1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
The instructions in these verses were given in light of the Cretans natural tendencies to be “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12-13).
remind (v.1) = cause to remember
to be subject (v.1) — tense indicates an action done willingly and not by force
rulers (v.1) = first in a series, first place — the top authorities
authorities (v.1) — delegated authorities
ready for every good work (v.1) — Not only are we to take our places under our rulers, so far as government is concerned, but we are to be “ready to every good work” which they may assign to us.
The instructed and faithful Christian, therefore, will not incite others to rebellion. He will not take it upon himself to choose which laws he should obey and which he should not. Indeed, he will at times even subject himself to laws that are oppressive and unjust.
And certainly he will not be a slanderer, or a brawler, but will be “gentle, showing all meekness to all men” (v.2).
There is only one exception to this path of subjection, and exception which is latent in the command itself, namely, that since it is God, the Ruler of all, who commands us to be subject to our earthly rulers, we must not subject ourselves to them if they demand from us disobedience to God. We have an example of this in Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-29.
True Christians, then, will be the best citizens — and the best neighbors. They will uphold law and order and will promote respect for those in authority. They are not only saved by grace, but will show grace even to those who oppress and injure them. — Stam, pages 289-290.
speak evil (v.2) = Greek blasphemeo, English”blaspheme”
to be peaceable (v.2) = not contentious, abstaining from fighting
gentle (v.2) = sweet reasonableness, being satisfied with less than your due
all humility (v.2) — “all” is emphasized in the Greek
The scriptural praotes [humility, meekness] is not in man’s outward behavior only; not yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather is it an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly toward God (Matthew 11:29; James 1:21). It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing and resisting; it is closely linked with tapeinophrosune (humility), and follows directly upon it (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12); because it is only the humble heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against God, and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men.
He that is meek indeed will know himself a sinner among sinners and this knowledge of his own sin will teach him to endure meekly the provocations with which they may provoke him and not withdraw himself from the burdens which their sin may impose (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 2:2). — Wuest, page 198
we ourselves (v.3) — The King James translators were correct in rendering the Greek heemis (“we”) by the words “we ourselves” here, for the word is emphatic in the Greek. As we witness, and sometimes experience, the injustice and oppression of our rulers we must point the finger at ourselves, acknowledging that “we ourselves” were once guilty sinners in the sight of a holy God and have been saved only because of “the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man” (v.4).
As Ephesians 2:3-7 has it, we were “the children [lit. full-grown sons] of disobedience” and therefore “by nature the children [lit. born ones] of wrath, even as others.” — Stam, page 290.
foolish (v.3) = without understanding, especially of spiritual things
disobedient (v.3) = uncompliant, unable to persuade
serving (v.3) = rendering a slave’s obedience
living (v.3) = to pass the time