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Titus 1:10-12

10. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

10 sunt enim multi et inoboedientes vaniloqui et seductores maxime qui de circumcisione sunt

11 Whose mouths must be stopped; who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

11 quos oportet redargui qui universas domos subvertunt docentes quae non oportet turpis lucri gratia

12. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own. Said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

12 dixit quidam ex illis proprius ipsorum propheta Cretenses semper mendaces malae bestiae ventres pigri

10. For there are many unruly. fc15 After having laid down a general rule, which ought to be everywhere observed, in order that Titus may be more attentive to adhere to it, he holds out to him the urgent necessity which ought to excite him more than all things else. He warns him that he has to deal with many obstinate and incorrigible persons, that many are puffed up with vanity and idle talk, that many are deceivers; and that therefore they ought to choose, on the other hand, such leaders as are qualified and well prepared to oppose them. For, if the children of this world, when dangers arise, increase their solicitude and watchfulness, it would be disgraceful for us, when Satan is using his utmost efforts to remain careless and inactive, as if we were in a state of peace.

Unruly. Instead of (inobedientes) disobedient, which is the rendering in the old translation for ajnupo>taktoi Erasmus translates it (intractabiles) incorrigible. He means those who cannot endure to be brought to obey, and who throw off the yoke of subjection. He gives the appellation of vain talkers, fc16 not only to the authors of false doctrines, but to those who, addicted to ambitious display, occupy themselves with nothing but useless subtleties. Mataiologi>a fc17 (vain talking) is contrasted with useful and solid doctrine, and therefore includes all trivial and frivolous speculations, which contain nothing but empty bombast, because they contribute nothing to piety and the fear of God. And such is all the scholastic theology that is found, in the present day, in Popery. Yet he calls the same persons deceivers of minds. It may be thought preferable to view this as relating to a different class of persons; but, for my own part, I think that it means the same class; for the teachers of such trifles entice and fascinate the minds of men, so as no longer to receive sound doctrine.

Chiefly they who are of the circumcision. He says that they are chiefly of the Jews; for it is highly requisite that such plagues shall be known by all. We ought not to listen to those who plead that we should spare the reputation of this or that individual, when the matter in question is the great danger of the whole Church. And so much the greater danger was to be apprehended from that nation, because it claimed superiority above others on account of the sacredness of its lineage. This is therefore the reason why Paul reproves the Jews more sharply, in order to take from them the power of doing injury.

11. Whose mouth must be stopped. A good pastor ought therefore to be on the watch, so as not to give silent permission to wicked and dangerous doctrines to make gradual progress, or to allow wicked men an opportunity of spreading them. But it may be asked, “How is it possible for a bishop to constrain obstinate and self-willed men to be silent? For such persons, even though they are vanquished in argument, still do not hold their peace; and it frequently happens that, the more manifestly they are refuted and vanquished, they become the more insolent; for not only is their malice strengthened and inflamed, but they give themselves up to indolence.” I reply, when they have been smitten down by the sword of God’s word, and overwhelmed by the force of the truth, the Church may command them to be silent; and if they persevere, they may at least be banished from the society of believers, so that they shall have no opportunity of doing harm. fc18 Yet by “shutting the mouth” Paul simply means — ”to refute their vain talking, even though they should not cease to make a noise; for he who is convicted by the word of God, however he may chatter, has nothing to say.

Who overturn whole houses. If the faith of one individual were in danger of being overturned, (for we are speaking of the perdition of a single soul redeemed by the blood of Christ) the pastor should immediately gird himself for the combat; how much less tolerable is it to see whole houses overturned?

Teaching things which they ought not. The manner in which they were overturned is described in these words. Hence we may infer how dangerous it is to make even the smallest departure from sound doctrine; for he does not say that the doctrines, by which they overturned time faith of many, were openly wicked; but we may understand by this designation every kind of corruptions, when there is a turning aside from the desire of edification. Thus it is in reality, that, amidst so great weakness of the flesh, we are exceedingly prone to fall; and hence it arises, that Satan easily and speedily destroys, by his ministers, what godly teachers had reared with great and long-continued toil.

He next points out the source of the evil, a desire of dishonest gain; by which He reminds us flow destructive a plague avarice is in teachers; for, as soon as they give themselves up to the pursuit of gain, they must labor to obtain the favor and countenance of men. This is quickly followed by the corruption of pure doctrine.

12. One of themselves, a prophet of their own. I have no doubt that he who is here spoken of is Epimenides, who was a native of Crete; for, when the Apostle says that this author was “one of themselves,” and was “a prophet of their own,” he undoubtedly means that he belonged to the nation of the Cretans. Why he calls him a Prophet--is doubtful. Some think that the reason is, that the book from which Paul borrowed this passage bears the title Peri< Crhsmw~n “concerning oracles.” Others are of opinion that Paul speaks ironically, by saying that they have such a Prophet — a Prophet worthy of a nation which refuses to listen to the servants of God. But as poets are sometimes called by the Greeks (profh~tai) “prophets,” and as the Latin authors call them Vates, I consider it to denote simply a teacher. The reason why they were so called appears to have been, that they were always reckoned to be (ge>nov qei~on kai< ejnqousiastiko>n)a divine race and moved by divine inspiration.” Thus also Adimantus, in the Second Book of Plato’s treatise Peri< Politei>av after having called the poets ui[ouv Qew~n “sons of the gods,” adds, that they also became their prophets. For this reason I think that Paul accommodates his style to the ordinary practice. Nor is it of any importance to inquire on what occasion Epimenides calls his countrymen liars, namely, because they boast of having the sepulcher of Jupiter; but seeing that the poet takes it from an ancient and well-known report, the Apostle quotes it as a proverbial saying. fc19

From this passage we may infer that those persons are superstitious, who do not venture to borrow anything from heathen authors. All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God. Besides, all things are of God; and, therefore, why should it not be lawful to dedicate to his glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose? But on this subject the reader may consult Basil’s discourse fc20 proouv, o[pwv a}n ejx eJll k.t.l.

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