Titus 3. 1-15
W. E. Vine, Bath
Chapter 3. Introductory Note
There had already been exhortations given in the earlier part of the Epistle to various members of the assemblies, and almost entirely in connection with their life as believers together, but the Apostle now gives injunctions regarding governmental officials and conduct towards men in general, and this was especially needful amidst a people naturally turbulent and rebellious. The exhortations now given are based upon the radical change wrought by the Holy Spirit, in contrast to their manner of life in unconverted days. Following this there are warnings against profitless questions and strivings about the law, and an admonition against divisions caused by a party spirit.
Chapter 3. 1-3
Verse 1- Put them in mind to be in subjection to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, — a spirit of insubordination and rebellion frequently manifested itself in various parts of the Roman Empire. This was especially in evidence among the Jews, who were widely scattered among various countries. Their influence no doubt found a ready reaction among the Cretians, who were notorious in this respect, though the injunction here given was, and is, important for all the churches, for similar directions are given in Rom. 13. I; see also 1 Peter 2. 13 and cp. 1 Tim. 2. 1. The R.V. “rulers and authorities” is preferable to the A.V. “principalities and powers," as the word principalities is sometimes used for angels. The two terms comprehend every sort of civil official, and it is to these that the obedience here mentioned is enjoined.
to be ready unto every good work, — the injunction is inclusive of whatever assistance to authorities is consistent with the revealed will of God, as well as what is beneficial to all others, whether believers or otherwise. We are exhorted to " work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith " (Gal.
Verse 2. to speak evil of no man, — there is a natural tendency in almost all of us to disobey this injunction, sometimes by way of mere gossip, sometimes by contact with those whose ways, practices and beliefs arc contrary to those which we hold to be right and proper. The command abides in its comprehensiveness as that which we are to fulfil if we would be pleasing to God. not to be contentious, to be gentle, — these are among the qualifications required in an overseer, in 1 Tim. 3. 3, where the two are in the opposite order. Here they are to characterize all believers.
shewing all meekness toward all men. — the comprehensive nature of this injunction is to be noted. The shewing, or giving manifestation of, is to be by attitude, act and speech, and that not only to fellow-believers but in all the walks of life. The natural tendency is to complain or grumble when people, whether acting officially, or in business dealings, or in general contact, cause inconvenience or delay, or act in insulting or ill-mannered behaviour. These are the testing occasions when we are called to manifest the character of Christ and to give evidence that we .are true followers of Him who could say " I am meek and lowly in heart " (Matt. 11. 29). The word " all " before " meekness " stands in a position of strong emphasis in the original, and suggests both a fullness of the characteristic and its manifestation at all times.
Verse 3. For we also were aforetime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. — the remembrance of the fact that we once manifested some of these characteristics of our unregenerate nature, should in itself be an incentive to us to fulfil the exhortations just given. We ourselves stood in need of kindness, gentleness, meekness, on the part of others, and were so treated by God in His longsuffering. How then can we refuse kindness to those who stand in need of it ?
Foolishness is evidence of a blunted mind ; disobedience is evidence of a hardened heart; deception is evidence of a perverted will; bondage to lusts and pleasures is evidence of a carnal mind ; malice and envy and hate are proofs of selfishness, pride and grasping ambition. And all are the effects of sin.
Chapter 3. 4-6
Verse 4. But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and His love toward man appeared, — the moral obligations in w. I and 2 are now shown to be based on God's saving grace in Christ. The word chreslotes, " kindness," denotes goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds of grace, tenderness and compassion (as in Rom. 2. 4 ; 11. 22 ; 2 Cor. 6. 6 ; Eph. 2. 7 ; Col. 3. 12 ; in Gal. 5. 22 it is rendered " gentleness " in A.V.). The corresponding adjective is chrestos, kindly, and " kindly " would be a good rendering of Christ's description of His yoke in Matt. 11. 30 ; " My yoke is kindly," not merely easy to bear, but imparting a benefit in the bearing. God's kindness stands here in contrast to the malice, envy and hatred of men.
The title " God our Saviour " is used in the Pastoral Epistles in 1 Tim. 1.1; 2. 3 ; Tit. 1. 3 ; 2. 10 ; here ; and in Jude 25. Cp. 1 Tim. 4. 10; Tit. 2. 13 ; 2 Pet. 1. 1. The saving is not only that accomplished in redemption by the blood of Christ, but the constant care, keeping and deliverance ministered to believers.
The phrase " love toward man " translates the one noun philan-thropia, whence Eng. philanthropy. It here sums up all that God has done for man in and through Christ, as. e.g., in John 3. Hi.
The kindness and love of God are set in contrast to the last two evils in verse 3, " hateful " and " hating one another." Accordingly. the double thought of what we were in our sins and what God has done for us in Christ, is all designed to enable us to order our conduct worthily of Him.
The appearing here mentioned is not simply that of the Incarnation. it includes all that centres in Christ in His atoning death, His resurrection and the proclamation of the gospel.
Verse 5. not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us,—
the fundamental teaching of the gospel, of the futility and worthless-ness of all human efforts to obtain salvation by works, is especially prominent in Paul's Epistles, in all the periods of his epistolary ministry ; see, in order, (a) Gal. 2. 16 ; 3. 11 ; Rom. 3. 20 ; 9. 11 ; (6) Eph. 2. 8, 9 ; (c) 2 Tim. 1. 9 and here.
The phrase literally is " not out of works in righteousness." The " out of " expresses the source of the effort; the " in " signifies the sphere or moral element of the effort.
There is strong emphasis on the pronoun " we "; hence the U.V. " we . . . ourselves."
The phrase " according to His mercy " indicates the counsel in His heart and the method He adopted for the acting of His mercy.
through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, — the word paliggenesia signifies new birth (" birth again "), i.e., spiritual regeneration. This involves the impartation of a new life, and the Operating powers which effect this are " the word of truth," Jas. 1. 18; 1 Pet. 1. 23, and the Holy Spirit, John 3. 5, 6. The " washing " does not refer to baptism ; it is explained in Eph. 5. 26, " by the washing of water with the word " (loulron is rendered " laver " in the R.V. margin, but loutron is not used of the laver in connection with the Tabernacle ; the word for laver is louler, e.g., Ex. 30. 18, 28, LXX; loulron is found twice in the LXX of the O.T., in Song of Sol. 4. 2 and (i. 6. where it denotes " washing"). The Word of God, received by faith at conversion, is the means, by the Spirit's operation in the heart, of the remission of sins and, therefore, of the removal of their defilement.
The new birth and regeneration do not represent successive stages in spiritual experience ; they refer to the same event but view it in different ways. The new birth stresses the communication of the spiritual life in contrast to antecedent spiritual death ; regeneration stresses the inception of a new stage of things in contrast with the old. Hence the connection of the word in its application to Israel (Matt. 19. 28) with the new birth, or regeneration, comes the washing away of sin.
Some regard the kai, " and," in this verse in Titus, as moaning " even," but as Scripture elsewhere speaks of the two distinct yet associated operating powers, there is not sufficient ground for this interpretation.
The mercy of God is seen, therefore, also in " the renewing of the Holy ('.host." This is not a. fresh bestowment of the Spirit, but a revival of His power, developing the Christian life. It indicates the constant operation of the Spirit (cp. Rom. 12. 2, which stresses the willing response on the part of the believer in adjusting his moral and spiritual thinking to the mind of God. with the consequent transforming effect upon his life).
Verse 6. which He poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; — the reference is lo what took place at Pentecost. The aorist, or past definite, tense points to the one act then fulfilled. All the work of the Holy Spirit in the renewing or filling of believers since, is consequent upon that initial pouring out. There never has been a second Pentecostal act such as is recorded in Acts 2. Just as the three Persons in the Trinity arc mentioned in their combined operations in Acts 2. 23, so they are in this 6th verse.
Chapter 3, Verses 7—9
Verse 7. that, being justified by His grace, — justification comes at the same time as the washing of regeneration. Here it is shown to be the basis of more than salvation, it is the ground of a rectified relation to God, as follows.
we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. — this relation to God involves our becoming " heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ " (Rom. 8. 17). This, the outcome of the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, is the effect of regeneration.
All that will be ours as heirs is in accordance with the hope granted us as our present enjoyment. If there were no present hope, sure and certain, there could be no inheritance. That is the significance of the preposition rendered " according to."
Versa 8. Faithful is the saying, — or " faithful is the word." This has reference lo what has just been stated in verses 4 to 7 and not to any supposed current saying.
and concerning these things I will that thou affirm confidently,— i.e., make bold affirmations. The faith is to be boldly proclaimed and applied in all its practical bearing upon the life. No doctrine is to be withheld through yielding to religious prejudice. To omit part of the faith for (ear of arousing criticism, is unfaithful and cowardly and cannot meet with God's approval.
to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. - the preacher is faithfully to bring home to the hearts of believers their responsibilities. They, on their part, are to give careful consideration to the importance of fulfilling them (phrontim, rendered " be careful," is found here only in the N.T. ; it signifies to ponder thoughtfully and purposively over a matter). The rendering " maintain good works " is to be accepted rather than the R.V. margin " profess honest occupations." The exhortation is comprehensive of all forms of service to God. Not mere benefit to others nor merely acting in an exemplary manner, are in view, but the carrying out of the will of the Lord in practical Christian life.
These things are good and profitable unto men : the word halos, good, denotes what is honourable, fair and virtuous (agathos, good, denotes what is beneficial, as in verse 1).
The word ophelimos, profitable, is used of the Scriptures, 2 Tim. 8, 1(5 ; of physical exercise, 1 Tim. 4. 8 ; of godliness (i.e.) of good works (here).
Verse 9. but shun foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about the law ; —cp. 1 Tim. I. 4-7 ; (5. 4 ; 2 Tim. 2. 23. These warnings form a special feature of all three Pastoral Epistles and show how widespread the evils had become, largely through Jewish influences, the Judaistic teachers finding a fruitful soil in the minds of Gentile propagandists of philosophy and certain religious cults. The last two evils are probably the outcome of the first two.
for they are unprofitable and vain. — controversial and frivolous questions and discussions on intricate and trifling points are impractical and futile. They do nothing to arouse the conscience or enlighten the mind, or build up on the faith, or direct the will ; all they do is to waste the time and mar Christian testimony. " Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth a stinking savour : so doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honour" (Eccl. 10. 1, R.V.).
Chapter 3. 10-15
Verse 10. A man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse ; — the word hairetikos, rendered " heretical," comes from the verb huireo, to choose. The corresponding noun hairesis (Eng., heresy) usually meant " choice " in the language of the Greeks in the centuries just before, and in the first part of, the Christian era. Hence it came to denote self-willed opinion, and where that replaced subjection to the truth, the effect was to produce divisions in the assemblies and the formation of sects. Such opinions are often the outcome of personal preference or of the prospect of advantage ; see 2 Peter 2. 1, where " destructive " (R.V.) signifies leading to ruin. A heretical man was, and is, one who strikes out on a line of his own choosing and causes strife, faction and division in an assembly. The meaning, therefore, is that of causing divisions rather than that of holding false doctrine, though the latter is frequently involved. Such are to be warned once and again, and, if persistent in the evil, to be " refused." This does not necessarily imply excommunication ; it would probably involve such action as to prevent their activities, and certainly their efforts to obtain prominence and exercise their influence.
Verse 11. knowing that such a one is perverted, and sin-neth, being self-condemned. — the refusal to listen to admonition indicates a heart that has been definitely turned aside (the word rendered " perverted " suggests that the word is used in the LXX of Deut. 32. 20 where " very froward " is the rendering of the Hebrew). He cannot plead ignorance ; through hardness of heart he persists in his course of sin (he goes on sinning) ; the existence of the party-spirit arising from his influence, renders him self-condemned.
Verse 12. When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, give diligence to come unto me to Nicopolis : for there I have determined to winter. — lit., "Whensoever," signifying that the apostle was not certain as to the time when he would send either of them. His plans were subject to the will of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Tychicus was a native of the Province of Asia and perhaps of Ephesus, Acts 20. 4. He accompanied Paul on his return from his third journey, and Paul gave a high commendation of him in Eph. (>. 21 and Col. 4. 7. That he was a companion of the Apostle in his imprisonment we may gather from 2 Tim. 4. 12. If ho was sent to Ephesus at this time, Artomas may have been the one sent lo Crete. There is no ground for supposing that either Tychicus or Artemas was sent to replace Titus. It must be borne in mind that they were engaged in missionary work with the Apostle and were not appointed as permanent pastors over churches.
Kieopolis is almost certainly the city on the coast of Epirus. It was a commercial port and was a useful stopping-place for missionary tours.
Verse 13. Set forward Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.—
nothing is known of Zenas. The probability is I hat he was an expert in Jewish law. Apollos is mentioned in Acts 18. 24 and 1 Cor. 3. 4-6 and 16. 12. What the Apostle says of him here makes clear that there is no opposition in his teaching to that of the Apostle. Paul's thoughtfulness for the well-being and progress of others was a special characteristic, and is manifested in such passages as Rom. 15. 24 ; 1 Cor. 16. 6, 11 ; 2 Cor. 1. 16, as well as here. See also 3 John 6. Such instances are designed by the Spirit of God as examples for our following.
Verse 14. And let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. — the pronoun " ours " in the A.V. signifies our fellow-believers, all who called upon the name of Jesus in sincerity. There should be definite aims in all Christian activity, the overruling object being devoted service to the Lord. With this exhortation cp. 1 Thess. 4. 9-12. Indefiniteness of purpose in our activities produces little or no fruit. There is a definite article before " necessary uses," suggesting such occasions and objects as are presented to us from time to time.
Verse 15. All that are with me salute thee. — the reference is probably to Paul's fellow-workers. He was usually accompanied on his journeys by a little band of helpers. Seven are named, for instance, in Acts 20. 4. Salute them that love us in faith. — faith is a characteristic power uniting believers. The expression " in faith " may, however, simply mean " truly."
Grace be with you all. — grace forms part of the greeting, and occurs in the final benediction in all Paul's Epistles.