a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above



Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began— 3in due time he revealed his word through the proclamation with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior,

4 To Titus, my loyal child in the faith we share:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.


Titus in Crete

5 I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: 6someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. 7For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; 8but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. 9He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

10 There are also many rebellious people, idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision; 11they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what it is not right to teach. 12It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said,

“Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.”

13 That testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths or to commandments of those who reject the truth. 15To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. 16They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.


5. For this reason I left thee in Crete This preface clearly proves, that Titus is not so much admonished on his own account as recommended to others, that no one may hinder him. Paul testifies that he has appointed him in his own room; and on that account all should acknowledge and receive him with reverence as the Apostle’s deputy. The apostles had no fixed place assigned to them, but were charged to spread the gospel through the whole world; and for this reason, when they left one city or district to go to another, they were wont to place fit men as their substitutes, to complete the work which they had begun. Thus Paul affirms that he founded the church of the Corinthians, but that there were other workmen, 214214     “Mais que les autres estoyent macons ou charpentiers.” — “But that the others were masons and carpenters.” who must build on his foundation, that is, carry forward the building.

This, indeed, belongs to all pastors; for the churches will always stand in need of increase and progress, as long as the world shall endure. But in addition to the ordinary office of pastors, the care of organizing the church was committed to Titus. Till the churches have been already organized, and reduced to some order, pastors were not usually appointed over them. But Titus held some additional charge, which consisted in giving a form to churches that had not yet been properly arranged, and in appointing a fixed kind of government accompanied by discipline. Having laid the foundation, Paul departed; and then it became the duty of Titus to carry the work higher, that the building might have fair proportions.

This is what he calls correcting those things which are still wanting. The building of the Church is not a work so easy that it can be brought all at once to perfection. How long Paul was in Crete — is uncertain; but he had spent some time there, and had faithfully devoted his labors to erect the kingdom of Christ. He did not lack the most consummate skill that can be found in man; he was unwearied in toil; and yet he acknowledged that he left the work rough and incomplete. Hence we see the difficulty; and, indeed, we find, by experience, in the present day, that it is not the labor of one or two years to restore fallen. churches to a tolerable condition. Accordingly, those who have made diligent progress for many years — must still be attentive to correct many things. 215215     “Those who are guided by ambition would wish to be thought clever people on the first day; they would wish to enjoy such reputation as to have it thought that they discharged their duty so faithfully that nothing more could be desired. On the contrary, when we have labored during our whole life to edify the Church of God, still we shall not succeed to the full extent. Let us therefore know that we must not presume so far on our industry or our virtues, that he who is endued with more abundant graces can suddenly have edified the Church of God to perfection; but we must assist each other. He who is farthest advanced must know that he cannot do everything, and must bend his shoulders and ask assistance from those whom God has appointed, and must be well pleased that others make progress, provided that all aim at serving God and advancing the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look well to ourselves, there will always be reason to grieve, because we are very far from having performed our duty. And those who make themselves believe this or that, and say, ‘Here is a church so well reformed that nothing more is needed’ — are mistaken; for if they knew what reformation is, they would beware of thinking that there was no room for finding fault. Whatever pains we take in arranging matters, and bringing them into order, there are indeed many things which, when once begun, will follow in a regular train; but as to reaching perfection, we are very far from it.”—Fr. Ser.

Here it is highly proper to observe the modesty of Paul who willingly permits another person to complete the work which he had begun. And, indeed, although Titus is greatly inferior to him, he does not refuse to have him for ἐπανορθωτήν a “corrector,” to give the finishing hand to his work. Such ought to be the dispositions of godly teachers; not that every one should labor to make everything bend to his own ambitious views, but that they should strive to assist each other, and that, when any one has labored more successfully, he should be congratulated and not envied by all the rest.

And yet we must not imagine that Paul intended that Titus should correct those things which he had left undone, either through ignorance, or forgetfulness, or carelessness, but those things which he could not finish on account of the shortness of the time. In short, he enjoined Titus to make that correction which he would himself have made, if he had remained longer in Crete; not by varying — not by changing anything, but by adding what was wanting; because the difficulty of such a work does not allow every part of it to be done in a single day.

And appoint presbyters in each city 216216     “Κατὰ πόλιν, Not ‘in every city,’ but ‘in each city or town,’ (literally, ‘city by city,’) of all those which had Christian congregations. Of such there might be several in this ‘hundred-citied isle;’ though the name πόλις was often given to towns; and there is reason to think that not a few of the Cretan cities were no better.” — Bloomfield In the spiritual building this nearly comes next to doctrine, that pastors be ordained, to take charge of governing the Church; and therefore Paul mentions it here in preference to everything else. It is a point which ought to be carefully observed, that churches cannot safely remain without the ministry of pastors, and that consequently, wherever there is a considerable body of people, a pastor should be appointed over it. And yet he does not say that each town shall have a pastor, so that no place shall have more than one; but he means that no towns shall be destitute of pastors

Presbyters or elders. It is well known, that it was not on account of age, that they received this appellation; for sometimes those who were still young — such as Timothy — were admitted to this rank. But in all languages it has been customary to apply this honorable designation to all rulers. Although we may conclude, from 1 Timothy 5:17, that there were two classes of presbyters, the context will immediately show, that here none other than teachers are meant, that is, those who were ordained to teach; for immediately afterwards, he will call the same persons “bishops.”

But it may be thought that he gives too much power to Titus, when he bids him appoint ministers for all the churches. That would be almost royal power. Besides, this method takes away from each church the right of choosing, and from the College of Pastors the power of judging; and thus the sacred administration of the Church would be almost wholly profaned. The answer is easy. He does not give permission to Titus, that he alone may do everything in this matter, and may place over the churches those whom he thinks fit to appoint to be bishops; but only bids him preside, as moderator, at the elections, which is quite necessary. This mode of expression is very common. In the same manner, a consul, or regent, or dictator is said to have created consuls, on account of having presided over the public assembly in electing them. Thus also Luke relates that Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every church. (Acts 14:23.) Not that they alone, in an authoritative manner, appointed pastors which the churches had neither approved nor known; but that they ordained fit men, who had been chosen or desired by the people. From this passage we do indeed learn, that there was not at that time such equality among the ministers of Christ but that some one had authority and deliberative voice above others; but this has nothing to do with the tyrannical and profane custom which prevails in Popery as to Collations. The apostles had a widely different mode of procedure.

VIEWNAME is study