The Pastoral Epistles of Paul

By Charles R Erdman

Chapter 3 - The Epistle of Paul to Titus


Titus and Timothy were closely associated as companions and helpers of Paul. Both were trusted and loved by him and both proved worthy of his confidence and esteem. They seem, however, to have been men of strikingly contrasted character. Timothy was sensitive, affectionate, sympathetic, and gentle. Titus revealed more of energy, of vigor, of discretion, and of decision.

The life of Titus is not sketched for us by the historian Luke. In fact the name does not appear in The Acts. Yet the brief references made to Titus by Paul in his epistles are so significant that his personality and his career stand vividly before us; he was true to his great leader and rendered him valiant service, and in return he received through the pen of the apostle an immortality of fame.

He first appears, in the sacred story, at Antioch. He is described as a Gentile, a Greek, who had been converted to faith in Christ by the personal influence of Paul. Certain Jewish Christians were endeavoring to make him observe the law of Moses, and were insisting that such observance was necessary to salvation. It was in order to decide this very question which had arisen in reference to all Gentile converts that Paul, in company with Titus and other representatives of the church at Antioch, went to Jerusalem, as a delegate to the great council. Here, for a time, the battle raged about Titus; but the decision was finally reached which granted to Christians for all time freedom from the law as a ground of salvation. Thus the name of Titus is inseparably connected with the "Magna Charta" of Christian liberty; and it is further a reminder of the strange contrasts which the ages have produced, that while Jewish converts once questioned the possibility of salvation for Gentiles, now many Gentile Christians seem to question the possibility or the need of securing converts from among the Jews

While Paul was on his Third Missionary Journey, during his long stay at Ephesus, Titus was his trusted lieutenant and messenger and served as his representative in dealing with a number of difficult matters, notably those in connection with the church at Corinth.

If the nature of tasks assigned is ever a compliment to the capacity of a worker, it was certainly such in the case of the missions which Titus was asked to accomplish for Paul.

The Corinthian Christians were divided by a spirit of faction; they were countenancing gross immorality; they were allowing irreverence in their public services; they Avere perplexed by false teaching. To correct such irregularities and, in addition, to collect a fund for the relief of the "saints" in Jerusalem, Titus was dispatched to Corinth by Paul on at least two occasions.

That he succeeded on such delicate and intricate missions is the highest possible tribute to his tact and courage and strength. The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians is full of expressions indicating the regard in which Titus was held by those Christians, his own sympathy and enthusiasm for them, as well as the gratitude and affection of Paul for Titus. The next and greatest tribute to the fidelity of Titus is this epistle which bears his name, and which he received from the great apostle while serving as his delegate and representative in the island of Crete.

This island, which occupied a favorable position in the center of the Mediterranean, had attained, in days of remote antiquity, a brilliant and glorious civilization; but, for some reason, this civilization had declined, and, in the time of Augustus, the inhabitants of Crete were crude and barbarous, and were regarded with aversion and contempt.

When Paul was on his way to Rome as a prisoner, the ill-fated ship on which he was sailing touched at a Cretan port, but later was driven from the island by a severe storm and subsequently wrecked. The voyagers were rescued, Paul was brought to Rome, but after an imprisonment of some two years, it seems that he was released, and resumed his missionary journeys.

He recognized the character of the Cretans, but believed that they should receive the gospel quite as well as the cultured residents of Athens and Rome. Taking Titus as his companion, he visited Crete. Quite possibly Christianity had been established on the island already, for Cretans were among the multitudes who had received the gospel from the lips of Peter on the day of Pentecost. Under the influence of Paul the Christian movement, if not actually begun, was fostered and strengthened. However, before the work of organization was complete, Paul was called to Greece and Macedonia. He therefore left behind him in Crete his trusted friend, Titus, to carry forward the work and to appoint officers in the churches throughout the island. Some time after his departure, Paul wrote back this letter to Titus, specifying the proper character of such church officials, urging Titus to rebuke false teachers, to exhort believers of all classes to lives of holiness consistent with their Christian profession, and to act firmly toward all who held and fostered heresies.

The letter served as a message of commendation for Zenas and Apollos by whom, possibly, it was conveyed to Titus. Its special message, however, was to the effect that on the arrival of Artemas or Tychicus, Titus should leave Crete and should join Paul at Nicopolis. Apparently, this reunion was enjoyed, for when, a little later, Paul was a second time imprisoned, he wrote to Timothy of the departure of "Titus to Dalmatia." We should not suppose that this was a desertion of Paul by Titus, but rather that he had gone to another mission field, and a field again of peculiar peril and difficulty. This, at least, is the last mention of that comrade who was so dear to the great apostle as to be called his "partner "and "fellow- worker," his "brother," his "true child."

This particular letter, written by Paul to Titus in Crete, is therefore a pastoral epistle, inasmuch as it is not merely a personal communication; it is an official note 'addressed to a representative of the apostle, and intended to convey through him. a message to the whole church.

Like the other Pastoral Epistles, it has three great themes: Church organization, sound doctrine, holy living. These three always have a definite logical relation, and they are here discussed in practically this order. The very purpose of Paul when leaving Titus in Crete was to complete the work of organization and to "appoint elders in every city." Elders are the only officers mentioned. They were evidently the spiritual rulers and leaders and teachers of the local congregations. Their chief task was "to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers." Thus, here, as ever, Paul indicates that the supreme aim of Church government is the preservation of revealed truth.

This truth is here designated by a number of striking phrases, as "the message," the "faithful word," "the faith of God's elect," "the truth"; but the characteristic designation is that of "sound doctrine," or "healthful teaching." This word "sound" is really a medical term, and indicates doctrine which is free from all taint and disease. Evidently the Cretan church was already imperiled by unsound doctrine, by false teaching. This was due to the influence of certain errorists, particularly of Jewish origin, whom Paul designates as "gainsayers," "unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers," "factious" men who concerned themselves about "foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about the law." The influence of such men must be opposed by "sound" teaching, and at least five times in this brief letter Paul employs this significant term.

Furthermore, Paul gives to Titus, if quite incidentally, statements of the essential content of the truths which constitute "sound teaching." Twice in the course of the epistle, Paul introduces such summaries of the Christian faith.

One is in the second chapter: " For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Ch. 2. 11-13.

Another such summary of truth, likewise hardly surpassed for beauty and completeness, is found in the third chapter: " But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Faithful is the saying, and concerning these things I desire that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."

Paul speaks with no uncertain sound. To him the substance of the Christian revelation is definite, clear, unquestioned. The very fact that these statements are not part of a formal argument but spring from the general train of thought, in an epistle of practical instruction, makes them even more impressive as an expression of what to the mind of Paul constituted "sound doctrine."

However, "sound doctrine" is never regarded by the apostle as an end in itself. Truth, according to Paul, is always intended to determine life and to promote godliness. Therefore the supreme purpose of the epistle is to secure holy living.

If the organization is designated largely by the appointment of "elders," and if the truth is expressed in the phrase "sound teaching," the life to be developed is described quite as definitely by two phrases, "good works" and "sober-mindedness." The latter word, in several forms, appears likewise five times in the course of the letter. It is an extremely beautiful term. It denotes not sadness or gloominess of disposition but self-restraint, temperance, discretion, and general excellence of character as revealed in practical conduct. That believers of all ages and classes may be thus sober-minded, and that they may be "zealous of good works," is the supreme purpose of Paul in sending this letter to Titus.

The order of thought is not studied and formal, but its general course may be indicated by the following outline:

I. Salutation. Titus 1:1-4.

II. Discussion. Chs. 1:5 to 3:11.

A. Qualifications of Elders In View of the Conditions in Crete. Ch. 1:5-16

B. Conduct Among Christians In View of the Saving Purpose of God. Ch. 2.

C. Conduct Toward Unbelievers I n View of the Saving Mercy of God. Ch. 3:1-11

III. Conclusion. Ch. 3:12-15.

I. SALUTATION. Titus 1:1-4

1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal; 3 but in his own seasons manifested his word in the message, wherewith I was intrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour; 4 to Titus, my true child after a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

In reference to the Pastoral Epistles of Paul it has been said truly that "these letters supply the practical test of inspiration, namely, their field of matter for thought is never exhausted by study." This is evident when examining even the brief clauses which constitute the personal salutations which open these epistles. They are found to be not mere empty formulas; they contain statements of important facts worthy of most careful consideration.

Each of these salutations differs from the others, and commonly contains phrases carefully chosen in reference to the occasion and purpose of the particular letter, so that the opening greeting constitutes an appropriate introduction to the epistle.

Paul does not explain his personal circumstances, nor those of the readers he addresses. It appears from further statements in the letter that he is on a missionary journey which has included a stay on the great island of Crete, and which has since taken him to Greece and Macedonia. As there is no place for such a journey in the story of his life as recorded by Luke in The Acts, it appears that he must have been released from the imprisonment with which The Acts closes and have enjoyed a season of active ministry before the confinement at Rome where he wrote his last letter to Timothy. The place of this letter, in order of time, therefore, is between the First and the Second Epistles to Timothy.

Paul designates himself as "a servant of God," literally, a "bondservant," or "slave." This exact expression Paul uses in no other place. He usually says that he is a "servant of Jesus Christ." It is only a slight change, but certainly a change which no forger would have made, had he desired to write a letter in the name of the great apostle. It is one of the many proofs that we have here a genuine letter of which Paul was the author, and it sounds out this assurance in the first sentence of the epistle.

Paul further declares himself to be "an apostle of Jesus Christ"; for his service of God is being rendered in the sphere of his Christian apostleship. This apostleship is said to be "according to the faith of God's elect," that is, with a view to the establishment and confirmation of the faith of the people whom God has chosen, by which latter term Paul commonly defines the Church.

This apostleship, further, is declared to be for the purpose of extending and enforcing "the truth which is according to godliness." This "truth" is none other than the Christian gospel which has as its aim the promotion of godliness, and which is sought and accepted by those who truly love and serve God.

This apostleship is exercised and this faith and knowledge are experienced "in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal." Christian faith and knowledge have therefore a superb accompaniment of hope, which reaches back to the eternal promise of a God who cannot be false to his own word,|and forward to the enjoyment of the eternal life which he has provided through Jesus Christ.

This gracious purpose and promise God has .manifested "in his own seasons," in the gospel, "his word," even in the "message," or "proclamation," intrusted to Paul, "according to the commandment of God."

After thus defining his apostleship, Paul expresses his greeting to Titus, whom he calls "my true child after a common faith." The expression may mean that Titus had been led to accept the Christian faith by the influence of Paul; it may further indicate the comparative youth of Titus; but it i? surely an expression of tender affection, of close spiritual relationship, and of deep sympathy. For Titus, Paul invokes, "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour." Just previously Paul has used the beautiful phrase, "God our Saviour," so that "Christ Jesus our Saviour" is united with the Father in the oneness of divine being as well as of saving grace.

It will be noted, then, that in at least two particulars this "salutation" to Titus forms a fitting introduction to this particular epistle. First, it emphasizes the authority of Paul, as one who is a "servant of God," "an apostle of Christ," and entrusted with a divine message "according to the commandment of God." This emphasis indicates that Paul is not merely writing a personal letter to his friend Titus, but also is sending an official communication to him as one in charge of the congregation in Crete, so that this is in the truest sense one of the Pastoral Epistles. This emphasis is even stronger than in the introduction to First or Second Timothy, possibly because Paul was less well known to the Christians of Crete than to those of Ephesus. In any event, his words, which reached them through Titus, would be received with the respect and consideration due to a divinely appointed apostle of Christ.

In the second place, such a greeting is an appropriate introduction to the epistle because it describes the gospel message in terms fitting the situation in Crete. The truth is declared to be "according to godliness"; it was unlike the heresies of the false teachers which were purely speculative and without practical aim or moral purpose. Further, in contrast to the deceitfulness of the Cretans and the faithlessness of those who were advocating error, the hope of eternal life was promised by "God, who cannot lie."

Thus, as through the entire letter, official authority in the church is declared to have as its purpose the preservation and proclamation of the revealed truth contained in the gospel, and, further, "sound doctrine" is ever intended to secure holy living; its supreme purpose is the promotion of godliness.

II. DISCUSSION. Chs. 1:5 to 3:11


5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge; 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For the bishop must be blameless, as God's steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; 8 but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers.

10 For there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said,

Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons.

13 This testimony is true. For which cause reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Such a passage impresses the most casual reader with the fact that Church organization is a matter of vital importance. There may be wide differences of opinion as to its exact form or as to the details in its system of government, but it is obviously quite in accordance with the divine will that properly qualified men should be selected for the spiritual oversight of the congregations of believers and for their instruction in revealed truth.

Thus when Paul had secured a large number of converts in all the cities of Crete, but had been called away before the task of consolidating his work was complete, he left behind him his trusted companion Titus, to gather the believers into churches and to effect an organization by securing for each of these congregations a board of "elders," or "presbyters," as Paul declares in this letter which he writes back to Titus: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge."

With great care Paul then prescribes the exact qualifications which these officers must possess. We may take for granted that those who were to be selected for such important positions would be men of some manifest abilities and talents, and men who had some inclination as well as capacity for the work. It will be remembered also that in the third chapter of First Timothy rather similar qualifications are detailed for the "bishop," a word which Paul here uses, v. 7, as equivalent to "elder" and as defining the same office.

The functions of the office seem to have been those of ruling and teaching, and evidently the qualifications for the office are those which may rightly be expected in the case of the modern "pastor" or "minister."

He must be "blameless," not merely of good reputation in general, but having no habit or characteristic upon which one could lay hold to bring him into disrepute. He must be "above reproach."

He must be "the husband of one wife," literally, "a man of one woman," by which Paul probably means a "faithful husband." Several other interpretations have been placed upon these words, particularly that of having been "only once married"; but as Paul allowed and encouraged second marriages, it is improbable that he should regard this as disqualifying one from serving as an "elder." It is possible that the term excluded one who had married while a divorced wife was still living. The requirement seems to be that the elder should be absolutely above suspicion in his marriage relations.

His family life should also be commendable; he should have "children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly." If an officer should have unbelieving children, it might indicate that he was either careless as a Christian, or a recent convert; and if his children were insubordinate, it might indicate that the "elder" lacked the ability to rule the "household of God," the congregation of believers.

Thus an "elder," as an overseer of the church, or as Paul here describes him, a "bishop,'-' must be "blameless" as a "steward" in the house of God; not "self-willed," self-satisfied, or arrogant; "not soon angry," irascible, of passionate temper; "no brawler," or one "given over to wine"; "no striker," a prohibition more necessary in that earlier age, but men in every age have been tempted to be violent, and one of such a disposition should not be chosen as an "elder"; "not greedy of filthy lucre," which forbids not merely avarice, but any tendency to gain wealth by disgraceful means. On the other hand, an "elder" must be "given to hospitality," a grace even more needed in the early Church, or in mission lands, than in the present day or in Christian countries. He must be a "lover of good " not merely of "good men" but of "good" in its widest sense, even of "goodness" itself; "sober-minded," or characterized by complete self-mastery; "just," or righteous in his dealings toward men; "holy," or "saintly," in his relations toward God; "self -con trolled," or able to refrain from all that may be unlawful.

The true "elder" must also be a guardian of the faith. He must hold fast the sacred tradition, according to the 'gospel as taught by the apostles, and he must be thus qualified because of his twofold duty as a teacher, first, to encourage and instruct believers, "to exhort in the sound doctrine," and, second, "to convict the gainsayers," that is, to withstand unbelieving opponents, to reply to them successfully, to "convict" them of fault.

Such a firm grasp of revealed truth was a necessary requirement for one who was to meet the caviling heretics in Crete, and it is equally necessary to-day for those who would encourage believers and defend the gospel which it is the privilege of the Church to guard.

That "elders" of such high moral attainments and such firm grasp of the faith were particularly needed in view of the conditions in Crete, Paul proceeds to demonstrate by a description both of the general character of the Cretans and of the special nature of the false teachers.

As to the latter, he declares that they are "many" in number, that they are " unruly," or insubordinate, as members of the professing Church, "vain talkers," devoted to fanciful and foolish conceits, and this particularly in the case of those who came from among the Jews and were mistaken champions of the law.

These rebellious babblers must be put to silence, not only by answering their heresies, but also by open rebuke, inasmuch as they "overthrow whole houses," that is, they destroy the faith of entire families, by "teaching things which they ought not." While professing a zeal for the ceremonial law and for holiness, the real motive of these Judaizers was their desire for dishonest and disgraceful gain; their false teaching was really "for filthy lucre's sake."

The peril was the greater because of the character of Cretans in general. Paul has had them in mind before, for when he mentioned the Jewish teachers, he specified them as only the most troublesome of the heretics. Cretans at large were of the very character already indicated. To prove his charge, Paul quotes from one of their own number, Epimenides, a reputed prophet who flourished about six hundred years before Christ: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons."

This quotation brings to mind the famous syllogistic puzzle: Epimenides said that the Cretans were liars; but Epimenides was a Cretan; therefore Epimenides was a liar; therefore the Cretans were not liars." The fact is, however, that on this one occasion, at least, Epimenides told the truth, when he accused his countrymen of being false, fierce, and sensual. So notorious was their insincerity that "to play the Cretan" was understood to mean "to lie "or "to deceive." Then as to their ferocity, the poet is said to have stated sarcastically that "the absence of wild beasts from Crete was supplied by its human inhabitants."

As to gluttony, the words in the English translation hardly convey the meaning of the original Greek, which pictures persons so intemperate in their gratification of appetite as to bear in their persons evidence of their shame. To this severe indictment of Cretan character, Paul gives his assent: "This testimony is true" a serious statement to make in a letter which was to be read by Cretans and to be given a place among the books of the Bible. Such a confirmation from the pen of the apostle indicates that in his day there could have been little question as to the debased moral character of the inhabitants of Crete.

It is to the glory of Christianity that in soil so unpromising it produced the flower and fruit of faith and holiness. However, it is not surprising that even within a church composed of Cretan converts and surrounded by an atmosphere of such moral laxity, there appeared teachers, particularly from among the Jewish element, who taught a false asceticism, who insisted that the essence of religion consisted in refraining from certain kinds of food, in performing certain prescribed rites and ceremonies, and who thereby made shipwreck of real faith and ended in moral disaster.

Because the peril of Cretan Christians was so great, Paul insisted that these false teachers should be dealt with the more severely. "For which cause reprove them sharply," writes the apostle, meaning not merely that their arguments are to be answered and their fallacies corrected, but that the teachers are to be rebuked as deceivers and as self-deceived. Nevertheless, the rebuke, however severe, is to be administered like all church discipline, with a view to the reform of the offender, "that they may be sound in the faith," At least, Titus is to make it plain that the false teachers are corrupting the truths of the gospel and are "giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men." These "fables" are the idle, foolish,-, speculations, which Paul previously, in these Pastoral Letters, has rebuked severely; and the "commandments" are evidently the rules of ascetic living, the arbitrary prohibitions, upon which the false teachers are insisting; and they are condemned, not merely because they are of human origin and without divine sanction, but because those by whom they are being enforced are "men who turn away from the truth "; they are not real believers.

As to these ceremonial forms and requirements, Paul declares that "to the pure all things are pure." He is probably quoting a maxim which the corrupt teachers perverted to mean that one who was ceremonially clean, and who observed the ritual which to his mind constituted religion, need not be troubled about "insignificant" matters of common morality.

Paul uses the phrase in a very different sense. He repeats the teaching of our Master, that if the heart is pure then one cannot be made unclean by contact with food or other objects which men arbitrarily have declared to be "unclean." Mere rites and ceremonies, aside from faith and purity, are meaningless.

On the other hand, it is true, as Paul continues to remark, that "to them that are denied and unbelieving nothing is pure," that is to say, those whose hearts are impure defile everything with which they come into contact, and even lawful things become, in their case, "unclean." Thus the principle here stated is not merely that found in Rom. 14: 14, namely, that a thing is wrong for him who so regards it; nor does it mean "Evil be to him who evil thinks" (not "Honi soit qui mal y pense" "Shamed be he who thinks evil of it"). The statement here is even more serious. It does not teach that a mistaken judgment makes a thing wrong, but that in the case of those who are inwardly "defiled," and who are "unbelieving," and therefore are refusing the truth which alone can cleanse the heart, all their deeds and even the natural uses of food and drink are tainted with evil because of the polluting fountain within, because, as Paul further intimates, "both their mind and their conscience are defiled." Their mental processes are perverted by impure associations, and their conscience, for the same cause, has no power to discern between right and wrong.

However, when Paul states that "their mind and their conscience are defiled," he does not formally give it as a reason why, to them, external things are impure; rather, he adds this phrase to describe further the false teachers, by stating that their corruption extends to both their mental and moral powers, so as to taint with evil both their judgments and their deeds.

The description ends with an indictment which applies with greater force to the false teachers who were Jewish: "They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him." They were proud of their religious privilege; their great boast was that they knew the one, true God; their very ceremonies and ritual they traced to his original commands; however, by their conduct they actually belied any such knowledge of God; they were "abominable," detestable, and "disobedient," and so far as the accomplishment of any good thing was concerned, they were utterly unfit, useless, "reprobate," that is, of "no account," of no possible use.

The exact forms of false teaching and of consequent moral laxity which threatened the church in Crete may not exist to-day; but formalism is not dead, and when men imagine that the essence of religion consists in external rites or is promoted by "vain" discussions of subtle theories, then morality is always in peril and there is an even more insistent need for securing, as "elders," or "presbyters," or "bishops," or pastors, men who will proclaim and defend the "sound doctrine" of the Christian gospel. It was for this very purpose that Paul had left Titus in Crete.


1 But speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine: 2 that aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience: 3 that aged women likewise be reverent hi demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; 4 that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being hi subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed: 6 the younger men likewise exhort to be sober-minded: 7 in all things showing thyself an ensample of good works; in thy doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, 8 sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of us. 9 Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing to them in all things; not gainsaying; 10 not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; 13 looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works.

15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

The Epistle to Titus brings the Pastoral Epistles to their logical climax; for, while all treat of Church government, of sound doctrine, and of consistent living, in Titus the greatest proportionate stress is laid upon the last of these three; and is it not true that Church government is designed to safeguard doctrine, and that doctrine finds its fruitage in deeds? Therefore, in this epistle, when Paul has instructed Titus to complete the organization of the church by appointing elders in every city, and when he has insisted that this is in order to put to silence the teachers of false doctrines whose influence is defiling the life of the believers, he urges Titus not only to teach sound doctrine, but also to bring it to bear upon all classes of Christians and upon every condition of life: "But speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine," that is, in contrast with the false teachers, who concerned themselves with "vain" discussions of foolish fables and questions as to things clean and unclean. Titus is to give practical instruction as to moral conduct which is consistent with the gospel and indeed is inspired by its truths.

This conduct is to be enjoined upon old and young, upon men and women, upon slaves as well as free men. He is to teach "that aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded." The last of these three qualities is one which is again and again enjoined by Paul. According to Plato it was one of the four cardinal virtues. It denoted control of the bodily appetites, but as used in the New Testament, it implies complete self-mastery, a control of mind and of thought as well as of the body. It is enjoined upon old and young, upon "elders" and upon young women as well, and it is so often repeated in this chapter as to form almost a keynote to its moral precepts.

Aged men are to be also "sound in faith, in love, in patience." These virtues should be possessed by all Christians, but in an eminent degree they should be .manifested by men of advancing years. The exercise of faith and love and patience should for such men be natural and normal and habitual, as Paul seems to indicate by his use of the term "sound" or healthy.

It is expected also "that aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good." The teaching here mentioned is not in the nature of public, but of private, instruction. It was to be given more particularly to the young married women. They were to be trained "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands." There can be no doubt that Paul believed that the husband is and ought to be "the head of the wife"; but he showed that the relation must be that of perfect love, recognizing a complete spiritual equality. It is these very teachings of the apostle which have resulted in the increasing emancipation of women. However, he sanctioned no violent revolution in social and domestic life, lest the very principles which he advocated might be misunderstood, " that the word of God " the gospel, be not "blasphemed."

It is significant that Paul relegates to the "aged women," and not to Titus, the task of instructing the young matrons of the Church. The comparative youth of Titus made this expedient, but was, on the other hand, the very reason why he was specially qualified to teach "the younger men ... to be sober-minded"; for he by his own conduct could influence them aright. Therefore Paul urges upon Titus, as upon every Christian minister, to show himself "an ensample of good works," especially in his teaching, showing such sincerity, gravity, soundness of speech, that the opponents of Christianity might be discomfited by being able to find no evil to report.

Even slaves were so to live as to reflect credit upon their Christian profession. Their condition under existing Roman laws and customs was degraded and distressful be beyond all conception, The teachings of Paul and his fellow believers, as received from their Master, were to abolish, in time, the very institution of slavery; but the apostle advocates no violent revolution; he neither forbids slaves nor encourages slaves to demand freedom. On the contrary, slaves are advised "to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing to them in all things; not gainsaying [contradicting]; not purloining [pilfering, appropriating goods to their own use], but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."

That slaves, in the age of Augustus, might be an ornament to a system of divine truth, must have been a startling statement, but it was the very glory of the gospel that it could transform such degraded beings into obedient, honest, chaste, sober men and women. It was possible for slaves so to live that they would reflect honor upon "the doctrine of God" who provided so wonderful a salvation.

It was to the gospel, indeed, that such transformations of life and character were to be attributed; it was also upon its truths that such moral instructions were founded. Truth is in order to goodness, but goodness is not independent of truth; creed affects character, but character cannot be produced without belief; doctrine is not more important than conduct, but conduct is conditioned upon faith. It is for this reason that Paul bases all the exhortations of the chapter upon a summary of gospel truth which for beauty and depth and significance is possibly unsurpassed.

This summary includes the two great focal points of the faith, namely, the First and the Second Coming of Christ. In his First Coming, as the Redeemer of mankind, that is in his incarnation and atonement, Paul declares, "The grace of God" has "appeared bringing salvation to all men." Because this salvation has been provided for all, therefore all who have accepted this gracious gift, whether young or old, bond or free, should live the lives of holiness and godliness which Paul has described.

Indeed, the very purpose of God in manifesting this grace was that we believers might be trained, or schooled, or instructed, " to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." Thus the saving purpose of God is stated negatively and positively; negatively, that we should renounce or repudiate ''ungodliness" or irreligion, and "worldly lusts," i. e., the sinful desires which have no relation to a higher realm and belong to a world estranged from God; and, positively, that "we should live soberly," exercising complete mastery over ourselves; "righteously," in our relations toward our fellow men; "and godly," i. e., with true reverence and love toward him who has granted us so great a salvation. We are to live so "in this present world," that is, in an "age" the spirit of which is not sober or righteous or godly, because, as a result of our Christian "teaching," we are "looking" also for a visible manifestation, " for the . . . appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This "appearing" is to be realized in the return of Christ, as he himself declared that when he came again it would be, not in humiliation, but in the glory of his Father, as well as in his own heavenly glory.

Thus, we are constrained to such a life of penitence, of virtue, and of hope, by the redeeming purpose of Christ "who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works." That is, the very purpose of Christ in dying for us was to purchase our freedom from the slavery of sin and " purify unto himself a people," that is, to purify and so make them fit to be his people, his own people, "a people for his. own possession." This last phrase recalls the equivalent words of the promise made to Israel on condition of their obedience to God: "Ye shall be mine own possession," Ex. 19: 5. Further, it was the redeeming purpose of Christ not only to deliver from lawlessness, but also to have as his own a people "zealous of good works"; for Christian experience is not a mere negative deliverance from evil; it is a positive and active and willing and eager performance of good. Redemption secures sanctification, and results in service.

These great truths of the Christian faith Paul exhorts Titus to teach; they form the essence of "sound doctrine," and their solemn sanction and high inspiration is to be brought to bear upon all the duties and experiences of life.

"These things speak," writes the apostle, but he adds, " and exhort" for the truths were to be made to bear upon the conscience and to result in right conduct; "and reprove" for in cases of waywardness and fault, Titus must admonish and rebuke the offenders.

Lastly, these exhortations and reproofs were to be characterized by a tone of authority, so that none might regard lightly the ambassador of Christ. He must speak with the authority which comes from a knowledge of the divine will and of the saving purpose of God.


1 Put them in mind to be in subjection to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready unto every good work, 2 to speak evil of no man, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all meekness toward all men. 3 For we also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, 5 not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 Faithful is the saying, and concerning these things I desire that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men: 9 but shun foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A factious man after a first and second admonition refuse; 11 knowing that such a one is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned.

Paul here reminds Titus that it is his duty, and the duty of the Christian pastors in Crete, as they apply truth to life, to insist upon right conduct toward those outside the Church first toward their Roman rulers, but then, more widely, to maintain friendly relations with all who are not Christians. "Put them in mind to be in subjection to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready unto every good work." It has been suggested that the Cretans were naturally turbulent and troublesome and insubordinate, and that, as such, those among them who professed faith in Christ were specially in need of such admonitions. Is it too much to say, however, that the need is not confined to natives of that island or to men of that day? We seem to live in an age peculiarly marked by lawlessness and a disregard of authority. It is at such a time the duty and the privilege of Christians, by their obedience to civil magistrates and their loyalty to established government, to commend to the world the gospel they profess. Of course, there are limits to such obedience. When authorities demand that which is morally wrong, it is necessary to "obey God rather than men." As a rule, however, the purpose of civil officers is to restrain evil and to encourage good.

Possibly this thought furnishes the transition to the wider reach of the exhortation for Christians to maintain right relations with unbelieving neighbors: "To speak evil of no man, not to be contentious, to be gentle," or sweetly reasonable, "showing all meekness toward all men."

To manifest such conduct toward unbelievers is the less difficult when we remember that we were once like them in character and would be like them to-day were it not for the unmerited mercy of God. " For we also once were foolish," that is, without the understanding of spiritual things, "disobedient, deceived" or deluded, "serving divers lusts and pleasures," i.e., slaves to all manner of passions and indulgences, "living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another."

This is indeed a dark and pitiful picture of the Christless world, but those of us who know the depths of our own hearts can say, "But for the grace of God such, too, were we."

In reminding Titus of this divine grace, Paul gives another supremely beautiful summary of Christian truth. He begins by describing this grace as "the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man," at once indicating that we should therefore be inclined to show such kindness and love to our fellow men, v. 2, and at the same time sharply contrasting this goodness of God with human malice and hatred, v. 3.

This grace "appeared," as shown in the previous chapter, in the coming and the redeeming work of Christ, by which salvation was made possible. Of that salvation which was thus brought to all men, we have been made recipients "not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves," not by any merits of our own, "but according to his mercy he saved us." Nothing is said here of the faith and obedience on our part, which are necessary to salvation; these are assumed, as taught in other parts of Scripture. The design of the apostle here is to fix the thought upon the unmerited favor of God to which our salvation must ultimately be attributed.

As to the means by which this salvation is communicated, Paul states that it is "through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." If, as usually believed, Paul refers to baptism as "the bath of the new birth," he does so with the understanding that it was no mere external rite, but a real sacrament in which inward faith and grace properly accompanied outward form. It is, however, not upon subjective conditions, but upon the works of God that Paul centers our thought, and he adds that the "washing" secures not only a " new birth " but also a moral "renewal" by the power of the Holy Spirit which God "poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is uniformly attributed in the New Testament to Jesus Christ, and in virtue of his redeeming work and his exaltation. Thus in imparting to us salvation, all the Persons of the divine Godhead are concerned, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

This saving grace of God has been granted us "that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life," for it was the purpose of God not only to deliver us from the bondage of sin and to grant us spiritual renewal but also to make us partakers of his eternal glory, so that now we are not only justified by his grace but are also heirs of God and certain to realize the hope of life eternal.

As to this majestic summary of revealed truth, Paul remarks, "Faithful is the saying," using a phrase which is employed four other times in these Pastoral Epistles to describe what are commonly regarded as formulas of Christian faith, I Tim. 1: 15; 3: 1; 4: 9; II Tim. 2: 11.

The statements of the great essentials of belief which he has been making are thus declared to be absolutely trustworthy, so that Titus can affirm them "confidently," and with the purpose of showing that real faith in God is not a matter of theory or speculation but of practice. True belief will manifest itself in life, and to that end the proclamation of Christian truth should ever be directed. Thus Titus is urged to proclaim these great verities of saving grace "to the end that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works."

Such an enforcement of practical religion is "good and profitable unto men." On the other hand, the "foolish questionings" with which the false teachers in Crete concern themselves, their allegories based upon "genealogies," their "strifes" and their "fightings" about the law, are "unprofitable and vain;" Titus, therefore, is not even to investigate them, but is to "shun" them utterly as useless, and as utterly powerless in the matter of producing higher life, nobler character, and purer conduct.

Any person who, because of his concern in these vain conceits, causes division in the Church, any such "factious man," Paul continues, "after a first and second admonition," calling attention to the injury and folly of such separations between Christians, "refuse," avoid, have nothing more to do with him, since you may rest assured that he is "perverted," and when a man has "a mental twist" and is unwilling to be taught, it is a waste of time and strength to argue with him; such a man, who is bent on fomenting discord, is acting contrary to reason and conscience; he "sinneth," and in dividing the Church because of his boasted new knowledge, and in repudiating his former beliefs, he is following a course by which he is "self-condemned."

The last phrase may possibly mean "conscious of guilt;" but in either case, the sentence calls to mind one of the most serious problems which confront the Christian pastor of the present day, namely, as to how to deal with a "factious" man, one who causes trouble in the church because of his peculiar beliefs. On the one hand, he is not to be accused lightly of insincerity, nor to be hastily excommunicated; on the other hand, he is not to be treated with such apparent approval as to strengthen his position. He should be solemnly warned and admonished, but the time may come when further argument is useless and fellowship impossible. Differences of belief, in the body of professing Christians, create situations which require the exercise of both charity and courage. Undoubtedly the Church must administer such discipline as is necessary to guard against corrupt teaching, yet every act must be inspired by love. All suspicion and misinterpretation and intolerance and bigotry must be avoided, and only such a course pursued as seems certain to reflect credit and honor upon the name of Christ.

III. CONCLUSION. Ch. 3: 12-15

12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, give diligence to come unto me to Nicopolis: for there I have determined to winter. 13 Set forward Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. 14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

15 All that are with me salute thee. Salute them that love us in faith.

Grace be with you all.

The concluding verses of the epistle are brief and personal. First of all is the summons to Titus to make all possible haste to meet Paul at Nicopolis. Which city of that name is meant, it is not possible to affirm, but probably it was the place of that name in Epirus. There Paul had "determined to winter," and he desired the help and companionship of his faithful friend, Titus. The latter, however, was not to leave until either Artemas or Tychicus arrived to continue the work in Crete, where Titus was not acting as a bishop or permanent officer of the church, but evidently in a temporary capacity as a delegate of the apostle.

As to Artemas, we have no further knowledge; but as Tychicus was sent a little later to Ephesus, II Tim. 4:12, it is possible that the former was finally chosen to act for the time as chief pastor in Crete.

In the second place, Paul commends two traveling missionaries who are on their way to Crete and who possibly were the bearers of this letter to Titus. These were "Zenas the lawyer and Apollos." As to the former we know nothing more, not even whether he was an expert in Roman law or a "scribe" instructed in. the law of Moses.

With Apollos we are rather familiar from the reference in First Corinthians and The Acts. He was the eloquent arid learned Alexandrian whom Priscilla and Aquila instructed when in Ephesus, and whom a special party of Christians later claimed as their leader in the church at Corinth. These two friends Titus is urged to "set forward . . . . on their journey diligently," which would seem to mean not only that they were to be greeted cordially and to be shown generous hospitality, but also that they were to be provided possibly with companions and even with funds, for "nothing" was to be "wanting unto them." By similar kindness, at least similar in its generous provision, the messengers of Christ should be "set forward" to-day "that nothing be wanting unto them."

In the third place, Titus is to urge the Christians in Crete, whom Paul calls "our people," to "learn to maintain good works for necessary uses." Possibly this is in connection with the help of Zenas and Apollos. The selfish Cretans might plead too great poverty to have a part in aiding missionaries. They are to be trained, therefore, to engage in honest occupations, both for their own support and in order that they may be able to have a substantial part in Christian enterprises and thus to be "not unfruitful."

The mention of these names, some so familiar in the writings of Paul and some so new, indicate that we have here the work of no forger but an authentic letter from the hand of the great apostle.

The instruction to the Christians of Crete, together with the plural form of the benediction which follows the closing salutations, indicates that the message of this letter was intended not merely for Titus, but also for all pastors, and indeed through them for all the flock of Christ in all ages and lands. For them, too, is the benediction and the prayer: "Grace be with you all."