Matters of ministry concern, 1:5-3:11
vi] Disciplining opponentsArgument
Paul concludes his instructions to Titus by reminding him to avoid the disputations promoted by the false teachers in Crete, to warn them off, and if necessary, shun them.
i] Context: See 3:1-8. It seems likely that the statement "this is a trustworthy / faithful saying", v8a, applies to v3-7, although there is the possibility that it applies also to the accompanying ethical instructions. What is not clear is whether v8b also applies to v3-7. Marshall takes v8b with v9-11 such that Paul wants Titus to instruct the believers in Crete to express their faith in good works that are excellent and profitable for people, "rather than wasting time in useless theological discussions", so avoiding "disputes and disputatious people", Marshall, cf., Mounce, Quinn. Other commentators take v9-11 as instructions in their own right, serving as a further word on the subject of false teaching (1:10-16), although at the same time contrasting v1-8 (a contrast between profitable and unprofitable deeds), cf., Knight, Fee, Towner.
ii] Background: See 1:1-4.
iii] Structure: Paul's final instructions concerning the false teachers:
avoid the speculative and factious debates of the false teachers;
as regards the Law.
warn them (twice??);
such a person has a distorted mind and stands self-condemned.
Paul opens in v9 with a summary of the false teaching already detailed in 1:10-16, teaching which focuses on "genealogies", cf., 1Tim.1:4, and "the law", presumably the Torah, cf., 1Tim.1:6-7, 4:1-5 - "speculative teaching and rigorous devotion to rules and regulations", Fee. To focus on such is "unprofitable and worthless." In 1:11 Paul made the point that the false teachers should be silenced, but in the passage before us Paul makes two points. First, Titus should "avoid" engaging with the false teaching. Presumably this does not mean that he should "avoid" engaging with them altogether. Towner suggests that "avoid" does not preclude engaging them "with sound teaching and godly demeanour", 3:8. The second piece of advice seems to apply to a final act of discipline after numerous warnings, namely, the act of shunning, of handing a person "over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that their spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord", 1Cor.5:5.
Text - 3:9
Avoid the speculative and factious debates of the false teachers. "Together these descriptors measure the fruitlessness of these debates about interpretation in terms of the distance, both ethically and doctrinally, they put between God and people", Towner.
de "but" - but/and. The NIV takes this particle here as adversative, but it probably serves as a transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.
kai .. kai ... kai "and ... and ... and" - [avoid foolish debates] and [genealogies] and [quarrels] and. Serving here to establish a series. First, Titus is to avoid "foolish debates", the method of inquiry used by the false teachers which produces nothing but hot air. Second, "genealogies". It is unclear what Paul has in mind here. Those who see the false teachers as gnostic think that "genealogies" aligns with gnostic aeons and emanations, so Hanson, D/C. It seems more likely it has to do with the lives of OT heroes and speculations about their respective family trees - "Jewish speculations based on genealogies and similar matters in the Scriptures", Marshall. Whatever form these speculations take, they run counter to the apostolic faith. Third, "strife, dissensions, quarrels", or better "disputes" - fruitless arguments over interpretation. Fourth, "fights", "quarrels about the law", disputations over the interpretation of the Torah, the Mosaic Law, so Guthrie, etc., although other theories have been proposed, eg., rules for asceticism, D/C.
nomikaV (oV) adj. "about the law" - [fights, quarrels] relating / pertaining to the law. This attributive adjective takes the sense "about things pertaining to [the law]."
gar "because" - for [they are unprofitable and vain]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Titus should avoid the ways of the false teachers; because "they are a waste of time and get nowhere", Barclay.
Moving his gaze from the speculative and factious debates of the false teachers, Paul now focuses on the teachers themselves. Titus, in dealing with them as fellow believers, is to warn them that their flawed theology, and particularly at this point, their divisive behaviour, imperils their standing in Christ. Only after numerous warnings should Titus shun them, presumably in order to prompt them to consider their position, repent, and again be incorporated into the Christian fellowship, cf., 1Cor.5:5.
anqrwpon (oV) "a [divisive] person" - [avoid a divisive] man. Accusative direct object of the verb "to avoid."
meta + acc. "after that" - after [one and a second warning]. The preposition here serves to introduce a temporal clause; "you must warn him a first time and a second time", Barclay.
paraitou (paraiteomai) pres. imp. "have nothing to do with them" - avoid, reject, dismiss, refuse, decline. The present tense probably indicates a general command.
Paul goes on to explain why it is necessary to paraitou, "refuse" / shun some believers, namely, because there will always be one or two who are determined to persist with behaviour which damages the Christian fellowship. They ultimately stand self-condemned, placing themselves outside the fellowship of believers.
eidwV (oida) perf. part. "you may be sure" - knowing, recognising, being aware. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, "because"; "since you are well aware that ....", Cassirer.
oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Titus should be aware of.
exestraptai (ekstrefw) mid./pas. perf. "are warped" - [such a one] has been turned aside = perverted, corrupted, twisted. The perfect tense expresses a present state brought about by past actions; they have continued in their refusal to submit to the apostolic gospel; they continue in a "settled persistence in chosen erroneous views", Knight, and their divisive behaviour,.
aJmartainei (aJmartanw) pres. "sinful" - [and] sins. The present tense indicates ongoing action, possibly a state of self-pronounced guilt / sin. The conjunction kai, "and", may well be epexegetic, explaining / specifying the ongoing state of "having been warped"; "that is, they are sinners."
w}n (eimi) pres. part. "they are" - being [condemned]. "Self-condemned", BDAG. The participle is probably adverbial, best treated as consecutive, expressing result; "he is a sinner, and as a result is condemned." Although anarthrous (without an article), the participle could be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "such a person"; "such a person has been perverted, ie., he is a sinner who is condemned = they are sinners who stand condemned"