Summary: Apparently they were many Cretins who contradicted the sound teaching of the faithful Word so here Paul gives God's wisdom for dealing with those who refuse to submit to the sound teaching of the Word of God.
TITUS 1: 10-16
DEALING WITH REBELLIOUS TEACHERS
Paul has just told Titus to hold, against all attacks, the faithful Word and to use its teaching to grow others in sound doctrine and in refuting those who contradict (v. 9). Apparently they were many Cretins who contradicted the sound teaching of the faithful Word so here Paul gives God's wisdom for dealing with those who refuse to submit to the sound teaching of the Word of God (CIT).
Today this passage is still to be used for how to deal with those that contradict the teaching of the reliable Word. How sad, yet how necessary an element of the overseer's duty is rebuke. It is especially needful in dealing with legalism, heretics, or lazy gluttons who lack genuine good works. It always burdens a pastor's heart to severely rebuke his people yet it is part of his calling and orthodox duty. Heresy left unchecked penetrates deep into a church's and an individual's life and thought, leaving nothing undisturbed.
I. SILENCE REBELLIOUS TEACHERS, 10-11.
II. REBUKE MYTHOLOGISTS AND LEGALISTS, 12-14.
III. TEST BY DEEDS NOT WORDS, 15-16.
While leadership development is crucial, so is the confrontation with false teachers. The "for" in verse 10 gives us the reason it is so important for the elders to hold sound doctrine. "For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision."
Verse 10 tells what kind of people call themselves Christian yet oppose the truth of God's Word. One of the telltale clues of those that promote heresy is they are rebellious (defiant or insubordinate). They refuse to put themselves under godly authority. They are insubordinate against any leader or leadership that is not their own. They are also empty takers [matilogas] or idle takers. They use many words, but they are void of spiritual truth or profit. Their words do not bring about positive spiritual change. They may be impressive people, that say impressive things, but when you boil it down it has no eternal substance or value. They excelled in talking. They can tell others what to do but can not be told to do it themselves.
Paul next calls them deceivers. This is their most dangerous work. They lead others astray. The word indicates a mind deception [phrenapapatatns, from apato, "to chat, beguile, deceive"]. It describes those that desire to manipulate the thoughts of another person [and replace them with their own thoughts]. Smooth and glib talk can become charmingly deceptive.
The next clause, especially those of the circumcision describes where most rebellious deceivers are found. They were found with those that justify themselves by their rules or man's rules for righteousness instead of by God's commandments. The circumcised were those who would not come under obedience of the Word. Their poisonous influence is contagious for it appeals to man's pride.
In light of the difficult character of these people, Paul advises strong action in verse 11. "Who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain."
If anything could silence them it is the authority of the faithful Word by a messenger under God's authority. The word silence [epistomieo] indicates putting something in the mouth, like a bridle, muzzle or gag. Rebellious deceivers must not be tolerated or allowed to teach in the fellowship.
Just how this silencing should be done is not indicated in the present passage.[See, however 1 Tim. 1:3,4; 1:20; 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:16,21,23; 4:2; Titus 1:13b; 3:10.] Yet Scripture does address the need for rebuke. Stopping their mouths is not to be a silencing by force or violence but by teaching and reason. At first the errorist should be tenderly admonished so that he may be won for the truth. If he refuses, he must be sharply reprimanded and told to desist. The person who persists in his evil ways must be shunned by the church and disciplined. The supreme measure, excommunication, may have to be employed in order to safeguard the church and in order to bring the sinner to repentance. In the church of God there is no such thing as "freedom of misleading speech." It would be too dangerous.
The reason they are to be silenced is because of the effect of their words. They are upsetting whole families. Their teaching spawns a disregard for acceptable patterns of behavior [in social relationships]. Their purpose was to acquire shameful profit. False teachers are detected by their false motives. The reason they taught was not for Christ's sake or for Christ's glory, but for their own sakes, their own position, their own gain and their own personal influence and their own promotion. They selfishly aim at money and prestige.
II. REBUKE MYTHOLOGISTS AND LEGALISTS, 12-14.
Verse 12 uses a well-recognized saying to reinforce their known character. "One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."