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The Faithful Sayings

The Journal of Theological Studies 18 (1917) 1-7


   1. Five sayings quoted in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 1,15; 3,1; 4,8f; 2 Tim. 2,11ff; Titus 3,4 ff) bear the label πιστὸς ὁ λόγος, to which in two cases (1 Tim. 1,15; 4,9 the writer has added καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος.

For πιστός in 1 Tim. 1,15; 3,1, some Latin texts give humanus so in 1,15 r, Mss known to Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Julian of Eclanum, Augustine 3/5, and in 3,1 D, g, m, Mss known to Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Sedulius Hib. Jerome condemns humanus (cf. ad Marcell. ‘nos cum Graecis, id est, cum Apostolo, qui Graece locutus est, erremus fidelis sermo’). Did the 0.L. translator read ΠΙΣΤΟΣ at the beginning of a line as ΠΙΝΟΣ, and take it for the end of ἀνθρώπινος, his mind running perhaps on humanum dico (Rom. 6,19)?

Καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος is added by one or two minuscules in 1 Tim.3,1 and 2 Tim. 2,11.

Neither phrase finds an exact parallel in the N.T. <note 1> or in the Greek O.T. For both, however, there is good authority in the literary Greek of the time. For πιστὸς ὁ λόγος Wetstein quotes Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dio Chrysostom, Arrian; ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος is abundant in Diodorus Siculus (Field Notes on the translation ef the N.T: p. 203f). Moulton and Milligan (Vocab., s,v. ἀποδοχή) quote an inscription of a.d. 148 <note 2> which speaks of a citizen of Ephesus as πα’σης τιμῆς καὶ ἀποδοχῆς ἄιος. Our writer's use of the two phrases is one of many indications that he was not unacquainted with the literary and epigraphic Greek of his age.

2. It is more important to enquire whether πιστὸς ὁ λόγος κτλ. serves to introduce the λόγος in each case or follows it. Or is it used for the one purpose or for the other at the discretion of the writer?

In 1 Tim. 1,15 πιστὸς … ἄξιος is clearly a preamble, and the saying is attached to it by a recitative ὅτι. In 2 Tim.2,11, again, though there is no ὅτι, few will doubt that πιστὸς ὁ λόγος is introductory the γάρ which follows is probably a survival, a note of sequence in the /2/ source which the writer has not cared to remove. The three other cases present more difficulty. In 1 Tim. 3,1 Chrysostom, followed by a majority of the later Greek commentators, connects πιστὸς ὁ λόγος with the words which go before: πρὸς τοῦτο εἵρηται, οὐ πρὸς τὸ Εἴ τις ἐπισκοπῆς ὀρέγεται. In this he departs from Theodore, who notes: ‘fidele dicens Si quis episcopalum’, &c. WH follow Chrysostom in their paragraphing. But the words that precede embody no principle so important as to call for an affirmation, which, as Theodore remarks, answers to the ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν of the Gospels; while on the other hand the words that follow begin a new and weighty subject, and begin it with strange abruptness, if we detach from them the introductory formula.

The case of 1 Tim. 4,9 is more difficult. Here we have on each side of the formula a saying to which the writer might have wished to call special attention. But (1) v. 10 is seen upon examination to be full of words which are characteristic of the writer of the Pastorals (κοπιᾷν, ἀγωνίζεσθαι, ἠλπίκαμεν, θεὸς σωτήρ); and (2) v. 8 has more of the epigrammatic ring of the λόγος than v. 10. On the whole there seems to be little reason to doubt that πιστὸς ὁ λόγος follows the saying here. The same conclusion holds good in Titus 3,8, where ἵνα φροντιζωσιν κτλ. surely states the purpose for which the λόγος is to be affirmed, and not its contents. Theodore's judgement has again guided him aright (‘dicit fidele verbum, praecedentibus illud adnectens’), and on this occasion he is followed by Chrysostom and Theodoret.

3. We may proceed to examine the sayings themselves, taking them in the order in which they stand in the Epistles.

(1) 1 Tim. 1,15. The phrase ἦλθεν (ἔρχεται) τὸν κόσμον used with reference to the Advent is peculiarly Johannine (or, shall we say? Ephesian). The Fourth Gospel rings the changes upon it, e.g. 1,9 ἦν τὸ φως ... ἐρχόμενον εἰς τ. κ., 3,19 τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τ.. κ., 6,14 ὁ προφήτης ὁ ἐρχόμενος εἰς τ. κ., 9,39 ὲγὼ εἰς τ. κ. τοῦτον ἦλθον, 11,27 ὁ χριστὸς ... ὁ εἰς τ. κ. ἐρχόμενος : see also 12.,46; 16,28; 18.37. Σῴζειν in an ethical or spiritual sense is common to nearly all the N.T. writers, and calls for no comment; but the combination ἦλθον ... σῶσαι ἁμαρτωλούς again reminds us of St John; cf. John 3,17 ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τ.κ. … ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος, 12,47 ἦλθον … ἵνα σώσω τὸν κόσμον.

Too little of this λόγος is quoted to justify any definite conclusion as to its source. But so far as the words carry us, they suggest the rhythmical cadence of an ᾠδὴ πνευματική (ἦλθον εἰς τὸν κόσμον | ἁμαρτωκοὺς σῶσαι). With the use of λόγος for a fragment of a psalm or hymn cf. λέγει in Eph. 4,8; 5,14.

(2) 1 Tim. 3,1 ‘If any member of the Church has an appetite for oversight, it is a good work that he covets.’ /3/

Both ὀρέσθαι and ἐπιθυμεῖν are capable either of a good or of a bad sense. <note 3> An ὄρεξις may be a craving for what is evil, or an undue or morbid desire for what is in itself good or indifferent (cf. Rom. 1,27; 1 Tim. 6,10); but it may also be a wholesome keenness in the pursuit of good (cf. Heb. 11,16). Ἐπιθυμεῖν is used in both senses within a single verse (Gal. 5,17 ἡ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός· [ἐπιθυμεῖ].

This saying may have been the apologia pro vita sua of some φιλοπρωτεύων at Ephesus, who excused his eagerness for office by pleading, Καλοῦ ἔργου ἐπιθυμῶ. The writer of the Epistle endorses the saying, not without subconscious irony. ‘True enough: oversight, the task of the presbyters, is a good work.’ But is it good work that the man desires, and is he the man to do it? The description of the presbyter which follows might well take the edge off the appetite of any who sought the office for its own sake. ‘Bene opus dixit, et non “dignitatem”; nec enim dignitates sunt ecclesiasticae functiones, sed opus.’

(3) 1 Tim. 4,8f. ‘The physical exercise of the palaestra profits little; the spiritual exercise of our religion profits in all ways, both here and hereafter.’ As Moulton and Milligan say (Vocabulary, s.v. γυμναςία), there is no reason why γυμναςία should not here bear its normal meaning, viz. the discipline and drill of the gymnastic school (γυμνάσιον), which formed so important a part of Greek education. At Ephesus, as at Athens, the management of the gymnasia was entrusted by the State to officers of high rank (γυμναςίαρχοι, Hicks Ephesos prolegg. p.82), and the training of the youth of the city in athletic exercises must have had special importance in view of the agonistic festivals which abounded in the Ephesian calendar (ibid. pp.79, 82; cf. Chapot La Province Romaine d'Asie c. vi). The Christian counterpart of this was the discipline exercised over life and character by the religion of Christ. Εὐσέβεια, used once in Acts (3,12) and several times in the late 2 Peter, <note 4> is one of the stock words of the Pastorals, and especially frequent in 1 Tim. (2,2; 3,16; 4,8; 6,3. 5f.11); with the article it seems to be used by this writer for the Christian religion (cf. 3,16, and perhaps also 6,5f). It is interesting to observe that this family of words bears an almost technical sense in Ephesian inscriptions. Thus the phrase φιλόπατρις καὶ φιλοςέβαστος, ἁγνός, εὐσεβής occurs in Hicks, pp. 127, 132 bis, where the inscriptions belong to the year a.d. 104; and other citizens are honoured ἀρετῆς ἕνενεν καὶ τῆς πρὸς τὴν θεὸν (Artemis) εὐσεβείας (ibid. p.187, circa a.d. 106), or because /4/ the person was known as ἀποβλέπων εἰς τὴν εὐσέβειαν τῆς θεοῦ (ibid. p. 143, a.d. 160). Another Ephesian is described as νεωποιήσας εὐσεβῶς (ibid. p.211), i.e. as having religiously discharged the office of temple-warden. In the Christian at Ephesus, Christ had taken the place of Artemis and the Church that of the Artemision; and the self- control and self-sacrifice of the new life in Christ, which were good for both worlds, were the Christian substitute for the drill of the gymnasium, which was serviceable only for the life that now is.

This saying, like (1) and (2), may well be of Ephesian origin, whether it formed part of a hymn, or was a prophetical utterance, or a fragment of catechesis. It begins, I think, with ἡ σωματικὴ γυμναςία, γάρ being added by the writer to connect it with his previous words γύμναζε κτλ.

(4) 2 Tim. 2,11ff. Both the words and the thought of vv. II.12 are manifestly Pauline. Not only are the three compounds συναποθνήσκειν, συνζῇν, συμβασιλεύειν used by St Paul in his earlier Epistles (2 Cor. 7,3; Rom. 6,8; 1 Cor. 4,8), but the doctrine that the Church shares the Death, Resurrection, and Reign of the Lord is one of which, in one form or another, his letters are full. There is in the Epistles a wealth of such thoughts, and of words to express them; cf. συνσταυροῦσθαι (Rom. 6,6; Gal. 2,19), συνθάπτεσθαι (Rom. 6,4; Col. 2,12), συμπάσχειν, συνδοξάζεσθαι (Rom 8,17), συνεγείρεσθαι (Eph. 2,6, Col. 2,12), συνκαθίζεσθαι (Eph. 2,6), συμμορφίζεσθαι (Phil. 3,10), συνκληρονόμοι (Rom. 8,17). There is no stage, past, present, or to come, in the history of the Incarnate Life from the Baptism onwards, in which, Paulo iudice, Christians have no share.

So far then this saying is purely Pauline. But when we pass to the second part of it, beginning at εἰ ἀρνηςίμεθα, we find ourselves in another atmosphere. Ἀρνεῖσθαι, and the set of ideas connected with it, belong to the Gospels, not to the Epistles; and not to the Marcan tradition, but to a tradition common to Matthew and Luke. It is interesting to notice by the way that the saying here approached nearer to the Matthaean than to the Lucan form of the tradition, as the following comparison will shew:

Matt. 10,33

Luke 12,9

2 Tim 2,12

ὅστις [ἂν] ἀρνησηται

 ... ἀρήνσομαι κἀγώ

ὁ ἀρνηςάμνενος

... ἀπαρνηθήσεται

εἰ ἀρνηςόμεθα

... κἀκεῖνος ἀρνήσεται.

The saying ends with an interpretation of ‘denial’, as it was realized in the experience of the Asian churches. In the early Gentile churches it resolved itself into ἀπιστία on the part of professed πιστοί. The Master on His side could not be ἄπιστος  — could not be untrue to His own character or word, though the disciple might become such too easily.

This fourth λόγος seems to be a fragment of a hymn into which some /5/ Pauline church had worked the familiar teaching of the Apostle, together with one of the words of the Lord Jesus <note 5> which they had heard from him, and which also found its way into the Matthaeo-Lucan tradition.

(5) Titus 3,4-8. Another Pauline saying, with a few striking non-Pauline words. Among the Pauline features are χρηστότης, used in reference to God (cf. Rom. 2,4; 11,22; Eph. 2,7); [οὐκ] ἐξ ἔργων (Rom. 3,20; 4,2; 9,11, etc. ; Gal. 2,16, etc ; Eph. 2,9); ἀνακαίνωσις (Rom. 12,2; cf. Col. 3,10); πλούσιος and its cognates, said of the divine wealth (Rom. 2,4; 10,12; 11,33; Eph. 1,7; 2,4.7; Col. 3,16). The last clause (ἵνα δικαιωθέντες ... ζωῆς αἰωνίου) is Pauline almost to a word. On the other hand τῶν ἐν δικαιοσυνῃ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν ἡμεῖς is unlike St Paul's manner, while παλιγγενεςία is not only without parallel in his other epistles, but strikes a note somewhat different from his; for St Paul conceives of the beginning of our life in Christ as a re-creation rather than as a re-birth (cf. e.g. 2 Cor. 5,17, Eph. 4,24). The use of ὁ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν as a title of our Lord is limited in the New Testament to the Pastorals and 2 Peter. <note 6>

If πιστὸς ὁ λόγος looks back to vv. 5-7, where does the λόγος begin? at ὅτε δὲ ἡ χρηστότης, or at οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων? I am disposed to think that it begins at οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, and that ὅτε δὲ ... θεοῦ is the writer's note of transition from ἧμεν γάρ ποτε κτλ. to the quotation. Our writer, as we have seen, is fond of using phrases borrowed from the later literary Greek, and the combination of χρηστότης and φιλανθρωπία is one of these (see Field Notes p. 222 f). <note 7>

It is just possible that in this λόγος we have a fragment of a baptismal address, or (?) a baptismal hymn. <note 8> The keynote of the saying will then be struck by the words ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς διὰ λουτροῦ παλιγγενεςίας καὶ ἀνακαινώσεως πνεύματος ἁγιου. These words will repay examination. Λουτρόν is used to express the baptismal washing in Eph. 5,26 where, as Westcott notes, the two expressions τῷ λουτρῷ and ἐν ῥήματι ‘mark what was afterwards known technically as the “matter” and “form” of the Sacrament’. In our λόγος the ‘form’ is not mentioned, but stress is laid on the inward and spiritual grace signified by the ‘matter’. The baptismal bath differs from the bath of daily life in that it is the means of a re-birth. Both λουτρόν and παλιγγενεςία have points of contact with the life of the Graeco-Roman world. The bath had been /6/ used in Hellas from the earliest days, as Homer's θερμὰ λοετρά testifies. At a later time the Greek city-state provided public baths for the use of its citizens; the gymnasia, too, had baths attached to them in which their pupils washed off the oil and dust of the palaestra. The Church also provided a bath for her athletes, to be taken once for all at the beginning of their course for the washing away of sin; cf. Acts 22,16 ἀπόλουσαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου : 1 Cor. 6,11 ἀλλ’ ἀπελούσασθε: Heb. 10,22 λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ.

Παλιγγενεςία takes us by surprise when we come upon it first in Matt. 19,28. The word, however, corresponds in some measure to Hebrew and Aramaic terms (see McNeile's or Allen's note on Matt. l.c.); and it was perhaps extensively used by Hellenistic writers of the first century (e.g. it occurs in Philo, and in Clement of Rome Cor. 9, where Lightfoot's note may be consulted). Far more remarkable is the hold use of this Greek term in the present λόγος to express the spiritual re-birth of Baptism. Is it suggested by the Stoic notion of a περιοδικὴ παλιγγενεςία τῶν ὅλων (M. Antoninus 11,1)? Or does it refer to the Orphic doctrine of a κύκλος τῆς γενέσεως, or, as Augustine <note 9> explains it, ‘esse in renascendis hominibus quam appellant παλιγγενεςίαν Graeci’? Both views may have been familiar to the Christians of the capital, from whence this λόγος possibly proceeded. In either case this saying offers the first instance of the use of the word in the technical sense which it has borne ever since in Christian theology. The Latin equivalent regeneratio is already in Tertullian (de resurr. carnis 47) the accepted name for the grace of Christian Baptism, and in that sense it stands in the Book of Common Prayer today.

Besides the five ‘faithful sayings’ there may be embedded in the Pastoral Epistles other sayings which the writer has quoted without mark of approval, but which might have been similarly announced. Evidently the writer is fond of quoting, with or without marks of citation. Thus in 1 Tim. 4,1 he quotes a prophecy with the preamble τὸ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει, and in Titus 1,2 Epimenides is cited as τις ἐξ εὐτῶν, ἴδιος αὐτῶν προφήτης, while on the other hand a sentence from the Book of Numbers (16,5), adopted in 2 Tim. 2,9, bears no indication of its source, and the hymn ὃς ἐφανερώθη ... ἐν δόξῃ is worked into 1 Tim. 3,16 without any sign that it is such beyond its rhythmical form. Other passages will occur which may be quotations from unknown sources; e.g. 1 Tim. 2,5 εἷς θεός, | εἷς καὶ μεςίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, | ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς : 2 Tim. 2,8, where the original may have run

Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν | ἐκ σπέρματος Δανείδ … : Titus 1,15 /7/ πάντα καθαρὰ τοῖς καθαροῖς. In these and a few other sentences a latent reference to some Christian hymn or utterance may well be suspected, though in such cases it is impossible to get beyond unverifiable conjecture.


Note 1: See, however, Apoc. 21,5; 22,6.

Note 2: Or i60 ; see Hicks Ephesos p. 145.

Note 3: See Trench, Synonyms xxxvii.

Note 4: The cognates also are limited to Acts, the Pastorals, and 2 Peter (εὐσεβεῖν, Acts, 1 Tim. ; εὐσεβής, Acts, 2 Peter ; εὐσεβῶς, 2 Tim., Titus).

Note 5: Cf. Acts 20,35.

Note 6: In Phil. 3,20 σωτῆρα is a predicate.

Note 7: Luke has φιλανθρώπως and φιλανθρωπία (Acts27,3; 28,2).

Note 8: See Archbishop Bernard's paper in J.T.S. xii. Dr Bernard has made out a fair case for his hypothesis that the Odes of Solomon are of this character, but his other examples of the use of such hymns do not go back further than the fourth century.

Note 9: De civitate 22, 28 (cited by Lobeck, Aglaophamus 2 p.797). See Miss Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the study of Greek religion. p. 590f.