Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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TITUS - Chapter 1

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Titus 1

Supplemental Commentary:

THE EPISTLE TO TITUS

Introduction  1, 1-4

1, 1-4:  Greeting.  The greeting is long and solemn and one is surprised to find St. Paul stating his titles in a letter to one of his most faithful disciples.  But this letter, unlike the note to Philemon, has an official character.  For while it is addressed directly to Titus, it is evident that the Apostle composed and dictated it in view of Cretan disturbers.  It is to them and against them that he cites his titles.  Finally, and above all, the emphasis is not on the titles themselves, but upon the clauses added to them, in accordance with the faith of God's elect, etc.

1.  Servant of God: elsewhere St. Paul styles himself "servant of Christ" (Rom. 1, 1).  This is in the style of the ancient chanceries of the east, "servant of the king."  Likewise priests used this title in reference to the god they served.  In accordance with the faith, etc.: phrases that determine the sphere of Paul's apostleship as well as the norm of its exercise.  The faith of the elect of God is the common faith (4), the faith of the universal body of the saints, in opposition to the special faith of the Cretan teachers.  The knowledge of the truth which is according to piety is in turn opposed to the new doctrines, which substitute for piety, or the true Christian life, an asceticism which is dubious and compatible with immorality.

I.  PASTORAL CHARGE  1, 5-16

1, 5-16:  Titus' Mission, and Special Needs in Crete.  His mission is twofold, to organize the communities, in placing leaders over them, and to teach the members of the community the true Christian life.  This first section, 1, 5-16, completes the directions given on the organization of the churches.

6.  Paul demands in the Pastoral Epistles that the presbyter-bishops and deacons be married but once; but this is no absolute condemnation of second marriages, since the Apostle positively recommends that young widows remarry (1 Tim. 5, 14).    7.  The term "bishop" is substituted quite abruptly here for that of "priest," as in the Apostle's address to the priests of Ephesus (Acts 20, 17.28).  It characterizes better than the term "priest" the office of the person in question.  "Bishop" signifies inspector, overseer, superintendent.  St. Paul uses the title in this sense, and drops it to substitute at the close of the verse the still more expressive term "steward of God."

Bishops.  The title "bishop" like that of "priest" is not, in Greek, of Christian origin.  Used first by St. Paul in addressing the priests of Ephesus (Acts 20, 28), it reappears in the greeting of the letter to the Philippians (1, 1), then twice in the Pastorals (1 Tim. 3, 1-7 and Titus 1, 7).  From these passages it follows, (a) that the title fits a number of personages in each church; (b) that it is in fact convertible with "priest."  The fixed elements of an organized community are clearly enumerated in the greeting of the Epistle to the Philippians.  These are the saints, or simple members, the deacons or lower officials, the priest-bishops, the highest local authorities.  Did they form a college, "the presbyterate" (1 Tim. 4, 14)?  And was there a president as its head?  The answer to both questions is possibly, even probably, affirmative.  But to judge by the language of St. Paul, the title of bishop at this date was not reserved to such a president.

10-16:  In enumerating the qualifications demanded of priests, and in the special urgency of establishing them in every city, St. Paul is making provision against the large number of teachers in Crete, who, like those at Ephesus, are empty talkers and disturbers that must be silenced.

12.  This hexameter is from the Minos of Epimenides, a Cretan poet who may have lived in the sixth century B.C.  Here and in the verse following St. Paul speaks no longer of the false teachers themselves, but rather of the body of Christians who accepted their teaching.    14.  The disturbers' teaching has two elements: the one speculative and made up of Jewish fables; the other practical, containing precepts that forbid certain foods.    15.  The reference is to food, with the distinction of clean and unclean under the Mosaic Law.


Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1 Paul, a servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, in accordance with the faith of God's elect and the full knowledge of the truth which is according to piety, 2 in the hope of life everlasting which God, who does not lie, promised before the ages began---3 he has in due times manifested his word through the preaching committed to my trust by the command of God our Savior--- 4 to Titus, my beloved son in the common faith: grace and peace from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus our Savior.

Titus' Mission  5 For this reason I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set right anything that is defective and shouldst appoint presbyters in every city, as I myself directed thee to do.  6 They must be blameless, married but once, having believing children who are not accused of impurity or disobedience.  7 For a bishop must be blameless as being the steward of God, not proud, or ill-tempered, or a drinker, or a brawler, or greedy for base gain; 8 but hospitable, gentle, reserved, just, holy, continent; 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to confute opponents.

Special Needs in Crete  10 For there are also many disobedient, vain babblers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision.  11 These must be rebuked, for they upset whole households, teaching things that they ought not, for the sake of base gain.  12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."  13 This statement is true.  Hence rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in faith, 14 and may not listen to Jewish fables and the commandments of men who turn away from the truth.  15 For the clean all things are clean, but for the defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; for both their mind and their conscience are defiled.  16 They profess to know God, but by their works they disown him, being abominable and unbelieving and worthless for any good work.