1:1. “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of
Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of
the truth which is after godliness;”
“... servant” here is literally “bond slave,” which declares that he was
completely at God’s disposal, his own will being entirely subject to God’s.
This same submissive attitude was displayed by the Lord Himself, as revealed
in His prayer in Gethsemane, “... not my will, but thine be done.” It was
because his life was patterned on Christ’s that Paul could exhort us, “I
beseech you, be ye followers of me,” 1 Corinthians 4:16, adding in 1
Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
How did Paul become a bond slave of God? By trusting in Christ as his Savior,
for that act of faith makes everyone who exercises it also God’s bond slave,
as it is written, “What? know ye not that ... ye are not your own. For ye
were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God’s,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; “For he that is called ...
being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price ...” 7:22-23.
This is written for our instruction. Were we to look simply at the life of
Christ we might be tempted to say, “It is impossible for us to live such
dedicated lives; His nature was different from ours; He didn’t have our fallen
Adamic nature,” but Paul was a man having within him the same evil nature as
dwells in us side by side with the new nature received at conversion, and if
such obedience was possible for him it is possible also for us. We have no
excuse for disobedience. Our prayer therefore should be for grace to walk in
Paul’s footsteps, as he walked in Christ’s.
It is to be remembered, however, that the believer is no more compelled to
serve than is the unbeliever to be saved. Paul was God’s bondslave, not by
Divine compulsion, but by an act of his own free will, and if we are to yield
the same obedience as he, it must also be by an act of our own free will, by
which we dedicate ourselves completely to the Lord Jesus Christ.
But Paul was also “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” something very different from
being His bond slave. As already noted, his being a bond slave was by his own
choice; His being an apostle was by the Lord’s appointment. Those who were
apostles had no more choice in that matter than has the believer relative to
the spiritual gift given him at conversion. But as with the bond slave, so
was it also with the apostle: his obedience in doing what was assigned him as
an apostle was subject to his own free will. Consider Judas. He was an
Apostle, yet he choose to betray the Lord. The Apostle could obey or disobey
as he chose, his eternal reward being proportionate to the measure of his
obedience; and so is it with us relative to the exercise of our spiritual
gift. Our eternal reward will be proportionate to our faithfulness in using
that gift. It is for this very reason that Paul exhorts, “Neglect not the
gift that is in thee,” 1 Timothy 4:14, and again, “Stir up the gift of God,
which is in thee,” 2 Timothy 1:6.
We should note, incidentally, that the term used in relation to spiritual gift
is always singular “the gift” not “gifts.” Scripture lends no support
to the idea that any believer receives more than one spiritual gift. In
relation to this, the Apostles were unique: they appear to have been endowed
with every spiritual gift.
The sad truth is that myriads of believers fail to heed these injunctions
given by Paul, with the result that there are countless believers who have
been saved for years, but who don’t even know what spiritual gift they have
been given; and the result is that the local churches languish while
attempting to maintain the facade of spirituality by the activity of the
flesh: men with no evidence of spiritual qualification, presuming to occupy
the place of elders; others, of evangelists; and others, of teachers.
It is, in fact, as it was in the days of Rehoboam, who, when the Egyptians had
carried away the shields of gold made by Solomon, replaced them with brass
replicas, 1 Kings 14:25-28. From a distance they may have looked the same,
but gold speaks of Divine glory; brass, of judgment. The truth is that the
glory had departed because of sin, and had been replaced by judgment. Ichabod
the glory is departed could have been written over God’s house in that
day, and so could it be written over many a local church today.
“... according to the faith of God’s elect,” is a term that has been variously
interpreted, but a careful examination of Scripture reveals that “God’s elect”
are not those whom He has predestinated to be saved (no one is predestinated
to salvation), but to those who, by their own free will choice, make
themselves His elect by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The
elect are foreknown by God as those who would believe the gospel when
presented to them, but Divine foreknowledge is not to be confused with
predestination. Relative to accepting or rejecting salvation, man has a
freewill choice; relative to the result of that choice he has none: God has
predestinated the unbeliever to eternal punishment in the lake of fire; and
the believer to eternal bliss in heaven. Each man chooses his own eternal
destination by accepting or rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior, but it can’t be
emphasized too much that no one is predestinated either to be an unbeliever or
a believer. It is the eternal destination of each that is predestinated.
A verse which emphasizes the difference between foreknowledge and
predestination is Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow (as those who would
trust in Christ), he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his
Son.” Notice that they were not predestinated to be believers, but to be
conformed to Christ’s image, after becoming believers. As to belief, men have
a choice; as to what is predestinated of them as believers they have no
choice: they will be conformed to Christ’s image.
With reference to election 1 Peter 1:2 declares that believers are, “Elect
according to the foreknowledge of God,” not according to His predestination.
Men become elect by trusting in Christ.
“... and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” The faith
which leads one to trust in Christ, and thus become one of God’s elect, is
meant by God to lead him on to understand that that same truth is designed to
produce godliness. The obedience which leads a man to trust in Christ should
also impel obedience that will produce a Christ-like life.
The “faith of God’s elect” therefore is simply the faith which all believers
have in common, whether that believer be Paul the Apostle or the most obscure
saint. It is within that realm of faith that some have been made Apostles
(the apostolic office was confined to the twelve and to Paul), some
evangelists, some elders, some teachers, and all the other classes of servants
whom the Lord deigns to use for the up building of His Church, the service
rendered in obscurity being no less necessary than that which is exercised in
1:2. “In hope of eternal life, which God, that
cannot lie, promised before the world began:”
Faith in Christ sets before the believer, not just a hope which may or may not
be realized, but rather the confident, pleasant certainty that what God has
promised will be fulfilled. The eternal life which every believer receives
the moment he trusts in Christ will be enjoyed in all its fulness in eternity,
with nothing of the flesh to mar its perfection.
Relative to eternal life, incidentally, we should note that everlasting and
eternal are not necessarily synonymous. Eternal is that which has neither
beginning nor ending. It is the life of God. Everlasting, however, in common
with eternal, will never end, but for the believer it has a beginning: it
begins for him the moment he becomes a believer, and receives the Divine
life. This truth is demonstrated in John 3:15-16, verse 15 declaring that the
believer receives eternal life, i.e., the life of God Himself; and in verse 16
he is assured that he will have it eternally: he can never lose it.
The believer’s confident expectation is based on the immutability of God’s
promise, for He cannot lie, Hebrews 6:18.
“... promised before the world began:” Whatever other reasons there may be
for its being declared that God promised all of this in eternity past, one
reason is that it assures us that the Divine plan of redemption was not an
after-thought on God’s part. He wasn’t taken by surprise when Adam sinned.
By His foreknowledge He knew exactly what man would do, and had already
prepared His unique plan of salvation. Since the time mentioned here was
antecedent to man, some understand promised to mean literally
An obvious question is, Who or what is it that cherishes this “hope of eternal
life”? The answer is, all of God’s elect, i.e., all believers, for no matter
to what dispensation he may belong, every believer is marked by the
expectation of eternal life as the reward of the faith to believe God, that
expectation being based on the immutability of the promise given in eternity
past by God Who cannot lie.
1:3. “But hath in due times manifested his word
through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of
God our Savior;”
Though God’s plan of salvation was conceived in eternity past He has chosen to
reserve the revelation of that plan until the age that began with Adam, the
first intimation of it apparently being given in His instruction to Adam and
Eve to bring each of them a lamb to die in their stead to temporarily atone
for their sin, and to point typologically to the Lord Jesus Christ Who would
eventually come to fulfill all the OT types by dying on the cross to make
eternal atonement for the sin of all who would trust in Him as Savior. The
believers of the OT age had the faith to anticipate the coming of Christ just
as we of this present Church age have the faith to believe that He did come.
They couldn’t prove that He would come, nor could we prove that He has come,
but by faith they and we believe with absolute certainty in His incarnation,
vicarious death, and glorious resurrection.
The “due times” are the dispensations into which God has divided what we know
as time. It is by the preaching of the gospel, and the teaching given saints,
that this promise of God has been manifested, i.e., revealed to men, Paul
being one of those commissioned or commanded by God to make known this great
soul-saving revelation of His mind and will. Nor was the proclamation of this
good news confined to the Apostles. The Lord’s command to every believer is,
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mark
The description of God as “our Savior” continues to emphasize that the Lord
Jesus Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy spirit.
1:4. “To Titus, mine own son after the common
faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ
The description of Titus as “mine own son after the common faith,” indicates
that Titus was one of Paul’s converts, “... the common faith” meaning simply
“the faith held by every believer.”
“... mercy” isn’t found in many manuscripts, the generally accepted reading
being simply, “Grace and peace.” Grace goes beyond mercy, for while mercy
relates to the withholding of deserved punishment, grace relates to the
bestowal of undeserved blessing. Every believer is the beneficiary of God’s
matchless grace, the punishment due to us because of sin having been meted out
to our Substitute at Calvary. Something of the extent of God’s grace towards
us is revealed in the fact that we have been made joint heirs with Christ of
all that is God’s; but the impossibility of our measuring that grace is
declared in the assurance, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them
that love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
The peace which is also the possession of the believer is likewise beyond
description, as it is written, “And the peace of God, which passeth all
understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,”
If the word “mercy” is retained, as it is in some manuscripts, then we are
reminded also that God’s mercy, like His grace and peace, is also
immeasurable. Who can begin to measure the mercy that would redeem at such
cost the rebels we were before God saved us?
And again, the equality of the Son with the Father is emphasized in that the
One as much as the Other is declared to be the Source of grace, mercy, and
peace, and all the other countless blessings which have been bestowed upon
us. Well might every believer exclaim, “Thanks be unto God for his
unspeakable gift,” 2 Corinthians 9:15.
1:5. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that
thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in
every city, as I had appointed thee:”
Crete means fleshy, a meaning that is particularly appropriate, not
only to the state of the population in general, but also to those who
constituted the churches there, their conduct being marked largely by the
indulgence of the flesh.
Unquestionably Titus had been left in Crete to deal with disorders and
establish the believers relative to God’s order, no small part of his task
being to rebuke the evil proclivity of the Cretans to indulge the lusts of the
flesh. But neither can there be any question that Paul’s ultimate objective
was that the Cretan saints, walking in obedience, would enjoy fully the
blessings of grace, mercy, and peace. This, however, is also written for our
instruction. Only as we also are obedient will we enjoy God’s blessings in
all their fulness.
To “set in order the things that are wanting,” is literally to put in order
what was still unsettled, i.e., matters in regard to which they were ignorant
or uncertain, or wilfully disobedient.
To “ordain elders” was to appoint them, and it has to be recognized that the
Divine order governing the churches in the apostolic age was not identical
with the order appointed for them after AD 70 when Jewish autonomy ceased.
For example, the book of Acts makes it very clear that until that date there
was one order for Jewish believers, and a separate one for their Gentile
brethren. Following that early day when the Church was in its infancy, the
Apostles and their delegates (as here Titus), ordained or appointed the
elders, the Holy Spirit apparently revealing to them those to whom He had
given the gift of eldership. But after that early age there is no scriptural
hint of human ordination or appointment of the shepherds of the churches. As
is made clear in Eph 4:11, the Holy Spirit, by His Own sovereign choice,
bestows the gift of shepherding upon men at the time of their conversion (as
He does with every spiritual gift), and gives those same men as gifts to the
churches. But as with every other spiritual gift, the man is responsible not
to neglect it, but to stir it up, i.e., develop it, and as he does, it
gradually becomes apparent to the congregation that he has been given the gift
of shepherding, and is diligent in using it. The sheep soon recognize the
shepherds in their midst. There is no human appointment hinted at in
Scripture, nor is there any scriptural authority for what is practiced in some
assemblies, i.e., the invitation of existing elders to someone to “join the
oversight.” Godly men with true shepherd hearts need no such formal
recognition, their mutual care for God’s sheep producing a harmonious
guidance that ensures His blessing.
“... as I had appointed thee:” means simply “... as I instructed you.”
1:6. “If any be blameless, the husband of one
wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”
It is generally believed that Timothy and Titus had both been fully instructed
relative to the qualifications of elders,
and that those listed here in the letter to Titus are just a brief summary of
“Blameless” refers to that integrity of character against which no legitimate
complaint can be brought.
“... the husband of one wife” is generally accepted as referring to one who is
not a polygamist, though there are some who construe it as prohibiting a
second marriage in the event that the man is widowed. The latter view,
however, is one that has no scriptural support; and having regard to the fact
that polygamy was common in those days, the former view is undoubtedly
correct. The other circumstance that would come under this proscription would
be that in which the man was divorced, and in view of what God says about
divorce it is clear that in the eyes of many, believers and unbelievers alike,
a divorcee would not meet the requirement of being blameless.
Some see this requirement as meaning that the man must be married, and
certainly there is much to support this view in the light of what is said
about his ruling his own house well, and having his children in subjection.
“... having faithful children not accused of riot (profligacy, reckless
living) or unruly.”
The ability to control his own house is a prerequisite for the man who would
be an elder. 1 Timothy 3:4 adds “having his children in subjection with
all gravity,” the italicized phrase emphasizing the fact that his
control of his family is to be marked, not by abusive tyranny, but by gentle,
yet firm control, as James Allen puts it “with a firmness that makes it
advisable to obey, with a wisdom that makes it natural to obey, and with a
love that makes it a delight to obey.”
1:7. “For a bishop must be blameless, as the
steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no
striker, not given to filthy lucre;”
The description is still of an elder, but the term “bishop” draws attention to
the fact that the elders are stewards to whose charge God has entrusted the
care of the believers in the local church. Each local church is autonomous.
Scripture knows nothing of the hierarchical order found throughout Christendom
today under which the term bishop designates one who superintends a group of
churches. The authority of the elders does not extend beyond the local
assembly, and each assembly is autonomous; nor is there any hint in Scripture
of any degree of rank amongst the elders of the local church.
“... steward” designates an administrator of an estate or household, elders
being those whom God has gifted as His appointed agents to take care of a
“... blameless” is also translated unaccusable, of irreproachable character.
“... not self-willed” means that an elder is not to be stubborn, arrogant,
presumptuous, overbearing, selfish, but rather to be reasonable and ready to
yield to others in inconsequential matters.
“... not soon angry,” i.e., not short-tempered or quarrelsome.
“... not given to wine.” An elder is not to use wine to excess; nor is he to
be a striker, i.e., ready to come to blows.
“... not given to filthy lucre.” Nor is he to be a money-grabber or to stoop
to questionable methods of making money. Money is not to be all-important to
him, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with
many sorrows,” 1 Timothy 6:10. The terrible crime and end of Judas stand as a
warning against coveting money, while the Lord’s approval of the generous man
is declared in the assurance that, “God loves a cheerful giver,” 2 Corinthians
1:8. “But a lover of hospitality, a lover of
good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;”
An elder is also to be hospitable, not just from a sense of duty, but
cheerfully, and out of love for the Lord and His people, and also for
strangers, the exhortation given to all of us being, “Be not forgetful to
entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,”
Hebrews 13:2, this reference being to the experience of Abraham and Lot when
they were visited by angels as recorded in Genesis 18:2 and 19:1.
“... a lover of good men,” is also translated, “a lover of what is good,”
“right-minded,” “loving, and a friend to believers, especially to strangers.”
“... sober” means to be sensible, self-controlled, of good judgment; and
“holy,” pure; temperate, self-controlled, continent, abstemious; while just
means to be upright; and holy, pure in thought, word, and deed. Temperate
means to be moderate, not given to excess or extremes in anything.
1:9. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath
been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to
convince the gainsayers.”
“Holding fast” here means to cling tenaciously to the Scriptures, particularly
in the face of opposition, “as he hath been taught” including what he has been
taught by others, and what he has been taught by the Holy Spirit relative to
the deeper spiritual meaning of the Scriptures.
“... sound doctrine” means the truth of Scripture, by his understanding of
which he will be able to invite, implore, intreat believers to live according
to the teaching of Scripture; and convince hostile unbelievers of the need to
believe that body of truth and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
The same truth is emphasized also in the exhortation given Timothy by Paul in
2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This is an
exhortation all of us need to take to heart, for there has probably never been
greater need to be able to refute the lies of false teachers, a breed whose
numbers are multiplying today, and whose evil work is facilitated as never
before by the internet, and by the ability to produce printed material easily
and at little cost.
1:10. “For there are many unruly and vain
talkers and deceivers, specially of the circumcision:”
The opponents mentioned here are generally understood to have been mostly the
unbelieving, undisciplined, rebellious Jews who tried by their specious
arguments to contradict the truth, and mislead the people.
1:11. “Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert
whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”
The false teachers must be silenced, for by their lies they were ruining whole
families by turning them away from the truth of the Gospel, their nefarious
work being done in order to make money. And little has changed since then,
for the activity of their present day counterparts has, for the most part, the
same evil objective.
1:12. “One of themselves, even a prophet of
their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.”
Such, in fact, was the depravity of the Cretians that one of their own
teachers had described them as liars, lazy, wicked, vicious, savage brutes,
idle gluttons, who loathed work.
1:13. “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke
them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;”
Paul agreed that the description had been accurate, and accordingly instructed
Titus to correct them, the Cretian believers, as sternly and rigorously as
necessary, so that they might change their ways, and be firmly established in
The lamentable state of the professing Church today is due in no small measure
to lack of sharp rebuke, the quest for numbers silencing those who perceive
the malaise, but are afraid of driving the offenders away, with the result
that they remain in fellowship and spread the contagion of their evil
practices, to God’s dishonor, and the weakening of the whole assembly.
1:14. “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and
commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
“... fables” is also translated legends, myths, fictions. The Jewish false
teachers were attempting to bring the believers into bondage to the myriad
customs with which they had encumbered God’s pure Word, and in regard to which
the Lord Himself angrily declared on another occasion, “Woe unto you also, ye
lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves
touch not the burdens with one of your fingers,” Luke 11:46.
Were He on earth today His rebuke would be addressed to the leaders of many of
the world’s religious systems, Roman Catholicism being one of the vilest, for
its dangerous teaching is based on a corruption of Scripture rather than pure
mythology, and is therefore the more deadly.
1:15. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but
unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their
mind and conscience is defiled.”
This doesn’t mean that one who is pure doesn’t see the evil with which he is
surrounded, but rather that instead of dwelling upon it, he obeys the
injunction of Paul, ”Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there
be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” Philippians
Many believers make the mistake of thinking that as long as they don’t say or
do anything evil, it doesn’t matter what they think. It does, for a man is
what he thinks, as it is written, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is
he,” Proverbs 23:7; hence the need of cultivating the practice enjoined above
in Philippians 4:8. Man’s mind is not a vacuum. He is always thinking - good
or evil, and since we can’t think both simultaneously, we should be on
constant guard against the intrusion of wrong thoughts, and dismiss them
instantly. This will take practice, but as the proverb declares “Practice
“Unto the pure all things are pure” because the pure man will seek consciously
to permit only what is pure to occupy his thoughts. The impure man, on the
other hand, will do just the opposite. He will encourage impure thoughts, and
eventually evil thinking will dominate his life.
1:16. “They profess that they know God; but in
works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good
As were the Cretians so are the vast majority of those who constitute
so-called Christian society today. They too profess to know God, but their
life-styles contradict their profession, and reveal that they are liars. Only
the spiritually blind will deny that underneath its flimsy vail of religious
profession, our western society is a cesspool of evil, spewing its moral filth
into all the nations, and provoking the indignation and anger of so-called
heathen nations whose moral standards expose our moral corruption, and put us
“Abominable” in the present context means degraded, detestable, vile, rotten;
while “reprobate” means disobedient, self-willed, obdurate, rebellious. And
if, as we must, accept the description of the Cretians as but the duplicate of
our own vile condition prior to our salvation, then surely our terrible former
state in the eyes of God demands that the sincerity of our gratitude for His
salvation be attested by changed lives.