TITUS 1:1-16 An Epistle of Paul to Titus. The assignment given to Titus was by no means an easy one. The Cretans had an incredibly bad reputation in the ancient world. There were notorious liars, cheats, and gluttons such were the culture Titus was sent to deal with.
GREETING AND INTRODUCTION (Chap. 1:1-4)
V. 1 “Paul, a bondservant of God an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
Much has been made over the variation in the greeting here. In neither of the other Pastoral Epistles does Paul refer to himself as God’s servant. However, in his introduction to both Romans and Philippians, he calls himself “servant of Jesus Christ” [Rom. 1:1; Phil 1:1]. And again in Galatians 1:10, he refers to himself as the “servant of Christ.” So this is not a major issue but theological hairsplitting.
While the term “servant of God” historically implied honour, as applied to Moses and the prophets, it also speaks of humility. The Greek word is ‘doulos’, which means slave. Paul, right at the beginning, sets the stage for true ministry which is the attitude of humility and servanthood. This should in no way cause us to believe that true humility would hinder us from acknowledging the ministry gift God has given, for Paul next calls himself “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” The information Paul is about to share is not just friendly advice, but he is speaking in his official capacity, with authority, thus he refers to his apostleship. His commission came from the King of the universe and this gives him confidence in his presentation, Paul never assumed that his own wit or wisdom gave him authority, but he continuously acknowledged Christ as his source of authority.
“According to the faith of God’s elect.” The doctrine of election is a true Pauline doctrine. While it conjures up the mystery in the minds of some, it has a practical side. That is, the elect will come to faith and faith will manifest itself in belief and action. By the time Paul wrote this letter there already were standards by which God’s people lived and were known. Hence, Paul speaks of “the faith of God’s elect” as an essential identification point. Paul’s world abounded with false teachers who claimed to be believers and servants of God so he carefully differentiates between the true and the false. Jude speaks of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” [Jude 3],
Faith is the foundation of all Christian activity. It is the energizing element that keeps the Christian belief system from becoming an academic theory. But faith is not simply an abstract endorsement of things Godly, it is directly related to God’s word [Rom. 10:17]. As the norms and standards of what constituted true Christian doctrine became established, the term, “the faith” came to use. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, it meant: “What is believed, the contents of belief.”
So the faith became the standard by which all teaching, actions, and even men were judged.
Here are some examples: “A great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” [Acts 6:7]. The
disciples were exhorted “to continue in the faith” [Acts 14:22]. It was said of Paul that “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith” [Gal. 1:23]. Many other things are said concerning
“the faith.” The saints at Philippi were “striving” for it [Phil. 1:27]. The Colossians were “established” in it [Col, 2:7], others would “depart” from it [I Tim. 4:1], some had “denied” it p Tim. 5:8], “erred” from it [I Tim. 6:10], were “disapproved” concerning it [2 Tim. 3:^]. Thank God
Paul could say “I have kept the faith” [2 Tim. 4:7]. Both Timothy and Titus were called sons in the faith [I Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4], “and the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness”
Truth is not only to be known but acknowledged and assimilated into life to the point that it produces Godliness. There is a cleansing and a sanctifying process that takes place as the Word is embraced with honesty and integrity [Eph. 5:26; John 17:17; 2 Thess. 2:13; John 15:3]. The prophet Isaiah gave us the principle when he said: “He will teach us His ways and we shall walk in His paths” [Is 2:3];
So the truth was according to Godliness, indeed it produced Godliness, as opposed to the false way which produced nothing but a poor imitation. It brought forth a quality of”life within, which cleanses the heart, energizes the will, quickens the conscience, elevates the taste and purifies and sanctifies the life” (W. M. Statham).
V. 2 “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
We must be careful how we interpret this verse. We do not walk in truth and Godliness to achieve eternal life, it is a gift [Rom. 6:23]. Also, it is a mistake only to associate this with the resting place of the dead. Jesus clearly stated that “he who believes in the Son has (present tense) everlasting life” [John 3:36]. Again in His high priestly prayer, He said: “and this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent” [John 17:3]. Or The hope of eternal life is not a hope to attain eternal life, for Christians already possess it by faith. Rather it is the hope that eternal life gives. A little later in this letter, Paul refers to it as “the blessed hope” [2:13], which is the second coming of Christ. So the hope of eternal life is “me full manifestation and realization of that life which is already the believer’s possession” (Vine). This is an unshakable hope for it is grounded in the eternal purposes of God, promised before time began, by God Who cannot lie What more could be said to show the absolute trustworthiness of this hope
V. 3 “but has in due time manifested His word through preaching”.
The Gospel is an ‘eternal’ revelation and a ‘time’ manifestation. That which was in the heart of the Father in ages past was brought forth in His appointed time. ; It has been said that the Gospel could not have come to earth at a better time in history. God’s time is always right. Historians tell us that at the time the church was born, the world was generally at peace. The Roman peace, Pax Romana, provided a certain safety for travellers. They had, to a great extent, cleared the land of bandits and the sea of pirates.
As well, the system of highways built by Rome made travel relatively easy. Because most of the known world was under Roman jurisdiction, the Christian missionary could freely go from country to country unencumbered by the need for passports or visas. Communication would not present a great problem, for the universal language of literature and culture was Greek, and this also provided the perfect language for the written Word,
All this coupled with a general consciousness of the need for something more in that generation plainly shows that it was no accident Christianity came when it did. At that time the philosophical leaders were acknowledging their failure and expressing the need for a Divine deliverer. The Hebrew word, as well, was waiting, hoping for God to move. They had circulated the Old Testament Scriptures at the dispersion throughout the entire Empire and had established synagogues in numerous cities. Then, the long-awaited Messiah came, in God’s good time or as Gal. 4:4 puts it “the fullness of the time.” In the person of Jesus Christ, God the eternal Father “manifested His Word” for “die Word became flesh and dwelt among us” [John 1:14]. It is “through preaching” that the life of God has communicated [, Rom. 16:25; I Cor. 1:21; 2:4; 2 Tim. 4:17]. “Which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.” The term “God our Saviour” appears in I Tim. 1:1. As Matthew Henry says “ministry is a trust.” Paul clearly understood that it was God who put him into the ministry [I Tim. 1:12; Gal. 1:15]. The writer to the Hebrews said concerning the priesthood: “no man takes his honor to himself, but he who is called by God” [Heb. 5:4]: The seriousness with which one should estimate the call of God is to be seen in that it is “the commandment of God.” The purest motivation for ministry is not to meet human needs, but to be obedient to Him who calls men into the ministry.
V. 4 “To Titus, a true son in our common faith.”
Notice the power of spiritual relationships. Paul, a Jew, calls Titus, a Gentile Greek, his genuine son. Obviously, he was not Paul’s physical offspring, but a spiritual son. Like Timothy, Titus had a very special place in Paul’s heart as his frequent references to him reveal. Titus had brought Paul comfort [2 Cor. 7:6] and joy [2 Cor. 7:13]. He was a caring and faithful minister [2 Cor. 8:16-17, 23], So Paul refers to him in terms of endearment. He calls him his brother [2 Cor. 2:13]. He calls him a sharer in work and toils [2 Cor. 8:23]. Titus walked in the same spirit [2 Cor. 12:18]. So Paul exhorts him to be a pattern to the Christians at Crete [2:7:] Paul was confident that Titus would take care of things exactly as he would have himself if he were there.
“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
Paul once more uses a three-fold blessing found only in the Pastoral Epistles. Grace and peace are commonly used as a greeting by Paul, but the word mercy is found only in the Pastorals. See the
Notes of 1Tim. 1:2 for more detail.
ELDERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS ( 1:5-9)
Paul starts this section by giving his reason for appointing Titus to this task.
V. 5 “For this reason I left you in Crete.”
He then lays out two areas Titus is to deal with:
1 “That you should set in order the things that are lacking.”
Or “straighten out unfinished business” (BER).
We cannot be certain what this deficiency in the church at Crete was.
Actually, we do not in fact, know how this church came into existence. In Acts 2:11, we see Cretans numbered among the “devout men from every nation under heaven” [v. 5]. These proselytes went to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Pentecost and encountered more than they bargained for. When Peter preached his great Pentecostal message, three thousand souls responded [v. 41]. It is quite possible the church at Crete springs up from some of these converts. If so, they would definitely need further teaching and organization. Thus, Titus is to set things “in order”
2.” and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.”
There is no doubt a spontaneous^ unstructured growth in the church at Crete. Paul understood that in order for the church to develop properly there must be order and government. It was Paul’s custom to ordain elders in the churches he had influence over [Acts 14:23]. The early church had a relatively simple government structure; there were elders, deacons, and saints [PhiL 1:1]; this topic has been dealt with in more detail in the notes on I Tim. 3:1-7. Crete was a large, well-known Island in the Mediterranean. It was well populated having between ninety and one hundred cities;
According to ancient writers. Obviously, the Gospel had spread across the whole Island for Titus is told to “ordain elders in every city.”
We now come to the actual qualifications of these men who were to be appointed as elders. The New Testament does not put these qualifications forth as an ideal to strive for, but they are qualities already possessed by these men, this is the standard by which the candidates are to be chosen.
V,6 “ if a man is blameless.”
I once heard someone say: “This qualification shows that no one can measure up.” This is a total misconception. It does not mean perfect. The Greek word is ‘anepiliptos’ which means
“irreproachable” or ” unrebukable.” It refers to “one who affords nothing upon which an adversary might seize in order to make a charge against him; he is not open to censure; he is one that cannot
be laid hold of.” It is used metaphorically in boxing or wrestling when a man leaves the part of his body exposed to attack by an adversary. So, he must be a man of such character as to be beyond criticism. “A man against whom no criticism can be made” (Barclay).
“the husband of one wife.”
It is interesting how these words are combined in Greek: ‘mia’ (one) ‘gunaikos’ (woman or wife) ‘aner’ (man or husband) – “a one-woman man.” “He must be a loyal husband, preserving marriage in all its purity” (Barclay). Polygamy was a frequent occurrence that day, but Paul wanted to make it very clear that an elder in the church was not allowed to have more than a wife. God has never condoned polygamy, though He seems to have tolerated it in the Old Testament. In the beginning, God said that a married man and woman were “one flesh” [Gen. 2:24]. A Christian, particularly a leader, must be careful to direct his affections only toward his own wife. There is wisdom in this for more than one reason. For example, any man who is able to divide his natural (sexual) affections, could also be prone to divide his spiritual affections. The natural becomes a gage for the Spiritual [1 Cor. 15:46]. . . –
“having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination” or “not accused of riot or unruly” (KJV).
The elder’s “children must love the Lord and not have a reputation for being wild and disobedient” (LIV). It is well put in the Amplified; “Whose children are well-trained and are believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and conduct, or unruly and disorderly.” We are prone to evaluate ministry on the basis of gift alone. But God looks for character and practical fruit in a leader’s life. God’s own standard is found in I Tim. 3:5 where He says: “if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” Once again the natural is the test for the spiritual.
A man’s performance in running his own home is the proving ground to determine if he can handle authority in the larger family, the church. God is not satisfied with “book-learning” alone, which produces theoreticians, but has designed a very practical training ground in the family.
V. 7 “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God.”
Again Paul uses the word he started the list with but adds another dimension in the context.
Because a bishop is a steward, the custodian of another’s goods, he will one day give account for what He’s done so he must be of unimpeachable character.
“Not self-willed.” or “not stubborn” (WMS), “not be presumptuous” (MOF), “not be
The Greek word is ‘authades’, and means “self-pleasing, arrogant, dominated by self-interest or inconsiderate of others.” A man with this attitude, according to Trench, is “one so far overvaluing any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it.” So this is a man who is extremely stubborn and inconsiderate. “He obstinately maintains his own opinion or asserts his own rights, while he is reckless of the rights, opinions, and interests of others” (R. C. Trench). Obviously, this characteristic would be a hindrance to a Christian leader. Anyone who is so taken up with his own opinion is in danger of being a heretic. Heresy is not so much what you believe as to how. “Not quick-tempered” or “hot-tempered” (MOF), “quarrelsome” (Knox), “not quickly moved to wrath” (BAS), “irritable” (CON). The Greek word, ‘orgilos,’ means “prone to anger, irascible, given to wrath.” Barclay says it is a -“long-lived, purposely maintained anger,” It is from the root word ‘orge’ which is translated in Rom. 1:18 “the wrath of God.” So, an elder must not be one who gets angry quickly or nurses his anger. He must be in control of his own spirit. A lack of control in this area would be detrimental both to his own testimony and that of the believing community which he represents “not given to wine” or “neither intemperate” (PHIL), “not a drunkard” (MOF), “not addicted to wine” (NAS), “no brawler” (KJV), “not a hard drinker” (WEY) The Greek ‘paroinos’ means “not ready to quarrel and offer wrong, as one in wine?” “One who sits at his wine – drunken, brawling, abusive.” “Staying near wine” (Strong). As William Barclay wisely points out: “In the ancient world, the wine was continually used. The water supply was very inadequate and sometimes dangerous. The wine was the most natural drink of all. Overindulgence would disgrace him even in heathen society, let alone the church.” While Scripture does not demand total abstinence in the case of intoxicants, but temperance, the guidelines set out by Paul in I Cor. 10:31 and Rom. 14:21-22, are good rules to live by. Again, some wise words from, William Barclay: “The Christian must allow himself no pleasure or indulgence which would lessen his Christian vigilance or soil his Christian conduct.”
“not violent” or “he must not assault others” (BAR), “not combative” (AMP),” not hot-tempered” (Jerusalem Bible), “not a fist-fighter? (BER), “no striker’? (KJV), “not be ever ready to come to blows” (NOR)
The Greek ‘me’ (no) -plektes’ (striker) means a “bruiser, ready with a blow, a pugnacious, contentious, quarrelsome person.?? An elder is literally “one who will not be quick to retaliate with blows, nor be pugnacious.” He must not be given physical violence for he is God’s minister involved in spiritual battles.
A man who still needs to brawl is a man who has not yet given all his rights over to the Lord, He is still in a state of immaturity. A wife-beater would equally be disqualified.
“Not greedy for money” or “no money-grubber” (NEB), “not seeking gain by base means” (RHM).
The Greek ‘aischrokerdes’ means “sordid gain” (STR), “dirty gain”(Hastings). This exhortation was especially applicable to leaders who did not receive financial support and had to make a living by whatever means they could. The temptation to yield to questionable methods of money-making would have to be overcome if one’s reputation as an elder was to remain above reproach. This would be particularly true of a leader in Crete where they “counted material gain far above honesty and honour” (Barclay). A man who is wholly committed to the Lord will never put an excessive emphasis on extravagance. Money will never be the main motivation for his decisions in life.
V. 8 “but hospitable” or “opening his house freely to guests” (BAS),
The Amplified Bible says: “He must be hospitable-showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners.” The Greek word ‘philoxenos’ is a combination of two words: ‘philos’ -(friend) and ‘xenos’ -(stranger). In the “Shepherd of Hernias” (one of the very early Christian writings) it is stated that “the episkopas must be hospitable, a man who gladly and; at all times welcomes into his house the servants of God. This would apply to travelling ministers of that day
So, obviously, this means more than just socializing with our friends. An elder’s home and life must be characterized by an unselfish willingness to share his blessings with others. He must not neglect to get involved with his people on a personal level, even to the point of having them as guests at his home at times. A real shepherd has the smell of sheep on him,
“a lover of what is good” or “a lover of goodness” (GSPD), “of good people and good
things” (AMP), “right-minded” (NEB).
The word “men” that is used in the KJV is not found in Greek.
The Greek word ‘philagathos’ means “a love of goodness, promoter of virtue;” In issues of righteousness and morality, an elder must always be on the side of right. He will never condone practices or beliefs that contradict the Word of God’s servant must be clearly against evil practices with the same kind of zeal the Saviour has demonstrated. Nothing short of the will of God satisfies his desire.
“sober-minded” or “master of himself’ (MOF), “discretion” (PHIL).
Barclay translates this “prudent” but says it is “virtually untranslatable.” He goes on to list some other ways it is translated: “of sound mind, discreet, self-controlled, chaste, having complete control over sensual desires.” The Greek word is ‘sophron’ which means “curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.” The great teacher Socrates referred to it as “the foundation stone of virtue.” Trench defined it as “entire command over the passions and desires so that they receive no further allowance than that which the law and right reason admit and approve,” -. An elder must be sensible, wise, and balanced in his judgment. He will not be quick to make superficial decisions based on immature thinking. He must have understanding, practical wisdom, and prudence in the management of his affairs. He should be a man who carefully thinks through any action he may take.
“Just” or “upright” (WMS), “fair-minded” (PHIL), “live right” (Beck).
The Greek is ‘dikaios” which means: “having a sense of justice, right, righteous.” To be justified is not enough for leadership, one must be “just this is a word that is applied to God and man. It originally was used of persons who observed the custom, rule, and rite, especially in the fulfillment of duties toward God and men and of things that were in accordance with the right. An elder must be fair and impartial He must be one who can make objective judgments based on principle. His conduct is right in accordance with what is known to be a right standard. The Word of God is the standard for all His dealings.
“Holy” or “devout” (PHIL), “of pure life” (WMS).
This comes from the Greek word ‘hosios’ which means: “undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure, holy, pious.” This word was said to describe the person who reverences the fundamental decencies of life. It developed its moral application in Biblical Greek. Originally, the word meant kind and gracious. It is “that quality of holiness which is manifested in those who have regard equally to grace and truth”, those that are “religiously right as opposed to what is unrighteous or polluted” (Vine). So the elder is a devout man who has separated himself from sin and defilement to follow after God.
“Self-controlled” or “continent” (GON), “disciplined” (NIV), ‘temperate” (KJV).
The Greek ‘egkrates’ means “strong in a thing, masterful, self-controlled.” It encompasses the idea; of mastering, curbing, restraining, or controlling one’s self. Any man who would be in a place of authority over others must first be master of himself.
V, 9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught”.
The essence of this thought is made up of two Greek words:
1. ‘Antechomai’ means: “hold fast; adhere to; support.” A leader must not be hypocritical, teaching one thing and living another.
2. ‘Didache’ means: “instruction or doctrine.” An elder must be stable in his faith and obey the Word of God in all respects.
The Living Bible says: “Their belief in the truth which they have been taught must be strong and steadfast.” “He must adhere to the true doctrine” (NEB), “He must hold firm to the sure Word as taught (RSV), “take his stand on the faith” (PHIL). So the elder should be so personally established in the truth that he will not be “carried about with every wind of doctrine” [Eph. 4:14].
“That he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict, Or “encourage others by sound doctrine and rebuke those who oppose it” (NTV), “both stimulate faith and confute opposition” (PHIL.)
This two-pronged ministry is described by the use of two Greek words:
1. ‘Parakaleo’ means: “exhort, encourage, beseech, comfort.”
2. ‘Elegcho’ means: “convict, rebuke, and reprove so as to bring about a confession of sin.” It is interesting that both facets of ministry are accomplished through the presentation of sound doctrine. An elder is one who is able to withstand opposition in strength because of the sureness of the Word and not by the power of his personality. This is a very practical expression of ministry in that it touches the lives and not just the intellects of those who are being instructed.
A CHALLENGE TO LEADERSHIP 1:10-16)
In this section we see heretics exposed and condemned.
V. 10 “For there are many insubordinate” or “undisciplined”(GSPD), “disorderly” (WEY),
“Not ruled by law” (BAS), “out of ail control” (NEB).
It is bad enough to see this attitude develop in society, but a much worse thing to see ft in the church. The main reason Titus was left in Crete was to set in order things that were lacking and to appoint elders. This was obviously necessary for light of the attitudes here revealed. People must be willing to submit to the spiritual authority before an effective work for God can be accomplished.
“Both idle talkers and deceivers.” or “they talk wildly and lead men’s minds astray” (NEB),
“Given to idle and misleading talk” (WEY).
Being deceived themselves they can only deceive others. Instead of leading people to the truth, they lead them away from it. Much of this was done in small groups or private encounters. More damage is done by gossip than we will ever know. When something is shared openly, it can be evaluated and judged and if need be, corrected. But how can secret things be confronted? To share information concerning a particular problem with anyone who is neither part of the problem
or part of the answer is gossip and is unfruitful, even damaging.
“Especially those of the circumcision.” or “those who have come from Judaism” (MOFF).
‘The circumcision” is a term describing the Jews generally [Rom. 4:12], and Jewish believers
particularly [Acts 11:2; Gal. 2:12]. It seems in Crete, the worst heretics were Jews. It is a historical fact that Judaism at that time was fraught with superstition and occult practices. Some of them seemed to embrace Christianity but were not sincere. On the other hand, certain Jews
Genuinely received Christ and yet were still bound by traditions which they no doubt tried to put on the Gentile believers.
V. 11 “whose mouth must be stopped, who subvert whole households” or “they must be silenced for they are undermining whole families” (MOFF).
Any teaching which disrupts the family is not from God. The family is the oldest institution on earth, being founded even before the fall of man. It is the basic unit of society. Satan attacks the Godly family ruthlessly because the backbone of a healthy society is destroyed without it. Many movements today are aligned against the family. Unfortunately, even the institutional church can be guilty of undermining rather than reinforcing the family. This deception prompts Paul to say “such men must be curbed” (NEB), or “bridled” or “muzzled.” “teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.” Here we find the corrupt motivation for their teaching. All the speeches they made and the high-sounding material they shared sprang from greed. They were more concerned with what they could get rather than what they could give. This was not simply a case of “the labourer is worthy of his wages” [I Tim. 5:17], for Paul calls it “sordid gain” (NAS). They were to be muzzled by the proclamation of sound and wholesome teaching. [See I Cor. 9:9-10]. The most effective way to destroy error is by replacing it with truth, “sound doctrine.”
V. 12 “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.
The Cretans had a terrible reputation in the ancient world. To support his opinion, Paul quotes “a venerated Cretan critic of the Cretan character. The lines quoted are from Epimenides, a philosopher-poet who lived about 600 B.C. (Guthrie.) Notice the three accusations made against them:
1. They are “always liars.” Or “always false” (RHM).
“So notorious were the Cretans that the Greeks actually formed a verb ‘kretizein’, to Criticize, which
meant to lie and to cheat” (Barclay). The Word of God says “buy the truth and do not sell it” [Prov.
23:23). the only hope for a people or a culture steeped in dishonesty and falsehood is an encounter with Him Who is the truth. . •
2. “Evil beasts.” Or “wicked brutes” (WMS), ‘Venomous creatures” (KNOX); This word is usually used to describe a dangerous animal. It has in its meaning the idea of brutality. This is the word used in Acts 28:4 to describe the viper that fastened onto Paul’s hand. It is used frequently in Revelation to describe the satanic powers that battle against God’s people. So Cretans were not only liars but given to sensuality, the satisfying of fleshly appetites.
3. “Lazy gluttons” or “all hungry belly and nothing besides” (KNOX).
The phrase “describes their uncontrolled greed” (Guthrie).
These gluttonous do-nothings lived only to satisfy their avarice, but certainly not by means of honesty.
V. 13 -This testimony is true” or “that is a true account of them” (KNOX).
The Apostle adds his endorsement to the veracity of the aforesaid statement. How he could firm this we do not know. He either had personal experience with them or had heard similar reports from other reliable sources.
“Therefore rebuke them sharply” or “pull them up sharply” (NEB); Like a strong-headed horse, these needed their reins pulled with the strength to get the point across. The word “rebuke” is the same word translated as “convict” in verse 9. The idea there is to refute and correct those who opposed the truth. Here the correction is intensified by the addition of the word sharply,” a word used only one other time in the New Testament, 2 Cor. 13:10. There is a time to be gentle in the use of the correction, Timothy was exhorted to correct those who opposed him with gentleness [2 Tim. 2:25], but Titus is told to “correct them rigorously” (GSPD). Obviously, these men were dealing with two very distinct cultures. Whereas the people Timothy ministered to responded to gentle reproof, the Cretans needed a stronger form of communication: Titus is not to argue with these heretical teachers, but to rebuke them. Though the approach is severe, the purpose is positive.
“That they may be sound in the faith.”
God’s discipline is always remedial. Though the reputation of these people was not good, Paul does not totally give up on them. Obviously, he is speaking to believers here. Salvation must be accompanied by sanctification and growth. While regeneration is instantaneous, renewal is a process. It is the process by which we set aside negative attributes inherited through family and social influence and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”, and “grow in the grace and knowledge of God”
[Rom. 12:2; 13:14; Eph. 4:24; 2 Pet. 3:18]. Whatever it takes, men must be challenged to stay within the framework of soundness in the faith.
V. 14 “not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”
This is essentially the same exhortation given in I Tim. 1:4 and 4:3. These “Jewish myths” (WMS)
: 1 by some to be Gnostic speculations based on Old Testament Scripture. Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees of His day: “You have made the commandment (Word) of God of no effect by your traditions” [Matt. 15:3,6]. Here, years later, Jewish myths and commandments of men are still plaguing the church.
It -was a sorry day when Judaism, plagued by a multitude of rules and regulations, joined hands with Gnosticism and its inherent disdain for the body. The result was intolerable bondage [Col.2:22-23; I Tim. 4:1-3]. The effects of these heresies are still present with us and must be resisted strongly. Though the propagators of such foolishness claim to be expounding the truth, they have in fact forsaken the truth and embraced a man-made doctrine that has no life in it.
V. 15 “To the pure all things are pure.”
How men are influenced by external things is dependent on their moral character. The Lord Jesus said: “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him” [Mark 7:15]. It is the heart of man that makes the difference. As Donald Guthrie puts it: “Christianity exalts purity to the realm of the spirit, which automatically obviates lesser ceremonial purity.” Paul tells us that “the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”
[Rom. 14:17]. ‘ :
A man’s purity is not enhanced or destroyed by religious abstention from certain food and beverages [I Cor. 8:8]. The beauty of purity is that it colours your world. That means it helps one to view his world in a pure and objective way. While a man with a dirty mind can make even that which is lovely into something defiled, a pure-minded person will live a good life even in a defiled world. It is the heart of man that must be changed and this is the fundamental truth of the Gospel.
“but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” The conscience is the mechanism by which man knows what is right and what is wrong. But it is not reliable if it is “seared” [I Tim. 4:2], for those people are “past feeling” [Eph. 4:19] and no longer respond to the voice of conscience. This defilement of the mind includes thoughts, desires, and will. All are stained and tainted so that it is not possible for them to be pure apart from the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Hence, they pollute and corrupt everything they touch, even religion.
V. 16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him.”
In light of verse 14, it is reasonable to assume that these hypocrites were most likely Judaizers, those espousing Jewish myths” [v. 14]. This profession seems to have been an intellectual acknowledgement of God which was void of any evidence of true spiritual regeneration. In spite of the claim to “know God,” they denied Him by their very lifestyle. Their entire emphasis was on externals, rituals, traditions, manners, and culture, but the heart was left untouched. Hence, God’s appraisal of them is not very flattering.
“Being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” In 2 Tim.3:17, Paul says that the man of God is to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work,” but these individuals are “unfit” (BER). The word for disqualified is ‘adokimos which means “unapproved” or “rejected” as a counterfeit coin or a flawed vessel or a rejected building stone. This is what Paul continuously fought against [I Cor. 9:27]. They are rejected by God because He views them as “detestable” (WEY). This word is “particularly used of heathen idols and images” (Barclay).
So false does God view their hypocritical attempts at religion to be that he calls them an abomination? God is not satisfied with human substitutes for true religion. He calls these men, religious though they are disobedient. In this, we see the spirit of Cain who presented to God the fruit of his labours but refused to follow the divine order of worship, and consequently was rejected, [Gen. 4:3-5]. It is ironic how from that time forward, rebellious mankind continuously seeks to impose his own religious ideas on God, but the result is always the same, rejection. Taking all this into consideration, we can see why these men were rejected by God.
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