The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3

Titus 1

Tit 1:1

See Lesson, Paul the man.

See Lesson, Pastoral letters, overview.

See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.

See Lesson, Errors in Crete.

Vv 1-4: Paul's greeting to Titus is much longer than either of those to Timothy, much longer in fact than most of Paul's greetings. There is nothing, however, in all of the four verses that sounds unlike Paul. It is one of those concise yet profound declarations of the gospel which was his whole life, followed by a warm expression of love for Titus his own "son" in the faith, and concluding with his prayer for that son's spiritual well-being: "Grace, mercy, and peace".

It is quite easy for us to skip over such phrases, wearied perhaps by their frequent repetition, and hardened in our sensibilities by the supposed "vagueness" of these terms. But grace, mercy, and peace were real, almost tangible things to Paul -- more real than anything to do with the temporal, perishing commonplace things of the world around him. Perhaps nothing else is as vital in his whole letter as "grace, mercy, and peace". All of the rest of what Paul wrote was of course important instruction and exhortation. But these were the keys of life! If we have grace, mercy, and peace from God, we have everything; nothing else really matters. If we do not have them, the wealth of the world and all might and all wisdom would be of no real value to us. Only a few among ail of mankind have this supreme blessing; the vast majority do not.

As with many of Paul's lengthier introductions, each phrase is significant of what is to come later. Far from linking together high-sounding phrases for the simple effect of it, as the casual reader might suppose, Paul is laying the groundwork for all that will follow: (1) He calls himself a slave, so as to appeal to other slaves (Tit 2:9,10). (2) As an apostle, to whom was committed the preaching of the gospel, he clearly establishes his right to appoint Titus, and to set him on his course; therefore, no man can question the authority of Titus (Tit 2:8,15). (3) The truth pertaining to godliness foreshadows the central theme of his letter, as has already been discussed: the necessity of good works (Tit 2:7,14) and sobriety (Tit 1:8; 2:4,6; 3:12). (4) That God cannot lie may seem a truism, but it serves as a significant counterpoint to the untruthful character of too many of the Cretans (Tit 1:10-12). (5) The eternal life (cp Tit 3:7) that God promised since time began (Tit 1:2) has now been manifested in Christ. Again, this seems almost trite to us now. Yet, as the antidote to the legalistic tendencies of the Judaizers (Tit 1:10,14; 3:9), it could not be said often enough that there was salvation in no other than Jesus Christ!

V 1: PAUL: His name was originally Saul, which signifies "called of God". He changed his Hebrew name to the Greek name by which we know him as a result, apparently, of the conversion of the deputy (or proconsul) of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:2,9,12,13). Paul signifies "little" (cp 1Co 15:9; Eph 3:8). A new name, and that a Greek one, signaled the commencement of a new mission: Saul the Hebrew had been specially selected apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

The conversion of Paulus the Gentile was facilitated by the miraculous blinding of the pestilent Bar-Jesus, a Jewish sorcerer who was opposing the preaching of Saul. This one incident set the pattern for the apostle's life work as a missionary to the Roman world: the blindness of the Jews and the faith of the Gentiles. What more natural than that the apostle saw his own former self in Bar-Jesus ("the son of salvation") -- a favored Jew whose intellectual pride led him to fight against Christ, and who was struck blind by that power he opposed. Then and there, reflecting on his new life and his new mission, Saul of Tarsus became finally and absolutely Paul the Apostle!

Paul attaches his name to 13 of his 14 inspired epistles. The only exception is his letter to the Hebrews, which Paul issued anonymously so as not to excite the animosity of his implacable enemies the Judaizers.

A SERVANT OF GOD: "Doulos" is a slave, a bond-servant, one whose will and capacities are entirely at the service of another. Paul, a freeborn Roman, rejoiced in his servitude to God (cp 1Co 7:22; Rom 6:18). Indeed, there can be no higher position, spiritually speaking, than a "slave" of God: such were Moses (Josh 1:2) and Joshua (Josh 24:29) and all the prophets. And the greatest prophet said, "And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant ('doulos') of all" (Mark 10:44).

This description emphasizes submission and dependence on their Lord. It is not a technical reference to a specific office, but characterizes their willing service of Christ, their divine Master. The same designation appears in the letters of James, 2Pe, and Jude.

Man's slave becomes free in Christ, and a freeman (like Paul) becomes Christ's slave (1Co 7:22).

The use of the term "slaves" also suggests the "redemptive" work of God in Christ: the Israelites were "slaves" in Egypt, who were "bought" or "redeemed" out of their slavery to become the "purchased possession" of the Father (Exo 15:16). (See Lesson, Redemption.)

AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST: "One sent forth", with some special message or commission; an ambassador or envoy. An apostle of Jesus Christ was one directly called by the Lord, as was Paul (Acts 9:5,6; 1Co 9:1).

FOR THE FAITH OF GOD'S ELECT: "To further the faith of God's elect" (RSV). Twice elsewhere Paul uses the phrase "God's elect" (Rom 8:33; Col 3:12), signifying chosen, or "elected", by God. In the OT similar terms were applied to the nation of Israel, but in the NT the ecclesia is the elect of God, or the "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16).

AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH THAT LEADS TO GODLINESS: This phrase is attached to the preceding one: Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, with the purpose or mission of furthering the faith of God's elect and the "knowledge" (RSV, NIV) of the truth which leads to godliness.

The word "knowledge" is the superlative, "epi-gnosis": precise or exact knowledge. It is knowledge that lays claim upon the sentiments and emotions of the possessor, to alter his life -- not just "head" knowledge, but also "heart" knowledge! Paul was commissioned to teach men a truth that would do no less than change their lives! The full knowledge of the Truth will do this; it will sanctify and cleanse and renew the believer (John 17:3,17; Eph 4:22,23; 5:26; Col 3:10). But, sadly, there are some who have "a form of godliness, (while) denying the power thereof... (they are) ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge ('epi-gnosis') of the Truth" (2Ti 3:5,7).

GODLINESS: The word "eusebia" appears 15 times in the NT. Ten of these are in Paul's writings, and all in the Pastoral Epistles. The word occurs eight times in 1Ti and once each in 2Ti and Titus. "Eusebia" is compounded of two words: "Eu", which means well or right, and the remainder, which signifies worship. True "godliness", therefore, is "right worship", the practical expression in our dally lives of the worship due To God. The "truth which leads to godliness" is the gospel believed, which exercises a compelling Influence upon impure men and women to develop pure characters. This we do by practical application of God's principles, while never losing sight of the fact that we are saved by God's grace alone and not by our own efforts.

This may seem perfectly obvious, but it was necessary for Paul to repeat it time and again. The fact is, the Cretan believers (and some believers today?) were in grievous danger of confusing a counterfeit "godliness" with the true. Their lives were very much taken up with speculations on "Jewish fables" and "commandments of men" (Tit 1:14) and "foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law" (Tit 3:9). They were no doubt "puffed up" in their minds, vainly deluded into thinking that the energy they put into their "sophisticated" disputes about technicalities was proof of their "godliness" when in fact it was the very reverse. If this glimpse of their ecclesial affairs seems uncomfortably familiar, let us all heed the lesson!

Tit 1:2

RESTING ON THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE: The preposition "epi" (upon) gives the idea of "resting upon". The question, then, is: Does this phrase modify "Paul", "faith", "knowledge", "truth", or "godliness"? Even the most learned Greek scholars seem at a loss as to the answer. For our purpose it is sufficient that any of the five suggestions is true: Paul rested on the hope of eternal life because his faith rested on that same hope, and so forth.

HOPE: "Hope" is not reality (Rom 8:24,25; Tit 3:7). Eternal life is not now in our possession; instead, we must seek for it (Rom 2:7). We hold firmly to the hope, or the promise, now (1Jo 2:25; 1Ti 6:12); in the great day of judgment we redeem that hope for the real thing (1Ti 6:1.9)!

WHICH GOD, WHO DOES NOT LIE, PROMISED BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME: The first lie was uttered by the serpent in the garden of Eden: "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen 3:4). In thus speaking to Eve, the serpent accused God of lying, because God had said: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:17). The serpent was a liar from the beginning, the "father" of liars (John 8:44). Through him, because of the disobedience of our first parents, sin and death and murder entered the world. So, in that sense, the serpent or the "devil" was the "father" of sin and murder also (1Jo 3:8, 12): "And ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1Jo 3:15). The serpent's lie offered a false hope of life to Eve: "Eat of the tree and you will not die!" (Did the serpent also suggest that the fruit of the tree of life might serve as the antidote to any ill effect from the other fruit?) Both John and Jesus called the Pharisees "children of the serpent" (Mat 3:7; 23:33). Was this because their absolute trust in the Mosaic law and their own "righteousness" promised a false hope of life, which deluded their followers even as the serpent's lie deluded Eve? If so, then Paul is here setting forth God Almighty as the absolute antithesis to those "of the circumcision" (Tit 1:10), who taught what they ought not (v 11), and were "liars" (v 12), because they suggested that eternal life might come through the keeping of the law.

The Judaizing element in the first-century ecclesias was the "mystery of iniquity" already at work (2Th 2:7), propounding the "lie" (v 11) that eternal life might be had other than through intelligent faith in Christ. This "serpent's lie" became the cornerstone of the Roman apostasy.

The great false church taught salvation by "works" and by "filthy lucre", rather than salvation by knowledge of the truth and faith. (It also taught the "immortality of the soul", another vain delusion patterned after the serpent's first lie -- "Ye shall not surely die"!).

God, who cannot lie (Num 23:19; 2Ti 2:13; Heb 6:18; James 1:17), has promised eternal life - but only to those who know the Truth and obey it in faith.

BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME: Literally, "before the time (Greek 'chronos') of the ages ('aionios')". God's foreknowledge of man's fall and the subsequent plan of redemption in the seed of the woman, bringing eternal life by faith in him, is indisputable (2Ti 1:9; Rom 16:25). But how can it be said that God promised eternal life before there was any man to hear and believe and act upon that promise? The "chronos" referred to, then, must be either the "times" that began with the curse upon Adam and Eve, or the "times" that began with the reception of the Law by Moses, in either case, God's promise given to man may refer to the great foundation promise of all Scripture, Gen 3:15. (Notice that the promise of v 15 was given immediately before the curse of vv 16-19, which is surely more than arbitrary choice!)

The promise of eternal life was amplified in the Abrahamic covenant, as Stephen taught: "And He (God) gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that He would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child" (Acts 7:5).

In promising the mortal Abraham an everlasting possession in the land of Canaan, God, "who cannot lie", was promising him eternal life, since there was no other way the land-promise could be fulfilled! And this He did even before the Mosaic "times" began!

Tit 1:3

AND AT HIS APPOINTED SEASON HE BROUGHT HIS WORD TO LIGHT THROUGH THE PREACHING: "At proper seasons" (Diag), God revealed openly (Gr "phaneros") the word of His promise by the means of preaching. The "appointed season" ("kairoi idioi") is in contrast to the "times of the ages" in v 2: From the beginning of man's time, or from the institution of God's first national law upon earth, through Moses, the promise of eternal life had been given to men. But at first it could be perceived only indistinctly (1Pe 1:10-12); it was clearly sat forth only with the birth (Gal 4:4), and work (1Ti 3:16), and especially the death and resurrection (1Ti 2:6) of Jesus Christ, and the proclamation by the apostles sent by him into the world (as here and Eph 3:1-10). Everything else had been only preliminary (including the giving of the Law so idolized by some Jewish believers -- Tit 1:10,14; 3:9). Now had come the absolute and unchallengeable reality, the substance which the "shadows" had only vaguely delineated: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:14-17).

THROUGH THE PREACHING: Is the "church" correct in its view that the Holy Spirit, acting independently of the Bible, is the agency through which the believer is converted and cleansed? Definitely not. Enlightenment occurs because God has "manifested His word through preaching". True Scriptural conversion is the result of preaching, not some mysterious, instantaneous action of the Holy Spirit. The Philippian jailer came to know the Truth because Paul and Silas "spake unto him the word of the Lord" (Acts 16:32). Men and women of Antioch gave their lives To God because "the word of the Lord was published throughout the region" (Acts 13:49). Instances such as this could be greatly multiplied.

ENTRUSTED TO ME: In this and similar passages (1Ti 1:11; 6:20; 2Ti 1:14) Paul could have in mind Christ's parables of the pounds and the talents (Mat 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27). In those parables, money is deposited to the trust of servants as though to a bank, for the purpose of being invested to realize a profit, or at least of earning "usury" or interest. The "deposit" must be put to work; it must be given the fullest opportunity to grow! Christ has given to each of us (not just to Paul and the apostles!) the Truth, and we must grace that Truth to the best of our individual abilities. We must not cast it aside to decay through neglect, nor even store it neatly away in a white napkin! We will be judged as to what we have done with that which was entrusted to us.

BY THE COMMAND OF GOD OUR SAVIOR: "Kata" ("by" or "according to") implies a strong link with the One who commanded; Paul's commission as an apostle, to preach the gospel, rested on the highest authority. It was confirmed by the Holy Spirit from the beginning (Acts 9:17; 13:2,9) and throughout his ministry (Acts 19:11,12).

GOD OUR SAVIOR: This is not a very common expression, but it does convey an important Truth. God was "in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" (2Co 5:19-21). "God so loved the world..." (John 3:16). God delivered up His own Son for us all (Rom 8:32). There is nothing in true "theology" that would set the Son against the Father, that would suggest a vengeful Deity placated by a loving Savior Son (an idea borrowed from the grossest idolatries). God was fully and absolutely "our Savior", and the means of that salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, was appointed by Him for the purpose of declaring His righteousness, after which He might righteously offer forgiveness and salvation To believers (Rom 3:20-29).

SAVIOR: The word "Savior" is used ten times in the Pastorals - six times for God (1Ti 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4) and four for Christ (2Ti 1:10; Tit 1:4; 2:13; 3:6). In all Paul's other letters it occurs only twice more, referring in both cases to Christ (Eph 5:23; Phi 3:20).

Tit 1:4

TITUS: See Lesson, Titus the man.

MY TRUE SON IN OUR COMMON FAITH: The word "true" is the Greek "gnesios", which means "genuine". Paul addresses Titus as his close protegee, his dearly beloved friend, "begotten" (cp 1Co 4:15) into the Truth by the apostle. Paul considers himself the spiritual "father" of Titus; he uses a Scriptural form of speech, of which many examples might be cited: Joseph was called "father of Pharaoh" (Gen 45:8), being his counselor. The prophets' followers and students were called "sons of the prophets" (1Sa 19:20; 2Ki 2:5,7,15; 4:1,38). Elisha calls Elijah, "My father, my father" (2Ki 2:12). Job was a "father" of the poor (Job 29:16). And Jabal was the "father" of all who play harps (Gen 4:20).

It was inevitable that Paul, who almost certainly had no children of his own, would have a paternal feeling toward young men like Titus and Timothy (1Ti 1:2) and Onesimus (Phm 1:10), to whom he was entrusting the burden of carrying forward, even after his death, his life's work. Such a feeling in no way runs contrary to Christ's admonition to "call no man father in earth" (Mat 23:9), because in that statement Christ is evidently warning against the pride and ambition of self-appointed teachers who indiscriminately seek for and even demand worshipful praise from others, something the humble Paul never did.

This phrase differs from the one in 1Ti 1:2 and 2Ti 1:2 by the inclusion of the word "common". It is true that all believers should share a common faith in unity (Eph 4:3,4), and that may well be Paul's thought. But, additionally, the emphasis upon "the faith which we share" (NEB) would call attention to the divergent nationalities and backgrounds of Paul and Titus. And this common bond between Jew and Gentile in the Lord would be a gentle reminder to the Judaizers in Crete, and those who heeded them, that there was only one faith -- not two!

It may be noted in passing that Paul has other titles for Titus. Besides being his "son", Titus is his "brother" (2Co 2:13), his "partner and fellowhelper" (2Co 8:23), and one who walked in the same spirit (Tit 12:18).

GRACE AND PEACE: The KJV has "Grace, mercy, and peace", but some mss omit "mercy" -- as does the NiV. It may be that when Paul omits "mercy", it is because he considers it to be included in the more comprehensive word "grace".

GRACE: The Greek word is "charis" -- a gift, or favor -- any and all of God's blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit but it certainly signifies much more as well.

Grace is the favorable attention, and love, and care, and comfort and guidance from God toward us: to come within the scope of His glorious light -- to be accepted as part of His chosen family, constantly overshadowed by His angelic protection.

This grace is extended without partiality to all who, in Truth, yield themselves entirely to Him -- this means placing ourselves in His hands, allowing His Word to work in us. We must allow the Truth to overshadow and dominate everything in our lives -- endeavoring to give our all to Him, holding nothing back, in hope of the day when we will be "filled with all the fullness of God". Just holding certain beliefs, and attending the meetings of believers, and being technically "in the Truth" is not enough to guarantee God's grace. We must be receptive to Him and be moved to activity. Then and only then may we enter into the glory of the grace of God.

"Mercy" occurs in some mss, but is not found in the NIV. Mercy is the overlooking, in loving understanding, of all our shortcomings and weaknesses and failures -- if we, like Paul, agonize to repudiate them and to be free of them.

To obtain the mercy of God, we must fully recognize our absolute need for mercy -- our utter helplessness and misery without it. God is the essence of all holiness and purity and perfection. We are weak, ignorant, unclean mortal creatures seeking His exalted fellowship.

And related to this, the more we recognize our own need for mercy, the more merciful we should be toward the faults and weaknesses of others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mat 5:7). (But let us remember that mercy does not remove the responsibilities of duty and obedience to God's commands.)

PEACE: Peace is the basic blessing we all need most. It only comes through the grace and mercy of God. Peace is an impervious mental shield against all fears and anxieties. Peace is perfect, relaxed harmony and tranquillity of mind and spirit. Peace is primarily "peace with God" -- "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1).

To have peace with God makes all other conflict harmless and unimportant. It can only come with complete, undivided dedication to one supreme object of life, for peace is essentially oneness and integrity. It is not freedom from external conflict: that is not important. It is freedom from internal conflict. Jesus said, just before the terrible suffering of his crucifixion: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you... In the world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27; 16:33).

And Paul, chained and in prison for the sake of the glorious gospel, cells the Philippian brethren to take everything to God in prayer, and he assures them that in so doing -- "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Phi 4:7).

FROM GOD THE FATHER AND CHRIST JESUS OUR SAVIOR: This shows the true order from which all blessings flow. All gifts come from God. But the greatest gift to man is the hope of eternal life, which was first revealed in Christ -- "the firstfruits" (1Co 15:23) -- and then offered to us as well, through Christ our Saviour.

So Paul, who addresses Titus as his "son", directs him nevertheless to a greater Father than himself!

Tit 1:5

Vv 5-9: Qualifications of bishops: Titus had been left on Crete by Paul, who himself was probably on a missionary journey after his first imprisonment. Titus was to consolidate the apostle's work by ordaining elders in every ecclesia. "Ordain" simply means to appoint; the "ordination" of "clergy" in the world's churches is a later invention!

In vv 6-9 great stress is laid upon the qualifications of "bishops" (elders, or arranging brethren). Sixteen requirements are listed, and they are worthy of much study and contemplation. They are not just for elders -- they are the necessary attributes of all who desire to be godly! Titus just had to make sure the elders he chose had the necessary Christian qualities that God in fact requires of all believers.

Most of the requirements are quite clear and, like most Scripture, do not need exposition so much as application. The practical requirements of the Truth are usually such as to leave us no excuse for misunderstanding or neglect. It is the theoretical aspects we like to get side-tracked and bogged down in. It is more pleasant and less demanding upon the flesh to discuss and debate unlearned questions without end, than it is to face and conform to plain commands.

Overall, an elder must be strong, firm, and determined, but also gentle, calm, and self-controlled.

The word "bishop" -- Greek "episkopos": literally, an overseer -- occurs only five times, one of them applied to Christ (1Pe 2:25). In the four times applied to Christ's brethren (Acts 20:28; Phi 1:1; 1Ti 3:1,2; Tit 1:7), the context in ail cases indicates more than one in an ecclesia; generally it identifies them with "elders" (cp, for example, Acts 20:17 with v 28). The lordly "bishops" of modern churches, with their fine robes and finer salaries, bear no resemblance to NT "bishops"!

THE REASON I LEFT YOU IN CRETE: Paul and Titus had evidently visited Crete together, after Paul's release from prison in Rome (Acts 28:30), perhaps to follow up on what Paul had done and seen during his stop-over there on his trip to Rome (Acts 27:7-9). Paul, anxious to visit other ecclesias, left the very capable Titus there whilst making his way to Nicopolis (Tit 3:12).

CRETE: Crete is a large island about 140 miles long and 30 miles wide. It is traversed from east to west by a chain of mountains, of which Mount Ida, near the center, is 8,065 feet high. Homer spoke of its fair land, its countless men of different races, and its hundred cities. Crete was conquered by the Romans, 68-66 BC. Many Jews settled on the island (Acts 2:11).

From the letter to Titus it would appear that the Truth had spread throughout the length and breadth of Crete. Of how and when it was introduced the Scriptures say nothing directly. It is likely that some Cretan Jews were among the 3,000 converts on the day of Pentecost returning to form the nucleus of the Cretan ecclesias.

There are also hints that Paul was concerned with Crete from early times. When Paul was sailing to Rome he had to change ship at Myra, being transferred to a grain ship sailing from Alexandria to Italy. In this ship they came with difficulty, because of opposing winds, to Crete, and contrary to usual custom, to its southern shores. These large Alexandrian ships (there were 276 persons on board as well as a cargo of wheat: Acts 27:37,38) did not voyage during the winter months. So in this case they made harbor at "the fair havens", near the city of Lasea. Here the counsels were divided as to whether the ship should attempt the further voyage or stay -- though "the haven was not commodious to winter in" -- so that "much time was spent" and "sailing was now dangerous because the fast was now already past".

This fast would be the fast of the day of Atonement (in our month of October), so that winter was near. Hence the indecision. There would be no indecision in Paul's plans. Can we suppose that the "much time" was frittered away? As at Sidon Paul would be allowed ashore, so there is every reason to believe that he visited the young ecclesias and preached the gospel during this time at Lasea on Crete. In the years that followed until the appointment of Titus, there was ample opportunity and every reason for the Truth to be spread further throughout the island.

The reputation of the Cretans in general was very poor; their immorality and untruthfulness were proverbial (Tit 1:12). Yet in soil such as this, the Truth could still be planted and established, and could prosper. [See Lesson, Errors in Crete.]

THAT YOU MIGHT STRAIGHTEN OUT WHAT WAS LEFT UNFINISHED: "That you might amend what was defective" (RSV), or "regulate things which are deficient" (Diag). It is not necessary to suppose that the Apostle Paul forgot to give instructions to Titus before taking leave of him. The more reasonable conjecture is that his letter was a reminder, in more organized fashion, of the verbal instructions Paul had already given on the spot (notice the next phrase: "as I directed you"). Also, a letter to which the great apostle's name was affixed would provide Titus with the necessary authority to perform his assigned tasks.

The things that were "unfinished" or "defective" may be easily judged by the subject matter that follows. There were in Crete many believers, but little ecclesial order; there was much talk about the Truth and the controversies of the day, but little practical godliness.

The KJV has "set in order the things that are wanting". Setting "in order" is a significant thing in the service of God (particularly in the area of offering sacrifices): Gen 22:9; Exo 26:17; 39:37; 40:4,23; Lev 1:7,8,12; 6:12; 24:8; 1Ki 18:33; 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 13:11; 29:35; Eze 41:6; Acts 18:23; 1Co 11:34; 14:40; Tit 1:5.

AND APPOINT ELDERS IN EVERY TOWN: "Ordain" (KJV) means nothing more than "appoint". The modern theological implications of "ordination" have no part in, and derive no sanction from, these words of Paul. The fact that elders were needed in every city indicates that the Truth had already spread far and wide throughout the island. Titus was surely a reasonably young and vigorous man for Paul to have expected him to carry out such a task, since Crete was no small island!

By a comparison of v 5 and v 7, it is obvious that the terms "elder" and "bishop" were interchangeable, as has already been noted above.

The requirements for elder-bishops, both positive and negative, are given in vv 6-9, in a list very similar to the one in 1Ti 3:2-7.

Tit 1:6

AN ELDER MUST BE BLAMELESS: An elder (v 5), or bishop, must first of all be blameless or "above reproach" (NASB). (The word is "anenkletos": "having nothing laid to one's charge". It occurs in 1Co 1:8 and 1Ti 3:10.) He must be free from any grounds of criticism. He must give up and put away anything that could be a matter of question or censure, to the detriment of the Truth -- anything that might trouble his brethren or cause the outsider to doubt. Truly Solomon says that a little folly in him that is in reputation is like the stink of dead flies in good ointment (Eccl 10:1). Nowhere do minor faults stand out more clearly than when they appear in prominent men.

THE HUSBAND OF BUT ONE WIFE: The phrase, found also in 1Ti 3:2, has been the center of some disagreement among commentators. It may indicate that there were some Christians as late as 65 AD who had had several wives under the permission of Mosaic and Roman laws, and who were allowed to keep them in this early period of transition. It seems almost certain that such brethren had married more than one wife before they embraced the Truth. The fact, however, that such men were baptized and received into fellowship indicates that they were accepted as the Truth found them, and were not required to sever any existing marriage ties as a condition of baptism. No restrictions were placed upon such men except that they could not hold the office of a bishop.

Other commentators feel (wrongly, it seems) that this is a command that elders may have only one wife for all time: that is, that they may not remarry even if their first wife should die. (This heresy is said to have been introduced by Tertullian, a second-century "bishop".) But there is no Scriptural command or precedent for this: There is just as good reason for a widower to marry as for a bachelor to marry (1Co 7:8,9).

The most logical and simplest explanation of this passage is as follows: The Greek of this phrase is "a man of one woman", or a faithful husband, one not guilty of any indiscretion. In the midst of very lax Greek standards in the matters of marriage and adultery, a Christian bishop must be very careful to stand apart, and to remain faithful to his wife. He must give no appearance (even if innocent) of following the prevailing trends of immorality.

If we view the phrase in this last light, then it is perfectly equivalent to 1Ti 5:9, where it is said certain women should have been "the wife of one man". At no time were women permitted to have several husbands. Neither could this mean that a woman who had been widowed twice was any less worthy of care simply because of her two marriages. It must mean instead that she had been faithful to each of her husbands in turn.

There is, finally, the possibility that Paul had divorce in mind. Divorce was almost as common in Paul's day as it is today. On the assumption that bishops should not only be blameless but (insofar as possible) appear blameless also, Paul may have here been prohibiting leadership positions to those brethren who had been divorced -- for whatever reason.

Note the contrast between first-century Christianity and the apostasy soon to arise: One had the healthy, God-given attitude that marriage was honorable (Heb 13:4); the other commanded the unnatural (for most) condition of celibacy to its "bishops": "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith... forbidding to marry" (1Ti 4:1,3).

A long list of troubles, tragedies, and abuses during many centuries of ecclesiastical history might have been avoided if the church had heeded apostolic example instead of following unauthorized ascetic extremes. Celibacy, in Scripture, is left to the free decision of those concerned, without forbidding those who marry to assume ecclesial offices (Mat 19:12; 1Co 7:6-9). Marriage was permitted to Peter (Mat 8:14), to other apostles (1Co 9:5), and also to bishops (here; 1Ti 3:2).

WHOSE CHILDREN BELIEVE AND ARE NOT OPEN TO THE CHARGE OF BEING WILD AND DISOBEDIENT: Or "profligate or insubordinate" (RSV). The Greek word here rendered "wild" is "asotia", meaning literally "without salvation" or "not saving". It implies a proneness to self-indulgent and reckless expenditure. In the case of men whose duties included the management of ecclesial funds, it was absolutely necessary that they and their families give no appearance of reckless waste.

"Disobedient" is "anupotaktos" -- meaning "not put in order"; thus, insubordinate, and disobedient to parents. It is the negative requirement of which the positive counterpart is given in 1Ti 3:4: "(A bishop must be) one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection... "

It is well-known that a child's earliest years are the most formative. That is, what he learns in those years will remain with him all his life. It is very important that even youngsters be taught the way of God. This is a great duty, and it is one thoughtlessly neglected by many believing parents. God has given us our children, just as He has given us everything else. And with every gift cones a responsibility. It is a command to parents that they instruct their children: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Pro 22:6).

This is the perfect axiom of parent-child relationship in the Truth. This is the guideline, the example: God, the perfect parent; and Jesus, the perfect Son. We must train our children to be obedient to their nature parents, so that they might develop the desire to be obedient to their Heavenly Parent.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul continues by giving the reason for this requirement: "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1Ti 3:5).

We see that the household was regarded by Paul as a good training ground. We may learn lessons, in our everyday contacts within the family, to help us in the care of God's ecclesia.

If a family man has shown that he has no capacity to govern his little society, with which he is continually present, and over which he possesses a large measure of authority -- how can he expect to successfully oversee a larger society, often scattered and not in the same sense subject to his discipline?

God's ecclesia is a household, a family: We are all the "children of God" (1Jo 3:1). If bishops would bear this in mind -- that we are as one family -- they would have good guidelines in confronting many common ecclesial problems: The ecclesia is a family and a household. Should not the bishops -- as heads of the family -- be concerned when a member of the family is absent? If the ecclesia is a family, should there be any jealousy among its members? Or any reluctance to talk with one another and to resolve personal differences? Would the head of a real family, for example, communicate with his children by cold, official letters -- when personal conversation is possible?

And finally; If we found in our home some terrible threat to the well-being of the family members -- should we not expel it? Would we tolerate the presence, for example, of some dread disease in our house-hold, where the infection might be easily passed from one to another, if we had the power to isolate and finally eradicate it? Of course we would not! And the principle is precisely the same with the ecclesia and the fearful diseases to be found in the world today. A righteous elder cannot ignore such problems, hoping they will go away by themselves.

Tit 1:7

ENTRUSTED WITH GOD'S WORK: Gr "oikonomos": referring to the "steward" (AV), or the manager of a household or estate; one who had authority over the servants of a family, assigning their tasks and generally managing all his master's affairs and accounts. Elsewhere Paul refers to himself and his companions in labor as "stewards of the mysteries of God", adding: "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1Co 4:1,2). From Gal 4:2, where "oikonomos" is translated "governor", it may be seen that the steward also exercised authority over the sons of the household!

A steward must work for his master, and not for personal prestige or position (Luke 16:1-12; 17:7-10; Mat 24:45-50; 25:21-30). A good example of such a steward is Joseph (Gen 39:4-6, 21-23).

"Whenever you spend money, remember this: it is God's, not yours: you are but a steward -- under surveillance, handling that which belongs to another. Do you 'consume it on your lusts,' or are you using it in His service? There will be a day of reckoning. You will have to give an account of your stewardship. For some, there will be 'Well done!' For many there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In that day, all the precious passing rubbish acquired by unfaithful stewardship will rise to mock us with the grin of death" (GVG).

BLAMELESS: The same word "anenkletos" used to describe the desired blamelessness of the Cretan "elder-bishops" is applied in 1Ti 3:10 to the Ephesian "deacons", teaching the need for an irreproachable moral standard in all types of leadership or service positions.

NOT OVERBEARING: "Not self-willed" (AV). "Not arrogant" (RSV). The Greek is "authades", which literally means "pleasing himself". It appears only twice in the NT: here and in 2Pe 2:10. A self-willed man is one who thinks too highly of himself and too lowly of others. Acting on these respective opinions, he recklessly asserts what he considers his own "rights", no matter if it be to the detriment of others. He is therefore intolerant, condemning everything he cannot understand and thinking that there is no way of doing anything except his.

NOT QUICK-TEMPERED: The word "orgilos" is one of two Greek words for anger. While "thumos" is the lightning-quick anger that flares up and just as quickly subsides, "orge" (the noun related to "orgilos") is the wrath which a man purposely nurses to keep warm. Such a man, who nourishes his anger toward others, is absolutely unfit for any position of ecclesial responsibility.

NOT GIVEN TO DRUNKENNESS: Of course a bishop should not indulge excessively in strong drink. Liquor relaxes the inhibitions, and causes its user to do things which he would not normally do. An intoxicated person is governed by the lusts of the flesh rather than by a consideration of God's laws. (Use of drugs -- including marijuana -- must be avoided for they are intoxicating in effect.)

Also, a bishop should not be concerned with banquets and social affairs and places of worldly entertainment. He must maintain a firmly conservative attitude toward the behavior of the world, which is growing continually worse around him. He must be a firm pillar to which younger brethren in doubt may seek for an example. An immoral atmosphere and worldly friends can be just as intoxicating as liquor. (Taken in small amounts, worldly involvement may not seem harmful; but a little association leads to greater excesses, until their victims are trapped in a moral "drunkenness".)

In the Bible "wine" is used for anything that dulls the mind and the senses. Any false doctrine or any wrong activity becomes a kind of drug, to turn one's mind from a true worship and a godly life. The priests of Isaiah's day were "drunken, but not with wine" (Isa 29:9). They were drunken in their own ignorance; and they were willingly ignorant, preferring pagan ways above God's word. In Lev 10 the sons of Aaron offered "Strange fire" to God (vv 1,2), being drunken (v 9). The priests and "prophets" of Israel erred through wine and strong drink (Isa 28:7-13). God will not be acceptably approached by a man drunken either with wine or with an ungodly philosophy. The priests, who ministered to God's business in the Holy Place, were to be alert and clear-minded. The saints, who dwell in the "Holy Place" now and who offer spiritual offerings to God, must be in the same pure condition. We must be the antitype of the Nazarite (Num 6:3,4) and the Rechabite (Jer 35:5-7) -- who refrained from wine, that their service to God might not be hindered. Let bishops and all others remember the proverb: "It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes, strong drink; lest they drink and forget the law" (Pro 31:4,5).

NOT VIOLENT: The word is used twice in the NT, once here and once in 1Ti 3:3. It is "plektes", literally "a striker". A bishop must not be "violent" (RSV, NIV). He must not wound another, either by physical force or by gossip and slander and insinuation. He must not be quarrelsome or argumentative. Some believers never rid themselves of their combative tendencies, and they try to deceive themselves and others by constantly engaging in debate concerning the Bible (usually upon profitless questions -- Tit 3:9). They want to convince others that they are earnestly contending for the faith (Jud 1:3); but in reality they are earnestly contending only for their own honor, to prove their own intelligence and skill. They are contending with their brethren out of jealousy. This sort of behavior drew forth the most severe censure from James: "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not... This wisdom... is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work... From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 3:14-16; 4:1).

Such behavior is in direct contrast to Paul's commands. The believer, even when expressing a difference of opinion or belief, must strive to be conciliatory and understanding, not abusive toward his opponents. The servants of God must be patient, "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2Ti 2:25). This is the "wisdom from above -- pure, peaceable, gentle... " (Jam 3:17).

NOT PURSUING DISHONEST GAIN: Not "greedy for gain" (RSV). Related words are used in 1Ti 3:3,8 and 1Pe 5:2: "Feed the flock... take the oversight thereof... not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." Such warnings indicate that elders then were responsible for ecclesial funds as they are today. So there may be an allusion here to the temptation for "finance brethren" and treasurers (as those in Acts 6:3) to put ecclesial funds to personal use.

But there is clearly more at stake here than misappropriation of official moneys. A bishop is, moreover, not to be a man who is given to making gain. He is not to be concerned with material things: he must be heedless of himself and his own comforts -- "seeking first the kingdom of God" (Mat 6:33). "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house" (Pro 15:27) "They that will be (desire to be) rich fall into temptation, and a snare... for the love of money is the root of all evil" (1Ti 6:9,10). Christ himself had no place to lay his head. When he sent his disciples forth, he commanded them to take only the barest necessities. And so it should be with us.

It is said that love of money was a fault for which Cretans were notorious. (If a social history of late twentieth-century Western man is ever written, the same fault may be recorded as our greatest vice too!) The Cretans counted material gain far above honesty and honor. They did not care, in the spiritual realm, how much their money "cost" them. But the Christian knows that there are some things which simply cost too much: "For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mat 16:26).

Tit 1:8

HOSPITABLE: Both RSV and NIV have "hospitable", but the literal meaning of "philoxenos" is "a lover of strangers". The same word appears in 1Ti 3:2 and 1 Pet, 4:9, and a related word in Rom 12:13.

Lodging strangers was one of the good works to be done by widows (1Ti 5:10). And Paul commands that we "distribute to the necessity of the saints, (and) be given to hospitality" (Rom 12:13; compare Rom 16:2; 1Pe 4:9), "for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb 13:2). Paul writes to Philemon, fully expecting this brother to provide him a lodging when he comes (Phm 1:22). John writes to "the well-beloved Gaius", remembering his ministrations in this same regard (3Jo 1:1,5).

In the first century travel through the Roman Empire was quite hazardous, and public inns were dirty, dangerous, and immoral; and a traveler was very glad to find friendly lodging on his journeys. Today we are not called upon very often to aid strangers, but we do have the frequent opportunity to entertain brethren. (In the Scriptural sense of 1Pe 2:11 and Heb 11:13, brethren -- even if known personally to others -- are nevertheless still "strangers"!) One of the unique aspects of the Truth is that brethren may travel thousands of miles to visit other Christadelphians, whom they do not know, or scarcely know, and with whom they have very little in common in external matters -- and yet their bonds in the Truth, and their common love for the things of their Lord, draw them together as if they were old friends. There is nothing more beautiful in this world than to experience this kind of love and helpfulness and consideration among brethren, founded wholly on their love for God. It is the fulfillment and reciprocation of God's love for us: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Mat 25:40).

ONE WHO LOVES WHAT IS GOOD: "A lover of good men" (AV). Just as the bishop should be a "lover (philo) of strangers", he should also be a "lover (philo) of that which is good" (the word "men" is not in the original). He must not do good simply because it is a duty. He must also have a deep affection for those things and those actions (and those men also!) which are good. This requirement tells us something of how true godliness is a transformation of character in all its aspects -- not a veneer but a metamorphosis!

Love what is good (Tit 1:8); teach what is good (Tit 2:3); and do what is good (Tit 2:7,14; 3:8,14).

SELF-CONTROLLED: A "master of himself" (RSV). This is the word "sophron". It means calm, balanced, restrained, thoughtful, steady; not silly or flippant. Not changeable and excitable, but thinking carefully before speaking and meaning all that is said. Sobriety is a spiritual quality developed only by long contemplation of spiritual things. "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others: but let us watch and be sober ('sophroneo'). For they that sleep sleep in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober ('sophroneo'), putting on the breastplate of faith and love: and for an helmet, the hope of salvation" (1Th 5:6-8).

UPRIGHT: "Dikaios": giving men what is due to them; performing one's duties in a faultless manner. In different contexts this and related words give a far broader meaning -- that is, justified or made righteous, through the sin-covering atonement of Jesus Christ. Here, though, Paul is admonishing to the simple, straightforward virtue.

HOLY: "Hosios": true and faithful in one's relations with God; pure in body and mind. The commandment is for all God's people: "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1Pe 1:16; Lev 11:44). In this original context of Leviticus, this holiness was manifested in a distinction between clean animals and unclean. The same phrase ("Be ye holy") appears also in passages commanding the obedience of parents, the keeping of sabbaths, and the turning away from idols (Lev 19:2), as well as passages of sexual laws (Lev 20:7, 26). The nation was to be holy because God had brought them out of Egypt (Lev 11:45), separating them from other nations to be His special people (Lev 20:26).

As quoted by Peter, "Be ye holy" suits the context of a redemption greater even than that which brought Israel out of Egypt: "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1Pe 1:18,19). God's people, both Israel and the ecclesia, were "holy" because they had been set apart from other peoples. But they were, and are, required to show forth those traits of character that stamp them, in the eyes of their neighbors, as truly sanctified: "Be ye holy, for I am holy".

This command leaves us absolutely no excuse for relaxing our efforts at any point short of perfect and complete holiness. The great example is God Himself, awesome as that example may be!

DISCIPLINED: "Self-governed" (Diag). The word is "enkrates", a virtue very similar to sobriety. Whereas "sophron", however, refers more to a state of mind, "enkrates" refers more to the deliberate disciplining and controlling of the body.

Tit 1:9

HE MUST HOLD FIRM TO THE TRUSTWORTHY MESSAGE AS IT HAS BEEN TAUGHT: The sound and consistent continuity of the Truth is essential; the Truth does not change. The true elder is not a tinkerer or speculator, but a faithful preserver of sound Truth received from those who went before.

On the other hand, it must be said as well that a perfect or final understanding of the whole Truth cannot be associated with any uninspired individual. The labors of our pioneers in this age can be of immense help to us, but we must discover the Truth for ourselves if it is to be a force in our lives. The self-satisfied parroting of other men's beliefs is simply not enough. In this, as in many things, a balance must be struck.

SOUND DOCTRINE: "Sound" is "hugiaino", signifying "healthful". It is possible that Paul added this word to his vocabulary because of his long association with Luke the beloved physician. The metaphor was peculiarly suited to the purpose at hand for Paul in writing this epistle. In his early ministry Paul had been concerned with building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12-16), nourishing it from the Word of God (Eph 4:6).

But when the Body matured, it faced a new danger. False teachings, or disease germs, began to enter, encouraging wrong belief and wrong behavior -- endangering the spiritual health of the community at Ephesus. (This same thing had happened to the OT "ecclesia", and the result may be seen in Isa 1:5,6.) The only antidote to the creeping infection within the Body of Christ was (and is today) a return to and an insistence upon sound, wholesome, healthful doctrine.

SO THAT HE CAN ENCOURAGE OTHERS BY SOUND DOCTRINE AND REFUTE THOSE WHO OPPOSE IT: "So that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it" (RSV). This last requirement of the bishop matches very closely the "apt to teach" of 1Ti 3:2 and 2Ti 2:24.

Must the elder then be a prominent and skilled speaker? It is probable that in Paul's day most speaking and teaching was informal and more in the nature of conversation as opposed to oratory. And in our day it is not necessary for an elder to possess a polished delivery or a professional speaking voice. But it seems that he must certainly have the mental aptitude to give a good, ready answer to a question concerning the Truth -- and the foresight and energy to seek out those who most need instruction.

This requirement probably comes last because only after the others have been met is the bishop ready to teach. All else is the preparation for the teaching. For a class teacher, or an instructor of candidates for baptism, it is far better to have a conservative and sober brother (who may not be elegant and refined) than a flashy, wordy leader whose personal life is suspect.

There is so much of beauty in God's word; every chapter, every verse abounds in lessons for us. There are so many useful things to teach, that doubtful and fanciful and sensational ideas may wisely be discarded. The servant of God must be able to teach, but he need not dispense doubtful interpretations. He should teach the Word in its simplicity; seeing that those taught receive the pure milk of the Word, before going on.

Tit 1:10

Vv 10-16: Warnings against false teachers: Those described as opposing sound doctrine v 9 are now described more fully by Paul. They are unruly and vain. They talk too much -- no doubt about foolish, unimportant matters. Some at least are of the "circumcision" faction. They are greedy not only for power and influence, but also for money. They bear too great a resemblance to those who are the worst of Cretan society -- the liars and the gluttons. They profess to know God, but their "fruits" (or more precisely, their lack of "fruits") is a standing denial. The mouths of such men must be stopped; Titus must rebuke them sharply!

It would be pleasant if there were no such things as these in our experiences in the Truth. However, such matters are part of our essential development as God's children. They teach us self-control, patience, and (when necessary) sternness in defense of what is right.

All the requisite qualities of the bishop must be exercised in the event of ecclesial turmoil and error. It is important that the Truth be upheld and defended. But it is also important that it be done with the pure, calm sword of the Spirit, and not with any of the ugly natural weapons of the flesh. All that has been said already -- "not self-willed", "not given to anger", "sober", "holy", and "temperate" -- these qualities of character must not go out the window when an ecclesial problem comes in the door! Then is the time when the application of all these Christian principles is most needed!

It takes no special effort or ability to criticize and condemn error. Any limited mind can do that, and enjoy the boost it gives the ego. But it takes much discipline and self-denial to confront error with a calm resolve, with personal godliness, and with a blameless and constructive and upbuilding presentation of the Truth in its simplicity and beauty. This attitude is what Paul was counseling to Titus.

V 10: FOR THERE ARE MANY: The magnitude of the problem facing Titus is expressed by the word "many". But no matter! Paul has nothing to say about discouragement or retreat. The ecclesial situation was sad -- the flesh in all its manifestations can inspire only sadness in the minds of righteous men -- but it was not disheartening. In fact, it is no more than a confirmation of Scriptural testimony, that there must be "heresies"; and that it is only through tribulation we may enter the kingdom.

The situation could scarcely have been worse. But our lot in this life, if we would be disciples of Christ, is to accept the problems that come our way, prayerfully and courageously and even joyfully. All things -- the "bad" no less than the "good" -- have a divine purpose in the all-wise Providence. All things -- if we will accept them -- are steps toward the ultimate glorious end. We should never regret anything unpleasant that happens to us, or wish it had not happened. To do that is to question the overruling Hand that guides our lives: "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28).

REBELLIOUS: The word is "anupotaktos", which has already appeared in v 6, as a description of what the children of a bishop should not be. It also appears in 1Ti 1:9, where it is translated "rebels". The word describes those who are out of rank or order, like disloyal soldiers who refuse to obey the command of a superior. In this case, the "superior" is "the faithful word" (Tit 1:9) held forth by ecclesial leaders to discipline those who oppose sound doctrine.

MERE TALKERS: "Empty talkers" (RSV). A related word is translated "vain jangling" (AV) in 1Ti 1:6, a translation no particularly accurate but nevertheless helpful in suggesting the "sounding brass and tinkling cymbal" of 1Co 13:1. The main idea is of a "religious" life which produced no good works. These men could talk glibly for hours about the things of God, but their talk was worse than useless in bringing them one step closer to true godliness. All knowledge which is not profitable for developing character is vain. The teacher who provides his students no more than pleasant intellectual discussion is teaching for nought.

DECEIVERS: They deceived others because they were themselves deceived. Their deception rested primarily in their reliance on the Law as a means of salvation. They taught men to look in the wrong place for eternal life, and to trust in their own works rather than in God's grace. Many followed them, as is always the case, because their teaching appealed to pride and intellectual elitism.

ESPECIALLY THOSE OF THE CIRCUMCISION GROUP: The context demands that these "of the circumcision" must have been nominally Christian, at least, in order to have had such an effect on other believers.

Evidence indicates that "those of the circumcision" -- or at least the conservative wing of that faction -- became increasingly more of a problem for Paul as the years passed. What started as only an understandable tendency finally hardened into a dogmatic fundamental for some: that circumcision and the keeping of the Law were essential to salvation. The proponents of this view dogged Paul's steps for the remainder of his career, endeavoring at every stop to undo what the brave apostle had done. His letters to Corinth and Galatia are filled with allusions to these vain talkers and deceivers of the circumcision faction. These verses under consideration in Paul's letter to Titus suggest that these "guerrilla" forces had made their way as far as Crete.

The "circumcision" party was a dead end! There was no "future" in a preoccupation with foods and feast days, mysticism, and heroics of "severity to the body" (Col 2:16-23). Insofar as they deceived themselves and their followers into a concern with such foolish and profitless questions, to that extent they "missed the mark" of godliness! How sad -- how inexpressibly sad -- to contemplate the immense energies given to such lusts and frivolities.

Tit 1:11

THEY MUST BE SILENCED: The Greek word is "epistomizo", compounded of two words: "epi" (upon, ie, to put upon, or cover) and "stoma" (mouth). It means no more than to cover the mouth, to bridle, or to muzzle -- without regard as to how it is done. The word appears only this once in the NT, but non-Biblical usage indicates it to be the normal word for "to silence a person by reason". The best way to combat false teaching is to offer true teaching. Obviously from the context, Paul intended Titus to accomplish this "muzzling" as quickly and effectively as possible: "Rebuke them sharply" (v 13).

That such a method is the most desirable for the muzzling of false teachers is evident from the examples left by Christ. Sometimes by the Scriptures (Mat 22:34), sometimes by reason (Luke 20:25,26), and sometimes by questions (Luke 20:4; Mat 22:41-46), he silenced his critics among the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians -- making their folly manifest to all intelligent listeners (cp 2Ti 3:9).

The first step for Titus, then, was to cause these brethren to cease their propaganda. When their agitation had died down, then it might be possible to set in motion a policy of instruction and restoration. If the warnings and rebukes went unheeded, however, then the last step must be taken forthrightly: "A man that is a heretick after the first and second admonition reject" (Tit 3:10). This is a very strong word! Though the general situation in Crete was unusually dangerous (in view of Paul's strong language), Titus still needed to be calm, disciplined, and loving -- and not to "fly off the handle". So it is with us. Sooner or later, all ecclesias must face similar problems. It is easy enough to be like Peter in Gethsemane, to "sleep" while the crisis is brewing, then to wake suddenly, grab the "sword" and "cut off" an ear, thinking this is the only way to serve God (Luke 22:45,50). But it is far more difficult (and far more spiritual) to do as Peter's Master did: wait and watch, pray and prepare, weigh the alternatives, speak calmly and firmly, and lift the hand -- if it is possible -- to heal (v 51). It is true, sometimes mouths must be stopped. But this can often be done without cutting off heads!

THEY ARE RUINING WHOLE HOUSEHOLDS: The AV has "subvert" -- which is "anatrepo": to overturn or overthrow. (It occurs also in 2Ti 2:18, as "overthrow".) Those against whom Paul was warning were carrying out their work secretly, and had already been so successful as to overthrow the faith of whole families. In a similar passage in 2Ti, Paul implies that one of the most effective tactics of these false teachers was to play upon the emotions of "silly women" confused by their own sins and weaknesses (2Ti 3:6).

TEACHING THINGS THEY OUGHT NOT TO TEACH: "Teaching... what they have no right to teach" (RSV). These men were opposing the "sound doctrine" of Tit 1:9.

FOR THE SAKE OF DISHONEST GAIN: "For base gain" (RSV), or "sordid gain" (NEB; NASB). The words here are practically identical with those of v 7: A bishop must not be given to base gain, so as to be able by "sound doctrine" (v 9) to oppose and resist (and even convert) those who are!

The efforts of these false teachers were directed toward "gain" -- a word which certainly includes material wealth, but is not altogether restricted to that. "Gain" may also mean position or power; such were the aims of those "murmurers" and "complainers": "Walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" (Jud 1:16).

Men intent on personal advantage (whether it be riches or prestige) are more concerned with what they can get out of their followers than with what they can put into them. When the teacher looks upon his teaching simply as a career (or pastime!), designed for personal advancement and comfort, he is surely in a most perilous position. His attention to present advantage in short order replaces his faith and hope in the future! Like the hypocrites who pray in the street corners to be seen of men, he already has his "reward" (Matt 6:5), but what a paltry reward it is!

And what else may be learned from this passage in Tit 1? Surely there is a warning to all of us, whether Judaizers or not, in regard to vain talking and gainsaying: "It would seem that the Judaizers' contention was largely to gain a debating ascendancy and to display their intellectual skill. Is the same possible in an advocacy of the Truth? Is it possible to be an exponent of the Truth and yet be a vain talker and deceiver? It is possible to 'preach Christ even of envy and strife... of contention, not sincerely' (Phi 1:15,16), to engage in wordy warfare for the sake of a verbal victory and for the elevation of human pride... We received the Truth with meekness of heart; we should live the Truth with lowliness of mind, and we should be 'gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves' (2Ti 2:24,25)" (WRM, Dawn 18:255).

Tit 1:12

EVEN ONE OF THEIR OWN PROPHETS HAS SAID: The poet, according to Clement of Alexandria and Jerome, was Epimenides, a native of Knossos in Crete, who lived approximately 550 BC. He was considered divinely inspired by the Greeks, and was ranked as one of the "seven wise men". It is possible that he was responsible for the erection of the Athenian altar "to the unknown god" (Acts 17:23). His words were quoted and thus perpetuated by the later well-known poet Callimachus.

Paul was familiar with secular literature, and was not afraid to make use of his knowledge as occasion suggested. This is at least the third citation of such writers by Paul, others being: (a) "Bad company corrupts good character" (1Co 15:33): a Greek verse from the "Thais", by Menander; and (b) "For we are his offspring" (Acts 17:28): from Aratus, a countryman of Paul, from Cilicia.

In the same manner, we might quote authorities in specialized fields today -- bringing their expertise to bear on the study of the Bible.

CRETANS ARE ALWAYS LIARS: So notorious were the Cretans for lying that the Greeks derived a verb from them: "kretizein". To "cretize", or to act like a Cretan, became proverbial for lying -- just as to "corinthianize", or to act like a Corinthian, became synonymous with the grossest immoral behavior. A Cretan by nature would not flinch from saying anything designed to forward his own interests.

EVIL BRUTES: "Therion" signifies wild beasts. The connotations are savagery, brutality, and stupidity. (A related word is used by Paul when he speaks of fighting with "beasts" at Ephesus -- 1Co 15:32 -- no doubt referring there also to men.) This is a sad picture of human nature, and perhaps this bestiality was developed to an extraordinary degree in the natives of Crete. But it would be a great mistake to imagine that other men in their natural states are markedly better, or even to suppose that when men become Christians they automatically cease to be "beasts".

Men who are without understanding are like the beasts (Psa 73:22), and will perish like them (Psa 49:12, 20). Men who are sensual are like the beasts (2Pe 2:12). And, perhaps most to the point here, those Jewish Christians who returned to the Law are likened by Paul to "dogs" (Phi 3:2)!

LAZY GLUTTONS: "Lazy" is "argos", meaning "idle" (so translated in Mat 12:36; 20:3,6; and 1Ti 5:13) or "barren" (2Pe 1:8). Idleness is generally associated with useless talking, or talebearing, and is most severely criticized: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Mat 12:36).

"Gluttons" (Greek "gasteer") is generally translated "womb" in Scripture. Otherwise, as here, it refers to the belly as craving food -- hence a glutton. The Cretans were famous, or infamous, as a drunken and gluttonous and greedy people. "The Cretans", wrote one contemporary observer, "on account of their innate avarice, live in a perpetual state of private quarrel and public feud and civil strife... and you will hardly find anywhere characters more tricky and deceitful than those of Crete... Money is so highly valued among them, that its possession is not only thought to be necessary, but highly creditable; and in fact greed and avarice are so native to the soil in Crete, that they are the only people in the world among whom no stigma attaches to any sort of gain whatsoever."

Although a different Greek word for "belly" is used in Phi 3:19, the thought is very similar: "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Phi 3:18,19).

In view of the context in Philippians (ie, the "concision" and "circumcision" of Phi 3:2,3), it may be that Paul's use of "belly" here is a euphemistic allusion to the characteristic mark of circumcision, in which the Judaizers shamelessly "gloried". Contemptuously Paul implies that they "worship" as a "god" that cutting in their flesh that sets them apart as Jews, and, because they so misplace their faith and hope, thus deny the efficacy of the cross of Christ! Something akin to this is perhaps implied also in his words to Titus.

The description of the "circumcision group" of Crete is thus completed. They are seen to be everything that the bishops should not be; each group is the opposite of the other. The Cretan false teachers are liars, sensual, brutish, lazy, and greedy (vv 10-12). The bishops are to be blameless, sober, temperate, holy, industrious, and indifferent to base gain (vv 7-9).

In language exceedingly harsh, Paul warned Titus that national characteristics should be kept in mind in the work of the Truth. The Truth had not to this stage eradicated the unlovely features of the Cretan character in those who had embraced it. It was part of the work of Titus to push forward this reformation, and to raise those who would heed to a higher level of obedience to the teachings of Christ. But it was important in that work to face squarely the problems involved; for Titus to take an unreasonably rosy view of the raw material at hand would be foolhardy.

But, extreme as Paul's description of the Cretans was, he did not say, "Leave them alone; they are hopeless." Instead, he said in effect, "They are sorry specimens, and everyone knows it. Go and convert them!" Such is the divine testimony, by no means to the goodness in human nature, but to the awesome potential of the "incorruptible seed" of God's Word (1Pe 1:23), which can produce fruit in the poorest soil -- even a hundredfold (Mat 13:23)!

Tit 1:13

REBUKE THEM SHARPLY: This command is quite stern (as is 1Ti 5:20), but in fact quite appropriate, not just for the Cretan circumcision party but also for us! Who among us can say that the witness is never true of us; that we are never sensual or lazy or greedy? It is much easier to be an idle glutton, self-centered and self-pleasing, than we like to think! We constantly need mutual encouragement and (yes!) mutual sharp warning, to combat the evils of our nature. It was this constant contemplation and realization of what he was naturally -- his inherent tendencies -- that led Paul to groan: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom 7:24).

Paul's command to Titus to be "sharp" (or "cutting", as the Greek suggests) might on the surface seem like a contradiction of the "not angry" and "temperate" bishop qualifications of earlier verses, and the gentleness and meekness of Tit 3:2. But in reality it is not. It is the spirit and purpose in which the rebuke is administered that is important. The faithful brother is always temperate and gentle and even "meek", but never weak and smooth. A sharp rebuke from an obviously loving brother, who has established a consistent record of personal self-control and diligence in the Truth, does not need to be very strong to be effective, if anything at all could be effective. But unless the brother who rebukes has first laid his own foundation of godliness, his rebuke (no matter how Scriptural in itself) will make little impact. This is certainly the reason behind Christ's words: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a bean is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Mat 7:3-5).

These words follow immediately that often misunderstood command "Judge not" (v 1), and they explain the sense in which it is to be read. It was never intended to mean that we must never "judge" others, but only that our critical eye must be upon ourselves first. Only when this order is followed -- first judge yourself, severely and uncompromisingly; and only after that, judge others, carefully and lovingly -- only then does one stand a chance of success in administering a rebuke anyway!

This command to "rebuke sharply" does give an opening for the sourness and mean temper and cruelty of the flesh to intrude into the spiritual life, parading itself offensively as "righteous zeal" and "earnest contention for the faith". An opening, indeed, but never a justification!: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2Ti 2:24,25). "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1Pe 3:15).

SO THAT THEY WILL BE SOUND IN THE FAITH: The Greek word "hugiaino", meaning healthful, has already been mentioned (v 9). These Cretan believers were spiritually ill, and stern methods were necessary to bring true health to them and the body as a whole. Much very harmful strife and un-Christlike conduct would be avoided if followers of Christ always had this saving purpose in mind when dealing even with the worst errorists.

Tit 1:14

AND WILL PAY NO ATTENTION TO JEWISH MYTHS: The word "muthos" (Anglicized as "myth") is used only five times in the NT, four of these occurrences being in the Pastorals (1Ti 1:4; 4:7; 2Ti 4:4; and here). Though specifically stated only here, the context generally indicates these myths to be of a Jewish nature,

It was said in the old Jewish schools that an oral Law (in addition to the written Law) had been given on Sinai, and that this law had been handed down by a succession of teachers. This Law was, of course, further illustrated and enlarged by each new generation of rabbis. By the time of Jesus, it constituted a recognized supplementary code to the Law of Moses. It contained many wild and improbable legendary histories, and foolish speculations upon the commandments of Moses. This strange collection was formally written down in the second century AD under the name of Mishna. More discussions of these "fables" were compounded into the Gemara, and these works came in much later times to be referred to as the Talmud, which still exercises a great influence upon Jewish thought today.

As the elaborate system evolved, some great rabbinical teachers became mystics of the most elaborate hair-splitting variety. They were given to the study of mysterious magical properties of numbers, complicated systems of forces and counter-forces, and transmigration of "souls". The seeds that were to produce these fantastic pseudo-sciences and technical mystery cults had already been sown among the Jewish elite in the first century.

THE COMMANDS OF THOSE WHO REJECT THE TRUTH: This reminds us of the ascetic tendencies of the developing heresy in Colosse: "Touch not; taste not; handle not... after the commandments and doctrines of men" (Col 2:21,22). By legislating intricate rituals not found in the Mosaic Law, the rabbis of Israel were encouraging indifference to the true spirit of that Law in a foolishly exaggerated concern for the "letter". Of such Jesus said: "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, this people draweth nigh unto Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mat 15:6-9).

But this is far from just a Jewish predisposition. It is the tendency of all men to ignore God's very searching practical rules of godly life, and to make their own flesh-comforting rules, according to their own particular fancies. It is all so sincere and well-meaning, and a very easy course to slip into, and miss the realities.

The pioneers of the Truth sometimes seem over-liberal and tolerant when they are seen to have opposed all the well-meaning crotchets of their day -- as anti-pork, anti-tobacco, anti-slavery, anti-alcohol, and so forth. But it was not that they were in favor of, or defending, any of these things. It was simply that, like Paul, they could visualize that all secondary questions -- blown out of proportion into major issues -- could fatally divert the minds of believers from the truly important issues of godliness and love and good works.

Tit 1:15

TO THE PURE, ALL THINGS ARE PURE: The great characteristic of the Jewish faith was its thousands of rules and regulations. This, that, and the next thing were all unclean, taboo. Finally, in an enormous excess of misdirected zeal, rabbinical teachers came to believe the body itself to be ceremonially unclean, and all natural instincts and desires to be evil. It became a sin even to marry and beget children.

So Paul sets forth the great principle: to the pure all things are pure. It was a principle he had already put before the Romans: "All things indeed are pure" (Rom 14:20).

No doubt he had in mind the example and teaching of Jesus. When speaking about the agitated questions of clean and unclean foods, Jesus had said: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, that defileth a man" (Mat 15:11).

"Unto the pure all things are pure", however, can easily be misapplied to justify impurity by those seeking such justification. And that was never Paul's intention! The great point is that the heart itself must be purified; nothing less is good enough. If we would be godly, then we must go right to the root of the evil -- the human heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked. External regulations -- especially those conceived by self-righteous little minds -- can only deceive the heart into thinking that, once they are kept, then the keeper is righteous! Do this, do that, and your righteousness is assured! Whitewash the "sepulchre", and somehow the "dead bones" inside will disappear!

A good example, perhaps, of this wrong emphasis is found in the simple command of Christ -- the breaking of bread and drinking of wine: "Do this in remembrance of me." The command itself is very simple -- no details, no ritual, no mysteries. But a host of crotchets have swirled about this lovely institution all through the Truth's history: what kind of bread, what kind of wine, how to break, how to pour, who takes first, and just what to say in prayer about it. Sometimes man-made difficulties have been promoted to the point that the true significance of the bread and the wine is practically lost sight of. It is easy to imagine Paul's commentary on such extravagances of controversy: "To the pure all things are pure: the quality of the bread, or of the wine, makes no difference. Break it, pour it, however you like. Partake of it standing or sitting, no matter. Do it either before or after the exhortation. But, please, think of Christ, examine yourself, and resolve to obey God. Then, and only then, will you be keeping the memorial acceptably. To the pure all things are pure. But to those whose minds are preoccupied with secondary matters, nothing is pure!"

PURE: "Katharos", re clean food (ct Jewish fables in v 14)! Cp uses in Act 10:14; Joh 2:6; Luk 11:41 (cp v 39); Rom 14:14,20.

"Obviously the apostle Paul did not mean that things which are impure in themselves will appear pure to the pure in mind. He means that things which are not impure are seen in their purity by the pure in mind. He is stressing this because of the fact to which he is drawing attention: that to those who are themselves defiled, nothing is pure. The impure mind sees impurity everywhere. The inflamed imagination turns innocence into guilt and sees disorder where truly there is peace. The world is turned into a wilderness by those with a defiled consciousness.

Thankfully the opposite is true. A man who is seeking to be pure, views others in the light of that purity he himself is seeking. He does not, because his heart is pure, want to see in others the evil he is seeking to avoid in himself. It is a healthy view of the world. It is not blind to the evil, but like love it does not rejoice in it, least of all generate it. A pure mind hopeth all things" (GD).

Tit 1:16

THEY CLAIM TO KNOW GOD, BUT BY THEIR ACTIONS THEY DENY HIM: These, the bitterest foes of the gospel preached by Paul and Titus, were presenting themselves to the ecclesias as the best friends of the Truth. By their lips they professed a true knowledge of the gospel of God, but by their actions they demonstrated self-reliance and trust in externals as the only hope of salvation. A slavish insistence on circumcision and the keeping of the Law effectively negated their profession of salvation by faith in Christ (Tit 1:1). Paul saw through this contradiction, though the Cretan "vain talkers" did not. Paul described a similar class of brethren when he wrote to Timothy: "Men shall be lovers of their own selves... having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2Ti 3:2,5).

The "form of godliness" was their elaborate system of religious ritual and special "knowledge". But the power of the Truth -- absolute faith in Christ as the only hope of eternal life, and a patient continuance in good works -- was ignored and thus "denied" by these men!

DETESTABLE: Those who professed to be so righteously concerned about what and who was unclean (and therefore an abomination) were ironically "abominations" themselves! "Bdeluktos" is a word used of that which is unclean; the thoughts and consciences of these false teachers were unclean. "Bdeluktos" also refers at times to heathen idols and images; by their worship of the letter of the Law and all externals, these brethren had themselves become idolatrous!

DISOBEDIENT: The practical effect of their false teaching was to render themselves, and others who listened to them, indifferent to the plain simple requirements of good works. That which is felt to be of secondary importance is more easily ignored, and finally disobeyed altogether.

UNFIT FOR DOING ANYTHING GOOD: Their attitude, begotten of their wrong teaching and wrong philosophy, unfitted them to pursue godliness according to the Truth, because, to them, it just did not matter.

The word "adokimos" is translated "reprobate" (Rom 1:28; 2Co 13:5-7; 2Ti 3:8; and here), "castaway" (1Co 9:27), and "rejected" (Heb 6:8). It is used to describe a counterfeit coin, deficient as to weight or quality of metal. It is also used, figuratively, to describe a cowardly soldier who fails the test of battle; a candidate rejected for office; and a stone rejected by the builders. In each case, that which is "reprobate" has promised something by its outward appearance which cannot be delivered! It has, perhaps, a "name to live", but it is dead -- like clouds that promise rain, but give none; like stars in the heavens that appear fixed, but prove to be "wandering stars", or meteors. The ultimate test of life is usefulness, and the ultimate test of spiritual life is: what will help me in attaining to the eternal life God has promised? Those ideas, those activities, and even those men which cannot help in this great undertaking are mere hindrances, and must be summarily rejected!

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