1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
1 Tu verò loquere quæ decent sanam doctrinam.
2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
2 Senes ut sobrii sint, graves, temperantes, sani fide, dilectione, patientia.
3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
3 Anus similiter ut sint in habitu religiosè decoro, non calumniatrices, non multo vino servientes, honesti magistræ,
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
4 Quo adolescentulas temperantiam doceant, ut ament maritos et liberos,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
5 Sint temperantes, puræ, domus custodes, benignæ, subjectæ suis maritis, ne sermo Dei malè audiat.
1. But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.
He points out the remedy for driving away fables, namely, that Titus should devote himself to edification. He gives the appellation of sound doctrine to that which may instruct men to godliness; for all trifles vanish away, when that which is solid is taught. When he enjoins him to speak those things which agree with “sound doctrine,” it is as if he had said, that Titus must be continually employed in this preaching; for to mention these things once or twice would not be enough. And Paul does not speak of the discourse of a single day; but so long as Titus shall hold the office of pastor, he wishes him to be employed in teaching this doctrine.
“Sound doctrine” is so called from the effect produced by it; as, on the contrary, he says, that unskilful men dote about questions which do no good. Sound, therefore, means wholesome, that which actually feeds souls. Thus, by a single word, as by a solemn proclamation, he banishes from the Church all speculations which serve rather to promote ostentation than to aid godliness,1 as he did in both of the Epistles to Timothy.
He makes “sound doctrine” to consist of two parts.
The first is that which magnifies the grace of God in Christ, from which we may learn where we ought to seek our salvation; and the second is that by which the life is trained to the fear of God, and inoffensive conduct. Although the former, which includes faith, is far more excellent, and therefore ought to be more zealously inculcated; yet Paul, in writing to Timothy, was not careful about attending to order; for he had to deal with an intelligent man, to whom he would offer an insult, if he dictated to him word by word, as is usually done to apprentices or beginners. Under the person of Titus, indeed, he instructs the whole church of Crete; yet he attends to the rules of propriety, that he may not appear to distrust his prudence. Besides, the reason why he is longer in his exhortations is, that they who gave their whole attention to idle questions—needed especially to be exhorted to the practice of a good and holy life; for nothing is better fitted to restrain the wandering curiosity of men than to know in what duties1 they ought to be employed.
2. That aged men be sober.
He begins with particular duties, that the discourse may be better adapted to the instruction of the people. And he does so, not only that he may accommodate himself to their capacity, but that he may press every one more closely; for a general doctrine produces a less powerful impression; but when, by holding out a few cases, he has instructed every person about his duty, there is no one who may not easily conclude, that the Lord has sufficiently instructed him as to the work in which he ought to be employed. We must not therefore, look for a regular method here; for Paul’s design was only to state briefly what were the subjects concerning which godly teachers ought to speak, and not to undertake to treat largely of those subjects.
“Aged men” are mentioned by him in the first place. He wishes them to be “sober,” because excessive drinking is a vice too common among the old. Gravity, which he next mentions, is procured by well-regulated morals. Nothing is more shameful than for an old man to indulge in youthful wantonness, and, by his countenance, to strengthen the impudence of the young. In the life of old men, therefore, let there be displayed (σεμνότης) “a becoming gravity,” which shall constrain the young to modesty. This will be followed chiefly by temperance, which he immediately adds.
Sound in faith.
I do not know whether the word “sound” or “healthy” contains an indirect allusion to the various diseases of old men, with which he contrasts this health of the soul; at least, I think so, though I do not affirm it. With good reason does he include in these three parts—faith, love, patience—the sum of Christian perfection. By faith we worship God; for neither calling upon him, nor any exercises of godliness, can be separated from it. Love extends to all the commandments of the second table. Next follows patience as the seasoning of “faith” and “love;” for without “patience” faith would not long endure, and many occurrences are taking place every day—instances of unhandsome conduct or evil temper, which irritate us so much that we should not only be languid, but almost dead, to the duties of love towards our neighbour, if the same “patience” did not support us.
3. That aged women in like manner.
We very frequently see, that females advanced in age either continue to dress with the lightness of youthful years, or have something superstitious in their apparel, and seldom hit the golden mean. Paul wished to guard against both extremes, by enjoining them to follow a course that is agreeable both to outward propriety and to religion; or, if you choose to express it in simpler language, to give evidence, by their very dress, that they are holy and godly women.
He next corrects other two vices, to which they are often addicted, when he forbids them to be slanderers and slaves to much wine. Talkativeness is a disease of women, and it is increased by old age. To this is added, that women never think that they are eloquent enough, if they are not given to prattling and to slander—if they do not attack the characters of all. The consequence is, that old women, by their slanderous talkativeness, as by a lighted torch, frequently set on fire many houses. Many are also given to drinking, so that, forgetting modesty and gravity, they indulge in an unbecoming wantonness.
4. That they may teach young women temperance.
That they may be more attentive to duty, he shows that it is not enough if their own life be decent, if they do not also train young women, by their instructions, to a decent and chaste life. He therefore adds, that by their example they should train to temperance and gravity those younger women whom the warmth of youth might otherwise lead into imprudence.
To love their husbands and their children.
I do not agree with those who think that this is a recapitulation of the advices which elderly women should give to those who are younger; for a careful perusal of the context will enable any one easily to perceive that Paul goes on in explaining the duties of women, which apply equally to those who are older. Besides, the construction would be inappropriate, σωφρονίζωσι, σώφρονας εἶναι. Yet while he instructs elderly females what they ought to be, he at the same time holds out to the younger the example which they ought to follow. Thus he indiscriminately teaches both. In short, he wishes women to be restrained, by conjugal love and affection for their children, from giving themselves up to licentious attachments, he wishes them to rule their own house in a sober and orderly manner, forbids them to wander about in public places, bids them be chaste, and at the same time modest, so as to be subject to the dominion of their husbands; for those who excel in other virtues sometimes take occasion from them to act haughtily, so as to be disobedient to their husbands.
When he adds, that the word of God may not be evil spoken of, it is supposed that this relates strictly to women who were married to unbelieving husbands, who might judge of the gospel from the wicked conduct of their wives; and this appears to be confirmed by 1 Pet. 3:1. But what if he does not speak of husbands alone? And, indeed, it is probable that he demands such strictness of life as not to bring the gospel into the contempt of the public by their vices. As to the other parts of the verse, the reader will find them explained in the Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy.
6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded.
6 Juniores similiter hortare, ut temperantes sint,
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
7 In omnibus teipsum exhibens exemplar bonorum operum in doctrina, integritatem, gravitatem,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
8 Sermonem sanum, irreprehensibilem, ut adversarius pudefiat, nihil habens, quod de vobis obloquatur:
9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
9 Servos, ut dominis suis subjecti sint, in omnibus placere studentes, non responsatores,
10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
10 Non furaces, sed fidem omnem ostendentes bonam, ut doctrinam Servatoris nostri Dei ornent in omnibus.
6. Exhort likewise younger men.
He merely enjoins that young men be instructed to be temperate; for temperance, as Plato shows, cures the whole understanding of man. It is as if he had said, “Let them be well regulated and obedient to reason.”
7. In all things shewing thyself.
For doctrine will otherwise carry little authority, if its power and majesty do not shine in the life of the bishop,2 as in a mirror. He wishes, therefore, that the teacher may be a pattern, which his scholars may copy.
A pattern of good works in doctrine, uprightness, gravity.
In the original Greek the style is here involved and obscure, and this creates ambiguity. First, he makes use of the words in doctrine, and then adds, in the accusative case, integrity, gravity, &c.1 Without mentioning the interpretations given by others, I shall state that which appears to me to be the most probable. First, I connect these words, of good works in doctrine; for, after having enjoined Titus that, in teaching, he shall inculcate the practice of good works, he wishes that good works, which correspond to this doctrine, may be visible in his life; and consequently the preposition in means that they shall be suitable, or shall correspond, to the doctrine. What follows is in no degree obscure; for, in order that he may exhibit a representation of his doctrine in morals, he bids him be “upright and grave.”
8. Sound speech, unblamable.
“Sound speech” relates (in my opinion) to ordinary life and familiar conversation; for it would be absurd to interpret it as relating to public instruction, since he only wishes that Titus, both in his actions and in his words, shall lead a life that agrees with his preaching. He, therefore, enjoins that his words shall be pure and free from all corruption.
Unblamable may apply either to the words or the person of Titus. I prefer the latter view, that the other nouns in the accusative case (which the Greek syntax easily allows) may depend upon it in this sense—“that thou mayest shew thyself unblamable in gravity, in integrity, and in sound words.”
That the adversary may be ashamed.
Although a Christian man ought to look at other objects, yet this must not be neglected, to shut the mouth of wicked men, as we are everywhere taught that we should give no occasion for slander. Everything that they can seize on as improper in our conduct is maliciously turned against Christ and his doctrine. The consequence is, that, through our fault, the sacred name of God is exposed to insult. Accordingly, the more we perceive that we are keenly observed by enemies, let us be the more attentive to guard against their calumnies, and thus let their malignity strengthen in us the desire of doing well.
9. Servants, that they be subject to their masters.
It has been already said that Paul merely glances at some things by way of example, and does not explain the whole of these subjects, as if he undertook, expressly, to handle them. Accordingly, when he enjoins servants to please their masters in all things, this desire of pleasing must be limited to those things which are proper, as is evident from other passages of a similar nature, in which an exception is expressly added, to the effect that nothing should be done but according to the will of God.
It may be observed that the Apostle dwells chiefly on this point, that they who are under the authority of others shall be obedient and submissive. With good reason he does this, for nothing is more contrary to the natural disposition of man than subjection, and there was danger lest they should take the gospel as a pretext for becoming more refractory, as reckoning it unreasonable that they should be subject to the authority of unbelievers. So much the greater care and diligence ought pastors to use for either subduing or checking this rebellious spirit.
10. Not thievish, but shewing all good faith.
He censures two vices that are common among servants, petulant replies, and a propensity to steal.1 The comedies are full of instances of excessively ready talk, by which servants cheat their masters. Nor was it without reason that an exchange of names took place in ancient times, by which “servant” and “thief” became convertible terms. Thus prudence requires that we make our instructions apply to the morals of each individual.
By faith he means fidelity to their masters; and therefore, to shew all faith is to act faithfully, without using fraud or doing injury, in transacting the affairs of their masters.
That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
This ought to be a very sharp spur of exhortation to us, when we learn that our becoming conduct adorns the doctrine of God, which, at the same time, is a mirror of his glory. And, indeed, we see that this usually happens; as, on the other hand, our wicked life brings disgrace upon it; for men commonly judge of us from our works. But this circumstance ought also to be observed, that God deigns to receive an “ornament” from slaves, whose condition was so low and mean that they were wont to be scarcely accounted men; for he does not mean “servants,” such as we have in the present day, but slaves, who were bought with money, and held as property, like oxen or horses. And if the life of those men is an ornament to the Christian name, much more let those who are in honour take care that they do not stain it by their baseness.
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
11 Apparuit enim gratia Dei salutaris omnibus hominibus,
12 Teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
12 Instituens nos, ut, abnegata impietate et mundanis cupiditatibus, temperanter et justè et piè vivamus in hoc sæculo,
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
13 Expectantes beatam spem et apparitionem gloriæ magni Dei et Servatoris nostri Iesu Christi,
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
14 Qui dedit seipsum pro nobis, ut redimeret nos ab omni iniquitate, et purificaret sibi populum peculiarem studiosum bonorum operum.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
15 Hæc loquere et exhortare, et argue cum omni auctoritate. Nemo te contemnat.
11. For the grace of God hath appeared.
He argues from the design of redemption, which he shews to be a desire to live a godly and upright life. Hence it follows, that the duty of a good teacher is rather to exhort to a holy life than to occupy the minds of men with useless questions. “He hath redeemed us,” says Zacharias in his song,—“that we may serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74, 75.) For the same reason Paul says, the grace of God hath appeared, teaching us; for he means that it ought to hold the place of instruction to us to regulate our life well. What is proclaimed concerning the mercy of God is seized by some as an occasion of licentiousness; while others are hindered by slothfulness from meditating on “newness of life.” But the manifestation of the grace of God unavoidably carries along with it exhortations to a holy life.
Bringing salvation to all men.
That it is common to all is expressly testified by him on account of the slaves of whom he had spoken. Yet he does not mean individual men, but rather describes individual classes, or various ranks of life. And this is not a little emphatic, that the grace of God hath let itself down even to the race of slaves; for, since God does not despise men of the lowest and most degraded condition, it would be highly unreasonable that we should be negligent and slothful to embrace his goodness.
12. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness.
He now lays down the rule for regulating our life well, and how we ought to begin, namely, with renouncing our former life, of which he enumerates two parts, “ungodliness and worldly desires.” Under ungodliness, I include not only superstitions, in which they had gone astray, but irreligious contempt of God, such as reigns in men, till they have been enlightened in the knowledge of the truth. Although they have some profession of religion, yet they never fear and reverence God sincerely and honestly, but, on the contrary, have consciences that are useless, so that nothing is further from their thoughts than that they ought to serve God.
By worldly desires he means all the affections of the flesh; because we look at nothing but the world, till the Lord has drawn us to himself. Meditation on the heavenly life begins with regeneration. Before we have been regenerated, our desires lean towards the world, and rest on the world.
That we may live temperately, and righteously, and piously.
As he formerly mentioned those three, when he wished to give a comprehensive summary of Christian life, so he now makes it to consist of those three, “piety, righteousness, and temperance.” “Piety” is religion towards God. “Righteousness” has place among men. He who is endowed with both of these lacks nothing for perfect virtue; and, indeed, in the law of God there is absolute perfection, to which nothing whatever can be added. But as the exercises of godliness may be regarded as appendages to the first table, so “temperance,” which Paul mentions in this passage, aims at nothing else than keeping the law, and, as I said before about patience, is added to the former as a seasoning. Nor does the Apostle contradict himself, when at one time he describes patience, and at another time temperance, as the perfection of a holy life; for they are not distinct virtues, since σωφροσύνη (here translated temperance) includes patience under it.
He adds, in this world, because the Lord has appointed the present life for the trial of our faith. Although the fruit of good actions is not yet visible, yet the hope should be sufficient for stimulating us to doing well; and this is what he immediately adds,—
13. Looking for that blessed hope.
From the hope of future immortality he draws an exhortation, and indeed, if that hope be deeply seated in our mind, it is impossible that it should not lead us to devote ourselves wholly to God. On the contrary, they who do not cease to live to the world and to the flesh never have actually tasted what is the worth of the promise of eternal life; for the Lord, by calling us to heaven, withdraws us from the earth.
Hope is here put for the thing hoped for, otherwise it would be an incorrect mode of expression. He gives this appellation to the blessed life which is laid up for us in heaven. At the same time he declares when we shall enjoy it, and what we ought to contemplate, when we desire or think of our salvation.
And the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour.
I interpret the glory of God to mean not only that by which he shall be glorious in himself, but also that by which he shall then diffuse himself on all sides, so as to make all his elect partakers of it. He calls God great, because his greatness—which men, blinded by the empty splendour of the world, now extenuate, and sometimes even annihilate, as far as lies in their power—shall be fully manifested on the last day. The lustre of the world, while it appears great to our eyes, dazzles them so much that “the glory of God” is, as it were, hidden in darkness. But Christ, by his coming, shall chase away all the empty show of the world—shall no longer obscure the brightness, shall no longer lessen the magnificence, of his glory. True, the Lord demonstrates his majesty every day by his works; but because men are prevented by their blindness from seeing it, it is said to be hidden in obscurity. Paul wishes that believers may now contemplate by faith that which shall be manifested on the last day, and therefore that God may be magnified, whom the world either despises, or, at least, does not esteem according to his excellence.
It is uncertain whether these words should be read together thus, “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the great God and our Saviour,” or separately, as of the Father and the Son, “the glory of the great God, and of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Arians, seizing on this latter sense, have endeavoured to prove from it, that the Son is less than the Father, because here Paul calls the Father the great God by way of distinction from the Son. The orthodox teachers of the Church, for the purpose of shutting out this slander, eagerly contended that both are affirmed of Christ. But the Arians may be refuted in a few words and by solid argument; for Paul, having spoken of the revelation of the glory of “the great God,” immediately added “Christ,” in order to inform us, that that revelation of glory will be in his person; as if he had said that, when Christ shall appear, the greatness of the divine glory shall then be revealed to us.
Hence we learn, first, that there is nothing that ought to render us more active or cheerful in doing good than the hope of the future resurrection; and, secondly, that believers ought always to have their eyes fixed on it, that they may not grow weary in the right course; for, if we do not wholly depend upon it, we shall continually be carried away to the vanities of the world. But, since the coming of the Lord to judgment might excite terror in us, Christ is held out to us as our “Saviour,” who will also be our judge.
14. Who gave himself for us.
This is another argument of exhortation, drawn from the design or effect of the death of Christ, who offered himself for us, that he might redeem us from the bondage of sin, and purchase us to himself as his heritage. His grace, therefore, necessarily brings along with it “newness of life,” (Rom. 6:4,) because they who still are the slaves of sin make void the blessing of redemption; but now we are released from the bondage of sin, in order that we may serve the righteousness of God; and, therefore, he immediately added,—
A peculiar people, zealous of good works;
By which he means that, so far as concerns us, the fruit of redemption is lost, if we are still entangled by the sinful desires of the world. And in order to express more fully, that we have been consecrated to good works by the death of Christ, he makes use of the word purify; for it would be truly base in us to be again polluted by the same filth from which the Son of God hath washed us by his blood.
15. Speak these things, and exhort, and reprove.
This conclusion is of the same meaning as if he enjoined Titus to dwell continually on that doctrine of edification, and never to grow weary, because it cannot be too much inculcated. He likewise bids him add the spurs of “exhortations and reproofs;” for men are not sufficiently admonished as to their duty, if they be not also vehemently urged to the performance of it. He who understands those things which the Apostle has formerly stated, and who has them always in his mouth, will have ground not only for teaching, but likewise for correcting.
With all authority.
I do not agree with Erasmus, who translates ἐπιταγή “diligence in commanding.” There is greater probability in the opinion of Chrysostom, who interprets it to mean severity against more atrocious sins; though I do not think that even he has hit the Apostle’s meaning; which is, that Titus should claim authority and respect for himself in teaching these things. For men given to curious inquiries, and eager about trifles, dislike the commandments to lead a pious and holy life as being too common and vulgar. In order that Titus may meet this disdain, he is enjoined to add the weight of his authority to his doctrine. It is with the same view (in my opinion) that he immediately adds,—
Let no man despise thee.
Others think that Titus is instructed to gain the ear of men, and their respect for him, by the integrity of his life; and it is indeed true that holy and blameless conduct imparts authority to instruction. But Paul had another object in view; for here he addresses the people rather than Titus. Because many had ears so delicate, that they despised the simplicity of the gospel; because they had such an itch for novelty, that hardly any space was left for edification; he beats down the haughtiness of such men, and strictly charges them to desist from despising, in any way, sound and useful doctrine. This confirms the remark which I made at the outset, that this Epistle was written to the inhabitants of Crete rather than to any single individual.
John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon