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

Father Callan’s Commentary on Titus Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 1, 2019

A Summary of Titus 3:1-11

In this last section of his letter St. Paul gives Titus certain counsels which he is to set before all the faithful of Crete. They are to be obedient to authority, helpful to others, and considerate of outsiders, remembering their former sinful state out of which God’s pure mercy and grace delivered them, thus making them heirs of eternal life (Tit. 3:1-7). Titus must insist that being a Christian carries with it the obligation of producing fruit in good works. Useless discussions are to be avoided, and those who persist in them are to be shunned (Tit. 3:8-11).

Tit. 3:1. Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers, to obey, to be ready for every good work.

Admonish them, i.e., the Christians of Crete.

Princes, powers, i.e., both the supreme and subordinate authorities. The Cretans were notorious for sedition.

Tit. 3:2. To speak evil of no man, not to be litigious but gentle, shewing all mildness towards all men.

The graces of Christianity are to be shown to outsiders, as well as to fellow-Christians. Gentleness “is the indulgent consideration of human infirmities” (Aristotle, quoted by Lock).

Tit. 3:3. For we ourselves also were some time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

In verses 3-7 the Apostle reminds the Christians of Crete of the reasons why they should be charitable and kind towards all men, even sinners. They themselves were once in a pitiable condition (Rom 1:30 ff.), and it is only through the goodness and mercy of God that they have been saved.

Some time, i.e., before we were Christians.

Unwise, incredulous, etc. Let the Christians of Crete, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, reflect on their own past non-Christian lives, and they will find no reason for boasting, but rather every reason to feel humble and to be kind to their pagan neighbors. The common Greek word for “pleasures” occurs only here in St. Paul, and the term for “hateful” is not found elsewhere in the Bible.

Tit. 3:4. But when the kindness and love for men of God our Saviour appeared,

Over against the malice and hatefulness of men St. Paul sets the kindness and love of God. We have revised the wording of the verse in accordance with the Greek, and the Vulgate should be likewise changed.

God our Saviour is here applied to God the Father, as in 1 Tim 1:1.  The goodness and love of the Eternal Father towards us have been manifested in the Incarnation of our Lord and in our justification.

Tit. 3:5. Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost.

Before describing the works of God’s love in our behalf the Apostle affirms their absolute gratuitousness, stating that our justification and salvation are not due to any meritorious works done by us, whether in the state of nature or under the Mosaic Law, but only and entirely to the pure mercy of God (cf. Rom 3:20 ff.; 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 2:9-10); and the medium or instrumental cause employed by Almighty God to confer on us the graces of justification and salvation is “the laver of regeneration and renovation,” i.e., the Sacrament of Baptism.

Of the Holy Ghost, to whom is attributed the work of our spiritual regeneration and renovation, as being a work of love. See on 2 Tim 1:9.

Tit. 3:6. Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour,

Since the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of love, we attribute to Him works of love; but that our justification and salvation are in reality the work of the whole Divine Trinity is evident from this verse.

Whom means the Holy Ghost, of whom there has just been question; and “he” means God the Father, who is the subject of the whole sentence, God the Father in Baptism has abundantly poured into our souls the Holy Ghost, i.e., sanctifying grace and the other gifts of the Divine Spirit, which Jesus Christ by His sufferings and death has merited for us.

Tit. 3:7. That, being justified by his grace, we might be heirs according to hope of life everlasting.

That indicates the final purpose of the justification we have received through the rich outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon our souls in Baptism, which is to make us “heirs of life everlasting.” This final and glorious issue of our spiritual lives we now possess in hope.

Tit. 3:8. Faithful is the saying: and these things I will have thee affirm constantly: that they who believe in God may be careful to excel in good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

The Apostle concludes the exhortation of verses 3-7 by inculcating the performance of good works, on which he is ever insisting throughout the Pastoral Epistles.

Faithful is the saying, i.e., worthy of all belief, referring to what he has been saying in the verses just preceding; these truths St. Paul wishes Titus to preach constantly, so that the faith of his hearers may be living and fruitful in good works.

These things, etc., i.e., the truths he has been stressing.

Tit. 3:9. But avoid foolish questions and genealogies and contentions and strivings about the law. For they are unprofitable and vain.

In verses 9- 11 St. Paul tells Titus to avoid the foolish questions and quarrels of the heretics and the heretics themselves. See on 1 Tim. 1:4, 6:4, and 2 Tim, 2:23, where the same advice is given.

Tit. 3:10. A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid,

Heretic. According to its primary meaning this word means one who makes divisions, factions-therefore, a factious person. But since there is question now of doctrine and of adhering stubbornly to error, it seems the term must here be given the strict meaning it came to have in later times. The adjective does not occur again in the New Testament, but the corresponding substantive is found in a number of places in St. Paul and the Acts.

Tit. 3:11. Knowing that he that is such an one, is perverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.

He now explains the reason why the pertinacious heretic is to be avoided. Such a one “is perverted,” i.e., beyond hope of repair, because he has separated himself from the foundation which is faith ; he is “condemned by his own judgment,” because it is his persistence in error that has put him out of the Church.

A Summary of Titus 3:12-15

Tit. 3:12. When I shall send to thee Artemas or Tychicus, make haste to come unto me to Nicopohs. For there I have determined to winter.

Artemas, of whom we know nothing further for certain. According to tradition he became Bishop of Lystra.

Tychicus. See on 2 Tim. 4:12; Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; Acts 20:4.

Nicopolis, most probably the city of that name in Epirus, which at this time was an important place built by Augustus after the battle of Actium, deriving its name from that victory. There was also a Nicopolis in Cilicia and in Thrace; but neither of these would agree so well with 2 Tim. 4:10, where it is said that Titus had gone to Dalmatia. It is clear from the closing words of this verse that St. Paul was entirely at liberty at this time. Ramsay thinks he meant to make Nicopolis a centre for preaching in Epirus and that he was arrested there. The opinion seems probable.

Tit. 3:13. Send forward Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollo, with care, that nothing be wanting to them.

Zenas, mentioned only here. He apparently was skilled in Jewish or Roman law. Tradition says he became Bishop of Diospolis and was the author of an apocryphal work known as “The Acts of Titus.”

Apollo, the eloquent Alexandrian preacher, of whom there is question in Acts 18:24, 19:1; 1 Cor. 1:12, 3:4, etc.

Tit. 3:14. And let our men also learn to excel in good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

As a last word St. Paul emphasizes the need of industry and the performance of good works on the part of the Christians of Crete.

Tit. 3:15. All that are with me salute thee : salute them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

All that are with me, etc., i.e., his traveling companions and co-laborers.

Salute them, etc., i.e., the Christians of Crete, who were united to the Apostle and his companions by the same “faith,” i.e., loyalty to Christ and His teachings. The blessing is to Titus and the whole Church of Crete.

Dei and Amen of the Vulgate are not represented in the Greek.

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