Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to 1:10-16, at the time Titus was in Crete two isms were quite prevailing: Judaism and Gnosticism. In this message we shall consider from these verses how Titus was instructed to deal with the influence of Judaism and Gnosticism.
In verses 10 and 11, Paul says, “For there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who overthrow whole households, teaching things which they ought not for the sake of base gain.” Both Paul’s word about “those of the circumcision” in verse 10 and his reference to “Jewish myths” in verse 14 point to the influence of Judaism. Those of the circumcision were Jewish believers who were seducers within the church. Paul says that such ones must be stopped. The way to stop them is by severe reproof (v. 13) with the faithful word according to the apostles’ teaching (v. 9). These vain talkers and deceivers overthrow whole households, “teaching things which they ought not for the sake of base gain.” What they did was similar to what was done by the reprobate prophet, Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15-16; Jude 11).
I would call your attention to the little word “for,” at the beginning of verse 10, indicating that this verse is related to the foregoing verse. In verse 9 Paul says that an overseer must hold to “the faithful word which is according to the teaching that he may be able both to exhort by the healthy teaching and to convict those who contradict.” Then Paul goes on to explain that there are many unruly men, especially of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped. These verses indicate that Paul’s charge to Titus concerning the establishment of the eldership is related to the disturbances caused by the influence of Judaism. There was the urgent need for the eldership to be set in order so that those who taught differently could be dealt with. Certain Jewish believers brought their Judaism into the church life and this, with its different teachings, caused a disturbance. Here we have a basic principle related to the eldership: every elder must be a watchman who is on the alert lest some teaching different from that of the apostles’ ministry is brought into the church.
In verses 12 and 13 Paul declares, “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true.” One of them refers to one of the Cretans. All those mentioned in verses 9b and 10 were such Cretans. The prophet of their own was a heathen prophet, probably Epimenides, a native of Crete who lived about 600 B.C., according to legend.
In verse 13 Paul charges Titus to “reprove them severely, that they may be healthy in the faith.” The Greek word rendered reprove here is the same word translated convict in verse 9. It means to disclose the true character of anything so as to convict and hence reprove by exposing one’s fault. The Greek word rendered severely may also be rendered sharply. The purpose of such severe reproof was that those receiving it might be healthy in the faith. The gainsayers (v. 9) and vain talkers (v. 10) were infected with doctrinal diseases and became unhealthy in the faith. They needed the inoculation of the healthy teaching and the healthy word (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3), which the elders should provide for their healing.
As in 1 Timothy 1:19 and 3:9, the faith here is objective. It refers to the things in which we believe. This is to be distinguished from the subjective meaning of faith, which refers to the act of believing.
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