Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TITUS Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Genuineness.—Clement of Rome quotes it [Epistle to the Corinthians, 2]; Irenæus [Against Heresies, 3.3.4] refers to it as Paul's; Theophilus of Antioch [To Autolychus, 3.14], quotes it as Scripture. Compare Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 1, p. 299]; Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 6].
Time and Place of Writing.—This Epistle seems to have been written from Corinth [Birks], subsequently to his first imprisonment, when Paul was on his way to Nicopolis (Tit 3:12) in Epirus, where he purposed passing the winter, shortly before his martyrdom, A.D. 67. Birks thinks, from the similarity of the Epistle to Titus and First Timothy, that both were written from the same place, Corinth, and at dates not widely apart; First Timothy shortly after coming to Corinth, before he had planned a journey to Epirus, the Epistle to Titus afterwards. The journey to Crete and Ephesus for the bearers of his letters would be easy from Corinth, and he could himself thence easily pass into Epirus. He had shortly before visited Crete, wherein a Church existed (though without due organization), the first foundation of which he may have partly laid at his former visit (Ac 27:7, &c.), when on his way to his first imprisonment at Rome. That he returned to the East after his first imprisonment appears most probable from Php 2:24; Phm 22. However, there may have been seeds of Christianity sown in Crete, even before his first visit, by the Cretans who heard Peter's preaching on Pentecost (Ac 2:11).
Occasion of Writing.—Corrupt elements soon showed themselves in the Cretan Church, similar to those noticed in the Epistles to Timothy, as existing in the Ephesian Church, Judaism, false pretensions to science, and practical ungodliness. Paul, on his late visit, had left Titus in Crete to establish Church government, and ordain presbyters (deacons are not mentioned). Titus had been several times employed by Paul on a mission to the Corinthian Churches, and had probably thence visited Crete, which was within easy reach of Corinth. Hence the suitableness of his selection by the apostle for the superintendence of the Cretan Church. Paul now follows up with instructions by letter those he had already given to Titus in person on the qualifications of elders, and the graces becoming the old, the young, and females, and warns him against the unprofitable speculations so rife in Crete. The national character of the Cretans was low in the extreme, as Epimenides, quoted in Tit 1:12, paints it. Livy [History, 44.45], stigmatizes their avarice; Polybius [Histories, 6.46.9], their ferocity and fraud; and [Histories, 6.47.5], their mendacity, so much so, that "to Cretanize" is another name for to lie: they were included in the proverbial three infamous initials "K" or "C," "Cappadocia, Crete, Cilicia."
Notices of Titus.—It is strange that he is never mentioned by this name in Acts, and there seems none of those mentioned in that book who exactly answers to him. He was a Greek, and therefore a Gentile (Ga 2:1, 3), and converted by Paul (Tit 1:4). He accompanied the apostle on the deputation sent from the Church of Antioch to Jerusalem, to consult the apostles respecting the circumcision of Gentile converts (Ac 15:2); and, agreeably to the decree of the council there, was not circumcised. He was in company with Paul at Ephesus, whence he was sent to Corinth to commence the collection for the Jerusalem saints, and to ascertain the effect of the First Epistle on the Corinthians (2Co 7:6-9; 8:6; 12:18), and there showed an unmercenary spirit. He next proceeded to Macedon, where he joined Paul, who had been already eagerly expecting him at Troas (2Co 2:12, 13, "Titus my brother," 2Co 7:6). He was then employed by the apostle in preparing the collection for the poor saints in Judea, and became the bearer of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (2Co 8:16, 17, 23). Paul in it calls him "my partner and fellow helper concerning you." His being located in Crete (Tit 1:5) was subsequent to Paul's first imprisonment, and shortly before the second, about A.D. 67, ten years subsequent to the last notice of him in Second Corinthians (2Co 12:18), A.D. 57. He probably met Paul, as the apostle desired, at Nicopolis; for his subsequent journey into Dalmatia, thence (or else from Rome, whither he may have accompanied Paul) would be more likely, than from the distant Crete (2Ti 4:10, written subsequently to the Epistle to Titus). In the unsettled state of things then, Titus' episcopal commission in Crete was to be but temporary, Paul requiring the presence of Titus with himself, whenever Artemas or Tychicus should arrive in Crete and set him free from his duties there.
Tradition represents him to have died peaceably in Crete, as archbishop of Gortyna, at an advanced age.
Tit 1:1-16. Address: For What End Titus Was Left in Crete. Qualifications for Elders: Gainsayers in Crete Needing Reproof.
1. servant of God—not found elsewhere in the same connection. In Ro 1:1 it is "servant of Jesus Christ" (Ga 1:10; Php 1:1; compare Ac 16:17; Re 1:1; 15:3). In Ro 1:1, there follows, "called to be an apostle," which corresponds to the general designation of the office first, "servant of God," here, followed by the special description, "apostle of Jesus Christ." The full expression of his apostolic office answers, in both Epistles, to the design, and is a comprehensive index to the contents. The peculiar form here would never have proceeded from a forger.
according to the faith—rather, "for," "with a view to subserve the faith"; this is the object of my apostleship (compare Tit 1:4, 9; Ro 1:5).
the elect—for whose sake we ought to endure all things (2Ti 2:10). This election has its ground, not in anything belonging to those thus distinguished, but in the purpose and will of God from everlasting (2Ti 1:9; Ro 8:30-33; compare Lu 18:7; Eph 1:4; Col 3:12). Ac 13:48 shows that all faith on the part of the elect, rests on the divine foreordination: they do not become elect by their faith, but receive faith, and so become believers, because they are elect.
and the acknowledging of the truth—"and (for promoting) the full knowledge of the truth," that is, the Christian truth (Eph 1:13).
after godliness—that is, which belongs to piety: opposed to the knowledge which has not for its object the truth, but error, doctrinal and practical (Tit 1:11, 16; 1Ti 6:3); or even which has for its object mere earthly truth, not growth in the divine life. "Godliness," or "piety," is a term peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles: a fact explained by the apostle having in them to combat doctrine tending to "ungodliness" (2Ti 2:16; compare Tit 2:11, 12).
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
2. In hope of eternal life—connected with the whole preceding sentence. That whereon rests my aim as an apostle to promote the elect's faith and full knowledge of the truth, is, "the hope of eternal life" (Tit 2:13; 3:7; Ac 23:6; 24:15; 28:20).
that cannot lie—(Ro 3:4; 11:29; Heb 6:18).
promised before the world began—a contracted expression for "purposed before the world began (literally, 'before the ages of time'), and promised actually in time," the promise springing from the eternal purpose; as in 2Ti 1:9, the gift of grace was the result of the eternal purpose "before the world began."
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
3. in due times—Greek, "in its own seasons," the seasons appropriate to it, and fixed by God for it (Ac 1:7).
manifested—implying that the "promise," Tit 1:2, had lain hidden in His eternal purpose heretofore (compare Col 1:26; 2Ti 1:9, 10).
his word—equivalent to "eternal life" (Tit 1:2; Joh 5:24; 6:63; 17:3, 17).
through preaching—Greek, "in preaching," of rather as Alford (see on 2Ti 4:17), "in the (Gospel) proclamation (the thing preached, the Gospel) with which I was entrusted."
according to—in pursuance of (compare 1Ti 1:1).
of God our Saviour—rather as Greek, "of our Saviour God." God is predicated of our Saviour (compare Jude 25; Lu 1:47). Also Ps 24:5; Isa 12:2; 45:15, 21, Septuagint. Applied to Jesus, Tit 1:4; Tit 2:13; 3:6; 2Ti 1:10.
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
4. Titus, mine own son—Greek, "my genuine child" (1Ti 1:2), that is, converted by my instrumentality (1Co 4:17; Phm 10).
after the common faith—a genuine son in respect to (in virtue of) the faith common to all the people of God, comprising in a common brotherhood Gentiles as well as Jews, therefore embracing Titus a Gentile (2Pe 1:1; Jude 3).
Grace, mercy, and peace—"mercy" is omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts. But one of the best and oldest manuscripts supports it (compare Notes, see on 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2). There are many similarities of phrase in the Pastoral Epistles.
the Lord Jesus Christ—The oldest manuscripts read only "Christ Jesus."
our Saviour—found thus added to "Christ" only in Paul's Pastoral Epistles, and in 2Pe 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:18.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
5. I left thee—"I left thee behind" [Alford] when I left the island: not implying permanence of commission (compare 1Ti 1:3).
in Crete—now Candia.
set in order—rather as Greek, "that thou mightest follow up (the work begun by me), setting right the things that are wanting," which I was unable to complete by reason of the shortness of my stay in Crete. Christianity, doubtless, had long existed in Crete: there were some Cretans among those who heard Peter's preaching on Pentecost (Ac 2:11). The number of Jews in Crete was large (Tit 1:10), and it is likely that those scattered in the persecution of Stephen (Ac 11:19) preached to them, as they did to the Jews of Cyprus, &c. Paul also was there on his voyage to Rome (Ac 27:7-12). By all these instrumentalities the Gospel was sure to reach Crete. But until Paul's later visit, after his first imprisonment at Rome, the Cretan Christians were without Church organization. This Paul began, and had commissioned (before leaving Crete) Titus to go on with, and now reminds him of that commission.
ordain—rather, "appoint," "constitute."
in every city—"from city to city."
as I … appointed thee—that is, as I directed thee; prescribing as well the act of constituting elders, as also the manner of doing so, which latter includes the qualifications required in a presbyter presently stated. Those called "elders" here are called "bishops" in Tit 1:7. Elder is the term of dignity in relation to the college of presbyters; bishop points to the duties of his office in relation to the flock. From the unsound state of the Cretan Christians described here, we see the danger of the want of Church government. The appointment of presbyters was designed to check idle talk and speculation, by setting forth the "faithful word."
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
6. (Compare Notes, see on 1Ti 3:2-4.) The thing dwelt on here as the requisite in a bishop, is a good reputation among those over whom he is to be set. The immorality of the Cretan professors rendered this a necessary requisite in one who was to be a reprover: and their unsoundness in doctrine also made needful great steadfastness in the faith (Tit 1:9, 13).
having faithful children—that is, believing children. He who could not bring his children to faith, how shall he bring others? [Bengel]. Alford explains, "established in the faith."
not accused—not merely not riotous, but "not (even) accused of riot" ("profligacy" [Alford]; "dissolute life" [Wahl]).
unruly—insubordinate; opposed to "in subjection" (1Ti 3:4).
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
7. For … must—The emphasis is on "must." The reason why I said "blameless," is the very idea of a "bishop" (an overseer of the flock; he here substitutes for "presbyter" the term which expresses his duties) involves the necessity for such blamelessness, if he is to have influence over the flock.
steward of God—The greater the master is, the greater the virtues required in His servant [Bengel], (1Ti 3:15); the Church is God's house, over which the minister is set as a steward (Heb 3:2-6; 1Pe 4:10, 17). Note: ministers are not merely Church officers, but God's stewards; Church government is of divine appointment.
not self-willed—literally, "self-pleasing"; unaccommodating to others; harsh, the opposite of "a lover of hospitality" (Tit 1:6); so Nabal (1Sa 25:1-44); self-loving and imperious; such a spirit would incapacitate him for leading a willing flock, instead of driving.
not given to wine—(See on 1Ti 3:3; 1Ti 3:8).
not given to filthy lucre—not making the Gospel a means of gain (1Ti 3:3, 8). In opposition to those "teaching for filthy lucre's sake" (Tit 1:11; 1Ti 6:5; 1Pe 5:2).
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
8. lover of hospitality—needed especially in those days (Ro 12:13; 1Ti 3:2; Heb 13:2; 1Pe 4:9; 3Jo 5). Christians travelling from one place to another were received and forwarded on their journey by their brethren.
lover of good men—Greek, "a lover of (all that is) good," men or things (Php 4:8, 9).
sober—towards one's self; "discreet"; "self-restrained" [Alford], (see on 1Ti 2:9).
holy—towards God (see on 1Th 2:10).
temperate—"One having his passions, tongue, hand and eyes, at command" [Chrysostom]; "continent."
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
9. Holding fast—Holding firmly to (compare Mt 6:24; Lu 16:13).
the faithful—true and trustworthy (1Ti 1:15).
word as he has been taught—literally, "the word (which is) according to the teaching" which he has received (compare 1Ti 4:6, end; 2Ti 3:14).
by—Translate as Greek, "to exhort in doctrine (instruction) which is sound"; sound doctrine or instruction is the element IN which his exhorting is to have place … On "sound" (peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles), see 1Ti 1:10; 6:3.
convince—rather, "reprove" [Alford], (Tit 1:13).
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
and—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. "There are many unruly persons, vain talkers, and deceivers"; "unruly" being predicated of both vain talkers and deceivers.
vain talkers—opposed to "holding fast the faithful word" (Tit 1:9). "Vain jangling" (1Ti 1:6); "foolish questions, unprofitable and vain" (Tit 3:9). The source of the evil was corrupted Judaism (Tit 1:14). Many Jews were then living in Crete, according to Josephus; so the Jewish leaven remained in some of them after conversion.
deceivers—literally, "deceivers of the minds of others" (Greek, Ga 6:3).
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
11. mouths … stopped—literally, "muzzled," "bridled" as an unruly beast (compare Ps 32:9).
who—Greek, "(seeing that they are) such men as"; or "inasmuch as they" [Ellicott].
subvert … houses—"overthrowing" their "faith" (2Ti 2:18). "They are the devil's levers by which he subverts the houses of God" [Theophylact].
for filthy lucre—(1Ti 3:3, 8; 6:5).
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
12. One—Epimenides of Phæstus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise "concerning oracles." Paul also quotes from two other heathen writers, Aratus (Ac 17:28) and Menander (1Co 15:33), but he does not honor them so far as even to mention their names.
of themselves … their own—which enhances his authority as a witness. "To Cretanize" was proverbial for to lie: as "to Corinthianize" was for to be dissolute.
alway liars—not merely at times, as every natural man is. Contrast Tit 1:2, "God that cannot lie." They love "fables" (Tit 1:14); even the heathen poets laughed at their lying assertion that they had in their country the sepulchre of Jupiter.
evil beasts—rude, savage, cunning, greedy. Crete was a country without wild beasts. Epimenides' sarcasm was that its human inhabitants supplied the place of wild beasts.
slow bellies—indolent through pampering their bellies. They themselves are called "bellies," for that is the member for which they live (Ro 16:18; Php 3:19).
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
13. This witness—"This testimony (though coming from a Cretan) is true."
sharply—Gentleness would not reclaim so perverse offenders.
that they—that those seduced by the false teachers may be brought back to soundness in the faith. Their malady is strifes about words and questions (Tit 3:9; 1Ti 6:4).
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
14. Jewish fables—(See on 1Ti 1:4; 1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4). These formed the transition stage to subsequent Gnosticism; as yet the error was but profitless, and not tending to godliness, rather than openly opposed to the faith.
commandments of men—as to ascetic abstinence (Tit 1:15; Mr 7:7-9; Col 2:16, 20-23; 1Ti 4:3).
that turn from the truth—whose characteristic is that they turn away from the truth (2Ti 4:4).
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
15. all things—external, "are pure" in themselves; the distinction of pure and impure is not in the things, but in the disposition of him who uses them; in opposition to "the commandments of men" (Tit 1:14), which forbade certain things as if impure intrinsically. "To the pure" inwardly, that is, those purified in heart by faith (Ac 15:9; Ro 14:20; 1Ti 4:3), all outward things are pure; all are open to, their use. Sin alone touches and defiles the soul (Mt 23:26; Lu 11:41).
nothing pure—either within or without (Ro 14:23).
mind—their mental sense and intelligence.
conscience—their moral consciousness of the conformity or discrepancy between their motives and acts on the one hand, and God's law on the other. A conscience and a mind defiled are represented as the source of the errors opposed in the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti 1:19; 3:9; 6:5).
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
16. They profess—that is, make a profession acknowledging God. He does not deny their theoretical knowledge of God, but that they practically know Him.
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).
reprobate—rejected as worthless when tested (see on Ro 1:28; 1Co 9:27; 2Ti 3:8).