Comments on Titus


Titus 3   

It is not to be thought that these two things are exactly the same. The washing of regeneration looks at our old condition, outside of which it places us; the renewing of the Holy Ghost looks more at that inward work which is made ours by the Spirit of God. The former appears to be set forth in baptism; the latter refers rather to our connection with the new creation. According to the language of the day, the one is a change of position or objective, the other is subjective and inward. This seems the difference between the two. And this is carried on in the next verse more fully. Speaking of the renewing of the Holy Ghost, it is added, "which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." It is not merely that God continues the work He has always wrought in souls. There never was a time, since sin came into the world and grace followed, when souls were not born again. It must be so, unless all were left to perish. None could enter the kingdom of God unless they had a nature capable of understanding and enjoying the true God. This, of course, the Christian has; but then the Christian should not only know that he has this new nature, but that he has it after the richest sort and fullest measure - " which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."


Titus 3. But there are other relations more external which are not overlooked. The self-will, which breeds emulation and strife in the homes and in the assembly, is not less disorderly, evil, and destructive in the world. "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to revile no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing all meekness toward all men." It was not so always in our case. Grace it is that makes the difference in us that believe. "For ourselves too were once senseless, disobedient, going astray, slaves to various lusts and pleasures, spending our time in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness and the philanthropy (or, love to man) of our Saviour God appeared, not from works in righteousness which ourselves did, but according to his mercy he saved us through washing of regeneration and renewing of Holy Spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, justified as we were by his grace, we should become heirs according to hope of life eternal. Faithful [is] the saying; and as to these things I would have thee insist that those that have believed God be mindful to maintain comely works. These things are comely and profitable to men; but foolish questions and genealogies and strifes and legal contentions shun, for they are unprofitable and vain. An heretical man after a first and a second admonition shun, knowing that such a one is perverted and sinneth, being self-condemned" (vers. 1-11). It is sect-making, heterodox or not.


In Titus we have a rich passage-not about a gift to a beloved servant, but the common place of blessing into which Christianity brings a soul (Titus 3: 4): "After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Here we have not the being born anew or of God, which is common, in my judgment, to all saints at all times, but that form and fullness which now pertains to the Christian. It is "the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." This appears to be distinctly the full power of the blessing which characterizes the Christian. The new birth simply is universal; but the new place and the gift of the Holy Ghost thus richly awaited the accomplishment of redemption. Therefore this is said to be "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Thus the passage very strikingly shows both what always is and must be true, and what only became possible according to God's wise ways when the hindrance was removed, flesh was judged, and the Holy Ghost could be shed thus abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour


As to Titus 3: 10, "factious" is certainly less equivocal than "heretical," which is apt to be taken as heterodox; whereas a leader of a sect or party outside is meant, in contra-distinction from a schismatic within. The true meaning is of moment, as in other ways, so in utterly overthrowing De Wette's unbelieving effort to deny the apostolic and inspired claim of the Epistle by assuming the later ecclesiastical usage for this word. In reality it rather proves the contrary; and thus its true Pauline sense here confirms the fact that he who wrote 1 Cor. and Gal. wrote this letter to Titus. 2 Peter 2 allows of debate as to the precise shade of meaning, but in the Epistles of St. Paul there can be no just doubt of the same sense; and it is not the later or ecclesiastical usage.


Q. What is the meaning of Titus 3: 10, A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Does this refer to the holder of wicked doctrine as to Christ or foundation truth? Or does it mean a person who goes out and tries to make a sect or party for his own opinions. Some seem to shrink form the last, as if it were over-severe and would condemn men otherwise estimable. B.A.

A. There is no doubt whatever that the apostle means, not a holder of blasphemous doctrines, (which is the point in Johns epistles,) but one who endeavours to make a party. If any Christians, pretending to spiritual intelligence, count this a light sin, they are themselves to be pitied, warned, and prayed for. What is self-will but sin against God? and what self-will in one professing to love Christ is worse than despising the Church of God, by essaying to from a church of his own on views of his own?

All saints are ignorant, more or less; and the Church of God contemplates them all, save in case of excision for wickedness in doctrine or practice, which all are responsible to judge. To go out and set up a party for particular views, even if true in themselves, apart from the assembly of God on earth, is rebellion against God, and that in what is nearest to God save His own Son. To make light of the sin, or to sympathize with it, is to trifle with God and His Church, and expose oneself to the same, however confident one may be in strength or wisdom to keep out of it. It is meanwhile sparing oneself and ones friends at the expense of Gods Word, which it is evil unbelief to count over-severe. Some think a far worse class, even blasphemers of Christ, otherwise estimable. Let such beware.


Q. Titus 3: 10, 11, kindly explain, giving the significance of "heretic" and "reject." Is there any reference to reception or to excommunication? W. D.

A. "Heresy" is used by the apostle for a party of self-will, a faction which severs itself from the assembly. Such is the usage in 1 Corinthians 11: 18, 19: "I hear that there are schisms among you (i.e., divisions within), and I partly believe it. For there must also be heresies (i.e. external division or sects) that the approved may become manifest among you." (See also Galatians 5: 20 and 2 Peter 2: 1). The precise meaning here comes out incontestably. But doctrine (the later ecclesiastical sense of "heresy") does not of necessity lead its advocate to form a party without; but schismatic feeling directly tends to this. A split within ere long issues in a split without; whereas heterodoxy seeks shelter within in order to leaven the lump if possible. So in Titus 3 the apostle directs Titus to have done with a man stamped as heretical after a first and second admonition. He had gone outside and was forming a sect. It was no question therefore of putting him without; for he had gone out himself, and refused admonition, perhaps repeatedly. You cannot put away one who has already gone away, though it may be announced for the profit of all. The word translated "reject" is not to excommunicate, but altogether general, and capable of application to persons inside (as in 1 Timothy 5: 11) no less than to the outside maker of a school or sect; also to fables and foolish questions whatever they might be (1 Timothy 4: 7, 2 Timothy 2: 23). From its primitive meaning of deprecating and making excuse, the word acquires the force of refusing, rejecting, or avoiding. In no case is it applied to putting out, which is the function of the assembly and expressed by a totally different word. Among the Jews "heresy" was used indifferently for the parties of Sadducees, Pharisees, and Nazarenes.