2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
A literal translation removes all difficulty. The phrase [in Greek] is before the aionian times; that is, before the times of the Hebrew commonwealth were arranged, God promised eternal life, and in definite times, such times, namely, as are particularised in Daniel (Dan. 9:24-26), He made His word, which had before been a hidden mystery, manifest (Rom. 16:26) through the apostolic preaching.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The faith of which Jesus is the "author and finisher" is not the act of mind by which we lay hold of the gospel, but the system of truth described as "the common faith," (Titus 1:4, ) "the one faith," (Eph. 4:5, ) "the faith that should afterwards be revealed."-(Gal. 3:23.)
If the act of faith were due to the volition of Christ acting upon us, there would be no need for the exhortation contained in the very place where the expression occurs:
"Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, "
If a faithful state of mind were preternaturally engendered from without, after the manner of inspiration, there would be no need for those precautions and exercises which tend to preserve us
"grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel."-(Col. 1:23.) II.-(Rom. 12:3.)
The Christadelphian, April 1870
5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Titus was left in Crete to follow up and complete Paul's work of forming and organising ecclesias and arranging for elders to carry them on.
Then he was to join Paul at Nicopolis (on the western shore of Macedonia) where Paul was to make his headquarters for the winter in carrying on the Truth's work in a new region.
This would be just south of the Dalmatian coast, and doubtless the labours of Paul and Titus extended there, for later, from Rome (in 2 Timothy) we have noted Paul sent Titus to Dalmatia.
..."Ordain" simply means to appoint, and should be so translated, as it is in some versions. The "ordination" of "clergy" in the world's churches is a later invention.
Great stress is laid (v. 6-9) upon the qualifications of bishops (elders, arranging brethren). Seventeen requirements are listed, and they are worthy of much study and contemplation, for they are not just for elders-they are the required qualifications of ALL-Titus just had to make sure the elders he chose had the necessary Christian qualities that God requires of all believers.
Most are quite clear and, like most Scripture, need not explanation but application. The practical requirements of the Truth are usually quite clear and leave no excuse for neglect or misunderstanding.
It is the theoretical aspects we like to get side-tracked and bogged down in. It's more pleasing and less demanding upon the flesh to bandy unlearned questions than to face plain commands.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good Works
...Some thought there was direction enough in the Apostolic precepts relating to the choosing of bishops and deacons: some asked why not appoint elders as these?
The answer lies in the great difference between our own age and the Apostolic age in respect of the presence and guidance of the Spirit of God. There is not in our day that open guidance that would give sanction and authority to ruling brethren. There may be brethren having the qualifications for the exercise of authority; but how can they exercise authority in the absence of that Divine appointment that confers it?
The brotherhood are comparable in this respect to the servants in a nobleman's house who have been left to themselves for a time. There may be those among them capable of taking the headship, but because the nobleman has omitted to name and appoint them, they cannot take the place.
...the whole spirit of the present age is too intolerant to government; and the materials for trusty and benevolent authority too poor and scanty to admit of any close approximation to the apostolic original. We can but do the best we can in our evil day, in hope that the Lord will overlook our blunders, and give us a place in that perfectly well-ordered house of authority that will be established in all the earth when the absent nobleman returns.
My days and my ways Ch 25
6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
... the Gentiles have liberty to set up any, and all kinds of abominations in their court, or area of operation, without being subjected to immediate judgment for their crimes.
Hence, polygamous Mormonism, and adulterous Romanism, courtezan state-churchism, and hypocritical sectarianism, all flourish in their several spheres of abomination.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
...'soon angry' - "Not given to anger" is the true meaning.
"No striker" - The meaning is, "not pugnacious or belligerent, quarrelsome, contentious"-the opposite of a peacemaker.
Whenever you spend money, remember this: it is God's, not yours: you are but a steward -- under surveillance, handling that which belongs to another.
Do you "consume it on your lusts," or are you using it in His service? There will be a day of reckoning. You will have to give an account of your stewardship. For some, there will be "Well done!" For many there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In that day, all the precious passing rubbish acquired by unfaithful stewardship will rise to mock us with the grin of death.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Not just hospitable, but a LOVER of hospitality-one who takes joy in hospitality-who always reacts positively and eagerly to the opportunity, regardless of his own convenience. One at whose house all are not only welcome but also actively desired as an opportunity for service to God. One whose desire and pleasure is to help and take care of anyone in need.
"Sober" is calm, balanced, restrained, thoughtful, steady-minded - nothing silly or flippant - not changeable and excitable - thinking carefully before speaking, and meaning all that is said - a spiritual quality developed only by long contemplation of spiritual things.
"Temperate" is self-controlled, self-disciplined, always acting, not according to feeling or emotion or personal desire, but according to the guidance of the Spirit and the Word of God.
Overall, an elder must be strong, firm and determined, but gentle, calm and self-controlled.
The word "bishop"-literally, an overseer-occurs only 5 times, one of them applying to Christ. In the 4 times applied to brethren, the context in all cases indicates more than one in an ecclesia, and generally identifies them with "elders."
The lordly "bishops" of modern churches have no similarity with New Testament bishops.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of Good Works
14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
The gospel of the kingdom, so efficiently preached by the apostles, was soon after perverted by "men of corrupt minds" (2 Tim. 3:1-8;4:3,4; Tit. 1:10-14), whom Paul, who was very severe, but not too much so, upon this class of professors, styles
"seducing spirits, speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared as with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
Elpis Israel 2.1.
15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
This is a deep and important saying, but it can be very easily misapplied to justify impurity, by those SEEKING such justification. It must, like other Scripture, be spiritually discerned by those seeking true purity. It will not mislead such, for they seek not self-justification, but constant self-examination.
The great point is that we must purify the HEART itself-go right to the root of the evil, and not veneer it over with self-satisfying external regulations. It is THEN, and only then, that EVERYTHING will be pure. It is just as Jesus said-
"Not that which goeth into a man defileth him, but that which cometh out of his heart" (Mark 7:15-23).
Paul is talking especially about clean and unclean meats and ritualistic regulations that are dangerous seeds of retrogression into legalistic Judaism-the course the majority of the early Ecclesia followed that ended with the Catholic Church.
We are commanded to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ-a very simple command with a deep spiritual import: no details, no ritual.
But a host of crotchets-about what kind of wine, and what kind of bread, and how to break, and how to pour, and who takes first, and just what to say in prayer about it-have always swirled murkily about this very simple and beautiful command through all the Truth's history.
Let us be careful we just keep to the simple command, and try with all our power to concentrate our zeal on the deep and PERSONAL application-
"Let a man examine HIMSELF-and so let him eat."
"Unto the pure all things are pure"-a wonderful saying, a wonderful revelation-as long as we keep our minds centred on its true inward heart-searching and spiritual application.
Defilement comes from within, and purity must come from within-ever growing and pressing outward from within, rejecting and casting out all impurity.
Bro Growcott - Zealous of good works
16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
'...At present, they are in fellowship with the Dowieites of Edinburgh. This compelled the editor to absent himself from their breaking of bread. In their present position, they are the Dowieites to every real friend of the truth; and no real friend of the truth would countenance the loose, uncertain, corrupt, and worldly attitude of the Dowieites.
There are many reasons why he would not. In the first place, he would not thus be partaker of their evil deeds. To fellowship, if it be fellowship at all, is to homologate, countenance, assist, encourage, sympathise with, promote and heartily abet the thing and the people fellowshipped.
We do not speak of the lifeless state of things commonly called fellowship, in which a man is only a formal adherent and not an active supporter and ardent lover of the cause of Christ. We refer to the real thing in which the deep purpose of life runs with unerring and unwearying flow in the channel of christian enthusiasm. Now for a man to extend this sort of support to an evil system is to incur a blame and do a wrong. He cannot do it and be guiltless, because complicity brings culpability.
On the other hand, his doing it adds to the system's power for mischief in the ratio of his own influence. On these grounds, a real friend of the truth will stand apart from Dowieism. It professes the name and deals in the phrases of the truth. For this reason, it is all the more to be avoided, because it is the more likely to receive the attention of the unwary, and to bring its blighting influence successfully to bear on the ripening seed of the kingdom. It holds a little of the truth, and that weakly, while it mixes with the truth the corrupting leaven of superstition and scripture perversion, and in its practical attitude in relation to even what it believes, it is thoroughly Laodicean and exerts a Laodiceanising influence upon those brought within its pale.
Why not teach the poor things? it is asked.
Did Jesus teach the Scribes and Pharisees? Kindly suasion is only possible where people are in a candid and teachable frame of mind, and where this disposition exists, the moral instincts will intuitively adapt themselves in yearning solicitude to the wants of those concerned. But this is out of the question where men set themselves in stubborn opposition for years, as the Dowieites have done, to many parts of the truth, and those who advocate it without compromise.
The only thing left is to come out from among them, and oppose them, leaving to them the responsibility of all that may result from their perversity and blindness. This we have done and mean to do to the end; and whatever the tongue of slander may utter, or the evil heart surmise, we have only one object in view, and that is, the preservation of the truth in its purity and vigour and potentiality over those embracing it.
This result is secured by isolating Dowieism from those means of influence which, for good or evil, arise from associational community. To do this effectually, every gap must be stopped, and we therefore felt compelled to refuse a connection with the Aberdeen ecclesia in its present attitude toward the Dowieites.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Oct 1867. p242