12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Paul now demonstrated the low character of these false teachers in Crete.
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said,
Paul quoted a Cretan prophet in his own words. He was Epimenides, a pagan poet and philosopher from the sixth century B.C. He was also a religious prophet. He had a reputation as a Greek intellectual and people considered him one of the seven wise men of the Greek world. Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and other ancient writes referred to him as well. The original quote from Epimenides referenced a lie that Zeus was buried in Crete. This was insulting to those who believed Zeus was still alive.
“Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
This saying from Epimenides had become a proverb by the time of Paul. False teachers in Crete exhibited these base tendencies.
The words “Cretans” and “liars” formed a play on words. When a Cretan spoke, you knew it was a lie; it was one and the same thing. To be a Cretan was the same thing as lying. Cretans were self-admitted liars and therefore self-condemned. He testified to himself that he was a liar. There was a perception that the national weakness of Crete was that its citizens were chronic liars.
Nu 23: 19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
The term “evil beasts” shows the savage nature of what these apostates communicated. They were animal-like in their behavior, savage in their attack on biblical truth. They were barbaric toward the church. They preyed on weak Christians.
“Lazy gluttons” indicates that these false teachers did not work for a living but preyed on the church to give them money. They lived off others rather than taking employment themselves.
Christian leaders must call false teachers for what they are.
There is no doubt that the evangelical church faces many doctrinal threats today. Apostates have motives and methods that deceive the church. Teachers and preachers are afraid to call these people for what they are—heretics. Today this ilk denies clear statements of Scripture (propositional truth). They are more oriented to stories than doctrine, a very subtle way to deny truth. They love religious fables. Uncontrolled religious lies fulfill Epimenides’s saying. They are like wild beasts and lazy gluttons who warp God’s truth. Cults of our day are similar to the cults of the first century. They are, above all, self-gratifying.