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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Titus 3

Verse 1

Titus 3:1. Duty to rulers. Crete, formerly self-governed on a popular basis, bad since B.C. 67 been attached to the Roman province of Cyrene, and was restive under the yoke. Similar reminders that Christians should avoid sedition are frequent in the apostolic letters. The hand of Rome was a very heavy one, and the imperial court, at its height of insolence and extravagance, was ever provoking revolt among the conquered nations. The primitive Church, drawn mainly from the discontented classes, the poor and the servile, taught the equality and dignity of all men a doctrine which might readily ferment into a spirit of repugnance to all authority. It included also large numbers of Jews, the most seditious of the subjects of the Empire. It was secretly spread over many provinces, and bound its converts in a society, with pass-words and an organization of its own, which might be easily abused for political ends by agitators, and which could scarcely fail to awaken suspicion in the government. Not strange therefore that the leaders of the new body deemed it prudent frequently to counsel submission.

For principalities and powers, which now carries a vague sense, read ‘to rulers, to authorities.’

Verses 1-11

What Titus is to teach on the duties of social life (Titus 3:1-2) enforced by a long argument drawn from the change which Christians had them-selves experienced through grace (Titus 3:3-7) Exhortation to Titus renewed (Titus 3:8-11).

Verse 2

Titus 3:2. Duty to general (heathen) society. The general idea is, for the rude violence customary in Crete to show the gentle and patient and kindly spirit characteristic of the Gospel.

Meekness is the social grace of character that results from religious brokenness of spirit; shows itself in abusing none in words, not being prompt to quarrel (like the low population of Cretan seaports), but rather giving way to the insolence of others.

Verse 3

Titus 3:3. Such conduct becomes people who (1) were once like the heathen, but who (2) have been changed through Divine grace and no merit of their own. The argument turns on the vast change conversion to Christ had made in Cretan Christians.

Sometimes should be ‘sometime’ or ‘once.’

We takes in Paul himself and all Christians. Their past is described in seven particulars.

Foolish, i.e. without just ideas through the darkening effect of sin.

Deceived, or deluded, includes practical as well as intellectual errors. ‘Enslaved to desires and various pleasures’ describes the self-indulgent, as the next words describe the malignant, character of heathendom the whole a frightful picture of unregenerate unchristian society.

Verse 4

Titus 3:4. Two very human words are selected to describe God’s grace in its manifestation, because Paul is enforcing kindness among men. God set the example of benevolence and philanthropy. Read ‘love-toward-man’ as one word.

God our Saviour; rather, ‘our Saviour God,’ cf. 1Ti 1:1 ; 1 Timothy 2:3-5; Titus 1:3; Titus 2:10.

Appeared looks back to Titus 2:11. The Divine character is the root of salvation, not human merit.

Verse 5

Titus 3:5. Saved is the main word: what precedes describes its source, negative and positive; what follows, its manner, in outer rite and inward influence. ‘Not in consequence of works,’ ‘which we (emphatic) did.’ The undeserved sovereignty of grace frequent in Paul; see Romans 3:20; Romans 4:2; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2; Philippians 3:9. The means by which individuals realize the salvation which was once for all effected in Christ’s cross is regeneration expressed and sealed by baptism.

For ‘washing’ read ‘layer,’ as in Ephesians 5:26; or the vessel in which the washing took place. This phrase is the great text urged in support of baptismal regeneration. To a convert from heathenism, the bath of baptism marked his formal transition from the old to the new state the second birth by water (John 3:5) of which Jesus spake. None the less the real and spiritual transition which preceded and was only objectively on formally expressed in baptism was the renewal wrought by the Holy Ghost. ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’

Renewing is added to further define ‘regeneration.’ The word occurs in Romans 12:2. It describes the moral change which passes on a man when he becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Clearly this must with adult heathen have preceded the confession of their faith in baptism. It is only infant baptism which could ever have suggested regeneration in or by the sacrament. Hence, writing to men who had been mostly baptized after their conscious conversion to the Gospel, Paul feared no misapprehension of his language, here or in Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12. ‘It is not the mere outward act or fact of baptism to which we attach such high and glorious epithets, but that complete baptism by water and the Holy Ghost, whereof the first cleansing by water is indeed the ordinary sign and seal, but whereof the glorious indwelling Spirit of God is the only efficient cause and continuous agent’ (Alford).

Verse 6

Titus 3:6. Which, i.e. the Holy Ghost.

Shed, or poured out (allusion to act of baptizing), including both Pentecost and all the subsequent effusion of the Spirit on the successive members of the Church.

Abundantly; literally, ‘richly.’

Through the mediation and merits of Christ. Note the part assigned to the Three Persons: Father, the fountain who pours; Son, the channel through whom; Spirit, the poured out Water of Life.

Verse 7

Titus 3:7. Design of the Spirit-baptism is to make sons of God, therefore heirs, of those who have been justified by His (that is, God’s) grace. The filial standing and character of believers are by Paul uniformly connected with the gift of the Holy Ghost (cf. Galatians 4:4). The inheritance conforms to the ‘hope’ referred to at the outset in Titus 1:2. It is the ‘promised inheritance’ reserved for the ‘seed’ (cf. Galatians 3:16-19). It is characteristic of Paul, that, beginning with a practical admonition, he should run it back to the rich doctrines of Gospel grace and the highest privileges of the children of God.

Verse 8

Titus 3:8. Paul reverts to the idea of Titus 3:1, emphasizing his admonition.

Faithful saying only found in Pastoral Epistles 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11. Alford thinks it describes a class of statements already current in the apostolic Church as accepted formulae of doctrine. Such doctrines cannot be too often enforced, in order that Christians may ‘apply study and care’ to maintain, rather, ‘to practise like a skilled craftsman’ practical duty, and not idle speculation. The rendering, ‘to practise honest callings,’ though admissible, narrows the sense too much.

Verse 9

Titus 3:9. The questions to be avoided were such controverted points as were worse than unimportant, silly. Such were many disputed over by the errorists, notably those about Old Testament genealogies in their spiritual significance, and those about trivial details of the ceremonial law. See Titus 1:14 and 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:7.

Vain, without result.

Verse 10

Titus 3:10. Thus far of Titus’ attitude to the errors; now, to the errorists. In Paul’s sense, heretic comes nearer schismatic than what we now describe by the word. As in 1 Corinthians 11:19 and Galatians 5:20, so here, he speaks of making party factions to divide the Church, rather than of false doctrine. Most divisions have their root in self-will, but do not necessarily involve fundamental error. The word admonition covers every kind of earnest endeavour to bring the sectary to a better mind. Failing that, after two attempts, he was to be ‘shunned’ (reject) probably in personal intercourse; possibly referring to church censure. The wisest measures may fail to hinder scandalous schisms in the Church.

Verse 11

Titus 3:11. Such failure in admonishing shows the man had become ‘perverted’ a self-condemned sinner, because ‘doing in his own case what in general he condemns’ (Ellicott).

Verse 12

Conclusion: Personal Directions, 12-15.

Titus 3:12. Titus was soon to be replaced that he might rejoin the apostle.

Artemas is unknown; by tradition, Bishop of Lystra.

Tychicus, of the province of Asia (Acts 20:4), who carried from Rome the letters to Colosse (Colossians 4:7-8), and to Ephesus (so called; see Ephesians 6:21-22). In his second imprisonment, Paul again sent him to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12). There were various cities called Nicopolia. Paul is supposed to mean the town in Epirus founded in memory of the battle of Actium on the Spot where the army of Augustus halted. Though only thirty years old at this time, it was the chief town in Western Greece. Probably it was there, during approaching winter, that Paul was arrested and sent to Rome for the last time.

Verse 13

Titus 3:13. Hospitality to Christian travellers was an urgent virtue in the early Church. Of Zenas nothing is known. Tradition calls him one of the seventy, and later a bishop at Diospolis.

Lawyer may mean either a Jewish scribe or a jurisconsult of the Roman Empire.

Bring on their journey, etc., means to equip them for further travel with everything needful.

Verse 14

Titus 3:14. Not Titus alone, but ( ours, a unique phrase) the Cretan brethren were to share in this fitting out of the two travellers. It would be an exercise in Christian beneficence and a lesson to ‘practise’ similar ‘good works,’ as often as ‘necessary wants’ (not ‘uses’) arose.

Verse 15

Titus 3:15. Them that love, etc., i.e. Cretan Christians who had come to know Paul during his stay in the island.

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Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Titus 3". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.