Matters of ministry concern, 1:5-3:11

ii] A warning against false teachers


Having mentioned that an elder needs to be able to oppose error, Paul goes on to explain (gar) how this eldership requirement applies to those who are "full of meaningless talk, ... especially those of the circumcision group". Paul goes into some detail describing these heretics, making the point that they must be silenced. Their teachings damage the Christian fellowship and so they must be rebuffed.


i] Context: See 1:5-9.


ii] Background: See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: Paul's instructions concerning false teachers:

Refute those who oppose the gospel, v9b:

Reasons why the heretics should be muzzled, v10-11:

immoral deceivers;

"especially those of the circumcision party";

harming believing families;

erroneous teaching;


Text, 12-13a:

A Cretan prophecy.

Application, v13b-14:

Rebuke those toying with the heresy

that their faith may be orthodox;

and able to resist heresy.

An indictment of the heretics, v15-16:


for the pure in Christ everything is pure;

for the unbeliever nothing is pure.

The heretics:


profess to know God (pure);

their deeds deny them;

totally corrupted.


iv] Interpretation:

As Marshall puts it, "the denunciation of the false teachers and their followers is extremely harsh", but from the author's perspective, the heresy promoted by the false teachers has the potential of taking believers back into a state of disbelief and ungodliness. For this reason, Titus is instructed to challenge their teaching and silence them.

There is no systematic analysis of the false teachers and their belief system, but we are given a number of insights. It seems likely that they are believers who have turned away from the truth and now rely on "Jewish myths and merely human commands." It is likely that Paul's comments in v15 indicate that they are focused on ritual purity. Later, in 3:9-11, Paul will state that they are into "foolish controversies, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law." He even identifies them as "those of the circumcision party", 1:10.

So, it is likely that Paul is focused on his old enemy the Judaizers, and their nomist heresy of sanctification by obedience to the Law, as against his gospel of grace. This is the same heresy addressed in First Timothy, the heresy Timothy is encouraged to confront in Ephesus. See "Background" above. Of course, if this letter is pseudonymous and of a later date, toward the end of the first century, then the author is probably addressing a form of Jewish gnostic mythology, a heresy which was evident in the Christian church in the second century.

Text - 1:10

Warnings against false teachers, v10-16: i] Reasons why the heretics should be muzzled, v10-11. The last in the list of qualifications required for the appointment of an elder is their knowledge of the gospel and their ability to teach it and refute those who oppose it. On the issue of refuting those who oppose the gospel, Paul now gives an insight into the opponents themselves, explaining why it is necessary to refute them. First, they are deceivers, v10.

gar "for" - for [there are many, and rebellious, empty talkers and deceivers]. More reason than cause, and somewhat transitional, so best left untranslated; "There are many, particularly converts from Judaism / members of the circumcision party, who are rebellious (unwilling to be subject to the gospel), and who fool others with deceitful nonsense."

kai "-" - and. Variant, possibly emphatic, "indeed", or even taken with polloi, "many", and anupotaktoi, "rebellious", so producing a hendiadys; "there are many rebellious people, particularly converts from Judaism / members of the circumcision party, who fool others with deceitful nonsense", as NIV

malista adv. "especially" - Superlative adverb, but possibly with an appositional sense here, "that is", so Knight, "namely", Marshall. If this is the case, then Paul is saying that all the false teachers, those rebellious people, empty talkers and deceivers, are of/from the circumcision party.

oiJ "those" - the ones. The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the prepositional phrase "of the circumcision" into a substantive.

ek + gen. "of" - from [the circumcision]. Either serving as a partitive genitive, "of the circumcision", or expressing source / origin, "from the circumcision." "Circumcision party", ESV, is probably intended, namely the Judaizers, although a general sense should not be excluded, ie.,"namely, those who were former Jews", or "especially those who were former Jews."


The false teachers need to be "muzzled / silenced" because they are disturbing believing families, teaching false doctrine. Added to this, they see there service to the church as a means of financial gain. "One who regards ecclesiastical office as a means of making money will be particularly liable to trim his teaching by anything but the truth", Barrett.

epistomizein (epistomizw) pres. inf. "silenced" - to silence, stop the mouths of [whom is necessary]. The infinitive, and its direct object ou}V, "whom", stand as the subject of the verb "is necessary." Simpson suggests "silenced by force of reason", but somewhat of a stab in the dark, whereas Hanson argues that to silence a person amounts to excommunication.

oi{tineV ind. pro. "because they [are disrupting]" - who [overturn, overthrow = ruin whole households]. The function here of this indefinite pronoun is unclear, but it seems to introduce an epexegetic relative clause qualifying / limiting the opening relative clause "whom it is necessary to silence" by specifying something about it; "these are those who are upsetting families by their teaching", or "in that they are ....", or "inasmuch as they are.....", Ellicott. A causal sense, as NIV, carries the idea well; "since they are upsetting whole families", NRSV.

didaskonteV (didaskw) pres. part. "by teaching" - teaching. The participle is adverbial, temporal, "when they teach", or instrumental, expressing means, "by teaching", or causal, "because they teach ..."

a} acc. pro. "things" - what. Introducing a relative clause that serves as the object of the participle "teaching".

mh dei (dew) pres. "they ought not to teach" - it is not necessary = ought not teach. This impersonal verb assumes an infinitive "to teach" which serves as its subject; "to teach is not necessary." "By teaching things they should not", Knight, ie., Jewish myths and commandments / prohibitions.

carin + gen. "and that for" - for the sake of [dishonest gain]. This improper preposition expresses purpose / goal / end-view; "and by doing so for motives which are shamefully mercenary", Barclay.


ii] A Cretan prophecy and its application, v12-14. Paul now quotes a prophetic word attributed to the prophet Epimenedes of Crete, sixth-fifth centuries BC. In referring to him as a prophet, Paul would be thinking more of Balaam's ass than of an Old Testament prophet like Isaiah. Even Aristotle commented that his writings were rather obscure and referred more to the past than the future. Anyway, Paul thinks the quote well applies to the situation he is presently addressing: they are "liars" - "deceivers", v10; "evil brutes" - "rebellious", v10; "lazy gluttons" - out for "dishonest gain", v11. Yet, who does Paul have in minds - the unbelievers of Crete, church members, or the false teachers? See below.

ek + gen. "[one] of" - [said a certain one] of [them]. Here the preposition is used for a partitive genitive, "a certain one of them" = "one of them."

autwn gen. pro. "[own prophets]" - [ones own prophet] of them. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

aei adv. "always" - [cretans are] always [liars, evil beasts, useless gluttons]. Temporal adverb.


Paul states that this assessment of the Cretans is alhqhV, "true", and that "therefore" they should be reproved / rebuked. Titus needs to "pull them up sharply", NEB, iJna, "in order that" "they may become soundly established in the faith", Cassirer, ie., "be restored to an orthodox understanding of (Christian) doctrine", Marshall. Commentators are divided as to whether Paul has in mind the Cretan believers, or the false teachers. Cicero happily tarred everyone living in Crete with the same brush - "the Cretans .... consider highway robbery honourable", but is Paul into applying the tar liberally? It is very unlikely that Paul has in mind the secular society at large, so either he is referring to members of the congregation who have adopted the heresy of the false teachers, or the teachers themselves. In Second Timothy 2:25-26, we note that Paul believed it was possible for a false teacher to repent, so maybe Paul has in mind the false teachers. Knight is of the view that autouV, "them", refers to the Cretans, not the false teachers. The NIV follows this line of interpretation by distinguishing those who are rebuked in v13 from "those who reject the truth" in v14.

alhqhV adj. "true" - [this witness, testimony is] true. Predicate adjective.

di h}n aitian "therefore" - because of which cause, reason [reprove them]. The preposition dia is causal, but with the relative pronoun "which", and the noun "cause = the basis or reason for something", we end up with the inferential sense "therefore", as NIV.

apotomwV adv. "sharply" - severely, sharply. Adverb of manner.

iJna + subj. "that" - that [they may be healthy = sound, correct]. Introducing a purpose clause, "in order that."

en + dat. "in" - in [the faith]. Probably adverbial, reference / respect. "that they may grow stronger in their faith", CEV, although probably here "the faith", so "established in the faith", Cassirer.


Being "established in the faith" the Cretan believers will then be able to stand against the heresy promoted by the false teachers, their "Jewish myths" and "human commands" promoted at the expense of the "truth of the gospel."

mh proseconteV (prosecw) pres. part. "and will pay no attention to" - not paying attention to. The participle is adverbial, instrumental, expressing means; "in order that they may be sound in the faith by not paying attention to."

muqoiV (oV) dat. "myths" - [jewish] myths. As with "commandments", dative of direct object after the proV prefix participle "paying attention to." For the "Jewish myths / fables" see 1Tim.1:4, 4:7, 2Tim.4:4, ("genealogies", Tit.3:9), possibly "OT biographies of famous personages from whose sacred histories spiritual lessons might be drawn", Marshall.

anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "human [commands]" - [and] commandments [of men]. The genitive is best treated as ablative, expressing source / origin; commands that derive from men rather than God. For "commandments of men" see 1 Tim.2:2, 2.Tim.2:2 and also Titus 2:11, 3:2, 8, 10. If Jesus' reference to the commandments of men apply here, cf., Mk.7:6-9, "for they teach as divine commandments man-made rules and regulations" (Isa.29:13), then these commands entail the Old Testament Law, the interpretation of which is controlled and developed by tradition. The result is ascetic instruction for the purpose of sanctification, Col.2:20-23. Of course, assuming they are believers, then they would also be working off Jesus' ethical teachings to build up their "do's and don't" for the appropriation of holiness. As Paul asks the Galatians, who are toying with the idea that holiness is gained by observing the law, "after beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?", Gal.3:3. Paul wants the Cretan believers equipped with gospel truth so that they can counter the heresy of sanctification by obedience.

apostrefomenwn (apostrefw) pres. mid. part. "of those who reject [the truth]" - turning away from, rejecting [the truth]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "men"; "people who turn their backs on the truth", Berkeley.


iii] An indictment of the heretics, v15-16. For those who hold that Titus is late and pseudonymous, this verse is viewed as a poor reflection of Paul's teachings. Taken as Pauline, we would like something more than this abbreviated statement, but of course, Titus knows exactly what Paul is talking about. The heretics are into "human commands", man-made rules, regulations and rituals that supposedly protect a believer from defilement. For Paul, those made pure in Christ are free from defilement, and so are well able to apply the principle that all God's creatures are pure - "for the pure, all things are pure", cf. Mk.7:17-23. Of course, in Romans 14:13-23 and 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 Paul qualifies this principle, noting that a believer cannot claim something is pure when their conscience says it is not, nor can they proceed to do something they believe is pure when their actions may do harm to others. Nor is Paul arguing that a believer is free to sin, rather than free from sin, or even better, "shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?", Rom.6:1-2. As for the heretics, they no longer stand under grace, but under law, and so are corrupted; trying to be justified by law they are alienated from Christ, Gal.5:4. So, every ethical act, every ritual performed, is compromised by human sin and thus devoid of purity.

toiV kaqaroiV adj. "to the pure" - [all things are pure] to the pure. The adjective serves as a substantive, with the dative best treated as adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to those who are pure, all things are pure."

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument to a contrasting point, "but".

toiV ... memiammenoiV perf. mid./pas. part. "to those who are corrupted" - to the ones corrupted, polluted, defiled. As with "the ones unbelieving", The participle serves as a substantive, dative of reference / respect.

kaqaron adj. "pure" - [nothing is] pure. Predicate adjective. As Marshall notes the sense may be, "they regard nothing as pure", so Hanson, or "nothing can make them clean", although better, "they make everything they touch unclean", so Knight, Barrett, D/C.

alla "in fact" - but. This strong adversative here seems to lean toward a causal sense; "nothing is clean because ", so Marshall.

kai .... kai .. "both [their minds] and" - both [the mind of them] and [the conscience has been defiled]. Forming a correlative construction.


The heretics claim that they know God, that they are in a relationship with God. Assuming that they are nomist believers rather than Jewish gnostics, then their knowing God is through Christ, but their claim is undermined by their behaviour; "their actions speak louder than their words. They're real creeps, disobedient good-for-nothings", Peterson.

eidenai (oida) perf. inf. "to know God" - [they profess] to know [god]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they "profess".

toiV .... ergoiV (on ou) dat. "by their actions" - [but/and] by the = their works [they deny him]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.

onteV (eimi) pres. part. "they are" - being [abominable, detestable and disobedient]. The participle is adverbial, probably best treated as causal, "because"; "for they are obviously vile and rebellious", Phillips.

proV "-" - [and] toward [every good work, unqualified, worthless]. The preposition here may express purpose, "for the purpose of good works, unfit", or result, "with the result that they are unfit for every good work", or reference / respect, "and with respect to good works, unfit", or metaphorically spacial such that their unfitness "extends to" anything and everything they do, so Knight. The point is simple; "unfit for any good work", ESV.


Titus Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]