Titus 1:10-16

 |  October 19, 2016

  1. Identify the Text

1:10-16 represents the final pericope in chapter one.

  1. Identify the Genre

Macro: Epistolary
Micro: Both Procedural and Hortatory since there is a command in v. 11 and v. 13

  1. Determine the Structure of the Passage

The main idea comes in the middle of the passage in v. 13. It has the load bearing weight not only because of its imperatival nature. Paul tells them to rebuke, elencho, them strongly or sharply. Titus is told not to hold back. The reasons for this strong word surround the command.

  1. These people are insubordinate and upsetting people (vv. 10-11).
  2. The culture itself admits it is evil (v. 12).
  3. They are defiled (v. 15).
  4. They deny God by their works (v. 16).

So in this structure the main idea of the text comes in the middle and the four reasons for obeying this command bookend it.

  1. Exegete the Passage

The first thing to note is the command in v. 13. He is to “rebuke them sharply.” This is a present, active imperative. In classical Greek this carried the connotation of shaming. However in NT Greek in general, and this passage specifically, it carries the idea of a rebuke that leads to repentance and restoration. However, it is still a rebuke that is so strong that it leads to shame. This is why they must be silenced (v. 11). The word epistomízō in v. 11 can mean to muzzle. The idea of the two verses together is that the rebuke is so strong that their mouths are shut. Titus is to shut their mouths by his strong rebuke.

Note that they are motivated by gain, aischrós, but specifically shameful gain. They were profiting off the back of bad teaching. It stands to reason that they were probably teaching things that people wanted to hear. Because of this, they were gaining people’s confidence and their money.

The other interesting thing exegetically is the odd insertion of the criticism of the Cretans found in v. 11, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” The statement is attributed to Epimenides of Crete.[1]Epimenides of Crete (sixth-fifth centuries b.c.), is mentioned by Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and other ancient writers Knight, G. W. (1992). The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 298). Grand Rapids: MI; Carlisle: England, W.B. Eerdmans, Paternoster Press.

So Paul quotes one of their own in order to build his case for why the rebuke was necessary. In doing so he gives a demonstration of what they already knew to be true.

The reason for the rebuke can be distinguished from the goal of the rebuke. The goal of the rebuke is that they be sound in the faith.

It seems that these are interlopers. They are trying to infiltrate and disrupt the house churches with the teaching that to be a true Christian one also had to keep “myths and commands” rooted in Judaism. This was not discrimination since Paul was a Jew himself, rather the true problem was that they were turning away from the truth (v. 14).

The key to understanding this text is v. 13. Semantically the text is built around the rebuke and its goal: to make them sound in the faith. Thus, the goal of “shutting their mouths” is not pugilistic retort. The goal is not to assault them verbally or to win argument. The weapons are not with words but with faith. Exegetically the passage could be summarized this way: The Cretans awful character as demonstrated by these interlopers in the church are the motivation to rebuke them for the goal of leading them to sound faith.

  1. Let the structure of the text become the structure of the sermon

As noted above the structure of the text is:

  1. These people are insubordinate and are upsetting people. (vv. 10-11).
  2. The culture itself admits it is evil (v. 12).
  3. They should be rebuked so that they be sound in the faith (v. 13).
  4. They are defiled (v. 15).
  5. They deny God by their works (v. 16).

This structure may seem awkward homiletically. Two reasons, followed by the action, followed by two more reasons. In this case it might be good to change the chronology in order to make the meaning clear. To understand the text literally, you would need to place the verb in front of it, with the goals, i.e. to be sound in faith they should be rebuked because they are insubordinate and are upsetting people, etc. To do this in the sermon you could begin with the main idea as found in v. 13 followed by the four reasons

The text answers the question, what do you do when people are not sound in their faith and are coming against the truth of the word in a congregation. The answer is you rebuke them toward sound faith. Again, we are encouraged to make clear that the goal here is building sound faith. The rebuke is a means toward that end.

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