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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

In this chapter, the Apostle inculcates certain duties that were obligatory on the faithful in general, viz., subjection to the existing civil authorities, mildness towards all men, not excepting unbelievers. This feeling they will the more readily cultivate even towards unbelievers, by reflecting that they themselves were formerly like them, and also by reflecting that it was solely owing to the mercy of God that they were rescued from their former state. He shows the greatness of this mercy and its admirable results (3–7); and he exhorts Titus to point out this mercy to the faithful (8). He prohibits useless questions, etc., and he instructs him to avoid a heretic, who, after being twice admonished, contumaciously persists in error (10, 11). He invites Titus to come to him, etc.

Paraphrase

1. Admonish the Cretans to be subject to princes and to all who possess power over them, promptly to obey their orders, and to be prepared to perform every good work enjoined by them.

2. To refrain from unbecoming language regarding their neighbour, especially language of a reproachful, insulting nature, not to be contentious and fond of quarrelling, but to be mild and kind, manifesting the most perfect meekness towards all men.

3. For, we too were, in former times, corrupted in mind and heart: in mind, we were insensible to, and deprived of true wisdom—rebels to the light of faith, straying from the path of truth; in heart, we were the slaves of different corrupt desires and pleasures which domineered over us, full of secret malice and envy towards others, deserving of being universally hated, and hating others in turn.

4. But when the goodness and singular love for men of God our Saviour shone forth (by the preaching of the Gospel),

5. Not in consideration of the good works which we performed (for, there were no such works in existence), but out of his pure gratuitous mercy, he saved us by baptism, wherein we are regenerated into sons of God and were made new men, through the grace of the Holy Ghost.

6. Whom God the Father has copiously and abundantly poured forth on us, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

7. So that, cleansed from sin and gifted with justice through his grace, we are constituted heirs of eternal life, which we have at present, only in the certain hope of one day obtaining it.

8. All the things which I have said regarding justification and its effects, are undoubtedly true; and I wish that regarding them you would confirm your brethren, so that those who believe and trust in God would take care to excel others, and distinguish themselves in the performance of good works; for, these alone are, properly speaking, good and profitable to man.

9. But vain idle questions and genealogies, and futile contentions and strifes of words regarding the Law, reject and spurn, as idle and useless.

10. Shun the heretical man, who, after the first and second admonition, continues pertinacious.

11. Knowing that a heretic of this sort is subverted, the foundation of faith being destroyed; hence he is incurable, and he sins with full knowledge and voluntarily, condemning himself by his own judgment.

12. After I shall have sent Artemas or Tychicus to supply your place, hasten to come to me to Nicopolis, for I have resolved on spending the winter there.

13. Take care to send forward Zenas, the doctor of the Jewish Law, and Apollo, furnished with all things necessary for their journey, so that they may be in want of nothing.

14. Let our brethren in the faith learn from both your instruction and example, to excel in good works, on all necessary occasions (particularly when the wants of the labourers for the Gospel are concerned), that they may not be unfruitful and sterile in the field of the Lord.

15. All the faithful who are with me salute you. Salute thou those who love us for the faith and according to faith, i.e., with true Christian charity. The grace of God be with you all. Amen.

Commentary

1. “Powers,” i.e., all those who possess authority in the government of the State. The Apostle inculcates: first, submission to their authority, “to be subject to them;” secondly, obedience to their orders, “to obey at a word;” and thirdly, preparation and disposition of mind to obey them in everything good and obligatory, “every good work.” If they outstep the limits of their authority, they need not necessarily be obeyed; should their mandate have good for object, they may be obeyed; should they command evil, they must be resisted; as, we should obey God rather than man. The Apostle does not here determine the species of power to which obedience is due, whether kingly, aristocratic, republican, &c. For, although all power come from God, it is still the most probable opinion, that he makes the people the channel through which he confers power on individuals. How this is done is not quite agreed upon. According to some, this power is placed as a deposit in the hands of the people; according to others, the election of the people is a mere necessary condition, consequent on which God immediately confers power on the object of the people’s choice. This latter seems a very probable opinion.—(See Romans, 12; 1 Peter, 2:13). We are informed by St. Jerome, that the object of the Apostle in inculcating the duty of obedience to temporal authority, both here and in his Epistle to the Romans (13), was to show, that the faithful of Christ had no sympathy with the disciples of Judas of Galilee, to whom reference is made (Acts, 5:37). Probably, among the many Jews who were at Crete, might be found some belonging to the followers of this Judas.

2. “To speak evil of no one.” (In Greek, μηδενα βλασφημειν, to blaspheme no one). Under “evil (or blaspheming) language” are included all descriptions of language injurious to our neighbour, such as calumny, detraction, contumely, &c. “Showing mildness to all men,” not excepting unbelievers.

3. He shows why they should be mild and compassionate towards unbelievers, because they were themselves formerly in the same deplorable condition, out of which the gratuitous mercy of God rescued them. Mindful, therefore, of their own previous state, they should take compassion on others. The Apostle includes himself, although a Jew, as well as Titus, who was a Gentile, by saying “we ourselves.” He does not recount the great leading crimes of Paganism, the external commission of which a moral Pagan, or Jew, would avoid, but he speaks of these latent sins, the indulgence of which would be perfectly consistent with external legal justice, for which he claims credit to himself.—(Phil. 3)

4. Another motive to induce them to act compassionately, &c., is the example of God himself—“The kindness.” The Greek is, φιλαντωπια, philantrophy. Some refer this to the Incarnation, but erroneously; for, there is question of God the Father, as he is distinguished from Jesus Christ (verse 6).

5. It was not in consideration of our just works that he saved us; for, before his grace there were no good works, or “works of justice,” entitled to a reward; but it was out of his purely gratuitous mercy, he “saved us,” i.e., bestowed on us justification, which places us in the way of finally arriving at perfect eternal salvation, and is itself initial salvation. The means by which he has bestowed on us this justification is through the waters of baptism externally poured on us, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is attached to the rite of baptism, interiorly giving us a new birth, a new spiritual essence, making us sons of God, perfectly renewing us, so that we become invested with the virtues of wisdom, faith, &c., opposed to the former vices to which we were slaves. The external instrumental cause of this renovation is baptism; the efficient invisible cause, which the external operates, is, the grace of the Holy Ghost. This passage manifestly shows that justification does not consist in the mere imputation of the justice of Christ; but that it is the inherent principle of this new life, so long as it perseveres.

6. “Whom,” i.e., the Holy Ghost, “he hath poured forth upon us,” i.e., God the Father (verse 4) hath poured forth upon us abundantly, “through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, which, immediately after baptism, was given by the imposition of hands. The entire Trinity is referred to in this verse, distinctly contributing by an operation peculiar to each person to our new spiritual existence. The Eternal Father, the Principle of the Divinity itself, is the Father of the baptized, and the Principle of his divine existence; the Eternal Son is, with the Father, the Principle of the effusion of the Holy Ghost; and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Father and Son, becomes the spirit of the baptized, his heart and soul, his supernatural and divine life.

7. Justification implies the remission of sin and the infusion of justice by sanctifying grace, and this holy state constitutes us the rightful heirs of eternal life, which we do not yet actually possess, but which, like the youthful heir, during his minority, we hope one day to attain, and actually enjoy.

8. He tells him to propound these truths regarding justification, the inheritance of eternal life, &c., as certain, undoubted doctrines to his brethren, so that bearing them in mind, they would strive to distinguish themselves and surpass others, not merely in word, but in good works and example. They should strive to become holy, like God the Father, whose sons and heirs they are; holy, like the Son, whose members they are; and holy, like the Holy Ghost, by whom they live. This holiness can be acquired and preserved by good works; and good works alone are “profitable,” they alone will constitute a treasure of merit beyond the grave.

9. But as to foolish questions regarding genealogies, in recounting which the Jews felt such pride and boasted so much (1 Tim. 1), and idle questions regarding the Law; these he should spurn. This may also mean, that if objections from these sources are proposed, they should be spurned, as undeserving of reply.

10. The heretic ought to be admonished, corrected, and instructed, once or twice, in order to know if he be really pertinacious and obstinate, and, after that, he is to be shunned.

11. Because such a man, like an edifice whose foundation is overturned, is incurable and undone irreparably; for, he has lost the foundation of faith. Moreover, such a person sins knowingly and willingly, and with malicious obstinacy perseveres in his error. Such a person, by receding from the Church, in following his own judgment, is deservedly forsaken by her, and suffers no injury in having that sentence of separation passed on him, which he has passed on himself, by the very act of receding. “Condemned by his own judgment.” A man always recedes invisibly, whenever he holds doctrine opposed to that of the Church, which, of course, the heretic, by the very fact of being such, is always supposed voluntarily to do. For, a man becomes a heretic by either denying some revealed truth, defined by the Church, or by asserting some error, the contradictory of which the Church has defined to be a revealed truth and of faith. The Apostle here instructs Timothy how, in capacity of Bishop, he is to treat such a person.

12. Nicopolis, of Thrace, according to St. Chrysostom; of Epirus, according to St. Jerome.

13. Zenas and Apollo were to pass by Crete, and he tells Titus to furnish them with a sufficient viatic, so that they may want nothing.

14. “And let our men,” i.e., those of our faith, the Christians, seek every occasion of excelling in good works according as circumstances may demand, unless they wish that their faith be barren and sterile, so that they would be like unfruitful plants, in the field of the Lord. “For necessary uses;” he particularly refers to necessities like the present, in which the ministers of the Gospel are concerned.

15. “That love us in the faith,” in which he shows that the love of Christians for each other should be founded on faith, i.e., purely Christian and holy.

The Greek subscriptions have the following:—“It was written to Titus, ordained the first Bishop of the Church of the Cretans, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.”

The Codex Vaticanus simply has:—“To Titus.”








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