Titus Chapter 1:1-16 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

Titus 1:1

1.A servant of God This extended and laborious commendation of his apostleship shows that Paul had in view the whole Church, and not Titus alone; for his apostleship was not disputed by Titus, and Paul is in the habit of proclaiming the titles of his calling, in order to maintain his authority. Accordingly, just as he perceives those to whom he writes to be disposed, he deals largely or sparingly in those ornaments. Here his design was, to bring into subjection those who had haughtily rebelled; and for this reason he extols his apostleship in lofty terms. He therefore writes this Epistle, not that it may be read in solitude by Titus in his closet, but that it may be openly published.

An Apostle of Jesus Christ First, he calls himself “a servant of God,” and next adds the particular kind of his ministry, namely, that he is “an Apostle of Christ;” for there are various ranks among the servants of God. Thus he descends from the general description to the particular class. We ought also to keep in remembrance what I have said elsewhere, that the word servant means something else than ordinary subjection, (on account of which all believers are called “servants of God,”) and denotes a minister who has received a particular office. In this sense the prophets were formerly distinguished by this title, and Christ himself is the chief of the prophets: “Behold my servant, I have chosen him.” (Isa_42:1.)

Thus David, with a view to his royal dignity calls himself “a servant of God.” Perhaps, also, it is on account of the Jews that he designates himself “a servant of God;” for they were wont to lower his authority by alleging the law against him. He therefore wishes to be accounted an Apostle of Christ in such a manner that he may likewise glory in being a servant of the eternal God. Thus he shows not only that those two titles are quite consistent with each other, but that they are joined by a bond which cannot be dissolved.

According to the faith of the elect of God If any one doubt about his apostleship, he procures credit for it by a very strong reason, connecting it with the salvation “of the elect of God.” As if he had said, “There is a mutual agreement between my apostleship and the faith of the elect of God; and, therefore, it will not be rejected by any man who is not a reprobate and opposed to the true faith.”

By “the elect” he means not only those who were at that time alive, but all that had been from the beginning of the world; for he declares that he teaches no doctrine which does not agree with the faith of Abraham and of all the fathers. So, then, if any person in the present day wishes to be accounted a successor of Paul, he must prove that he is the minister of the same doctrine. But these words contain also an implied contrast, that the gospel may suffer no damage from the unbelief and obstinacy of many; for at that time, as well as in the present day, weak minds were greatly disturbed by this scandal, that the greater part of those who boasted of the title of the Church rejected the pure doctrine of Christ. For this reason Paul shows that, though all indiscriminately boast of the name of God, there are many of that multitude who are reprobates; as he elsewhere (Rom_9:7) affirms, that not all who are descended from Abraham according to the flesh, are the lawful children of Abraham.

And the knowledge of that truth I consider the copulative and to be here equivalent to that is; so that the passage might run thus: “according to the faith of the elect of God, that is, the knowledge of that truth which is according to godliness.” This clause explains what is the nature of that “faith” which he has mentioned, though it is not a full definition of it, but a description framed so as to apply to the present context. For the purpose of maintaining that his apostleship is free from all imposture and error, he solemnly declares that it contains nothing but known and ascertained truth, by which men are instructed in the pure worship of God. But as every word has its own weight, it is highly proper to enter into a detailed explanation.

First, when “faith” is called “knowledge,” it is distinguished not only from opinion, but from that shapeless faith which the Papists have contrived; for they have forged an implicit faith destitute of all light of the understanding. But when Paul describes it to be a quality which essentially belongs to faith — to know the truth, he plainly shews that there is no faith without knowledge.

The word truth expresses still more clearly the certainty which is demanded by the nature of faith; for faith is not satisfied with probable arguments, but holds what is true. Besides, he does not speak of every kind of truth, but of the heavenly doctrine, which is contrasted with the vanity of the human understanding. As God has revealed himself to us by means of that truth, so it is alone worthy of the honor of being called “the truth” — a name which is bestowed on it in many parts of Scripture.

“And the Spirit will lead you into all truth.” (Joh_16:13.)

“Thy word is the truth.” (Joh_17:17.)

“Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Gal_3:1.)

“Having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of the Son of God.” (Col_1:5.)

“He wisheth all to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti_2:4.)

“The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1Ti_3:15.)

In a word, that truth is the right and sincere knowledge of God, which frees us from all error and falsehood. So much the more ought it to be valued by us, since nothing is more wretched than to wander like cattle during our whole life.

Which is according to godliness. This clause especially limits “the truth” of which he had spoken, but at the same time commends the doctrine of Paul from the fruit and end of it, because it has no other object than that God should be worshipped in a right manner, and that pure religion should flourish among men. In this manner he defends his doctrine from every suspicion of vain curiosity, as he did before Felix, (Act_24:10,) and afterwards before Agrippa, (Act_26:1;) for, since all questions which do not tend to edification ought justly to be suspected and even hated by good men, the only lawful commendation of doctrine is this, that it instructs us to fear God and to bow before him with reverence. And hence we are also informed, that the greater progress any one has made in godliness, he is so much the better disciple of Christ; and that he ought to be reckoned a true theologian who edifies consciences in the fear of God.

Cambridge Bible

Titus 1:1. Paul, a servant of God] A bond-servant (as R.V. margin) or slave of God; in St Paul’s other uses of this word as his title it is ‘slave of Jesus Christ.’ The variation has been well pointed to as an evidence of genuineness; ‘a forger would not have made a deviation so very noticeable.’ The reason for the variation is probably the same as for the phrase ‘God our Saviour’ here and through these epistles; see note 1Ti_1:1. Here in the Salutation itself we have ‘God’s slave,’ ‘God’s elect,’ ‘God who cannot lie,’ ‘God our Saviour.’ Paul is the minister of the One Personal Eternal God; it is ‘faith in Him,’ full knowledge of Him that is wanted where, as Lewin remarks was the case in Crete, ‘Judaism and then Gnosticism, its offspring, had corrupted the Word, and the Gospel had become so disfigured by strange phantasies that its features could scarcely be recognised.’

and an apostle of Jesus Christ] The ‘and’ is in Vulgate ‘autem’ not ‘et’ or ‘sed,’ the exact force being almost ‘and so as a consequence.’

‘Jesus Christ’ is here the right order, as Tischendorf 8th ed. admits, though in 1Ti_1:1; 2Ti_1:1 ‘Christ Jesus’ should be read. See notes there. It is natural enough that the new order of the words should sometimes be displaced by the older and more familiar.

according to the faith] Vulg. ‘secundum’; and the R.V. keeps according to rightly enough in spite of all modern commentators who wish for the meaning ‘with a view to’ as in Php_3:14, ‘I press on toward the goal,’ and think that ‘according to’ must imply that the faith and knowledge is the rule or norma of the Apostle’s office. But surely the word is not so narrow. Its common use, e.g. in ‘The Gospel according to St Matthew,’ gives a wider sense, ‘in the sphere of,’ ‘on the side of truth where St Matthew stands and sees and teaches.’ And this sense is of course directly derived from the proper meaning of the preposition ‘along,’ ‘throughout.’ So here, the faith and full knowledge of the Cretan Christians is the sphere within which he is to execute this commission from Jesus Christ as an apostle to them. His apostleship might have other spheres for other times and other Churches. Calvin says of St Paul’s commendation of his apostleship here ‘indicat ecclesiae magis quam unius Titi habitam a Paulo rationem.’

God’s elect] Among the N.T. words corresponding to the universal later use of the word ‘Christians,’ 1Pe_4:16, are ‘those who are being saved,’ ‘the called,’ ‘the chosen’ or ‘elect,’ ‘the consecrated’ or ‘saints,’ ‘the faithful’ or ‘believers.’ The first chapter of St Peter’s first epistle touches all; ‘to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion’ v. 1—‘receiving now the salvation of your souls,’ v. 9—‘like the Holy One which called you, be ye yourselves also holy’ v. 15—‘who through him are believers in God’ v. 21. Cf. 2Pe_1:10 ‘make your calling and election sure,’ 1:1 ‘who have obtained faith,’ 2:21 ‘the holy commandment delivered,’ cf. Rev_17:14 ‘called and chosen and faithful.’ The name ‘faithful’ evidently means ‘those who have been made partakers of and received the faith’; and all the names describe a present state of privilege and sonship and grace, the same as that assigned to the baptized in the Catechism, ‘he hath called me to this state of salvation’—‘the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God,’ and in the Baptismal Services, ‘Grant that this child, now to be baptized therein, may receive the fulness of thy grace and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children,’—‘walk answerably to your Christian calling.’

the acknowledging of the truth] Rather, the full knowledge, in opposition to the ‘knowledge falsely so called’ of Gnostic teachers; see v. 16 and note on 1Ti_2:5.

after godliness] The old English use of ‘after,’ according to; cf. Heb_5:6, ‘a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.’ The same preposition being used and in the same sense as just above ‘according to the faith.’ ‘The truth’ is not speculative but moral truth, affecting the life—that they ‘may learn the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health.’ Pr.-Bk. Baptismal Service. For ‘godliness’ see note on 1Ti_2:2.

Jamiseon, Fausset, & Brown

Titus 1:1

Tit_1:1-16. Address: For what end Titus was left in Crete. Qualifications for elders: Gainsayers in Crete needing reproof.

servant of God — not found elsewhere in the same connection. In Rom_1:1 it is “servant of Jesus Christ” (Gal_1:10; Phi_1:1; compare Act_16:17; Rev_1:1; Rev_15:3). In Rom_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, Tit_1:9; Rom_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; Rom_8:30-33; compare Luk_18:7; Eph_1:4; Col_3:12). Act_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, Tit_1:16; 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, Tit_2:12).

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:1

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ – See notes at Rom_1:1; compare the notes at 1Co_9:1-5.

According to the faith of God’s elect – Compare the Rom_8:33 note; Eph_1:4 note; 2Ti_2:10 note. The meaning of the word rendered here, “according to” – κατὰ kata – is, probably, with reference to; that is, he was appointed to be an apostle with respect to the faith of those whom God had chosen, or, in order that they might be led to believe the gospel. God had chosen them to salvation, but he intended that it should be in connection with their believing, and, in order to that, he had appointed Paul to be an apostle that he might go and make known to them the gospel. It is the purpose of God to save His people, but he does not mean to save them as infidels, or unbelievers. He intends that they shall be believers first – and hence he sends his ministers that they may become such.

And the acknowledging of the truth – In order to secure the acknowledgment or recognition of the truth. The object of the apostleship, as it is of the ministry in general, is to secure the proper acknowledgment of the truth among men.

Which is after godliness – Which tends to promote piety towards God. On the word rendered godliness, see the notes at 1Ti_2:2; 1Ti_3:16. – The truth, the acknowledgment of which Paul was appointed to secure, was not scientific, historical, or political truth: it was that of religion – that which was adapted to lead men to a holy life, and to prepare them for a holy heaven.

John Calvin

Titus 1:2

2.In the hope (or, on account of the hope) of eternal life This undoubtedly denotes the cause; for that is the force of the Greek preposition ἐπί ; and therefore it may be translated, “On account of the hope,” or “On the hope.” True religion and the practice of godliness — begin with meditation on the heavenly life; and in like manner, when Paul (Col_1:5) praises the faith and love of the Colossians, he makes the cause and foundation of them to be “the hope laid up in heaven.” The Sadducees and all who confine our hope to this world, whatever they may pretend, can do nothing else than produce contempt of God, while they reduce men to the condition of cattle. Accordingly, it ought always to be the aim of a good teacher, to turn away the eyes of men from the world, that they may look up to heaven. I readily acknowledge that we ought to value the glory of God more highly than our salvation; but we are not now discussing the question which of these two ought to be first in order. All that I say is — that men never seek God in a right manner till they have confidence to approach to him; and, therefore, that we never apply our mind to godliness till we have been instructed about the hope of the heavenly life.

Which God promised before the times of ages. As Augustine translated the words, Πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων to mean — not “the times of ages” but “eternal times,” he gives himself great uneasiness about “the eternity of times,” till at length he explains “eternal times” as denoting those which go beyond all antiquity. As to the meaning, he and Jerome and other commentators agree, that God determined, before the creation of the world, to give that salvation which he hath now manifested by the gospel. Thus Paul would have used the word promise incorrectly instead of decree; for before men existed there was no one to whom he could promise.

For this reason, while I do not reject this exposition, yet when I take a close survey of the whole matter, I am constrained to adopt a different interpretation — that eternal life was promised to men many ages ago, and not only to those who lived at that time, but also for our own age. It was not for the benefit of Abraham alone, but with a view to all who should live after him, that God said,

“In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” (Gen_22:18.)

Nor is this inconsistent with what he says, in another sense, (2Ti_1:9) that salvation was given to men “before the times of ages.” The meaning of the word is still the same in both passages; for, since the Greek wordαἰών, denotes an uninterrupted succession of time from the beginning to the end of the world, Paul declares, in that passage, that salvation was given or decreed for the elect of God before times began to flow. But because in this passage he treats of the promise, he does not include all ages, so as to lead us back beyond the creation of the world, but shews that many ages have elapsed since salvation was promised.

If any person prefer to view “the times of ages” as a concise expression for the ages themselves, he is at liberty to do so. But because salvation was given by the eternal election of God before it was promised, the act of giving salvation is put in that passage (2Ti_1:9) before all ages, and therefore we must supply the word all. But here it means nothing more than that the promise is more ancient than a long course of ages, because it began immediately after the creation of the world. In the same sense he shews that the gospel, which was to have been proclaimed when Christ rose from the dead, had been promised in the Scriptures by the prophets; for there is a wide difference between the promise which was formerly given to the fathers and the present exhibition of grace.

Who cannot lie. This expression ἀψευδής is added for glorifying God, and still more for confirming our faith. And, indeed, whenever the subject treated of is our salvation, we ought to recollect that it is founded on the word of Him who can neither deceive nor lie. Moreover, the only proof of the whole of religion is — the unchangeable truth of God.

Cambridge Bible

Tit 1:2. in hope of eternal life] The force of this phrase ‘in hope’ in N.T. is seen best from 1Co_9:10, ‘to plow in hope—to thresh in hope of partaking,’ or Rom_4:18, ‘who in hope believed against hope.’ It stands strongly by itself with a verb of some other strong feeling or action, equivalent to summa spe. The force of Act_26:5, Act_26:6 comes out far more clearly if we keep ‘in hope’ there too, and understand St Paul to say ‘All the Jews know me; from a boy I have been a strict Pharisee; and today I am living in hope of the promise to our fathers as I stand here on my trial—the hope to which our twelve tribes look; and about this very hope I am called to account.’ Comparing the structure as well as the subject matter of that verse, we may well connect ‘in hope’ here with ‘Paul the Apostle’ before, and with ‘the message wherewith I was entrusted’ after. St Paul is still magnifying his office, as the emphatic ego shews. ‘My commission is threefold, and ranges from (1) the first spiritual life and gifts of those who have been chosen by God, through (2) the growing life of the true man of God thoroughly furnished, to (3) all the hope of glory; how your people in Crete may be justified, sanctified, glorified, is in the message wherewith I was entrusted; against this no Judaic formalism, no Gnostic spiritualism can hold: I have taught you (1) of the Holy Catholic Church; (2) of the Communion of saints and the Forgiveness of sins; (3) of the Resurrection of the body and the Life everlasting: and you are my true child after this common faith.’

God, that cannot lie] See verse 1; ‘God’s promise, and mine as His messenger, is very different from the Cretan teachers’ word’ (v. 12). The epithet is unique in N.T.

promised before the world began] R.V. literally, ‘before times eternal’; A.V. from Vulg. ‘ante tempora saecularia.’ The parallel passages are 2Ti_1:9 ‘his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal,’ Rom_16:25 ‘the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal,’ 1Co_2:7 ‘which God foreordained before the worlds,’ Vulg. ‘ante saecula.’ The last passage shews the meaning of the Vulgate, ‘before the times of the world’s history,’ which is definite and accepted by R.V. there, though rejected here and in 2Ti_1:9 in favour of a bare and indeed meaningless phrase. It is better to import no extraneous definiteness into aionios, and also to recognise the proper idiomatic use of the preposition as to times and dates, of which 2Co_12:2 is an instance, ‘fourteen years ago,’ not ‘before fourteen years.’ Render in eternal times gone by. There is no difficulty as to the fact here or in 2Ti_1:9; with God to purpose, to promise, to give, are all one.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Titus 1:2

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; Tit_3:7; Act_23:6; Act_24:15; Act_28:20).

that cannot lie — (Rom_3:4; Rom_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.”

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:2

In hope of eternal life – Margin, for. Greek, ἐπ ̓ ἐλπι ́ δι ep’ elpidi. This does not mean that Paul cherished the hope of eternal life, but that the “faith of the elect,” which he aimed to secure, was in order that people might have the hope of eternal life. The whole system which he was appointed to preach was designed to secure to man a well-founded hope of salvation; compare the notes, 2Ti_1:10.

Which God, that cannot lie – On the phrase” cannot lie,” see the notes at Heb_6:13. The fact that God cannot lie; that it is his nature always to speak the truth; and that no circumstances can ever occur in which He will depart from it, is the foundation of all our hopes of salvation.

Promised – The only hope of salvation is in the promise of God. It is only as we can have evidence that He has assured us that we may be saved, that we are authorized to cherish any hope of salvation. That promise is not made to us as individuals, or by name, but it becomes ours:

(1) Because He has made a general promise that they who repent and believe shall be saved; and,

(2) Because, we may have evidence that we have repented, and do believe the gospel. If this is so, we fairly come under the promise of salvation, and may apply it to ourselves.

Before the world began – That is, the purpose was then formed, and the promise may be considered as in fact then made; – for a purpose in the mind of God, though it is not as yet made known, is equivalent to a promise; compare the Mat_25:34 note; 2Ti_1:9 note.

John Calvin

Titus 1:3

3.But hath manifested There was indeed some manifestation of this kind, when God in ancient times spake by his prophets; but because Christ publicly, displayed by his coming those thing which they had obscurely predicted, and the Gentiles were afterwards admitted into the fellowship of the covenant, in this sense Paul says that what had formerly been exhibited in part “hath now been manifested.”

In his own times This has the same meaning as “the fullness of times.” (Gal_4:4.) He reminds us that the time when it pleased the Lord to do this — must have been the most seasonable time for doing it; and he mentions this for the purpose of meeting the rashness of men, who have always the hardihood to inquire why it was not sooner, or why it is to-day rather than to-morrow. In order therefore that our curiosity may not exceed proper bounds, he shews that the “times” are placed in the hand, and at the disposal, of God, in such a manner that we ought to think that he does everything in the proper order and at the most seasonable time.

His word. Or, by his word; for it is not uncommon with Greek writers to supply the preposition by. Or, he calls Christ the Word; if it be not thought preferable to supply something for the sake of completing the sentence. Were it not that the second exposition is a little forced, in other respects I should give it the preference. Thus John says, “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what our hands have handled of the Word of life; and the life was manifested.” (1Jo_1:1.)

I therefore prefer what is a simple meaning, that God hath manifested the word concerning the life by the preaching of the gospel.

The preaching, of which he speaks, is the gospel proclaimed, as the chief thing which we hear in it is — that Christ is given to us, and that in him there is life.

Which hath been committed to me. Because all are not indiscriminately fit for so important an office, and no man ought to thrust himself into it, he asserts his calling, according to his custom. Here we ought to learn — what we have often remarked on other occasions — that the honor is not due to any man, till he has proved that God has ordained him, for even the ministers of Satan proudly boast that God has called them, but there is no truth in their words. Now Paul states nothing but what is known and proved, when he mentions his calling.

Besides, from this passage we learn for what purpose they were made apostles. It was for the sake of publishing the gospel, as he says elsewhere, “Woe to me if I preach not the gospel, for a dispensation is committed unto me.” (1Co_9:16.)

Accordingly, they who enact dumb show, in the midst of idleness and luxury, are excessively impudent in boasting that they are the successors of the apostles.

Of God our Savior He applies the same epithet to the Father and to Christ, so that each of them is our Savior, but for a different reason; for the Father is called our Savior, because he redeemed us by the death of his Son, that he might make us heirs of eternal life; and the Son, because he shed his blood as the pledge and the price of our salvation. Thus the Son hath brought salvation to us from the Father, and the Father hath bestowed it through the Son.

Cambridge Bible

Tit 1:3. but hath in due times] See note on 1Ti_6:15: and compare Gal_6:9. The phrase may well be thought the Hellenistic equivalent of the more classical form with preposition and substantive alone, Joh_5:4; Rom_5:6 ‘in due season Christ died,’ in accordance with the growing use of idios, which occurs fifteen times in the Pastoral Epistles.

manifested his word] Bp Wordsworth follows Jerome in understanding this directly of Christ ‘manifested His Word’; but such an usage has no proper support in St Paul. ‘To understand with modern interpreters “the Gospel,” he says, is a feeble tautology.’ But Col_1:26 gives us ‘to fulfil (i.e. to preach fully) the word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid … now manifested … which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we proclaim.’ Compare also Rom_16:25 quoted above. So Vulg. and Theod. Mops. Lat. ‘manifestavit verbum suum.’

through preaching] Rather, as R.V. margin, in the proclamation, to define the mode of manifestation—a historic creed, ‘declaring God’s mind not by dark intimations merely or distant promises but in great facts.’ For such a ‘proclamation,’ the earliest written ‘Gospel,’ see 1Co_15:1-8. Cf. also 1Ti_3:16 and the note.

which is committed unto me] More exactly as R.V., wherewith I was intrusted, as in 1Ti_1:2.

according to the commandment] Better, as in 1Ti_1:1, where see note, by authority from. And therefore Titus is to ‘reprove with all authority,’ ch. 2:15.

of God our Saviour] The same phrase with the same force as in 1Ti_1:1 (see note), and again in this Epistle 2:10, 3:4. The reference is to God the Father, compare the Prayer for Peace and deliverance in the Prayer-Book, ‘that Thou art our Saviour and mighty Deliverer,’ while in the next verse the same title is given to God the Son. But observe the order here, as in 1Ti_2:3, our Saviour God; the closing emphasis on the word ‘God’ expresses still more forcibly than ‘God our Saviour’ the thought explained in verse 1.

Pulpit Commentary


In his own seasons for hath due times, A.V.; in the message for through preaching, A.V.; wherewith 1 was entrusted for which is committed unto me, A.V. In his own seasons. The margin, its own seasons, is preferable (see 1Ti_2:7, note). The phrase is equivalent to “the fullness of the time” (Gal_4:4). Manifested his Word. There is a change of construction. “The relative sentence passes almost imperceptibly into a primary sentence” (Buttmann in Huther); “his Word” becomes the object of the verb “made manifest,” instead of “eternal life,” as one would have expected. His Word is the whole revelation of the gospel, including the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Compare St. Peter’s address to Cornelius (Act_10:36). This “Word,” which lay in the mind of God through the ages, and was only dimly expressed in the promises given from time to time (1Pe_1:10-12), was now “made manifest,” and proclaimed openly in that preaching of the gospel of God’s grace which was entrusted to St. Paul. This same idea is frequently expressed (see Rom_16:25; Eph_1:9, Eph_1:10; Eph_3:3-11; 2Ti_1:9-11; 1Pe_1:20), In the message. Surely a poor and a false rendering. Ἐν κηρύγματι means “by the open proclamation” which St. Paul, as God’s herald, κήρυξ, was commanded to make. But this is better expressed by the word which is appropriated to the proclamation of the gospel, viz. “preaching.” So, as above quoted, Rom_16:25; 2Ti_1:11, and elsewhere frequently. According to the commandment (κατ ἐπιταγὴν κ.τ.λ..); Rom_16:26; 1Ti_1:1 (comp. Gal_1:1). God our Savior (1Ti_1:1; 1Ti_2:3; Tit_2:10; Tit_3:4; Jud 1:25; and also Luk_1:47). Elsewhere in the New Testament the term “Savior” (Σωτήρ) is always applied to our Lord Jesus Christ.

John Calvin

Titus 1:4

4To Titus, my own son, according to the common faith. Hence it is evident in what sense a minister of the word is said to beget spiritually those whom he brings to the obedience of Christ, that is, so that he himself is also begotten. Paul declares himself to be the father of Titus, with respect to his faith; but immediately adds, that this faith is common to both, so that both of them alike have the same Father in heaven. Accordingly, God does not diminish his own prerogative, when he pronounces those to be spiritual fathers along with himself, by whose ministry he regenerates whom he chooses; for of themselves they do nothing, but only by the efficacy of the Spirit. As to the remainder of the verse, the exposition of it will be found in the Commentaries on the former Epistles, and especially on the First Epistle to Timothy.

A.T. Robertson

Titus 1:4

My true child (gnēsiōi teknōi). See note on 1Ti_1:2 for this adjective with Timothy. Titus is not mentioned in Acts, possibly because he is Luke’s brother. But one can get a clear picture of him by turning to 2Co_2:13; 2Co_7:6-15; 8:6-24; 2Co_12:16-18; Gal_2:1-3; Tit_1:4.; Tit_3:12; 2Ti_4:10. He had succeeded in Corinth where Timothy had failed. Paul had left him in Crete as superintendent of the work there. Now he writes him from Nicopolis (Tit_3:12).

After a common faith (kata Koinéēn pistin). Here kata does mean standard, not aim, but it is a faith (pistin) common to a Gentile (a Greek) like Titus as well as to a Jew like Paul and so common to all races and classes (Jud_1:3). Koinéos does not here have the notion of unclean as in Act_10:14; Act_11:8.

John Calvin

Titus 1:5

5.For this reason I left thee in Crete This preface clearly proves, that Titus is not so much admonished on his own account as recommended to others, that no one may hinder him. Paul testifies that he has appointed him in his own room; and on that account all should acknowledge and receive him with reverence as the Apostle’s deputy. The apostles had no fixed place assigned to them, but were charged to spread the gospel through the whole world; and for this reason, when they left one city or district to go to another, they were wont to place fit men as their substitutes, to complete the work which they had begun. Thus Paul affirms that he founded the church of the Corinthians, but that there were other workmen, who must build on his foundation, that is, carry forward the building.

This, indeed, belongs to all pastors; for the churches will always stand in need of increase and progress, as long as the world shall endure. But in addition to the ordinary office of pastors, the care of organizing the church was committed to Titus. Till the churches have been already organized, and reduced to some order, pastors were not usually appointed over them. But Titus held some additional charge, which consisted in giving a form to churches that had not yet been properly arranged, and in appointing a fixed kind of government accompanied by discipline. Having laid the foundation, Paul departed; and then it became the duty of Titus to carry the work higher, that the building might have fair proportions.

This is what he calls correcting those things which are still wanting. The building of the Church is not a work so easy that it can be brought all at once to perfection. How long Paul was in Crete — is uncertain; but he had spent some time there, and had faithfully devoted his labors to erect the kingdom of Christ. He did not lack the most consummate skill that can be found in man; he was unwearied in toil; and yet he acknowledged that he left the work rough and incomplete. Hence we see the difficulty; and, indeed, we find, by experience, in the present day, that it is not the labor of one or two years to restore fallen. churches to a tolerable condition. Accordingly, those who have made diligent progress for many years — must still be attentive to correct many things.

Here it is highly proper to observe the modesty of Paul who willingly permits another person to complete the work which he had begun. And, indeed, although Titus is greatly inferior to him, he does not refuse to have him for ἐπανορθωτήν a “corrector,” to give the finishing hand to his work. Such ought to be the dispositions of godly teachers; not that every one should labor to make everything bend to his own ambitious views, but that they should strive to assist each other, and that, when any one has labored more successfully, he should be congratulated and not envied by all the rest.

And yet we must not imagine that Paul intended that Titus should correct those things which he had left undone, either through ignorance, or forgetfulness, or carelessness, but those things which he could not finish on account of the shortness of the time. In short, he enjoined Titus to make that correction which he would himself have made, if he had remained longer in Crete; not by varying — not by changing anything, but by adding what was wanting; because the difficulty of such a work does not allow every part of it to be done in a single day.

And appoint presbyters in each city In the spiritual building this nearly comes next to doctrine, that pastors be ordained, to take charge of governing the Church; and therefore Paul mentions it here in preference to everything else. It is a point which ought to be carefully observed, that churches cannot safely remain without the ministry of pastors, and that consequently, wherever there is a considerable body of people, a pastor should be appointed over it. And yet he does not say that each town shall have a pastor, so that no place shall have more than one; but he means that no towns shall be destitute of pastors

Presbyters or elders. It is well known, that it was not on account of age, that they received this appellation; for sometimes those who were still young — such as Timothy — were admitted to this rank. But in all languages it has been customary to apply this honorable designation to all rulers. Although we may conclude, from 1Ti_5:17, that there were two classes of presbyters, the context will immediately show, that here none other than teachers are meant, that is, those who were ordained to teach; for immediately afterwards, he will call the same persons “bishops.”

But it may be thought that he gives too much power to Titus, when he bids him appoint ministers for all the churches. That would be almost royal power. Besides, this method takes away from each church the right of choosing, and from the College of Pastors the power of judging; and thus the sacred administration of the Church would be almost wholly profaned. The answer is easy. He does not give permission to Titus, that he alone may do everything in this matter, and may place over the churches those whom he thinks fit to appoint to be bishops; but only bids him preside, as moderator, at the elections, which is quite necessary. This mode of expression is very common. In the same manner, a consul, or regent, or dictator is said to have created consuls, on account of having presided over the public assembly in electing them. Thus also Luke relates that Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every church. (Act_14:23.) Not that they alone, in an authoritative manner, appointed pastors which the churches had neither approved nor known; but that they ordained fit men, who had been chosen or desired by the people. From this passage we do indeed learn, that there was not at that time such equality among the ministers of Christ but that some one had authority and deliberative voice above others; but this has nothing to do with the tyrannical and profane custom which prevails in Popery as to Collations. The apostles had a widely different mode of procedure.

Jamison, Fausset, & Brown

Titus 1:5

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 (Act_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 (Act_11:19) preached to them, as they did to the Jews of Cyprus, etc. Paul also was there on his voyage to Rome (Act_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.”

Pulpit Commentary


Were for are, A.V.; appoint for ordain, A.V.; gave thee charge for had appointed thee, A.V. Left I thee in Crete. We have no account of St. Paul’s visit to Crete, nor do we know how the gospel was first brought to Crete. It may have been by some of those “Cretes” who were at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, and heard the apostles speak in their tongue “the wonderful works of God” (Act_2:11), or by other Christian Jews visiting the Jewish community in Crete (note to Tit_1:1). If St. Paul was returning from Spain, and travelling by ship eastward, Crete would be on his way. The importance of the island, with which he made some acquaintance on his voyage from Caesarea to Rome (Act_27:7, Act_27:8), and the large Jewish colony there, may naturally have inclined him to visit it. How long he remained there we do not know, but he did not stay long enough to organize the Church there completely. There were still things “wanting” (τὰ λείποντα), as it follows. This mention of Crete is an important chronological mark. The order of St. Paul’s progress, as gathered from the three pastoral Epistles, is very distinct—Crete, Miletus, Troas, Macedonia, Corinth, Nicopolis, Rome. He dropped Titus at Crete, and left Timothy behind at Ephesus. The Epistle to Titus, therefore, is the first of the three pastoral Epistles, and this is borne out by another circumstance. When he wrote to Titus he had not made up his mind whether he should send Artemas or Tychicus to take his place in Crete when he rejoined the apostle (Tit_3:12). But when he wrote 2 Timothy he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus to replace Timothy (2Ti_4:12), and Titus had already joined him, and been sent on by him to Dalmatia, presumably from Nicopolis. Set in order (ἐπιδιορθώσῃ); only here in the New Testament, and not found in the LXX. nor in classical Greek, except as a technical word in the art of rhetoric. But διορθόω is very common in classical Greek (see ἐπανόρθωσις, 2Ti_3:16). The force of ἐπί in the compound here is “further,” or “in addition.” St. Paul had set the Church in order up to a certain point. But there were still certain things wanting, τὰ λείποντα (see Tit_3:13; Luk_18:22); and these Titus was to supply and give the finishing touch to. Appoint (καταστήσῃς). This is a better rendering than the A.V. “ordain,” because it is a general word for “to appoint, make.” Probably the A.V. “ordain” was not intended to be taken in a strictly technical sense, but is used as in Heb_5:1; Heb_8:3. The technical word was usually “to order.” “The Ordering of Deacons,” or “of Priests,” is the title of the service in the Book of Common Prayer. “Meet to be ordered,” “shall surcease from ordering,” occur repeatedly in the rubrics, Elders (πρεσβυτέρους); i.e. presbyters, or priests (comp. Act_14:23; and see Act_11:30, note). In every city (κατὰ πόλιν); city by city. The phrase has a peculiar significance in Crete, which used to be famous for its hundred cities. It shows, too, that Christianity was widely spread among the cities of the island. The germ of the episcopal office, one bishop and many presbyters, is here very conspicuous.

Marvin Vincent

Titus 1:5

In Crete

Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. By the mythological writers it was called Aeria, Doliche, Idaea, Telchinia. According to tradition, Minos first gave laws to the Cretans, conquered the Aegean pirates, and established a navy. After the Trojan war the principal cities of the island formed themselves into several republics, mostly independent. The chief cities were Cnossus, Cydonia, Gortyna, and Lyctus. Crete was annexed to the Romans Empire b.c. 67. About Paul’s visiting the island we have no information whatever beyond the hints in this Epistle. There is no absolute proof that Paul was ever there before the voyage to Rome. Although on that voyage some time appears to have been spent at Crete, there is no notice of Paul having received any greeting from the members of the Christian churches there. According to this Epistle, Paul and Titus had worked there together. Paul went away, and left Titus to organize the churches founded by himself. He sent this letter by Zenas and Apollos (Tit_3:13), and announced in it the coming of Artemas or of Tychicus. On their arrival Titus was to join Paul at Nicopolis, where Paul was proposing to winter.

Shouldst set in order (ἐπιδιορθώσῃ)

N.T.o. Lit. to set straight besides or farther; that is, should arrange what remained to be set in order after Paul’s departure. Used by medical writers of setting broken limbs or straightening crooked ones. Διόρθωσις reformation, Heb_9:10 : διόρθωμα correction, Act_24:3.

Ordain elders (καταστήσῃς πρεσβυτέρους)

Καθιστάναι appoint or constitute. In Paul only Rom_5:19. For the sense here comp. Mat_24:45, Mat_24:47; Luk_12:14; Act_6:3. The meaning of the injunction is, that Titus should appoint, out of the number of elderly men of approved Christian reputation, certain ones to be overseers (ἐπίσκοποι) of the churches in the several cities. The eldership was not a distinct church office. See on 1Ti_5:1.

I had appointed (διεταξάμην)

Better, I gave thee charge. Mostly in Luke and Acts.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:5

For this cause left I thee in Crete – Compare the notes, 1Ti_1:3. On the situation of Crete, see the Introduction, Section 2.

That thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting – Margin, “left undone.” The Greek is: “the things that are left;” that is, those which were left unfinished; referring, doubtless, to arrangements which had been commenced, but which for some cause had been left incomplete. Whether this had occurred because he had been driven away by persecution, or called away by important duties demanding his attention elsewhere, cannot now be determined. The word rendered “set in order”, ἐπιδιορθώσῃ epidiorthōsē, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “to make straight upon, and then to put further to rights, to arrange further.” Robinson, Lexicon – There were things left unfinished which he was to complete. One of these things, and perhaps the principal, was to appoint elders in the various cities where the gospel had been preached.

And ordain – The word “ordain” has now acquired a technical signification which it cannot be shown that it has in the New Testament. It means, in common usage, to “invest with a ministerial function or sacerdotal power; to introduce, and establish, and settle in the pastoral office with the customary forms and solemnities” (Webster); and it may be added, with the idea always connected with it, of the imposition of hands. But the word used here does not necessarily convey this meaning, or imply that Titus was to go through what would now be called an ordination service. It means to set, place, or constitute; then, to set over anything, as a steward or other officer (see Mat_24:45; Luk_12:42; Act_6:3), though without reference to any particular mode of investment with an office; see the word, “ordain,” explained in the notes at Act_1:22; Act_14:23. Titus was to appoint or set them over the churches, though with what ceremony is now unknown. There is no reason to suppose that he did this except as the result of the choice of the people; compare the notes at Act_6:3.

Elders – Greek: Presbyters; see the word explained in the notes at Act_14:23. These “elders,” or “Presbyters,” were also called “bishops” (compare the notes at 1Ti_3:1), for Paul immediately, in describing their qualifications, calls them bishops: – “ordain elders in every city – if any be blameless – for a bishop must be blameless,” etc. If the elders and bishops in the times of the apostles were of different ranks, this direction would be wholly unmeaningful. It would be the same as if the following direction were given to one who was authorized to appoint officers over an army: “Appoint captains over each company, who shall be of good character, and acquainted with military tactics, for a Brigadier General must be of good character, and acquainted with the rules of war.” – That the same rank is denoted also by the terms Presbyter and Bishop here, is further apparent because the qualifications which Paul states as requisite for the “bishop” are not those which pertain to a prelate or a diocesan bishop, but to one who was a pastor of a church, or an evangelist. It is clear, from Tit_1:7, that those whom Titus was to appoint were “bishops,” and yet it is absurd to suppose that the apostle meant prelatical bishops, for no one can believe that such bishops were to be appointed in “every city” of the island. According to all modern notions of Episcopacy, one such bishop would have been enough for such an island as Crete, and indeed it has been not infrequently maintained that Titus himself was in fact the Bishop of that Diocese. But if these were not prelates who were to be ordained by Titus, then it is clear that the term “bishop” in the New Testament is given to the Presbyters or elders; that is, to all ministers of the gospel. That usage should never have been departed from.

In every city – Crete was anciently celebrated for the number of its cities. In one passage Homer ascribes to the island 100 cities (Iliad ii. 649), in another, 90 cities (Odyssey xix. 174). It may be presumed that many of these cities were towns of not very considerable size, and yet it would seem probable that each one was large enough to have a church, and to maintain the gospel. Paul, doubtless, expected that Titus would travel over the whole island, and endeavor to introduce the gospel in every important place.

As I had appointed thee – As I commanded thee, or gave thee direction – διεταξάμην dietaxamēn – This is a different word from the one used in the former part of the verse – and rendered “ordain” – καθίστημι kathistēmi. It does not mean that Titus was to ordain elders in the same manner as Paul had ordained him, but that he was to set them over the cities as he had directed him to do. He had, doubtless, given him oral instructions, when he left him, as to the way in which it was to be done.

John Calvin

Titus 1:6

6.If any one is blameless In order that no one may be angry with Titus, as if he were too rigorous or severe in rejecting any, Paul takes the whole blame to himself; for he declares that he has expressly commanded, that no one may be admitted, unless he be such a person as is here described. Accordingly, as he testified, a little before, that he had invested Titus with authority to preside in the appointment of pastors, that others might allow to him that right; so he now relates the injunction which he had given, lest the severity of Titus should be exposed to the illwill of the ignorant, or the slanders of wicked men.

As this passage presents to us a lively portrait of a lawful bishop, we ought to observe it carefully; but, on the other hand, as almost everything that is here contained has been explained by me in the Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy, it will be enough at present to touch on it slightly. When he says, that a bishop must be ἀνέγκληος , blameless, he does not mean one who is exempt from every vice, (for no such person could at any time be found,) but one who is marked by no disgrace that would lessen his authority. He means, therefore, that he shall be a man of unblemished reputation.

The husband of one wife The reason why this rule is laid down — has been explained by us in the Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy. Polygamy was so common among the Jews, that the wicked custom had nearly passed into a law. If any man had married two wives before he made a profession of Christianity, it would have been cruel to compel him to divorce one of them; and therefore the apostles endured what was in itself faulty, because they could not correct it. Besides, they who had involved themselves by marrying more than one wife at a time, even though they had been prepared to testify their repentance by retaining but one wife, had, nevertheless, given a sign of their incontinence, which might have been a brand on their good name. The meaning is the same as if Paul had enjoined them to elect those who had lived chastely in marriage — had been satisfied with having a single wife, and had forbidden those who had manifested the power of lust by marrying many wives. At the same time, he who, having become an unmarried man by the death of his wife, marries another, ought, nevertheless, to be accounted “the husband of one wife;” for the apostle does not say, that they shall choose him who has been, but him who is, “the husband of one wife.”

Having believing children Seeing that it is required that a pastor shall have prudence and gravity, it is proper that those qualities should be exhibited in his family; for how shall that man who cannot rule his own house — be able to govern the church! Besides, not only must the bishop himself be free from reproach, but his whole family ought to be a sort of mirror of chaste and honorable discipline; and, therefore, in the First Epistle to Timothy, he not less strictly enjoins their wives what they ought to be.

First, he demands that the children shall be “believers;” whence it is obvious that they have been educated in the sound doctrine of godliness, and in the fear of the Lord. Secondly, that they shall not be devoted to luxury, that they may be known to have been educated to temperance and frugality. Thirdly, that they shall not be disobedient; for he who cannot obtain from his children any reverence or subjection — will hardly be able to restrain the people by the bridle of discipline.

Cambridge Bible

Tit 1:6. if any be blameless, the husband of one wife] ‘Blameless’; the word has occurred 1Ti_3:10, to the same effect as ‘without reproach’ in 1Ti_3:2, that word describing a character ‘such as cannot be laid hold of,’ this denoting a life ‘such as cannot be called in question,’ Vulg. ‘sine crimine.’ For the importance of this primary qualification see note on 1Ti_5:7. It fits exactly with the next, ‘husband of one wife.’ This also was what the ordinands were to be before they were appointed presbyters; hence ‘husband of one wife’ refers to the prevalent polygamy, and has nothing to do with prohibition of a second marriage after ordination. We see in this here as elsewhere in the Pastoral Epistles (see note on 1Ti_3:2) ‘a solemn demand for purity and blamelessness in the marriage relation amid widespread concubinage and licence.’ Dr Reynolds, Expositor, Vol. viii. p. 74. Technically, ‘not a bigamist.’

having faithful children] ‘Faithful’ is ambiguous, implying either ‘trustworthy’ or ‘believing’; no doubt the latter is intended; the presbyter’s household must not be one where the influence and teaching have been such that the children have still remained heathen; nor yet one where ‘faith’ and ‘duty’ have been severed; for they must also be neither chargeable with riotous living nor unruly, but living ‘in temperance, soberness and chastity,’ and submitting themselves ‘to all that are put in authority.’ ‘Riotous living’ is perhaps better than R.V. ‘riot’ (which is also substituted for the A.V. rendering of the same word ‘excess’ in Eph_5:18), as recalling the typical instance of the character in the ‘Prodigal Son,’ Luk_15:13. ‘The prodigal is one who cannot save or spare, to use Spenser’s word, ‘scatterling.’ The word forms part of Aristotle’s ethical terminology, the truly liberal man being one who keeps the golden mean between the two extremes, prodigality on one side and stinginess on the other.’ Trench, N.T. Syn. § 16.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:6

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife – See the notes at 1Ti_3:2.

Having faithful children – See the notes at 1Ti_3:4-5. That is, having a family well-governed, and well-trained in religion. The word here – πιστὰ pista – applied to the children, and rendered faithful, does not necessarily mean that they should be truly pious, but it is descriptive of those who had been well-trained, and were in due subordination. If a man’s family were not of his character – if his children were insubordinate, and opposed to religion – if they were decided infidels or scoffers, it would show that there was such a deficiency in the head of the family that he could not be safely entrusted with the government of the church; compare the notes at 1Ti_3:5. It is probably true, also, that the preachers at that time would be selected, as far as practicable, from those whose families were all Christians. There might be great impropriety in placing a man over a church, a part of whose family were Jews or heathens.

Not accused of riot – That is, whose children were not accused of riot. This explains what is meant by faithful. The word rendered “riot” – ἀσωτία asōtia – is translated excess in Eph_5:18, and riot in Tit_1:6; 1Pe_4:4. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, though the word riotous is found in Luk_15:13; see it explained in the notes at Eph_5:18. The meaning here is, that they should not be justly accused of this; this should not be their character. It would, doubtless, be a good reason now why a man should not be ordained to the ministry that he had a dissipated and disorderly family.

Or unruly – Insubordinate; ungoverned; see the notes, 1Ti_1:9; Luk_3:4.

John Calvin

Titus 1:7

7.For a bishop ought to be blameless, as a governor of the house of God He again repeats, that they who aspire to the office of a bishop ought to retain an unspotted reputation; and he confirms it by this argument, that, because the Church is the house of God, every person who is appointed to govern it — is constituted, as it were, governor of the house of God. Now, he would be ill spoken of among men, who should take a scandalous and infamous person, and make him his steward; and therefore it would be far more base and intolerable to appoint such persons to be rulers of the household of God. The Latin word dispensator (steward or manager) — employed in the old translation, and retained by Erasmus — does not at all express Paul’s meaning; for, in order that greater care may be exercised in the election, he adorns the office of a bishop within this honorable eulogy, that it is a government of the house of God, as he says to Timothy, “That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to conduct thyself in the house of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1Ti_3:15.)

This passage plainly shows that there is no distinction between a presbyter and a bishop; for he now calls indiscriminately, by the latter name, those whom he formerly he employs both names in the same sense, without any distinction; as Jerome has remarked, both in his Commentary on this passage, and in his Epistle to Evagrius. And hence we may perceive how much greater deference has been paid to the opinions of men than ought to have been paid to them; for the language of the Holy Spirit, has been set aside, and the custom introduced by the arbitrary will of man has prevailed. For my own part, I do not find fault with the custom which has existed from the very beginning of the Church, that each assembly of bishops shall have one moderator; but that the name of office which God has given to all, shall be conveyed to one alone, and that all the rest shall be deprived of it, is both unreasonable and absurd. Besides, to pervert the language of the Holy Spirit — in such a manner that the same words shall have a different meaning from what he intended — is excessive and profane hardihood.

Not self-willed With good reason does he condemn this vice in a bishop, whose duty it is not only to receive kindly those who come to him of their own accord, but also to allure those who withdraw themselves, that he may conduct all in like manner to Christ. Now, αὐθάδεια (as Plato says in one of his Epistles to Dion)τὢς ἐρημίας ἐστὶ ξύνοικος that is, “self-will is closely allied to solitude;” for society and friendship cannot be cherished, when every man pleases himself to such an extent as to refuse to yield and accommodate himself to others. And, indeed, every (αὐθάδης) “self-willed” person, as soon as an occasion presents itself, will instantly become a fanatic.

Cambridge Bible

Tit 1:7. For a bishop must be blameless] Or, as R.V., the bishop. Both are correct and idiomatic; note on 1Ti_3:2. ‘Bishop’ here is admitted to refer to the ‘presbyter’ of verse 5, ‘bishop’ describing the nature of the duties assigned, viz. superintendence and pastoral oversight, while ‘presbyter’ refers rather to station and character; the one is official the other personal. See note on 1Ti_3:1, Introduction, pp. 15-19, and Appendix, C. Bp Wordsworth well paraphrases here, ‘For he who has the oversight of others ought to be blameless.’

as the steward of God] ‘The director of the house of God; Timothy had been told how he was to conduct himself in “the house of God,” and now Titus is told that every bishop or elder, has similar responsibilities.’ Dr Reynolds. Cf. 1Co_4:1, 1Co_4:2; 1Pe_4:10. An approved settled Christian life was essential, because recent converts from heathenism might endanger the Christian Church by bringing into it the relics of their heathen life. Even in the 4th century Chrysostom complains that men came to the Holy Communion hustling and kicking one another.

not self-willed, not soon angry] ‘Self-willed,’ ‘headstrong,’ ‘unfeeling,’ occurs only here and 2Pe_2:10 in N.T. Theophrastus (Char. xv.) describes the character in a way which shews the idea conveyed by the word to be worse than our English ‘self-willed’ implies. He describes it as ‘A certain roughness that shews itself in a man’s whole conversation and behaviour. Ask one of this savage temper if he has seen such a person lately, he answers you, Prithee, friend, don’t be impertinent. If you desire to know the price of anything he has to sell, he grows surly, and asks what fault you find with it? He is inexorable upon the slightest offence; do but chance to tread upon his foot, or push him with your elbow, and he’ll never forget you as long as he lives. If a friend desires to borrow some money of him he at first gives him a flat denial, but upon second thoughts brings it to him, and throwing it down in a churlish manner, Well, here ’tis, says he, but I never expect to see it again. If he stumbles against a stone in the street, he looks back and falls a cursing it.’ Burgell’s Trans. ‘Soon angry,’ ‘irascible,’ ‘choleric,’ only here in N.T., not as Theod. Mops, ‘reminiscentem iram et per longi temporis spatia tenentem,’ i.e. ‘bearing malice.’ The form of the word denotes rather ‘liable to,’ ‘with frequent fits of.’ So the word occurs in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, iii. 1, ‘Be not soon angry, for anger leadeth to murder.’ The word for ‘jesting,’ Eph_5:4, is from an adjective of similar form, ‘quick at banter.’

not given to wine, no striker] As in 1Ti_3:3, not quarrelsome over wine, no striker; see notes there.

not given to filthy lucre] As of the deacons in 1Ti_3:8, where see note; elsewhere in N.T. only the adverb, 1Pe_5:2. Vulg. ‘non turpis lucri cupidum.’ Bp Ellicott (following Huther) refers it especially to ‘dishonesty with the alms of the Church, or any abuse of a spiritual office for purposes of gain.’ The similarly formed word ‘filthy communication,’ Col_3:8, is in R.V. ‘shameful speaking’; and it would be clearer to render here not given to unfair gains. ‘Fair gains’ are the parson’s right for fair pains, 1Ti_5:18; 2Ti_2:6. The phrase ‘filthy lucre’ has come to bear a meaning as if, according to a right and high standard, money per se, rents, tithes, and fees, were all ‘of the earth’ worldly, and unfit to be pressed for by any clergyman who professed to set an example.

John Calvin

Titus 1:8

8.But hospitable, devoted to kindness Hence it is evident how destructive is that plague which tears the Church by quarrels. With this vice he contrasts, first, docility, and next, gentleness and modesty towards all; for a bishop will never teach well, who is not also ready to learn. Augustine praises highly a saying of Cyprian: “Let him be as patient to learn as skillful to teach.” Besides, bishops often need advice and warnings. If they refuse to be admonished, if they reject good advices, they will immediately fall headlong to the grievous injury of the Church. The remedy against these evils, therefore, is, that they be not wise to themselves.

I have chosen to translate φιλάγαθον devoted to kindness, rather than with Erasmus, “a lover of good things;” for this virtue, accompanied by hospitality, appears to be contrasted by Paul with covetousness and niggardliness. He calls that man just, who lives among men without doing harm to any one. Holiness has reference to God; for even Plato draws this distinction between the two words.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:8

But a lover of hospitality – Notes, 1Ti_3:2.

A lover of good men – Margin, “or things.” The Greek (φιλάγαθος philagathos) means, a lover of good, and may apply to any thing that is good. It may refer to good men, as included under the general term good; and there is no more essential qualification of a bishop than this. A man who sustains the office of a minister of the gospel, should love every good object, and be ever ready to promote it; and he should love every good man, no matter in what denomination or country he may be found – no matter what his complexion, and no matter what his rank in life; compare the notes at Phi_4:8.

Sober – Notes, 1Ti_1:2.

Just – Upright in his dealings with all. A minister can do little good who is not; compare the notes at Phi_4:8.

Holy – Pious, or devout. Faithful in all his duties to God; Notes, 1Ti_2:8.

Temperate – ἐγκρατῆ egkratē. Having power or control over all his passions. We apply the term now with reference to abstinence from intoxicating liquors. In the Scriptures, it includes not only that, but also much more. It implies control over all our passions and appetites. See it explained in the notes at Act_24:25; compare 1Co_7:9; 1Co_9:25; Gal_5:23.

John Calvin

Titus 1:9

9.Holding fast the faithful word This is the chief gift in a bishop, who is elected principally for the sake of teaching; for the Church cannot be governed in any other way than by the word. “The faithful word” is the appellation which he gives to that doctrine which is pure, and which has proceeded from the mouth of God. He wishes that a bishop should hold it fast, so as not only to be well instructed in it, but to be constant in maintaining it. There are some fickle persons who easily suffer themselves to be carried away to various kinds of doctrine; while others are cast down by fear, or moved by any occurrence to forsake the defense of the truth. Paul therefore enjoins that those persons shall be chosen who, having cordially embraced the truth of God, and holding it firmly, never allow it to be wrested from them, or can be torn from it. And, indeed, nothing is more dangerous than that fickleness of which I have spoken, when a pastor does not stedfastly adhere to that doctrine of which he ought to be the unshaken defender. In short, in a pastor there is demanded not only learning, but such zeal for pure doctrine as never to depart from it.

But what is meant by according to instruction or doctrine? The meaning is, that it is useful for the edification of the Church; for Paul is not wont to give the name of “doctrine” to anything that is learned and known without promoting any advancement of godliness; but, on the contrary, he condemns as vain and unprofitable all the speculations which yield no advantage, however ingenious they may be in other respects. Thus, “He that teacheth, let him do it in doctrine;” that is, let him labor to do good to the hearers. (Rom_12:7.) In short, the first thing required in a pastor is, that he be well instructed in the knowledge of sound doctrine; the second is, that, with unwavering firmness of courage, he hold by the confession of it to the last; and the third is, that he make his manner of teaching tend to edification, and do not, through motives of ambition, fly about through the subtleties of frivolous curiosity, but seek only the solid advantage of the Church.

That he may be able The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both; for he who is deeply skilled in it will be able both to govern those who are teachable, and to refute the enemies of the truth. This twofold use of Scripture Paul describes when he says, That he may be able to exhort and to convince adversaries And hence let us learn, first, what is the true knowledge of a bishop, and, next, to what purpose it ought to be applied. That bishop is truly wise, who holds the right faith; and he makes a proper use of his knowledge, when he applies it to the edification of the people.

This is remarkable applause bestowed on the word of God, when it is pronounced to be sufficient, not only for governing the teachable, but for subduing the obstinacy of enemies. And, indeed, the power of truth revealed by the Lord is such that it easily vanquishes all falsehoods. Let the Popish bishops now go and boast of being the successors of the apostles, seeing that the greater part of them are so ignorant of all doctrine, as to reckon ignorance to be no small part of their dignity.

Pulpit Commentary


Holding to for holding fast, A.V.; which is according to the teaching for as he hath been taught, A.V.; both to exhort in the sound doctrine for by sound doctrine, both to exhort, A.V.; convict for convince, A.V. Holding to (ἀντεχόμενος). Holding fast is a better and more forcible rendering than holding to. It answers to the Latin adherere, to cling to. The faithful word which is according to the teaching is awkwardly expressed. Ἠ διδασή is “the Christian truth” as taught by the apostles, and “the faithful” or “sure word” to which Titusus is to cleave is described as being” according to that truth” (comp. Tit_1:1, ἀληθείας τῆς κατ εὐσέβειαν). The A.V. gives substantially the apostle’s meaning. The result of this adhesion to the faithful word is that he will be able to comfort and encourage believers by (ἐν) his wholesome teaching, and also to convict the opposers of the truth. The gainsayers; or, contradictors (τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας); such as those Jews described in Act_13:45 and Act_28:19 as “contradicting and blaspheming.”

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:9

Holding fast the faithful word – That is, the true doctrines of the gospel. This means that he is to hold this fast, in opposition to one who would wrest it away, and in opposition to all false teachers, and to all systems of false philosophy. He must be a man who is firm in his belief of the doctrines of the Christian faith, and a man who can be relied on to maintain and defend those doctrines in all circumstances; compare notes, 2Th_2:15.

As he hath been taught – Margin, “in teaching.” Greek “According to the teaching.” The sense is, according to that doctrine as taught by the inspired teachers of religion. It does not mean as he had individually been taught; but he was to hold the faith as it was delivered by those whom the Saviour had appointed to make it known to mankind. The phrase “the doctrine,” or “the teaching,” had a sort of technical meaning, denoting the gospel as that which had been communicated to mankind, not by human reason, but by teaching.

That he may be able by sound doctrine – By sound teaching, or instruction; Notes, 1Ti_1:10; 1Ti_4:16. He was not to dictate, or to denounce; but to seek to convince by the statement of the truth; see the notes at 2Ti_2:25.

Both to exhort and to convince – To persuade them, or to bring them over to your views by kind exhortation, and by the instruction which shall convince. The former method is to be used where men know the truth, but need encouragement to follow it; the latter, where they are ignorant, or are opposed to it. Both exhortation and argument are to be used by the ministers of religion.

The gainsayers – Opposers Literally, those who speak against; that is, against the truth; Notes, Rom_10:21.

John Calvin

Titus 1:10

10For there are many unruly. After having laid down a general rule, which ought to be everywhere observed, in order that Titus may be more attentive to adhere to it, he holds out to him the urgent necessity which ought to excite him more than all things else. He warns him that he has to deal with many obstinate and incorrigible persons, that many are puffed up with vanity and idle talk, that many are deceivers; and that therefore they ought to choose, on the other hand, such leaders as are qualified and well prepared to oppose them. For, if the children of this world, when dangers arise, increase their solicitude and watchfulness, it would be disgraceful for us, when Satan is using his utmost efforts to remain careless and inactive, as if we were in a state of peace.

Unruly Instead of (inobedientes) disobedient, which is the rendering in the old translation forἀνυπότακτοι Erasmus translates it (intractabiles) incorrigible. He means those who cannot endure to be brought to obey, and who throw off the yoke of subjection. He gives the appellation of vain talkers, not only to the authors of false doctrines, but to those who, addicted to ambitious display, occupy themselves with nothing but useless subtleties. Ματαιολογία (vain talking) is contrasted with useful and solid doctrine, and therefore includes all trivial and frivolous speculations, which contain nothing but empty bombast, because they contribute nothing to piety and the fear of God. And such is all the scholastic theology that is found, in the present day, in Popery. Yet he calls the same persons deceivers of minds. It may be thought preferable to view this as relating to a different class of persons; but, for my own part, I think that it means the same class; for the teachers of such trifles entice and fascinate the minds of men, so as no longer to receive sound doctrine.

Chiefly they who are of the circumcision. He says that they are chiefly of the Jews; for it is highly requisite that such plagues shall be known by all. We ought not to listen to those who plead that we should spare the reputation of this or that individual, when the matter in question is the great danger of the whole Church. And so much the greater danger was to be apprehended from that nation, because it claimed superiority above others on account of the sacredness of its lineage. This is therefore the reason why Paul reproves the Jews more sharply, in order to take from them the power of doing injury.

Marvin Vincent

Titus 1:10

Vain talkers (ματαιολόγοι)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. See on vain jangling, 1Ti_1:6.

Deceivers (φρεναπάται)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. See on φρεναπατᾶν to deceive, Gal_6:3.

They of the circumcision (οἱ ἐκ τῆς περιτομῆς)

The phrase only here in Pastorals. Ὁι ἐκ περιτομῆς Act_10:45; Act_11:2; Rom_4:12; Gal_2:12; Col_4:11. There can be no doubt of the presence of Jews in Crete. Tacitus (Hist. v. 2) even makes the absurd statement that the Jews were Cretan exiles; and that from their residence in the vicinity of the Cretan Mount Ida they were called Idaei, whence Judaei. There appears to have been some confusion between the Palestinians and the Philistines – the Cherethim or Cherethites, who, in Eze_25:16; Zep_2:5 are called in lxx Κρῆτες Jews were in the island in considerable numbers between the death of Alexander and the final destruction of Jerusalem. In 1 Macc. 15:23 the Cretan city of Gortyna is mentioned among the places to which letters were written by Lucius, the Roman consul, on behalf of the Jews when Simon Maccabaeus renewed the treaty which his brother Judas had made with Rome. Josephus (Ant. 17:12, 1; Bell. Jud. 2:7, 1) says that Herod’s pseudo-son Alexander imposed on the Cretan Jews on his way to Italy. Philo (Leg. ad Cai. § 36) makes the Jewish envoys say to Caligula that all the principal islands of the Mediterranean, including Crete, were full of Jews.

John Calvin

Titus 1:11

11Whose mouth must be stopped A good pastor ought therefore to be on the watch, so as not to give silent permission to wicked and dangerous doctrines to make gradual progress, or to allow wicked men an opportunity of spreading them. But it may be asked, “How is it possible for a bishop to constrain obstinate and self-willed men to be silent? For such persons, even though they are vanquished in argument, still do not hold their peace; and it frequently happens that, the more manifestly they are refuted and vanquished, they become the more insolent; for not only is their malice strengthened and inflamed, but they give themselves up to indolence.” I reply, when they have been smitten down by the sword of God’s word, and overwhelmed by the force of the truth, the Church may command them to be silent; and if they persevere, they may at least be banished from the society of believers, so that they shall have no opportunity of doing harm. (227) Yet by “shutting the mouth” Paul simply means — “to refute their vain talking,” even though they should not cease to make a noise; for he who is convicted by the word of God, however he may chatter, has nothing to say.

Who overturn whole houses. If the faith of one individual were in danger of being overturned, (for we are speaking of the perdition of a single soul redeemed by the blood of Christ) the pastor should immediately gird himself for the combat; how much less tolerable is it to see whole houses overturned?

Teaching things which they ought not. The manner in which they were overturned is described in these words. Hence we may infer how dangerous it is to make even the smallest departure from sound doctrine; for he does not say that the doctrines, by which they overturned the faith of many, were openly wicked; but we may understand by this designation every kind of corruptions, when there is a turning aside from the desire of edification. Thus it is in reality, that, amidst so great weakness of the flesh, we are exceedingly prone to fall; and hence it arises, that Satan easily and speedily destroys, by his ministers, what godly teachers had reared with great and long-continued toil.

He next points out the source of the evil, a desire of dishonest gain; by which he reminds us how destructive a plague avarice is in teachers; for, as soon as they give themselves up to the pursuit of gain, they must labor to obtain the favor and countenance of men. This is quickly followed by the corruption of pure doctrine.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:11

Whose mouths must be stopped – The word here rendered stopped – ἐπιστομιζειν epistomizein – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, to check, or curb, as with a bridle; to restrain, or bridle in; and then, to put to silence. It is, of course, implied here that this was to be done in a proper way, and in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. The apostle gives Timothy no civil power to do it, nor does he direct him to call in the aid of the civil arm. All the agency which he specifies as proper for this, is that of argument and exhortation. These are the proper means of silencing the advocates of error; and the history of the church shows that the ministers of religion can be safely entrusted with no other; compare Psa_32:8-9.

Who subvert whole houses – Whole families; compare Mat_23:14; 2Ti_3:6. That is, they turn them aside from the faith.

Teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake – For gain. That is, they inculcate such doctrines as will make themselves popular, and as will give them access to the confidence of the people. They make it their first object to acquire influence as ministers of religion, and then abuse that in order to obtain money from the people. This they would doubtless do under many pretences; such as that it was needful for the support of the gospel, or for the relief of the poor, or perhaps for the assistance of distant Christians in persecution. Religion is the most powerful principle that ever governs the mind; and if a man has the control of that, it is no difficult thing to induce men to give up their worldly possessions. In all ages, there have been impostors who have taken advantage of the powerful principle of religion to obtain money from their deluded followers. No people can be too vigilant in regard to pretended religious teachers; and while it is undoubtedly their duty to contribute liberally for the support of the gospel, and the promotion of every good cause, it is no less their duty to examine with care every proposed object of benevolence, and to watch with an eagle eye those who have the disbursement of the charities of the church. It is very rare that ministers ought to have much to do with disposing of the funds given for benevolent purposes; and when they do, they should in all cases be associated with their lay brethren; see Paley’s Horae Paulinae, chap. iv., No. 1, 3, note; compare 1Co_16:3. On the phrase “filthy lucre,” see the notes at 1Ti_3:3.

John Calvin

Titus 1:12

12One of themselves, a prophet of their own I have no doubt that he who is here spoken of is Epimenides, who was a native of Crete; for, when the Apostle says that this author was “one of themselves,” and was “a prophet of their own,” he undoubtedly means that he belonged to the nation of the Cretans. Why he calls him a Prophet–is doubtful. Some think that the reason is, that the book from which Paul borrowed this passage bears the title Περὶ Χρησμῶν “concerning oracles.” Others are of opinion that Paul speaks ironically, by saying that they have such a Prophet — a Prophet worthy of a nation which refuses to listen to the servants of God. But as poets are sometimes called by the Greeks (προφὢται) “prophets,” and as the Latin authors call them Vates , I consider it to denote simply a teacher. The reason why they were so called appears to have been, that they were always reckoned to be (γένος θεῖον καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικόν)“ a divine race and moved by divine inspiration.” Thus also Adimantus, in the Second Book of Plato’s treatise Περὶ Πολιτείας after having called the poets υἵους Θεῶν “sons of the gods,” adds, that they also became their prophets. For this reason I think that Paul accommodates his style to the ordinary practice. Nor is it of any importance to inquire on what occasion Epimenides calls his countrymen liars, namely, because they boast of having the sepulcher of Jupiter; but seeing that the poet takes it from an ancient and well-known report, the Apostle quotes it as a proverbial saying.

From this passage we may infer that those persons are superstitious, who do not venture to borrow anything from heathen authors. All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God. Besides, all things are of God; and, therefore, why should it not be lawful to dedicate to his glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose? But on this subject the reader may consult Basil’s discourse πρὸς τοὺς νέους, ὅπως ἂν ἐξ ἑλλ κ.τ.λ

Cambridge Bible

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 v. 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.

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).

Adam Clarke

Titus 1:12

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own – This was Epimenides, who was born at Gnossus, in Crete, and was reckoned by many the seventh wise man of Greece, instead of Periander, to whom that honor was by them denied. Many fabulous things are related of this poet, which are not proper to be noticed here. He died about 538 years before the Christian era. When St. Paul calls him a prophet of their own, he only intimates that he was, by the Cretans, reputed a prophet. And, according to Plutarch, (in Solone), the Cretans paid him divine honors after his death. Diogenes Laertius mentions some of his prophecies: beholding the fort of Munichia, which guarded the port of Athens, he cried out: “O ignorant men! if they but knew what slaughters this fort shall occasion, they would pull it down with their teeth!” This prophecy was fulfilled several years after, when the king, Antipater, put a garrison in this very fort, to keep the Athenians in subjection. See Diog. Laert., lib. i. p. 73.

Plato, De Legibus, lib. ii., says that, on the Athenians expressing great fear of the Persians, Epimenides encouraged them by saying “that they should not come before ten years, and that they should return after having suffered great disasters.” This prediction was supposed to have been fulfilled in the defeat of the Persians in the battles of Salamis and Marathon.

He predicted to the Lacedemonians and Cretans the captivity to which they should one day be reduced by the Arcadians. This took place under Euricrates, king of Crete, and Archidamus, king of Lacedemon; vide Diog. Laert., lib. i. p. 74, edit. Meibom.

It was in consequence of these prophecies, whether true or false, that his countrymen esteemed him a prophet; that he was termed ανηρ αθειος, a divine man, by Plato; and that Cicero, De Divin., lib. i., says he was futura praesciens, et vaticinans per furorem: “He knew future events, and prophesied under a divine influence.” These things are sufficient to justify the epithet of prophet, given him here by St. Paul. It may also be remarked that vates and poeta, prophet and poet, were synonymous terms among the Romans.

The Cretians are always liars – The words quoted here by the apostle are, according to St. Jerome, Socrates, Nicephorus, and others, taken from a work of Epimenides, now no longer extant, entitled Περι χρησμων· Concerning Oracles. The words form a hexameter verse: –

Κρητες αει ψευσται, κακα θηρια, γαστερες αργαι.

The Cretans are always liars; destructive wild beasts; sluggish gluttons.

That the Cretans were reputed to be egregious liars, several of the ancients declare; insomuch that Κρητιζειν, to act like a Cretan, signifies to lie; and χρησθαι Κρητισμῳ, to deceive. The other Greeks reputed them liars, because they said that among them was the sepulchre of Jupiter, who was the highest object of the Greek and Roman worship. By telling this truth, which all others would have to pass for a lie, the Cretans showed that the object of their highest admiration was only a dead man.

Evil beasts – Ferocious and destructive in their manners.

Slow bellies – Addicted to voluptuousness, idleness, and gluttony; sluggish or hoggish men.

Marvin Vincent

Titus 1:12

One of themselves (τις ἐξ αὐτῶν)

Ἁυτῶν refers to the gainsayers, Tit_1:9, Tit_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. Act_17:22, Act_17:23.

The Cretans, etc.

The words Κρῆτες – ἀργαί form a hexameter line.

Always (ἀεὶ)


Liars (ψεῦσται)

In Pastorals here and 1Ti_1:10. Once in Paul, Rom_3:4. Mostly in John. The Cretan habit of lying passed into a verb, κρητίζειν to speak like a Cretan = to lie: also into a noun, κρητισμός Cretan behavior = 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.

Evil beasts (κακὰ θηρία)

Rude, cruel, and brutal.

Slow-bellies (γαστέρες ἀργαί)

Better, idle-bellies. Rev. gives the correct idea, idle gluttons. They are so given to gluttony that they are mere bellies. Comp. Phi_3:19. Γαστὴρ, elsewhere in N.T. always in connection with childbearing. So mostly in lxx, but in a few instances as here. See Job_20:23; Psa_17:14; Sir. 37:5. In Job_20:14 as the rendering of קֶרֶב, bowels. Ἁργός idle, oP. However such words may have befitted the pagan seer, it is not pleasant to regard them as taken up and endorsed by the great Christian apostle, who thus is made to stigmatise as liars, beasts, and gluttons a whole people, among whom he had himself so successfully labored that several churches had been founded in a short time. They are strange words from a venerable Christian minister to a younger minister to whom he had intrusted the care of those very souls; and, in any case, are superfluous, as addressed to one who must have known the characteristics of the Cretans quite as well as the writer himself.

John Calvin

Titus 1:13

13.This testimony is true. How worthiness soever the witness may have been, yet the truth which has been spoken by him is acknowledged by Paul. The inhabitants of Crete, of whom he speaks with such sharpness were undoubtedly very wicked. The Apostle, who is wont to reprove mildly those who deserved to be treated with extreme severity, would never have spoken so harshly of the Cretans, if he had not been moved by very strong reasons. What term more reproachful than these opprobrious epithets can be imagined; that they were “lazy, devoted to the belly, destitute of truth, evil beasts?” Nor are these vices charged against one or a few persons, but he condemns the whole nation.

It was truly a wonderful purpose of God, that he called a nation so depraved, and so infamous on account of its vices, to be among the first who should partake of the gospel; but his goodness is not less worthy of admiration, in having bestowed heavenly grace on those who did not even deserve to live in this world. In that country so corrupt, as if in the midst of hell, the Church of Christ held a position, and did not cease to be extended, though it was infected by the corruption of the evils which prevailed there; for here Paul not only reproves those who were strangers to the faith, but expressly reproves those who had made a profession of Christianity. Perceiving that these vices so hateful have already taken root, and are spreading far and wide, he does not spare the reputation of the whole nation, that he may attempt the care of those whom there was some hope of healing.

Wherefore rebuke them sharply Of that circumspection and prudence with which a bishop ought to be endowed, it is not the least part, that he regulate his manner of teaching by the dispositions and conduct of men. We must not deal with obstinate and unruly persons in the same manner as with those who are meek and teachable; for, in instructing the latter, we ought to use such mildness as is suitable to their teachable disposition, while the stubbornness of the former must be severely corrected, and (as the saying is) for a bad knot there must be a bad wedge. The reason why Titus ought to be more sharp and severe in rebuking them has been already stated, namely, that they are “evil beasts.”

That they may be sound in the faith Whether the “soundness” or “healthfulness” is here contrasted with the diseases which he has mentioned, or whether he simply commands them to remain in the sound faith, is uncertain. I prefer the latter view. As they already are exceedingly vicious, and may easily be corrupted more and more, he wishes them to be more closely and strictly kept within the pure faith.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:13

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, 2Ti_4:2.

Sharply – ἀποτο ́μως apotomōs – “cuttingly, severely” – from ἀποτε ́μνω 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.

John Calvin

Titus 1:14

14And may not listen to Jewish fables He now shews in what “sound faith” consists — when it is not corrupted by any “fables.” But in guarding against the danger he prescribes this remedy — not to give ear to them; for God wishes us to be so attentive to his word, that there shall be no entrance for trifles. And, indeed, when the truth of God has once gained admission all that can be brought against it will be so tasteless, that it will not attract our minds. If, therefore, we wish to preserve the faith uncontaminated, let us learn carefully to restrain our senses, so that they may not give themselves up to strange contrivances; for, as soon as any person shall begin to listen to fables, he will lose the purity of faith.

All trivial inventions he calls “fables,” or, as we would say, “trifles;” for what he immediately adds, about “the commandments of men,” has the same meaning. And he calls those men enemies of the truth who, not satisfied with the pure doctrine of Christ, mix up with them their own fooleries; for all that men of themselves contrive ought to be accounted “fabulous.”

He attributes this vice chiefly to the Jews, because, under the presence of the divine law, they introduced superstitious ceremonies. The Gentiles, being aware that they had been wretchedly deceived during their whole life, more easily renounced their former course of life; while the Jews, having been educated in the true religion, obstinately defended the ceremonies to which they had been accustomed, and could not be convinced that the Law had been abrogated. In this manner they disturbed all churches, because, as soon as the gospel began to make its appearance anywhere, they did not cease to corrupt its purity by mixing it with their leaven. Accordingly, Paul not only forbids them, in general terms, to degenerate from sound doctrine, but points out, as with the finger, the present evil which needed to be remedied, that they may be on their guard against it.

John Calvin

Titus 1:15

15To the pure all things indeed are pure He glances at one class of fabulous opinions; for the choice of the kinds of food, (such as was temporarily enjoined by Moses,) together with purifications and washings, were insisted on as being still necessary, and they even made holiness to consist almost wholly in these minute observances. How dangerous to the Church this was, we have already explained. First, a snare of bondage was laid on the consciences; and next, ignorant persons, bound by this superstition, had a veil drawn over their eyes, which hindered them from advancing in the pure knowledge of Christ. If any of the Gentiles refused to submit to this yoke, because he had not been accustomed to it, the Jews vehemently contended for it, as if it had been the chief article of religions. Not without good reason, therefore, does Paul firmly oppose such corrupters of the gospel. In this passage, indeed, he not only refutes their error, but wittily laughs at their folly, in laboring anxiously, any advantage, about abstaining from certain kinds of food and things of that nature

In the first clause of this verse he upholds Christian liberty, by asserting, that to believers nothing is unclean; but at the same time he indirectly censures the false apostles who set no value on inward purity, which alone is esteemed by God. He therefore rebukes their ignorance, in not understanding that Christians are pure without the ceremonies enjoined by the Law; and next he chastises their hypocrisy, in disregarding uprightness of heart, and occupying themselves with useless exercises. But as the subject now in hand is not the health of the body, but peace of conscience, he means nothing else than that the distinction of the kinds of food, which was in force under the Law, has now been abolished. For the same reason it is evident, that they do wrong, who impose religious scruples on consciences in this matter; for this is not a doctrine intended for a single age, but an eternal oracle of the Holy Spirit, which cannot lawfully be set aside by any new law.

Accordingly, this must be true till the end of the world, that there is no kind of food which is unlawful in the sight of God; and, therefore, this passage is fitly and appropriately quoted in opposition to the tyrannical law of the Pope, which forbids the eating of flesh on certain days. And yet I am not unacquainted with the sophistical arguments which they employ. They affirm, that they do not forbid the eating of flesh, because they allege that it is unclean, (for they acknowledge that all kinds of food are in themselves clean and pure,) but that abstinence from flesh is enjoined on another ground, that it has a tendency to tame the lust of the flesh; as if the Lord had forbidden to eat swine’s flesh, because he judged swine to be unclean. Even under the Law the fathers reckoned that everything which God created is in itself pure and clean; but they held that they were unclean for this reason, that the use of them was unlawful, because God had forbidden it. All things are, therefore, pronounced by the Apostle to be pure, with no other meaning than that the use of all things is free, as regards the conscience. Thus, if any law binds the consciences to any necessity of abstaining from certain kinds of food, it wickedly takes away from believers that liberty which God had given them.

But to the polluted and unbelieving nothing is pure. This is the second clause, in which he ridicules the vain and useless precautions of such instructors. He says that they gain nothing by guarding against uncleanness in certain kinds of food, because they cannot touch anything that is clean to them. Why so? Because they are “polluted,” and, therefore, by their only touching those things which were otherwise pure, they become “polluted.”

To the “polluted” he adds the “unbelieving,” not as being a different class of persons; but the addition is made for the sake of explanation. Because there is no purity in the sight of God but that of faith, it follows that all unbelievers are unclean. By no laws or rules, therefore, will they obtain that cleanness which they desire to have; because, being themselves “polluted,” they will find nothing in the world that is clean to them.

But their mind and conscience are polluted. He shows the fountain from which flows all the filth which is spread over the whole life of man; for, unless the heart be well purified, although men consider works to have great splendor, and a sweet smell, yet with God they will excite disgust by their abominable smell and by their filthiness.

“The Lord looketh on the heart,” (1Sa_16:7,) and “his eyes are on the truth.” (Jer_5:3.)

Whence it arises, that those things which are lofty before men are abomination before God.

The mind denotes the understanding, and the conscience relates rather to the affections of the heart. But here two things ought to be observed; first, that man is esteemed by God, not on account of outward works, but on account of the sincere desire of the heart; and, secondly, that the filth of infidelity is so great, that it pollutes not only the man, but everything that he touches. On this subject let the reader consult Hag_2:11. In like manner Paul teaches that “all things are sanctified by the word,” (1Ti_4:5,) because men use nothing in a pure manner till they receive it by faith from the hand of God.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:15

Unto the pure all things are pure – See the notes at Rom_14:14, Rom_14:20. There is probably an allusion here to the distinctions made in respect to meats and drinks among the Jews. Some articles of food were regarded as “clean,” or allowed to be eaten, and some as “unclean,” or forbidden. Paul says that those distinctions ceased under the Christian dispensation, and that to those who had a conscience not easily troubled by nice and delicate questions about ceremonial observances, all kinds of food might be regarded as lawful and proper; compare the notes at 1Ti_4:4-5. If a man habitually maintains a good conscience in the sight of God, it will be accepted of him whether he do or do not abstain from certain kinds of food; compare the notes at Col_2:16. This passage, therefore, should not be interpreted as proving that all things are right and lawful for a Christian, or that whatever he may choose to do will be regarded as pure, but as primarily referring to distinctions in food, and meaning that there was no sanctity in eating one kind of food, and no sin in another, but that the mind was equally pure whatever was eaten.

The phrase has a proverbial cast, though I know not that it was so fused. The principle of the declaration is, that a pure mind – a truly pious mind – will not regard the distinctions of food and drink; of festivals, rites, ceremonies, and days, as necessary to be observed in order to promote its purity. The conscience is not to be burdened and enslaved by these things, but is to be controlled only by the moral laws which God has ordained. But there may be a somewhat higher application of the words – that every ordinance of religion, every command of God, every event that occurs in divine Providence, tends to promote the holiness of one who is of pure heart. He can see a sanctifying tendency in everything, and can derive from all that is commanded, and all that occurs, the means of making the heart more holy. While a depraved mind will turn every such thing to a pernicious use, and make it the means of augmenting its malignity and corruption, to the pure mind it will be the means of increasing its confidence in God, and of making itself more holy. To such a mind everything may become a means of grace.

But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure – Everything is made the means of increasing their depravity. No matter what ordinances of religion they observe; what distinctions of meats, or drinks, or days they regard, and what events of Providence occur, all are the occasion of augmented depravity. Such distinctions in food they make the means of fostering their pride and producing self-righteousness; the mercies of God they abuse to pamper their own lusts, and the afflictive events of Divine Providence they make the occasion of murmuring and rebellion. Naturally corrupt at heart, no ordinances of religion, and no events of Providence, make them any better, but all tend to deepen their depravity. A sentiment similar to this is found in the classic writers. Thus Seneca, Epis. 98. Malus animus omnia in malum vertit, etiam quae specie optimi venerunt. So again (de Beneficiis v. 12), (Quemadmodum stomachus morbo vitiatus, et colliques bilem, quoscunque acceperit cibos mutat – ita animus caecus, quicquid fill commiseris, id onus suum et perniciem facited.

But even their mind and conscience is defiled – It is not a mere external defilement – a thing which they so much dread – but a much worse kind of pollution, that which extends to the soul and the conscience. Everything which they do tends to corrupt the inner man more and more, and to make them really more polluted and abominable in the sight of God. The wicked, while they remain impenitent, are constantly becoming worse and worse. They make everything the means of increasing their depravity, and even these things which seem to pertain only to outward observances are made the occasion of the deeper corruption of the heart.

John Calvin

Titus 1:16

16They profess that they know God He treats those persons as they deserve; for hypocrites, who give their whole attention to minute observances, despise fearlessly what constitutes the chief part of the Christian life. The consequence is, that they display their vanity, while contempt of God is manifested in open crimes. And this is what Paul means; that they who wish to be seen abstaining from one kind of food — indulge in wantonness and rebellion, as if they had shaken of the yoke; that their conduct is disgraceful and full of wickedness, and that not a spark of virtue is visible in their whole life.

For they are abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate. When he calls them, βδελυκτούς abominable, he seems to allude to their pretended holiness, to which they gave their earnest attention. But Paul declares that they gain no advantage, for they do not cease to be profane and detestable. With good reason does he accuse them of disobedience; for nothing can be more haughty than hypocrites, who exert themselves so laboriously about ceremonies, in order that they may have it in their power to despise with impunity the chief requirements of the law. We may appropriately interpret the word ἀδόκιμοι reprobate in an active signification; as if he had said, that they who wish to be thought so sagacious instructors in trifles — are destitute of judgment and understanding as to good works.

Adam Clarke

Titus 1:16

They profess that they know God – He still speaks concerning the unbelieving Jews, the seducing teachers, and those who had been seduced by their bad doctrine. None were so full of pretensions to the knowledge of the true God as the Jews. They would not admit that any other people could have this knowledge; nor did they believe that God ever did or ever would reveal himself to any other people; they supposed that to give the law and the prophets to the Gentiles would be a profanation of the words of God. Hence they became both proud, uncharitable, and intolerant; and in this disposition they continue till the present day.

But in works they deny him – Their profession and practice were at continual variance. Full of a pretended faith, while utterly destitute of those works by which a genuine faith is accredited and proved. Dio Cassius represents Caesar as saying of his mutinous soldiers: Ονομα Ῥωμαιων εχοντας, εργα δε Κελτων δρωντας. “Having the name of Romans, while they had the manners of the Gauls.” How near are those words to the saying of the apostle!

Being abominable – Βδελυκτοι. This word sometimes refers to unnatural lusts.

And disobedient – Απειθεις· Unpersuadable, unbelieving, and consequently disobedient. Characters remarkably applicable to the Jews through all their generations.

Unto every good work reprobate – Αδοκιμοι· Adulterate; like bad coin, deficient both in the weight and goodness of the metal, and without the proper sterling stamp; and consequently not current. If they did a good work, they did not do it in the spirit in which it should be performed. They had the name of God’s people; but they were counterfeit. The prophet said; Reprobate silver shall men call them.

1. Though the principal part of this chapter, and indeed of the whole epistle, may be found in nearly the same words in the First Epistle to Timothy, yet there are several circumstances here that are not so particularly noted in the other; and every minister of Christ will do well to make himself master of both; they should be carefully registered in his memory, and engraven on his heart.

2. The truth, which is according to godliness, in reference to eternal life, should be carefully regarded. The substantial knowledge of the truth must have faith for its foundation, godliness for its rule, and eternal life for its object and end. He who does not begin well, is never likely to finish fair. He who does not refer every thing to eternity, is never likely to live either well or happily in time.

3. There is one subject in this chapter not sufficiently attended to by those who have the authority to appoint men to ecclesiastical offices; none should be thus appointed who is not able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. The powers necessary for this are partly natural, partly gracious, and partly acquired.

1. If a man have not good natural abilities, nothing but a miracle from heaven can make him a proper preacher of the Gospel; and to make a man a Christian minister, who is unqualified for any function of civil life, is sacrilege before God.

2. If the grace of God do not communicate ministerial qualifications, no natural gifts, however splendid, can be of any avail. To be a successful Christian minister, a man must feel the worth of immortal souls in such a way as God only can show it, in order to spend and be spent in the work. He who has never passed through the travail of the soul in the work of regeneration in his own heart, can never make plain the way of salvation to others.

3. He who is employed in the Christian ministry should cultivate his mind in the most diligent manner; he can neither learn nor know too much. If called of God to be a preacher, (and without such a call he had better be a galley slave), he will be able to bring all his knowledge to the assistance and success of his ministry. If he have human learning, so much the better; if he be accredited, and appointed by those who have authority in the Church, it will be to his advantage; but no human learning, no ecclesiastical appointment, no mode of ordination, whether Popish, Episcopal, Protestant, or Presbyterian, can ever supply the Divine unction, without which he never can convert and build up the souls of men. The piety of the flock must be faint and languishing when it is not animated by the heavenly zeal of the pastor; they must be blind if he be not enlightened; and their faith must be wavering when he can neither encourage nor defend it.

4. In consequence of the appointment of improper persons to the Christian ministry, there has been, not only a decay of piety, but also a corruption of religion. No man is a true Christian minister who has not grace, gifts, and fruit; if he have the grace of God, it will appear in his holy life and godly conversation. If to this he add genuine abilities, he will give full proof of his ministry; and if he give full proof of his ministry, he will have fruit; the souls of sinners will be converted to God through his preaching, and believers will be built up on their most holy faith. How contemptible must that man appear in the eyes of common sense, who boasts of his clerical education, his sacerdotal order, his legitimate authority to preach, administer the Christian sacraments, etc., while no soul is benefited by his ministry! Such a person may have legal authority to take tithes, but as to an appointment from God, he has none; else his word would be with power, and his preaching the means of salvation to his perishing hearers.

Albert Barnes

Titus 1:16

They profess that they know God – That is, the Jewish teachers particularly, who are referred to in Tit_1:14. All those persons were professors of religion, and claimed that they had a special knowledge of God.

But in works they deny him – Their conduct is such as to show that they have no real acquaintance with him.

Being abominable – In their conduct. The word here used – βδελυκτοὶ bdeluktoi – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means that which is detestable, or to be held in abhorrence.

And disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate – Margin, “void of judgment.” On the word here used – ἀδοκίμος adokimos – see the Rom_1:28 note; 2Co_13:5 note. It means here that in reference to everything that was good, their conduct was such that it could not be approved, or deserved disapprobation. It was for this reason; from the character of the people of the island of Crete, and of those who claimed to be teachers there enforcing the obligation of the Mosaic law, that it was so important for Titus to exercise special care in introducing men into the ministry, and in completing the arrangements contemplated in the organization of the churches there. Yet is this character confined to them? Are there none now who profess that they know God, but in works deny him; whose conduct is such that it ought to be abhorred; who are disobedient to the plain commands of God, and whose character in respect to all that pertains to true piety is to be disapproved by the truly pious, and will be by God at the last day? Alas, taking the church at large, there are many such, and the fact that there are such persons is the grand hindrance to the triumphs of religion on the earth. “The way to heaven is blocked up by dead professors of religion.”


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