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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Introduction to Titus
Section 1. The History of Titus
Of Titus nothing more is certainly known than what we find in the epistles of Paul. It is somewhat remarkable that there is no mention of him in the Acts of the Apostles, nor does his name occur in the New Testament anywhere, except in the writings of the apostle Paul. From his incidental allusions to him, we learn the following particulars respecting him.
(1.) he was by birth a Gentile. In Galatians 2:3, he is called a Greek, and it is certain from that passage that he had not been circumcised, and the probability is, that up to the time of his conversion he had lived as other Gentiles, and had not been converted to the Jewish faith. His father and mother were, doubtless, both Greeks, and thus he was distinguished from Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess, but whose father was a Greek; Acts 16:3; compare Notes on Galatians 2:3. If Titus had been proselyted to the Jewish faith, it is to be presumed that he would have been circumcised.
(2.) he had been converted to Christianity by the instrumentality of Paul himself. This is clear from the epistle, Titus 1:4, "To Titus, mine own son, after the common faith;" see the notes at 1 Timothy 1:2. This is language which the apostle would not have used of one who had been converted by the instrumentality of another. But where he lived, and when or how he was converted, is wholly unknown. As to the time when he was converted, it is known only that this occurred before the fourteenth year after the conversion of Paul, for at that time Titus, a Christian, was with Paul at Jerusalem; Galatians 2:1. As to the place where he lived, there seems some reason to suppose that it was in some part of Asia Minor - for the Greeks abounded there; Paul laboured much there; and there were numerous converts made there to the Christian faith. Still this is not by any means certain.
(3.) Titus went with Paul to Jerusalem when he was deputed by the church at Antioch with Barnabas, to lay certain questions before the apostles and eiders there in reference to the converts from the Gentiles; Acts 15; compare Galatians 2:1. It is not known why he took Titus with him on that occasion and the reasons can be only conjectural; see Notes on Galatians 2:1. It is possible that he was taken with him to Jerusalem because his was a case in point in regard to the question which was to come before the apostles and elders there. It is not improbable, from an expression which Paul uses in describing his visit there - "neither was Titus compelled to be circumcised " - that the case came up for discussion, and that strenuous efforts were made by the Judaizing portion there (compare Galatians 2:4), to have him circumcised. Paul and Barnabas, however, so managed the cause that the principle was settled that it was not necessary that converts from the heathen should be circumcised; Acts 15:19-20.
(4.) after the council at Jerusalem, it seems probable that Titus returned with Paul and Barnabas, accompanied by Silas and Judas Acts 15:23, and that afterwards he attended the apostle for a considerable time in his travels and labours. This appears from a remark in 2 Corinthians 8:23; "Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-helper concerning you." From this it would seem, that he had been with Paul; that he was as yet not well known; and that the fact that he had been seen with him had led to inquiry who he was, and what was the office which he sustained. That he was also a companion of Paul, and quite essential to his comfort in his work, is apparent from the following allusions to him in the same epistle - 2 Corinthians 7:6 - "God, that comforteth those who are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;" 2 Corinthians 2:13. "I had no rest in my spirit because I found not Titus my brother;" 2 Corinthians 7:13. "Yea and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus;" compare 2 Timothy 4:10; 2 Corinthians 12:18.
(5.) there is reason to believe that Titus spent some time with the apostle in Ephesus. For the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written at Ephesus, and was sent by the hand of Titus; Introduction to 1 Corinthians, Section 6. It is to be presumed also, that he would on such an occasion send some one with the epistle in whom he had entire confidence, and who had been so long with him as to become familiar with his views. For Titus, on this occasion, was sent not only to bear the epistle, but to endeavour to heal the divisions and disorders there, and to complete a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem which the apostle had himself commenced; compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 8:6. After this he met Paul in Macedonia 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, but whether he was with him when he went with the collection to Jerusalem, and during his imprisonment in Cesarea, or on his voyage to Rome, we have no information.
(6.) we next hear of him as being left by the apostle in the island of Crete, that he might "set in order the things that were wanting, and ordain elders in every city;" Titus 1:5. This is supposed to have occurred about the year 62, and after the first imprisonment of the apostle at Rome. It is evidently implied that the apostle had been himself there with him, and that he had undertaken to accomplish some important object there, but that something had prevented his completing it, and that he had left Titus to finish it. This was clearly a temporary arrangement, for there is no evidence that it was designed that Titus should be a permanent "bishop" of Crete, or that he remained there long. That he did not design that he should be a permanent bishop of that island, is clear from Titus 3:12, where the apostle directs him, when he should send Artemas to take his place, to come to him to Nicopolis. If Titus was a prelatical bishop, the apostle would not in this summary manner have superseded him, or removed him from his diocese.
(7.) he was with Paul in Rome during his second imprisonment there. He did not, however, remain with him until his trial, but left him and went into Dalmatia; 2 Timothy 4:10. For the probable reason why he had gone there, see Notes on that place. What became of him afterward, we are not informed. The tradition is, that he returned to Crete, and preached the gospel there and in the neighbouring islands, and died at the age of 94. But this tradition depends on no certain evidence.
Section 2. The Island of Crete
As Paul Titus 1:5 says that he had left Titus in Crete to perform an important service there, and as the instructions in this epistle doubtless had some peculiar applicability to the state of things existing there, it is of importance, in order to a correct understanding of the epistle, to have some knowledge of that island, and of the circumstances in which the gospel was introduced there.
The island of Crete, now Candia, is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, at the south of all the Cyclades. See the Map of Asia Minor, prefixed to the Acts of the Apostles. Its name is said by some to have been derived from the Curetes, who are supposed to have been its first inhabitants; by others, from the nymph Crete, daughter of Hesperus; and by others, from Cres, a son of Jupiter and the nymph Idaea. The ancient authors in general say that Crete was originally peopled from Palestine. According to Bochart (Lib. 5, c. 15), that part of Palestine which lies by the Mediterranean was called by the Arabs Keritha, and by Syrians Creth; and the Hebrews called the inhabitants Crethi, or Crethim, which the Septuagint has rendered Κρητας Krētas - Cretans; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5. It would be easy to pass from Palestine to the island of Crete. Sir Isaac Newton, also, is of opinion that Crete was peopled from Palestine. He says, "Many of the Phoenicians and Syrians, in the year before Christ 1045, fled from Zidon, and from king David, into Asia Minor, Crete, Greece, and Libya, and introduced letters, music, poetry, the Octaeteris, metals and their fabrication and other arts, sciences, and customs of the Phoenicians. Along with these Phoenicians came a sort of men skilled in religious mysteries, arts, and sciences of Phoenicia, and settled in several places, under the names of Curetes, Idaei, Dactyli," etc.
According to Pliny, the extent of Crete from east to west is about 270 miles, but its breadth nowhere exceeds fifty miles. The early inhabitants are generally supposed to be the Eteocretes of Homer; but their origin is unknown. Minos, who had expelled his brother Sarpedon from the throne, first gave laws to the Cretans, and, having conquered the pirates who infested the Aegean sea, established a powerful navy. In the Trojan war, Idomeneus, sovereign of Crete, led its forces to war in eighty vessels - a number little inferior to those commanded by Agamemnon himself. At this period, the island appears to have been inhabited by a mixed population of Greeks and barbarians. After the Trojan war, the principal cities formed themselves into several republics, for the most part independent, while some of them were connected with federal ties. The Cretan code of laws was supposed by many to have furnished Lycurgus with the model of his most salutary regulations.
It was founded on the just basis of liberty and an equality of rights, and its great aim was to promote social harmony and peace, by enforcing temperance and frugality. In regard to this code, see Anthon'S Class. Dic., Art. Creta. In the time of Polybius (bc 203), the Cretans had much degenerated from their ancient character; for he charges them repeatedly with the grossest immorality, and the basest vices. Polyb. 4, 47, 53; Id. 6, 46. We know, also, with what severity they are reproved by Paul, in the words of Epimenides; see the notes at Titus 1:12. Crete was subdued by the Romans, and became a part of a Roman province. The interior of the island is very hilly and woody, and intersected with fertile valleys. Mount Ida, in the center of the island, is the principal mountain, and surpasses all the others in elevation. The island contains no lakes, and its rivers are mostly mountain torrents, which are dry during the summer season.
The valleys, or sloping plains, in the island are represented as very fertile. The greater portion of the land is not cultivated; but it might produce sugar-cane, excellent wine, and the best kind of fruit. It has a delightful climate, and is remarkably healthful. The ancients asserted that this delightful island, the birth-place of Jupiter, was freed, by the indulgence of the gods, from every noxious animal. No quadrupeds of a ferocious character belong to it. The wild goat is the only inhabitant of the forest and the lofty mountains, and sheep overspread the plains, and graze undisturbed by ravenous enemies. The island now is under Turkish rule, and is divided into three pachaliks; but the inhabitants are mostly Greeks, who are kept in a state of great depression. The native Candians are of the Greek church, and are allowed the free exercise of their religion. The island is divided into twelve bishoprics, the bishop of one of which assumes the title of archbishop, and is appointed by the patriarch of Constantinople. The situation of this island for commerce can scarcely be surpassed. It is at an almost equal distance from Asia, Europe, and Africa, and might be made the emporium for the manufactures and agricultural productions of each; but, from the oppressive nature of the government, the indolence of the Turks, and the degraded state of the Greeks, those advantages are not improved, and its condition partakes of that of the general condition of the Turkish empire.
This island was formerly famous for its hundred cities; it is distinguished in the ancient fabulous legends for the arrival there of Europa, on a bull, from Phoenicia; for the laws of Minos; for the labyrinth, the work of Daedalus; and, above all, as the place where Jupiter was born and was buried. According to the fables of mythology, he was born in a cavern near Lyctus, or Cnosus; was rocked in a golden cradle; was fed with honey, and with the milk of the goat Amalthea, while the Curetes danced around him, clashing their arms, to prevent his cries from being heard by Saturn. He became, according to the legend, the king of Crete, and was buried on the island. See Anthon, Class. Dic., Art. Jupiter.
Section 3. The introduction of the gospel into Crete
We have no certain information in regard to the time when the gospel was first preached in Crete, nor by whom it was done. There are some circumstances mentioned, however, which furnish all the light which we need on this point, in order to an understanding of the epistle before us. Among the persons who were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and who were converted there, Cretans are mentioned Acts 2:11; and it is highly probable that, when they returned to their homes, they made the gospel known to their countrymen. Yet history is wholly silent as to the method by which it was done, and as to the result on the minds of the inhabitants. As no visit of any of the apostles to that island is mentioned by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, it may be presumed that the gospel there had not produced any very marked success; and the early history of Christianity there is to us unknown.
It is clear from the epistle before us Titus 1:5, that the apostle Paul was there on some occasion, and that the gospel, either when he was there or before, was attended with success. "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city." Here it is manifest that Paul had been there with Titus; that he had commenced some arrangements which he had not been able himself to complete; and that the gospel had had an effect extensively on the island, since he was to ordain eiders "in every city."
It is not certainly known, however, when Paul was there. There is no mention in the Acts of the Apostles of his having been there, except when he was on his way to Rome Acts 27:7-8; and this was in such circumstances as to preclude the supposition that that was the time referred to in this epistle, for.
(1.) Titus was not then with him:
(2) there is no reason to suppose that he remained there long enough to preach the gospel to any extent, or to establish churches.
He was sailing to Rome as a prisoner, and there is no probability that he would be permitted to go at large and preach for any considerable time. There is, therefore, a moral certainty that it must have been on some other occasion. "It is striking," says Neander (History of the Planting of the Christian Church, vol. 1, pp. 400, 401), "that while Luke in the Acts reports so fully and circumstantially the occurrences of the apostles last voyage to Rome, and mentions his stay in Crete, he says not a word (contrary to his usual practice in such cases) of the friendly reception given to him by the Christians there, or even of his meeting them at all. Hence, we may conclude that no Christian churches existed in that island, though that transient visit would naturally give rise to the intention of planting the gospel there, which he probably fulfilled soon after he was set at liberty, when he came into these parts."
There is reason to believe that Paul, after his first imprisonment, at Rome, was released, and again visited Asia Minor and Macedonia. See Introduction to 2 Timothy. n this journey, it is not improbable that he may have visited Crete, having, as Neander supposes, had his attention called to this island as a desirable place for preaching the gospel, when on his way to Rome. "If we may be allowed to suppose," says Dr. Paley (Hor. Paul.), "that Paul, after his liberation at Rome, sailed into Asia, taking Crete in his way; that from Asia, and from Ephesus, the capital of that country, he proceeded into Macedonia, and, crossing the peninsula in his progress, came into the neighbourhood of Nicopolis, we have a route which falls in with everything. It executes the intention expressed by the apostle of visiting Colosse and Philippi, as soon as he should be set at liberty at Rome. It allows him to leave 'Titus at Crete,' and 'Timothy at Ephesus, as he went into Macedonia,' and to write to both, not long after, from the peninsula of Greece, and probably from the neighbourhood of Nicopolis, thus bringing together the dates of these two letters" (1 Tim. nd Titus), "and thereby accounting for that affinity between them, both in subject and language, which our remarks have pointed out. I confess that the journey which we have thus traced out for Paul is in a great measure hypothetic; but it should be observed that it is a species of consistency which seldom belongs to falsehood, to admit of an hypothesis which includes a great number of remote and independent circumstances without contradiction." See Neander, History of the Planting of the Churches, i. 401. Compare, however, Introduction to 1 Timothy, Section 2.
Why Paul left Crete without completing the work which was to be done, and especially without ordaining the eiders himself, is not certainly known. There is evidently a striking resemblance between the circumstances which induced him to leave Titus there, and those which existed at Ephesus when he left Timothy there to complete an important work; 1 Timothy 1:3-4. We know that Paul was driven away from Ephesus before he had finished the work there which he had purposed to accomplish Acts 19; Acts 20:1; and it is not at all improbable that some such disturbance took place in Crete. Compare Koppe, Proleg. p. 194. When he thus left, he committed to Titus the work which he had designed to accomplish, with instructions to finish it as soon as possible, and then to come to him at Nicopolis; Titus 3:12.
Section 4. The place, time, and occasion of writing the epistle
There has been much diversity of opinion as to the time and place of writing this epistle.
In regard to the place, there can be little doubt that it was at a Nicopolis; for the apostle, in Titus 3:12, directs Titus to come to him at that place. But it is not easy to determine what Nicopolis is meant, for there were many cities of that name. The person who affixed the subscription at the end of the epistle, affirms that it was "Nicopolis of Macedonia;" but, as has been frequently remarked in these Notes, these subscriptions are of no authority. The name Nicopolis (meaning, properly, a city of victory - νίκη nikē and πόλις polis) was given to several places. There was a city of this name in Thrace, on the river Nessus, now called Nikopi. There was also a city of the same name in Epirus, two in Moesia, another in Armenia, another in Cilicia, and another in Egypt, in the vicinity of Alexandria. It is by no means easy to ascertain which of these cities is meant, though, as Paul was accustomed to travel in Greece and Asia Minor, there seems to be a probability that one of those cities is intended.
The only way of determining this with any degree of probability, is, to ascertain what city was best known by that name at the time when the epistle was written, or what city one would be likely to go to, if he were directed to go to Nicopolis, without any further specification - as if one were directed to go to Philadelphia, London, or Rome. In such a case, he would go to the principal city of that name, though there might be many other smaller places of that name also. But even this would not be absolutely certain, for Paul may have specified to Titus the place where he expected to go before he left him, so that he would be in no danger of doubt where the place was. But if we were to allow this consideration to influence us in regard to the place, there can be little doubt that the city which he meant was Nicopolis in Epirus, and the common opinion has been that the apostle alludes to this city.
This Nicopolis was situated in Epirus, in Greece, north-west of Corinth and Athens, on the Ambracian gulf, and near its mouth. See the Map prefixed to the Acts of the Apostles. On the same gulf, and directly opposite to Nicopolis, is Actium, the place where Augustus achieved a signal victory over Mark Antony; and the city of Nicopolis he built in honour of that victory. Augustus was anxious to raise this city to the highest rank among the cities of Greece, and caused games to be celebrated there, with great pomp, every few years. Having afterwards fallen into decay, the city was restored by the emperor Julian. Modern travelers describe the remains of Nicopolis as very extensive; the site which they now occupy is called Prevesa Vecchia. See Anthon's Class. Dic. It should be said, however, that there is no absolute certainty about the place where the epistle was written. Macknight and Benson suppose it was at Colosse; Lardner supposes it was in or near Macedonia; Hug, at Ephesus.
If the epistle was written from the Nicopolis referred to, then it was probably after Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. If so, it was written about the year 63 or 64. But there is great diversity of opinion as to the time. Lardner and Hug place it in the year 56. It is of no material importance to be able to determine the exact time.
The occasion on which it was written is specified by the apostle himself, with such clearness, that there can be no doubt on that point. Paul had left Titus in Crete, to "set in order the things which were wanting, and to ordain elders in every city" Titus 1:5; and as he had himself, perhaps, been called to leave suddenly, it was important that Titus should have more full instructions than he had been able to give him on various points of duty, or, at any rate, that he should have permanent instructions to which he could refer. The epistle is occupied, therefore, mainly with such counsels as were appropriate to a minister of the gospel engaged in the duties which Titus was left to discharge.
The principal difficulties which it was apprehended Titus would meet with in the performance of his duties there, and which in fact made his labours there desirable, arose from two sources: (1.) the character of the Cretans themselves; and (2.) the influence of Judaizing teachers.
(1.) the character of the Cretans themselves was such as to demand the vigilance and care of Titus. They were a people characterized for insincerity, falsehood, and gross living; Titus 1:12. There was great danger, therefore, that their religion would be hollow and insincere, and great need of caution lest they should be corrupted from the simplicity and purity required in the gospel; Titus 1:13.
(2.) the influence of Judaizing teachers was to be guarded against. It is evident from Acts 2:11, that there were Jews residing there; and it is probable that it was by those who had gone from that island to Jerusalem to attend the feast of the Pentecost, and who had been converted on that occasion, that the gospel was first introduced there. From this epistle, also, it is clear that one of the great dangers to piety in the churches of Crete, arose from the efforts of such teachers, and from the plausible arguments which they would use in favour of the Mosaic law; see Titus 1:10, Titus 1:14-16; Titus 3:9. To counteract the effect of their teaching, it was necessary to have ministers of the gospel appointed in every important place, who should be qualified for their work. To make these arrangements, was the great design for which Titus was left there; and to give him full information as to the kind of ministers which was needed, this epistle was written.
There is a very striking resemblance between this epistle and the first epistle to Timothy. See Paley's Horae Paulinae. "Both letters were addressed to persons left by the writer to preside in their respective churches during his absence. Both letters are principally occupied in describing the qualifications to be sought for in those whom they should appoint to offices in the church; and the ingredients of this description are, in both letters, nearly the same. Timothy and Titus, likewise, are cautioned against the same prevailing corruptions, and, in particular, against the same misdirection of their cares and studies." Paley. This similarity is found, not only in the general structure of the epistles, but also in particular phrases and expressions; compare 1 Timothy 1:2-3, with Titus 1:4-5; 1 Timothy 1:4, with Titus 1:14; Titus 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12, with Titus 3:7; Titus 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:2-4, with Titus 1:6-8.
It is evident, from this, that the epistles were written by the same person, and to those who were in substantially the same circumstances. They are incidental proofs that they are genuine, and were written by the person, and to the persons, whose names appear, and on the occasions which are said in the epistle to have existed. On the subjects in this introduction, the reader may consult Macknight's Introduction to the Epistle; Michaelis's Introduction; Benson, Koppe, and especially Paley's Horae Paulinae - a work which will never be consulted without profit.
This chapter embraces the following points:
1. The usual inscription and salutation; Titus 1:1-4. In this Paul declares himself to be the author of the epistle, and asserts in the strongest manner his claims to the apostleship. He alludes to the great cause in which, as an apostle, he was engaged - as acting under the eternal plan of God for the salvation of the elect, and appointed to communicate the glorious truths of that system which had been now revealed to mankind. The object of this seems to be to impress the mind of Titus with his right to give him instruction.
2. A statement of the object for which Titus had been left in Crete, and the general character of the work which he was to perform there; Titus 1:5.
3. The qualifications of those who were to be ordained to the ministry; Titus 1:6-9. The characteristics laid down are substantially the same as in 1 Timothy 3.
4. Reasons for great caution and prudence in thus appointing elders over the churches; Titus 1:10-13. Those reasons arose from the character of the Cretans. There were many deceivers there, and the character of the Cretans was such that there was great danger that they who professed to be Christians would be hypocritical, and if put into the eldership that they would do great injury to the cause.
5. A solemn charge to Titus to rebuke them faithfully for their prevailing and characteristic vices, and to avoid giving any countenance to that for which they were so much distinguished; Titus 1:13-16.
1Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ - See notes at Romans 1:1; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:1-5.
According to the faith of God's elect - Compare the Romans 8:33 note; Ephesians 1:4 note; 2 Timothy 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 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 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.
2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
In hope of eternal life - Margin, for. Greek, ἐπ ̓ ἐλπίδι 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, 2 Timothy 1:10.
Which God, that cannot lie - On the phrase" cannot lie," see the notes at Hebrews 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 Matthew 25:34 note; 2 Timothy 1:9 note.
3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
But hath in due times - At the proper time; the time which he had intended; the best time: see the notes at 1 Timothy 2:6; compare the notes at Matthew 2:2.
Manifested his word through preaching - See the notes at 2 Timothy 2:10. The meaning here is, that he has made known his eternal purpose through the preaching of the gospel; compare the notes at Romans 10:14-15.
Which is committed unto me - Not exclusively, but in common with others; see the notes at 2 Timothy 1:11.
According to the commandment of God our Saviour - Paul always claimed to be divinely commissioned, and affirmed that he was engaged in the work of preaching by the authority of God; see Galatians 1:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 1:1-4.
4To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
To Titus - See the Introduction, Section 1.
Mine own son - Notes, 1 Timothy 1:2.
After the common faith - The faith of all Christians; - equivalent to saying "my son in the gospel." That is, Paul had been the means of converting him by preaching that gospel which was received by all who were Christians.
Grace, mercy, and peace ... - See the notes at Romans 1:7.
5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
For this cause left I thee in Crete - Compare the notes, 1 Timothy 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 Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42; Acts 6:3), though without reference to any particular mode of investment with an office; see the word, "ordain," explained in the notes at Acts 1:22; Acts 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 Acts 6:3.
Elders - Greek: Presbyters; see the word explained in the notes at Acts 14:23. These "elders," or "Presbyters," were also called "bishops" (compare the notes at 1 Timothy 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 Titus 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.
6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife - See the notes at 1 Timothy 3:2.
Having faithful children - See the notes at 1 Timothy 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 1 Timothy 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 Ephesians 5:18, and riot in Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, though the word riotous is found in Luke 15:13; see it explained in the notes at Ephesians 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, 1 Timothy 1:9; Luke 3:4.
7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
For a bishop must be blameless - 1 Timothy 3:2.
As the steward of God - See notes, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. A man, in order to perform the duties of such an office, should be one against whom no accusation could lie.
Not self-willed - Compare 2 Peter 2:10. The word - αὐθάδης authadēs - does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, properly, self-complacent; and then, assuming, arrogant, imperious; Robinson, Lexicon - The gist of the offence - the very "head and front" - is that of being self-complacent; a trait of character which, of necessity, makes a man imperious, dogmatical, impatient of contradiction, and unyielding. Such a man, evidently, is not fit for the office of a minister of the gospel.
Not soon angry - See notes, 1 Timothy 3:2, and the margin there.
Not given to wine - Notes, 1 Timothy 3:3.
No striker - Notes, 1 Timothy 3:3.
Not given to filthy lucre - In 1 Timothy 3, "Not given of filthy lucre." The same Greek word is used.
8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
But a lover of hospitality - Notes, 1 Timothy 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 Philippians 4:8.
Sober - Notes, 1 Timothy 1:2.
Just - Upright in his dealings with all. A minister can do little good who is not; compare the notes at Philippians 4:8.
Holy - Pious, or devout. Faithful in all his duties to God; Notes, 1 Timothy 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 Acts 24:25; compare 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 9:25; Galatians 5:23.
9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
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, 2 Thessalonians 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, 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 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 2 Timothy 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, Romans 10:21.
10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers - There are many persons who are indisposed to submit to authority (see the word unruly in Titus 1:6); many who are vain talkers - who are more given to talk than to the duties of practical religion (see the character of "Talkative," in the Pilgrim's Progress); and many who live to deceive others under the mask of religion. They make great pretensions to piety; they are fluent in argument, and they urge their views in a plausible manner.
Specially they of the circumcision - Jews, spoken of here as "of the circumcision" particularly, because they urged the necessity of circumcision in order that men might be saved; Notes, Acts 15:1. This proves that there were not a few Jews in the island of Crete.
11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
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 Psalm 32:8-9.
Who subvert whole houses - Whole families; compare Matthew 23:14; 2 Timothy 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 1 Corinthians 16:3. On the phrase "filthy lucre," see the notes at 1 Timothy 3:3.
12One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
One of themselves - That is, one of the Cretans. The quotation here shows that Paul had his eye not only on the Jewish teachers there, but on the native Cretans. The meaning is, that, alike in reference to Jewish teachers and native-born Cretans, there was need of the utmost vigilance in the selection of persons for the ministry. They all had well-known traits of character, which made it proper that no one should be introduced into the ministry without extreme caution. It would seem, also, from the reasoning of Paul here, that the trait of character here referred to pertained not only to the native Cretans, but also to the character of the Jews residing there; for he evidently means that the caution should extend to all who dwelt on the island,
Even a prophet of their own - Or, a poet; for the word "prophet" - προφήτης prophētēs - like the Latin word "vates," was often applied to poets, because they were supposed to be inspired of the muses, or to write under the influence of inspiration. So Virgil, Ecl. ix. 32: Et me fecere poetam Pierides ...me quoque dicunt vatem pastores. Varro, Ling. Lat. vi. 3: Vates poetae dicti sunt. The term "prophet" was also given by the Greeks to one who was regarded as the interpreter of the gods, or who explained the obscure responses of the oracles. As such an interpreter - as one who thus saw future events, he was called a prophet; and as the poets claimed much of this kind of knowledge, the name was given to them. It was also given to one who was regarded as eminently endowed with wisdom, or who had that kind of sagacity by which the results of present conduct might be foreseen, as if he was under the influence of a kind of inspiration.
The word might have been applied to the person here referred to - Epimenides - in this latter sense, because he was eminently endowed with wisdom. He was one of the seven wise men of Greece. He was a contemporary of Solon, and was born at Phaestus, in the island of Crete, b.c. 659, and is said to have reached the age of 157 years. Many marvelous tales are told of him (see Anthon, Class. Dic) which are commonly supposed to be fabulous, and which are to be traced to the invention of the Cretans. The event in his life which is best known is, that he visited Athens, at the request of the inhabitants, to prepare the way by sacrifices for the introduction of the laws of Solon. He was supposed to have contact with the gods, and it was presumed that a special sacredness would attend the religious services in which he officiated. On this account, also, as well as because he was a poet, the name prophet may have been given him. Feuds and animosities prevailed at Athens, which it was supposed such a man might allay, and thus prepare them for the reception of the laws of Solon. The Athenians wished to reward him with wealth and public honors; but he refused to accept of any remuneration, and only demanded a branch of the sacred olive tree, and a decree of perpetual friendship between Athens and his native city. After his death, divine honors were paid to him by the Cretans. He wrote a poem on the Argonautic expedition, and other poems, which are now entirely lost. The quotation here is supposed to be made from a treatise on oracles and responses, which is also lost.
The Cretians are always liars - This character of the Cretans is abundantly sustained by the examples adduced by Wetstein. To be a Cretan, became synonymous with being a liar, in the same way as to be a Corinthian, became synonymous with living a licentious life; compare Introduction to 1 Corinthians, Section 1. Thus, the scholiast says, παροιμία ἐστι τὸ κρητίζειν ἐπὶ τοῦ ψεύδεσθαι paroimia esti to krētizein epi tou pseudesthai - "to act the Cretan, is a proverb for to lie." The particular reason why they had this character abroad, rather than other people, is unknown. Bishop Warburton supposes that they acquired it by claiming to have among them the tomb of Jupiter, and by maintaining that all the gods, like Jupiter, were only mortals who had been raised to divine honors. Thus the Greeks maintained that they always proclaimed a falsehood by asserting this opinion. But their reputation for falsehood seems to have arisen from some deeper cause than this, and to have pertained to their general moral character. They were only more eminent in what was common among the ancient pagan, and what is almost universal among the pagan now; compare the notes at Ephesians 4:25.
Evil beasts - In their character, beasts or brutes of a ferocious or malignant kind. This would imply that there was a great want of civilization, and that their want of refinement was accompanied with what commonly exists in that condition - the unrestrained indulgence of wild and ferocious passions. See examples of the same manner of speaking of barbarous and malicious men in Wetstein.
Slow bellies - Mere gormandizers. Two vices seem here to be attributed to them, which indeed commonly go together - gluttony and sloth. An industrious man will not be likely to be a gormandizer, and a gormandizer will not often be an industrious man. The mind of the poet, in this, seems to have conceived of them first as an indolent, worthless people; and then immediately to have recurred to the cause - that they were a race of gluttons, a people whose only concern was the stomach; compare Philippians 3:19. On the connection between gluttony and sloth, see the examples in Wetstein. Seldom have more undesirable, and, in some respects, incongruous qualities, been grouped together in describing any people. They were false to a proverb, which was, indeed, consistent enough with their being ferocious - though ferocious and wild nations are sometimes faithful to their word; but they were at the same time ferocious and lazy, fierce and gluttonous - qualities which are not often found together. In some respects, therefore, they surpassed the common depravity of human nature, and blended in themselves ignoble properties which, among the worst people, are usually found existing alone. To mingle apparently contradictory qualities of wickedness in the same individual or people, is the height of depravity; as to blend in the same mind apparently inconsistent traits of virtuous character, or those which exist commonly, in their highest perfection, only alone, is the highest virtue.
13This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
This witness is true - That is, this testimony long before borne by one of their own number, was true when the apostle wrote to Titus. The fact that this was the general Character of the people, was a reason why he should be on his guard in introducing men into the ministry, and in the arrangement of affairs pertaining to the church. That it was true, see proofs in Wetstein.
Wherefore rebuke them - Notes, 2 Timothy 4:2.
Sharply - ἀποτόμως apotomōs - "cuttingly, severely" - from ἀποτέμνω apotemnō, "to cut off." The word is used here in the sense of severity, meaning that the reproof should be such as would be understood, and would show them plainly the wickedness of such traits of character. He was not to be mealy-mouthed, but he was to call things by their right names, and not to spare their faults. When men know that they are doing wrong, we should tell them so in few words; if they do not know it, it is necessary to teach them, in order to convince them of their error.
That they may be sound in the faith - That they may not allow the prevailing vices to corrupt their views of religion.
14Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Not giving heed to Jewish fables ... - See the notes at 1 Timothy 1:4.
And commandments of men that turn from the truth - Notes, Matthew 15:3-5.
15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
Unto the pure all things are pure - See the notes at Romans 14:14, Romans 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 1 Timothy 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 Colossians 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.
16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
They profess that they know God - That is, the Jewish teachers particularly, who are referred to in Titus 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 Romans 1:28 note; 2 Corinthians 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."