And rebuke with all authority; such as imbibe errors and heresies, or indulge to vice and wickedness, with the authority both of Christ and his church, in the name of the one, and by the order and vote of the other, that the reproof may come with the greater weight; and in a grave and solemn manner, suitable to the dignity of the ministerial office and character, and with that sharpness and severity the offence requires.
Let no man despise thee; as negligent in the discharge of his office, or as doing it in a pusillanimous manner, or as behaving in his life and conversation unworthy of the character he bore, and so is a direction to himself; or else it may be considered as designed for the churches in Crete, and the professors of religion, and to be an instruction to them to value Titus, and treat him with respect, and not with contempt; which shows that this epistle was not written for Titus only, or for his own use, but for the service of others. The Ethiopic version reads, "let no man deceive thee".
INTRODUCTION TO Titus 3
In this chapter the apostle exhorts Titus to press various duties incumbent on Christians, with arguments engaging to them; gives him some directions about dealing with heretics, and some instructions about private matters, and particular persons, and closes it with salutations. And first, he charges him to put his hearers in mind of their duty, to be subject to civil magistrates, and readily perform whatever is right and proper for them to do; and to abstain from blaspheming and brawling, and to exercise gentleness and meekness to all men, Titus 3:1. The arguments inducing thereunto are taken partly from their former state and condition, while unregenerate: when they were as ignorant and as wicked as other men, they are exhorted to behave well to; and partly from the consideration of the salvation they were now partakers of, Titus 3:3 which leads on the apostle to give an account of its causes and means: the moving cause of it is the love and mercy of God; the way and means in which it is brought about, are not works of righteousness done by men, but the regenerating and renewing grace of the Spirit, which is plentifully bestowed through Jesus Christ the Saviour, and justification by the free grace of God, by virtue of which men become heirs unto, and have an hope of eternal life, Titus 3:4 which several blessings of grace should be constantly insisted on in the ministry of the word, in order to engage believers carefully to perform good works; and because such doctrines are good in themselves, and profitable to men; whereas questions, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law, are foolish, vain, and unprofitable, and to be avoided, Titus 3:8, wherefore an heretical man should be rejected from all Christian conversation and communion, after he has been admonished at least twice, seeing he is off of the foundation, has sinned, and is self-condemned, Titus 3:10. Next the apostle desires Titus to meet him at Nicopolis, where his design was to pass the winter, upon sending two ministering brethren to Crete, who are mentioned by name, Titus 3:12 and that he would accommodate two others, who are also named, with everything convenient for their journey, Titus 3:13 and charges him to exhort the brethren under his care to learn to be diligent and industrious in the performance of good works, which have their necessary uses, and prevent unfruitfulness, Titus 3:13. And the epistle is concluded with salutations, and the apostle's usual benediction, Titus 3:15.
To obey magistrates; inferior ones; in all things that are according to the laws of God, and right reason, that do not contradict what God has commanded, or break in upon the rights and dictates of conscience; in all things of a civil nature, and which are for the good of society, and do not affect religion, and the worship of God: hence it follows,
to be ready to every good work; which may be taken in a limited and restrained sense, and design every good work enjoined by the civil magistrate; and all right and lawful obedience that belongs to him, as giving to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, tribute, custom, fear, and honour to whom they are due; and which should be done readily and cheerfully: or it may be understood more comprehensively of good works in general, which wicked men are reprobate to, and unfit for; and which they that are sanctified are meet for, and ready to; though this may not only intend their capacity, fitness, and qualifications, for the performance of good works, but their alacrity, promptitude, and forwardness unto them.
to be no brawlers; or "fighters", either by blows or words; not litigious and quarrelsome, wrangling and striving about things to no profit, and to the detriment and disturbance of civil government, churches, neighbourhood, and families; which is very unbecoming the followers of Jesus, who strove not, nor cried, nor was his voice heard in the streets. But gentle, showing all meekness to all men; yielding and giving way, rather choosing to suffer wrong than to brawl, contend, and litigate a point; taking the advice of Christ in Matthew 5:39, carrying it in a meek and humble manner to men of all ranks and degrees, whether superior or inferior, rich or poor, bond or free, Jews or Gentiles, members of the church, or men of the world.
disobedient; both to the law of God, and Gospel of Christ; disbelieving the truths of the Gospel, and not subjected to the ordinances of it, notwithstanding the evidence with which they came, and the miracles by which they were confirmed.
Deceived; by the old serpent Satan, who deceives the whole world; and by an evil heart of unbelief, as well as by false teachers and leaders; and so, as the word signifies, were wandering about in darkness and ignorance, and were as sheep going astray, until they were returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of souls.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures; the lusts of the flesh are many and various, which promise pleasure to them that obey them, though that is but imaginary, and very short lived, and which subjects persons to bondage and slavery; for such who indulge to these things, are overcome by them, led captive, and brought into bondage, and are the servants of sin, vassals and slaves to their own corruptions; and such these saints had been, here spoken of:
living in malice and envy; they had not only malice and envy in their hearts against their fellow creatures, but practised it in their lives; yea, their lives were a continued series of malice and envy; particularly this was true of the apostle, who haled men and women out of their houses, and committed them to prison; breathed out slaughter and threatenings against the saints; was exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them to strange cities, and compelled them to blaspheme, and gave his vote for punishing them with death.
Hateful, and hating one another; abominable in the sight of God, as considered in themselves, and on account of their nature and practices; and to be abhorred by all good men; and who, by their continual feuds, quarrels, and animosities among themselves, showed an hatred, an abhorrence of one another.
the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared; unto them; and the Ethiopic version adds, "unto us". The apostle takes the advantage of the above character of himself, and others in their former state, to set off and magnify the grace of God in their conversion; so contraries, as black and white, illustrate each other. By "God our Saviour" is not meant the Lord Jesus Christ, though he is commonly designed by our Saviour, and is several times called God our Saviour in this epistle; see Titus 1:3 and who is truly God, and the only Saviour of lost sinners; and whose kindness and love towards them has appeared in many instances; as in his suretiship undertakings for them, in his assumption of their nature, and in his suffering and dying in their room and stead: and yet it appears from Titus 3:6 that God our Saviour here, is distinguished from Jesus Christ our Saviour there; and therefore here must be understood of God the Father; who contrived the scheme of salvation, appointed Christ to be his salvation, and made a covenant with him, in which it secured, and sent him in time to obtain it, and through his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, saves all his people: it is his kindness and love to men that is here spoken of; and which designs not his general and providential goodness and kindness, which extends to the whole human nature, and to all the individuals of it; but his special love and grace shown in his kindness in Christ Jesus; that good will to men the angels sung of at Christ's incarnation; or that free favour and love of God towards elect men, which is sovereign and special, from everlasting to everlasting, unchangeable and unspeakable, which is better than life; the excellency of which cannot be expressed, and which has shown itself in various instances: it is said to have "appeared"; because it was hid from all eternity in the heart of God, in the thoughts of his heart, in his purposes, counsel, and covenant, and has been made manifest in time; particularly, it has broke forth and showed itself in the mission of Christ into this world, and in redemption and salvation by him; wherein God has manifested and commended his love, and shown forth the exceeding riches of his grace; and also in the effectual calling, which being a time of life, is a time of love, and is owing to the great love of God, and is a fruit and evidence of his everlasting and unchangeable love; and it is this instance and appearance of it, which is here meant, since it follows the account of the state and condition of the saints by nature; and is what was made to them when in this state, by which means they were brought out of it.
but according to his mercy he saved us; the mercy of God is natural and essential to him, but the actings and exercise of it, towards this or the other objects, are sovereign and free, and according to his will; the effects of it are many, he is rich and abundant in it; and they are channelled in, and flow forth through the blood and righteousness of Christ; and this is the moving cause of salvation: this moved God to make a covenant with his Son, the blessings of which are the sure mercies of David, and in which God is merciful to the sins and unrighteousnesses of his people; it is owing to the tender mercy of God, that Christ, the dayspring from on high, has visited the earth; and the glory of it is very conspicuous in the affair of redemption by him; the pardon of sin is according to the multitude of God's tender mercies; and regeneration springs from the abundance of it; and even eternal life is the effect of it. Now according to this, God has "saved" his people; salvation is not only a thing determined, and resolved on in the mind of God, but is actually and completely accomplished by Jesus Christ, and an application of it is made to the saints in effectual calling; and because of the certain enjoyment of the whole of it, even eternal glory, the saints are said to be saved already; as they are also in faith and hope, as well as in Christ, their head and representative; See Gill on Ephesians 2:8. It follows, as the means of salvation,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; by the former is meant, not the ordinance of water baptism; for that is never expressed by washing, nor is it the cause or means of regeneration; the cause being the Spirit of God, and the means the word of God: and besides, persons ought to be regenerated before they are baptized; and they may be baptized, and yet not regenerated, as Simon Magus; nor is it a saving ordinance, or a point of salvation; nor can it be opposed to works of righteousness, as this washing is; for that itself is a work of righteousness; see Matthew 3:15 and if persons were saved by that, they would be saved by a work of righteousness, contrary to the text itself: but regenerating grace is meant, or a being born of water, and of the Spirit; that is, of the grace of the Spirit, comparable to water for its purity and cleansing virtue: hence such who are regenerated and sanctified, are said to be washed and cleansed, having their hearts purified by faith, and their consciences purged from sin by the blood of Christ: by the latter,
the renewing of the Holy Ghost, is meant either the fruit and effect of the former, even newness of life and conversation, under the influence of the Holy Spirit; or else the gradual increase and progress of the work of grace upon the soul, renewed day by day in the spirit of the mind, by the Holy Ghost; or rather it means the same thing with regeneration, and is added partly as explanative of the washing of regeneration, showing that that is no other than the new creature, the new man, the new heart, and new spirit, formed in the soul, in the effectual calling; and partly to observe that the Holy Ghost is the author of it. Now it is in this way God saves his people, namely, by regenerating and renewing them; in this is the first appearance and discovery of the love of God to them; this is their open passage into a state of grace, and without this there is no entrance into glory; this is the foundation of all grace and good works, and by which saints appear to be heirs of the heavenly inheritance.
(z) Seder Tephillot, Ed. Amsterdam, fol. 46. 2.
through Jesus Christ our Saviour; the love and kindness of God the Father our Saviour, comes through him; the mercy of God streams through him; the salvation itself is by, and through him; the grace communicated in regeneration and renovation is out of his fulness; the Spirit himself is given forth from him; and every supply of grace, by which the work is carried on, comes out of his hands; and everything wrought in us, that is well pleasing in the sight of God, is through him; and even the gift of God, eternal life itself.
We should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life; or "according to hope we should be made heirs of eternal life". Eternal life is an inheritance, and so is not acquired by labour and industry, nor purchased, but is a free gift; it is a bequest of God the Father to his children, of his own free good will and pleasure; and it belongs only to children; they only are heirs, and they become such by adopting grace; neither regeneration, nor justification, make them the children of God, and heirs of the grace of life, but make them appear to be so: God, by his gracious act of adoption puts them among the children, and gives them the goodly heritage; and this adoption lies in eternal predestination in Christ, in whom the inheritance is obtained on that account, Ephesians 1:5. Regeneration shows them to be the adopted ones, and gives them the nature of children, and a meetness for the inheritance; and justification gives them a right unto it, upon the foot of justice, and opens a way for their enjoyment of it, consistent with the justice and holiness of God; see Galatians 4:4, wherefore such as are washed with the washing of regeneration, and are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and justified by the grace of God; these are manifestly heirs of eternal life, of salvation, of a kingdom and glory, of all things, even of God himself, who is their portion, and exceeding great reward; and such in regeneration are begotten to a lively hope of it, and by this they are saved, Romans 8:24. And thus the apostle makes regeneration by the free mercy of God, and justification by his grace, and special adoption, and heirship, with a good hope through grace, the way and means in which God saves his people, who were like others by nature, and brings them to the enjoyment of eternal happiness.
and these things I will that thou affirm constantly; that is, the above doctrines; the Arabic version renders it, "I will that thou be firm in these things"; and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, "I will that thou confirmest them": the sense of the apostle is, that he would have Titus be assured of those truths himself; be at a point about them, and without any doubt or hesitation concerning them; and abide firm and constant in them, and speak of them with certainty, boldness, and confidence to others; and endeavour to confirm and establish them in them: for which purpose he would have them be frequently inculcated and insisted on; and that with this further view,
that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works; for "that", does not design the subject matter of the charge, or what the apostle would have constantly affirmed, but the end, and final event and issue of it; and nothing can more strongly engage to a studious concern for the performance of good works than the frequent insisting upon the above doctrines of grace: "by good works", are meant, not merely honest trades, and the lawful occupations and businesses of life, which should be carefully attended to, and diligently followed, in order to be useful and profitable to themselves, their families, and others; but every good work, every branch of duty, moral, civil, and religious: to "maintain" these according to the signification of the word used, is to excel in them; to outdo others; to go before others, by way of example, and so to provoke to love and to good works; and to make them the employment and business of men's lives; for which there should be a thoughtfulness, a carefulness, a studious concern, especially in those who "have believed in God"; who are regenerated and renewed by the Spirit of God, and are justified by faith in the righteousness of Christ; who believe in him for peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation: these are under great obligations to perform good works; the love of Christ should constrain them to them; and they are the only persons that are capable of doing them well, for they are sanctified, and made meet, and ready for every good work; they are created in Christ Jesus to them; they have the Spirit of Christ in them, and the strength of Christ with them, without which they cannot be performed well; and they have faith in Christ, without which it is impossible to please God.
These things are good and profitable unto men: which is to be understood not of good works, though these are good in themselves, and profitable to men in their effects; being done among them, and before them, they set them an example of doing good likewise, when evil communications corrupt good manners; and many of them issue in their temporal good, profit, and advantage: but rather the doctrines of the Gospel are here designed, which are before briefly treated of, and are said to be a faithful saying; and which the apostle would have affirmed with, certainty and constancy, in order to engage believers to the performance of good works; and that for this reason, because these doctrines are "good", excellent, valuable, and precious, comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones: the author, matter, end, and use of them are good; they come from God; they are concerning Jesus Christ, and his grace; they contain good tidings of good things; and are exceeding useful to influence faith, hope, love, and a cheerful obedience to the will of God: they are profitable in the hands of the Spirit of God for conviction, conversion, comfort, and edification; for the quickening and enlightening of dead and dark sinners; for the reviving, establishing, and building up of the saints; they are the wholesome words of Christ, and are according to godliness, and are nourishing, when other doctrines eat as a canker: and this sense is confirmed, not only by what goes before, but by what follows after in the next verse; where insipid notions and controversies are opposed unto them, as unprofitable and vain.
and genealogies; of their elders, Rabbins, and doctors, by whom their traditions are handed down from one to another, in fixing which they greatly laboured; see 1 Timothy 1:4 and contentions and strivings about the law; the rites and ceremonies of it, and about the sense of it, and its various precepts, as litigated in the schools of Hillell and Shammai, the one giving it one way, and the other another; and what one declared to be free according to the law, the other declared forbidden; which occasioned great contentions and quarrels between the followers of the one, and of the other, as both the Misna and Talmud show: and agreeably to this sense, the Syriac version renders it, "the contentions and strifes of the scribes"; the Jewish doctors, who were some on the side of Hillell, and others on the side of Shammai; as well as went into parties and strifes among themselves, and oftentimes about mere trifles; things of no manner of importance; wherefore it follows,
for they are unprofitable and vain; empty things, of no manner of use, to inform the judgment, improve the mind, or influence the life and conversation.
after the first and second admonition reject; have nothing to do with him; have no society with him; admit him not to private conversation; and eject him from church communion, after he has been publicly admonished twice by the order of the church; for this is not to be understood of private admonition, by a particular person or persons; as in the case of private offences, Matthew 18:15 but of public admonition, in the name of the church. An admonition with the Jews did not continue less than seven days (a); some say (b) thirty; that is, there were so many days before it was out, or between one and another.
(a) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 16. 1.((b) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 33. fol. 28. 3.
and sinneth; not practically, but doctrinally, and wilfully after he has received the knowledge of the truth; by denying the truth he received, in which he continues, notwithstanding the evidence of the word of God is against him; and; notwithstanding the arguments taken from it by the ministers of the Gospel, to convince him; and notwithstanding the admonitions of the church to recover him out of the snare of the devil:
being condemned of himself; not that an heretic is one that is convinced in his own conscience that he is in an error, and that that is a truth which he opposes; and yet he obstinately persists in the one, and continues to set himself against the other; for then, none but an hypocrite, that conceals his true sentiment, can be an heretic; nor can any man be known to be one unless he accuses himself; since no man can know the heart of another; and it would be impracticable in a church to deal with heretics, or reject and excommunicate them: but either the meaning is, that he is such an one, who by his own practice has condemned himself; for whereas he has separated himself not only from the faith of the church, but from the church itself; by so doing he practically condemns himself, or judges himself unworthy of the communion of the church, and so justifies the church in their rejection and exclusion of him: or rather, an heretic is one who having professed Christianity, and received the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice, and still professes to abide by the same, and that all doctrine is to be tried by them, and to be approved or condemned as that agrees or disagrees with them, stands condemned by those Scriptures, which he himself allows to be the rule of decision and determination; and so may be said to be self-condemned.
be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis; which was a city, not in Epirus, but in Thrace, situated by the river Nessus, and had its name from a victory obtained there: hither the apostle would have Titus come to him, after one or other of the above ministers were come to Crete; for as the apostle had the care of all the churches upon him, he would not remove a minister from one place to another, without making a provision in their room: his reasons for having Titus come to him, might be either to know the state of the churches in Crete; or because he stood in need of his assistance; or to send him elsewhere:
for I have determined there to winter; that is, to continue there all the winter; not without labour, but to preach the Gospel, and administer the ordinances to the saints there: and whereas he says "there"; this shows that this epistle was not written from thence, as the subscription asserts; for then he would have said "here", and not "there".
and Apollos, on their journey diligently; who was a Jew born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures; who had preached at Corinth, but was now at Crete; and whom the apostle, with Zenas, would have provided with everything necessary for their journey:
that nothing be wanting unto them; which might be proper for them in their travels, to make them comfortable, and their journey pleasant and easy.
"there are four things which a man should constantly attend to with all his might, and they are these; the law, "good works", prayer, , and "the way of the earth", or "business"; if a tradesman, to his trade; if a merchant, to his merchandise; if a man of war to war.''
But though this may be part of the sense of these words, it is not the whole of it; nor are acts of beneficence to the poor of Christ, to the household of faith, to strangers and ministers, to whom good is especially to be done, only intended; though they, may be taken into the account, in agreement with the context; but all good works in general, which are done in conformity to the revealed will of God, in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, are meant: to maintain them, is to endeavour to outdo others in them, not only the men of the world, but one another; and to set examples of them to others, and to provoke one another, by an holy emulation, to them; and to be constant in the performance of them: and which believers may "learn" partly from the Scriptures, which contain what is the good and perfect will of God; these show what are good works, and direct unto them, and furnish the man of God for them; and also the grace part of the Scripture, the doctrines of the grace of God, teach to deny sin, and to live sober, righteous, and godly lives; and from the examples of the apostles and followers of Christ; and above all from Christ himself, the great pattern and exemplar of good works: and this lesson of good works is to be learnt by ours; meaning not only those of the same function, who were in the same office, ministers of the Gospel, as were the apostle and Titus; but all that believed in God, who were of the same Christian community and society, professors of the same religion, and partakers of the same grace; and were not only nominally, but really of the same number, even of the number of God's elect, the redeemed from among men, the family of Christ, sharers in the common faith, and heirs of the grace of life; who lie under the greatest obligations to learn to do good works: "for necessary uses"; not to make their peace with God, or to atone for their sins, or to procure the pardon of them, or to cleanse them from them, or for their justification before God, or to obtain salvation and eternal life; but to glorify God, testify their subjection to him, and gratitude for mercies received; to show forth their faith to men; to adorn the doctrine of Christ, and a profession of it; to recommend religion to others; to stop the mouths of gainsayers, and put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: and "that they be not unfruitful"; in them, and in the knowledge of Christ; good works are the fruits of the Spirit, and of his grace; they are fruits of righteousness; and such as are without them are like trees without fruit, useless and unprofitable.
(c) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 32. 2. & Gloss. in. ib.