He gives the reason why circumcision was not urged upon Titus, viz. because there were some got into that meeting, where Paul debated these things with the apostles that were at Jerusalem, who, though they had embraced the Christian religion, (and upon that account were brethren), yet were soured with the Jewish leaven, and were very zealous for all Christians to observe the Jewish rites of circumcision, &c.; upon which account it is that he calleth them
false brethren. These (he saith)
came in privily, to spy out that
liberty which all Christians had, and Paul had preached and used, as to these Jewish ceremonies; who, could they have obtained to have had Titus circumcised, they had had a great advantage to have defamed Paul, as teaching one thing to the Gentile churches, and practising the contrary when he came to Jerusalem to the apostles, and amongst the Jews. And this being a liberty which he and all Christians had, in and from Jesus Christ, he would not part with it, for they aimed at nothing but the bringing of Christians again under the bondage of the ceremonial law. Some may say: It being a thing wherein Christians had a liberty, why did not St. Paul yield to avoid their offence; becoming all things to all men to gain some?
Answer. In the use of our liberty, all circumstances are to be considered, as well as that of scandal and offence. The valuable opposite circumstance in this case, seems to be the validity and success of the apostle’s ministry, the efficacy of which would have been much weakened, if his enemies had from hence gained an advantage to represent him, as doing one thing in one place and the quite contrary in another. Besides, though at this time the use or not use of the ceremonial rites, by the Jews, was a matter of liberty, by reason of God’s indulgence to them for the prejudices of their education, yet whether they were at all so to the Gentile churches, may be doubted: see Gal_5:2,3. Further yet, these brethren urged the observation of these rites, as necessary to salvation, (as appears from Act_15:1), for they were of the sect of the Pharisees, Gal_2:5. And to use them under that notion, was no matter of liberty.