Titus 1:13
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
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(13) This witness is true.—St. Paul emphatically here endorses the very severe judgment which their own great prophet-poet had written on the national Cretan character. He (St. Paul) had lived long enough in their midst to be able to bear his grave testimony to the truth of Epimenides’ words. He had witnessed the sad havoc in Christian life which their evil national propensities had caused.

Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.—Some render, wherefore confute, that is to say, set them right, sharply (apotomōs). The substantive apotomia, translated in the English version “severity,” is used in the passage about the “wild olive tree” (Romans 11:22). As a surgeon’s knife cuts away the diseased and mortifying flesh, so must the words and discipline of Titus, the Apostle’s representative in Crete, sharply rebuke, and, if need be, punish the sinning members of the congregation. Not merely the false teachers—the deceivers—are referred to here, but also the deceived, those whole households mentioned in Titus 1:11; and the object of this severity in words and acts was that the lapsed, the doctrinally and morally sick, among the Cretan Christians, should be restored to health again; and the sound state of faith and practice would, St. Paul proceeded to show, consist in “the rejection of Jewish fables and the commandments of these men.”

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.This witness is true - That is, this testimony long before borne by one of their own number, was true when the apostle wrote to Titus. The fact that this was the general Character of the people, was a reason why he should be on his guard in introducing men into the ministry, and in the arrangement of affairs pertaining to the church. That it was true, see proofs in Wetstein.

Wherefore rebuke them - Notes, 2 Timothy 4:2.

Sharply - ἀποτόμως apotomōs - "cuttingly, severely" - from ἀποτέμνω apotemnō, "to cut off." The word is used here in the sense of severity, meaning that the reproof should be such as would be understood, and would show them plainly the wickedness of such traits of character. He was not to be mealy-mouthed, but he was to call things by their right names, and not to spare their faults. When men know that they are doing wrong, we should tell them so in few words; if they do not know it, it is necessary to teach them, in order to convince them of their error.

That they may be sound in the faith - That they may not allow the prevailing vices to corrupt their views of religion.

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).

This witness is true; this testimony of Epimenides is true, what I have found by experience, and those of them that in profession have embraced the Christian faith may have some tincture of their nation’s vices.

Wherefore rebuke them sharply; if thou meetest with any such, reprove or convince them apotomwv, cuttingly, that is, sharply, severely: the metaphor possibly is fetched from surgeons, who cut out dead flesh to the quick.

That they may be sound in the faith; that they may be sound in the doctrine of the gospel, or in their minds, not infected with any vice.

This witness is true,.... The apostle confirms what the poet had said; he knew it to be fact from his own experience, and by the observation he had made when in the island: he does not say, that all that Epimenides had said, in the poem referred to, was true; but this character, which he had given of the Cretians, and which he cites, and uses to a good purpose; from whence it may be observed, that the writings of the Heathen poets may be read with profit, and be used to advantage, if carefully and prudently attended to; for what is truth, let it come from whom, or by what means it will, ought to be received.

Wherefore rebuke them sharply: not merely upon the testimony of the poet, but upon the confirmation of it by the apostle; and not because of these general and national characters, but because these things personally and particularly belonged to the persons before described; whom the apostle would have rebuked, both for their bad principles, teaching things that they ought not; and for their immoralities, their lying and deceit, their intemperance, luxury, and idleness, things very unbecoming the Christian name; and therefore since their offences were of an heinous nature, and they lived in them, and were hardened and obstinate, and were like to have a bad influence on others, they must be rebuked "sharply": rebukes ought to be given according to the nature of offences, and the circumstances of them, and the offenders; some are to be given privately, others publicly; some should be reproved with gentleness and meekness, and be used in a tender and compassionate way; others more roughly, though never in a wrathful and passionate manner, yet with some degree of severity, at least with great plainness and faithfulness; laying open the nature of the evils guilty of in all their aggravated circumstances, without sparing them in the least; doing, as surgeons do by wounds, though they take the knife, and use it gently, yet cut deep, to the quick, and go to the bottom of the wound, and lay it open: and so the phrase may be rendered here, "rebuke them cuttingly"; cut them to the quick, and spare them not; deal not with them as Eli with his sons, 1 Samuel 2:23 but speak out, and expose their crimes, severely reprove them, that others may fear: and

that they may be sound in the faith; that they may be recovered from their errors, to the acknowledgment of the truth; that they may receive the sound doctrine of faith, the wholesome words of Christ, and speak the things which become them, and use sound speech, which cannot be condemned; and that they may be turned from their evil practices, and appear to be sound, as in the doctrine, so in the grace of faith; or that that by their works may appear to be genuine, true, and unfeigned; and that they may be strong and robust, hale and healthful, and not weak and sickly in the profession of their faith. Rebukes being to persons infected with bad principles and practices, like physic to sickly constitutions, a means of removing the causes of disorder; and in rebukes, admonitions, and censures, this always ought to be the end proposed, the good of the persons rebuked, admonished, and censured.

This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them {n} sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

(n) Clearly and plainly, and do not go about the bush with them.

Titus 1:13. In confirmation of the verse quoted, Paul says: ἡ μαρτυρία αὕτη ἐστὶν ἀληθής, and attaches to it an exhortation to Titus. Bertholdt, without reason, holds this verse to be a later interpolation.

διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν] see 2 Timothy 1:6. Chrysostom: ΔΙᾺ ΤΟῦΤΟ· ἘΠΕΙΔῊ ἬΘΟς ΑὐΤΟῖς ἘΣΤῚΝ ἸΤΑΜῸΝ ΚΑῚ ΔΟΛΕΡῸΝ ΚΑῚ ἈΚΌΛΑΣΤΟΝ; it refers to the picture of the Cretan character given in the testimony.

ἜΛΕΓΧΕ ΑὐΤΟῪς ἈΠΟΤΌΜΩς] ἜΛΕΓΧΕ, as in Titus 1:9; “the apostle here drops all reference to the bishops to be appointed, and assigns to Titus himself the duty of applying a remedy” (Wiesinger).

ΑὐΤΟΎς] not so much the heretics as the Cretans, who were exposed to their misleading influence. These latter needed the ἘΛΈΓΧΕΙΝ, because they were not resisting the heretics as they ought, but (as ΟἽΤΙΝΕς ὍΛΟΥς ΟἼΚΟΥς ἈΝΑΤΡΈΠΟΥΙ shows) were yielding to them easily.

ἈΠΟΤΌΜΩς] “sharply, strictly;” elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians 13:10; the substantive ἈΠΟΤΟΜΊΑ in Romans 11:22.

ἽΝΑ ὙΓΙΑΊΝΩΣΙΝ ἘΝ Τῇ ΠΊΣΤΕΙ] “that they may be sound in the faith.” De Wette takes this as the immediate contents of the ἐλέγχειν, just as ἽΝΑ occurs with ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΕῖΝ, but without good grounds. ἘΝ here is not instrumental (Heinrichs: per religionem), but ΠΊΣΤΙς is the subject in which they are to be sound.

Titus 1:13. διʼ ἥν αἰτίαν: See on 2 Timothy 1:6.

ἀποτόμως: severely. The noun ἀποτομία, severitas, occurs Romans 11:22. See Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vi. 192.

ἵνα ὑγιαίνωσιν: See note on 1 Timothy 1:10. The intention of the reproof was not merely the securing of a controversial triumph, but “to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived”. ἵνα expresses the object aimed at in the reproof, not the substance of it.

13. This witness is true] Not to be taken, as Dr Farrar says, au pied de la lettre, as though the Cretans were indiscriminately wicked. Nor to be taken as authority for ‘scolding’ in the modern sermon. The spirit of St Paul and of Titus must be taken with the letter: and the counsel of Bp Wilberforce remembered, ‘speak straight to them, as you would beg your life, or counsel your son, or call your dearest friend from a burning house, in plain, strong, earnest words’ (Ordination Charge, 1846).

rebuke them sharply] As above, convict or confute, Titus 1:9. R.V. loses much by ‘reprove,’ which is even weaker than ‘rebuke’ and quite unequal to the burden of ‘confute and condemn.’ The substantive corresponding to ‘sharply’ occurs Romans 11:22, in the metaphor of the cutting out of the evil branches from the olive tree, ‘the goodness and severity of God;’ and the adverb itself in 2 Corinthians 13:10 in reference to the severe measures to be taken by St Paul at Corinth, ‘that I may not when present deal sharply.’ Dr Reynolds puts the drift well: ‘a sharp knife, firm handling, free incisions, are needed for some poisonous and putrefying sores; and as in former days Titus had to shew the Corinthians how to purge out the old leaven, to deliver wicked persons to Satan, to rebuke pretentious Sciolism, so once more out of sheer kindness he was commanded not to spare them.’

that they may be sound in the faith] Again ‘healthy,’ ‘healthful,’ keeping up, with this ‘Pastoral’ word, the metaphor of health in the body corporate of the Cretan Church. Compare Proverbs 15:4, ‘A wholesome tongue—Heb. the healing of the tongue—is a tree of life’ with Titus 1:10, and 1 Timothy 6:3, ‘if any man teacheth a different doctrine and consenteth not to sound—wholesome—words.’

Titus 1:13. Ἀληθὴς, true) Although it comes from a Cretan.—ἔλεγχε, rebuke) The chief part of the rebuke follows.

Verse 13. - Testimony for witness, A.V.; for which cause for wherefore, A.V.; reprove for rebuke, A.V. Sharply (ἀποτομῶς); elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians 13:10 (see also Romans 11:22). That they may be sound (see Titus 2:2). The faithful pastor must use severity when it is necessary to the spiritual health of the flock, just as the skilful surgeon uses the knife to save the patient's life. Titus 1:13Sharply (ἀποτόμως)

Only here and 2 Corinthians 13:10 (note). Paul has ἀποτομία severity, Romans 11:22 (note). lxx, ἀποτόμως severely, only Wisd. 5:22; ἀποτόμος severe (not in N.T.), Wisd. 5:20; 11:10; 12:9. From ἀποτέμνειν to cut off. It signifies abrupt, harsh, summary dealing.

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