Titus 1:12-13 Commentary



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Titus 1:12-13 Commentary

Titus 1:12  One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said (3SAAI) "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: eipen (3SAAI) tis ex auton, idios auton prophetes, Kretes aei pseustai, kaka theria gasterea argai
Amplified: One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, hurtful beasts, idle and lazy gluttons.
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
Phillips: One of them, yes, one of their prophets, has said: "Men of Crete are always liars, evil and beastly, lazy and greedy."  (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: A certain one of them, a prophet of their very own, said, Cretans by nature are incessant liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons. (
Young's Literal:  A certain one of them, a prophet of their own, said -- 'Cretans! always liars, evil beasts, lazy bellies!'


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Titus 1:1-4 Standing for the Truth
Titus 1:5-7 Appointing Godly Leaders
Titus 1:8-9 Leading By Example
Titus 1 Commentary
Titus 1:10-16 Dealing With the Disgruntled
Titus 1:1-4 Titus 1:5-6 Titus 1:7-9 Titus 1:10-12
Titus 1:1-4 God's People in a Pagan World
Titus 1:5 Who Runs This Church?
Titus 1:6-8 Qualified Elders
Titus 1:9 Elders: Men of the Word
Titus 1:10-16 Guarding the Flock

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Titus 1:1 Paul, Bondservant, Apostle
Titus 1:1b The Chosen, Knowledge Of The Truth
Titus 1:2-3 Eternal Life Was Promised In Eternity Past
Titus 1:4 Five Attributes Of Titus The Minister
Titus 1:5 Appointing Elders
Titus 1:6 Above Reproach
Titus 1:6b Husband Of One Wife
Titus 1:6c Children Who Believe
Titus 1:7a Stewardship

Titus 1:7b Not Quick-tempered
Titus 1:7c Not Addicted To Wine
Titus 1:7d Not Pugnacious
Titus 1:7e No Sordid Gain; Hospitable; Loving What Is Good

Titus 1:8a Sensible
Titus 1:8b Just, Devout, Self-Controlled

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Titus 1 Excellent Leadership
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Titus 1:1-4 The Common Faith

Titus 1:5-9 Paul and the Elders

Titus 1:10-16 The Shepherds and the Sheep Stealers

Introduction to The Letter to Titus

Titus 1:1-4 Introductory Greetings to Titus

Titus 1:5-9 Instruction Concerning Elders in the Church

Titus 1:10-16 Instruction Concerning False Teachers in the Church
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Titus 1:1-3 Commitments of a Powerful Leader, Pt. 2

Titus 1:3 Commitments of a Powerful Leader, 3

Titus 1:4 Commitments of a Powerful Leader, 4
Titus 1:5-6 The Moral Character of a Pastor

Titus 1:6: Required Character for a Pastor: Family Leadership

Titus 1:7 The Qualifications for a Pastor, 1: Noble Character

Titus 1:7-8 The Qualifications for a Pastor, 2: Noble Character

Titus 1:9 The Qualifications for a Pastor, 3: Teaching Skill

Titus 1:10-11 Men Who Must Be Silenced, Pt. 1

Titus 1:12-16 Men Who Must Be Silenced, Pt. 2
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Titus 1:1-9 Need For Godly Elders
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Titus 1:1-4 A Pastoral Letter

Titus 1:5-9 Elders

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Titus 1:6 Elder Marital Status
Titus 1:7-9 Elder's Character
Titus 1:10-16 False Teachers
Titus 1 Exposition
Titus 1:2 What God Cannot Do
Titus 1:4 Five Links in a Golden Chain
Titus 1:15 A Searching Test

Titus: Truth and Proof
Titus 1 Word Studies

Titus - Download Lesson 1

ONE OF THEMSELVES A PROPHET OF THEIR OWN SAID: eipen tis ex auton idios auton prophetes:

Even one of their own prophets has said (NIV)


A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets (NET)


One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said (Amp)


It was one of themselves, one of their own prophets, who said (NJB)


One of their own number—a Prophet who is a countryman of theirs (WNT)

Prophet (4396) (prophetes from pró = before or forth + phemí = tell) generally refers to a person inspired to proclaim or reveal divine will or purpose. In the present context these are pagan prophets not true prophets of God.

Epimenides was born in Crete at Cnossos and was a self-styled “prophet” (or poet) and was so accepted by the Cretans, Cicero and Apuleius. Although Epimenides, may have been exaggerating, his basic assessment was on target. He was a highly respected Greek intellectual and as a native of Crete, he knew the people well and was not speaking out of malice as an enemy.

Illustration - A British ambassador was reporting to Queen Elizabeth II about a head of state he had been having difficulty with. The ambassador tried to approach the subject delicately, using large words and complicated language. However, the more he spoke, the less clear he became. Finally, the exasperated queen interrupted and said, “Are you trying to tell me that the man is just bonkers?” Paul was just as blunt in his assessment of the false teachers that Titus had to refute. Quoting the philosopher Epimenides, Paul declared, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Epimenides was a religious teacher who lived in the sixth century B.C. Aristotle and Cicero referred to him as a “prophet.” Paul quotes him because Epimenides was from Crete and because of his strong criticism of his own people. Although his assessment was harsh, his opinion was widely shared. So much so, in fact, that in Greek culture, to call someone a “Cretan” was synonymous with calling that person a liar.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - When are “sharp words” warranted in dealing with another believer? Paul’s directive to Titus provides a helpful checklist that can be used when we are considering a possible rebuke. First, how serious is the offense? These false teachers required a sharp rebuke because of the nature and impact of their teaching. Others were being seriously damaged by their false doctrine. Second, what is our motive? Is the goal redemptive? Do we want to sound off, or do we want them to be sound in the faith? (
Copyright Moody Bible Institute. Used by permission. All rights reserved)

CRETANS ARE ALWAYS LIARS: kretes aei pseustai: (Ro 16:18; 1Ti 4:2; 2Pe 2:12; 2:15 Jude 1:8, 9, 10, 11,12, 13)

Cretans were never anything but liars (NJB)

The men of Crete are ever false (BBE)

Cretans (2912) (Kres) refers to inhabitants of the island of Crete and here introduces an unfavorable generalization about Cretan character (or lack thereof).

Always (104)  (aei) means these Cretans were perpetually, invariably, at any and every time incessantly prone to speak lies and the ancient world knew this even coining the verb “Cretanize” (Greek = kretizo, to lie and kretismos = Cretan behavior, lying) as a figure of speech for lying and cheating.

Liars (5583)  (pseustes from pseudomai = to utter untruth and attempt to deceive by falsehood) describes Cretans as those who continually utter untruth and try to deceive their listeners with their lies. Like father like son for Jesus said that Satan

"was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies." (Jn 8:44)

No people ever had a worse reputation than the Cretans. The ancient world spoke of the three most evil C's


The Cretans were famed as a drunken, insolent, untrustworthy, lying, gluttonous people.

Cretan avarice was proverbial, Polybius recording that

"The Cretans on account of their innate avarice, live in a perpetual state of private quarrel and public feud and civil strife...and you will hardly find anywhere characters more tricky and deceitful than those of Crete. Money is so highly valued among them, that its possession is not only thought to be necessary, but highly creditable; and in fact greed and avarice are so native to the soil in Crete, that they are the only people in the world among whom no stigma attaches to any sort of gain whatever."

EVIL BEASTS: kaka theria:

evil brutes, (NIV)

“Wicked wild beasts”, savage animals (GWT)

evil and beastly (Phillips)

They are evil animals (ICB)

cruel animals (NLT)

vicious brutes (NRSV)

hurtful beasts (Amp)

dangerous animals (NJB)

evil beasts (BBE)

Evil (2556)  (kakos) is an adjective that basically denotes a lack of something or not as it ought to be. It is the opposite of good (kalos, agathos). It describes one who is evil in himself and, as such, gets others in trouble. In a moral sense kakos describes these Cretans as wicked, vicious, bad in heart, conduct, and character (cf Php 3:2-note).

Beasts (2342)  (therion) refers to any living creature, excluding humans.  In this verse it does however refer (figuratively) to humans as those who are wicked and possessed of a ‘bestial’ nature. These men are veritable "monsters".

In Acts therion denotes a venomous creature, Luke recording that a

"viper (that) came out because of the heat, and fastened on (Paul's) hand" as "the creature (therion) hanging from his hand" (Acts 28:3, 28:4)

The Cretans were like wicked dangerous animals and vicious venomous vipers. Their actions and effects were like those of wild, ferocious, dangerous, savage and brutal beasts.  They behaved like a wild animals, living solely at the level of their depraved sensual appetites and passions.

These men were not just “beasts” but “evil beasts”, not just “gluttons,” but “lazy gluttons.” They were celebrities, not servants and they “lived it up” at the expense of their followers, and (true to human nature), their followers loved it!

LAZY GLUTTONS: gasteres argai:

Slow bellies (KJV)

lazy people who do nothing but eat (ICB)

lazy bellies (YLT)

lazy people who do nothing but eat (NCV)

lovers of food, hating work. (BBE)

Lazy (692)  (argos from a = without + ergon = work) literally means without work, without labor, doing nothing, as one not working the ground and so living without labor. As employed in the New Testament, argos always describes something inoperative or unserviceable.

Argos conveys several ideas depending on the context - (1) unemployed - without anything to do (Mt 20:3,6, 1Ti 5:13); (2)  being unwilling to work, wanting nothing to do, shunning the labor which one ought to perform - idle, neglectful or lazy (as used here in Titus 1:12) and (3) unproductive - useless, unprofitable or worthless (Jas 2:20, 2Pe 1:8-note; Mt 12:36).

Argos is used 7 times in the NASB (Matt 12:36; 20:3, 6; 1 Tim 5:13; Titus 1:12; Jas 2:20; 2 Pet 1:8) and once in the Septuagint (LXX) (1 Ki 6:7)

Matthew 12:36 "And I say to you, that every careless (literally "not working", barren, unproductive) word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. (Comment: Re-read this verse and think about the implications of what comes out of our mouths. Are our words "working" - ergon - words, words that are productive and which edify? "Not working" words include those that are flippant, irresponsible, hypocritical or in any way inappropriate. cf Eph 4:29)

Matthew 20:3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place;

Matthew 20:6 "And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?'

1 Timothy 5:13 And at the same time they (younger widows) also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.

James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless (unprofitable, worthless - carries the idea of fruitlessness - see parallel thought in Mt 7:19-note)? (Comment: What does a fruitless life demonstrate?)

2Peter 1:8  (note) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless (unproductive) nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Argos is translated: careless(1), idle(4), lazy(1), useless(2).

In short, in this verse argos refers to "unemployed stomachs" who wish to eat without working to earn their living.

Paul had a parallel description in his epistle to Philippi describing those who were

"enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite (their belly or stomach), and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." (Php 3:19; 20-see notes Philippians 3:19; 3:20)

Gluttons (1064)  (gaster <> English = gastronomy, the art of good eating) which referred to the belly particularly the stomach and was used as a figure of speech for appetite, excessive eating and gluttony.

Cretans hated work but loved to eat and thus were generally self-indulgent, greedy, lustful and overfed.. Paul affirmed that the six-hundred-year-old testimony of Epimenides (ca 600 B.C., one of the seven "wise men" of Greece) was still true. Unredeemed flesh doesn't change much and does not have any tendency to get better.

Callimachus wrote a poem emphasizing the tendency for Cretans to lie --

"Cretans are chronic liars, for they built a tomb, O King, and called it thine; but you die not. Your life is everlasting."

His point was that the so-called gods don't die so how could they have a tomb and thus the Cretans are notorious liars. Callimachus and the Cretans are of course both "liars" for a "god" named Zeus is but a myth contrived by men rejecting the only Living God.


Titus 1:13  This testimony is (3SPAI)  true. For this reason reprove (2SPAM) them severely so that they may be sound  (3PPAS in the  faith (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: e marturia aute estin (3SPAI) alethes. di' en aitian elegche (2SPAM) autous apotomos, hina hugiainosin (3PPAS) en te pistei
Amplified: And this account of them is [really] true. Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: For that very reason correct them with severity, that they may grow healthy in the faith  [deal sternly, even severely with them], so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error (
Westminster Press)
Phillips: There is truth in this testimonial of theirs! Don't hesitate to reprimand them sharply for you want them to be sound and healthy Christians,  (
Phillips: Touchstone)
ICB: The words that prophet said are true. So tell those people that they are wrong. You must be strict with them. Then they will become strong in the faith (
ICB: Nelson)
KJV: This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
Weymouth: This testimony is true. Therefore sternly denounce them, that they may be robust in their faith,
Wuest: This testimony is true, for which cause be rebuking them severely in order that they may be sound in the Faith (
Young's Literal:  this testimony is true; for which cause convict them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

THIS TESTIMONY IS TRUE: e marturia aute estin (3SPAI) alethes:

This witness is true (KJV)

There is truth in this testimonial of theirs! (Phillips)

And this account of them is [really] true (Amp)

and that is a true statement (NJB)

This witness is true (BBE),

The words that prophet said are true (ICB)

Testimony (3141) (marturia from martureo = to witness) means that this witness by one of the native Cretans stands as valid evidence with the authority as it comes from one who should know the truth about these people.

True (227) (alethes) means  conforming to reality and thus unconcealed, manifest and in accordance with fact. As such this testimony is credible and is not to be rejected as a "witness".

FOR THIS CAUSE REPROVE THEM SEVERELY: di en aitian elegche (2SPAM) autous apotomos: (Titus 2:15; Pr 27:5; 2Cor 13:10; 1Ti 5:20; 2Ti 4:2)

convict them sharply (YLT)


correct them with severity (Barclay)


Don't hesitate to reprimand them sharply (Phillips)


Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply [deal sternly, even severely with them] (Amp)


So be severe in correcting them (NJB)


So say sharp words to them (BBE)


Therefore sternly denounce them (WNT)


So tell those people that they are wrong. You must be strict with them (ICB)


So rebuke them as sternly as necessary (NLT)


So speak to the Christians there as sternly as necessary (TLB)

Reprove (1651) (elegcho [word study] from elegchos = bringing to light) means to bring to the light (to reveal hidden things) with the implication that there is adequate proof of wrongdoing. To shame or disgrace and thus to rebuke another in such a way that they are compelled to see and to admit the error of their ways. To show someone that they have done something wrong and summon them to repent.

The present imperative is a command for Titus to continually reprove (see why it is so imperative in the next portion of the verse)

Titus is to reprove with such an effectual wielding of truth as to bring his hearers at least to conviction of their erroneous stand and possibly (hopefully) to the point that they are compelled to admit the error of their ways.  As someone has well said pastors are to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

In his final epistle Paul commanded Timothy whether it was convenient or not to

"preach (aorist imperative) the word; be ready (aorist imperative) in season and out of season; reprove (elegcho - aorist imperative), rebuke (aorist imperative), exhort (aorist imperative), with great patience and instruction" (see note 2 Timothy 4:2) (Comment: Why was this pastoral function so critical? Paul explained "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." - see notes 2 Timothy 4:3; 4:4)

Severely (664) (apotomos from apo = from, a preposition indicating separation or dissociation + temno = to cut as with a knife or ax) is an adverb which means literally "in a manner which cuts off". Figuratively apotomos means abruptly, curtly, sharply, precipitously, harshly, rigorously.

TDNT has this note writing that apotomos means...

“sharply cut,” and it then has the more common derived sense of “steep,” “inaccessible,” and the transferred sense of “sharp,” “keen,” “exact,” “careful,” “strict,” and even “severe” or “pitiless.” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W.  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)

The only other Biblical use of apotomos is also by Paul...

2Corinthians 13:10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent, in order that when present I may not use severity (apotomos) in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for tearing down.

It would be enough to "reprove" but because of the inherent danger, Paul commands Titus to do so "severely" (sternly, seriously, vigorously, sharply, curtly, pungently, incisively)  so that the reproof would cut with penetrating force.

The picture is to cut as with a knife or ax, as one would do axing in a door of a house on fire with the occupants in imminent danger. It is necessary to appear rude sometimes for safety, if the house is on fire and life is in danger. As a physician I know that the most thorough, certain cure to prevent the spread of cancer is complete excision of the initial lesion. So too the surgeon of the soul cuts to achieve a cure and make what is diseased sound.

There is a temptation in the church today to not confront (ever in love) destructive, divisive error and to be "mealy mouthed" and resist calling such "spiritual cancer" what it really is.

THAT THEY MAY BE SOUND IN THE FAITH: hina hugiainosin (3PPAS) en te pistei: (Titus 2:2; Lev 19:17; Ps 119:80; 141:5; 2Cor 7:8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 1Ti 4:6)

for you want them to be sound and healthy Christians (Phillips)


that they may grow healthy in the faith (Barclay)


so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error (Amp)


that they may be robust in their faith (WNT)


Then they will become strong in the faith (ICB)


to make them strong in the faith (TLB)

Who is "They" in context? Although it might at first seem to refer to the false teachers, the intended result ("sound in the faith") would support that Paul is here referring to the members of the local body.

So that (2443) (hina) expresses purpose. Here Paul gives us the intended goal of vigorous reproof -- it is not to destroy but in fact to make them "sound in the faith".

Sound (5198) (hugiaino [word study] from hugies = healthy and source of English hygiene)  means to be healthy or in good physical condition.

Hugiaino is used metaphorically here by Paul who desires that the recipients of the reproof would be free from mixture with error and deception and be in excellent "spiritual" condition.

Paul uses hugiaino (and cognates) eight times in the pastoral epistles and nowhere else. The other uses are by Luke (why might he be familiar with this word?) and one by John. 

Paul knows that church leaders must major on sound doctrine because only sound doctrine will lead to holy living, here described as those who are "sound in the faith". Personal spiritual health is always negatively affected when one takes in unhealthy or unsound doctrine. The ultimate goal of discipline should be to recover the one who is in error (Gal 6:1 2Th 3:14, 15).

Here are all 12 uses (minus the current verse Titus 1:13) of this verb hugiaino in the NT...

Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well  (hugiaino - KJV has "whole" - present tense) who need a physician, but those who are sick.

Luke 7:10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health (hugiaino - KJV has "whole" - present tense)

Luke 15:27 "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound (this phrase translated by one Greek verb hugiaino - present tense)'

1 Timothy 1:10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound (present tense) teaching,

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound (present tense) words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,

2 Timothy 1:13 Retain the standard of sound (present tense) words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (note)

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound (present tense) doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; (note)

Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound (present tense) doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (note)

Titus 2:1  But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound (present tense) doctrine. (note)

Titus 2:2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound (present tense) in faith, in love, in perseverance. (note)

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health (present tense), just as your soul prospers.

Hugiaino is found 11 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Gen 29:6; 37:14; 43:27-28; Ex 4:18; 1 Sa 25:6; 2 Sa 14:8; 20:9; Pr 13:13; Dan 10:19)

May be sound is present tense (this is to be their lifestyle - continued spiritual health) and subjunctive mood (mood of possibility) is used here with hina to express purpose -- the purpose of the unflinchingly stern reproof.

What are they to be sound, healthy and free from error in?

The faith (4102) (pistis) in the active sense defines belief directed toward a person or thing (this is not the way pistis is used in this verse). Here Paul refers instead to the specific faith which is the content of what is believed. In other words "the faith" in this context is not referring to personal faith by which one is saved but instead refers here to the system of truth itself as taught. (for discussion of this use of "faith" click  "the faith" )

The faith is that body of doctrine that was given by God through the Apostles to the church and in context often refers to the truth of the gospel. While individual teachers and preachers may disagree on the fine points of theology, there is a basic body of truth ("the faith") to which all true Christians are committed. And so we see Jude appealing to his readers to

"contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

Believers who had not yet heard of Paul's conversion described him as

"He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy." (Gal 1:23)

Paul exhorts the Corinthians to

"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (1Cor 16:13)

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