The Pulpit Commentary

Titus 3:8 (Titus 3:8)

Faithful is the saying for this is a faithful saying, A.V.; concerning these things for these things, A.V., confidently for constantly, A.V.; to the end that for that, A.V.; God for in God, A.V.; may for might, A.V.; full stop after good works, and colon after men. Faithful is the saying ; as 1 Timothy 1:15 (where see note). Here the faithful saying can only be the following maxim: "That they which have believed in God may be careful to maintain good works;" the words, "These things I will that thou affirm confidently," being interpolated to give yet more weight to it. Concerning these things ; i.e. with respect to the things or truths which are the subject of the faithful saying. I will that thou affirm confidently ( διαβεβαιοῦσθαι ); see 1 Timothy 1:7 . "Never be weary of dwelling on these important truths, and asserting them with authority. For such doctrine is really good and profitable for those whom you are commissioned to teach. But leave alone the foolish and unprofitable controversies." To the end that ( ἵνα ). It is not necessary to give to ἵνα the meaning "to the end that," in such a sentence as this (see note on Titus 2:12 ). After words of command especially, ἵνα , frequently, has simply the force of "that." So here, "lay it down as a rule that they which have believed God must be careful to maintain good works." If the sentence had run on without interruption, it would have been πιστὸς ὁ λόγος ὅτι κ . τ . λ . But the interposition of the διαβεβαιοῦσθαι , with the idea of commanding obedience, has caused the use of ἵνα . Believed God ( οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ or τῷ θεῷ ). The meaning is not the same as πιστεύειν ἐν , or ἐπί , "to believe in," or "on," but "to believe" (as Romans 4:3 , Romans 4:17 and 1 John 5:10 , where the context shows that it is the act of believing God's promise that is meant). And so here, the believing refers to the promises implied in the preceding reference to the hope and the inheritance. May be careful ( φροντίζωσι ); only here in the New Testament, but common in the LXX . and in classical Greek. The word means "to give thought" about a thing, "to be careful" or "anxious" about it. To maintain ( προΐ́στασθαι ); usually in the sense of "presiding over" or "ruling" (as Romans 12:8 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:12 ; 1 Timothy 3:4 , 1 Timothy 3:5 , 1 Timothy 3:12 ; 1 Timothy 5:17 ). Here, alter the analogy of the classical use, προΐ́στασθαι τέχνης , to "undertake," to "carry on," or the like, fairly expressed by to "maintain." The idea does not seem to be "to stand at the head of," or "to be foremost in." Good works ; i.e. practical godliness of all kinds (see 1 Timothy 1:14 ). These things are good , etc. If the reading of the T.R., τὰ καλὰ κ . τ . λ ., is retained, the rendering ought to be, "These are the things that are really good and profitable unto men, not foolish questions, etc., they are unprofitable." But the R.T. omits the τά . With regard to the interpretation above given of 1 Timothy 1:8 , it must be admitted that it is very doubtful. But the great difficulty of the other way of rendering it, as most commentators do, is that it is impossible to say which part of what precedes is "the faithful saying" alluded to; and that the "care to maintain good works" is not that which naturally springs from it; whereas the reiteration in 1 Timothy 1:8 implies that "good works" is the special subject of "the faithful saying."

- The Pulpit Commentary

Titus 3:8-15 (Titus 3:8-15)

Pearls before swine.

There is in some a habit of mind utterly out of harmony with the Word of God. It is not that dogmas, or creeds, or ceremonies are despised and forgotten by them, as they usually are by the pleasure-seeking or moneymaking world. On the contrary, these things are often in their minds and upon their lips. But they handle everything, not with a view to growth in goodness, not with a view to the formation within of a humble, pure, and holy character, but merely as matters of disputation. They raise questions, the solution of which has no bearing upon our duty to God or man, but which only give occasion for strife of words, and utterly unprofitable contentions. The most solemn truths, the most sacred mysteries of the Christian faith, are only food for a wrangling, disputatious spirit. They are always ready to start difficulties, to suggest doubts, or to propose new forms of doctrine in lieu of those once delivered to the saints. Strong in their own conceits and wise in their own esteem, they will not learn, no, not from Christ himself, but are always forward to teach some new thing. They value nothing which they have not invented themselves. They accept no truth which they have not adulterated with their own imaginations. Disciples they will not be. Masters they must be. When this habit of mind has clearly developed itself, the servant of God has only to withdraw from such. He must not be drawn into the whirlpool of vain jangling and unprofitable disputes. He must not go on casting his pearls before the swine. Silence is, in such cases, the best rebuke. When honest and gentle efforts to bring home to such persons the truths of God's Word in a reverential and practical way have utterly failed, and it is become evident that there is no desire in their hearts for Christ and his Word, it is time to cease from such efforts. "From such turn away" is the authoritative advice of St. Paul. Nothing can be in sharper contrast with the "unprofitable strivings" here condemned than the unobtrusive works of kindness, and active help to the furtherance of the gospel, inculcated upon Titus. Zenas and Apollos are to be brought on their way. Care is to be taken that they want for nothing. The Church in Crete is to be fruitful in good works for the wants of their brethren; and even the closing salutation is redolent of love and kindness. When Christians feel that the very essence of Christianity is unobtrusive love and kindness, shown in unselfish acts, and a readiness to help wherever help is needed, then will the Church be Christ's true witness upon earth; witnessing to Christ as the embodiment of the law of love, and witnessing to the Spirit of Christ as dwelling in her of a truth.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Titus 3:8 (Titus 3:8)

The necessary connection between gospel doctrine and good works.

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE . "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly." He refers here to the sum of the doctrine of Christian salvation contained in the three preceding verses.

1. The doctrine of salvation is worthy of all acceptance. "This is a faithful saying." This formula, contained only in the pastoral Epistles, points to some weighty truth which had become a watchword among the Christian brotherhood of early times.

2. It ought to be confidently put forth at all times by Christian ministers. "And these things I will that thou affirm constantly." This was the strain of all apostolic preaching, and it ought to be ours also. There is no true practical preaching which does not involve the exhibition of God's character and our relations to him in grace—the glorious Person of the Mediator in his various offices, and the work of the Holy Ghost in applying Divine salvation. "These things are good and profitable to men; ' that is, these doctrines, for they lead to good works, and benefit men spiritually and morally.

II. THE DESIGN OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE . "In order that they which have believed God might be careful to maintain good works." The faithful saying of the apostle was not the necessity of good works, but the necessity of the doctrines of grace being preached as the only method of producing good works.

1. The apostle seems to anticipate a tendency of later times to exalt morality at the expense of faith. The doctrines, he says, are the true fountains from which all good works flow. These are, therefore, probably called doctrines according to godliness ( Titus 1:1 ); the wholesome doctrine ( Titus 1:9 ).

2. He sets forth the duty of all believers to be careful about good works. It ought to be a matter of earnest striving, because

3. He insists on their maintaining good works. The word signifies that they must be excelling in them.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Titus 3:8-14 (Titus 3:8-14)

Christian character.

"To maintain good works." This is a repeated counsel, and shows how much need there was of showing that the "belief" spoken of in the eighth verse should not be a mere speculative creed. This Titus is to "affirm constantly," showing that there were those then who had a tendency to antinomianism, or neglect of the Law of moral order and beauty.

I. PERMANENCE . "Maintain." Men weary of their efforts after the attainment of a Divine ideal. Holiness is not a gift, it is a growth; and a growth, not like that of a plant, which is unconscious, but a growth that involves obedience. Maintain "works"—give them continuance, by aliment and nurture.

II. COMPREHENSIVENESS . "Works." For life covers a large sphere. We are apt to forget that Christianity covers all spheres—the civil, social, moral, spiritual. For ages the Church was merely ecclesiastical. "The religious" were such as shut themselves out from the world, deeming its pursuits and duties below the dignity of a spiritual religion, which made the soul and its feelings and devotions everything. Now we have moved into a wider inheritance; we believe in the Christianization of common life; the consecration of art and science and common duty to Christian ends. We are simply to ask if the work given us to do is a good work, and we are to be earnest in "every good work." And we have seen that the tree must first be made good; for it is "the good man that, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things."—W.M.S.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Titus 3:7-8 (Titus 3:7-8)

Justification; faith; works.

"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs," etc. There are three subjects in these verses of vital interest to man which require to be brought out into prominence and impressed with indelible force.

I. THE MORAL RECTIFICATION OF THE SOUL . "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." This means, I presume, not that being pronounced right, but that being made right. Forensic justification is an old theological fiction. Those who have held it and who still hold it have ideas of God incongruous and debased. They regard him as such a one as themselves. "To be justified" here means to be made right. There are three ideas here suggested in relation to this moral rectification of the soul.

1. All souls in their unrenewed state are unrighteous. We do not require any special revelation from God to give us this information. Man's moral wrongness of soul is revealed in every page of human history, is developed in every scene of human life, and is a matter of painful consciousness to every man. We have all " erred and strayed from the right like lost sheep."

2. Restoration to righteousness is the merciful work of God. "Being justified by his grace"—"his grace," his boundless, sovereign, unmerited love. Who but God can put a morally disordered soul right? To do this is to resuscitate the dead, to roll back the deep flowing tide of human sympathies into a new channel and a new direction, to arrest a wandering planet and plant it in a new orbit. He does it and he alone. He does it by the revelation of his Son, by the dispensations of life, the operations of conscience. "Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."

3. There is the heirship of eternal good. "Being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Eternal life must mean something more than endless existence; for mere endless existence, under certain conditions, might be an object of dread rather than hope. It might mean perfect goodness. Goodness is eternal, for God is eternal Goodness is blessedness, for God is blessed. A virtuous hope is not hope for happiness, but a hope for perfect goodness. He whose soul is made morally right becomes an heir to all goodness. This heirship is not something added to this inner righteousness. It is in it as the plant is in the seed. Man's heaven is in righteousness of soul and nowhere else. No man can be happy who is merely treated as righteous if he is not righteous. Such treatment, even by God himself, would only enhance his misery. To be treated as righteous if you are not righteous, is an outrage on justice and a revulsion to moral nature.

II. THE ESSENTIAL FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUE FAITH . "And they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." The basis of all true faith is faith in God. In him, not in it. In him, not in men's representations of him. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is." To believe in him implies:

1. To believe in what he is in himself. The only absolute existence, without beginning, without succession, without end, who is in all and through all, the all-mighty, the all-wise, the all-good Creator and Sustainer of the universe. This faith in him is the most philosophic, the most universal, and the most blessed and ennobling faith.

2. To believe in what he is to us —the Father, the Proprietor, and the Life. "Not willing that any should perish." This is the faith that is enjoined upon us everywhere in the Old Testament and the New; not faith in infallible propositions, in infinite personality; not faith in man's ideas of God, but in God himself, as the Source of all life, the Fountain of all virtue, the Standard of all excellence. "Trust in him that liveth forever."

"Not in priesthoods, not on creed,

Is the faith we need, O Lord;

These, more fragile than the reed,

Can no rest for souls afford.

Human systems, what are they?

Dreams of erring men at best,

Visions only of a day,

Without substance, without rest.

Firmly fix it, Lord, on thee,

Strike its roots deep in thy love;

Growing ever may it be,

Like the faith of these above.

Then though earthly things depart,

And the heavens pass away,

Strong in thee shall rest the heart,

Without fainting or decay."

('Biblical Liturgy.')

III. THE SUPREME PURPOSE OF A TRUE LIFE . "To maintain good works." What are good works?

1. Works that have right motives. Works that society may consider good, that Churches may chant as good, are utterly worthless unless they spring from supreme love to the Creator. "Though I give my body to be burned, if I have not love, I am nothing." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law."

2. Works that have a right standard. It is conceivable that man may have a right motive and yet his work be bad. Was it not something like this with Saul of Tarsus when he was persecuting the saints? We make two remarks in relation to these good works.

- The Pulpit Commentary