New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:2 brawlers. The coarse behavior of the Cretians was difficult to correct, even among those who became Christians. Titus had a real challenge as he sought to plant sound and winsome churches with such people. But when a person becomes a Christian, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Missionaries to pagan cultures have faced similar problems throughout the centuries since, but the gospel has time and again proved its power to transform lives. Notice that Paul does not say to try to accommodate Biblical teaching on the behavior of Christians to the customs and culture of their previous environment. The consistent, godly living of the converts may well, in time, transform the environment as well.
3:4 God our Saviour. Note that “God our Saviour” in this verse is essentially synonymous with “Jesus Christ our Saviour” in Titus 3:6. There should be no question that the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we receive as Personal Savior, is God. The Greek word translated “Saviour” (soter, from which we get our theological term, “soteriology,” the study of salvation) occurs twenty-four times in the New Testament. Eight of these take Savior as synonymous with “God,” (the first is in Mary’s “Magnificat,” Luke 1:47), and all of them apply to Jesus Christ.
3:5 saved us. In spite of the strong emphasis which he had just placed on godly living (Titus 3:1-3), Paul again wants to make it abundantly clear that salvation is altogether by God’s mercy and grace (see also Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:16-21).
3:5 washing of regeneration. The “washing of regeneration” is symbolized by baptism, whereby immersion in water represents total cleansing, as well as death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-11). It also symbolizes being “immersed” into the body of Christ, as it were, by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5; I Corinthians 12:13), who “renews” us from spiritual death to eternal life when we receive Christ by faith. However, it is not the act of water baptism, but the “washing of regeneration,” that saves us, and this is received altogether by God’s grace (Titus 3:7) through faith in the person and saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism beautifully symbolizes all that is taking place when we are “born again” (John 3:3) and become “new creations” in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17), but it is only that—a beautiful symbol. Without saving faith, it is meaningless.
3:7 hope. The Christian “hope,” centered especially in Christ and His promised return (note Titus 2:13), is not a forlorn hope, or mere wishful thinking. It is rather an anticipation of what we know is coming by faith in God’s promises. We have the “hope of eternal life which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2). God is omnipotent, but there are three things He cannot do: “He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:13); secondly, “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13); and, most assuredly, He cannot lie! Therefore, our hope is real certainty, even though we do not see its fulfillment just yet (Romans 8:24-25). “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19).
3:8 faithful saying. This is one of Paul’s four “faithful sayings” (see I Timothy 1:15). Even though Paul has just emphasized that we are saved by God’s mercy and justified by His grace, he insists that we be careful to maintain good works. This was vitally important for a clear Christian testimony in the blatantly coarse culture of Crete, but it is surely no less important in the secularistic amoral culture of the modern world.
3:9 foolish questions. See also I Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 6:4,20; II Timothy 2:16,23; Titus 1:14. Paul gave repeated warnings about this matter in his three Pastoral Epistles. Maintaining sound doctrine in a local church is vitally important (e.g., I Timothy 4:13-16; II Timothy 1:13; 2:15; 4:2-4; Titus 1:9; 2:1,7-8), but trivial questions and arguments about extra-Biblical matters should be avoided.
3:10 heretick. This is the only occurrence of the Greek word hairetikos in the New Testament (though its derivative, “heretic” has been used frequently in church history). The similar word, hairesis (translated “heresy” or “sect”) occurs nine times. It was applied by the Jews to the Christians, and by the Christians to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5). Both Greek words are derived from hairetizo, meaning “choose.” There is no inherently evil meaning suggested, but simply a marked difference from a standard teaching. A heresy only becomes wrong when it substantially contradicts a clear doctrine of Scripture (e.g., theistic evolution, denial of the virgin birth).
3:10 reject. The Greek word here means “avoid” or “refuse,” but not necessarily “excommunicate.” If a heretic refuses a second admonition, however, his ideas should at least be ignored by the church. That this has not been done is evident in the widespread departure of churches and entire denominations from the true Christian faith. Even modern evangelical churches are being seriously undermined today by theistic evolutionism, humanistic psychology and other heresies that have been allowed to thrive therein, having first been promoted in their associated religious colleges and seminaries.
3:12 Artemas. “Artemas” is not mentioned elsewhere, although Tychicus is referred to several times (e.g., Acts 20:4) as a frequent companion and messenger of Paul’s.
3:12 Nicopolis. There is no mention in Acts of Paul ever having been in either Crete or Nicopolis. This is one reason why most scholars believe he must have been released from his first Roman imprisonment, after which he did travel to these and other places.
3:13 Zenas. “Zenas” is not mentioned otherwise. His Greek name suggests that he was a Greek lawyer, rather than Jewish. Apollos is mentioned a number of times elsewhere (e.g., Acts 18:24).
3:13 on their journey diligently. Evidently Apollos and Zenas had been assisting Titus in Greece, and Paul was now sending Artemas and Tychicus to replace them while they went on to minister elsewhere. Titus himself was going to be needed by Paul at Nicopolis.