For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2004 James Melough

3:1.  “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,”


“Principalities” refers to the king or president; the “powers,” those immediately under the king or president; and magistrates, those next in rank.


Titus was to remind the Cretans that they were to be submissive to government, bad as well as good, and to governmental officials, high and low, bad as well good, except of course, where obedience to government would require disobedience to God, see Acts 5:29 “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  This is the negative side of the command; the positive being that they were to be always ready and eager to do whatever good they could.


The same teaching is no less applicable to us, see Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”


3:2.  “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.”


The were not to defame, slander, speak ill of anyone, nor were they to be insulting, contentious, causing strife or quarreling; and they were not to be brawlers, i.e., they were not to be guilty of giving verbal abuse, nor of engaging in or causing public altercations.  They were instead to be yielding, fair-minded, conciliatory, courteous, gentle, mild, toward all men.  The injunction applies also to us, Galatians 5:22 reminding us that “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”


Paul exemplified this same spirit as recorded in 1 Corinthians 4:12-13, “... being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat,” and the Lord, in this, as in all things, is our perfect example, see 1 Peter 2:21-23, “... Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”


3:3.  “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”


Paul, recalling his own unsaved days, declared the evil of his life; and it is to be remembered that he, as measured by man’s standards, was an exemplary person, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless,” Philippians 3:5-6.  But as far as God was concerned that same self-righteous Pharisee was a deceived guilty sinner, as is everyone who seeks righteousness by any means other than faith in Christ as Savior.


“... foolish, disobedient, deceived” is also translated “thoughtless, unyielding, deceived, unintelligent, obstinate, deluded, without understanding, disobedient, misled, senseless, gone astray, reckless, rebellious, dupe of error, hard-hearted.


“... serving divers lusts and pleasures” is also translated “slaves of evil cravings, and of fleshly passions and every evil desire.”


“... malice and envy” means wickedness, meanness, jealousy; while “hateful, and hating one another,” is rendered also “detestable, odious, deserving of the hatred of others.”


3:4.  “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared,”


“... after that,” is better translated “when ...;” while “kindness and love” is also rendered graciousness and affection, goodness and lovingkindness, kindness and generosity; and “appeared” means shone forth, was made manifest, brought to light, dawned upon the world.  This occurred at the Lord’s incarnation, for as Man He was the embodiment of good.


3:5.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”


“ of righteousness” is also translated “works done in righteousness; righteous or upright actions; moral achievement.” In our natural state we had no desire to do righteous works, nor could we have done them even had we had the desire, for the natural man lacks the ability to live righteously, his evil nature being capable only of producing evil.  It was therefore, not because of any good in us, but rather because of His own goodness, mercy, and love that God made salvation available to men.


Its being said that “he saved us” is not to be taken as meaning that believers have been saved apart from an act of their own will.  Salvation becomes the possession only of those who are willing to confess that they are utterly sinful, and who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who died in their guilty stead, thus enabling God to impute the Lord’s death to them, and then to impute also His resurrection, every believer being able to say joyfully and thankfully, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by (through) the faith of (in) the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,”

Galatians 2:20.


“... the washing of regeneration” may also be translated “the bathing or washing of a new birth; the cleansing power which gives us a new birth by washing away our sins.


“... and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” means “the molding anew of; the renewing power of; the moral renewal of; the giving of new life by the Holy Spirit.”


3:6.  “Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;”


This is also translated, “poured out upon us richly; gave us so generously; given us so freely; poured out upon us with wonderful fullness; poured a rich measure of this Spirit on us; sent down the Spirit upon us plentifully,” this marvelous miraculous endowment having been made possible only through the sin-atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.


3:7.  “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”


“... having been justified by his grace” means that we have been declared righteous by His favor, brought into a right standing with God through His unmerited favor; having been pronounced righteous through His loving kindness; counted righteous by His personal grace, all through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.


“... made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” may also be translated “made inheritors with assurance of everlasting life.”


3:8.  “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable unto men.”


A faithful saying is one that is trustworthy, sure, reliable, true, and because this was the nature of the message Titus was to preach, Paul wanted his young friend to declare it emphatically and with absolute confidence.  And because the promises of the Gospel are of this character, and the people had made themselves inheritors of the promises, they were to express their gratitude to God by living lives that would be to His glory.  It can’t be emphasized too strongly that good works have no part in saving us: they are to express the thanksgiving of those already saved.  Such works, however, will be profitable or of benefit to others, particularly the unsaved, for they will generate good will, and make the beneficiaries of such works more likely to respond to the Gospel.


3:9.  “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”


While the Gospel was to be preached emphatically, the other side of that coin was the need to be equally adamant in avoiding discussions relating to pedigrees, a favorite employment of some people.  Wrangling over points of Jewish law was likewise to be strenuously avoided, for it was a waste of time, and accomplished nothing.


Arguments and disputes occur today over such things as using wine or grape juice, leavened or unleavened bread, communal or individual cups, at the Lord’s supper.  Such matters should be decided by the elders of each assembly, without attempting to impose their decisions on other assemblies.


3:10.  “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;”


A heretic is a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those of his or her church.  Such a man, after having had two warnings relative to his error, is to be rejected and shunned by true believers, for he will only sow discord among the saints.


3:11.  “Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”


This is the description of the man described in the preceding verse: he is “... subverted” which means perverted, crooked, has a distorted mind, has forsaken the Truth, is corrupt, is set in his error.  By his sin he condemns himself.  Such a person is not to be received into the fellowship of the local church; and if he is already a member, he should be expelled, for he will only sow discord among the believers, and mar their corporate testimony.


3:12.  “When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.”


Nothing is known of Artemas, meaning safe and sound, this being the only place in Scripture where he is mentioned.  He appears to have been a trusted fellow-servant with Paul in the spread of the Gospel; and little is known of Tychicus, meaning fortunate, the only other references to him being in Acts 20:4 where it is said that he accompanied Paul into Asia; Ephesians 6:21 where Paul describes him as “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,” and Colossians 4:7 where Paul again calls him “ a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow -servant in the Lord.”


Paul apparently intended sending either Artemas or Tychicus to Crete so that Titus would be free to travel to Nicopolis, where Paul had arranged to spend the winter.


3:13.  “Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.”


This is the only mention of Zenas in Scripture.  He may have been a doctor of the Jewish law, or a civil jurist.  Apollos is generally believed to have been the same one of whom we read in Acts 18:24; 19:1; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-6,22; 4:6 and 16:12.  Titus was to do everything possible to assist them on their journey when they arrived in Crete.


3:14.  “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.”


“... ours” is also translated “our people,” i.e., fellow believers.  Their learning to maintain good works means that they were to be examples to others in doing good, the words “for necessary uses” indicating that the injunction may have been related also to their need to follow honest occupations in order to supply their own needs also, so as not to be a burden to others.


“... that they be not unfruitful” is generally taken to mean that their lives were not to be unproductive, useless, wasted.


3:15.  “All they that are with me salute thee.  Greet them that love us in the faith.  Grace be with you all.  Amen.”


“... salute thee” is just another way of saying, “send their greetings; wish to be remembered to you; send their love.”


“... them that love us in the faith,” is also translated, “our friends in the faith; those who regard us with faithful affection; believers who hold us dear; those who are our friends in truth; those who love us as fellow believers.”


And the letter concludes with Paul’s sincere wish that God’s favor, grace, spiritual blessing might be with all of them, a benediction which embraces every believer of every age.  It includes each one of us.




     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough