Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Titus 1.15 comments

Notes on Titus by Dr. Thomas L. Constable
These “commandments of men” (v. 14) involved abstaining from certain foods (asceticism; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-4; Col. 2:20-22). Paul reminded his readers that to the pure in heart all things, including foods, are pure (clean; cf. Matt. 15:11; Mark 7:15, 20; Luke 11:39-41). However the impure in heart spread impurity wherever they go through their words and deeds (cf. Hag. 2:13-14).
Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Tt 1:13–15.
(1:15, 16) The words, “Unto the pure all things are pure,” are to be understood in their context, which latter speaks of arbitrary ascetic prohibitions. Expositors says: “This is best understood as a maxim of the Judaic Gnostics, based on a perversion of Luke 11:41” where our Lord, speaking of the Pharisees and their man-made ceremonial washings says, “All things are clean to you.” The purity spoken of in our Titus reference speaks, not of purity which is the absence and opposite of immorality, etc., but of the ceremonial purity of man-made regulations. Our Lord tells the Jewish leaders that there is nothing wrong in eating with ceremoniously unwashen hands. That is, the person who does not subscribe to the Pharasaical regulations is not impure or defiled, nor is the food he eats affected in that way. We must be careful in explaining our Titus passage to make clear that the purity here spoken of is not moral, but ceremonial purity, lest we by our interpretation open the flood gates to license. Expositors says: “Paul accepts the statement as a truth, but not in the intention of the speaker.” Commenting on the rest of the verse, the same authority says, referring to those who are defiled; “their moral obliquity is more characteristic of them than their intellectual perversion. The satisfaction of natural bodily desires (for it is these that are in question) is, when lawful, a pure thing, not merely innocent, in the case of the pure; it is an impure thing, even when lawful, in the case of ‘them that are defiled.’ And for this reason: their intellectual apprehension of these things is perverted by defiling associations; ‘the light that is in them is darkness,’ and their conscience has, from a similar cause, lost its sense of discrimination between what is innocent and what is criminal. That any action with which they themselves are familiar could be pure, is inconceivable.” “Profess” is homologeomai (ὁμολογεομαι), “to agree” with someone as to some thing, thus, “to confess belief” in it. “Reprobate” is adokimos (ἀδοκιμος), “put to the test for the purpose of being approved, but failing to meet the requirements, being disapproved.”
Translation. All things are pure to those who are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving, not even one thing is pure. But even their mind and conscience are defiled. God, they confess that they know, but in their works they deny, being abominable and disobedient and with reference to every good work, disapproved.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 263.
Titus 1:15 is one of those verses that some ignorant people try to use to defend their ungodly practices. “To the pure, all things are pure” is used to excuse all sorts of sin. I recall warning a teenager about the kind of literature he was reading, and his defense was, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your heart must be filthy if you see sin in what I’m reading. After all, ‘To the pure, all things are pure.’ ”
To begin with, Paul was refuting the false teaching of these legalists with reference to foods. They were teaching that Jewish dietary laws still applied to Christian believers (see 1 Tim. 4:3–5). If you ate forbidden food, you defiled yourself; but if you refused that food, you became holier.
“It is just the opposite,” Paul argued. “These teachers have defiled minds and consciences. Therefore, when they look at these innocent foods, they see sin, because sin has defiled their vision. But those of us who have pure minds and consciences know that all foods are clean. It is not the foods which are defiling the teachers; it is the teachers who are defiling the foods!”
But this principle must not be applied to things that we know are evil. The difference, for example, between great art and pornography is more than “in the eye of the beholder.” A great artist does not exploit the human body for base gain. For a believer to indulge in sinful, erotic experiences and claim that they were pure because his heart was pure, is to use the Word of God to excuse sin. The application Paul made was to food, and we must be careful to keep it there.

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