Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
[Paul, a servant of God] In several places of his other letters Paul styles himself the servant of Jesus Christ, but this is the only place where he calls himself the servant of God. Some think that he did this to vindicate himself against the Jews, who supposed he had renounced God when he admitted the Gentiles into his church. But if thus to vindicate himself was at all necessary, why was it not done in his Epistle to the Romans, the grand object of which was to prove that the Gentiles came legally into the church on believing in Christ, without submitting to circumcision, or being laid under obligation to observe the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law? This reason seems too fanciful. It is very likely that in the use of the phrase the apostle had no particular design; for, according to him, he who is the servant of Christ is the servant of God, and he who is God's servant is also the servant of Christ.
[The faith of God's elect] The Christians, who were now chosen in the place of the Jews, who, for their obstinate rejection of the Messiah, were reprobated; i.e. cast out of the divine favour.
[The acknowledging of the truth] For the propagation of that truth, or system of doctrines, which is calculated to promote godliness, or a holy and useful life.
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
[In hope of eternal life] In expectation of a state of being and well being which should last through eternity, when time should be no more. This includes, not only the salvation of the soul and its eternal beatification, but also the resurrection of the body. This was a point but ill understood, and not very clearly revealed, under the Mosaic law; but it was fully revealed under the Gospel, and the doctrine illustrated by the resurrection and ascension of Christ.
[Which God, that cannot lie, promised] We have often seen that the phrase, the foundation of the world, means the Jewish economy; and, before the foundation of the world, the times antecedent to the giving of the law. This is evidently the meaning here. See 2 Tim 1:9-11.
Supposing the word
in this verse to signify eternal, says Dr. Macknight, the literal translation of
would be, before eternal times; but that being a contradiction in terms, our translators, contrary to the propriety of the Greek language, have rendered it before the world began, as Mr. Locke observes on Rom 16:25. The true literal translation is before the secular times, referring us to the Jewish jubilees, by which times were computed among the Hebrews, as among the Gentiles they were computed by generations of men. Hence, Col 1:26, The mystery which was kept hidden
, from the ages and from the generations, signifies the mystery which was kept hidden from the Jews and from the Gentiles.
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
[But hath in due times]
. In its own times. See 1 Tim 2:6; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10; 2:7. God caused the Gospel to be published in that time in which it could be published with the greatest effect. It is impossible that God should prematurely hasten, or causelessly delay, the accomplishment of any of his works. Jesus was manifested precisely at the time in which that manifestation could best promote the glory of God and the salvation of man.
[Manifested his word]
. His doctrine-the doctrine of eternal life, by the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
[Which is committed unto me] That is, to preach it among the Gentiles.
[According to the commandment of God our Saviour] This evidently refers to the commission which he had received from Christ. See Acts 9:15: "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles." For, "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee; to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light," etc, Acts 26:16, etc. This is the commandment; and according to it he became the apostle of the Gentiles.
God our Saviour.-As the commission was given by Jesus Christ alone, the person whom he terms here God our Saviour must be Jesus Christ only; and this is another proof that Paul believed Jesus Christ to be God. This eternal life God had promised in a comparatively obscure way before the foundation of the world, the Jewish dispensation; but now under the Gospel, he had made it manifest-produced it with all its brightness, illustrations, and proofs.
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
[To Titus, mine own son] Him whom I have been the instrument of converting to the Christian faith; and in whom, in this respect, I have the same right as any man can have in his own begotten son. See the preface; and see the note at 1 Tim 1:2.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
[For this cause left I thee in Crete] That Paul had been in Crete, though nowhere else intimated, is clear from this passage. That he could not have made such an important visit, and evangelized an island of the first consequence, without its being mentioned by his historian, Luke, had it happened during the period embraced in the Acts of the Apostles, must be evident. That the journey, therefore, must have been performed after the time in which Luke ends his history, that is, after Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, seems almost certain.
[Set in order the things that are wanting] It appears from this that the apostle did not spend much time in Crete, and that he was obliged to leave it before he had got the church properly organized. The supplying of this defect, he tells Titus, he had confided to him as one whose spiritual views coincided entirely with his own.
[Ordain elders in every city] That thou mightest appoint,
, elders-persons well instructed in divine things, who should be able to instruct others, and observe and enforce the discipline of the church. It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Titus 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic church, though afterward they became distinct. Lord Peter King, in his view of the primitive church, has written well on this subject.
In every city.-
. This seems to intimate that the apostle had gone over the whole of the hecatompolis or hundred cities for which this island was celebrated. Indeed it is not likely that he would leave one in which he had not preached Christ crucified.
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
[If any be blameless] See the notes at 1 Tim 3:2, etc.
[Having faithful children] Whose family is converted to God. It would have been absurd to employ a man to govern the church whose children were not in subjection to himself; for it is an apostolic maxim, that he who cannot rule his own house, cannot rule the church of God; 1 Tim 3:5.
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
. Not one who is determined to have his own way in everything; setting up his own judgment to that of all others; expecting all to pay homage to his understanding. Such a governor in the church of God can do little good, and may do much mischief.
[Not soon angry]
. Not a choleric man; one who is irritable; who is apt to be inflamed on every opposition; one who has not proper command over his own temper.
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
[A lover of hospitality]
. A lover of strangers. See the note at 1 Tim 3:2. Instead of
, one manuscript has philoptoochon, a lover of the poor. That minister who neglects the poor, but is frequent in his visits to the rich, knows little of his Master's work, and has little of his Master's spirit.
[A lover of good men]
. A lover of goodness or of good things in general.
[Sober] Prudent in all his conduct. Just in all his dealings. Holy in his heart. Temperate-self-denying and abstemious, in his food and raiment; not too nice on points of honour, nor magisterially rigid in the exercise of his ecclesiastical functions. Qualifications rarely found in spiritual governors.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
[Holding fast the faithful word] Conscientiously retaining, and zealously maintaining, the true Christian doctrine,
, according to the instructions, or according to the institutions, form of sound doctrine, or confession of faith, which I have delivered to thee.
[That he may be able by sound doctrine] If the doctrine be not sound, vain is the profession of it, and vain its influence. It is good to be zealously affected in a good thing; but zeal for what is not of God will do no good to the souls of men, how sincere soever that zeal may be.
[To exhort] Them to hold the faith, that they may persevere.
[And to convince] Refute the objections, confound the sophistry, and convert the gainsayers; and thus defend the truth.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
[There are many unruly] Persons who will not receive the sound doctrine, nor come under wholesome discipline.
[Vain talkers] Empty boasters of knowledge, rights, and particular privileges; all noise, empty parade, and no work.
[Deceivers] Of the souls of men by their specious pretensions.
[They of the circumcision] The Judaizing teachers, who maintained the necessity of circumcision, and of observing the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, in order to the perfecting of the Gospel.
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
[Whose mouths must be stopped] Unmask them at once; exhibit them to the people; make manifest their ignorance and hypocrisy; and let them be confounded before the people whom they are endeavouring to seduce.
[Subvert whole houses] Turn whole Christian families from the faith, attributing to the broad way what belongs only to the strait gate; ministering to disorderly passions, and promising salvation to their proselytes, though not saved from their sins.
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
[One of themselves, even a prophet of their own] This was Epimenides, who was born at Gnossus in Crete, and was reckoned by many the seventh wise man of Greece, instead of Periander, to whom that honour was by them denied. Many fabulous things are related of this poet, which are not proper to be noticed here. He died about 538 years before the Christian era. When Paul calls him a prophet of their own, he only intimates that he was, by the Cretans, reputed a prophet. And, according to Plutarch (in Solone), the Cretans paid him divine honours after his death. Diogenes Laertius mentions some of his prophecies: beholding the fort of Munichia, which guarded the port of Athens, he cried out: "O ignorant men! if they but knew what slaughters this fort shall occasion, they would pull it down with their teeth!" This prophecy was fulfilled several years after, when the king, Antipater, put a garrison in this very fort, to keep the Athenians in subjection. See Diog. Laert., lib. 1 p. 73.
Plato, De Legibus, lib. 2, says that, on the Athenians expressing great fear of the Persians, Epimenides encouraged them by saying "that they should not come before ten years, and that they should return after having suffered great disasters." This prediction was supposed to have been fulfilled in the defeat of the Persians in the battles of Salamis and Marathon.
He predicted to the Lacedemonians and Cretans the captivity to which they should one day be reduced by the Arcadians. This took place under Euricrates, king of Crete, and Archidamus, king of Lacedemon; vide Diog. Laert., lib. 1 p. 74, edit. Meibom.
It was in consequence of these prophecies, whether true or false, that his countrymen esteemed him a prophet; that he was termed
, a divine man, by Plato; and that Cicero, De Divin., lib. 1, says he was futura praesciens, et vaticinans per furorem: "He knew future events, and prophesied under a divine influence." These things are sufficient to justify the epithet of prophet, given him here by Paul. It may also be remarked that vates and poeta, prophet and poet, were synonymous terms among the Romans.
[The Cretians are always liars] The words quoted here by the apostle are, according to Jerome, Socrates, Nicephorus, and others, taken from a work of Epimenides, now no longer extant, entitled Peri chreesmoon, Concerning Oracles. The words form a hexameter verse:
Kreetes aei pseustai, kaka theeria, gasteres argai
The Cretans are always liars; destructive wild beasts; sluggish gluttons.
That the Cretans were reputed to be egregious liars, several of the ancients declare; insomuch that Kreetizein, to act like a Cretan, signifies to lie; and chreesthai Kreetismoo, to deceive. The other Greeks reputed them liars, because they said that among them was the sepulchre of Jupiter, who was the highest object of the Greek and Roman worship. By telling this truth, which all others would have to pass for a lie, the Cretans allowed that the object of their highest admiration was only a dead man.
[Evil beasts] Ferocious and destructive in their manners.
[Slow bellies.] Addicted to voluptuousness, idleness, and gluttony; sluggish or hoggish men.
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
[This witness is true.] What Epimenides said of them nearly 600 years before continued still to be true. Their original character had undergone no moral change.
[Rebuke them sharply]
. Cuttingly, severely; show no indulgence to persons guilty of such crimes.
[That they may be sound in the faith] That they may receive the incorrupt doctrine, and illustrate it by a holy and useful life.
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
[Not giving heed to Jewish fables] See the note at 1 Tim 1:4, and 1 Tim 4:7.
[Commandments of men] The injunctions of the scribes and Pharisees, which they added to the law of God.
[That turn from the truth.] For such persons made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. Sometimes the verb
signifies to be averse from, slight, or despise. So, here, the persons in question despised the truth, and taught others to do the same.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
[Unto the pure all things are pure] This appears to have been spoken in reference to the Jewish distinctions of clean and unclean meats. To the genuine Christian every kind of meat proper for human nourishment is pure, is lawful, and may be used without scruple. This our Lord had long before decided. See the note at Luke 11:39-41.
[But unto them that are defiled] In their consciences, and unbelieving,
, unfaithful both to offered and received grace, nothing is pure-they have no part in Christ, and the wrath of God abides upon them. Their mind is contaminated with impure and unholy images and ideas, and their conscience is defiled with the guilt of sins already committed against God.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
[They profess that they know God] He still speaks concerning the unbelieving Jews, the seducing teachers, and those who had been seduced by their bad doctrine. None were so full of pretensions to the knowledge of the true God as the Jews. They would not admit that any other people could have this knowledge; nor did they believe that God ever did or ever would reveal himself to any other people; they supposed that to give the law and the prophets to the Gentiles would be a profanation of the words of God. Hence, they became both proud, uncharitable, and intolerant; and in this disposition they continue until the present day.
[But in works they deny him] Their profession and practice were at continual variance. Full of a pretended faith, while utterly destitute of those works by which a genuine faith is accredited and proved. Dio Cassius represents Caesar as saying of his mutinous soldiers: Onoma Roomaioon echontas, erga de Keltoon droontas. "Having the name of Romans, while they had the manners of the Gauls." How near are those words to the saying of the apostle!
. This word sometimes refers to unnatural lusts.
. Unpersuadable, unbelieving, and consequently disobedient. Characters remarkably applicable to the Jews through all their generations.
[Unto every good work reprobate.]
. Adulterate; like bad coin, deficient both in the weight and goodness of the metal, and without the proper sterling stamp; and consequently not current. If they did a good work, they did not do it in the spirit in which it should be performed. They had the name of God's people; but they were counterfeit. The prophet said; Reprobate silver shall men call them.
1. Through the principal part of this chapter, and indeed of the whole letter, may be found in nearly the same words in the First Epistle to Timothy, yet there are several circumstances here that are not so particularly noted in the other; and every minister of Christ will do well to make himself master of both; they should be carefully registered in his memory, and engraven on his heart.
2. The truth, which is according to godliness, in reference to eternal life, should be carefully regarded. The substantial knowledge of the truth must have faith for its foundation, godliness for its rule, and eternal life for its object and end. He who does not begin well, is never likely to finish fair. He who does not refer everything to eternity, is never likely to live either well or happily in time.
3. There is one subject in this chapter not sufficiently attended to by those who have the authority to appoint men to ecclesiastical offices; none should be thus appointed who is not able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers. The powers necessary for this are partly natural, partly gracious, and partly acquired.
a. If a man have not good natural abilities, nothing but a miracle from heaven can make him a proper preacher of the Gospel; and to make a man a Christian minister, who is unqualified for any function of civil life, is sacrilege before God.
b. If the grace of God do not communicate ministerial qualifications, no natural gifts, however splendid, can be of any avail. To be a successful Christian minister, a man must feel the worth of immortal souls in such a way as God only can show it, in order to spend and be spent in the work. He who has never passed through the travail of the soul in the work of regeneration in his own heart, can never make plain the way of salvation to others.
c. He who is employed in the Christian ministry should cultivate his mind in the most diligent manner; he can neither learn nor know too much. If called of God to be a preacher (and without such a call he had better be a galley slave), he will be able to bring all his knowledge to the assistance and success of his ministry. If he have human learning, so much the better; if he be accredited, and appointed by those who have authority in the church, it will be to his advantage; but no human learning, no ecclesiastical appointment, no mode of ordination, whether Popish, Episcopal, Protestant, or Presbyterian, can ever supply the divine unction, without which he never can convert and build up the souls of men. The piety of the flock must be faint and languishing when it is not animated by the heavenly zeal of an overseer; they must be blind if he be not enlightened; and their faith must be wavering when he can neither encourage nor defend it.
4. In consequence of the appointment of improper persons to the Christian ministry, there has been, not only a decay of piety, but also a corruption of religion. No man is a true Christian minister who has not grace, gifts, and fruit; if he have the grace of God, it will appear in his holy life and godly conversation. If to this he add genuine abilities, he will give full proof of his ministry; and if he give full proof of his ministry, he will have fruit; the souls of sinners will be converted to God through his preaching, and believers will be built up on their most holy faith. How contemptible must that man appear in the eyes of common sense, who boasts of his clerical education, his sacerdotal order, his legitimate authority to preach, administer the Christian sacraments, etc., while no soul is benefited by his ministry! Such a person may have legal authority to take tithes, but as to an appointment from God, he has none; else his word would be with power, and his preaching the means of salvation to his perishing hearers.