1Remind them to be subject to principalities and powers From many passages it is evident that the Apostles had great difficulty in keeping the common people subject to the authority of magistrates and princes. We are all by nature desirous of power; and the consequence is, that no one willingly is subject to another. Besides, perceiving that nearly all the principalities and powers of the world were at that time opposed to Christ they thought them unworthy of receiving any honor. The Jews especially, being an untamable race, did not cease to mutiny and rage. Thus, after having spoken of particular duties, Paul now wishes to give a general admonition to all, to observe peaceably the order of civil government, to submit to the laws, to obey magistrates. That subjection to princes, and that obedience to magistrates, which he demands, is extended to edicts, and laws, and other parts of civil government.
What he immediately adds, To be ready for every good work, may be applied to the same subject, as if he had said, “All who do not refuse to lead a good and virtuous life, will cheerfully yield obedience to magistrates.” For, since they have been appointed for the preservation of mankind, he who desires to have them removed, or shakes off their yoke, is an enemy of equity and justice, and is therefore devoid of all humanity. Yet if any prefer to interpret it without any immediate relation to the context, I have no objection; and indeed there can be no doubt that, in this sentence, he recommends to them kind offices towards their neighbors throughout their whole life.
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities, etc. – By principalities, αρχαις, we are to understand the Roman emperors, or the supreme civil powers in any place.
By powers, εξουσιαις, we are to understand the deputies of the emperors, such as proconsuls, etc., and all such as are in authority – under the supreme powers wherever we dwell. See the doctrine of obedience to the civil powers discussed at large in the notes on Rom_13:1-7.
This doctrine of obedience to the civil powers was highly necessary for the Cretans, who were reputed a people exceedingly jealous of their civil privileges, and ready to run into a state of insurrection when they suspected any attempt on the part of their rulers to infringe their liberties. Suidas, under the word ανεσειον, they stirred up, gives the following fragment: Οἱ δε Κρητες, φοβουμενοι μη τι τιμωριας τυχωσιν, ανεσειον τα πληθη, παρακαλουντες την εξ αιωνος παραδεδομενην ελευθεριαν διαφυλαττειν. “But the Cretans, fearing lest they should be punished, stirred up the populace, exhorting them that they should carefully preserve that liberty which they had received from their ancestors.” What part of the history of Crete this refers to I cannot tell; the words stand thus insulated in Suidas, without introduction or connection. To be jealous of our civil rights and privileges, and most strenuously to preserve them, is highly praiseworthy; but to raise a public tumult to avoid merited chastisement, under pretense that our civil privileges are in danger, is not the part of patriots but insurgents. For such advice as that given here the known character of the Cretans is a sufficient reason: “They were ever liars, ferocious wild beasts, and sluggish gluttons.” Such persons would feel little disposition to submit to the wholesome restraints of law.
1. Put them in mind] ‘Them’ must be ‘the Cretan Christians’ generally: St Paul is gathering all up in his mind for his final counsel. The verb for ‘put in mind,’ and its substantive, occur twice in St John, once in St Luke, but in St Paul only in the Pastoral Epistles three times; in St Peter’s Epistles three times; and once in St Jude’s. Joh_14:26 shews the full construction, accus. of person and of thing, ‘He shall bring all things to your remembrance.’ The A.V. in 3Jn_1:10, ‘I will remember his deeds,’ is surely in the old sense of ‘remember,’ which survives in our valedictory request ‘remember me to all your circle;’ R.V. ‘bring to remembrance,’ cf. note on the similar compound 2Ti_1:6.
to be subject to principalities and powers] Rather, more fully as R.V. to be in subjection. Elsewhere in St Paul’s Epistles the phrase ‘principalities and powers’ refers to spiritual and angelic powers, good or evil, cf. 1Co_15:24; Eph_3:10; Col_1:16. But the word in its old sense (see Bible Word-Book, p. 477) was used of any ‘chief place,’ as in 2Ma_4:27 of the office of high priest. And the meaning here is the same as in the two places where it occurs in the Gospels, Luk_12:11, where our Lord prophesies that His disciples shall be brought before ‘the rulers and the authorities,’ and 20:20, ‘so as to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor.’ There is not sufficient warrant for the connecting ‘and’ here; render to rulers to authorities. Both words illustrate the idiom ‘res pro persona.’ Vulg. ‘potestates’ from whence the Italian podestà a magistrate. The difference between the two words is that the former expresses a governing de facto, whether also de jure or not, the latter a governing de jure, a duly constituted authority. ‘They who rule’ occurs with ‘the authorities’ in the locus classicus, Rom_13:1, where, however, R.V. has retained ‘power,’ apparently because from that passage the phrase ‘the powers that be’ has become an English household word in the sense of ‘lawful authority.’ The other household use of ‘powers’ in the phrase ‘The Great Powers,’ seems to belong rather to the synonym dynamis as expressing material force. In Mat_28:18 the change from ‘power’ to ‘authority’ in R.V. enhances the kingly office and prerogative.
to obey magistrates] The word only occurs Act_5:29, Act_5:32; Act_27:21, where a dative follows; and so it may be here, if we join it with the preceding; but it seems more Pauline to add the verb absolutely. From note on 2:5 we should expect it to differ from the preceding clause, in being more specific in its reference to the official system of government; render perhaps to obey their rules, ‘to obey state laws.’ Fairbairn refers to the earlier history of the island and a ‘known tendency on the part of the Cretans to insubordination and turmoil,’ quoting from Polybius vi. 46, ‘constantly upset by seditions and murders and tribal wars.’
to be ready to every good work] This takes us on a step still further; first a general submission, then a loyal acceptance and execution of public orders, then the learning and labouring truly to get one’s own living and to do one’s duty, domestic, social and civil. That ‘the good work’ has such a reference is implied in Rom_13:3. The ‘ready’ is exactly ‘whatsover ye do, do it heartily unto the Lord,’ cf. Col_3:23. ‘The true workman never shirks when the overseer is not by; he has not one rule for work done for himself, and another for work done for his master. There is a work that is mean and pitiful; all grudging unwilling toil, all ‘scamped’ work, fair to the eye but second rate in reality, is mean and pitiful; it is like work done by the slave at the whip’s end, or like the labour of the convict in gaol; it is forced and unwelcome and as badly done as possible.’ M. A. Lewis, Faithful Soldiers and Servants, p. 58.
2To speak evil of no one He now lays down the method of maintaining peace and friendship with all men. We know that there is nothing to which the disposition of every man is more prone than to despise others in comparison of himself. The consequence is, that many are proud of the gifts of God; and this is accompanied by contempt for their brethren, which is immediately followed by insult. He therefore forbids Christians to glory over others, or to reproach them, whatever may be their own superior excellence. Yet he does not wish them to flatter the vices of wicked men; he only condemns the propensity to slander.
Not given to fighting As if he had said, “Quarrels and contentions must be avoided.” The old translation has therefore rendered it better, Not quarrelsome; for there are other ways of fighting than the sword or the fist. And from what follows it is evident that this is the meaning; for he points out the remedies for the evil, when he enjoins them to be kind, and to shew all meekness towards all men; for “kindness” is contrasted with the utmost rigor of law, and “meekness” with bitterness. If, therefore, we are disposed to avoid every kind of contentions and fighting, let us learn, first, to moderate many things by gentleness, and next to bear with many things; for they who are excessively severe and ill-tempered carry with them a fire to kindle strife.
He says, towards all men, in order to intimate that he should bear with even the lowest and meanest persons. Believers, holding wicked men in contempt, did not think them worthy of any forbearance. Such severity, which arises from nothing else than pride, Paul wished to correct.
To speak evil of no man – Greek, “to blaspheme (βλασφημεῖν blasphēmein, compare the notes at Mat_9:3) no one.” Doddridge renders it, “calumniate no one.” The idea is, that we are not to slander, revile, or defame anyone. We are not to say anything to anyone, or of anyone, which will do him injury. We are never to utter anything which we know to be false about him or to give such a coloring to his words or conduct as to do him wrong in any way. We should always so speak to him and of him in such a way that he will have no reason to complain that he is an injured man. It may be necessary, when we are called to state what we know of his character, to say things which are not at all in his favor, or things which he has said or done that were wrong; but,
(1) We should never do this for the purpose of doing him injury, or so as to find a pleasure in it; and,
(2) Where it is necessary to make the statement, it should be so as to do him no injustice.
We should give no improper coloring. We should exaggerate no circumstances. We should never attempt to express ourselves about his motives, or charge on him bad motives – for we know not what his motives were. We should state every palliating circumstance of which we have knowledge, and do entire justice to it. We should not make the bad traits of his character prominent, and pass over all that is good. In a word, we should show that we would rather find him to be a good man than a bad man – even if the result should be that we had been mistaken in our opinions. It is better that we should have been mistaken, than that he should be a bad man.
To be no brawlers – See the notes at 1Ti_3:3. The same Greek word occurs in both places. It is not elsewhere found in the New Testament.
But gentle – The word here used is rendered “moderation” in Phi_4:5, “patient” in 1Ti_3:3, and elsewhere “gentle;” see the notes at 1Ti_3:3.
Showing all meekness unto all men – In the reception of injuries; see the Mat_5:5 note; Eph_4:2 note.
3For we ourselves also were formerly foolish Nothing is better adapted to subdue our pride, and at the same time to moderate our severity, than when it is shewn that everything that we turn against others may fall back on our own head; for he forgives easily who is compelled to sue for pardon in return. And indeed, ignorance of our own faults is the only cause that renders us unwilling to forgive our brethren. They who have a true zeal for God, are, indeed, severe against those who sin; but, because they begin with themselves, their severity is always attended by compassion. In order that believers, therefore, may not haughtily and cruelly mock at others, who are still held in ignorance and blindness, Paul brings back to their remembrance what sort of persons they formerly were; as if he had said, “If such fierce treatment is done to those on whom God has not yet bestowed the light of the gospel, with equally good reason might you have been at one time harshly treated. Undoubtedly you would not have wished that any person should be so cruel to you; exercise now, therefore, the same moderation towards others.”
In the words of Paul, there are two things that need to be understood. The first is, that they who have now been enlightened by the Lord, being humbled by the remembrance of their former ignorance, should not exalt themselves proudly over others, or treat them with greater harshness and severity than that which, they think, ought to have been exercised towards themselves when they were what those now are. The second is, that they should consider, from what has taken place in their own persons, that they who to-day are strangers may to-morrow be received into the Church, and, having been led to amendment of their sinful practices, may become partakers of the gifts of God, of which they are now destitute. There is a bright mirror of both in believers, who
“at one time were darkness, and afterwards began to be light in the Lord.” (Eph_5:8.)
The knowledge of their former condition should therefore dispose them to συμπάθειαν fellow-feeling. On the other hand, the grace of God, which they now enjoy, is a proof that others may be brought to salvation.
Thus we see that we must be humbled before God, in order that we may be gentle towards brethren; for pride is always cruel and disdainful of others. In another passage, (Gal_6:1,) where he exhorts us to mildness, he advises every one to remember his own weakness. Here he goes farther, for he bids us remember those vices from which we have been delivered, that we may not pursue too keenly those which, still dwell in others.
Besides, seeing that here Paul describes briefly the natural disposition of men, such as it is before it is renewed by the Spirit of God, we may behold, in this description, how wretched we are while we are out of Christ. First, he calls unbelievers foolish, because the whole wisdom of men is mere vanity, so long as they do not know God. Next, he calls them disobedient, because, as it is faith alone that truly obeys God, so unbelief is always wayward and rebellious; although we might translate ἀπειθεῖς unbelieving, so as to describe the kind of “foolishness.” Thirdly, he says that unbelievers go astray; for Christ alone is “the way” and the “light of the world.” (Joh_8:12.) All who are estranged from God must therefore wander and go astray during their whole life.
Hitherto he has described the nature of unbelief; but now he likewise adds the fruits which proceed from it, namely, various desires and pleasures, envy, malice, and such like. It is true that each person is not equally chargeable with every vice; but, seeing that all are the slaves of wicked desires, although some are carried away by one and others by another desire, Paul embraces in a general statement all the fruits that are anywhere produced by unbelief. This subject is explained towards the close of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
Moreover, since Paul, by these marks, distinguishes the children of God from unbelievers, if we wish to be accounted believers, we must have our heart cleansed from all envy, and from all malice; and we must both love and be beloved. It is unreasonable that those desires should reign in us, which are there called “various,” for this reason, in my opinion, that the lusts by which a carnal man is driven about are like opposing billows, which, by fighting against each other, turn the man hither and thither, so that he changes and vacillates almost every moment. Such, at least, is the restlessness of all who abandon themselves to carnal desires; because there is no stability but in the fear of God.
For we ourselves – All of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, were, before our conversion to Christ, foolish, disobedient, and deceived. There is no doubt that the apostle felt he could include himself in the above list, previously to his conversion. The manner in which he persecuted the Christians, to whose charge he could not lay one moral evil, is a sufficient proof that, though he walked according to the letter of the law, as to its ordinances and ceremonies, blameless, yet his heart was in a state of great estrangement from God, from justice, holiness, mercy, and compassion.
Foolish – Ανοητοι· Without understanding – ignorant of God, his nature, his providence, and his grace.
Disobedient – Απειθεις· Unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and disobedient.
Deceived – Πλανωμενοι· Erring – wandering from the right way in consequence of our ignorance, not knowing the right way; and, in consequence of our unbelief and obstinacy, not choosing to know it. It is a true saying, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Such persons are proof against conviction, they will not be convinced either by God or man.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures – Δουλευοντες· Being in a state of continual thraldom; not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living, as their slaves, a life of misery and wretchedness.
Divers lusts – Επιθυμιαις· Strong and irregular appetites of every kind.
Pleasures – Ἡδοναις· Sensual pleasures. Persons intent only on the gratification of sense, living like the brutes, having no rational or spiritual object worthy the pursuit of an immortal being.
Living in malice and envy – Εν κακιᾳ και φθονῳ διαγοντες· Spending our life in wickedness and envy – not bearing to see the prosperity of others, because we feel ourselves continually wretched.
Hateful – Στυγητοι· Abominable; hateful as hell. The word comes from Στυξ, Styx, the infernal river by which the gods were wont to swear; and he who (according to the mythology of the heathens) violated this oath, was expelled from the assembly of the gods, and was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a year; hence the river was hateful to them beyond all things, and the verb στυγεω, formed from this, signifies to shiver with horror.
It maybe taken actively, says Leigh, as it is read, hateful; or else passively, and so may be read hated, that is, justly execrable and odious unto others, both God and man.
Hating one another – Μισουντες αλληλους· This word is less expressive than the preceding: there was no brotherly love, consequently no kind offices; they hated each other, and self-interest alone could induce them to keep up civil society. This is the true state of all unregenerate men. The words which the apostle uses in this place give a finished picture of the carnal state of man; and they are not true merely of the Cretans and Jews that then were, but of all mankind in every age and country; they express the wretched state of fallen man.
Some of the Greek moralists expressed a dissolute and sensual life by nearly the same expressions as those employed by the apostle. Plutarch, in Precept. Conjug., says: Σωματος εστι κηδεσθαι, μη δουλευοντα ταις ἡδοναις αυτου, και ταις επιθυμιαις· “We must take care of the body, that we may not be enslaved by its lusts and pleasures.” And Josephus, speaking of Cleopatra, Antiq., lib. xv. cap. 4, says: Γυναικα πολυτελη, και δουλευουσαν ταις επιθυμιαις· “She was an expensive woman, enslaved to lusts.”
For we ourselves – We who are Christians. There is no reason for supposing, as Benson does, that this is to be understood as confined to Paul himself. There are some things mentioned here which were not probably true of him before his conversion, and the connection does not require us to suppose that he referred particularly to himself. He is stating a reason why those to whom Titus was appointed to preach should be urged to lead holy lives, and especially to manifest a spirit of order, peace, kindness, and due subordination to law. In enforcing this, he says, that those who were now Christians had formerly been wicked, disorderly, and sensual, but that under the influence of the gospel, they had been induced to lead better lives. The same gospel which had been effectual in their case, might, be in others. To others it would be an encouragement to show that there were cases in which the gospel had been thus efficacious, and they who were appointed to preach it might refer to their own example as a reason why others should be persuaded to lead holy lives. In preaching to others, also, they were not to be proud or arrogant. They were to remember that they were formerly in the same condition with those whom they addressed, and whom they exhorted to reformation. They were not to forget that what they had that was superior to others they owed to the grace of God, and not to any native goodness. He will exhort the wicked to repentance most effectually who remembers that his own former life was wicked; he will evince most of the proper spirit in doing it who has the deepest sense of the errors and folly of his own past ways.
Foolish – See this word explained in the notes at Luk_24:25, where it is rendered “fools;” compare Rom_1:14, where it is rendered “unwise,” and Gal_3:1, Gal_3:3; 1Ti_6:9, where it is rendered “foolish.”
Disobedient – To law, to parents, to civil authority, to God. This is the natural character of the human heart; see Luk_1:17; Rom_1:30; 2Ti_3:2; Tit_1:16, where the same word occurs.
Deceived – By the great enemy, by false teachers, by our own hearts, and by the flattery of others. It is a characteristic of man by nature that he sees nothing in its true light, but walks along amidst constant, though changing and very beautiful illusions; compare Mat_24:4-5, Mat_24:11; 2Ti_3:13; 1Pe_2:25; Rev_12:9; Rev_18:23, where the same word occurs; see also Rev_20:3, Rev_20:8,Rev_20:10, where the same word is applied to that great deceiver who has led the world astray. Every one who is converted feels, and is ready to confess, that before conversion he was deceived as to the comparative value of things, as to the enjoyment which he expected to find in scenes of pleasure and riot, and often in what seemed to him well-formed plans.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures – Indulging in the various corrupt passions and propensities of the soul. We were so under their influence that it might be said we were their servants, or were slaves to them (δουλεύοντες douleuontes); that is, we implicitly obeyed them; see the notes at Rom_6:16-17.
Living in malice – Greek, “in evil” – ἐν κακίᾳ en kakia; that is, in all kinds of evil; see the notes at Rom_1:29, where the word is rendered maliciousness.
And envy – Displeasure at the happiness and prosperity of others; Notes, Rom_1:29.
Hateful – στυγητοὶ stugētoi. This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means that our conduct was such as to be worthy of the hatred of others. Of whom, before his conversion, is not this true?
And hating one another – There was no brotherly love; no true affection for others. There was ill-will felt in the heart, and it was evinced in the life. This is an apt description of the state of the heathen world before the gospel shines on it, and it may be regarded as the characteristic of all men before conversion. They have no true love for one another, such as they ought to cherish, and they are liable constantly to give indulgence to feelings which evince hatred. In contentions, and strifes, and litigations, and wars, this feeling is constantly breaking out. All this is suggested here as a reason why Christians should now be gentle and mild toward those who are evil. Let us remember what we were, and we shall not be disposed to treat others harshly. When a Christian is tempted to unkind thoughts or words towards others, nothing is more appropriate for him than to reflect on his own past life.
Either the principal clause in this sentence is, that “God hath saved us by his mercy,” or the language is elliptical. Thus it will be proper to supply, that they were changed for the better, and became new men, in consequence of God having mercy upon them; as if he had said, “When God regenerated you by his Spirit, then did you begin to differ from others.” But since there is a complete sense in the words of Paul, there is no necessity for making any addition. He classes himself along with others, in order that the exhortation may be more efficacious.
4But after that the goodness and love towards man appeared First, it might be asked, — “Did the goodness of God begin to be made known to the world at the time when Christ was manifested in the flesh? For certainly, from the beginning, the fathers both knew and experienced that God was good, and kind, and gracious to them; and therefore this was not the first manifestation of his goodness, and fatherly love towards us,” The answer is easy. In no other way did the fathers taste the goodness of God under the Law, than by looking at Christ, on whose coming all their faith rested. Thus the goodness of God is said to have appeared, when he exhibited a pledge of it, and gave actual demonstration, that not in vain did he so often promise salvation to men.
“God so loved the world”, says John, “that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (Joh_3:16.)
Paul also says in another passage,
“Hereby God confirmeth his love towards us, that, while we were enemies, Christ died for us.” (Rom_5:8.)
It is a customary way of speaking in Scripture, that the world was reconciled to God through the death of Christ, although we know that he was a kind Father in all ages. But because we find no cause of the love of God toward us, and no ground of our salvation, but in Christ, not without good reason is God the Father said to have shewn his goodness to us in him.
Yet there is a different reason for it in this passage, in which Paul speaks, not of that ordinary manifestation of Christ which took place when he came as a man into the world, but of the manifestation which is made by the gospel, when he exhibits and reveals himself, in a peculiar manner, to the elect. At the first coming of Christ, Paul was not renewed; but, on the contrary, Christ was raised in glory, and salvation through his name shone upon many, not only in Judea, but throughout the neighboring countries, while Paul, blinded by unbelief, labored to extinguish this grace by every means in his power. He therefore means that the grace of God “appeared” both to himself and to others, when they were enlightened in the knowledge of the gospel. And indeed, in no other way could these words apply; for he does not speak indiscriminately about the men of his age, but specially addresses those who had been separated from the ordinary ranks; as if he had said, that formerly they resembled those unbelievers who were still plunged in darkness, but that now they differ from them, not through their own merit, but by the grace of God; in the same manner as he beats down all the haughtiness of the flesh by the same argument. “Who maketh thee to differ,” or to be more highly, esteemed than others? (1Co_4:7.)
Goodness and love He has with propriety assigned the first rank to “goodness,” which prompts God to love us; for God will never find in us anything which he ought to love, but he loves us because he is good and merciful. Besides, although he testifies his goodness and love to all, yet we know it by faith only, when he declares himself to be our Father in Christ. Before Paul was called to the faith of Christ, he enjoyed innumerable gifts of God, which might have given him a taste of God’s fatherly kindness; he had been educated, from his infancy, in the doctrine of the law; yet he wanders in darkness, so as not to perceive the goodness of God, till the Spirit enlightened his mind, and till Christ came forth as the witness and pledge of the grace of Godthe Father, from which, but for him, we are all excluded. Thus he means that the kindness of God is not revealed and known but by the light of faith.
Tit 3:4. The contrast is striking; God hated the sinners’ sins, and the sinners hated one another, but God loved all the sinners through it all, and at the right time let His ‘loving kindness’ ‘appear.’ Render: When the kindness of our Saviour God and his love toward man appeared. ‘Kindness’ is the word in Eph_2, the passage of which the present seems a reminiscence; there its colleague is the Pauline ‘grace,’ 2:5, 7, 8. The proper force of the word is well given N. T. Syn. § 63 ‘Wine is chrestos which has been mellowed with age, Luk_5:39; Christ’s yoke is chrestos, as having nothing harsh or galling about it, Mat_11:30.’ Jerome’s definition from the Stoics is quoted, ‘Benignitas est virtus sponte ad benefaciendum exposita.’ Abp Trench adds: ‘This chrestotes was so predominantly the character of Christ’s ministry that it is nothing wonderful to learn from Tertullian (Rev_3Rev_3) how ‘Christus’ became ‘Chrestus,’ and ‘Christiani’ ‘Chrestiani, on the lips of the heathen—with the undertone, it is true, of contempt.’ In N.T. usage the word is peculiar to St Paul. ‘Love toward man’—our ‘philanthropy’—occurs Act_28:2, and the adverb 27:3, ‘shewed us no common kindness,’ ‘treated Paul kindly.’ But St Paul, as with many other words, elevates it to a higher height than that of man’s kindness to man, and ‘philanthropy’ is thenceforth even in its ordinary sphere transfigured with the brightness of the character of God. The best Christian should be the best philanthropist.
God our Saviour] As before, so frequently, of the Father; while below the same title is given to the Son, ver. 6; as in chap. 2:10, 11 followed by 13.
5Not by works Let us remember that here Paul addresses his discourse to believers, and describes the manner in which they entered into the kingdom of God. He affirms that by their works they did not at all deserve that they should become partakers of salvation, or that they should be reconciled to God through faith; but he says that they obtained this blessing solely through the mercy of God. We therefore conclude from his words, that we bring nothing to God, but that he goes before us by his pure grace, without any regard to works. For when he says, — “Not by works which we have done”, he means, that we can do nothing but sin till we have been renewed by God. This negative statement depends on the former affirmation, by which he said that they were foolish and disobedient, and led away by various desires, till they were created anew in Christ; and indeed, what good work could proceed from so corrupt a mass?
It is madness, therefore, to allege that a man approaches to God by his own “preparations,” as they call them. During the whole period of life they depart further and further from him, until he puts forth his hand, and brings them back into that path from which they had gone astray. In short, that we, rather than others, have been admitted to enjoy the salivation of Christ, is altogether ascribed by Paul to the mercy of God, because there were no works of righteousness in us. This argument would have no weight, if he did not take for granted, that everything that we attempt to do before we believe, is unrighteous and hateful to God.
Which we had done. To argue from the preterite tense of this verb, that God looks at the future merits of men when he calls them, is sophistical and foolish. “When Paul,” say they, “denies that God is induced by our merits to bestow his grace upon us, he limits the statement to the past time; and therefore, if it is only for the righteousness going before that no room is left, future righteousness is admitted to consideration.” But they assume a principle, which Paul everywhere rejects, when he declares that election by free grace is the foundation of good works. If we owe it entirely to the grace of God, that we are fit for living a holy life, what future works of ours will God look upon? If, previously to our being called by God, iniquity holds such dominion over us, that it will not cease to make progress till it come to its height, how can God be induced, by a regard to our righteousness, to call us? Away then with such trifling! When Paul spoke of past works, his sole object was to exclude all merits. The meaning of his words is as if he had said, — “If we boast of any merit, what sort of works had we?” This maxim holds good, that men would not be better than they were before, if the Lord did not make them better by his calling.
He hath saved us He speaks of faith, and shews that we have already obtained salvation. Although, so long as we are held by the entanglements of sin, we carry about a body of death, yet we are certain of our salvation, provided that we are ingrafted into Christ by faith, according to that saying, — “He that believeth in the Son of God hath passed from death into life.” (Joh_5:24.)
Yet, shortly afterwards, by introducing the word faith, the Apostle will shew that we have not yet actually attained what Christ procured for us by his death. Hence it follows, that, on the part of God, our salvation is completed, while the full enjoyment of it is delayed till the end of our warfare. And that is what the same Apostle teaches in another passage, that “we are saved by hope.” (Rom_8:24.)
By the washing of regeneration I have no doubt that he alludes, at least, to baptism, and even I will not object to have this passage expounded as relating to baptism; not that salvation is contained in the outward symbol of water, but because baptism tells to us the salvation obtained by Christ. Paul treats of the exhibition of the grace of God, which, we have said, has been made by faith. Since therefore a part of revelation consists in baptism, that is, so far as it is intended to confirm our faith, he properly makes mention of it. Besides, baptism — being the entrance into the Church and the symbol of our ingrafting into Christ — is here appropriately introduced by Paul, when he intends to shew in what manner the grace of God appeared to us; so that the strain of the passage runs thus: — “God hath saved usby his mercy, the symbol and pledge of which he gave in baptism, by admitting us into his Church, and ingrafting us into the body of his Son.”
Now the Apostles are wont to draw an argument from the Sacraments, to prove that which is there exhibited under a figure, because it ought to be held by believers as a settled principle, that God does not sport with us by unmeaning figures, but inwardly accomplishes by his power what he exhibits by the outward sign; and therefore, baptism is fitly and truly said to be “the washing of regeneration.” The efficacy and use of the sacraments will be properly understood by him who shall connect the sign and the thing signified, in such a manner as not to make the sign unmeaning and inefficacious, and who nevertheless shall not, for the sake of adorning the sign, take away from the Holy Spirit what belongs to him. Although by baptism wicked men are neither washed nor renewed, yet it retains that power, so far as relates to God, because, although they reject the grace of God, still it is offered to them. But here Paul addresses believers, in whom baptism is always efficacious, and in whom, therefore, it is properly connected with its truth and efficacy. But by this mode of expression we are reminded that, if we do not wish to annihilate holy baptism, we must prove its efficacy by “newness of life.” (Rom_6:4.)
And of the renewing of the Holy Spirit Though he mentioned the sign, that he might exhibit to our view the grace of God, yet, that we may not fix our whole attention on the sign, he immediately sends us to the Spirit, that we may know that we are washed by his power, and not by water, agreeably to what is said, — “I will sprinkle on you clean waters, even my Spirit.”(Eze_36:25.)
And indeed, the words of Paul agree so completely with the words of the Prophet, that it appears clearly that both of them say the same thing. For this reason I said at the commencement, that Paul, while he speaks directly about the Holy Spirit, at the same time alludes to baptism. It is therefore the Spirit of God who regenerates us, and makes us new creatures; but because his grace is invisible and hidden, a visible symbol of it is beheld in baptism.
Some read the word “renewing,” in the accusative case, thus: — “through the washing of regeneration and (through) the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”, But the other reading — “through the washing of regeneration and of the renewing of the Holy Spirit” — is, in my opinion, preferable.
6.Which he shed, (or, whom he shed.) In the Greek, the relative may apply either to the “washing” or to the “Spirit;” for both of the nouns— λουτρόν and Πνεῦμα — are neuter. It makes little difference as to the meaning; but the metaphor will be more elegant, if the relative be applied to λουτρόν the “washing” Nor is it inconsistent with this opinion, that all are baptized without any distinction; for, while he shews that the “washing” is “shed,” he speaks not of the sign, but rather of the thing signified, in which the truth of the sign exists.
When he, says, abundantly, he means that, the more any of us excels in the abundance of the gifts which he has received, so much the more is he under obligations to the mercy of God, which alone enriches us; for in ourselves we are altogether poor, and destitute of everything good. If it be objected that not all the children of God enjoy so great abundance, but, on the contrary, the grace of God drops sparingly on many; the answer is, that no one has received so small a measure that he may not be justly accounted rich; for the smallest drop of the Spirit (so to speak) resembles an ever-flowing fountain, which never dries up. It is therefore a sufficient reason for calling it “abundance,” that, how small soever the portion that has been given to us it is never exhausted.
Through Jesus Christ It is he alone in whom we are adopted; and therefore, it is he alone, through whom we are made partakers of the Spirit, who is the earnest and witness of our adoption. Paul therefore teaches us by this word, that the Spirit of regeneration is bestowed on none but those who are the members of Christ.
Poured out upon us richly for shed on us abundantly, A.V. Which (οὖ); viz. the Holy Ghost. It is in the genitive (instead of the accusative ὁ, which is another reading), by what [he grammarians call attraction. Poured out (ἐξέχεεν); the same word as is applied to the Holy Ghost in Act_2:17, Act_2:18, Act_2:33, and in the LXX. of Joe_2:28, Joe_2:29. Richly (πλουσίως); as 1Ti_6:17; Col_3:16; 2Pe_1:11 (compare the use of πλοῦτος in Eph_1:7; Eph_2:7). Through Jesus Christ. It is our baptism into Christ which entitles us to receive the Holy Spirit, which we have only in virtue of our union with him. The Spirit flows from the Head to the members. In Act_2:33, Act_2:34 Christ is said to have received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, and to have poured it forth upon the Church.
7That being justified by his grace If we understand “regeneration” in its strict and ordinary meaning, it might be thought that the Apostle employs the word “justified” instead of “regenerated;” and this is sometimes the meaning of it, but very seldom; yet there is no necessity which constrains us to depart from its strict and more natural signification. The design of Paul is, to ascribe to the grace of God all that we are, and all that we have, so that we may not exalt ourselves proudly against others. Thus he now extols the mercy of God, by ascribing to it entirely the cause of our salvation. But because he had spoken of the vices of unbelievers, it would have been improper to leave out the grace of regeneration, which is the medicine for curing them.
Still this does not prevent him from returning immediately to praise divine mercy; and he even mingles both blessings together — that our sins have been freely pardoned, and that we have been renewed so as to obey God. This, at least, is evident, that Paul maintains that “justification,” is the free gift of God; and the only question is, what he means by the word justified. The contest seems to demand that its meaning shall be extended further than to the imputation of righteousness; and in this larger sense it is seldom (as I have said) employed by Paul; yet there is nothing that hinders the meaning of it from being limited to the forgiveness of sins.
When he says, by his grace, this applies both to Christ and to the Father, and we ought not to contend for either of these expositions, because it will always hold good, that, by the grace of God, we have obtained righteousness through Christ.
Heirs according to the hope of eternal life This clause is added by way of exposition. He had said that we have been saved through the mercy of God. But our salvation is as yet hidden; and therefore he now says that we are heirs of life, not because we have arrived at the present possession of it, but because hope brings to us full and complete certainly of it. The meaning may be thus summed up. “Having been dead, we were restored to life through the grace of Christ, when God the: Father bestowed on us his Spirit, by whose power we have been purified. and renewed. Our salvation consists in this; but, because we are still in the world, we do not yet enjoy ‘eternal life,’ but only obtain it by ‘hoping.’”
8A faithful saying He employs this mode of expression, when he wishes to make a solemn assertion as we have seen in both of the Epistles to Timothy. (1Ti_1:15; 2Ti_2:11.) And therefore he immediately adds: —
I wish thee to affirm these things Διαβεβαιοῦσθαι under a passive termination, has an active signification, and means “to affirm anything strongly.” Titus is therefore enjoined to disregard other matters, and to teach those which are certain and undoubted — to press them on the attention of their hearers — to dwell upon them — while others talk idly about things of little importance. Hence also, we conclude that a bishop must not make any assertions at random, but must assert those things only which he has ascertained to be true. “Affirm these things,” says he, “because they are true and worthy of credit.” But we are reminded, on the other hand, that it is the duty and office of a bishop to affirm strongly, and maintain boldly, those things which are believed on good grounds, and which edify godliness.
That they who have believed God may be careful to excel in good works, (or, to extol good works, or, to assign to them the highest rank.) He includes all the instructions which he formerly gave concerning the duty of every person, and the desire of leading a religious and holy life; as if he contrasted the fear of God, and well-regulated conduct, with idle speculations. He wishes the people to be instructed in such a manner that “they who have believed God,” may be solicitous, above all things, about good works.
But, as the verb προΐστασθαι is used in various senses by Greek authors, this passage also gives scope for various interpretations. Chrysostom: explains it to mean, that they should endeavor to relieve their neighbors by giving alms. Προΐστασθαι does sometimes mean “to give assistance;” but in that case the syntax would require us to understand that the “good works” should be aided, which would be a harsh construction. The meaning conveyed by the French word avancer , “ to go forward,” would be more appropriate. What if we should say, — “Let them strive as those who have the pre-eminence?” That is also one meaning of the word. Or, perhaps, some one will prefer what I have enclosed in brackets: “Let them be careful to assign the highest rank to good works.” And certainly it would not be unsuitable that Paul should enjoin that those things should prevail in the life of believers, because they are usually disregarded by others.
Whatever may be the ambiguity of the expression, the meaning of Paul is sufficiently clear, that the design of Christian doctrine is, that believers should exercise themselves in good works. Thus he wishes them to give to it their study and application; and, when the Apostle says, φροντίζωσι (“let them be careful,”) he appears to allude elegantly to the useless contemplations of those who speculate without advantage, and without regard to active life.
Yet he is not so careful about good works as to despise the root — that is, faith — while he is gathering the fruits. He takes account of both parts, and, as is highly proper, assigns the first rank to faith; for he enjoins those “who believed in God” to be zealous of “good works;” by which he means that faith must go before in such a manner that good works may follow.
For these things are honorable I refer this to the doctrine rather than to the works, in this sense: “It is excellent and useful that men be thus instructed; and, therefore, those things which he formerly exhorted Titus to be zealous in affirming are the same things that are good and useful tomen.” We might translate τὰ καλά either “good,” or “beautiful,” or “honorable;” but, in my opinion, it would be best to translate it “excellent.” He states indirectly that all other things that are taught are of no value, because they yield no profit or advantage; as, on the contrary, that which contributes to salvation is worthy of praise.
This is a faithful saying – Πιστος ὁ λογος· This is the true doctrine; the doctrine that cannot fail.
And these things I will – Και περι τουτων βουλομαι σε διαβεβαιουσθαι· And I will, or desire, thee to maintain earnestly what concerns these points. The things to which the apostle refers are those of which he had just been writing, and may be thus summed up: –
1. The ruined state of man, both in soul and body.
2. The infinite goodness of God which devised his salvation.
3. The manifestation of this goodness, by the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
4. The justification which they who believed received through his blood.
5. The mission of the Holy Spirit, and the purification of the heart by his influence.
6. The hope of the resurrection of the body, and the final glorification of both it and the soul through all eternity.
7. The necessity of obedience to the will of God, and of walking worthy of the vocation wherewith they had been called.
8. And all these points he wills him to press continually on the attention of believers; and to keep constantly in view, that all good comes from God’s infinite kindness, by and through Christ Jesus.
They which have believed in God – All Christians; for who can maintain good works but those who have the principle from which good works flow, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
These things are good and profitable – They are good in themselves, and calculated to promote the well-being of men.
Faithful is the saying for this is a faithful saying, A.V.; concerning these things for these things, A.V., confidently for constantly, A.V.; to the end that for that, A.V.; God for in God, A.V.; may for might, A.V.; full stop after good works, and colon after men. Faithful is the saying; as 1Ti_1:15 (where see note). Here the faithful saying can only be the following maxim: “That they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works;” the words, “These things I will that thou affirm confidently,” being interpolated to give yet more weight to it. Concerning these things; i.e. with respect to the things or truths which are the subject of the faithful saying. I will that thou affirm confidently (διαβεβαιοῦσθαι); see 1Ti_1:7. “Never be weary of dwelling on these important truths, and asserting them with authority. For such doctrine is really good and profitable for those whom you are commissioned to teach. But leave alone the foolish and unprofitable controversies.” To the end that (ἵνα). It is not necessary to give to ἵνα the meaning “to the end that,” in such a sentence as this (see note on Tit_2:12). After words of command especially, ἵνα, frequently, has simply the force of “that.” So here, “lay it down as a rule that they which have believed God must be careful to maintain good works.” If the sentence had run on without interruption, it would have been πιστὸς ὁ λόγος ὅτι κ.τ.λ. But the interposition of the διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, with the idea of commanding obedience, has caused the use of ἵνα. Believed God (οἱ πεπιστευκότες Θεῷ or τῷ Θεῷ). The meaning is not the same as πιστεύειν ἐν, or ἐπί, “to believe in,” or “on,” but “to believe” (as Rom_4:3,Rom_4:17 and 1Jn_5:10, where the context shows that it is the act of believing God’s promise that is meant). And so here, the believing refers to the promises implied in the preceding reference to the hope and the inheritance. May be careful (φροντίζωσι); only here in the New Testament, but common in the LXX. and in classical Greek. The word means “to give thought” about a thing, “to be careful” or “anxious” about it. To maintain (προΐ́στασθαι); usually in the sense of “presiding over” or “ruling” (as Rom_12:8; 1Th_5:12; 1Ti_3:4, 1Ti_3:5, 1Ti_3:12; 1Ti_5:17). Here, alter the analogy of the classical use, προΐ́στασθαι τέχνης, to “undertake,” to “carry on,” or the like, fairly expressed by to “maintain.” The idea does not seem to be “to stand at the head of,” or “to be foremost in.” Good works; i.e. practical godliness of all kinds (see 1Ti_1:14). These things are good, etc. If the reading of the T.R., τὰ καλὰ κ.τ.λ., is retained, the rendering ought to be, “These are the things that are really good and profitable unto men, not foolish questions, etc., they are unprofitable.” But the R.T. omits the τά. With regard to the interpretation above given of 1Ti_1:8, it must be admitted that it is very doubtful. But the great difficulty of the other way of rendering it, as most commentators do, is that it is impossible to say which part of what precedes is “the faithful saying” alluded to; and that the “care to maintain good works” is not that which naturally springs from it; whereas the reiteration in 1Ti_1:8 implies that “good works” is the special subject of “the faithful saying.”
9But avoid foolish questions There is no necessity for debating long about the exposition of this passage. He contrasts “questions” with sound and certain doctrine. Although it is necessary to seek, in order to find, yet there is a limit to seeking, that you may understand what is useful to be known, and, next, that you may adhere firmly to the truth, when it has been known. Those who inquire curiously into everything, and are never at rest, may be truly called Questionarians. In short, what the schools of the Sorbonne account worthy of the highest praise — is here condemned by Paul; for the whole theology of the Papists is nothing else than a labyrinth of questions. He calls them foolish; not that, at first sight, they appear to be such, (for, on the contrary, they often deceive by a vain parade of wisdom,) but because they contribute nothing to godliness.
When he adds genealogies, he mentions one class of “foolish questions;” for instance, when curious men, forgetting to gather fruit from the sacred histories, seize on the lineage of races, and trifles of that nature, with which they weary themselves without advantage. Of that folly we spoke towards the beginning of the First Epistle to Timothy.
He properly adds contentions; because in “questions” the prevailing spirit is ambition; and, therefore, it is impossible but that they shall immediately break forth into “contention” and quarrels; for there every one wishes to be the conqueror. This is accompanied by hardihood in affirming about things that are uncertain, which unavoidably leads to debates.
And fightings about the law He gives this disdainful appellation to those debates which were raised by the Jews under the pretence of the law; not that the law of itself produces them, but because the Jews, pretending to defend the law, disturbed the peace of the Church by their absurd controversies about the observation of ceremonies, about the distinction of the kinds of food and things of that nature.
For they are unprofitable and unnecessary In doctrine, therefore, we should always have regard to usefulness, so that everything that does not contribute to godliness shall be held in no estimation. And yet those sophists, in babbling about things of no value, undoubtedly boasted of them as highly worthy and useful to be known; but Paul does not acknowledge them to possess any usefulness, unless they tend to the increase of faith and to a holy life.
10Avoid an heretical man This is properly added; because there will be no end of quarrels and dispute, if we wish to conquer obstinate men by argument; for they will never want words, and they will derive fresh courage from impudence, so that they will never grow weary of fighting. Thus, after having given orders to Titus as to the form of doctrine which he should lay down, he now forbids him to waste much time in debating with heretics, because battle would lead to battle and dispute to dispute. Such is the cunning of Satan, that, by the impudent talkativeness of such men, he entangles good and faithful pastors, so as to draw them away from diligence in teaching. We must therefore beware lest we become engaged in quarrelsome disputes; for we shall never have leisure to devote our labors to the Lord’s flock, and contentious men will never cease to annoy us.
When he commands him to avoid such persons, it is as if he said that he must not toil hard to satisfy them, and even that there is nothing better than to cut off the handle for fighting which they are eager to find. This is a highly necessary admonition; for even they who would willingly take no part in strifes of words are sometimes drawn by shame into controversy, because they think that it would be shameful cowardice to quit the field. Besides, there is no temper, however mild, that is not liable to be provoked by the fierce taunts of enemies, because they look upon it as intolerable that those men should attack the truth, (as they are accustomed to do,) and that none should reply. Nor are there wanting men who are either of a combative disposition, or excessively hot-tempered, who are eager for battle. On the contrary, Paul does not wish that the servant of Christ should be much and long employed in debating with heretics.
We must now see what he means by the word heretic. There is a common and well-known distinction between a heretic and a schismatic. But here, in my opinion, Paul disregards that distinction: for, by the term “heretic” he describes not only those who cherish and defend an erroneous or perverse doctrine, but in general all who do not yield assent to the sound doctrine which he laid down a little before. Thus under this name he includes all ambitious, unruly, contentious persons, who, led away by sinful passions, disturb the peace of the Church, and raise disputings. In short, every person who, by his overweening pride, breaks up the unity of the Church, is pronounced by Paul to be “heretic.”
But we must exercise moderation, so as not instantly to declare every man to be a “heretic” who does not agree with our opinion. There are some matters on which Christians may differ from each other, without being divided into sects. Paul himself commands that they shall not be so divided, when he bids them keep their harmony unbroken, and wait for the revelation of God. (Phi_3:16.) But whenever the obstinacy of any person grows to such an extent, that, led by selfish motives, he either separates from the body, or draws away some of the flock, or interrupts the course of sound doctrine, in such a case we must boldly resist.
In a word, a heresy or sect and the unity of the Church — are things totally opposite to each other. Since the unity of the Church is dear to God, and ought to be held by us in the highest estimation, we ought to entertain the strongest abhorrence of heresy. Accordingly, the name of sect or heresy, though philosophers and statesmen reckon it to be honorable, is justly accounted infamous among Christians. We now understand who are meant by Paul, when he bids us dismiss and avoid heretics. But at the same time we ought to observe what immediately follows, —
After the first and second admonition; for neither shall we have a right to pronounce a man to be a heretic, nor shall we be at liberty to reject him, till we have first endeavored to bring him back to sound views. He does not mean any “admonition,” whatever, or that of a private individual, but an “admonition” given by a minister, with the public authority of the Church; for the meaning of the Apostle’s words is as if he had said, that heretics must be rebuked with solemn and severe censure.
They who infer from this passage, that the supporters of wicked doctrines must be restrained by excommunication alone, and that no rigorous measures beyond this must be used against them, do not argue conclusively. There is a difference between the duties of a bishop and those of a magistrate. Writing to Titus, Paul does not treat of the office of a magistrate, but points out what belongs to a bishop. Yet moderation is always best, that, instead of being restrained by force and violence, they may be corrected by the discipline of the Church, if there be any ground to believe that they can be cured.
Heretical for an heretick, A.V.; a for the, A.V.; refuse for reject, A.V. Heretical (αἱρετικόν); only here in the New Testament, not found in the LXX., but used in classical Greek for “intelligent,” i.e. able to choose. The use of it here by St. Paul is drawn from the use of αἵρεσις for “a sect” (Act_5:17; Act_15:5; Act_24:5, Act_24:14; Act_26:5; Act_28:22; 1Co_11:19; Gal_5:20; 2Pe_2:1), or the doctrines taught by a sect. The heretic is one who forsakes the truth held by the Church, and chooses some doctrine of his own devising (αἵρεσις). The tendency of such departures from the doctrine of the Church to assume more and more of a deadly character, and to depart wider and wider from the truth, gave to the name of heretic a darker shade of condemnation in the mouth of Church writers as time advanced. But even in apostolic times some denied the resurrection (2Ti_2:11, 2Ti_2:12); others denied the Lord that bought them (2Pe_2:1); and there were some who were of the synagogue of Satan (Rev_2:9); so that already an heretical man, drawing away disciples after him, was a great blot in the Church. Admonition (νουθεσία); as 1Co_10:11; Eph_6:4. After a first and second admonition refuse (παραιτοῦ); see 1Ti_4:7; 1Ti_5:11. It does not clearly appear what is intended by this term In 1Ti_5:11 it meant refusing admission into the college of Church widows. If these had been persons seeking admission into the Church, or ordination, it would mean “refuse them.” Vitringa (Huther) thinks it means “excommunication.” Beza, Ellicott, Huther, Alford, etc., render it “shun,” “let alone,” “cease to admonish,” and the like.
A man that is an heretic – The word “heretic” is now commonly applied to one who holds some fundamental error of doctrine, “a person who holds and teaches opinions repugnant to the established faith, or that which is made the standard of orthodoxy.” Webster. The Greek word here used αἱρετικὸς hairetikos occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The corresponding noun (αἵρεσις hairesis) occurs in the following places: Act_5:17; Act_15:5; Act_24:5; Act_26:5; Act_28:22, where it is rendered “sect;” and Act_25:14; 1Co_11:19; Gal_5:20; 2Pe_2:1, where it is rendered “heresy,” and “heresies;” see the notes at Act_24:14. The true notion of the word is that of one who is a promoter of a sect or party. The man who makes divisions in a church, instead of aiming to promote unity, is the one who is intended. Such a man may form sects and parties on some points of doctrine on which be differs from others, or on some custom, religious rite, or special practice; he may make some unimportant matter a ground of distinction from his brethren, and may refuse to have fellowship with them, and endeavor to get up a new organization. Such a man, according to the Scripture usage, is a heretic, and not merely one who holds a different doctrine from that which is regarded as orthodoxy. The spirit of the doctrine here is the same as in Rom_16:17, and the same class of persons is referred to. “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have received; and avoid them.” See the notes at that passage. The word here used is defined by Robinson (Lexicon), “one who creates dissensions, introduces errors, a factious person.” It is not found in classic Greek, but often in ecclesiastical writers; see Suicer’s Thesaurus.
After the first and second admonition – Compare Mat_18:15-17. That is, do not do it hastily and rashly. Give him an opportunity to explain himself, and to repent and abandon his course. No man is to be cut off without giving him a proper opportunity to vindicate his conduct, and to repent if he has done wrong. If after the first and second admonition a man who is undoubtedly doing wrong, will not repent, then he is to be cut off. The apostle does not say in what way this admonition is to be given, or whether it should be public or private. The language which he uses would justify either, and the method which is to be adopted is doubtless to be determined by circumstances. The thing which is to be reached is, that his fault is to be fairly set before his mind.
Reject – παραιτοῦ paraitou. This word is rendered “excuse” in Luk_14:18-19; “refuse,” Act_25:11; 1Ti_4:7; 1Ti_5:11; Heb_12:25; “avoid,” 2Ti_2:23, and “entreated,” Heb_12:19. Its prevailing meaning, as used in connections like the one before us, is to reject in relation to an office; that is, to decline appointing one to an office. It probably had a primary reference to that here, and meant that a man who was given to making dissensions, or who was a factious person, should not be admitted to an office in the church. The general direction would also include this, – that he should not be admitted to the church. He is neither to be owned as a member, nor admitted to office; compare Mat_18:17. “Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” In regard to this passage, then, we may observe:
(1) That the utmost limit which this allows is mere exclusion. It does not allow us to follow the offender with injury.
(2) It does not authorize us to oppose one on account of his mere private opinions. The essential idea is that of a factious, division-making man; a man who aims to form sects and parties, whether on account of opinions, or from any other cause.
(3) It does not make it right to deliver such a man over to the “secular arm,” or to harm him in body, soul, property, or reputation. It gives no power to torture him on the rack, or with thumb-screws, or to bind him to the stake. It authorizes us not to recognize him as a Christian brother, or to admit him to an office in the church – but beyond this it gives us no right to go. He has a right to his own opinion still, as far as we are concerned, and we are not to molest him in the enjoyment of that right.
(4) It demands that, when a man is undoubtedly a heretic in the sense here explained, there should be the utmost kindness towards him, in order if possible to reclaim him. We should not begin by attacking and denouncing his opinions; or by formally arraigning him; or by blazoning his name as a heretic; but he is to be dealt with in all Christian kindness and brotherly fidelity. He is to be admonished more than once by those who have the right to admonish him; and then, and then only, if he does not repent, he is to be simply avoided. That is to be an end of the matter so far as we are concerned. The power of the church there ceases. It has no power to deliver him over to anyone else for persecution or punishment, or in any way to meddle with him. He may live where he pleases; pursue his own plans; entertain his own opinions or company, provided he does not interfere with us; and though we have a right to examine the opinions which he may entertain, yet our work with him is done. If these plain principles had been observed, what scenes of bloody and cruel persecution in the church would have been avoided!
11Knowing that he who is such is ruined He declares that man to be “ruined,” as to whom there is no hope of repentance, because, if our labor could bring back any man to the right path, it should by no means be withheld. The metaphor is taken from a building, which is not merely decayed in some part, but completely demolished, so that it is incapable of being repaired.
He next points out the sign of this ruin — an evil conscience, when he says, that they who do not yield to admonitions are condemned by themselves; for, since they obstinately reject the truth, it is certain that they sin willfully and of their own accord, and therefore it would be of no advantage to admonish them.
At the same time, we learn from Paul’s words that we must not rashly or at random pronounce any man to be a heretic; for he says, “Knowing that he who is such is ruined.” Let the bishop therefore beware lest, by indulging his passionate temper, he treat with excessive harshness, as a heretic, one whom he does not yet know to be such.
Such a one for be that is such, A.V.; perverted for subverted, A.V.; self-condemned for condemned of himself, A.V. Is perverted (ἐξέστραπται); only here in the New Testament, but common in the LXX., and found in classical Greek in a material sense, “to turn inside out,” “to root up,” and the like. Here it means the complete perversion of the man’s Christian character, so as to leave no hope of his amendment. But this is not to be presumed till a first and second admonition have been given in vain. Self-condemned (αὐτοκατάκριτος); only here in the New Testament, not found in the LXX. nor in classical Greek. It means what Cicero (quoted by Schleusner) says of C. Fabricius, that he was suo judicio condemnatus, condemned by his own judgment, which, he says, is a heavier condemnation than even that of the law and of the judges (‘Pro Cluentio,’ 21, at the end). Fabricius was self-condemned because he had left the court in confusion at a critical part of his trial. So the heretics were self-condemned by the very fact that they continued to head the schism after repeated admonitions.
Knowing that he that is such is subverted – Literally, “is turned out;” or, “is changed,” i. e., for the worse. He has gone from the right way, and therefore he should be rejected.
And sinneth, being condemned of himself – His own conscience condemns him. He will approve the sentence, for he knows that he is wrong; and his self-condemnation will be punishment sufficient. His own course, in attempting a division or schism in the church, shows him that it is right that he should be separated from the communion of Christians. He that attempts to rend the church, without a good reason, should himself be separated from it.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
When I shall send — have sent.
Artemas or Tychicus — to supply thy place in Crete. Artemas is said to have been subsequently bishop of Lystra. Tychicus was sent twice by Paul from Rome to Lesser Asia in his first imprisonment (which shows how well qualified he was to become Titus’ successor in Crete); Eph_6:21; and in his second, 2Ti_4:12. Tradition makes him subsequently bishop of Chalcedon, in Bithynia.
Nicopolis — “the city of victory,” called so from the battle of Actium, in Epirus. This Epistle was probably written from Corinth in the autumn. Paul purposed a journey through Aetolia and Acarnania, into Epirus, and there “to winter.” See my Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles.
Give diligence for be diligent, A.V.; there I have determined for I have determined there, A.V. When I shall send Artemas, etc. The action of St. Paul in sending Artemas or Tychicus to take the place of Titus in Crete is exactly the same as he pursued with regard to Ephesus, whither he sent Tychicus to take Timothy’s place (2Ti_4:11, 2Ti_4:12). He would not leave the presbyters in either place without the direction and superintendence of one having his delegated apostolic authority. This led to the final placing of a resident bishop in the Churches, such as we find in the second century. We may conclude that Artemas (otherwise unknown) was the person eventually sent to Crete, as Tychicus (Col_4:7) we know went to Ephesus (2Ti_4:12). We have also an important note of time in this expression, showing clearly that this Epistle was written before the Second Epistle to Timothy (as it probably also was before 1 Timothy)—an inference abundantly corroborated by 2Ti_4:10, by which it appears that Titus had then actually joined St. Paul, either at Nicopolis or elsewhere, and had started off again to Dalmatia. Give diligence (σπούδασον); 2Ti_2:15, note; 2Ti_4:9, 2Ti_4:21. Nicopolis, in Epirus. The most obvious reason for St. Paul’s wintering at Nicopolis is that it was near Apollonia, the harbor opposite Brindisium, which would be his way to Rome, and also well situated for the missionary work in Dalmatia, which we learn from 2Ti_4:10 was in hand. Nicopolis (the city of victory) was built by Augustus Caesar to commemorate the great naval victory at Actium over Antony. It is now a complete ruin, uninhabited except by a few shepherds, but with vast remains of broken columns, baths, theatres, etc.. To winter (παραχειμάσαι); Act_27:12; Act_28:11; 1Co_16:6. (On the question whether the winter here referred to is the same winter as that mentioned in 2Ti_4:21, see Introduction.)
13Zenas a lawyer It is uncertain whether “Zenas”, was a Doctor of the Civil Law or of the Law of Moses; but as we may learn from Paul’s words that he was a poor man and needed the help of others, it is probable that he belonged to the same rank with Apollo, that is, an expounder of the Law of God among the Jews. It more frequently happens that such persons are in want of the necessaries of life than those who conduct causes in civil courts. I have said that Zenas’s poverty may be inferred from the words of Paul, because the expression, conduct him, means here to supply him with the means of accomplishing his journey, as is evident from what follows.
13. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey] The verb ‘bring on their journey’ is literally ‘send forward,’ and so Vulg. here ‘praemitte’; but in the other eight places of its use in N.T. ‘deduco’ is used, that is, ‘conduct,’ ‘take them a certain part of the way.’ So in old provincial English ‘I will send you a mile,’ meaning ‘accompany you.’ R.V. in four places has ‘bring on the way,’ in five, ‘set forward on the journey;’ but in only one, Act_21:5, does the context require that the ‘accompanying’ should be prominent, ‘they all with wives and children brought us on our way till we were out of the city.’ Here set forward with less thought of bringing (A.V.) seems sufficient.
Zenas the lawyer and Apollos] Zenas is the Greek form of Zenodorus, as Apollos of Apollodorus, Artemas of Artemidorus. Nothing is known of him, but the phrase itself suggests that he was one of the class of Jewish scribes or lawyers, i.e. experts in Jewish law who were especially numerous among the Pharisees. On his conversion he may have retained the name, as Simon the Zealot and Matthew the publican did theirs. As his class had for their fuller title ‘teachers of the law,’ ‘doctors,’ Luk_2:46, Luk_5:17, he would be especially fitted to become one of the order of the Christian ‘teachers’; cf. Eph_4:11, ‘some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.’ Apollos, on the other hand, was recognised as an apostle. He was an Alexandrian by race, a learned (or eloquent) man, mighty in the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, to whom Priscilla and Aquila ‘expounded the way of God more carefully’ (Act_18:26) at Ephesus. He became a most successful evangelist in Achaia and at Corinth, and was regarded by St Paul as a brother apostle, independent in will and action, 1Co_16:12, but preaching and serving an undivided Christ, 1Co_1:12, 1Co_1:3:22, 1Co_1:23. From this passage we may infer, not that they had been resident in Crete, which introduces an unnecessary complication with the official authority of Titus, but that they had undertaken such a ‘pastoral mission’ there as St Paul had invited Apollos to undertake to Corinth, 1Co_16:12; perhaps, with Mr Lewin, that they were on the way from Corinth to Alexandria, and were the bearers of this letter to Titus.
This visit of ‘an apostle’ and ‘a teacher,’ and the hospitality to be exercised towards them by Titus, are to stimulate, St Paul adds, the zeal and liberality of the whole body of Christians, the Cretan Church.
diligently] Vulg. ‘sollicite’ Theod. Mops. Lat. ‘velociter’; but the following clause ‘that nothing be wanting unto them,’ favours ‘attention’ rather than ‘speed,’ and implies provision for the journey as part of the sympathetic attendance; so in 3Jn_1:6 ‘set forward on their journey worthily of God,’ i.e. with supplies worthy of their service to God, the following verses making this clear, ‘we therefore as fellow Christians ought to give them hospitable support.’
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Bring … on their journey — Enable them to proceed forward by supplying necessaries for their journey.
Zenas — the contracted form of Zenodorus.
lawyer — a Jewish “scribe,” who, when converted, still retained the title from his former occupation. A civil lawyer.
Apollos — with Zenas, probably the bearers of this Epistle. In 1Co_16:12, Apollos is mentioned as purposing to visit Corinth; his now being at Corinth (on the theory of Paul being at Corinth when he wrote) accords with this purpose. Crete would be on his way either to Palestine or his native place, Alexandria. Paul and Apollos thus appear in beautiful harmony in that very city where their names had been formerly the watchword of unchristian party work. It was to avoid this party rivalry that Apollos formerly was unwilling to visit Corinth though Paul desired him. Hippolytus mentions Zenas as one of the Seventy, and afterwards bishop of Diospolis.
Set forward for bring, A.V. Set forward (πρόπεμψον); the technical expression both in the New Testament and the LXX., and also in classical Greek, for helping a person forward on their journey by supplying them with money food, letters of recommendation, escort, or whatever else they might require (see Act_15:3; Act_20:38; Act_21:5; Rom_15:24; 1Co_16:6; 2Co_1:16; 3Jn_1:6). Zenas the lawyer. He is utterly unknown. His name is short for Zenodorus, but whether he was “a Jewish scribe or Roman legist” can hardly be decided. But his companionship with Apollos, and the frequent application of the term νομικός in the New Testament to the Jewish scribes and lawyers (Mat_22:35; Luk_7:30; Luk_10:25; Luk_11:45, Luk_11:48, Luk_11:52; Luk_14:3), makes it most probable that he was a Jewish lawyer. Apollos; the well-known and eminent Alexandrian Jew, who was instructed in the gospel by Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, and became a favorite teacher at Corinth (Act_18:24; Act_19:1; 1Co_1:12, and the following chapters, and 1Co_16:12). It is a probable conjecture of Lewin’s that Apollos was the bearer of this letter, written at Corinth, and was on his way to Alexandria, his native place, taking Crete on the way.
14And let ours also learn to excel in good works. That the Cretans, on whom he lays this burden, may not complain of being loaded with the expense, he reminds them that they must not be unfruitful, and that therefore they must be warmly exhorted to be zealous in good works. But of this mode of expression we have already spoken. Whether, therefore, he enjoins them to excel in good works, or to assign the highest rank to good works, he means that it is useful for them to have an opportunity afforded for exercising liberality, that they may not “be unfruitful” on this ground, that there is no opportunity, or that it is not demanded by necessity. What follows has been already explained in the other Epistles.
And let others also learn to maintain good works – There is something very remarkable in this expression. The words καλων εργων προΐστασθαι, which we translate to maintain good works, occur also in Tit_3:8; and some think they mean, to provide for our own, and the necessities of others, by working at some honest occupation; and that this was necessary to be taught to the Cretans, let Ours also learn, etc., who were naturally and practically idle gluttons. Kypke observed that the words mean,
1. To be employed in good works.
2. To defend good works, and to recommend the performance of them.
3. To promote and forward good works; to be always first in them.
For necessary uses – That they may be able at all times to help the Church of God, and those that are in want.
That they be not unfruitful – As they must be if they indulge themselves in their idle, slothful disposition.