Titus Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. From: Sha’ul, God’s slave and an emissary of Yeshua the Messiah, sent to promote among God’s chosen people the trust and knowledge of truth which lead to godliness
An emissary sent to promote... the trust and knowledge of truth which lead to godliness, called "trust-grounded obedience" at Ro 1:5.
God's chosen people. See Co 3:12N.
2. and which are based on the certain hope of eternal life. God, who does not lie, promised that life before the beginning of time
3. but made public this word of his in its own season through a proclamation with which I have been entrusted by order of God, our Deliverer.
God, who does not lie (compare Numbers 23:19), in contrast with the false teachers of vv. 10-16. On the rest of these verses, see 2 Ti 1:9-11&NN.
4. To: Titus, a true son in the faith we share:
Grace and shalom from God the Father and from the Messiah Yeshua, our Deliverer.
Titus was a Gentile co-worker of Sha'ul's who accompanied him to Jerusalem (Ga 2:1-3) and carried out various assignments (2C 2:13,7:6-8:23, 12:18; 2 Ti 4:10).
In v. 3 it is God who is called our Deliverer (see 1 Ti 1:1N); here it is the Messiah Yeshua. This is typical of how the New Testament highlights Yeshua's divinity with roundabout language. Instead of saying, "Yeshua is God," it describes him with words that can apply only to God. It was precisely this sort of thing that those without faith could not grasp, even when they saw it (Mk 2:1-12; Yn 6:1-71, 9:1-41).
5. The reason I left you in Crete was so that you might attend to the matters still not in order and appoint congregation leaders in each city — those were my instructions.
6. A leader must be blameless, husband to one wife, with believing children who do not have a reputation for being wild or rebellious.
Husband to one wife, or: "faithful to his wife." See 1 Ti 3:2N. With believing children. The requirement is not that a leader have children, but that if he has children they be believers (see 1 Ti 3:4-5&N). However, the criterion here is stronger than in the letter to Timothy: his children must not only "obey him with all proper respect" (1 Ti 3:4) but must be (literally) "having faith."
7. For an overseer, as someone entrusted with God’s affairs, must be blameless — he must not be self-willed or quick-tempered, he must not drink excessively, get into fights or be greedy for dishonest gain.
8. On the contrary, he must be hospitable, devoted to good, sober-mindedness, uprightness, holiness and self-control.
9. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy Message that agrees with the doctrine; so that by his sound teaching he will be able to exhort and encourage, and also to refute those who speak against it.
Sound teaching should not merely transfer data from head to head, it should exhort and encourage.
Compare 1 Ti 3:1-13. The organizational structure in Ephesus, where Timothy was when Sha'ul wrote to him, was more complex than that needed in Crete; shammashim are not mentioned here.
10. For there are many, especially from the Circumcision faction, who are rebellious, who delude people’s minds with their worthless and misleading talk.
The Circumcision faction. This is not a synonym either for Messianic Jews or for non-Messianic Jews. Rather, it denotes, as in Galatia, a group which included Gentiles as well as Jews (this is clear from v. 12), whose distinctive was that they favored circumcising Gentile believers. Sha'ul was uncompromising in his opposition to them, because what they stood for negates the Gospel in relation to Gentiles. This was the central issue in the book of Galatians, and at Acts 15 the matter was settled once and for all. See Ac 10:45N, Ga 2:12cN and Appendix, p. 933.
11. They must be silenced; because they are upsetting entire households by teaching what they have no business teaching, and doing it for the sake of dishonest gain.
12. Even one of the Cretans’ own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” —
13. and it’s true! For this reason, you must be severe when you rebuke those who have followed this false teaching, so that they will come to be sound in their trust
Exactly how the false teachers might have made dishonest gain is not clear; however, in the ancient world Cretans were known for their avariciousness and for other negative qualities, as one of their own prophets has said, Epimenides of Cnossos, in the 6th century B.C.E. Starting with the claim that the tomb of Zeus was on their island, Cretans acquired a reputation for being always liars — etcetera.
If Sha'ul really means the plain sense of what he writes, he is simply prejudiced. But I cannot believe this cosmopolitan was a bigot. Nor do I think his anger at the false teachers was so uncontrolled that he vomited out genuinely held views which in a more guarded moment he would have suppressed for politics' sake (although the New Testament does record moments when Sha'ul lost control of himself — Ac 23:2-5&N, Ga 5:12&N). Most defences of Sha'ul here seem heavy-handed and unconvincing.
I offer two possible explanations. The First is to take this quotation, together with his own coup de grace, "and it's true!," as a light touch. Should he have said instead, "But 1 don't agree; some of my best friends are Cretans"? The citizen of the world who could write, "I owe a debt to both civilized Greeks and uncivilized people, to both the educated and the ignorant" (Ro 1:14), made an intentional overstatement, the humor of which removes the epithet from the realm of the real, insofar as its plain-sense application to Cretans in general is concerned, and leaves Sha'ul free to apply it entirely and only to the false teachers. If so, then the reason Titus is to be severe in rebuking the false teachers (v. 13) is not that Cretans lie, etc., (v. 12) but that there are many... who delude... with their worthless... talk (v. 11).
An alternative explanation, perhaps less "politically correct," is that lying, gluttony, etc., were indeed characteristic of society in Crete, not necessarily found in every single Cretan, but endemic to that culture; their own writers acknowledged it. Sha'ul therefore admonishes Titus to neutralize these factors by being especially severe when he rebukes the false teachers. Also see Appendix, p. 934.
14. and no longer pay attention to Judaistic myths or to the commands of people who reject the truth.
Judaistic myths. The Greek word for "myths" is used at 1 Ti 1:4, 4:7&N; 2 Ti 4:4; 2 Ke 1:16. See 1 Ti 1:4N for a discussion of what the content of these myths may have been.
The Greek adjective loudaikois appears only here in the New Testament. I do not believe these myths were part of normative non-Messianic Judaism, but rather that they expressed the Circumcision faction's preoccupation with the trappings of Judaism. Therefore, the word usually used to translate it, "Jewish," is misleading and, in the ambience of the present world, antisemitic, insofar as it causes people to think less of normative non-Messianic Judaism. "Jewishy" would probably convey the sense best but is too informal; hence "Judaistic," that is, imitative of Judaism without actually emanating from normative Judaism.
The commands probably related to festivals and ascetic prohibitions along the lines of Ga 4:10, Co 2:16-23 and 1 Ti 4:3-6; see also Isaiah 29:13, Mk 7:5-7.
15. To all who are themselves pure, everything is pure. But to those who are defiled and without trust, nothing is pure — even their minds and consciences have been defiled.
This seems a key verse for Messianic Jews to take into account when establishing the nature of Torah in the light of the New Testament. Is the import of "Everything is pure" to do away with the laws of taharot ("ritual purity") found in both the Written and Oral Torahl Is it to be applied only metaphorically, with "pure" and "defiled" having a spiritual sense that leaves the laws of laharot unaffected? Or is it to be taken as a statement about "priorities" within the framework of Torah, not altering the laws of taharot but establishing purity of minds and consciences as more important? (See Mt 23:23&N, Yn 7:22-23&N, Ga 2:12b&N.)
16. They claim to know God, but with their actions they deny him. They are detestable and disobedient; they have proved themselves unfit to do anything good.
They claim to know God, but with their actions they deny him. (My seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Uphoff, imprinted on the memory of everyone in her class the proverb, "What you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say.") Compare 2 Ti 3:5 (and meditate on the history of the Church vis-a-vis the Jewish people). These would-be leaders seem to have passed the point of no return. Sha'ul neither prays for them (compare 1 Yn 5:16b) nor says he has "turned them over to the Adversary, so that they will learn not to blaspheme" (1 Ti 1:20; compare 1С 5:5); rather, like the false prophets of 2 Kefa 2, they are detestable and disobedient; they have proved themselves unfit to do anything good.
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- chapter 3