The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Commentary on Titus Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 18, 2018

A Summary of Titus 1:1-4.

The introduction to this letter is somewhat longer than usual. St. Paul asserts his divine authority to preach the faith to God’s chosen ones, that they may sanctify themselves and thus become worthy of the promise of eternal life which was given long ago and has now been revealed through the Gospel. Paul is the preacher of this heavenly message according to the command of God, and he writes to Titus as a son in Christ, since they both share that common faith and the resultant peace and grace which God bestows in Christ Jesus. 

Tit. 1:1. Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of the elect of God and the acknowledging of the truth which is according to godliness.

Servant of God, a phrase found only here in St. Paul’s letters, and therefore a mark of the genuineness of the Epistle since no forger would be likely to use a strange expression in the very first line of his letter.

An apostle, i.e., a commissioned agent. The Apostle proclaims his authority and commission on account of the false teachers in Crete. 

According to the faith. This points out the purpose of the Apostle’s commission, which was to preach the faith “of the elect of God,” i.e., the faith common to all Christians, which all mankind are called to share, so that all may come to a knowledge of the truth “of the Gospel,” which truth “is according to godliness,” i.e., it teaches us how to worship God as we should and live according to His will. 

Tit. 1:2. Unto the hope of life everlasting, which God, who lieth not, promised before the times of the world,

Unto the hope, etc. The purpose of the Apostle’s preaching and of the Gospel truth which he proclaims is to stimulate the hope of life eternal which the ever-truthful God “promised before the times of the world,” i.e., from all eternity (see 2 Tim 1:9). This last phrase is understood by some expositors to refer to the promise made in Old Testament times to the Patriarchs and Prophets, but the first explanation is thought to be more probable. 

Tit. 1:3. But hath in due times manifested his word in preaching, which is committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour:

The construction here is difficult, but the meaning is clear enough. The promise to give eternal life to the elect, which God had decreed from eternity, was made manifest in due time in the preaching of the Gospel message, which Paul had been commissioned to preach by God Himself.

God our Saviour. See commentary on 1 Tim 1:1. 

Tit. 1:4. To Titus my beloved son, according to the common faith, grace and peace from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus our Saviour.

Titus. See Introduction to this Epistle, No. I. 

The common faith, which was the bond of their spiritual relationship. 

Christ Jesus our Saviour. In the preceding verse we had “God our Saviour,” which shows that our Lord is true God.

A Summary of Titus 1:5-16.

St. Paul has left Titus in Crete to set things in order, and to this end one of the first things that should engage the attention of the young bishop will be the appointment of proper church officials, priests and bishops of high moral and spiritual character, whose doctrine is above question and whose manner of living is a perfect reflection of that doctrine (Tit. 1:5-9). This is at all times necessary, but especially so in conditions such as confront Titus in Crete, where there are abroad certain false teachers, the worst of them Jewish, who for the sake of money are circulating ideas and discussing questions that are unsettling the faith and demoralizing the lives of Christians. The Cretans are only too much disposed to vice and disorder, and hence Titus must sharply rebuke those false and misleading guides, and recall the faithful to soundness of doctrine and Tightness of conduct. Those false teachers are defiled from within, and they deny by their lives the God whom they profess with their lips (Tit. 1:10-16). 

1 Tit. 1:5. For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:

For this cause, etc. St. Paul refers to a time when he and Titus visited the Island of Crete together, which must have been between the first and second Roman imprisonments. We cannot identify this visit with the passing glimpse of Crete which is related in Acts 27:7-13, when Paul as a prisoner was on his way to Rome from Caesarea; for at that time it seems the Apostle did not land at all. 

The things that are wanting, i.e., the reforms that St. Paul was unable to complete before he was called away. 

Priests. See commentary on 1 Tim. 3:1. 

As I also appointed thee, i.e., as St. Paul had instructed him to do when leaving him there. 

Tit. 1:6. If any be without crime, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.
Tit. 1:7. For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not arrogant, not subject to anger, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy offilthy lucre:
Tit. 1:8. But given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober, just, holy, continent;
Tit. 1:9. Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.

6-9. These verses are nearly identical with those of 1 Tim 3:1-7, on which see notes. 

Faithful children, i.e., children who are Christians. 

Not accused of riot, i.e., of riotous and profligate living. 

A lover of good, i.e., of everything good. The word occurs only here. 

Just, holy. These qualities, though understood, are not mentioned in 1 Tim 3:1-7. 

Embracing that faithful word, etc., i.e., that teaching which was taught by our Lord and the Apostles. Throughout these letters St. Paul is insisting on the need of sound doctrine, sound teaching, sound faith (cf. 1 Tim 1:10, 6:3, 20;  2 Tim 1:13, 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13, etc.). 

And to convince, etc. If a bishop or priest is not a master of sound doctrine himself, how can he convince unbelievers and refute heretics? He must first know and be persuaded himself before he can teach and persuade others.

Tit. 1:10. For there are many disobedient, vain talkers, and seducers; especially they who are of the circumcision:

In verses 10-16 St. Paul gives two more reasons why he requires in the clergy of Crete the qualifications just enumerated, namely, because of the presence in the island of many false teachers,
and because of the perverse character of the Cretans.

Disobedient. Better, “insubordinate,” to the teachings of the Gospel and their lawful superiors.

Vain talkers is one word in Greek, and it occurs only here in the Bible.

Of the circumcision, i.e., Christian converts from Judaism : these were causing most of the trouble. See commentary on 2 Tim. 2:16-18.

Etiam of the Vulgate is not in the best Greek.

Tit. 1:11. Who must be reproved, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of base gain.

Who must be reproved. The Greek reads: “Whose mouth must be stopped.” 

Who subvert, etc. These false teachers carry their pernicious doctrines into families and upset whole households, putting one against another ; and all this is done for the sake of the money they thereby get, which is therefore rightly called “base gain.”

Tit. 1:12. One of them, a prophet of their own, said: The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slothful bellies.

One of them, i.e., one of the Cretans.

Prophet. This title the Greeks were accustomed to give to their poets, who were thought to be inspired by the gods. The Cretan poet here alluded to was Epimenides, who lived about 600 B.C., and the verse quoted is from his Minos. The first part of this verse was later quoted by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus (300-240 B.C.) in a hymn to Zeus, and applied to the false Cretan story that Zeus (the Greek Jupiter) was killed and that his tomb was in the Island of Crete. The verse seems to have been well known as an accurate description of the character and conduct of the Cretans.

Tit. 1:13. This testimony is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 

Without qualification the Apostle accepts the testimony of Epimenides regarding his fellow-Cretans; but of course this is to be understood of the people generally, and in particular of the false teachers, who are to be “rebuked sharply” for the sake of the faith which they are imperilling.

Tit. 1:14. Not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn themselves away from the truth.

Jewish fables. See commentary on 1 Tim. 1:4, 

Commandments of men. See commentary on 1 Tim. 4:7;  Commentary on Col. 2:21; Matt 15:2 ff. 

Who turn away, etc. The Greek reads : “Who turn their backs upon the truth.”

Tit. 1:15. All things are dean to the clean; but to them that are defiled, and to unbelievers, nothing is clean; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.

Soundness in faith and soundness in morals are linked together in the Pastoral Letters ; and of course the contrary is equally true: bad teaching leads to bad living. The Cretan Judaizers were drawing distinctions between clean and unclean foods according to Old Testament prescriptions ; but St. Paul would have them understand that all foods in themselves, as created by God, are good and pure, and that it is only the wrong intention and the wrong mind which make them bad or unclean.

Tit. 1:16. They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny him; being abominable, and incredulous, and to every good work reprobate.

These Judaizers of Crete, like all the Jews, were proud of their knowledge of the true God, in contrast with the Gentiles who worshipped idols, but by their false teachings and false practices they really denied God and became abominable in His sight, useless for every good work.

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