13. This witness is true: wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
13 testimonium hoc verum est quam ob causam increpa illos dure ut sani sint in fide
14. Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
14 non intendentes iudaicis fabulis et mandatis hominum aversantium se a veritate
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.
15 omnia munda mundis coinquinatis autem et infidelibus nihil mundum sed inquinatae sunt eorum et mens et conscientia
16. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
16 confitentur se nosse Deum factis autem negant cum sunt abominati et incredibiles et ad omne opus bonum reprobi
It was truly a wonderful purpose of God, that he called a nation so depraved, and so infamous on account of its vices, to be among the first who should partake of the gospel; but his goodness is not less worthy of admiration, in having bestowed heavenly grace on those who did not even deserve to live in this world.3 In that country so corrupt, as if in the midst of hell, the Church of Christ held a position, and did not cease to be extended, though it was infected by the corruption of the evils which prevailed there; for here Paul not only reproves those who were strangers to the faith, but expressly reproves those who had made a profession of Christianity. Perceiving that these vices so hateful have already taken root, and are spreading far and wide, he does not spare the reputation of the whole nation, that he may attempt the care of those whom there was some hope of healing.
All trivial inventions he calls "fables," or, as we would say, "trifles;" for what he immediately adds, about "the commandments of men," has the same meaning. And he calls those men
He attributes this vice chiefly to the Jews, because, under the presence of the divine lew, they introduced superstitious ceremonies. The Gentiles, being aware that they had been wretchedly deceived during their whole life, more easily renounced their former course of life; while the Jews, having been educated in the true religion, obstinately defended the ceremonies to which they had been accustomed, and could not be convinced that the Law had been abrogated. In this manner they disturbed all churches, because, as soon as the gospel began to make its appearance anywhere, they did not cease to corrupt its purity by mixing it with their leaven. Accordingly, Paul not only forbids them, in general terms, to degenerate from sound doctrine, but points out, as with the finger, the present evil which needed to be remedied, that they may be on their guard against it.
In the first clause of this verse he upholds Christian liberty, by asserting, that to believers nothing is unclean; but at the same time he indirectly censures the false apostles who set no value on inward purity, which alone is esteemed by God. He therefore rebukes their ignorance, in not understanding that Christians are pure without the ceremonies enjoined by the Law; and next he chastises their hypocrisy, in disregarding uprightness of heart, and occupying themselves with useless exercises. But as the subject now in hand is not the health of the body, but peace of conscience, he means nothing else than that the distinction of the kinds of food, which was in force under the Law, has now been abolished. For the same reason it is evident, that they do wrong, who impose religious scruples on consciences in this matter; for this is not a doctrine intended for a single age, but an eternal oracle of the Holy Spirit, which cannot lawfully be set aside by any new law.
Accordingly, this must be true till the end of the world, that there is no kind of food which is unlawful in the sight of God; and, therefore, this passage is fitly and appropriately quoted in opposition to the tyrannical law of the Pope, which forbids the eating of flesh on certain days. And yet I am not unacquainted with the sophistical arguments which they employ. They affirm, that they do not forbid the eating of flesh, because they allege that it is unclean, (for they acknowledge that all kinds of food are in themselves clean and pure,) but that abstinence from flesh is enjoined on another ground, that it has a tendency to tame the lust of the flesh; as if the Lord had forbidden to eat swine's flesh, because he judged swine to be unclean. Even under the Law the fathers reckoned that everything which God created is in itself pure and clean; but they held that they were unclean for this reason, that the use of them was unlawful, because God had forbidden it. All things are, therefore, pronounced by the Apostle to be pure, with no other meaning than that the use of all things is free, as regards the conscience. Thus, if any law binds the consciences to any necessity of abstaining from certain kinds of food, it wickedly takes away from believers that liberty Which God had given them.
To the "polluted" he adds the "unbelieving,"6 not as being a different class of persons; but the addition is made for the sake of explanation. Because there is no purity in the sight of God but that of faith, it follows that all unbelievers are unclean. By no laws or rules, therefore, will they obtain that cleanness which they desire to have; because, being themselves "polluted," they will find nothing in the world that is clean to them.7
"The Lord looketh on the heart," (1 Samuel 16:7,)
"his eyes are on the truth." (Jeremiah 5:3.)
Whence it arises, that those things which are lofty before men are abomination before God.
"all things are sanctified by the word," (1 Timothy 4:5,)
because men use nothing in a pure manner till they receive it by faith from the hand of God.
1 "The general character of the Cretans, noticed in Paul's Epistle to Titus, is confirmed by the testimony of antiquity. The Apostle, writing to Titus, who had been left in Crete to regulate the affairs of the Christian Church in that island, complains of many disorderly men there, -- 'many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, who subvert whole houses, (or families,) teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake, (Titus 1:10, 11); and he quotes the following verse from 'one of themselves, a prophet of their own,' namely, Epimenides, who was a Cretan poet, and whose writings were by the ancients termed
The general import of which passage is, that 'the Cretans were a false people, and united in their character the ferocity of the wild beast with the luxury of the domesticated one.' The circumstance of Paul's styling Epimenides 'a prophet' is sufficiently explained by the fact of the words Poet and Prophet being often used promiscuously by the Greeks and Romans,-probably because their poets pretended to be inspired, and were by some believed to be so. The Apostle adds, that the testimony of Epimenides is but too true, 'this witness is true.' How true the first part of it is, with respect to their deceit and lying, the following facts will attest. From the time of Homer, the island of Crete was regarded as the scene of fiction. Many authors affirm that, as a people, its inhabitants were infamous for their violation of truth; and at length their falsehood became so notorious, that
2 "Combien que l'autheur soit profane et de nulle authorite." "Although the author is a heathen and of no authority."
3 "De vivre en ce monde."
4 "A un mauvais noeud il faut un mauvais coin."
5 "We have to observe that here, in a single word, Paul declares to us by what means men may defend themselves. It is, by keeping the purity of faith. If, then, we do not turn aside from the simple doctrine of the gospel, but wish to be governed according to the will of God; if we are not carried away by our volatile passions, and do not walk according to our groveling appetites; in short, if we are good scholars of our God, and reckon it enough to have received the doctrine which he teaches us; if that be the case, we shall be fortified against all evil. It is true, the devil will seek to poison the whole world with his venom, and will spread his filth everywhere, so that the world will be full of so many corruptions that every place shall be infected by them. But however that may be, we must not turn aside from time simplicity of our faith, and must always seek to be instructed simply by our God. When we follow this course, though the devil may contrive all that he can, still we shall be fortified against all evil."--Fr. Ser.
6 "The Apostle joins "defiled" and "unbelieving," to intimate that, without a true belief, nothing is clean. The understanding and the conscience are polluted. Both the man and his doings are impure."- Hervey.
7 "It is a dreadful condemnation pronounced on men, when it is said that nothing is clean to them-that all is polluted and defied, till God has renewed them. So far are we from being able to bring anything that is acceptable to him, that we can neither eat nor drink, nor put on our clothes, nor walk a single step, without corruption, and, what is more, by dwelling in the world we infect all the creatures. And this is the reason why they must call for vengeance at the last day against all unbelievers and reprobates. We have, therefore, good reason to be dissatisfied with ourselves and to be ashamed, when we see that they become hateful on our account and that we are so polluted as to have infected every thing that God had appropriated to our use, and even that there is nothing in us but all corruption -- nothing but a God cursed and disowned. When we are thus humbled, let us know, on the other hand, the inestimable blessing which God bestows on us, when he brings us back to himself, and, after having cleansed us, causes us to use all his blessings and bounties: with purity of heart and when we are assured that it is lawful for us to eat and drink, provided that we do so with all sobriety, and in a reasonable manner."- Fr. Ser.
8 "1. They are said to be