Put them in mind to be subject to principalities, etc. - By principalities, αρχαις, we are to understand the Roman emperors, or the supreme civil powers in any place.
By powers, εξουσιαις, we are to understand the deputies of the emperors, such as proconsuls, etc., and all such as are in authority - under the supreme powers wherever we dwell. See the doctrine of obedience to the civil powers discussed at large in the notes on Romans 13:1-7.
This doctrine of obedience to the civil powers was highly necessary for the Cretans, who were reputed a people exceedingly jealous of their civil privileges, and ready to run into a state of insurrection when they suspected any attempt on the part of their rulers to infringe their liberties. Suidas, under the word ανεσειον, they stirred up, gives the following fragment: Οἱ δε Κρητες, φοβουμενοι μη τι τιμωριας τυχωσιν, ανεσειον τα πληθη, παρακαλουντες την εξ αιωνος παραδεδομενην ελευθεριαν διαφυλαττειν . "But the Cretans, fearing lest they should be punished, stirred up the populace, exhorting them that they should carefully preserve that liberty which they had received from their ancestors." What part of the history of Crete this refers to I cannot tell; the words stand thus insulated in Suidas, without introduction or connection. To be jealous of our civil rights and privileges, and most strenuously to preserve them, is highly praiseworthy; but to raise a public tumult to avoid merited chastisement, under pretense that our civil privileges are in danger, is not the part of patriots but insurgents. For such advice as that given here the known character of the Cretans is a sufficient reason: "They were ever liars, ferocious wild beasts, and sluggish gluttons." Such persons would feel little disposition to submit to the wholesome restraints of law.
Put them in mind to be subject - See the duty here enjoined, explained in the notes at Romans 13:1, following.
Principalities and powers - See these words explained in the notes at Romans 8:38. The word here rendered “powers” ( ἐξουσίαις exousiais), is not, indeed, the same as that which is found there ( δυνάμεις dunameis), but the same idea is conveyed; compare the notes at Ephesians 1:21. To be ready to every good work - “To be prepared for” ( ἑτοίμους hetoimous); prompt to perform all that is good; Notes, Philemon 4:8. A Christian should be always ready to do good as far as he is able. He should not need to be urged, or coaxed, or persuaded, but should be so ready always to do good that he will count it a privilege to have the opportunity to do it.
To be ready to every good work - “To be prepared for” ( ἑτοίμους hetoimous); prompt to perform all that is good; Notes, Philemon 4:8. A Christian should be always ready to do good as far as he is able. He should not need to be urged, or coaxed, or persuaded, but should be so ready always to do good that he will count it a privilege to have the opportunity to do it.
I have met many who claimed to live without sin. But when tested by God's word these persons were found to be open transgressors of His holy law. The clearest evidences of the perpetuity and binding force of the fourth commandment failed to arouse the conscience. They could not deny the claims of God, but ventured to excuse themselves in breaking the Sabbath. They claimed to be sanctified, and to serve God on all days of the week. Many good people, they said, did not keep the Sabbath. If men were sanctified, no condemnation would rest upon them if they did not observe it. God was too merciful to punish them for not keeping the seventh day. They would be counted singular in the community should they observe the Sabbath, and would have no influence in the world. And they must be subject to the powers that be. SL 66.1
A lady in New Hampshire bore her testimony in a public meeting that the grace of God was ruling in her heart and that she was wholly the Lord's. She then expressed her belief that this people were doing much good in arousing sinners to see their danger. She said, “The Sabbath that this people present to us is the only Sabbath of the Bible”; and then stated that her mind had been very much exercised upon the subject. She saw great trials before her, which she must meet if she kept the seventh day. The next day she came to meeting and again bore her testimony, saying she had asked the Lord if she must keep the Sabbath, and He had told her she need not keep it. Her mind was now at rest upon that subject. She then gave a most stirring exhortation for all to come to the perfect love of Jesus, where there was no condemnation to the soul. SL 66.2Read in context »
The principalities and powers of earth are in bitter revolt against the God of heaven. They are filled with hatred against all who serve Him, and soon, very soon, is to be fought the last great battle between good and evil. The earth is to be the battlefield—the scene of the final contest and the final victory. Here, where for so long Satan has led men against God, rebellion is to be forever suppressed. TDG 308.3Read in context »
He bids Titus instruct the church that while they should trust to the merits of Christ for salvation, divine grace, dwelling in their hearts, will lead to the faithful performance of all the duties of life. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.... This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:1-8). SL 87.1
Paul seeks to impress upon our minds the fact that the foundation of all acceptable service to God, as well as the very crown of the Christian graces, is love; and that only in the soul where love reigns will the peace of God abide. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above put all these things on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:12-17). SL 87.2Read in context »