Study Notes—Chapter 3
to be obedient to governments and authorities: That is, to earthly rulers. Some in positions of authority were known to be unjust, and their subjects, rebellious. Even so, Paul wanted Titus to remind the Christians in Crete to respect those in authority and obey them unless those rulers required that Christians disobey God.—Mt 22:21; Ac 5:29; Ro 13:1-7.
to be ready for every good work: The expression “good work” is broad in meaning and may include a variety of good deeds that benefit others. (See study note on Tit 2:14.) One kind of “good work” that Paul may here be referring to is the work that secular authorities might demand of all citizens. Christians could readily comply with such requirements as long as these did not conflict with God’s laws. (Mt 5:41 and study note; Ro 13:1, 7) Further, if a community suffered a natural disaster or other crisis, Christians needed to be ready to help not only their brothers but also their non-Christian neighbors. (Ga 6:10) Such works would show that in every way, true Christians make a positive contribution to society.—Mt 5:16; Tit 2:7, 8; 1Pe 2:12.
not to be quarrelsome: Lit., “not disposed to fight.” Paul wanted Christians to avoid being contentious in their dealings with others, including those in positions of secular authority. (Tit 3:1) Some lexicons define the Greek word used here as “peaceable.” The same expression appears in the list of qualifications for elders.—1Ti 3:3.
reasonable: See study notes on Php 4:5; 1Ti 3:3.
displaying all mildness toward all men: A mild person is calm under stress, and he is peaceful in his actions toward others, including unbelievers. Regarding the double use of “all” in this verse, one reference work states that this quality should “be shown not partially but fully” and “‘to everyone’ without exception.”—See study note on Ga 5:23.
we too were once senseless: In this context, the Greek word for “senseless” conveys the idea of being unwise or foolish rather than lacking intelligence. By using the word “we,” Paul indicates that he himself once lacked understanding, foolishly persecuting Christ’s followers. (1Ti 1:13) But Paul was treated mercifully, and he changed. (Ac 9:17) So he had good reason to ask Titus to remind the Cretan Christians about their own former ignorance of Jehovah’s righteous standards. If those Christians humbly acknowledged that they at one time had many negative traits, they would more likely seek to be mild and reasonable in dealing with those who were not yet believers.
our Savior, God: See study note on 1Ti 1:1.
his love for mankind: Paul here describes the feelings that God, “our Savior,” has toward people, including those who do not yet serve him. (Joh 3:16) One lexicon defines the Greek word phi·lan·thro·piʹa (“love for mankind”) in this context as God’s “affectionate concern for and interest in humanity.” (Compare study note on Ac 28:2; see also Tit 2:11.) This Greek term was at times used in secular writings to refer to a judge who showed mercy toward someone who stood condemned.
the bath that brought us to life: Or “the bath of rebirth”; lit., “bath of regeneration.” For Paul and his fellow Christians, “the bath” that leads to a rebirth was not their baptism in water. Rather, this bath refers to the cleansing about which the apostle John wrote: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:7) Once God cleansed them by means of the ransom sacrifice, Paul and his fellow Christians could be “brought . . . to life” in a special sense. They could be “declared righteous as a result of faith.”—Ro 5:1.
making us new by holy spirit: In addition to providing the cleansing bath just mentioned, God had anointed Paul and his fellow Christians with his spirit and had adopted them as sons. They thus became “a new creation.” (See study note on 2Co 5:17.) As spirit-anointed sons of God, they lived an entirely new life, one blessed with the prospect of living forever in heaven.—Compare study note on Joh 3:5.
He poured this spirit out . . . through Jesus Christ: The Greek verb used here usually refers to pouring out a liquid; however, in the Christian Greek Scriptures, it is sometimes used figuratively regarding the pouring out of God’s active force on Christ’s followers. (See Glossary, “Anoint.”) The same term is used to describe the outpouring of holy spirit at Pentecost 33 C.E. (See study notes on Ac 2:17.) Ac 2:16-18 states that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on that occasion. (Joe 2:28) Ac 2:33 explains that Jesus “received the promised holy spirit” from his Father and poured it out on the disciples at Pentecost. Paul states here that Jehovah continued to use Jesus as the channel through whom He pours out His active force.
Jesus Christ our Savior: See study notes on Tit 1:4; 2:13.
being declared righteous: See study note on Ro 3:24.
foolish arguments: Like the false teachers in Ephesus, some in Crete were promoting pointless and divisive arguments. (See study note on 2Ti 2:23.) Whether the disputes involved the Mosaic Law, genealogies, or false stories, Paul here urges Titus to have nothing to do with such fights. The Greek word Paul uses suggests turning one’s back on or even moving away from such arguments. Titus’ example in doing so would teach others that it was a waste of time and effort to take part in foolish arguments.
genealogies: See study note on 1Ti 1:4.
fights over the Law: Christians were not under the Mosaic Law. (Ro 6:14; Ga 3:24, 25) Still, some who were associated with the congregations were arguing that Christians should closely adhere to the many regulations of the Law. (Tit 1:10, 11) In effect, such ones actually rejected God’s means for salvation, namely, the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus.—Ro 10:4; Ga 5:1-4; see study notes on Ga 2:16; 1Ti 1:8.
for they are unprofitable and futile: Paul characterizes the causes of controversy he just mentioned as being unprofitable or, according to one lexicon, “not being of any advantage.” He also calls them futile or “empty, fruitless, . . . lacking truth.” Paul did not want the Cretan Christians to be distracted from serving God by engaging in divisive disputes that were nothing but a waste of time.
a man who promotes a sect: Or “a person causing division.”—See Glossary, “Sect,” and study notes on Ac 24:5; 1Co 11:19.
reject him: Or “have nothing to do with him.” The Greek verb Paul here uses could include the idea of excluding or sending someone away, for example, from a house. If a person in the congregation began promoting a sect, the elders would lovingly try to help him. But if after being admonished he persisted in his course, the elders were to “reject him,” apparently meaning that they should expel him from the congregation. (Ro 16:17; 1Co 5:12, 13; 1Ti 1:20; 2Jo 10) Otherwise, he would sow discord and divisions.—2Ti 2:16-18.
admonition: The Greek word Paul here uses can refer to instruction and guidance. (See study note on Eph 6:4.) In this context, it conveys the idea of “warning.”—Compare 1Th 5:14 and study note.
deviated from the way: This expression describes a man who has turned aside “from what is considered true or morally proper.” Some scholars understand that the original Greek verb meant “to turn inside out,” which could imply that one who deviated was trying to corrupt or pervert Scriptural truth. Such a man was to be rejected, put out of the congregation.
is self-condemned: This expression shows how serious it was to promote a sect in the congregation. A man who persisted in doing so “after a first and a second admonition” was not like those who struggled with doubts but were open to reason. (Tit 3:10; Jude 22, 23) His own stubborn, deliberate, and willful course of sowing division in the congregation condemned him and would lead to his destruction.—2Pe 2:1.
Artemas: Paul’s companion Artemas is mentioned only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Paul considered sending either him or Tychicus to Titus in Crete, perhaps as a replacement so that Titus might join Paul in Nicopolis. (See Media Gallery, “Paul’s Journeys After c. 61 C.E.”) It is not known when and where Paul met Artemas, but Paul obviously trusted him and thought that he would be suitable for this assignment.
Tychicus: See study note on Col 4:7.
supply . . . for their trip: The Greek term here rendered “supply . . . for their trip” is broad in meaning. It could even include accompanying travelers partway or for an entire trip. (Compare Ac 20:38; 21:5; Ro 15:24; 1Co 16:6.) According to one reference work, the assistance Paul asks Titus to provide for Zenas and Apollos may have included “food, money, traveling companions, means of travel, and persons with whom to stay on the journey.” Another reference work explains: “Aiding Christian travelers was a usual practice at that time. Such aid was necessary since travel was quite difficult, and Christian travelers would feel much more at home with fellow Christians.” Paul here encourages Titus to give such support carefully, which, according to the original Greek word, can convey the idea of thoughtfully, diligently, and eagerly.—Compare study notes on Php 2:30; 2Ti 4:21.
Zenas, who is versed in the Law: Lit., “Zenas the lawyer.” The Greek word used here (no·mi·kosʹ) can refer to a civil lawyer, but Paul is likely describing Zenas as an expert in the Mosaic Law. If so, Zenas was possibly a Jew, perhaps even a scribe. However, Zenas is a Greek name, so he may have been a Gentile who had converted to Judaism before becoming a Christian. Or he may have been a Jew who had a Greek name; many Jews in Paul’s day had Greek or Roman names. (Ac 1:23; 9:36 and study note; 12:25) In any case, Paul’s instructions to Titus indicate that Zenas had earned a fine reputation as a Christian.
Apollos: This is the last time that this faithful man is mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures. He first appears in the book of Acts. This “eloquent man” was preaching in Ephesus, but he needed further instruction. Afterward, he went to Achaia and “greatly helped” the disciples there. (Ac 18:24-28; see study note on Ac 18:24.) He became so highly regarded that some immature Corinthians were divided over whether they belonged to Apollos or to Paul. (1Co 1:12; 3:5, 6) However, such mistaken views did not corrupt Apollos; nor did they affect Paul’s opinion of this zealous missionary. (See study note on 1Co 16:12.) In this verse, Paul directs that Titus “carefully supply” Apollos with what he needs for a trip, possibly an assignment to visit congregations as a traveling overseer.
all of you: Although Paul wrote this letter to Titus, this expression suggests that the apostle intended it to be read to the congregation. Hearing it would encourage all to cooperate with Titus when he gave correction (Tit 1:5, 10), appointed elders (Tit 1:6-9), gave reproof (Tit 1:13; 2:15), provided frequent reminders (Tit 3:1, 8), and sought material assistance for those in need (Tit 3:13, 14).