Titus 2:9
Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
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(9) Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters.—The accurate translation here is bond servants. The words in this and the following verse, it must be remembered, are addressed to “slaves.” With some special reference to the peculiar circumstances of the Church in Crete, St. Paul had been giving general directions to his representative (Titus 2:1-8) respecting instruction and advice he considered it expedient should be given to the varied orders and ages of professing Christians in the island. These directions were arranged with respect to “age” and “sex.” He now turns to the question of the instruction of another large class, among whom were to be found many Christians—“the slaves.” These he masses together under one head. Not improbably these “words” to be addressed particularly to slaves were called out by some particular instances of insubordination and of impatience under their unhappy condition among the Cretan slaves. Indeed, the repeated warnings to this unfortunate and oppressed class (see Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1Timothy 6:1) tell us that among the difficulties which Christianity had to surmount in its early years was the hard task of persuading “the slave” that the divine Master who promised him a home, if he were faithful and true, among the many mansions of His Father, meant not that the existing relations of society should be then changed, or its complex framework disturbed. St. Paul knew it was a hard matter to persuade the bondman, fellow-heir of heaven with the freeman, to acquiesce patiently in his present condition of misery and servitude. Hence these repeated charges to this class. These poor sufferers were to obey cheerfully, readily, as the next clause told them.

And to please them well in all things; not answering again.—The last words are better translated not gainsaying; the Vulgate has contradicentes. It signifies that they should obey cheerfully, willingly, without sullenness; not thwarting or setting themselves against their masters’ plans or desires or orders; and the Apostle, in Titus 2:10, gives them a noble inducement for this brave, sweet patience he would have so earnestly pressed upon them. Such conduct on their part, he tells them, would serve greatly to help the Master’s cause; it would prepossess many hostile minds in favour of a religion which could so powerfully influence even the slave. Chrysostom comments thus: “Greeks form their estimate of doctrines not from the doctrine itself, but from the actions and the life” (of those who profess the doctrine).

Titus 2:9-10. Exhort servants — See the notes on the passages referred to in the margin. To please them — Their masters; well in all things — Lawful, or wherein it can be done without sin; not answering again — Though blamed unjustly. This honest servants are most apt to do. Not purloining — Secretly stealing any part of their masters’ goods, not taking or giving any thing without their masters’ leave: this, fair-spoken servants are most apt to do. But showing all good fidelity — And honesty in every thing, great and small; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour — May render it amiable and honourable, even in the eyes of their heathen masters, and of others, when they shall observe its influence on all its possessors, even on those in the lowest stations in life. This is more than St. Paul says of kings. How he raises the lowness of his subject! So may they the lowness of their condition!2:9,10 Servants must know and do their duty to their earthly masters, with a reference to their heavenly one. In serving an earthly master according to Christ's will, He is served; such shall be rewarded by him. Not giving disrespectful or provoking language; but to take a check or reproof with silence, not making confident or bold replies. When conscious of a fault, to excuse or justify it, doubles it. Never putting to their own use that which is their master's, nor wasting the goods they are trusted with. Showing all good fidelity to improve a master's goods, and promote his thriving. If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? Lu 16:12. True religion is an honour to the professors of it; and they should adorn it in all things.Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters - See this explained in the notes at Ephesians 6:5, following, and 1 Timothy 6:1-4.

And to please them well in all things - That is, so far as they lawfully may, or in those things which are not contrary to the will of God; compare Ephesians 6:6. It should be an object with one who is a servant, to meet the approbation of his master, as long as this relation continues. This rule would not, however, go to the extent to require him to please his master in doing anything that is contrary to the law of God, or that is morally wrong.

Not answering again - Margin, "gainsaying." Not contradicting, or not disobeying. They were to do what the master required, if it did not interfere with the rights of conscience, without attempting to argue the matter - without disputing with the master - and without advancing their own opinions. Where this relation exists, no one can doubt that this is a proper frame of mind for a servant. It may be observed, however, that all that is here said would be equally appropriate, whether the servitude was voluntary or involuntary. A man who becomes voluntarily a servant, binds himself to obey his master cheerfully and quietly, without gainsaying, and without attempting to reason the matter with him, or propounding his own opinions, even though they may be much wiser than those of his employer. He makes a contract to obey his master, not to reason with him, or to instruct him.

9. servants—"slaves."

to please them well—"to give satisfaction" [Alford]. To be complaisant in everything; to have that zealous desire to gain the master's goodwill which will anticipate the master's wish and do even more than is required. The reason for the frequent recurrence of injunctions to slaves to subjection (Eph 6:5, &c.; Col 3:22; 1Ti 6:1, &c.; 1Pe 2:18) was, that in no rank was there more danger of the doctrine of the spiritual equality and freedom of Christians being misunderstood than in that of slaves. It was natural for the slave who had become a Christian, to forget his place and put himself on a social level with his master. Hence the charge for each to abide in the sphere in which he was when converted (1Co 7:20-24).

not answering again—in contradiction to the master: so the Greek, "not contradicting" [Wahl].

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters; the apostle directeth as to servants of all sorts, whether bond or free, otherwise than that by covenant they have obliged themselves to men, he willeth they should be obedient to the commands of those who were their legal masters, neither thinking themselves free from them by their Christianity, if their masters were pagans, nor that they had a greater liberty to be saucy with them, or less obedient to them, because they were Christians, and upon that account brethren, 1 Timothy 6:2.

And to please them well in all things; that is, in civil things, wherein alone they were servants.

Not answering again; not saucily replying when they were reproved, nor contradicting the commands of their masters. Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters,.... And not others, whether they be believers, or unbelievers, gentle or froward, all their lawful commands ought to be obeyed; See Gill on Ephesians 6:5 and to please them well in all things; not only to obey and serve them, and do what they order, but to seek and endeavour to do it in such a way as may be grateful, acceptable, and well pleasing to them, whereby an interest in their affection, esteem, and commendation, may be gained: and this should be done always, and in all things, that are not contrary to a good conscience and to the Christian religion, and to the laws of God and nature. Or "that they may be well pleased in all things"; that is, be satisfied and contented with such things as they have, and in their state and condition as servants, and cheerfully abide in the calling wherein they are called:

not answering again; replying to their masters' orders, or complaints, either in a pert, or saucy, or grumbling manner; an evil very incident to servants, and which greatly provokes.

{4} Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all {c} things; not answering again;

(4) The seventh admonition, concerning the duty of servants to their masters.

(c) Which may be done without offence to God.

Titus 2:9-10. Exhortation in regard to slaves.

δούλους ἰδίοις δεσποταῖς (or δεσποταῖς ἰδίοις) ὑποτάσσεσθαι] The construction shows that Paul is continuing the instructions which he gives to Timothy in regard to the various members of families, so that Titus 2:7-8 are parenthetical; παρακάλει is to be supplied from Titus 2:6. Heydenreich and Matthies wrongly make this verse dependent on Titus 2:1. The harder the lot of the slaves, and the more unendurable this might appear to the Christian slave conscious of his Christian dignity, the more necessary was it to impress upon him the ὑποτάσσεσθαι. Even this is not sufficient, and so Paul further adds: ἐν πᾶσιν εὐαρέστους εἶναι. Ἐν πᾶσιν, equivalent to “in all points” (Titus 2:7 : περὶ πάντα; Colossians 3:20; Colossians 3:22 : κατὰ πάντα), is usually joined with εὐαρέστους εἶναι; Hofmann, on the contrary, wishes to connect it with ὑποτάσσεσθαι. Both constructions are possible; still the usual one is to be preferred, because the very position of the slaves made it a matter of course that the ὑποτάσσεσθαι should be evinced in its full extent, whereas the same could not be said of εὐαρέστοι εἶναι, since that goes beyond the duty of ὑποτάσσεσθαι. The word εὔαρεστος occurs frequently in the Pauline Epistles, but only in speaking of the relation to God. The two first exhortations refer to general conduct; to these the apostle adds two special points: μὴ ἀντιλέγοντας and μὴ νοσφιζομένους. Hofmann is wrong in saying that μὴ ἀντιλέγοντας is the antithesis of εὐαρέστους. The conduct of slaves, which is well-pleasing to masters, includes more than refraining from contradiction. Van Oosterzee says not incorrectly: “It is not contradiction in particular instances, but the habitus that is here indicated.” Luther: “not contradicting.” The verb νοσφίζεσθαι is found only here and in Acts 5:2-3 : “not pilfering, defrauding.”

The next words: ἀλλὰ πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγαθήν (Luther: “but showing all good fidelity”), is in the first place opposed to μὴ νοσφιζομένους, but includes more than merely to abstain from defrauding (in opposition to Hofmann). As in Titus 2:5, so, too, here, where the maintenance of the natural duties of subordinates is under discussion, the apostle adds ἵνα τὴν διδασκαλίαν κ.τ.λ., except that the expression is now positive, whereas before it was negative; the thought is substantially the same.

ἡ διδασκαλία is equivalent to ὁ λόγος, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.

τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμ. Θεοῦ] see 1 Timothy 1:1; not, as some expositors (Calvin, Wolf) think, Christ, but God.

κοσμῶσιν] “do honour to.”

ἐν πᾶσιν] Titus 2:9, “in all points,” not “with all, in the eyes of all” (Hofmann).

Chrysostom: οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ δόγματος δόγματα, ἀλλʼ ἀπὸ πραγμάτων καὶ βίου τὰ δόγματα κρίνουσιν οἱ Ἕλληνες· ἒστωσανν ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ γυναῖκες καὶ δοῦλοι διδάσκαλοι διὰ τῆς οἰκείας ἀναστροφῆς.Titus 2:9. δούλους: sc. παρακάλει, Titus 2:6. For the general topic, and the term δεσπότης, cf. 1 Timothy 6:1.

ἐν πᾶσιν: joined as in text by Jerome, Ambrosiaster and [318]93 with ὑποτάσσ. It is in favour of this that ἐν πᾶσιν elsewhere in the Pastorals (see note on Titus 2:7) is at the end of a clause; also that in similar contexts we have ἐν παντί (Ephesians 5:24) and κατὰ πάντα (Colossians 3:22) joined with ὑποτάσσω and ὑπακούω.

[318] Speculum

εὐαρέστους: A Pauline word. Alf. notes that it is a servant’s phrase, like the English “to give satisfaction”. This acute remark brings the present passage into harmony with St. Paul’s usage in the reff., in which it is used of persons, of men in their relation to God. εὐάρεστον is used of a sacrifice, “acceptable,” in Romans 12:1, Php 4:18; cf. Hebrews 12:28; τὸ εὐάρεστον, “that which is well pleasing,” in Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:10, Colossians 3:20, Hebrews 13:21. Jerome’s view that εὐαρ. is passive, “contented with their lot,” is not satisfactory.

μὴ ἀντιλέγοντας; non contradicentes (Vulg.). Ell. thinks that more is implied than pert answers (A.V. answering again); rather “thwarting their masters’ plans, wishes, or orders”. See ch. Titus 1:9. This is the connotation of gainsaying (R.V., A.V.m.).9, 10. The standard of holy living for slaves

9. Exhort servants] The verb is supplied from Titus 2:6. The phrases and the necessary limits of Christian counsel to slaves are touched on in notes 1 Timothy 6:1-2 Lewin well observes here ‘at that time slavery was a civil institution, which Christianity without any civil power could not disturb.’ The more special counsel here may have been suggested by some particular cases of insubordination among the restless Cretans. See above on Titus 1:12.

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles gives a still stronger admonition ‘Ye servants shall be in subjection to your masters as to a figure of God in reverence and fear.’

to be obedient] As R.V. to be in subjection, cf. Titus 2:5. The adjective well pleasing is frequently used by St Paul, but (except here) with ‘God’; so the verb and adverb in Ep. to Hebrews. Vulg. ‘in omnibus placentes.’ The context suggests as most natural the addition of to them to complete the sense.

not answering again] Vulg. ‘contradicentes,’ not gainsaying, i.e, withstanding, cf, Titus 1:9; John 19:12, ‘speaketh against,’ margin R.V. ‘opposeth Cæsar’; Romans 10:21, ‘a disobedient and gainsaying people’; Hebrews 12:3, ‘him that hath endured such gainsaying of sinners against themselves’; Jude II, ‘perished in the gainsaying of Korah.’ The Old Eng. ‘withsay’ is a curious link between ‘gainsay’ and ‘withstand’. Compare the German wider and gegen.

The Bible Word Book, p. 280, quotes from Gower:—

‘There may no man his hap withsain.’Titus 2:9. Δούλους, servants) namely, exhort, Titus 2:6.Verse 9. - In subjection to for obedient unto, A.V.; be well-pleasing to them for please them well, A.V.; gainsaying for answering gain, A.V. Servants; i.e. dares (δούλους), the correlative to which is δεσπόταις, masters, who had absolute power over their slaves, and property in them (comp. 1 Peter 2:18, where they are called by the name of οἰκέται, house-slaves). The construction is carried on from the "exhort" of ver. 6. Well-pleasing (εὐαρέστους); elsewhere spoken with reference to God (Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:10, etc.). In all things (ἐν πᾶσιν); nearly the same as περὶ πάντα in ver. 7; to be taken with εὐαρέστους. Some, however, connect the words with ὑποτάσσεσθαι, "to be obedient in all things." Gainsaying (ἐντιλέγοντας); as in Titus 1:9 (see note). Here, however, the" answering again" of the A.V. is a better rendering. It implies, of course, a resistance to the will of their master, and impatience of any rebuke (comp. 1 Peter 2:18-20). To please them well in all things (ἐν πᾶσιν εὐαρέστους εἶναι)

Wrong. Const. in all things with to be in subjection. Note the position of ἐν πᾶσιν in 1 Timothy 3:11; 1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 4:5, and comp. ὑπακούειν κατὰ πάντα obey in all things, Colossians 3:20, Colossians 3:22; and ὑποτάσσεται - ἐν παντί is subject in everything, Ephesians 5:24. Ἑυάρεστος well pleasing, only here in Pastorals. Almost exclusively in Paul. See also Hebrews 13:21. Ευαρέστως acceptably, Hebrews 12:28.

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