Paul's letter is directed to Titus but also looks beyond him to the churches he supervised. There are at least three major themes: Christian elders, in contrast to the false teachers (chapter 1), Christian homes, our duties to each other being enforced by confidence in the first and second comings of Christ (chapter 2), and Christian relationships in public life, which are the direct fruits of salvation (chapter 3). These chapters also relate to the main contexts of Christian living in the church, the home and the world.

1 1Paul, a servant [doulos]

Cf. e.g., Jos 1:2; 24:29; Je 7:25; Is 44:1.

of God, and an apostle [apostolos] of Jesus Christ [christou; Heb. Messiah], according to [kata] the faith [pistin] of God's chosen ones [eklektōn], and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness [eusebeian], 2in hope of eternal life [zōēs aiōniou], which God, who can't lie [apseudēs theos], promised before time began [pro chronon aiōniōn]; 3but in his own time revealed [phaneroō] his word [logon] in the message with which I was entrusted [kērygmati pisteuō] according to the commandment of God our Saviour; 4to Titus [Titō]

Greek by birth (Gal 2:3), and one of Paul's converts. Likely to have accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys, he came into prominence in relation to the Corinthian church, where he was sent on his first diplomatic mission. His second was also to Corinth and related to the collection which Paul was organizing among the Greek churches for the benefit of the poorer churches in Judea. Titus is later summoned by Paul to join him at Nicopolis for the winter, near the Adriatic coast (3:11). It may have been from here, or later from Rome, that Titus went (on a mission?) further north along the Adriatic to the coastal area of Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10). Eusebius wrote (c. AD 325) that Titus returned to Crete to become its first bishop, and that he died there in old age (Ecclesiastical History 3.4.6.).

, my true [gnēsiō] child according to a common [koinēn] faith [pistin]: Grace [charis], mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. 5I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order [epidiorthoō] the things that were lacking [leipō], and appoint [kathistēmi] elders [presbyterous] in every city [polin], as I directed you; 6if anyone is blameless [anegklētos], the husband of one wife, having children [tekna]

Usually refers to youngsters who are still in their minority and therefore under their parents' authority but cf. Ac 2:39 and Mk 2:5.

who believe, who are not accused of loose [asōtias]

'Dissolute', 'incorrigible'.

or unruly [anypotakta] behaviour. 7For the overseer [episkopon]

Elder (presbyteros) and bishop (episkopos) are not two distinct church offices, but the same people with distinct titles; 'presbyter-bishops'. The emergence of three orders of ordained ministry (bishops, presbyters and deacons) belongs to the beginning of the second century. It is not found in the NT, although Titus may be seen as an embryonic 'bishop' in that he had jurisdiction over a number of churches in Crete, and chief responsibility for the selection and appointment of pastors.

must be blameless [anegklēton]

'Without blame', 'unaccused', 'unimpeachable'; not unblemished (amōmos referring to the final perfection, e.g., Eph 1:4).

, as God's steward [oikonomon]; not self-pleasing [authadē], not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain [aischrokerdē]; 8but given to hospitality [philoxenon], as a lover of good [philagathon], sober minded [sōphrona], fair [dikaion], holy, self-controlled [egkratē]; 9holding to the faithful [pistou] word [logou] which is according to the teaching [didachēn], that he may be able to exhort [parakaleō] in the sound doctrine [didaskalia], and to convict [elegchō] those who contradict [antilegō] him. 10For there are also many unruly [anupotaktoi] men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow [anatrepō] whole houses [oikous], teaching things which they ought not, for dishonest [aischrou] gain's sake. 12One of them, a prophet [prophētēs]

By the poet Epimenides (a sixth century BC native of Knossos, Crete) who was held in high esteem by the Cretans as a prophet and miracle-worker. In Greek literature, to "Cretanize" meant to lie or cheat; krētismos meant 'falsehood'. Epimenides joked that the absence of wild beasts on the island was supplied by its human inhabitants. Their avarice was proverbial, so that Polybius could say, 'Greed and avarice are so native to the soil in Crete, that they are the only people in the world among whom no stigma attaches to any sort of gain whatever'. Paul may have had the Cretans 'on the horns of a dilemma' for if they endorsed their prophet's statement, they condemned themselves; if they repudiated it, they made him the liar he said they were!.

of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons." 13This testimony [martyria] is true. For this cause, reprove [apotomos]them sharply, that they may be sound [hygiainōsin] in the faith [pistei], 14not paying attention to Jewish fables and commandments of men [entolais anthrōpōn] who turn away from [apostephō] the truth. 15To the pure [katharois], all things are pure [kathara]; but to those who are defiled [miainō] and unbelieving [apistois], nothing is pure [katharon]; but both their mind and their conscience [syneidēsis] are defiled [miainō]. 16They profess [homologeō] that they know God, but by their works they deny [arneomai] him, being abominable [bdelyktoi], disobedient [apeitheis], and unfit for any good work.

2 1But say the things which fit sound [hygiainō]

'To be healthy'. Hygiēs (like 'hygiene') also means 'healthy' or 'fit'. Cf. healing of those made whole in Mk 5:34; Jn 5:9; Ac 4:10.

doctrine [didaskalia], 2that older men should be temperate, sensible, sober minded, sound [hygiainō] in faith [pistei], in love [agapē], and in patience [hypomonē]: 3and that older women [presbytidas] likewise be reverent [hieroprepeis]

Only occurrence in NT; 'befitting a holy person or thing' or 'like a priest(ess).

in behaviour [katastēmati], not slanderers [diabolous] nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good [kalodidaskalous]; 4that they may train the young women to love their husbands [philandrous], to love their children [philoteknous], 5to be sober minded [sōphronein], chaste, workers at home [oikourous], kind, being in subjection [hypotassō] to their own husbands, that God's word [logos] may not be blasphemed [blasphēmeō]. 6Likewise, exhort the younger men to be sober minded [sōphronein]; 7in all things showing yourself an example [typon] of good works [kalōn ergōn]; in your teaching [didaskalia] showing integrity [aphthorian], seriousness, incorruptibility, 8and soundness [akatagnōston] of speech [logon] that can't be condemned; that he who opposes you may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say about us. 9Exhort servants [doulous] to be in subjection to [hypotassō] their own masters [despotais], and to be well-pleasing [euarestous] in all things; not contradicting [antilegō]; 10not stealing [nosphizō]

The regular term for petty larcenies, filching, etc..

, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn [kosmeō]

Used of arranging jewels in order to display their beauty.

the doctrine of God, our Saviour, in all things. 11For the grace [charis] of God has appeared [epiphainō], bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing [paideuō] us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly [cosmikas] lusts [epithymias], we would live soberly [sōphronōs], righteously [dikaiōs], and godly in this present world [nyn aiōni]; 13looking for [prosdechomai] the blessed hope and appearing [epiphaneian]

A coming into view of what has been previously concealed. Used in classical Greek of the dawn or daybreak, when the sun leaps over the horizon into view; of an enemy emerging out of an ambush; and of the supposed saving intervention of a god(s) in human affairs; cf. Ac 27:20: the stars 'made no epiphany'. Apart from this one literal use or epiphaneia, the word occurs in the NT four times of Christ's first coming and six times of his second.

of the glory [doxēs; Heb. Sh'khinah] of our great God and Saviour [megalou theou kai sōtēros]

God and Saviour was a stereotypical formula common in the first-century, normally referring to a single deity, and sometimes to the Roman Emperor.

, Jesus Christ; 14who gave himself for us, that he might redeem [lutroomai] us from all iniquity [anomias], and purify for himself a people for his own possession [laon periousion]

Cf. LXX Ex 19:6; Dt 7:6; 14:2; 26:18 and 1 Pet 2:9.

, zealous [zēlōtēn] for good works [kalōn ergōn]. 15Say [laleō] these things and exhort [parakaleō] and reprove [elegchō] with all authority [epitagēs]. Let no man despise [periphroneō] you.

3 1Remind them to be in subjection [hypotassesthai]

Perhaps Paul is glancing at the notoriously turbulent character of the Cretans, of whom Polybius tells us were constantly involved in 'insurrections, murders and internecine wars'. Crete had been subjugated by Rome in 67 BC, and since then had been continuously restive under the Roman colonial yoke, cf. 1:10 and 16.

to rulers [archais] and to authorities [exousiais], to be obedient, to be ready [etoimazō] for every good [agathou] work, 2to speak evil of [blasphemeō] no one, not to be contentious [amachous], to be gentle [epieikeis]

Showing clemency, gentleness, meekness and being conciliatory. This ethic was in contradistinction to the cultural typecast of a true Roman, for what really mattered to him was ambition, desire to be the best, thirst after glory and honour.

, showing all humility [praotēta] toward all men. 3For we were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived [planaō], serving [douleuō] various lusts [epithymiais] and pleasures [hēdonais], living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But when the kindness [chrēstotēs] of God our Savior and his love [philanthropia] toward mankind appeared, 5not by works of righteousness [dikaiosynē], which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing [loutrou]

Taken by the early church fathers to refer to baptism by water, cf. 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26.

of regeneration [palingenesias]

Used by Jesus of the final renewal of all things (Mt 19:28) and by the Stoics for the periodical restoration of the world, in which they believed.

and renewing [anakainōseōs] by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7that, being justified [dikaioō] by his grace [chariti], we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This saying is faithful [pistos ho logos], and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed [pisteuō] God may be careful to maintain [proïstēmi]

Lit. 'that they may take care good works to be forward in they who have believed'. This verb can have the technical sense 'to practice a profession', though here it has a more general meaning.

good [kalōn] works. These things are good and profitable [ōphelima] to men; 9but shun [periïstēmi]

Lit. 'stand aloof from'.

foolish questionings [zētēseis]

'Questions' or 'speculations'.

, genealogies, strife, and disputes [machas] about the law; for they are unprofitable [anōpheleis] and vain. 10Avoid a factious [hairetikon]

The word heretic had not yet assumed the meaning we have given it. Heiresis meant a sect, party, school of thought, cf. Ac 5:17; 15:5; 24:14; 28:22 to see referents.

man after a first and second warning; 11knowing that such a one is perverted, and sins, being self-condemned. 12When I send Artemas [Arteman] to you, or Tychicus [Tychikon]

The five references in the NT tell us that he came from proconsular Asia, perhaps from Ephesus its capital, like Trophimus with who he is bracketed. He was one of those chosen to take the collection to Jerusalem. Paul sent him to go to Colosse, perhaps bearing the letter, to tell the churches about him. He is now proposing to send Tychicus to Crete to relieve Titus and will later send him from Rome to Ephesus, apparently to free Timothy to visit him as soon as possible.

, be diligent to come to me to Nicopolis [Nikopolin]

'City of Victory'. Three towns with this name have been identified but this one is most likely to be the capital of Epirus on the west Adriatic coast of Greece.

, for I have determined to winter there. 13Send Zenas [Zēnan], the lawyer [nomikon]

Professional expert in Roman law.

, and Apollos [Apollōn]

Perhaps the learned and eloquent Alexandrian (Ac 18:24f and refs in 1 Cor).

on their journey speedily [propempō], that nothing may be lacking for them. 14Let our people also learn to maintain [proïstēmi] good [kalōn] works for necessary uses, that they may not be unfruitful [akarpoi]. 15All who are with me greet you. Greet [aspazomai] those who love [phileō] us in faith [pistei]. Grace [charis] be with you all. Amen [amēn].

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