Lesson 11 - “The Elder and False Teachers” - Titus 1:1-16
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Read all three chapters in this book if you have time. Pay attention to the purpose and theme of the book (1.5; 3:14). Read Titus 1 again in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.
1. ID: (1:1-4) Compare and contrast the salutations of the three “Pastoral Epistles” (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). How did Paul describe himself and about the recipient of each letter?
2. WS: (1:1-3) What are the key words in this salutation?
3. ID: (1:1-4) What do we learn about our salvation and the character of God in Titus 1.1-4?
4. ID/CR: (1:6-9) How do these verses describe a “blameless” man? Do you notice any groupings or progression in this list? How does it compare with the description Paul gave in 1 Timothy 3:1-7?
5. ID: (1:10-16) How do these verses describe “those who contradict (oppose)?”
6. ID: (1:13-14) What purpose is given for rebuking the false teachers?
7. ID: (1:9-16) What insights do the surrounding verses give to the meaning of verse fifteen?
The WALK: What should I do?
1. Paul describes himself as a bondservant and an Apostle. How would you describe yourself?
2. Which characteristics of an elder are the biggest challenge for you. Which ones do the elders in your church best exemplify?
3. The expression “sound (hygiainō) doctrine” in verse nine might be paraphrased “healthy doctrine.” What makes doctrine (or faith v. 13) healthy?
4. CSBI: Since we no longer possess the original documents of the Scriptures, how confident can we be with the copies we do possess? What are the limitations of translations? What version did Jesus use when he was on earth?
Going Beyond: What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
q The Bible (Bibliology) q God (Theology Proper) q The Father (Paterology) q The Lord Jesus Christ (Christology)
q The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) q Man (Anthropology) q Salvation (Soteriology) q The Church (Ecclesiology)
q Angels & Satan (Angelology) q Future Things (eschatology)
ARTICLE X: THE AUTOGRAPHS
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy.
We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs.
We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
Article X deals directly with the perennial issue of the relationship of the text of Scripture that we presently have to the original documents which have not been preserved except through the means of copies. In the first instance, inspiration applies strictly to the original autographs of Scripture, to the original works of the inspired authors. What this does indicate is that the infallible control of God in the production of the original Scripture has not been miraculously perpetuated through the ages in the copying and translating process. It is plainly apparent that there are some minute variations between the manuscript copies that we possess and that the translating process will inject additional variants for those who read the Scripture in a language other than Hebrew or Greek. So the framers of the document are not arguing for a perpetually inspired transmission of the text.
Since we do not have the original manuscripts, some have urged that an appeal to the lost originals renders the whole case for the inspiration of the Scripture irrelevant. To reason in this manner is to denigrate the very serious work that has been done in the field of textual criticism. Textual criticism is the science which seeks to reconstruct an original text by a careful analysis and evaluation of the manuscripts we presently possess. This task has to be accomplished with respect to all documents from antiquity that have reached us through manuscript copies. The Old and New Testament Scriptures are probably the texts which have reached us with the most extensive and reliable attestation. For more than ninety-nine percent of the cases the original text can be reconstructed to a practical certainty. Even in the few cases where some perplexity remains, this does not impinge on the meaning of Scripture to the point of clouding a tenet of the faith or a mandate of life. Thus, in the Bible as we have it (and as it is conveyed to us through faithful translations) we do have for practical purposes the very word of God, inasmuch as the manuscripts do convey to us the complete vital truth of the originals.
The further affirmation of Article X is that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. Though we do not actually possess the originals, we have such well reconstructed translations and copies that to the extent to which they do correspond to the original documents they may be said to be the Word of God. But because of the evident presence of copy errors and errors of translation the distinction must be made between the original work of inspiration in the autographs and the human labor of translating and copying those autographs.
The denial has in view the important point that in those minuscule segments of existing manuscripts where textual criticism has not been able to ascertain with absolute certainty what the original reading was, no essential article of the Christian faith is affected.
To limit inerrancy or inspiration to the original manuscripts does not make the whole contention irrelevant. It does make a difference. If the original text were errant, the church would have the option of rejecting the teachings of that errant text. If the original text is inerrant (and the science of textual criticism must be depended upon to reconstruct that inerrant text), we have no legitimate basis for disobeying a mandate of Scripture where the text is not in doubt. For example, if two theologians agreed that the original text were inerrant and if both agreed as to what the present copy taught and further agreed that the present copy was an accurate representation of the original, then it would follow irresistibly that the two men would be under divine obligation to obey that text. If, on the other hand, we asserted that the original manuscripts were possibly errant and the two theologians then agreed as to what the Bible taught and also agreed that the present translation or copy faithfully represented the original, neither would be under moral obligation to submit to the teachings of that possibly errant original. Therein lies the important issue of the relevancy of the character of the original manuscript.
Leader Notes for…
Lesson 11 “The Elder and False Teachers” Titus 1:1-16
2. The key words that I was thinking about are faith, truth, and hope, but the men will probably have other ideas too. I think the phrases that each of these words appear in (according to the faith of God's elect - the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness - in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time…) are rich areas for meditation.
5. Make sure you give at least some attention to the positive purpose of helping those who contradict to be sound in their faith.
7. This verse contains an interesting proverb. It will be a good opportunity to let the surrounding verses inform the interpretation and application, so compare explanations to the truths in the surrounding verses. I have comments from commentaries on this verse below.
2. Part of this question gives the men an opportunity to be thankful for the areas where their leaders set good examples. Don’t let it turn into a gripe session.
The article, “What version did Jesus use when he was on earth?”, by John Barnett is very helpful. We want the men to leave with a realistic idea of what to expect and not expect from their English translation and a confidence that they have a profitable rendering of the original. If the discussion includes comments about specific versions, try to avoid any version bashing.
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.