The recently concluded Notes on the Epistles to Timothy having proved very helpful to students and leaders of Bible Classes, we have gladly embraced the opportunity of publishing Mr. Vine’s equally valuable Notes on the companion Epistle.
The Epistle to Titus was almost certainly written in the interval between the two Epistles to Timothy, shortly before A.D. 66, Titus was a Gentile (Gal. 2. 3), and that the Apostle addresses him as “my true child” indicates that he owed his conversion to Paul’s instrumentality. He was frequently with the Apostle on his missionary journeys, and the joy which the latter had in him as a fellow-missionary, and the trust he reposed in him, are clear from the passages in which the Apostle refers to him, and especially from the description he gives of him in 2 Cor. 8. 16-23, where he describes him not only as a brother but as his “partner” and “fellow-worker.” He could rely on him to undertake the difficult task of setting matters right that needed attention in the assemblies in Crete, though his work there was to be of a temporary character, and the Apostle earnestly desired to have him again with him (3. 12).
Paul, a servant of God, - lit., a bondservant. The Apostle does not use this phrase elsewhere. In other Epistles he calls himself the “bondservant of Jesus Christ,” Rom. 1. 1; “of Christ,” Gal. 1. 10; “of Christ Jesus,” Phil. 1. 1.
and an apostle of Jesus Christ, - he frequently speaks of himself by this phrase, and here he combined the two, “the bondservant of God and the Apostle of Jesus Christ” (cp. Jas. 1. 1). The reason is perhaps that this Epistle was of a somewhat more official character than those to Timothy. Moreover his relations with Timothy were more intimate than those with Titus (see, e.g., 1 Tim. 1. 2 and 2 Tim. 1. 2).
according to the faith of God’s elect, - the preposition kata, rendered “according to,” signifies more than conformity to, it also conveys the idea of direct purpose (cp. 2 Tim. 1.1), and what the Apostle points out is that the object of his ministry was that through him those chosen of God should believe. “The faith” here is not the body of Christian doctrine, as in verse 13 below, but faith which accepts the truth.
Believers are elect as being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1. 4), all of them being foreknown and foreseen as such by God, John 17. 6 and Rom. 8. 29. Those whom He foreknew He chose, and that always for specific purposes. The source of their election is God’s grace, not human will, Eph. 1. 4, 5; Rom. 9. 11; 11. S.
and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, - not “acknowledging” as in the A.V. The word epignosis is a longer form of the simple word gnosis, and denotes full knowledge, expressing a greater participation by the knower in the object known, thus more powerfully influencing him. Here the preposition kata conveys the thought Of accompaniment and connection. Only. by godliness in the life can the truth be fully apprehended.
Thus the verse states two purposes of ministry: (1) faith, (2) the knowledge of the truth in a godly life.
In hope of eternal life, - the preposition epi does not signify “in” but “upon” (in this construction), and expresses that upon which something rests or is based. Here the basis upon which the faith and the knowledge of the truth rest is the hope.
which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal; - the adjective apseudes, rendered “who cannot lie,” literally denotes “free from falsehood,” and is used only here in the N.T. Cp. the longer phrase in Heb. 6. 18. Perhaps this character of God as truthful is purposely mentioned in contrast to the characteristic vice of the Cretans (see verse 12).
Since eternal life in the future is a matter of divine promise, its bestowal is consistent with the character of God. The promise was made not merely “before the world began” (A.V.), but before time began, before there were any periods marked off by time (see also 2 Tim. 1. 9).
but in His own seasons manifested His word in this message, - that is to say, in the seasons or periods appointed by God as appropriate for the manifestation. For the phrase see 1 Tim. 2. 6 and cp. 6.15. The “word” is the gospel which was due to be proclaimed through this manifestation, as an immediate result of the redemptive work of the Cross, the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the descending of the Holy Spirit. All preceding ages had pointed to it, and for it all the preceding dispensational dealings on the part of God had prepared. The “message” (kerugma, a proclamation) stands here for what the message consists of, and not simply for its proclamation.
wherewith I was intrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour; - his ministry in the gospel was not a matter of his own choice, it was divinely committed to him. No one has a right to regard what is termed “the ministry” as a sort of profession which a person has to choose as an alternative to another profession or occupation. Spiritual ministry is barren if it is not committed by God to him who engages in it.
In his closing Epistles the Apostle makes frequent use of the title Saviour, both for God the Father and for Christ (see next verse). This perhaps indicates that in his advancing years, looking back over his experiences, he delighted in the realization of the delivering and keeping power of the Lord.
to Titus, my true child after a common faith: - this indicates that the Apostle had been used to the conversion of Titus. The word koinos denotes, in one of its meanings, that which belongs to several, and thus is said of things had in common; see e.g., Acts 2. 44; 4. 32. It is used in Jude 3 of salvation.
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour - Scripture does not use the phrase “God the Son” and “God the Spirit.” Were it so, it would suggest the existence of three Gods. The phrases used, in addition to other titles are, “Son of God,” the “Spirit of God,” On the title Saviour see note on verse 3.
This section deals with the responsibilities of Titus with regard to the appointment of elders in every church in Crete. The Apostle enumerates the qualifications requisite for the appointment of such. It should be noted that the bishop is the same person as an elder: see note below.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, - there were devout Jews from the island in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2. 11), and it is not improbable that many of them were among the number of those who believed and were baptized (verse 41), They would carry back the message of the Gospel to their friends in Crete. Eventually Paul and Titus visited the island, and, as the Apostle was unable to stay there, he left Titus for the purpose now mentioned.
that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, - the verb rendered “were wanting” is leipo, to leave, and indicates that, owing to the necessity of the brevity of Paul’s stay, there were things remaining to be done in the church. The Middle Voice used in the verb rendered “shouldest set in order” indicates that Titus was to give himself diligently to accomplish what was necessary, and not to use the agency of others.
and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge; - “appoint” is the preferable rendering (R.V.), as a formal ecclesiastical ordination is not intended. The appointment would consist first in discerning what men in each church or assembly manifested the qualifications enumerated in verses 7 to 9, and then in causing them to be recognized by the churches as divinely-raised-up elders.
It is to be noted that the elders are also called bishops, as in Acts 20, ver. 17 with ver. 28, and that there were always more than one in every church. The term “elders” is indicative of their spiritual maturity, whilst that of “bishops”, literally “overseers.” indicates the character of their service. This plurality of elders or bishops is consistently in evidence in the Acts and the Epistles (see Acts 4. 23; Phil. 1. 1; 1 Thess. 5. 12; Heb. 13. 7, 17; James 5. 14; 1 Pet. 5. 1-4). That is the divine method laid down in the New Testament, and there never should have been a departure from it.
if any man is blameless, - this and the qualifications which follow should be read in connection with 1 Tim. 3. 2-7. The word rendered “blameless” signifies that which cannot be called to account, that is, with nothing laid to one’s charge, not an acquittal but the absence of even a valid accusation.
the husband of one wife, - this does not imply the necessity for an elder to be married. Most of those in the churches had been brought up in pagan conditions, in which polygamy was common and, as in certain heathen countries today, the elimination of the evil was difficult. Any brother who rendered public service in the assembly was strictly prohibited from polygamy, and the example thus set became extended to all the members, and remains binding.
having children that believe, - not simply “faithful,” as in the A.V., but actually believers.
who are not accused of riot or unruly. - the word asotia denotes prodigality, dissoluteness. The corresponding adverb is used of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and is rendered “with riotous living,” The word rendered” unruly” is, literally, insubordinate.
For the bishop must be blameless, as God’s steward; - that the bishop is the same person as an elder is at once clear from the first word of the verse, which introduces a reason for what has just been stated about the elders. The singular number simply indicates what kind of a person an elder must be as one who engages in the work of oversight in an assembly.
The word oikonomos primarily denoted the manager of a household or estate. In Rom. 16. 23 it is used of the “treasurer” (R.V.) of a city. Here it is applied metaphorically to elders or bishops; in 1 Cor. 4. 1, similarly, to preachers of the Gospel and teachers of the Word of God; in 1 Pet. 4. 10, to believers in general. It conveys the thought of responsibility to the Lord.
not self-willed, - this denotes one who, dominated by self-interest and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will, one who persists in his own determination. It is the opposite of “gentle” (1 Tim. 3. 3).
not soon angry, - that is to say, one who is not easily provoked, one who keeps his passion under control (cp. 1 Cor. 13. 5, R.V.).
no brawler, - lit. tarrying at wine, but used in the secondary sense of the abusive brawling as the effect of wine-bibbing.
no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; - see 1 Tim. 3. 3 and 8.
but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, temperate; - five negatives in the preceding verse are now followed by six positive qualifications. Most of these are found in 1 Tim. 3. The word philagathos, “ a lover of good,” is used only here in the N.T. The corresponding negative is found in 2 Tim. 3. 3.
holding to the faithful word which 2s according to the teaching, - the thought is that of cleaving to or holding firmly to, perhaps with the suggestion of facing opposition such as that of gainsayers. The faithful word would be the doctrine taught by Paul and his fellow-apostles; cp. 2 Tim. 1.13 and 3. 14. What the apostles taught was according to the doctrines of the Christian faith, and the elder or overseer is responsible to adhere to the Word of God without adding to it or diminishing from it.
that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine, and. to convict the gainsayers. - the verb hugiaino signifies to be healthy (Eng. hygiene), and is here used metaphorically of doctrine, as in 1 Tim. 1. 10; 2 Tim. 4. 3; Tit. 1. 13 and 2. 2. It conveys the thought of that which is spiritually healthy, that is to say, for believers. As to opponents or gainsayers, such teaching is designed to carry conviction (cp. John 16. 8). The verb antilego literally denotes to speak against, contradict. Chrysostom says. “he who knows not how to contend with adversaries, and is not able to demolish their arguments, is far from the teacher’s chair.”
(To be continued)