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Titus 1



Salutation Greeting Salutation Opening Greetings Address
1:1-4 1:1-3 1:1-3 1:1-3 1:1-4
  1:4a 1:4a 1:4a  
  1:4b 1:4b 1:4b  
Titus' Work in Crete Qualified Elders Administration Titus' Work in Crete The Appointment of Elders
1:5-9 1:5-9 1:5-9 1:5-9 1:5-9
  The Elders' Task     Opposing the False Teachers
1:10-12a 1:10-16 1:10-16 1:10-16 1:10-14

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
 In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
  Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical StructureTextual Criticism, and Glossary.


 1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

1:1 "Paul" Most Jews of Paul's day had two first names, one Jewish, one Roman (cf. Acts 13:9). Paul's Jewish name was Saul. He, like the ancient King of Israel, was of the tribe of Benjamin (cf. Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5). His Roman name in Greek form, Paul (Paulos), meant "little." This referred to

1. his physical stature which was alluded to in a second century non-canonical book, The Acts of Paul, in a chapter about Thessalonica called "Paul and Thekla"

2. his personal sense of being least of the saints because he originally persecuted the Church (cf. I Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15)

3. simply the name given by his parents at birth

Option #3 seems best.

"a bond-servant of God" This was an honorific title used of Old Testament leaders (cf. Deut. 34:5; Josh. 1:1-2; 14:7; 24:29; II Sam. 7:5,8; II Kgs. 10:10; Ps. 89:3; 105:42; Isa. 20:3; Dan. 6:20; 9:11). Paul usually uses the phrase "servant of Christ" (cf. Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 1:1). However, here he was "a bond-servant of God." This may point to the fact that these false teachers were somehow connected to Judaism.

1. God is mentioned five times in the opening of this letter (cf. vv. 1-4).

2. This may also explain why the title "Savior" is used three times for God the Father as well as three times for Jesus.

3. It is obvious from 1:10,14; 3:8-9 that there was a Jewish element to the controversy on Crete.


"an apostle" This is literally "sent one," which had the implication within rabbinical Judaism of one delegated with official authority. See Special Topic at 1 Tim. 1:1. It is similar to our concept of ambassador (cf. II Cor. 5:20). This was also Paul's way of asserting and reinforcing his authority in Christ, as would the previous title "Servant of God." He was establishing his credentials so as to empower Titus. This letter would have been read to the entire church as the plurals of I Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:22; and Titus 3:15 clearly show.

▣ "for the faith" The noun has no definite article; therefore, it could refer to

1. one's personal trust in Christ

2. faithful living (OT sense)

3. the body of Christian doctrine (cf. Acts 6:7; 18:8; 14:22; Gal. 1:23; 3:23; 6:10; Phil. 1:27; Jude 3,20)

Paul's mission was either to

1. stimulate the faith of those already saved

2. bring those elect from eternity into personal faith ("calling out the called")

Both are necessary, but which is being emphasized here is uncertain.

Paul uses kata several times in the opening chapter.

1. according to faith, v. 1

2. according to piety, v. 1

3. according to the command, v. 3

4. according to common faith, v. 4

5. according to appoint, v. 5 (compound word)

6. according to the teaching, v. 9

Obviously there is a standard of truth and conduct (cf. 3:5,7).

▣ "of those chosen of God" This is literally "according to faith of elect ones." In the OT election was used of service to God, while in the NT it is used of salvation by God (cf. Romans 8:29-30; 9:1ff; Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Tim. 1:9). This sense of election is expressed well in Acts 13:48. The church is the elect of God (cf. Rom. 8:32; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10). The church was not a new entity, but an extension of the OT people of God. See the Special Topic on Election (Predestination) at 1 Tim. 6:12.

▣ "the knowledge" This is the Greek compound term epiginōskō, which implies a full experiential knowledge. This is an idiom of true conversion (cf. John 8:32; 1 Tim. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:25; I John 2:21; III John 1). This was in contrast to the false teachers whose emphasis was on a secret knowledge which was unrelated to a holy life. This same phrase is used in 1 Tim. 2:4, but with an emphasis on God's will for all humans!


▣ "of the truth which is according to godliness" This is a strong contrast to the false teachers' exclusivism. They emphasized knowledge as the possession of an elite group. Truth must be related to daily life (cf. 1 Tim. 2:2). Godliness or piety (eusebeia) is a common theme in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 2:2; 3:16; 4:7,8; 6:3,5,6,11; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1; a compound form, theosebeia, in 1 Tim. 2:10; and the adjective eusebōs in 2 Tim. 3:10; Titus 2:12). See Special Topic at 1 Tim. 4:7.

This obviously reflects the errors of the false teachers. Believers are not only called to heaven when they die, but to Christlikeness now (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; II Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; I Thess. 3:13; 4:3). The purpose of the gospel does not end until all know the Savior and all reflect His character. See Special Topic: Truth in Paul's Writings at 1 Tim. 2:4.

1:2 "in the hope of eternal life" The preposition epi implies "resting on." The RSV and TEV have "which is based on." There is ambiguity of this term "hope" regarding the consummation of God's eternal plan of redemption.

Eternal life in Paul's writings is always the life of the new age, eschatological life (cf. Rom. 2:7; 6:22,23; Gal. 6:8; 1 Tim. 1:16; Titus 1:2; 3:7). In John's writings it refers to a present reality based on trusting Christ as Savior (cf. John 3:15; 10:28; 12:25; 17:2-3; I John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11,13,20). Both are true. The new age has been inaugurated with Jesus' first coming. Believers are already part of this new age. The new age will be consummated at the Second Coming.



▣ "God, who cannot lie" Our faith rests on God's faithfulness and trustworthiness regarding His promises (cf. Num. 23:19; I Sam. 15:29; Rom. 3:4; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 6:18). Our hope rests on God's unchanging character (cf. Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).

▣ "promised long ages ago" This is an aorist middle indicative. The middle voice emphasizes the subject, God (cf. Rom. 4:21; 2 Tim. 1:9). The phrase "long ages ago" is literally "before times eternal" (see Special Topic at 1 Tim. 4:10). This may refer to God's redemptive promises and provisions before creation (cf. Matt. 25:34; John 17:24; Eph. 1:4; I Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).



NRSV"at the proper time"
NJB"in due time"
TEV"at the right time"

This phrase is plural (i.e., "before times eternal") and may reflect the whole Christ event, (cf. 1 Tim. 2:6; 6:14-15; Gal. 4:4). This may refer to

1. the pervasiveness of the Koine Greek language

2. the political peace of Rome

3. the religious expectation of the world after the loss of honor and belief in the Homeric gods


"manifested" This means "clearly brought to light" or "clearly revealed." Jesus is clearly revealed in the Gospels and apostolic preaching (cf. 2 Tim. 1:10).

▣ "His word" This can refer to (1) the gospel message about Christ or (2) Christ Himself (cf. John 1:1; Rev. 19:13).

▣ "with which I was entrusted" Paul deeply sensed his stewardship of the gospel (cf. I Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; I Thess. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:11) and also the stewardship of all believers (cf. I Cor. 4:1-2 and I Pet. 4:10).

"God our Savior" This is a common title for God in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). See full note at 2 Tim. 1:10. However, in each context it is also used of Jesus (cf.1:4; 2:13; 3:6). It was a title (as was "Lord") claimed by the Roman Caesars.

 4To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

1:4 "to Titus" This letter is addressed to Titus, but it was to be read publicly to all the house churches (cf. the plural of "you" of 3:15). Titus was Paul's faithful Gentile Apostolic legate. It is unusual that he is not named in Acts (see Introduction II. C.).

▣ "my true child" Paul uses this same terminology for Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:2 and "my son" in 2 Tim. 1:2 of Onesimus in Philemon v. 10. It is a familial metaphor for Paul's converts and friends.

▣ "in a common faith" "Common" is not used here with the connotation of unclean as in Acts 10:14 and 11:8, but in its connotation of universal or normal. A similar phrase is used in Jude v. 3. It is common in the sense that it is for all humans and available to all humans. This may be a direct antithesis to the false teachers' elitism and exclusivism.

▣ "Grace and peace from God the Father" These two terms often form Paul's opening prayers. It is possible that "grace" (charis) is a wordplay on "greetings" (charein, cf. James 1:1; Acts 15:23), the similar Greek word that opened most Greek letters. Paul takes the normal cultural opening, charein, and changes it to the uniquely Christian charis.

The term "peace" may reflect the common Hebrew greeting "Shalom." If so, Paul combines both Greek and Hebrew greetings into one Christian greeting.

The Textus Receptus (cf. KJV) and the Greek manuscripts A, C2, and K, add "mercy" to grace and peace. This is probably an assimilation from 1 Tim. 1:2 and 2 Tim. 1:2. The shorter form is found in manuscripts א, C*, D, F, G, and P as well as the Latin Vulgate. The UBS4 gives the shorter reading an "A" rating (certain).

For "Father" see Special Topic at 1 Tim. 1:2.

▣ "Christ Jesus our Savior" This phrase links God the Father, YHWH of the OT, and Jesus the Messiah by the use of the term "Savior" (cf. 1:3-4; 2:10,13; 3:4,6). It is used of God in v. 3 and of Jesus in v. 4. Using OT titles of God applied to Jesus was a common way for the NT authors to assert the deity of Jesus.

 5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

1:5 "For this reason" Titus' assignment was to (1) set in order the things that were lacking or left undone, and (2) to appoint elders (cf. Acts 14:23). The problem was not to reform an existing structure, which proved to be inadequate, but to establish a structure. Here we see a different type of polity structure than 1 Timothy 3, which was addressed to the established church at Ephesus. Notice Titus appoints, not a congregational vote.  Notice the phrase "in each town." Remember both Timothy and Titus were apostolic legates, not local pastors or regional leaders.

▣ "Crete" This was the original home of the Philistines and the pre-Greek Minoan culture. Acts 27:7-13 states that Paul visited this island on his way to Rome, but it does not record that he preached there then. This is why many commentators (including this author) believe these Pastoral Letters reflect a fourth missionary journey after Paul was released from Roman imprisonment sometime in the early 60's.

▣ "that" This is a hina (purpose clause) so characteristic of Paul's letters (cf. 1:9,13; 2:4,5,8,10,12,14; 3:7,8,13,14).

Paul wanted Titus to

1. set (aorist middle subjunctive) in order what remains

2. appoint (aorist active subjunctive) elders


▣ "appoint" The verb "appoint" means "to put in charge of." The same verb is used of the Apostles "appointing the seven in Acts 6:3. It is a delegation of authority.

Paul directs Titus to appoint elders in these new churches as he and Barnabas did in Acts 14:23. Paul does not direct Timothy to do the same because the house churches in Ephesus were an established work (cf. 1 Timothy 3).

▣ "elders" The term presbuteroi is synonymous with "overseers" (cf. v. 7) and "pastors" (cf. Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7). This term has a Jewish background, while "overseers" has a Greek city-state political-administrative background. Notice the qualification in I Tim. 3:6 that they not be new converts is left out. This implies these were new churches being formed. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELDER at 1 Tim. 5:1.

▣ "as I directed you" This is an aorist middle imperative. Titus was acting as Paul's apostolic surrogate.

1:6 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence. Paul assumed there would be qualified men in every city.

NASB"is above reproach"
NKJV, NRSV"blameless"
TEV"without fault"
NJB"irreproachable character"

This is the key to all of the qualifications, both positive and negative, of both 1 Timothy and Titus (cf. vv. 6,7; 1 Tim. 3:2,7,10; 5:7; 6:14). This is not the exact Greek term found in 1 Timothy 3, but a synonym used in exactly the same way. The minister must be a good witness to those within the believing community and to the unbelievers in the community (cf. 2:5,8,10; Acts 2:47; 4:4,31; 5:13,42). See Special Topic at 1 Tim. 3:2.

These qualifications must be interpreted in light of two purposes: (1) the leaders must be acceptable to believers and unbelievers; evangelism is the ultimate goal and (2) the leaders must be observably different from the false teachers. It is difficult to know exactly how to apply these qualifications to different cultures and time periods. Believers must guard against historically conditioned rules, yet be open to God-given principles. My experience with modern western churches has been that:

1. they proof-text one or more of these qualifications, but ignore or depreciate others

2. they add to these guidelines and claim biblical authority for the additions

3. they interpret these rules in light of our day instead of a first century culture, which was disrupted by false teachers

4. they take ambiguous phrases and turn them into dogmatic rules that universally apply

Please consult my more complete discussion on 1 Timothy 3,

▣ "the husband of one wife" This phrase has caused much discussion. It is obvious that it was also an important issue to the church at Ephesus (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1,12; 5:7). This can refer to

1. polygamy

2. remarriage after divorce 

3. second marriage after the death of a spouse

4. a man who is faithful and attentive to his wife and family

The early church put a high value on family relationships, and any problem in this area disqualifies one from leadership positions in the church.

1. The first was not a problem in the Roman Empire but may have been a problem in the Jewish community (Jacob, Elkanah, David, Solomon).

2. The second was a great problem in the Empire as well as a problem within Judaism based on the rabbinical discussions between the conservative school of Shammai and the liberal school of Hillel.

3. The third was a major concern of the Early church, especially Tertullian, and is still a problem in Europe; however in 1 Tim. 5:9 (cf. Rom. 7:1-2; I Corinthians 7) widows can remarry with no reproach.

4. The fourth relates to the false teachers' depreciation of marriage (cf. I Tim. 4:3). In this sense it is another way of asserting the need for a strong family life, yet not necessarily excluding unmarried men (remember Jesus and Paul were single).


▣ "having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion" This is discussed in 1 Tim. 3:4-5). Leadership qualities can be seen in one's home life. Any kind of difficulty between husband and wife or children or grandparents was a basis for disqualification in this early church setting. "No handle for criticism" is the main concern. How one rules his home shows how he would tend to lead the church. Those of us who are vocational ministers worry about this qualification! Often preacher's kids rebel even in the presence of a godly home and godly parents. Maybe our lack of dogmatism on this point should be reflected toward the others' qualifications as well.

Does v. 6 apply to the children of a pastor, or is it two more qualifications for the pastor? Either way it focuses on the family's lifestyle and attitude toward authority. I think in an extended list of qualifications that it refers to the prospective leader.

1:7 "the overseer" This term episkopon is usually translated "overseer" or "bishop." The context shows that they refer to the same person (cf. 1:5,7 and Acts 20:17,28). This term has a Greek city-state, political-administrative background. See note at 1 Tim. 3:2.

▣ "as God's steward" This refers to a household steward (cf. I Cor. 4:1; 9:17). This family term is related to the qualifications of v. 6. The pastor as a family man reflects how he will lead the church. There are five negative characteristics in v. 7 and six positive characteristics in v. 8. See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES in the NT at I Tim. 1:9.

NASB, NKJV"not self-willed"
NRSV, TEV"not arrogant"
NJB"never arrogant"

This is a compound term from autus (one's self) and edomai (pleasure). It characterizes that person who is willful, obstinate, arrogant, self-pleasing (cf. II Pet. 2:10).

▣ "not quick-tempered" This is the term orgē, which referred to an outburst of anger. It is the opposite of the terms "gentle" and "peaceful" in the list of qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:3. This characterizes one prone to anger or drastic mood swings.

NASB, NRSV"addicted to wine"
NKJV"not given to wine"
TEV"or a drunkard"
NJB"nor a heavy drinker"

This seems to be an allusion from the Septuagint of Pro. 23:29-35. It must be re-emphasized that the Bible rails against drunkenness but does not teach total abstinence (cf. Gen. 27:28; Ps. 104:14,15; Eccl. 9:7; Pro. 31:6-7). Total abstinence comes from an individual believer's commitment to the Lord Jesus based on the limiting of one's personal freedoms because of love for others within the culture in which he/she ministers (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:13; I Cor. 8-9; 10:23-33). See Special Topic: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol (fermentation) and Alcoholism (addiction) at 1 Tim. 3:3.

NASB"not pugnacious"
TEV, NJB"not violent"

This is literally "not a striker." This may be related to the overuse of alcohol or certain personality types (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3).

NASB"not fond of sordid gain"
NKJV"not greedy for money"
NRSV"or greedy for gain"
TEV"or greedy for money"
NJB"nor avaricious"

This same problem is reflected in the false teachers in v. 11. See fuller note at 1 Tim. 3:8.

1:8 "hospitable" This is literally "lover of strangers." The inns of Paul's day were notorious houses of prostitution, therefore, Christians, and especially Christian leadership, had to have their homes open for itinerant missionaries and for the needy of the community (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; I Pet. 4:9; III John v. 5).

▣ "loving what is good" Both of the first two terms of v. 8 are compounds of phileos and agathos. This phrase was a common phrase of affirmation in the Greco-Roman culture. It has been found often in their inscriptions. Its opposite is found in 2 Tim. 3:3, which characterizes the false teachers.

NASB, NJB"sensible"

This term in its various forms is common in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 2:9,15; 3:2; 2 Tim. 1:7; Titus 1:8; 2:2,4,5,6,9,12,15). The term reflects the avoidance of the extremes. It implies a balanced life.

See full note at 1 Tim. 3:2.

NASB"just, devout"
NKJV"just, holy"
NRSV, NJB"upright, devout"
TEV"upright, holy"

These qualities are not listed in 1 Timothy 3. They were often linked together in Greek culture. They are terms that reflect the relationship between duty toward God and duty toward man.

▣ "self-controlled" This describes Paul's preaching before Felix and Drusilla in Acts 24:24ff. It is used in connection with one of Paul's athletic metaphors in I Cor. 9:25. It is also used of a quality of Christian maturity in Titus 2:2 and II Pet. 1:6. The noun appears in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:23. It reflects someone who, through the Spirit, has been able to control the passions and pulls of a fallen world system, the temptations of Satan (demonic) and a fallen sin nature. This describes a believer who has become Christ-controlled.


NASB, NKJV"holding fast the faithful word"
NRSV"must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy"
TEV"must hold firmly to the message which can be trusted"
NJB"a firm grasp of the unchanging message"

This is a present middle participle. Believers are to be a link in the chain of apostolic, historical Christianity. They must grasp and hold on tenaciously to the Old and New Testaments which are the self-revelation of the one and only true God. It is their, and our, only guide for faith and practice!

NASB, NRSV"which is in accordance with the teaching"
NKJV"as he has been taught"
TEV"which agrees with the doctrine"
NJB"of the tradition"

Church leaders must pass on the Apostolic truths they have been taught without change.

▣ "so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine" The minister, by personal preparation, spiritual giftedness, and love must be able to work with believers and non-believers. His task involves teaching, preaching, and modeling (i.e. living out) the gospel and correcting false teachings (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2).

For "sound doctrine" see notes at 1 Tim. 1:10.

▣ "and to refute those who contradict" The next few verses (cf. vv. 10-16) describe the attitudes and actions of these false teachers. There was an obvious Jewish element (cf. vv. 10,14).

 10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.


NASB"rebellious men"
NKJV, NJB"insubordinate"
NRSV"rebellious people"
TEV"who rebel"

This is the term "be subject" (hupotassō) with an alpha privative (cf. 1:6). This means "not under authority." This relates contextually to "those who contradict" in v. 9. They are described in 3:9-11.

NASB"empty talkers and deceivers"
NKJV, NRSV"idle talkers and deceivers"
TEV"deceive others with their nonsense"
NJB"who talk nonsense and try to make others believe it"

These two words are found only here in the NT. The primary problem of the Pastoral Letters is false teachers (characterized by these terms in v. 10) and their converts. What we believe and how we live are crucial aspects of Christianity.

▣ "those of the circumcision" This phrase reminds one of Paul's theological opponents at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and in the churches of Galatia (Gal. 2:12ff). It is uncertain how these early Jewish legalists, who asserted that people had to become Jewish and keep the Mosaic Law before they could trust Jesus and become Christians, are related to the false teachers of Colossians, Ephesians, and the Pastoral Letters. These later heresies seem to be a combination of Jewish legalism and Greek philosophical thought (Gnostics ). See Introduction to 1 Timothy, C. False Teachers and the Special Topic at 1 Tim. 1:8.

With the death of the Apostles and the rapid spread of Christianity, many factious groups developed through the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean world. The NT gives guidelines on how to identify these false teachers, especially Matthew 7 and the book of I John, which focus on appropriate lifestyle and true doctrine.

1:11 "who must be silenced" This is a present active infinitive of the compound "to put on the mouth" (i.e. to muzzle, to gag, or silence). Church leaders must control who speaks in the house churches. The same principle is true today. Religious and academic freedoms do not give anyone and everyone the right to address the gathered people of God!

▣ "they are upsetting whole families" This could refer to house churches (cf. Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; I Tim. 3:15) or to the exploitation of widows and those they talk to (cf. 2 Tim. 3:6).

▣ "for the sake of sordid gain" This shows the true nature of the false teachers (cf. 1 Tim. 1:7; 6:5,10; II Pet. 2:3,14; Jude v. 16). The church leaders of 1 Timothy 3 must be free of this temptation (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3,8; 6:9-10).

False teachers and cult groups can be quickly identified by three characteristics.

1. exploitation of money

2. exploitation of sexual freedom

3. a claim to unique and direct revelation

If your religious leaders want your money, your wife, and claim God told them — run!

1:12 "One of themselves a prophet" Epimenides lived in the sixth century b.c. and was from Crete. The fact that Paul quotes one of their poets shows the Greek influence on this island and in the heresy. Paul quotes from Greek philosophers and poets at least three times in his writings (cf. Acts 17:28; I Cor. 15:13; Titus 1:12). His home town of Tarsus was known for its educational institutions. Paul was highly educated in both Greek and Hebrew culture.

Paul may have called Epimenides a prophet because he wrote truly about the inhabitants of Crete or possibly because the Cretans considered him a speaker inspired by the Greek gods. He was known as one of the wisest men of Crete.

▣ "Cretans are always liars" This is in hexameter poetic form. The Cretans believed and bragged that Zeus was buried on their island. The term "cretinous" meant "a liar." In this context this characterization seems to relate to the false teachers, not the churches or the general public.

▣ "lazy gluttons" The basic meaning of the phrase is greed (cf. Phil. 3:19).

1:13 "reprove them severely" This literally means "cut off with a knife." This is a present active imperative. This strong term is used only here in the NT. Additional admonitions to strongly rebuke can be seen in 1 Tim. 5:25; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15.

▣ "so that they may be sound in the faith" This shows that discipline is to be redemptive, not punitive (cf. I Cor. 5:5; Heb. 12:5-13). The pronouns in v. 13 refer to the false teachers (cf. 2 Tim. 2:25-26).

The term "sound" is a recurrent theme in the Pastoral Letters, which refers to something being healthy (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9,13; 2:1,2,8).

1:14 "Jewish myths" These myths may be connected to Jewish speculation about the genealogy of the Messiah (cf. 3:9; I Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:4). For a good discussion of the differing connotations of "myth" see G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, pp. 219-242.

▣ "and commandments of men" This, in context, seems to refer to the Oral Tradition of the Jews, later codified in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds (cf. Isa. 29:13; Mark 7:7-8; Col. 2:16-23).

▣ "who turn away from the truth" This is a present middle participle. These false teachers continue to turn away from the gospel. See Special Topic: Truth at I Tim. 2:4.

1:15 "To the pure, all things are pure" "Everything" is put first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. This truth is hard for some believers to understand (cf. 1 Tim. 4:4; Mark 7:15-23; Luke 11:41; Rom. 14:14,20; I Cor. 10:23-33)! This possibly relates to asceticism so common in Greek religious philosophical traditions (cf. 1 Tim. 4:3; Col. 2:20-22). Legalistic Christians often lose the biblical balance at this very point (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:13)!

▣ "but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure" The first cognate verbal is a perfect passive participle and the second is a perfect passive indicative, which speaks of a settled state produced by an outside agent, here possibly the evil one. This type of person twists everything and everyone for personal interest (ex. Acts 20:29).

1:16 "They profess to know God" "God" is placed first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. These false teachers claim to be religious! They claim godliness based on human regulations (cf. Isa. 29:13; Col. 2:16-23), but in reality, they are defiled. Some see this as another evidence of the Jewish element of the heresy because of the term "God" rather than Christ. For "profess" see SPECIAL TOPIC: CONFESSION at 1 Tim. 6:12.

▣ "but by their deeds they deny Him" This is a present middle indicative. Believers' lifestyle choices give evidence of their true conversion (cf. Matt. 7:16,20; I John and James).

▣ "detestable" This is a term used often in the Septuagint translated "abominable" (cf. Rev. 17:4) and is often associated with idolatry. It literally means "smelly" (cf. Rev. 21:8).

▣ "and disobedient and worthless for any good deed" What a shocking phrase (cf. I Cor. 3:10-15; II Pet. 1:8-11)!

The word "disobedient" is also used in 3:3 to describe how believers lived before the grace of God/Christ changed them (3:4)!

The word "worthless" literally means "failure to pass the test" (dokimos with the alpha privative, cf. I Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 3:8). See Special Topic: The Greek Term for "Testing" at 1 Tim. 6:9.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is the list of qualifications for leaders in 1 Tim. 3:1-13 different from the list in Titus 1?

2. How do these lists which reflect a first century Greco-Roman culture relate to my day, my church?

3. How is this list affected by the teachings and lifestyle of the false teachers?

4. Summarize the entire list in one sentence which should describe a Christian leader.

5. Does this passage reflect a different church polity than 1 Timothy?

6. What type of false teachers were in Crete? Were they Christians or not?

7. List the verses that reflect the Jewish aspect of the false teachers.

8. List the verses that reflect the Greek philosophical aspect of the false teachers.

9. Explain the universal principle in v. 15.