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Titus 1:12

ESV One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
NIV One of Crete's own prophets has said it: 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.'
NASB One of them, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.'
CSB One of their very own prophets said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
NLT Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, 'The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.'
KJV One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

What does Titus 1:12 mean?

In this verse, Paul quotes from a Cretan prophet. History tells us that these words come from Epimenides, a writer from the sixth century BC. This quote was likely widely known, both to Titus and others on Crete. Paul simply used these words to affirm a known fact. This is a common use of non-scriptural material being used to support a biblical point. Paul cited non-Christian writers in at least two other occasions. This includes Acts 17:28, when he referred to a writing perhaps also from Epimenides and Aratus' poem "Phainomena." Another is in 1 Corinthians 15:33, when Paul referenced the ancient writer Menander, quoting his comedy Thais.

Such quotations don't imply in any sense that these ancient writings were part of Scripture or divine. They do prove Paul's knowledge of Greco-Roman writings, which he used as common ground to communicate spiritual truth. Other New Testament writers sometimes used extra-biblical writings to support their statements. They did so without declaring them divine or part of Scripture. Another instance of this is Jude 1:9, which refers to the body of Moses, and a dispute between the archangel Michael and Satan.
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