3:1 Remind them - All the Cretan Christians. To be subject - Passively, not resisting. To principalities - Supreme. And powers - Subordinate governors. And to obey - Them actively, so far as conscience permits.
3:2 To speak evil - Neither of them nor any man. Not to be quarrelsome - To assault none. To be gentle - When assaulted. Toward all men - Even those who are such as we were.
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.
3:4 When the love of God appeared - By the light of his Spirit to our inmost soul.
3:5 Not by works - In this important passage the apostle presents us with a delightful view of our redemption. Herein we have, The cause of it; not our works or righteousness, but the kindness and love of God our Saviour. The effects; which are, Justification; being justified, pardoned and accepted through the alone merits of Christ, not from any desert in us, but according to his own mercy, by his grace, his free, unmerited goodness. Sanctification, expressed by the laver of regeneration, (that is, baptism, the thing signified, as well as the outward sign,) and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; which purifies the soul, as water cleanses the body, and renews it in the whole image of God. The consummation of all; - that we might become heirs of eternal life, and live now in the joyful hope of it.
3:8 Be careful to excel in good works - Though the apostle does not lay these for the foundation, yet he brings them in at their proper place, and then mentions them, not slightly, but as affairs of great importance. He desires that all believers should be careful - Have their thoughts upon them: use their best contrivance, their utmost endeavours, not barely to practise, but to excel, to be eminent and distinguished in them: because, though they are not the ground of our reconciliation with God, yet they are amiable and honourable to the Christian profession. And profitable to men - Means of increasing the everlasting happiness both of ourselves and others.
3:10 An heretic (after a first and second admonition) reject - Avoid, leave to himself. This is the only place, in the whole scripture, where this word heretic occurs; and here it evidently means, a man that obstinately persists in contending about foolish questions, and thereby occasions strife and animosities, schisms and parties in the church. This, and this alone, is an heretic in the scripture sense; and his punishment likewise is here fixed. Shun, avoid him, leave him to himself. As for the Popish sense, A man that errs in fundamentals, although it crept, with many other things, early into the church, yet it has no shadow of foundation either in the Old or New Testament.
3:11 Such an one is perverted - In his heart, at least. And sinneth, being self - condemned - Being convinced in his own conscience that he acts wrong.
3:12 When I shall send Artemas or Tychicus - To succeed thee in thy office. Titus was properly an evangelist, who, according to the nature of that office, had no fixed residence; but presided over other elders, wherever he travelled from place to place, assisting each of the apostles according to the measure of his abilities. Come to me to Nicopolis - Very probably not the Nicopolis in Macedonia, as the vulgar subscription asserts: (indeed, none of those subscriptions at the end of St. Paul's epistles are of any authority:) rather it was a town of the same name which lay upon the sea - coast of Epirus. For I have determined to winter there - Hence it appears, he was not there yet; if so, he would have said, to winter here. Consequently, this letter was not written from thence.
3:13 Send forward Zenas the lawyer - Either a Roman lawyer or an expounder of the Jewish law.
3:14 And let ours - All our brethren at Crete. Learn - Both by thy admonition and example. Perhaps they had not before assisted Zenas and Apollos as they ought to have done.