Titus 1:12
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
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(12) One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said.—St. Paul had spoken (Titus 1:10-11) in the severest terms of certain influential members of the Cretan Church; he had even alluded to their disastrous teaching ruining whole families, evidently implying that he had perceived among the Cretans a readiness to welcome a teaching which countenanced a laxer moral tone, the invariable result of perverted doctrine; and now he supports his own condemning words by a reference to a well-known Cretan poet—to one who, according to tradition, was even honoured by them as a god. The verse quoted is an hexameter, written by the famous Epimenides, of Gnossus, in Crete. He flourished some 600 years B.C., and is said to have lived to the strange age of 150 years or more. He appears to have deserved the title of prophet in its fullest sense—Plato speaking of him as a “divine man,” and Cicero coupling him with the Erythæan Sibyl. The first three words were well known, and even used by Callimachus in his hymn to Zeus, “Cretans always liars.” St. Paul’s knowledge of the poem where the verse occurs is one of the several instances which we meet with in his writings indicating his familiarity with profane literature. The quotation, occurring as it does in the midst of an inspired writing, was the occasion of Calvin’s wise, brave words, which style those who decline to avail themselves of the learning and research of profane writers as superstitious. Nothing wise and learned, he says, should be rejected, even though it proceed “ab impiis.”

The Cretians are alway liars.—This terrible estimate of the national Cretan character is amply borne out by the testimony of many profane writers, such as Callimachus, Plato, Polybius, Ovid, &c. The very word “to Cretize” (kretizein), or to play the part of a Cretan, was invented as a word synonymous with “to deceive,” “to utter a lie;” just as corinthiazein. “to play the part of a Corinthian,” signified to commit a still darker moral offence. Some writers suggest that this despicable vice of lying was received as a bequest from the early Phœnician colonists.

Evil beasts.—These words refer to their wild, fierce nature, their ferocity, their love of cruelty.

Slow bellies.—Rather, idle bellies. These terms paint with sharp accuracy another of the evil characteristics of the Cretan peoples—their dull gluttony, their slothful sensuality. The words are used especially of those who, by indulging their bodily appetites, become corpulent and indolent.

Titus 1:12-14. One of themselves — That is, one of their own countrymen, who could not be unacquainted with their conduct, or disposed to belie them; even a prophet of their own — This was the poet Epimenides, who, among the Romans, was reputed to have foretold future events. Cicero, speaking of him, (De Divinat., lib. 1.,) says he was futura præsciens, et vaticinans per furorem; one who foreknew and foretold things future by ecstasy. Besides, as all poets pretended to a kind of inspiration, the names prophet and poet were used as synonymous, both by the Greeks and Romans. The Cretians are always liars, &c. — Epimenides said this in his book concerning oracles, a passage which Glassius hath quoted entire, p. 2075. According to Bishop Warburton, (Div. Legat., vol. 1. p. 159,) the Cretians were universally hated, and branded as liars, by the other Greeks, because, by showing in their island the tomb of Jupiter, the father of gods and men, they published what the rest of the Greeks concealed in their mysteries, namely, that their gods were dead men. Evil beasts — Or wild beasts, rather, as θηρια signifies, fierce, savage; slow bellies — Lazy gluttons, as averse to action as wild beasts are after gorging themselves with their prey. So that in these words the poet suggests “a remarkable contrast, to show what a mixture there was of fierceness and luxury in the characters of the Cretians. Savage beasts are generally active and nimble, but these men, while they had the fury of lions and tigers, indulged themselves so much in the most sordid idleness and intemperance that they grew, as it were, all belly. As for their proneness to falsehood, it is well known that κρητιζειν, to talk like a Cretian, was a proverb for lying; (as κορινθιαζειν, to live like a Corinthian, was for a luxurious and debauched life;) and it is remarkable that Polybius scarce ever mentions this nation without some severe censure.” This witness is true — Namely, in the general, though some particular persons may be found of a different character. Wherefore rebuke them sharply Αποτομως, with a cutting severity. From this Blackwall infers, “that it is a vain pretence that only gentle and soft expressions are to be applied to people that renounce good principles, and corrupt the gospel.” But it ought to be observed, that St. Paul speaks of reproving vice, not error. Besides, though Titus was to reprove the Cretians sharply, “the sharpness of his reproofs was not to consist in the bitterness of the language which he used, nor in the passion with which he spake. Reproofs of that sort have little influence to make a person sound, either in faith or practice. It was to consist in the strength of the reasons with which he enforced his reproofs, and in the earnestness and affection with which he delivered them; whereby the consciences of the offenders being awakened, would sting them bitterly.” Not giving heed to Jewish fables — See 1 Timothy 1:4; and commandments of men — Of Jewish and other teachers; that turn from the truth — Forsake the true doctrine of the gospel. “It appears, from the following verse, that the apostle, in saying this, had in view the precepts of the Judaizers concerning meats, clean and unclean, which, although originally the precepts of God, were now abolished under the gospel. Therefore, if these things were any longer enjoined as obligatory, they were not enjoined by God, but by the precepts of men.” See Doddridge and Macknight.

1:10-16 False teachers are described. Faithful ministers must oppose such in good time, that their folly being made manifest, they may go no further They had a base end in what they did; serving a worldly interest under pretence of religion: for the love of money is the root of all evil. Such should be resisted, and put to shame, by sound doctrine from the Scriptures. Shameful actions, the reproach of heathens, should be far from Christians; falsehood and lying, envious craft and cruelty, brutal and sensual practices, and idleness and sloth, are sins condemned even by the light of nature. But Christian meekness is as far from cowardly passing over sin and error, as from anger and impatience. And though there may be national differences of character, yet the heart of man in every age and place is deceitful and desperately wicked. But the sharpest reproofs must aim at the good of the reproved; and soundness in the faith is most desirable and necessary. To those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; they abuse, and turn things lawful and good into sin. Many profess to know God, yet in their lives deny and reject him. See the miserable state of hypocrites, such as have a form of godliness, but are without the power; yet let us not be so ready to fix this charge on others, as careful that it does not apply to ourselves.One of themselves - That is, one of the Cretans. The quotation here shows that Paul had his eye not only on the Jewish teachers there, but on the native Cretans. The meaning is, that, alike in reference to Jewish teachers and native-born Cretans, there was need of the utmost vigilance in the selection of persons for the ministry. They all had well-known traits of character, which made it proper that no one should be introduced into the ministry without extreme caution. It would seem, also, from the reasoning of Paul here, that the trait of character here referred to pertained not only to the native Cretans, but also to the character of the Jews residing there; for he evidently means that the caution should extend to all who dwelt on the island,

Even a prophet of their own - Or, a poet; for the word "prophet" - προφήτης prophētēs - like the Latin word "vates," was often applied to poets, because they were supposed to be inspired of the muses, or to write under the influence of inspiration. So Virgil, Ecl. ix. 32: Et me fecere poetam Pierides ...me quoque dicunt vatem pastores. Varro, Ling. Lat. vi. 3: Vates poetae dicti sunt. The term "prophet" was also given by the Greeks to one who was regarded as the interpreter of the gods, or who explained the obscure responses of the oracles. As such an interpreter - as one who thus saw future events, he was called a prophet; and as the poets claimed much of this kind of knowledge, the name was given to them. It was also given to one who was regarded as eminently endowed with wisdom, or who had that kind of sagacity by which the results of present conduct might be foreseen, as if he was under the influence of a kind of inspiration.

The word might have been applied to the person here referred to - Epimenides - in this latter sense, because he was eminently endowed with wisdom. He was one of the seven wise men of Greece. He was a contemporary of Solon, and was born at Phaestus, in the island of Crete, b.c. 659, and is said to have reached the age of 157 years. Many marvelous tales are told of him (see Anthon, Class. Dic) which are commonly supposed to be fabulous, and which are to be traced to the invention of the Cretans. The event in his life which is best known is, that he visited Athens, at the request of the inhabitants, to prepare the way by sacrifices for the introduction of the laws of Solon. He was supposed to have contact with the gods, and it was presumed that a special sacredness would attend the religious services in which he officiated. On this account, also, as well as because he was a poet, the name prophet may have been given him. Feuds and animosities prevailed at Athens, which it was supposed such a man might allay, and thus prepare them for the reception of the laws of Solon. The Athenians wished to reward him with wealth and public honors; but he refused to accept of any remuneration, and only demanded a branch of the sacred olive tree, and a decree of perpetual friendship between Athens and his native city. After his death, divine honors were paid to him by the Cretans. He wrote a poem on the Argonautic expedition, and other poems, which are now entirely lost. The quotation here is supposed to be made from a treatise on oracles and responses, which is also lost.

The Cretians are always liars - This character of the Cretans is abundantly sustained by the examples adduced by Wetstein. To be a Cretan, became synonymous with being a liar, in the same way as to be a Corinthian, became synonymous with living a licentious life; compare Introduction to 1 Corinthians, Section 1. Thus, the scholiast says, παροιμία ἐστι τὸ κρητίζειν ἐπὶ τοῦ ψεύδεσθαι paroimia esti to krētizein epi tou pseudesthai - "to act the Cretan, is a proverb for to lie." The particular reason why they had this character abroad, rather than other people, is unknown. Bishop Warburton supposes that they acquired it by claiming to have among them the tomb of Jupiter, and by maintaining that all the gods, like Jupiter, were only mortals who had been raised to divine honors. Thus the Greeks maintained that they always proclaimed a falsehood by asserting this opinion. But their reputation for falsehood seems to have arisen from some deeper cause than this, and to have pertained to their general moral character. They were only more eminent in what was common among the ancient pagan, and what is almost universal among the pagan now; compare the notes at Ephesians 4:25.

Evil beasts - In their character, beasts or brutes of a ferocious or malignant kind. This would imply that there was a great want of civilization, and that their want of refinement was accompanied with what commonly exists in that condition - the unrestrained indulgence of wild and ferocious passions. See examples of the same manner of speaking of barbarous and malicious men in Wetstein.

Slow bellies - Mere gormandizers. Two vices seem here to be attributed to them, which indeed commonly go together - gluttony and sloth. An industrious man will not be likely to be a gormandizer, and a gormandizer will not often be an industrious man. The mind of the poet, in this, seems to have conceived of them first as an indolent, worthless people; and then immediately to have recurred to the cause - that they were a race of gluttons, a people whose only concern was the stomach; compare Philippians 3:19. On the connection between gluttony and sloth, see the examples in Wetstein. Seldom have more undesirable, and, in some respects, incongruous qualities, been grouped together in describing any people. They were false to a proverb, which was, indeed, consistent enough with their being ferocious - though ferocious and wild nations are sometimes faithful to their word; but they were at the same time ferocious and lazy, fierce and gluttonous - qualities which are not often found together. In some respects, therefore, they surpassed the common depravity of human nature, and blended in themselves ignoble properties which, among the worst people, are usually found existing alone. To mingle apparently contradictory qualities of wickedness in the same individual or people, is the height of depravity; as to blend in the same mind apparently inconsistent traits of virtuous character, or those which exist commonly, in their highest perfection, only alone, is the highest virtue.

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).

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own; Epimenides, a Greek poet, thus spake of the people of this country, whom he calls a prophet, because he was a poet, and wrote something about such divine oracles as they had.

Said, The Cretians are alway liars: the Cretians were famous for lying and falsehood, so as it became a proverb. He called them

evil beasts, either for their cruelty or treachery.

Slow bellies; a lazy, idle people, that had much more inclination to eat and drink than they had to work in any honest labour. From all this the apostle would infer, that Titus had the more need be watchful in his place, and faithful in the discharge of his office, being amongst such a people.

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own,.... This was Epimenides, in whose poems stand the words here cited; the apostle rightly calls him "one of themselves", since he was a Cretian by birth, of the city of Gnossus; it is reported of him, that being sent by his father to his sheep in the field, he by the way, at noon, turned aside into a cave, and slept fifty seven years (m) and he is very properly called a "prophet" of their own; for in Crete Jupiter had his prophets (n), and he might be one of them: the priests among the Heathens were called prophets; so Baal's priests are called the prophets of Baal, and the prophets of the groves, 1 Kings 18:19. Besides, Epimenides was thought to be inspired by the gods: he is called by Apuleius (o), a famous fortune teller; and is said by Laertius (p) to be very skilful in divination, and to have foretold many things which came to pass; and by the Grecians were supposed to be very dear to the gods; so Balaam, the soothsayer and diviner, is called a prophet, 2 Peter 2:16. Add to this, that the passage next cited stands in a poem of this writer, entitled, "Concerning Oracles"; and it is easy to observe, that poets in common were usually called "vates", or prophets; so that the apostle speaks here with great propriety. Now concerning the inhabitants of Crete, Epimenides, a native of the place, and a person of great character and repute among them,

said, the Cretians are always liars: living is a sin common to human nature, and appears in men as early, or earlier than any other; and all men are guilty of it, at one time or another; but all are not habitually liars, as it seems these Cretians were: lying was a governing vice among them; they were not only guilty of it in some particular instances, but always; not only for saying that Jupiter's sepulchre was with them, when it was the sepulchre of Minos his son, which they had fraudulently obliterated; and for which (q) Callimachus charges them with lying, and uses these very words of Epimenides; though he assigns a different reason from that now given, which is, that Jupiter died not, but always exists, and therefore his sepulchre could not be with them: but this single instance was not sufficient to fasten such a character upon them; it was a sin they were addicted to: some countries are distinguished by their vices; some for pride; some for levity, vanity, and inconstancy; some for boasting and bragging some for covetousness; some for idleness; some for effeminacy; some for hypocrisy and deceit; and others, as the Cretians, it seems, for lying; this was their national sin (r); and this is said by others, as well as Epimenides. Crete is, by Ovid (s), called "mendax Creta", lying Crete. Hence, with the Grecians, to "cretize", is proverbially used for to lie; this is a sin, than which nothing makes a man more like the devil, or more infamous among men, or more abominable to God. The Ethiopic version, instead of Cretes, or Cretians, reads "hypocrites". Other characters of them, from the same Heathen poet, follow,

evil beasts: slow bellies; by evil beasts are meant beasts of prey, savage and mischievous ones; see Genesis 37:20 and are so called, to distinguish them from other beasts, as sheep, and the like, which are not so; and perhaps Crete might abound with such evil beasts; for the Cretians are said (t) to excel in hunting; and to these they themselves are compared, by one of their own prophets, for their cruelty, and savage disposition: so cruel persecutors are compared to beasts, 1 Corinthians 15:30 and the false teachers, the apostle has respect to in citing this passage, were cruel, if not to the bodies, yet to the souls of men, whom they poisoned and destroyed. And the Cretians are called, by the poet, slow bellies partly for their intemperance, their gluttony and drunkenness: which suited with the false teachers, whose god was their belly, and which they served, and not the Lord Jesus; and partly for their sloth and idleness, eating the bread of others without working.

(m) Laert. l. 1. Vita Epimenidis. (n) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier, l. 4. c. 17. (o) Florida, sect. 15. (p) Ib. (q) Hymn. l. in Jovem, v. 8. (r) Alex. ab Alex. l. 4. c. 13. (s) De Arte Amandi, l. 1.((t) Alex. ab Alex. ib.

{m} One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

(m) Epimenides, who was considered a prophet amongst them. See Laertius, and Cicero in his first book of divination.

Titus 1:12. Paul quotes the saying of a Cretan poet as a testimony regarding the Cretans.

εἶπέ τις ἐξ αὐτῶν ἴδιος αὐτῶν προφήτης] ἐξ αὐτῶν is by most expositors referred to the preceding πολλοί or to οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς; but such a reference is unsuitable; the apostle is rather thinking of Cretans in general.

The ἴδιος αὐτῶν declares still more strongly that the saying proceeds from a Cretan and not from a stranger, see Winer, p. 139 [E. T. p. 192].

προφήτης] According to Chrysostom, Theophylact, Epiphanius, Jerome, it is Epimenides who is meant. This Epimenides was a contemporary of the seven wise men, and by some was even reckoned as one of them in place of Periander; he was born in the sixth century B.C. The saying quoted by Paul, which forms a complete hexameter, is said to have been in his lost work περὶ χρησμῶν. Theodoret, on the other hand, ascribes the saying to Callimachus, who, however, was a Cyrenian in the third century B.C.; besides, it is only the first words that occur in his Hymn. ad Jov. Titus 1:8. Epiphanius and Jerome think that Callimachus took the words from Epimenides. Paul does not call Epimenides a προφήτης because poets and philosophers were often called prophets in ancient times, but because the saying of Epimenides described beforehand the character of the Cretans as it was in the apostle’s time. Still it is to be noted that this very Epimenides was famed among the Greeks for his gift of wisdom, so that even Cicero (De Divinat. xviii.) places him among those vaticinantes per furorem. Comp. Diogenes Laertius, Vita Philos. p. 81, ed. Henr. Steph.

Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται] Chrysostom refers these words chiefly to the pretence of the Cretans that Jupiter lay buried among them; to this, at any rate, the verse of Callimachus refers; but the Cretans in ancient times were notorious for falsehood, so that, according to Hesychius, ΚΡΗΤΊΖΕΙΝ is synonymous with ΨΕΎΔΕΣΘΑΙ ΚΑῚ ἈΠΑΤᾷΝ; for proofs of this, see in Wetstein.

ΚΑΚᾺ ΘΗΡΊΑ] denoting their wild, unruly character; some expositors refer this name specially to the greed of the Cretans, as Polybius, book vi., specially mentions their ΑἸΣΧΡΟΚΕΡΔΊΑ ΚΑῚ ΠΛΕΟΝΕΞΊΑ; but it is more than improbable that Epimenides had this meaning in his words.

ΓΑΣΤΈΡΕς ἈΡΓΑΊ] synonymous with Php 3:19 : ὯΝ Ὁ ΘΕῸς Ἡ ΚΟΙΛΊΑ (comp. Romans 16:18; 2 Peter 2:13-14); this denotes the Cretans as men given to sensuality. Plato, too (De Legg. i.), reproaches them with lust and immodesty.

The apostle’s purpose in quoting this saying of Epimenides is indicated in the next verse. The national character of the Cretans was such that they were easily persuaded to listen to the heretics, and hence it was all the more necessary to oppose the latter firmly.

Titus 1:12. προφήτης: It is possible that St. Paul applies this title to the author of the following hexameter line because the Cretan false teachers were self-styled prophets. There was a Cretan prophet once who told plain truths to his countrymen. The whole line occurs, according to Jerome, in the περὶ χρησμῶν of Epimenides, a native of Cnossus in Crete. The first three words are also found in the Hymn to Zeus by Callimachus, who is the prophet meant according to Theodoret; and the rest has a parallel in Hesiod, Theogon. 26, ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκʼ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον. It is generally agreed that St. Paul was referring to Epimenides. This is the view of Chrys. and Epiph., as well as of Jerome. It was Epimenides at whose suggestion the Athenians are said to have erected the “anonymous altars,” i.e., Ἀγνώστῳ Θεῷ (Acts 17:23), in the course of the purification of their city from the pollution caused by Cylon, 596 B.C. He is reckoned a prophet, or predictor of the future, by Cicero, de Divin. i. 18, and Apuleius, Florid. ii. 15, 4. Plato calls him θεῖος ἀνήρ (Legg. i. p. 642 D).

ψεῦσται: The particular lie which provoked the poet’s ire was the claim made by the Cretans that the tomb of Zeus was on their island. Here, the term has reference to ματαιολόγοι, etc.

γαστέρες ἀργαί: The R.V., idle gluttons, is more intelligible English than the A.V., slow bellies, but does not so adequately represent the poet’s meaning. He has in his mind the belly, as it obtrudes itself on the beholder and is a burden to the possessor, not as a receptacle for food. Alf. quotes aptly Juvenal, Sat. iv. 107, “Montani quoque venter adest, abdomine tardus”.

12. One of themselves] Rather, one of them, there being nothing to indicate emphasis till the next two words come, a prophet of their own; the force is, ‘there is a Cretan saying—and by a prophet of their own:’ for the adjective see Titus 1:3.

Epimenides was a poet priest and prophet of Gnossus in Crete, who was invited to Athens about 596 b.c. to purify the city after the pollution of Cylon, and is said to have died at Lacedaemon soon after, aged 150 years. This hexameter verse is from his ‘Oracles,’ and the first part was quoted by Callimachus in his ‘Hymn to Zeus’—

‘ “Cretans are always liars”; thy grave has been claimed by the Cretans,

Thine, O King immortal, who livest and reignest for ever.’

Peile quotes Calvin’s Latin hexameter rendering

‘Mendax, venter iners, semper mala bestia Cres est,’ and it would run in English

‘Cretans are always liars, are wild beasts, do-nothing gluttons.’

Their general character was well known from the proverb of ‘The three worst Ks, Kretans, Kappadocians, Kilicians,’ and from the word which meant ‘to play the Cretan’ coming to mean ‘to play the cheat and liar,’ as ‘to play the Corinthian’ was ‘to play the prodigal and libertine.’

For their ferocity and greed and falseness cf. Polyb. vi. 46, 47, ‘The Cretans, on account of their innate avarice live in a perpetual state of private quarrel and public feud and civil strife.… and you will hardly find anywhere characters more tricky and deceitful than those of the Cretans.’

In favour of the Cretans may be said that they sacrificed to their stern mentor Epimenides as a god, and that Titus, who was to adopt and enforce this severe censure of St Paul, has been honoured to this day as the apostle of Crete. See Pashley’s Travels in Crete, vol. 1. p. 175. Cf. Appendix, I.

Titus 1:12. Εἶπέ τις, one said) Those who are too much devoted to the study of profane writers ought not to applaud themselves because Paul quotes from Menander, Aratus, Epimenides; for he does not even mention their names: Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33.—ἐξ αὐτῶν ἴδιος αὐτῶν, of their own) in origin and condition. That circumstance increases the authority of the witness. Testimonies of the wickedness of the Cilicians were also brought forward, but by others [not by one of themselves, as in the case of the Cretans]; therefore Paul, a Cilician, might quote this without reproach.—προφήτης, a prophet) Epimenides, according to the statement of Diogenes Laertius, uttered many predictions; and he acted in the character of a prophet when he spoke these things which Paul quotes.—ἀεὶ, always) Every natural man is at times guilty of lying, but always is a more heinous matter.—ψεῦσται, liars) unlike God, Titus 1:2; liars also in their doctrine concerning God, since they love fables, Titus 1:14. The Cretans had the sepulchre of Jupiter; therefore they were called liars by the poets.—κακὰ θηρία, evil beasts) Crete was considered a χώρα ἄθηρος, a country without wild beasts; whether that be true or false, Al. Morus considers Epimenides (in this line of his) drew the point of his pleasantry from the fact.—γαστέρες ἀργαὶ) Pasor is of opinion that ἀργὸς is here used by Aphæresis for μάργος, voracious; comp. ch. Titus 2:2-6. But the common idea is satisfactory: bellies are slow which are useful to nobody.

Verse 12. - A prophet for even a prophet, A.V.; Cretan, s for the Cretinous, A.V.; idle gluttons for slow bellies, A.V. A prophet of their own; viz. Epimenides, a native either of Phaestus or of Cnossus in Crete, the original author of this line, which is also quoted by Callimachus. Epimenides is here called a prophet, not simply as a poet, but from his peculiar character as priest, bard, and seer; called by Plato θεῖος ἀνήρ, and coupled by Cicero with Bacis the B.C.eotian prophet, and the sibyl (Bishop Ellicott); described by other ancient writers as a prophet (Alford); "everything we hear of him is of a priestly or religious nature" ('Dict. of Gr. and Romans Biogr. and Mythol.'). Cretans are always liars, etc. So truly was this their characteristic, that κρητίζειν was used to denote" telling lies" - "to lie like a Cretan" (Plutarch, etc.). From their general bad character arose the line, Κρῆτες Καππάδοκοι, Κίλικες τρία κάππα κάκιστα; and Livy, Polybius, and Plutarch alike hear witness to their covetousness and dishonesty: Τις Κρητῶν οἴδε δικαιοσύνην; "When was there ever an upright Cretan?" asks Leonides in an ' Epigram' (Farrar, ' St. Paul,' vol. it. p. 534). Evil beasts. Θήριον is "a wild beast;" applied to men as a term of reproach (1 Corinthians 15:32), it implies brutality, stupidity, unreasonableness, and, with the epithet κακά, mischief, like the French mechante bete. The 'Epigram' above quoted calls them ληισταὶ καὶ ἁλιφθόροι, "pirates and wreckers." Idle gluttons; literally, idle bellies. The substantive denotes their gluttony and sensuality (comp. Romans 16:18; Philippians 3:19, where κοιλία is equivalent to γαστήρ), and the adjective their sloth (ἀργαί, i.e. ἀεργαί); in old Greek it is usually of the common gender. Titus 1:12One of themselves (τις ἐξ αὐτῶν)

Ἁυτῶν refers to the gainsayers, Titus 1:9, Titus 1:10. Τις refers to Epimenides, contemporary with Solon, and born in Crete b.c. 659. A legend relates that, going by his father's order in search of a sheep, he lay down in a cave, where he fell asleep and slept for fifty years. He then appeared with long hair and a flowing beard, and with an astonishing knowledge of medicine and natural history. It was said that he had the power of sending his soul out of his body and recalling it at pleasure, and that he had familiar intercourse with the gods and possessed the power of prophecy. He was sent for to Athens at the request of the inhabitants, in order to pave the way for the legislation of Solon by purifications and propitiatory sacrifices, intended to allay the feuds and party discussions which prevailed in the city. In return for his services he refused the Athenians' offers of wealth and public honors, and asked only a branch of the sacred olive, and a decree of perpetual friendship between Athens and his native city. He is said to have lived to the age of 157 years, and divine honors were paid him by the Cretans after his death. He composed a Theogony, and poems concerning religious mysteries. He wrote also a poem on the Argonautic Expedition, and other works. Jerome mentions his treatise On Oracles and Responses, from which the quotation in this verse is supposed to have been taken. According to Diogenes Laertius (i. 10) Epimenides, in order to remove a pestilence from Athens, turned some sheep loose at the Areopagus, and wherever they lay down sacrificed to the proper God: whence, he says, there are still to be found, in different demes of the Athenians, anonymous altars. Comp. Acts 17:22, Acts 17:23.

The Cretans, etc.

The words Κρῆτες - ἀργαί form a hexameter line.

Always (ἀεὶ)


Liars (ψεῦσται)

In Pastorals here and 1 Timothy 1:10. Once in Paul, Romans 3:4. Mostly in John. The Cretan habit of lying passed into a verb, κρητίζειν to speak like a Cretan equals to lie: also into a noun, κρητισμός Cretan behavior equals lying. Similarly, the licentiousness of Corinth appeared in the verb κορινθιάζεσθαι to practice whoredom, and in the noun κορινθιαστής a whoremonger. Comp. Ov. Artis Amat. i.296.

"non hoc, centum quae sustinet urbes

Quamvis sit mendax, Creta negare potest."

"Crete, which a hundred cities doth maintain,

Cannot deny this, though to lying given."

A familiar saying was τρία κάππα κάκιστα the three worst K's, Κρῆτες, Καππάδοκαι, Κίλικες Cretans, Cappadocians, Cilicians.


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