on Titus 3 :3
For we ourselves - All of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, were, before our conversion to Christ, foolish, disobedient, and deceived. There is no doubt that the apostle felt he could include himself in the above list, previously to his conversion. The manner in which he persecuted the Christians, to whose charge he could not lay one moral evil, is a sufficient proof that, though he walked according to the letter of the law, as to its ordinances and ceremonies, blameless, yet his heart was in a state of great estrangement from God, from justice, holiness, mercy, and compassion.
Foolish - Ανοητοι· Without understanding - ignorant of God, his nature, his providence, and his grace.
Disobedient - Απειθεις· Unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and disobedient.
Deceived - Πλανωμενοι· Erring - wandering from the right way in consequence of our ignorance, not knowing the right way; and, in consequence of our unbelief and obstinacy, not choosing to know it. It is a true saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Such persons are proof against conviction, they will not be convinced either by God or man.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures - Δουλευοντες· Being in a state of continual thraldom; not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living, as their slaves, a life of misery and wretchedness.
Divers lusts - Επιθυμιαις· Strong and irregular appetites of every kind.
Pleasures - Ἡδοναις· Sensual pleasures. Persons intent only on the gratification of sense, living like the brutes, having no rational or spiritual object worthy the pursuit of an immortal being.
Living in malice and envy - Εν κακιᾳ και φθονῳ διαγοντες· Spending our life in wickedness and envy - not bearing to see the prosperity of others, because we feel ourselves continually wretched.
Hateful - Στυγητοι· Abominable; hateful as hell. The word comes from Στυξ, Styx, the infernal river by which the gods were wont to swear; and he who (according to the mythology of the heathens) violated this oath, was expelled from the assembly of the gods, and was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a year; hence the river was hateful to them beyond all things, and the verb στυγεω, formed from this, signifies to shiver with horror.
It maybe taken actively, says Leigh, as it is read, hateful; or else passively, and so may be read hated, that is, justly execrable and odious unto others, both God and man.
Hating one another - Μισουντες αλληλους· This word is less expressive than the preceding: there was no brotherly love, consequently no kind offices; they hated each other, and self-interest alone could induce them to keep up civil society. This is the true state of all unregenerate men. The words which the apostle uses in this place give a finished picture of the carnal state of man; and they are not true merely of the Cretans and Jews that then were, but of all mankind in every age and country; they express the wretched state of fallen man.
Some of the Greek moralists expressed a dissolute and sensual life by nearly the same expressions as those employed by the apostle. Plutarch, in Precept. Conjug., says: Σωματος εστι κηδεσθαι, μη δουλευοντα ταις ἡδοναις αυτου, και ταις επιθυμιαις· "We must take care of the body, that we may not be enslaved by its lusts and pleasures." And Josephus, speaking of Cleopatra, Antiq., lib. xv. cap. 4, says: Γυναικα πολυτελη, και δουλευουσαν ταις επιθυμιαις· "She was an expensive woman, enslaved to lusts."
on Titus 3 :3
For we ourselves - We who are Christians. There is no reason for supposing, as Benson does, that this is to be understood as confined to Paul himself. There are some things mentioned here which were not probably true of him before his conversion, and the connection does not require us to suppose that he referred particularly to himself. He is stating a reason why those to whom Titus was appointed to preach should be urged to lead holy lives, and especially to manifest a spirit of order, peace, kindness, and due subordination to law. In enforcing this, he says, that those who were now Christians had formerly been wicked, disorderly, and sensual, but that under the influence of the gospel, they had been induced to lead better lives. The same gospel which had been effectual in their case, might, be in others. To others it would be an encouragement to show that there were cases in which the gospel had been thus efficacious, and they who were appointed to preach it might refer to their own example as a reason why others should be persuaded to lead holy lives. In preaching to others, also, they were not to be proud or arrogant. They were to remember that they were formerly in the same condition with those whom they addressed, and whom they exhorted to reformation. They were not to forget that what they had that was superior to others they owed to the grace of God, and not to any native goodness. He will exhort the wicked to repentance most effectually who remembers that his own former life was wicked; he will evince most of the proper spirit in doing it who has the deepest sense of the errors and folly of his own past ways.
Foolish - See this word explained in the notes at Luke 24:25, where it is rendered "fools;" compare Romans 1:14, where it is rendered "unwise," and Galatians 3:1, Galatians 3:3; 1 Timothy 6:9, where it is rendered "foolish."
Disobedient - To law, to parents, to civil authority, to God. This is the natural character of the human heart; see Luke 1:17; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:16, where the same word occurs.
Deceived - By the great enemy, by false teachers, by our own hearts, and by the flattery of others. It is a characteristic of man by nature that he sees nothing in its true light, but walks along amidst constant, though changing and very beautiful illusions; compare Matthew 24:4-5, Matthew 24:11; 2 Timothy 3:13; 1 Peter 2:25; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 18:23, where the same word occurs; see also Revelation 20:3, Revelation 20:8,Revelation 20:10, where the same word is applied to that great deceiver who has led the world astray. Every one who is converted feels, and is ready to confess, that before conversion he was deceived as to the comparative value of things, as to the enjoyment which he expected to find in scenes of pleasure and riot, and often in what seemed to him well-formed plans.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures - Indulging in the various corrupt passions and propensities of the soul. We were so under their influence that it might be said we were their servants, or were slaves to them (δουλεύοντες douleuontes); that is, we implicitly obeyed them; see the notes at Romans 6:16-17.
Living in malice - Greek, "in evil" - ἐν κακίᾳ en kakia; that is, in all kinds of evil; see the notes at Romans 1:29, where the word is rendered maliciousness.
And envy - Displeasure at the happiness and prosperity of others; Notes, Romans 1:29.
Hateful - στυγητοὶ stugētoi. This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means that our conduct was such as to be worthy of the hatred of others. Of whom, before his conversion, is not this true?
And hating one another - There was no brotherly love; no true affection for others. There was ill-will felt in the heart, and it was evinced in the life. This is an apt description of the state of the heathen world before the gospel shines on it, and it may be regarded as the characteristic of all men before conversion. They have no true love for one another, such as they ought to cherish, and they are liable constantly to give indulgence to feelings which evince hatred. In contentions, and strifes, and litigations, and wars, this feeling is constantly breaking out. All this is suggested here as a reason why Christians should now be gentle and mild toward those who are evil. Let us remember what we were, and we shall not be disposed to treat others harshly. When a Christian is tempted to unkind thoughts or words towards others, nothing is more appropriate for him than to reflect on his own past life.
on Titus 3 :3
3:3 For we - And as God hath dealt with us, so ought we to deal with our neighbour. Were without understanding - Wholly ignorant of God. And disobedient - When he was declared to us.