Online Bible Commentary
Excellent and Profitable
Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (NIV)
Paul is coming to the close of his letter to Titus. Paul is in Nicopolis, Greece and Titus is helping to establish the churches on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea. Paul and Titus evangelized the island and then Paul departed for Greece, leaving Titus to appoint and train overseers, or pastors. This letter is one of the Pastoral Epistles, along with 1 and 2 Timothy. It gives instructions for pastors.
Paul stays with two major themes in this letter. First he instructs on the qualifications required of pastors and what is to be taught, and not taught, meaning the teachings of false teachers in the church. Second, he instructs on the importance of good works among believers, so that the church would be attractive to outsiders. In this passage he touches on both of these themes.
The word “so” (v. 7a) indicates that this verse is a continuation of the preceding verse. In fact verses 4-7 compose one long sentence in the original Greek. The word “so” gives the purpose of what precedes verse 7. The purpose of being “justified” (v. 7b) by the Grace of the Lord is so that we will ultimately become “heirs” (v. 7c). We Christians will inherit God’s full glory, having “the hope of eternal life” (v. 7d).
Paul then claims the preceding teaching as being a “trustworthy (‘faithful’ in the literal Greek) saying” (v. 8a). There are five “trustworthy sayings” identified in the Pastoral Epistles, with the others being 1Timothy 1:15, 3:1, 4:9 and 2 Timothy 2:11). Paul is not specific about what makes up this trustworthy saying, but he likely means verses 1-7. He only stresses “these things” which will result in Christians devoting themselves to “doing what is good” (v. 8b). “These things” are “excellent and profitable for everyone” (v. 8c). This is a reference to “good works”, which are profitable for everyone, within and outside the church. “Good works” is one of the two major themes of this letter.
Paul then moves to the second major theme, pastors and teaching, specifically the false teachers in the church. He begins verse nine with the word “but”, as a contrast to “good works”. He is saying to “avoid” (v. 9a) bad works. These are the works of the false teachers. The Jewish converts to Christianity are stirring up the church by teaching adherence to Judaism, specifically the rituals of diet and other Jewish customs. He refers to these as “foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law” (v. 9b), meaning the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. He says these are to be avoided because they are the opposite of the good works that are “profitable and excellent. They are “unprofitable and useless” (v. 9c).
This “divisive person”, false teacher, should be warned not to continue his false teaching (v. 10a). He should even be warned a second time, holding out hope of redemption (v. 10b). However, if the false teaching continues after two warnings, the “divisive person” should be excommunicated from the church (v. 10c), as Paul did to Hymenaeus and Alexander, false teachers in the church at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:20). This “divisive person” is “warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (v. 11), according to Paul. He has condemned himself by teaching sin in the church.
Christians today should also “devote themselves to doing what is good.” Doing good works is not the path to becoming a Christian. It is the result of becoming a Christian. The Holy Spirit enables the Christian to devote himself to doing what is good. He then is able to do good works, things which are excellent and profitable. Christianity is excellent and profitable, not only for those in the church but for everyone, for all of society.
If the Christian influence is taken out of our society, this will be a terrible country to live in. Those who are trying to do just that have no idea of the negative repercussions they are bringing upon this country. All we have to do is remember when the U.S.S.R. banned all religion, which included a strong Christian presence. It became a country filled with hopelessness and despair. It lost the favor of God, and ultimately crumbled.