(1) The fool despises instruction and wisdom, and hates knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, 22).
(2) He walks in the darkness of a false education (Ecclesiastes 2:14).
(3) He is self-sufficient and self-confident (Proverbs 14:8, 16).
(4) He is a self-deceiver (Proverbs 14:8).
(5) He makes a mock at sin (Proverbs 14:9).
2. It is disobedient. The word implies that the root of all true obedience is faith. Human nature is without faith, and is therefore disobedient.
(1) Disobedience forfeits God's favor (1 Samuel 13:14).
(2) Provokes his anger (Psalm 78:10, 40).
(3) Forfeits promised blessings (Joshua 5:6).
(4) Brings curse (Deuteronomy 11:28).
(5) There are many warnings against it (Jeremiah 12:17).
3. It is deceived. Because it is separated from Christ, who is the Light of the world. It is easily led astray by all sorts of delusion. It has no pole-star or compass to steer by, and is therefore in constant danger of shipwreck. It is deceived by itself as well as by the devil.
II. HUMAN NATURE DEPICTED AS TO ITS MORE OUTWARD CHARACTER.
1. Its service was impure. "Serving divers lusts and pleasures." This was the character of heathen life in an island like Crete, where the propensities of human nature would have free scope. The pleasures of this life were of a sinful and debasing nature. Such a service was bondage (Romans 6:6, 16; Romans 16:18).
2. It implied a life of malice.
(1) The wicked speak with malice (3 John 1:10).
(2) Are filled with it (Romans 1:29).
(3) Visit the saints with it (Psalm 83:3).
(4) God requites it (Isaiah 10:14).
3. It implied a life of envy.
(1) Envy is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:21).
(2) The wicked are full of it (Romans 1:29).
(3) It leads to every evil work (James 3:16).
(4) It is hurtful to its possessors (Job 5:2).
(5) It will be punished (Psalm 106:16, 17).
4. It implies hatefulness. "Hateful;" that is, possessing the qualities that excite hatred and dislike.
5. It implies a return of hate for hate. "Hating one another."
(1) It is characteristic of those without love to God (1 John 2:9, 11).
(2) It is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:21).
(3) It stirs up strife (Proverbs 10:12).
(4) It embitters life (Proverbs 15:17).
(5) It will be punished (Psalm 34:21). - T.C.
I. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS AND LOVE TO MAN. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love to man appeared."
1. The time of this manifestation. The expression implies a definite point of time. It was "the fullness of the time" (Galatians 4:4).
(1) It was the period fixed in the Divine purpose from eternity.
(2) It was the time of the probation of the Jews, ending in the most awful series of judgments that ever befell a people.
(3) It was a time when the Greek tongue and the Roman arms made a highway for the gospel.
(4) It was a time when pagan thought had exhausted every experiment in the art of living, to find that all was "vanity and vexation of spirit."
(5) Yet it is not implied that the manifestation of Divine kindness had not been enjoyed already in pre-Christian ages; for it was in virtue of this manifestation, in the fullness of times, that God's love flowed forth in blessing during Jewish ages.
2. The nature of this manifestation.
(1) It was a manifestation of kindness and love to man.
(a) Kindness is the more general term, unlimited, undefined, all-embracing, touching the whole creation.
(b) Love to man is his special and distinguishing love to the children of men as distinct from angels.
(2) It was the love of the Father - "our Savior-God."
(a) The title" Savior," so often given to the Son, is here given to the Father, because he is the Fountain from whence flow all the streams of Divine mercy. The Son is "the Unspeakable of the Father;" for he "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). The atonement was not, therefore, the cause, but the effect, of the Father's love.
(b) This fact, exhibiting the mine of power and love in the Creator, greatly enhances the certainty and glory of redemption.
(c) It is our Father who is our Savior. Mark the clear relationship, in spite of all our waywardness and sin.
II. THE METHOD OF THIS DIVINE MANIFESTATION. "Not by works of righteousness we did, but according to his mercy he saved us." The Divine goodness and love were manifested in salvation. "He saved us." This salvation, procured by the obedience and death of Christ, has its origin, not in works of righteousness done by man, as entitling him to it, but solely in Divine mercy. Mark the conditions and the means of this salvation.
1. The conditions of salvation.
(1) Not by works of righteousness.
(b) If we were saved in this way, Christ should have died in vain (Galatians 2:21). His death would have been quite unnecessary.
(c) Experience proves the impossibility of our being able to do the works of perfect righteousness (Romans 3:23).
(2) The condition of salvation is Divine mercy. "According to his mercy."
(a) God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
(c) It was through the tender mercy of God that Christ, as the Dayspring from on high, visited the earth (Luke 1:78).
(d) The pardon of sin is according to the multitude of his tender mercies (Psalm 51:1, 2).
(e) Eternal life is the effect of God's mercy.
2. The means of salvation. "By the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he poured on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." The Greek word is "laver," as if to show that the reference is to baptism.
(1) The washing of regeneration refers to the beginning of the spiritual process in the soul, as it is the Spirit who regenerates the soul. There is nothing in the passage to support the doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
(a) The connection of baptism with regeneration no more proves that all the baptized are regenerated than the expression, "we are sanctified by the truth," implies that the truth in all cases has this effect, or that "the gospel of your salvation" implies that salvation always follows the hearing of the gospel.
(b) As a matter of fact, believers in apostolic times were regenerated before they were baptized; therefore they were not regenerated by baptism. This was the case with the three thousand at Pentecost (Acts 2.), with Lydia and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16.).
(c) There is no necessary connection between baptism and regeneration, for Simon Magus was baptized without being regenerated (Acts 8:9-24).
(d) It is strange that, much as John speaks of regeneration in his First Epistle, he never connects baptism with it. He says that those who are "born of God" do righteousness, and overcome the world. Why should he mention these tests at all, when he might have known that, had they been baptized, they must have been regenerated?
(e) The Apostle Peter shows us the meaning of baptism when he says that "baptism doth now save us" (1 Peter 3:21). How? "Not by putting away the filth of the flesh " - which is easily done by the external application of water - " but the answer of a good conscience toward God; "as if to show that such an answer, representing the reality and sincerity of our profession, was separable from the putting away of the faith of the flesh.
(f) The expression, "baptism for the remission of sins," does not imply that baptism is the cause of their remission, for in all the cases referred to the remission had already taken place before baptism (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). The baptism was a sign or seal of a remission already accomplished. Saul was a true believer before Ananias said to him, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the Name of the Lord." Besides, it was by calling on the Name of the Lord that his sins were washed away. This is the force of the Greek construction.
(2) The renewing of the Holy Ghost refers to the continuance of the spiritual process in the soul. Thus "the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). This points to progressive sanctification.
(a) The renewed are the children of God, the heirs of the eternal
(b) The effects are the fruits of righteousness in our life and conversation. Thus there is a firm connection between the regeneration and the renewal, which cannot be said of baptism and renewal. Christendom is baptized, yet how little grace is manifest among its millions!
(c) The source of this renewal is the Holy Ghost, who has been poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. It was in virtue of the mediatorship that the Spirit was given, and still works in the Church of God. For
(a) all salvation is by him;
(b) the grace of regeneration is out of his fullness;
(c) the gift of God, which is eternal life, is through him.
III. THE END OF THIS MANIFESTATION OF DIVINE GOODNESS AND LOVE. "That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." God saves us according to his mercy by regeneration; but the first effect of regeneration is faith, and faith is the instrument of our justification. There is no difference in the order of time between regeneration and justification, but regeneration must precede justification in the order of nature. Therefore the apostle here goes upon the order of nature.
1. The nature of justification. It includes' pardon of sin and. acceptance, into God's favor.
2. The ground of justification. "Being justified by his grace.
(1) Not by works;
(2) but by the grace of the Father, who is the Justifier. It is by grace, because
(b) it is by the death of the Son of God.
3. The privileges of justification. "That we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
(1) Eternal life is an inheritance; it is not earned by our obedience and our righteousness; it is a free gift.
(2) We are predestinated to this inheritance in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5, 11).
(3) The grace of adoption, which is linked with our justification, opens the way to our enjoyment of the inheritance.
(4) It is an inheritance which is not yet fully enjoyed; for we are heirs "according to the hope of eternal life."
(a) There are "things hoped for" held out to us through faith (Hebrews 11:1).
(b) "It doth not yet appear what we shall be;" but when "we shall be forever with the Lord," we shall actually possess and enjoy our inheritance. - T.C.
salvation. This includes the restoration of the soul to the knowledge, the image, the fellowship, and the service of the great God. The passage leads us to offer two remarks on the words.
I. THAT WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WE CANNOT PERFORM, AND THEREFORE THEY CANNOT SAVE US. "Not by works of [done in] righteousness which we have done [which we did ourselves]." What are righteous works? Condensely defined, works inspired ever by supreme sympathy with the supremely good. No other works, whatever their sacred semblance, whatever their popular appreciation, are righteous. Now, such righteous works we cannot render in our unrenewed state, because we have lost this affection, and the loss of this is the death and damnation of the soul.
1. Could we render such works they would save us. They secure the blessedness of the unfallen angels.
2. Without rendering such works we cannot be saved. Moral salvation consists in holiness of character. Character is made up of habits, habits made up of acts, and the acts, to be of any worth, must be righteous.
II. THAT REDEMPTIVE MERCY HAS BEEN VOUCHSAFED TO US, AND THEREFORE WE MAY BE SAVED. "According to his mercy he saved us." Observe:
1. The special work of this redemptive mercy. What is the work?
(1) Cleansing. "The washing of regeneration," or the "laver of regeneration," as some render it. Sin is represented as a moral defiler, and deliverance from sin, therefore, is a cleansing.
(2) Renewal. "Renewing." Sin is represented as death, and deliverance from it is, therefore, a quickening, a renewal.
2. The Divine Administrator of this redemptive mercy. "The Holy Ghost." No agency but that of God can either morally cleanse or renew. That Divine Agent which of old brooded over the face of the deep can alone morally recreate.
3. The glorious Medium of this redemptive mercy. "Through Jesus Christ our Savior." Christ our Savior is the Medium. Through him the Spirit came, by him the Spirit works, in him the Spirit is abundant.
4. The sublime result of this redemptive mercy. "That being justified by his grace, we should [might] be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." The word "justified" means to be made right - right in heart, right in life, right in relation to self, the universe, and God. What is it to be made right? To be put in possession of that spirit of love to God which is the spring of all "works of righteousness." This rectitude:
(1) Inspires with the highest hope. "Hope of eternal life." What a blessing is hope! But the "hope of eternal life," what hope like this?
(2) Inaugurates the highest relationship. "Heirs." We are "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ." - D.T.
I. SALVATION IS NOT A SUPERSTRUCTURE OF MAN'S. "Not according to works of righteousness which we have done." Good actions do not make a good man; it is the good man that makes the good actions. If man is to be saved, he must have new life from within. Mercy meets his case. God's pity and compassion are seen in this. He gives the new heart that makes the new life, and so he saves us from self and sin.
II. SALVATION IS A DUAL WORRY. This is" the washing of regeneration," the redemption that comes to the heart through the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. But the removal of the stain of sin is not all. The heart, however clean, is not to be a blank. A new likeness is to be brought out. So there is to be the "renewing of the Holy Ghost." We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus. God's likeness comes out again in the soul. We are made holy with God's holiness, and beautiful with God's beauty. - W.M.S.
I. THE MORAL RECTIFICATION OF THE SOUL. "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." This means, I presume, not that being pronounced right, but that being made right. Forensic justification is an old theological fiction. Those who have held it and who still hold it have ideas of God incongruous and debased. They regard him as such a one as themselves. "To be justified" here means to be made right. There are three ideas here suggested in relation to this moral rectification of the soul.
1. All souls in their unrenewed state are unrighteous. We do not require any special revelation from God to give us this information. Man's moral wrongness of soul is revealed in every page of human history, is developed in every scene of human life, and is a matter of painful consciousness to every man. We have all "erred and strayed from the right like lost sheep."
2. Restoration to righteousness is the merciful work of God. "Being justified by his grace" - "his grace," his boundless, sovereign, unmerited love. Who but God can put a morally disordered soul right? To do this is to resuscitate the dead, to roll back the deep flowing tide of human sympathies into a new channel and a new direction, to arrest a wandering planet and plant it in a new orbit. He does it and he alone. He does it by the revelation of his Son, by the dispensations of life, the operations of conscience. "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."
3. There is the heirship of eternal good. "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Eternal life must mean something more than endless existence; for mere endless existence, under certain conditions, might be an object of dread rather than hope. It might mean perfect goodness. Goodness is eternal, for God is eternal Goodness is blessedness, for God is blessed. A virtuous hope is not hope for happiness, but a hope for perfect goodness. He whose soul is made morally right becomes an heir to all goodness. This heirship is not something added to this inner righteousness. It is in it as the plant is in the seed. Man's heaven is in righteousness of soul and nowhere else. No man can be happy who is merely treated as righteous if he is not righteous. Such treatment, even by God himself, would only enhance his misery. To be treated as righteous if you are not righteous, is an outrage on justice and a revulsion to moral nature.
II. THE ESSENTIAL FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUE FAITH. "And they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." The basis of all true faith is faith in God. In him, not in it. In him, not in men's representations of him. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is." To believe in him implies:
1. To believe in what he is in himself. The only absolute existence, without beginning, without succession, without end, who is in all and through all, the all-mighty, the all-wise, the all-good Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This faith in him is the most philosophic, the most universal, and the most blessed and ennobling faith.
2. To believe in what he is to us - the Father, the Proprietor, and the Life. "Not willing that any should perish." This is the faith that is enjoined upon us everywhere in the Old Testament and the New; not faith in infallible propositions, in infinite personality; not faith in man's ideas of God, but in God himself, as the Source of all life, the Fountain of all virtue, the Standard of all excellence. "Trust in him that liveth forever."
"Not in priesthoods, not on creed, Human systems, what are they? Firmly fix it, Lord, on thee, Then though earthly things depart, III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE. "To maintain good works." What are good works? 1. Works that have right motives. Works that society may consider good, that Churches may chant as good, are utterly worthless unless they spring from supreme love to the Creator. "Though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." 2. Works that have a right standard. It is conceivable that man may have a right motive and yet his work be bad. Was it not something like this with Saul of Tarsus when he was persecuting the saints? We make two remarks in relation to these good works. (1) The maintenance of these works requires strenuous and constant effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works." There are so many forces within and without us to check and frustrate the maintenance of good works, that we require to be constantly on our guard to see that our motives are right. It may be that good works flow from angelic natures as waters from a fountain, as sunbeams from the sun; but it is not so with us. Their light in us is the light of the lamp, and to be clear and useful there must be constant trimming and feeding with fresh oil; for the streams to be pure, the fountain must be kept clean. We must "watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation." (2) The great work of the Christian ministry is to stimulate this effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God," etc. In four other texts of Scripture we have "a faithful saying." The first is 1 Timothy 1:15, "That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The second is 1 Timothy 4:8, 9, "This is a faithful saying, Godliness is profitable unto all things." The third is 2 Timothy 2:11-13, "It is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him." The fourth is our text, "This is a faithful saying." What? That God makes men morally right by his grace. This is an undoubted fact. That God is the essential Foundation of all true faith. Who can question this? Or that the supreme purpose of moral existence is to maintain "good works." Who will gainsay this? Or that all ministers of the gospel should faithfully and constantly exhort their hearers to maintain good works. These, indeed, are all faithful sayings, and should be practically realized by every man. - D.T.
Human systems, what are they? Firmly fix it, Lord, on thee, Then though earthly things depart, III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE. "To maintain good works." What are good works? 1. Works that have right motives. Works that society may consider good, that Churches may chant as good, are utterly worthless unless they spring from supreme love to the Creator. "Though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." 2. Works that have a right standard. It is conceivable that man may have a right motive and yet his work be bad. Was it not something like this with Saul of Tarsus when he was persecuting the saints? We make two remarks in relation to these good works. (1) The maintenance of these works requires strenuous and constant effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works." There are so many forces within and without us to check and frustrate the maintenance of good works, that we require to be constantly on our guard to see that our motives are right. It may be that good works flow from angelic natures as waters from a fountain, as sunbeams from the sun; but it is not so with us. Their light in us is the light of the lamp, and to be clear and useful there must be constant trimming and feeding with fresh oil; for the streams to be pure, the fountain must be kept clean. We must "watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation." (2) The great work of the Christian ministry is to stimulate this effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God," etc. In four other texts of Scripture we have "a faithful saying." The first is 1 Timothy 1:15, "That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The second is 1 Timothy 4:8, 9, "This is a faithful saying, Godliness is profitable unto all things." The third is 2 Timothy 2:11-13, "It is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him." The fourth is our text, "This is a faithful saying." What? That God makes men morally right by his grace. This is an undoubted fact. That God is the essential Foundation of all true faith. Who can question this? Or that the supreme purpose of moral existence is to maintain "good works." Who will gainsay this? Or that all ministers of the gospel should faithfully and constantly exhort their hearers to maintain good works. These, indeed, are all faithful sayings, and should be practically realized by every man. - D.T.
Firmly fix it, Lord, on thee, Then though earthly things depart, III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE. "To maintain good works." What are good works? 1. Works that have right motives. Works that society may consider good, that Churches may chant as good, are utterly worthless unless they spring from supreme love to the Creator. "Though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." 2. Works that have a right standard. It is conceivable that man may have a right motive and yet his work be bad. Was it not something like this with Saul of Tarsus when he was persecuting the saints? We make two remarks in relation to these good works. (1) The maintenance of these works requires strenuous and constant effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works." There are so many forces within and without us to check and frustrate the maintenance of good works, that we require to be constantly on our guard to see that our motives are right. It may be that good works flow from angelic natures as waters from a fountain, as sunbeams from the sun; but it is not so with us. Their light in us is the light of the lamp, and to be clear and useful there must be constant trimming and feeding with fresh oil; for the streams to be pure, the fountain must be kept clean. We must "watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation." (2) The great work of the Christian ministry is to stimulate this effort. "I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God," etc. In four other texts of Scripture we have "a faithful saying." The first is 1 Timothy 1:15, "That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The second is 1 Timothy 4:8, 9, "This is a faithful saying, Godliness is profitable unto all things." The third is 2 Timothy 2:11-13, "It is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him." The fourth is our text, "This is a faithful saying." What? That God makes men morally right by his grace. This is an undoubted fact. That God is the essential Foundation of all true faith. Who can question this? Or that the supreme purpose of moral existence is to maintain "good works." Who will gainsay this? Or that all ministers of the gospel should faithfully and constantly exhort their hearers to maintain good works. These, indeed, are all faithful sayings, and should be practically realized by every man. - D.T.
III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE. "To maintain good works." What are good works?
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE. "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly." He refers here to the sum of the doctrine of Christian salvation contained in the three preceding verses.
1. The doctrine of salvation is worthy of all acceptance. "This is a faithful saying." This formula, contained only in the pastoral Epistles, points to some weighty truth which had become a watchword among the Christian brotherhood of early times.
(1) There is a tendency in our days to decry dogma. The apostle always insists on its importance as the root-principle and moving spring of morality.
(2) The saying implies that the heavenly inheritance just spoken of is no figment of the imagination, but ought to be accepted as one of the commonplaces of Christian belief.
2. It ought to be confidently put forth at all times by Christian ministers. "And these things I will that thou affirm constantly." This was the strain of all apostolic preaching, and it ought to be ours also. There is no true practical preaching which does not involve the exhibition of God's character and our relations to him in grace - the glorious Person of the Mediator in his various offices, and the work of the Holy Ghost in applying Divine salvation. "These things are good and profitable to men; ' that is, these doctrines, for they lead to good works, and benefit men spiritually and morally.
II. THE DESIGN OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE. "In order that they which have believed God might be careful to maintain good works." The faithful saying of the apostle was not the necessity of good works, but the necessity of the doctrines of grace being preached as the only method of producing good works.
1. The apostle seems to anticipate a tendency of later times to exalt morality at the expense of faith. The doctrines, he says, are the true fountains from which all good works flow. These are, therefore, probably called doctrines according to godliness (Titus 1:1); the wholesome doctrine (Titus 1:9).
2. He sets forth the duty of all believers to be careful about good works. It ought to be a matter of earnest striving, because
(1) God is glorified thereby (John 15:8);
(2) because they are means of blessing to man (James 1:25);
(3) because God remembers them (Hebrews 6:9, 10);
(4) because they will be an evidence of faith in the judgment (Matthew 25:34-40).
3. He insists on their maintaining good works. The word signifies that they must be excelling in them.
(1) They must, therefore, be zealous of them (Titus 2:14);
(2) furnished unto them (2 Timothy 3:17);
(4) ready for all good works (Titus 3:1);
(5) provoking each other unto them (Hebrews 10:24). - T.C.
I. PERMANENCE. "Maintain." Men weary of their efforts after the attainment of a Divine ideal. Holiness is not a gift, it is a growth; and a growth, not like that of a plant, which is unconscious, but a growth that involves obedience. Maintain "works" - give them continuance, by aliment and nurture.
II. COMPREHENSIVENESS. "Works." For life covers a large sphere. We are apt to forget that Christianity covers all spheres - the civil, social, moral, spiritual. For ages the Church was merely ecclesiastical. "The religious" were such as shut themselves out from the world, deeming its pursuits and duties below the dignity of a spiritual religion, which made the soul and its feelings and devotions everything. Now we have moved into a wider inheritance; we believe in the Christianization of common life; the consecration of art and science and common duty to Christian ends. We are simply to ask if the work given us to do is a good work, and we are to be earnest in "every good work." And we have seen that the tree must first be made good; for it is "the good man that, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things." - W.M.S.
I. THE THINGS WHICH ARE TO BE PLACED OUTSIDE THE SPHERE OF MINISTERIAL THOUGHT AND CONCERN.
1. Foolish questions. Questions not easily answered, yet if answered without practical bearing upon Christian life. Such were many of the Jewish discussions about the oral Law, the nature of God and the angels, the power of the Name Jehovah. In Christian times papists have discussed for a whole century "which side of Jesus was pierced by the spear?" Such are "foolish questions."
2. Genealogies. Jerome tells us the Jews were as well acquainted with the genealogies from Adam to Zerubbabel as with their own names. It is possible that the Jewish Christians attached great importance to their family registers. The genealogies, however, are significantly linked by the apostle with fables.
3. Contentions and strivings about the Law. There were many disputed and disputable points in the Law, especially respecting the authority and confirmation of the commandments (Titus 1:14).
II. THE ATTITUDE OF THE MINISTER TOWARD SUCH THINGS. "Avoid them."
1. This implies that he is not even to discuss them, on account of their utter frivolousness.
2. The reason is that they are "unprofitable and vain," and therefore exactly opposed to the things "good and profitable to men." The apostle would deliver all ministers from such folly and trifling, by placing before them Jesus Christ, the one glorious Object of the Church's love and adoration, leaving questions of another sort to the dead. Such questions had eaten the heart out of Judaism. They must not be allowed in Christianity. - T.C.
I. THE AVOIDANCE OF THE WORTHLESS IN SOCIAL LIFE. "Avoid foolish questions and genealogies." The "questions" and "genealogies" are referred to in 1 Timothy 1:4. The apostle characterizes them as foolish because they were of an utterly impractical nature, and consumed time and powers which were needed for other and better things. "Genealogies as found in the Books of the Pentateuch, and to which wild allegorical interpretations had been assigned. Such purely fanciful meanings had been already developed by Philo, whose religious writings were becoming at this time known and popular in many of the Jewish schools. Such teaching, it allowed in the Christian Churches, Paul saw, would effectually put a stop to the growth of Gentile Christendom. It would inculcate an undue and exaggerated and, for the ordinary Gentile convert, an impossible reverence for Jewish forms and ceremonies." Old was the habit and strong was the tendency of the Hebrews to concern themselves about their ancestry or genealogy. A truly contemptible state of mind, this! What matters it whether we were born of kings or of paupers? "And contentions, and strivings about the Law." The ceremonial law is here meant, evidently - the law concerning meats and drinks and holy days. "For they are unprofitable and vain." How rife in Christendom have been in past ages, and still are, these miserable discussions, which are generated for the most part by the most ignorant and narrow-minded of the human race - mere "unfeathered bipeds" that Christianity has not converted into true manhood. The grand end of every member of the social realm should be "charity, that of a pure heart and of a good conscience." The only true Christianity in social life is altruism.
II. THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF THE PERNICIOUS FROM SOCIAL LIFE. The former class - the irritating disputants about genealogies and ceremonies - are described as "unprofitable and vain." They are a worthless class, doing no good whatever, but otherwise. The class we have here, however, is represented as pernicious, and to be rejected. "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject." The word "heretic" (αἱρετικός) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. All heretics may be divided into three classes.
1. The theoretical unbeliever. They do not believe what others believe to be true and orthodox. Though bigots denounce this as the worst of sins, true wisdom justifies it. It says that uniformity of opinion is an impossibility - an impossibility arising from a variety in the faculties, education, and external circumstances of men. And not only an impossibility, but an inexpediency. Did all men think alike, all minds would sink into a dead monotony. "Every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind." That, therefore, which the Church most fiercely denounces it should encourage and develop. There is more good in honest doubt than in half the creeds.
2. The professional believer. A heretic more execrable know I not than he who every Sunday in the great congregation declares his faith in creeds, and every day, not only ignores them, but denies them in his life. These heretics make our laws, rule our commerce, fill our temples, create wars, and swindle the millions.
3. The practical disbeliever. These are insincere. They do not act according to their innate convictions, their intuitive beliefs. They believe - and they cannot help it - that the greatest Being should have the most reverence, the best Being the most love, the kindest Being the most gratitude; and yet, forsooth, they live lives of irreverence, unlovingness, and ingratitude. These are the worst kind of heretics. And how are they to be treated? They are to be excommunicated. "After the first and second admonition reject." They should be morally ostracized. "Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." They are insincere men, and not to be accepted or continued in the circle of brotherhood. Whilst you have no authority to persecute them or crush them by force, you are bound to treat them as insincere men. Their own conscience condemns; they are self-condemned.
III. THE SUPREMACY OF PURPOSE IN SOCIAL LIFE. In all the changes in social companionship and scene of residence to which the apostle here points, he urges the aiming at one thing, viz. to "maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful." What the "good works" are I have intimated in my remarks on the preceding verses. They are works that have a right motive, a right standard, and a right influence. The grand end in the life of all rational and moral beings should he the maintenance of good works. The apostle intimates that this should be the aim:
1. In all the events of life. He was now dispatching to Titus from his society two dear friends and fellow-workers, Artemas and Tychicus, inviting him to come at once to Nicopolis, where he had, in the use of his discretionary power, determined to remain through the winter. Moreover, he had requested Titus to bring with him Zenas the lawyer and Apollos. Apollos was a man, rot only of distinguished learning and influence, but Paul's intimate friend and fellow-laborer. In all this Paul keeps the one end in view, viz. that they should maintain good works. "Good works," the culmination of all good ideas, good impressions, good emotions, and good resolves. "Show me your faith by your works." In a good character man can alone find his heaven and from good works alone can man produce a good character.
2. In the presiding spirit of life. "All that are with me salute thee," etc. Brotherly love was to animate, direct, and rule all their social movements and activities. - D.T.
A man that is an heretic after a first and second admonition avoid.
I. THE TRUE NATURE OF HIS OFFENSE.
1. It is not a case of fundamental or doctrinal error, such as the words "heretic" and "heresy" came to imply in after-ages. Yet it is a mistake to suppose that separatist ways are not caused by divergences of judgment on some points from the settled belief of the Christian community.
2. It was a case of a turbulent sectary, dissatisfied with the Church, who withdrew from her communion to the disturbance of her peace. He would try to justify his course by a difference of opinion upon matters of doctrine, worship, or organization.
II. THE METHOD OF DEALING WITH THE OFFENDER.
1. He was to receive two admonitions in succession. He was to be twice warned not to pursue his divisive courses; he was not to be contended with, but rebuke was to be employed to recover him from his error.
2. His pride or his ambition would not allow him to yield to admonition, he was to be, not excommunicated - the course adopted by the apostle himself in another case (1 Timothy 1:20); but simply avoided. There must be no intercourse with him. This was a virtual excommunication, for he no longer held the place of a Christian brother.
III. THE JUSTIFICATION OF THIS METHOD. "Knowing that he that is such is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned." The case is an utterly hopeless one. You must have done with the divisive sectary; let him alone.
1. For he is perverted; implying an inward corruption of character, which steels him against all official admonition of the Church.
2. He sinneth. He errs knowingly, for his course has been authoritatively condemned by the messenger of God.
3. He is self-condemned. This does not mean that he consciously acts a part he knows to be wrong, but that he has condemned himself by his own practice, practically consenting by his separation that he is unworthy the fellowship of the Church, and thus justifying the Church in its rejection of him, or that he stands condemned by the Scriptures which he himself accepts as his rule of faith and life. - T.C.
I. A COMMAND FOR TITUS TO JOIN THE APOSTLE AT NICOPOLIS.
1. The apostle needed his services, either at this city in Epirus, where he determined to spend the winter - no doubt in apostolic labors - or to ascertain from him the exact condition of the Church at Crete, or to send him forth on an errand to some of the other Churches.
2. But the place of Titus was not to be left unsupplied. Two brethren, Artemas and Tychicus, were to go to Crete - one altogether unknown by us, but, as he is first mentioned, probably a minister of high distinction and zeal; the other, Tychicus, one of the most esteemed of the apostle's friends (Acts 20:4; Colossians 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:12).
II. A COMMAND FOR TITUS TO HASTEN THE DEPARTURE OF ZENAS AND APOLLOS FROM CRETE. These brethren had been laboring in the Church there, probably, before Titus was left behind by the apostle. Zenas, the lawyer, was probably a Jewish scribe converted to Christianity, who had been acting as an evangelist in Crete. Apollos was the eloquent preacher of Alexandria, and now as always in perfect sympathy with the apostle, though there seemed a rivalry between them at Corinth. The apostle implies that the Cretan Christians were to provide the necessary help for such a journey. - T.C.
I. IT IS AN INJUNCTION TO THE BRETHREN GENERALLY. "Ours also." It is the duty of all believers, sharers in the common faith, and heirs of the grace of life, to learn to do good works.
II. BELIEVERS NEED TO RE TRAINED TO THIS SERVICE. "Let ours also learn." They will learn it from the Scriptures, which tell us what is the good and perfect and acceptable will of God; and from the doctrines of grace, which teach us to follow as an example the Lord Jesus, who went about every day doing good.
III. THESE GOOD WORKS ARE TO HAVE A PRACTICAL BEARING UPON THE WANTS OF OTHERS. They are "for necessary wants."
1. Not to atone for sin, or recommend us as sinners to God's favor.
2. But to glorify God by doing for others what he so abundantly does for us. By adorning the doctrine of Christ by our beneficence; by putting to silence the gainsaying of foolish men, because they see we are "not unfruitful." We are thus seen to be trees of righteousness, bearing all manner of fruits. It is an interesting fact that, in the last inspired teachings of the apostle, he should have eight times enforced the duty of maintaining good works. - T.C.
I. MARK HOW THE EPISTLE, WHICH BEGAN WITH THE FAITH OF GOD'S ELECT, ENDS WITH GRACE AND LOVE.
II. MARK THE CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS ESTABLISHED BY GRACE BETWEEN THE WIDELY SCATTERED MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. They are one holy, happy family, united by love. The threefold repetition of the word "all" suggests the deep unity of the body of Christ, in spite of its inward distractions and errors and sins.
III. THE SALUTATION IMPLIES THAT, THOUGH ADDRESSED TO TITUS, THE EPISTLE WAS TO RE COMMUNICATED TO THE WHOLE CHURCH IN CRETE. - T.C.