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Paul's Epistle to Titus, Part 3: The Cleanliness of God
As we have already discussed at length in the opening segments of our presentation of Paul’s epistle to Titus, when the apostle arrived in the Troad he must have been informed that Titus was in Crete, and that there were some problems there among the assemblies. So in the opening verses of chapter 1 of this epistle we had observed where Paul addressed Titus as a true member of his race, according to the common belief. We interpret that statement to mean that even though Titus was a Greek by race, perceptibly he was of the race of the ancient Israelites, and therefore should be accepted as such. Then after reminding Titus of why he was sent to Crete in the first place, in order to organize the Christian assemblies there, Paul advised him to ensure that elders, which are the overseers or bishops of each assembly, were established, and that the offices be filled by men who had endeavored to maintain a virtuous way of life. The foremost of the examples of virtue which Paul gave was that they were to have been the husbands of one wife, and that they had children without the possibility that they themselves could be accused of disobedience. We also perceive this to mean that men who would be leaders of Christian assemblies should have experience raising families of their own, they should be committed to those families, and that their children in turn must also be true members of the race, since otherwise the men would be chargeable.
Making these admonitions to Titus, Paul advised him that the “Cretans are always liars”, evidently quoting the Cretan poet Epimenides. Since Epimenides was a Cretan, modern commentators interpret the statement paradoxically, but we have asserted that Paul and other early Christian writers did not interpret it in that manner. Rather, they accepted it at face value. The early 2nd century Greek writer Plutarch also accepted the statement of Epimenides as being true, and it seems to have been a common observation, as he even used the term κρητισμός, or Cretan behavior, to describe the act of lying. Paul himself had said of the saying of Epimenides that “13 This testimony is true, for which cause you must censure them relentlessly, that they would be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to myths of Judaism and injunctions of men turning themselves away from the truth.” So Paul seems to be using the line from Epimenides as a rhetorical device in order to warn Titus of how important it is that he make certain that the most pious and virtuous men among the Christians in Crete were given the responsibility of supervising each assembly, men who exhibited piety in the conduct of their lives, and not merely men who professed piety with their lips.
By “myths of Judaism” Paul certainly was not referring to the Old Testament scriptures, which he himself had so frequently quoted in reference to history, and the necessity to keep the law, and the promises and prophecies of Yahweh God. Rather, Paul was referring to everything which the Judaeans – whether they were Israelites or Edomites – had added in addition to the Scripture, things which Yahweh God did not command. Among these things were the ordinances and rituals that Christ had called the “traditions of the elders”, which He described as invalidating the law of God (Mark 7:13). So here Paul is once again addressing the lies of the Judaizers.
These “traditions of the elders” added many injunctions to the law requiring men to do things that went far beyond, or that were often contrary to, the commandments of Yahweh. They were a sort of proto-Talmud, an early oral version of the book of the Jews which exists as a disputation of both God and virtue. One of these traditions things was baptism. There were specific reasons why John the Baptist was baptizing, but the rulers of Judaea recognized the baptism of John and were curious to inquire where his authority came from because they themselves had codified the practice into their own traditions for their own purposes. Jewish synagogues to this day have what they call a mikveh, which is a bath in which certain Jewish ritual purifications are performed. In English it would be called a baptismal fount. In the laws of Yahweh, only the priests were required to be ceremonially cleansed, for particular reasons. Aside from that, there is nothing in the law concerning the ceremonial baptizing of people.
Here is a citation and some comments which we first made in an article titled Baptism, In What?, perhaps a dozen years ago:
It is observed at Matthew 23:15 that the Pharisees were proselytizing (“converting”) all sorts of people into Judaism. It seems that after the absorption of the Edomites into Judaea recorded by Josephus (i.e. Antiquities 13:9:1) and Strabo (16.2.34) and explained by Paul (Romans chapters 9 to 11), that anything became possible. Baptism – not the cleansing of one who was already an Israelite, but rather seen as the mystical metamorphosis of one who was not – was an important part of such proselytizing. John Lightfoot, the 17th century cleric, in volume 2 on pages 55 to 63 in A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, explains the details of this proselytizing: “Whensoever any heathen will betake himself, and be joined to the covenant of Israel ... and take the yoke of the law upon him, voluntary circumcision, baptism, and oblation, are required ... ‘If an Israelite take a Gentile child ... or find a Gentile infant, and baptizeth him in the name of a proselyte – behold, he is a proselyte’ ... First, You see baptism inseparably joined to the circumcision of proselytes ... Secondly, Observing from these things which have been spoken, how very known and frequent the use of baptism was among the Jews, the reason appears very easy why the Sanhedrim, by their messengers, inquire not of John concerning the reason of baptism, but concerning the authority of the baptizer; not what baptism meant, but whence he had a license so to baptize, John 1:25 ...” and Lightfoot goes on to explain that once a proselyte was baptized he was considered “an Israelite in all respects”, the same attitude that all of the so-called ‘churches’ have today, taking anyone at all in off the streets and baptizing them as ‘Christians’! Yet it is evident that John did no such thing, for he wouldn’t baptize a viper: Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7.
Now it is important to try to understand this from a first century perspective. If one is a Judaizer among the Christians, who formerly believed that baptism and circumcision were necessary to come into the communion of God in the Old Testament as it was being practised by the Judaeans at that time, then it is only natural that since baptism and circumcision were inextricably linked in that manner that such a Judaizer would also insist that anyone coming into the communion of God in Christ would have to undergo the same rituals. When Paul took Titus to Jerusalem, some time around 52 AD, we read in Galatians chapter 2 that “… neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised…” however there is no mention of baptism. But if we look into the traditional procedure for conversion as John Lightfoot has found it in the Talmud and as the Jews continue to practice it today, it is evident that the rituals were indeed linked together in that fashion. Baptism is not generally required for the common people in the laws of Yahweh, and while among Christians for the longest time circumcision was dropped, baptism was maintained. Ostensibly, this is because Christians have failed to distinguish between the baptism of Christ and the baptism of John.
John the Baptist himself had said that “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” This is recorded in Matthew chapter 3 and in Luke chapter 3, and again in the Gospel of John (1:33), it is expressed by John the Baptist in a slightly different manner. Then in the Book of Acts, in chapter 1 we read, as Christ addresses the apostles: “5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” But in spite of these statements, the apostles continued the water baptism ritual for those turning to Christ. Then later, in Acts chapter 10, upon the preaching of the Gospel by Peter at the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius, he noticed that the Holy Spirit descended on all those who heard him apart from and prior to any water baptism. Reflecting on that event a little later on, Peter is recorded as having said in Acts chapter 11: “15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” [Peter was recalling the words of Christ recorded in Acts chapter 1, perhaps as many as seven or eight years earlier judging by the events recorded in Acts chapters 11 and 12.]
This is when the apostles finally distinguished between the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ, in Acts chapter 11, and from this point forward water is not again mentioned in direct connection with their baptism. For example, when Apollos appears preaching in Corinth, we read in Acts chapter 18 that “25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” So it must be admitted that the baptism of John is not the perfect way of God. The baptism of Christ is a different baptism, a baptism of the spirit, and not in water, and it is the more perfect way.
Personal cleanliness is important to men, but it does not bring men closer to God. The cleanliness of God is another matter, and much more important. Later Paul said in Ephesians chapter 4 that there is one baptism, and in Ephesians 5 Paul explained that Christ gave Himself over on behalf of the body of his people “26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The washing of water by the word is in the hearing of the Gospel and a subsequent repentance from sin, not in the act of water baptism. Water baptism and the idea that man can justify himself in rituals should have been left behind in the first century. It is the work of the Judaizers that there remained any vestiges of such rituals in Christianity. As Christ Himself told His disciples, in John chapter 15: “3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
This is just one example of the many rituals promoted by the Judaizers which lead men to self-righteousness, rather than to the righteousness of God. The Judaeans had supposed that any man could be baptized and be a proselyte, but Christ Himself said that unless a man is born from above, he could not see the kingdom of heaven. As Paul had explained here, Titus was a pure child of the race according to the common belief, so he was apparently born from above, as only the children of Adam are the children of Yahweh God. To this there has always been opposition, so Paul continues and says:
15 All things are clean to the clean. But to those defiled and faithless nothing is clean, but even their minds and consciences are defiled.
Paul is not saying that everything is clean, and once again we must examine the context of the Scripture and of his own letters in order to understand this statement. What is clean and unclean is determined by Yahweh God in His law, and Paul had no authority to change that law. Gode does not change, as He says in Malachi chapter 3.
For instance, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul himself indicates that there are unclean people who are not to be considered clean, and Christians are exhorted to come out from among them and be separated. Paul wrote that epistle only a short time after he wrote this epistle to Titus, and Titus was with him in Nicopolis when he said “14, Do not become yoked together with untrustworthy aliens; for what participation has justice and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light towards darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what share the faithful with the faithless? 16 And what agreement has a temple of Yahweh with idols? For you are a temple of the living Yahweh; just as Yahweh has said, ‘I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 17 On which account ‘Come out from the midst of them and be separated,’ says the Prince, and ‘do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you’. 18 ‘And I will be to you for a father, and you will be mine for sons and daughters, says the almighty Prince.’”
In Romans chapter 14, written at an even later time, Paul said that “14 I know and have confidence by Prince Yahshua, that nothing is of itself profane: except to he who considers anything to be profane, to him it is profane.” There in that verse the King James Version has unclean rather than profane, and this leads to the necessity for a greater investigation of what Greek words such as that translated as profane mean, as Esau was called a profane man by Paul on account of his race-mixing fornication.
The word which the King James Version often translates as profane is βέβηλος (Strong’s # 952), and according to Liddell & Scott it describes something which is “allowable to be trodden, permitted to human use”. Paul used this word to describe Esau, where he also called him a fornicator in that same passage of Hebrews chapter 12. Ostensibly, Esau was considered βέβηλος because when he committed fornication by race-mixing he departed from holiness, as the word for holy, ἄγιος, denotes something separated and dedicated to God. Committing fornication, Esau forsook his birthright and made himself to be βέβηλος.
From the Septuagint, from Leviticus chapter 10, we read this commandment to the sons of Aaron: “9 Ye shall not drink wine nor strong drink, thou and thy sons with thee, whensoever ye enter into the tabernacle of witness, or when ye approach the altar, so shall ye not die; it is a perpetual statute for your generations, 10 to distinguish between sacred and profane, and between clean and unclean, 11 and to teach the children of Israel all the statutes, which the Lord spoke to them by Moses.” In the Greek of that passage, holy and profane are ἄγιος and βέβηλος, while clean and unclean are καθαρός and ἀκάθαρτος. [As a digression, the Levites were permitted wine at other times, but here in Titus, Paul also admonishes that Christian elders must be sober in the fulfillment of their duties.]
There are two different Greek words which the King James Version translates as unclean. One is κοινός (Strong’s # 2839) and the other is ἀκάθαρτος (Strong’s # 169). The word κοινός is properly common, and such things were considered unclean because they were not properly treated according to the law. However they could be washed and sanctified on the altar. A person who is βέβηλος may choose to repent, as Paul indicates where he used the term again in 1 Timothy 1:9, however that was not the case with Esau.
In the New Testament, the word ἀκάθαρτος was generally used to refer to things which are unclean according to the law of God, and could therefore never be cleansed. But something which was considered common, or κοινός, could indeed be cleansed. This distinction is often overlooked, and therefore passages which refer to things as profane, common or unclean are often misunderstood, and have even been mistranslated. Where Paul used the word unclean, or as we have it, profane, in Romans chapter 14 the Greek word is κοινός and therefore it refers to things which may be cleansed. But the unclean people of 2 Corinthians chapter 6 where Paul says “come out from among them” are ἀκάθαρτος, meaning that for some reason or other they cannot be cleansed, so Paul never indicates that they could somehow be converted. Contrary to the notions of the Jews, baptism could not help them.
The apostle Peter made this distinction in Acts chapter 10 where he said “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” There the word common is κοινός, and unclean is ἀκάθαρτος. But Yahweh responded to him and said: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Notice that in the response things which are common are referred to, but not things which are unclean, or ἀκάθαρτος. So one is obliged to examine what Yahweh had cleansed, and to do so honestly we must enquire into the Word of Yahweh.
In Jeremiah chapter 33 the Word of Yahweh says of the children of Israel: “8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” Again, in Ezekiel chapter 37 Yahweh said likewise where we read in part: “23... I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.” So we read in Isaiah chapter 56, in a prophecy of Christ, that “6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The children of Israel were commanded to be holy, and without exception they made themselves profane and common in their sin, but they were promised the cleansing of the Word of God. This cleansing is promised whether they themselves believe Jesus or not, as these promises are without exception, as Paul had written in Romans chapter 11 where he said “29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief [referring to the Israelites amongst the Judaeans]: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” In the end it does not really matter how one believes because what one believes is not of himself. It is Yahweh our God who determines what each of us believes, as He reveals His purpose to man.
This we read in Proverbs chapter 16: “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” So what matters more than what men believe is their works, in relation to the treasure which they store up in heaven, but that is an issue apart from salvation itself. How we live our lives once we receive the Gospel of Christ is related to our works and our reward, and the Gospel can preserve our earthly lives when we hear it because we choose to keep God’s law. But this is also a separate issue from eternal salvation, as Paul said in Hebrews chapter 10 that by the Will of God “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The Proverbs ask later, in chapter 20: “9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” As Paul had written in Romans, all men sin and fall short of the glory of God.
So where Paul says “All things are clean to the clean”, he evidently refers to all things which are clean in the law of God, and not in the eyes of man. Things which are unclean in the law of God should always be unclean in the estimation of man, as they remained unclean to the apostle Peter. God does not change. In the same chapters of Isaiah where he promised to take upon Himself all of the sins of the children of Israel, so that they would be cleansed, he nevertheless condemned those who purify themselves, ostensibly with baptism rituals, and who eat swine’s flesh, in Isaiah chapters 65 and 66. There the Word of Yahweh says: “16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. 17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.”
The things which are not unclean in the law, but which were only deemed profane or common, should not be considered unclean to men. Therefore, in Romans chapter 14, 1 Corinthians chapter 8, Colossians chapter 2 and Hebrews chapter 13 Paul explained that men should not be bothered by foods sacrificed to idols, as the idol was powerless and could not change the nature of the food itself. Of course, Paul was talking about food and the ordinances of man, and not about things which were pronounced unclean by the laws of God. In this manner he spoke to the Hebrews and said “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Hebrews 13:9). There he makes the example that the ordinances of the Judaeans concerning the handling of food did not profit them in their standing with God.
Then Paul says here: “But to those defiled and faithless nothing is clean, but even their minds and consciences are defiled.” As we often quote from Euripides, “...the bastard is always regarded as an enemy to the true-born” (Hippolytus, lines 962-963). The word for defiled here is neither βέβηλος, κοινός nor ἀκάθαρτος, but rather it is from the verb μιαίνω (Strong’s # 3392), which is primarily to stain, dye, and then in that sense, to defile, sully, and in a moral sense, to taint, defile, according to Liddell & Scott.
The word faithless in Titus 1:14 is from the Greek adjective ἄπιστος (Strong’s # 571) and the translation is literal. However there are Israelites without faith, and then there are those outside of the faith, those for whom it is not meant who shall always be faithless, since in the Christian dispensation it is not merely what the individual believes that matters, but rather it is what Abraham believed that matters, since as Paul explained in Romans chapter 4, the promise is certain to all of the seed on account of the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What Abraham believed had mattered, and therefore even Rebecca knew that the wives of Esau, her own first-born son, had disqualified him from the birthright.
There are many sins by which the children of Israel had defiled themselves, and they were promised to be cleansed from them all. However the one notable sin by which Esau had lost his inheritance and his chance for repentance is also described where many of the children of Israel were guilty of it, in Hosea chapter 5 where it says “3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled… 6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them. 7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.” But Yahweh had mercy on Israel, and promised to cleanse them in the nations of their captivity, as it says in Amos chapter 9: “9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” Yahweh did not have such mercy on Esau, but as Paul explained in Romans 9, He made Jacob a vessel for mercy, and Esau a vessel for destruction.
As the apostle John said in chapter 5 of his first epistle that “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it”, there is a sin which cannot be cleansed, and that is, ostensibly, the sin of being race-mixed. There are scoffers who claim that being race-mixed, being a mongrel, is not the fault of the individual, and therefore the bastards should not suffer for it. But in chapter 2 of the Revelation, when the fornicator Jezebel is portrayed as having refused to repent, Yahshua said that he would throw her and those who commit fornication with her onto a bed and into great tribulation, and that He would kill their children with death. He did not say that He would kill the sinners, but rather that He would destroy the product of their sins.
In Jeremiah chapter 2 there are three references to race-mixing among the children of Israel, where we read: “13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Then a little further on the Word of Yahweh says “21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” And then in the next verse we read: “22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. 23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim?” That word for polluted in the Septuagint is the same word which we have here, μιαίνω. There are broken cisterns which cannot be put back together again, there are plants which Yahweh did not plant which must therefore be rooted up, and there is sin that cannot be cleansed. All of these are allegories for the race-mixing of Israel with the Canaanites.
So where Paul mentions those who are faithless, he may be referring to the sinful state of Israelites apart from Christ, but where he mentions those who are stained, or defiled, he certainly seems to be referring to the bastard Edomites and other Canaanites among the Judaeans. The Greeks also had Edomites and Canaanites among them. Those who are defiled will forever judge the world by their own defiled spirits, and dispute whether anyone or anything can really be clean because they can only see the world through their own defiled eyes. Those who have the Spirit of God put their faith in God, and not in the ritual cleansings and works of the law which were promoted among early Christians by the Jews.
Thus we read in Mark chapter 7: “1 And the Pharisees and some of the scribes having come from Jerusalem gather together to Him. 2 And seeing some of His students, that with profane [κοινός] hands – that is, unwashed – they eat bread (3 for the Pharisees and all the Judaeans if they do not wash the hands to the elbow they do not eat, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and from the marketplace if they do not rinse they do not eat, and there are many other things which they undertook to hold to, washings of cups and pitchers and pots) 5 and the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Him: ‘For what reason do Your students not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but with profane hands they eat bread?’” Christ then chastised them for this attitude. It is not that one should not keep clean utensils, but the Judaeans would not use such utensils unless they were cleaned in a certain ritualistic manner. This is alluded to briefly in John 1:6. The cleansing rituals were then forced on men as law, but it was never the law of Yahweh.
The Judaizers neglect the laws of Yahweh God, and then they would take people that can never be cleansed in the eyes of God and profess for them to be converted by cleansing them in water. Where in the law or the Gospel does it say that men must be baptized in conjunction with a belief in Christ or else be damned? In Mark chapter 16, verse 16, and the last eleven verses of the Gospel of Mark were added by Judaizers in the 5th century AD. Two other manufactured endings for the gospel of Mark also began appearing in certain manuscripts around this same time. We would not discourage men from coming to Christ. Rather, we only seek to encourage men to seek the righteousness of God, and not the approval of men. It is the cleanliness of God which the men whom He has approved should seek after, and not the approval given in the pronouncements of men. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 10: “18 For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
The Judaizers would care more about cleansing cups and bowls and hands before they eat, while neglecting the much more serious sins they have committed by soiling the body of Christ with bastards. Then as soon as a “pure child according to the common belief” exhorts men to follow the laws of God in reference to what is clean and what is unclean, the same Judaizers accuse him of being unclean. The pattern of justifying sin in this manner is evidently as old the devil himself. To the unclean, nothing is clean so that he can pretend to hide in his sin. To the Jew, no race is pure so that they can make bastards of all men, because they themselves are bastards. So Paul concludes:
16 They profess to know Yahweh, but in deeds they deny, being abominable and disobedient and [א wants “and”] rejected for all good [א wants “good”] works.
As Christ had said in response to those who accused His disciples of eating with unwashed hands, in the subsequent verses of the passage which we have already cited from Mark chapter 7: “6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
These men which Paul describes as tainted and without the faith deny Yahweh in their actions, no matter what they profess with their lips. Furthermore, Paul did not say that they themselves rejected good works. Rather, Paul said they themselves were rejected for good works, indicating that Yahweh God never wanted the Judaizers who were defiled and without the faith in the first place. Paul is still referring to the Judaizers here among the Cretans. With this it is evident that Paul is warning Titus, that it does not matter what the Cretans profess with their lips, but only how they actually conduct themselves in the course of their lives. The Cretans being liars, could not be trusted to be telling the truth by professing Yahshua Christ, but only by whether they followed Him by seeking to live in true piety in the cleanliness of God.
Now we shall commence with Titus chapter 2:
2 1 Now you speak things which are suitable to sound doctrine.
Paul continues to exhort Titus to settle the apparent problems in Crete, and it is not that Titus does not know these things. Rather, Paul seems to be reminding him in order to encourage him to preach them to the Cretans, reinforcing basic doctrines with the hopes of resolving whatever troubles they were having. Having done this, Paul has unwittingly left us a record by which we may understand what behavior the apostles expected of both leaders and members of a Christian community. It is certainly nothing like we may find in the later Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
2 Elders are to be sober, reverent, discreet, sound in the faith, in love, in patience.
The Greek word νηφάλιους (Strong’s # 3524) literally means unmixed with wine, or wineless, and therefore speaking of persons, sober, according to Liddell & Scott. However Paul was not demanding a complete abstention from wine. Rather, he had at nearly this same time instructed Timothy in his first epistle to him to “use a little wine” for sake of his stomach and other ailments which beset him. Secular Greek writers such as Strabo spoke of the medicinal qualities of wine in that same regard. In an exhortation which corresponds to this one, in 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul encourages that elders, or bishops, be “not given to wine” and deacons, or ministers, be “not given to much wine”. Paul is not suggesting that men in different capacities be held to different standards, but rather he is speaking in generalities so as to communicate the ideal. A little wine is not a sin, but the drunkenness and profligacy that accompany much wine are indeed sinful. The apostles and Christ Himself had wine at their table, and very likely drank at least a little wine with most of their meals, as was the ancient custom that is readily evident in many passages of Scripture.
The word for reverent is σεμνός (Strong’s # 4586), which when used of men means reverend, august, solemn, stately, [or] majestic, according to Liddell & Scott. The word temperate here is σώφρων (Strong’s # 4998), which was used in two ways, meaning to be “of sound mind, sensible, discreet, [or] wise” or, as we have reflected here, “having control over the sensual desires, temperate, self-controlled, moderate, chaste, sober”, according to Liddell & Scott. The phrase “sound in the faith” may have been translated as “healthy in the faith”, as a Christian should be studied in the knowledge of the Scripture.
Paul made a distinction between those who deny Christ, and those who merely lack belief, in 2 Timothy chapter 2 where he wrote, speaking of Christ, that “12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
In this day and age, and especially since Satan – the international Jew – has deceived the whole world, even those who deny Christ are not really denying the Christ of the Scriptures, since they have never been properly taught of the Christ of the Scriptures. In reality, they are denying an idol which has been set up by the enemies of Christ and worshipped the world over, a hippie-flower child Jesus who loves everyone and tells men to let their enemies destroy them. But where Paul said of Christ in 2 Timothy that “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself”, he means that Christ will keep His promises even when men do not believe the Gospel, so all Israel shall indeed be saved.
To accept the Gospel and to act on that acceptance in this life is a wonderful blessing, and there should certainly be blessings for that from God. But as Paul also said in his epistles to Timothy, in 1 Timothy chapter 5, “24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” That indicates that some men will not repent in this life, but that they will have an opportunity to repent later. Otherwise, what is the purpose of such a judgment?
Paul continues with an exhortation concerning women:
3 Elderwomen in like manner in a condition befitting sanctity, not slanderous, not enslaved to much wine, teachers of virtue 4 in order that they may admonish the young women to be lovers of husband, lovers of children, 5 discreet, pure, good homemakers, being subject to their own husband in order that the word of Yahweh is not [C has “and the teaching are not”, compare 1 Timothy 6:1] blasphemed.
First note that women are charged with the education of young women. There were no public schools in the first century. Young men were with their fathers or put off to learn a trade, and young women were at home with their mothers until they were married.
The word for sanctity in this instance is from the Greek word ἱεροπρεπής (Strong’s # 2412). This is compounded from the words ἱερος, which means divine or wonderful but which was also used to refer to things sacred to the gods, and a verb, πρέπω, which means to be clearly seen, conspicuous, or in certain contexts to be like or resemble. So Christian women should keep their appearance in a condition which is worthy of God.
The word translated as slanderous here is from the Greek word διάβολος, an adjective used to mean slanderous or backbiting, according to Liddell & Scott. It commonly appears in the Scriptures as a Substantive, meaning that it is used as a noun, and is translated as devil, or as false accuser in the Christogenea New Testament. It may have been translated as slanderer. In ancient Greece, the verb βάλλω simply meant to throw, but βόλος was used to signify the cast of a net, so a διάβολος is one who attempts to trap a man by casting false accusations.
Again we see an exhortation, that women not be given to much wine. They were certainly permitted to drink some wine, but drunkenness is not a condition befitting sanctity.
The word οἰκουρός (Strong’s # 3626) is translated here as home-maker. The word literally means home-worker. According to Liddell & Scott, in other contexts the word was used of watchdogs, or contemptuously of men who refused to go off to war. It is a “watching or keeping the house” or refers to “keeping at home… [a] mistress of the house [or] housekeeper”. This has been the traditional role of women, and is a vital role for women to fulfil in the maintenance of strong Christian communities.
For that reason Paul says that women must be “subject to their own husband in order that the word of Yahweh is not blasphemed.” The 5th century Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) has the end of that verse to read “that the word of Yahweh and the teaching are not blasphemed”, to which we may compare 1 Timothy 6:1. Women should be subject to their husbands not necessarily for their husbands’ sake, but for their own sake, and for respect of Yahweh their God.
The apostle Peter spoke of this same thing in chapter 3 of his first epistle where he said “1 Likewise the wives being subject to their own husbands, in order that if some then disobey the Word, through the conduct of the wives they shall have advantage without the Word, 2 observing in fear your pure conduct, 3 of which the dress must not be outward with braids of hair and applications of gold or putting on of garments, 4 but the hidden man of the heart with the incorruptibility of the gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious before Yahweh. 5 For thusly at one time also the holy women who have hope in Yahweh had dressed themselves being subject to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah had obeyed Abraham calling him master, whose children you have been born to do good and not fearing any terror.” Paul explained this same thing 1 Timothy, in greater detail, in relation to dress and behavior, and also in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 in relation to behavior, that pious women can help bring their wayward husbands to repentance through their own good conduct.
So the woman is the pillar of the household, and in our feminist society, where men have failed to be men, so women have tried to be men and children grow up all confused, things only get progressively worse. In the first sin of man, Adam failed to keep his wife subject, and for that reason Yahweh said to Eve that “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” But that was not necessarily her punishment. Rather, Yahweh was restoring her to her proper place in His Creation.
6 In like manner encourage the young men to have discretion
The word for discretion is σώφρων, which we discussed in verse 2 where we had translated it as temperance. This is all that Paul says here concerning young men, except that now he exhorts Titus as to how he should conduct himself among them, because he would certainly be a role model to the young men:
7 concerning all things, presenting yourself as a model of good works, incorrupt in the teaching, reverence, 8 sound speech not condemnable, that one of the opposition would have respect, having nothing petty to say concerning us [A has “you”].
The papyrus P32, which is believed to date to about 200 AD, has “without envy in the teaching” in place of “incorrupt in the teaching”, ἀφθονία rather than ἀφθορία, a difference of one letter. The text follows the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus (א), the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D), and the Majority Text, which varies only slightly. At the end of verse 7, the Majority Text interpolates another word which may mean incorruption, which is ἀφθαρσία, and was translated in the King James Version as sincerity in order to avoid the redundancy. Neither the papyrus P32 or the ancient Codices cited here have the additional word.
In verse 8 where we have “that one of the opposition would have respect”, the King James Version has “that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed”. The difference is in our treatment of the Greek word ἐντρέπω (Strong’s # 1788), for which we have been criticized. For this same word, the King James Version has “to be ashamed” at 2 Thessalonians 3:14 and at Titus 2:8, but “to revere” or “reverence” at Matthew 21:37, Mark 12:6, Luke 20:13, and Hebrews 12:9, and “to regard” at Luke 18:2 and 4. Under their definition of ἐντρέπω Liddell & Scott have “to feel shame or fear”, citing only the New Testament, at ἐντρέπω II. 4. Yet according to Liddell & Scott the general meaning of the word is “to turn about...linger, hesitate...to turn towards, give heed to, pay regard to, to respect or reverence...”. We cannot agree that ἐντρέπω should mean “to shame” here, as the enemies of God have often been characterized by their own lack of shame. Rather, they would be compelled to respect Christians publicly, having nothing to accuse them of publicly.
Now Paul speaks concerning slaves, or bondmen:
9 Bondmen are to be subject to their own masters in all things. To be well pleasing, not gainsaying. 10 Not pilfering, but displaying [א wants “displaying”; the text follows A, C, and D, and the MT] all good trustworthiness, in order that they would honor the teaching of Yahweh our Savior in all things.
The word for bondmen here is the plural of δοῦλος, which in Classical Greek was “properly, a born bondman or slave, opposed to one made a slave”, according to Liddell & Scott. Christianity, as well as the Old Testament law, understood that men may become slaves under certain circumstances, even as a matter of birth if their fathers were slaves, and did not require even Christian slave owners to relinquish their property rights. Slavery was a fact of life in the ancient world, and it is still with us today even if it is frequently and rather misleadingly called employment.
The word for honor in verse 10 is from the Greek verb κοσμέω (Strong’s # 2885), which is primarily “to order, arrange” but also, according to Liddell & Scott, “III. 3. to honor, pay honour to” and so it is here in this context. The King James Version has adorn, and the verb also bears that meaning. For that reason we consider the derivative word κόσμος to be the Society, as the adornment of the οἰκουμένη, which is the physical dwelling-place of man.
In reference to the lowly state of slaves, Paul continues:
11 For the delivering favor of Yahweh [א interpolates “the Savior”; the text follows A, C, D, and the MT which varies slightly] has been displayed to all men, 12 teaching us that, rejecting impiety and the lusts of this Society, discreetly and righteously and piously we should live in this present age, 13 expecting the blessed hope and manifestation of the honor of the Great Yahweh, even our Savior Yahshua Christ, 14 who gave Himself over in behalf of us, in order that He would redeem us from all lawlessness, and may purify for Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 You speak [A has “teach”] these things and exhort and prove with all authority. Let no one hold you in contempt.
Of course, the authority to prove these things is Scripture, for which the Bereans were commended in Acts chapter 17. The Greek word περιούσιος (Strong’s # 4041) is translated as peculiar and appears only here in the New Testament. A similar meaning was expressed at 1 Peter 2:9 using a different term. However this same word περιούσιος appears in the Septuagint at Exodus 19:5 and 23:22 (wanting in the A.V.), Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, and 26:18. In the corresponding King James Version passages, taken from the Masoretic Hebrew texts, the meaning is the same. There should be no doubt that as it was in Exodus and Deuteronomy, so it is in 1 Peter and here in Titus, that the phrase is used exclusively of the genetic offspring of the original, true Israelites. The apostle Peter told his Christian readers in the provinces of Anatolia: “9 But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light, 10 who at one time were "not a people" but now are the people of Yahweh, those who ‘have not been shown mercy’ but are now shown mercy.” The last statement is a citation of the prophet Hosea, where it was prophesied that where the children of Israel were renounced by God, not being shown mercy and being called by Him “not My people”, that those very same children of Israel would one day be called His people once again, and would be shown mercy. Nobody else can claim a role in the prophesy, and therefore nobody else can claim any part with Christ.
While there are many other aspects of this passage that may be discussed, here we see once again that the children of Israel are redeemed from all lawlessness, and that it is Yahweh who endeavors to purify them for Himself. They certainly cannot cleanse themselves, but they should seek the cleanliness of God. Paul is exhorting Titus to this understanding so that he may confront the Judaizers, those who imagine themselves to be the purifiers of men through their rituals. For that Paul tells him “Let no one hold you in contempt”, because men are not cleansed through rituals, but the children of Israel are promised to adorn the cleanliness of God.
Yahweh willing, we shall discuss some of those other aspects of this passage when we resume our presentation of Titus.