For we ourselves - All of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, were, before our conversion to Christ, foolish, disobedient, and deceived. There is no doubt that the apostle felt he could include himself in the above list, previously to his conversion. The manner in which he persecuted the Christians, to whose charge he could not lay one moral evil, is a sufficient proof that, though he walked according to the letter of the law, as to its ordinances and ceremonies, blameless, yet his heart was in a state of great estrangement from God, from justice, holiness, mercy, and compassion.
Foolish - Ανοητοι· Without understanding - ignorant of God, his nature, his providence, and his grace.
Disobedient - Απειθεις· Unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and disobedient.
Deceived - Πλανωμενοι· Erring - wandering from the right way in consequence of our ignorance, not knowing the right way; and, in consequence of our unbelief and obstinacy, not choosing to know it. It is a true saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Such persons are proof against conviction, they will not be convinced either by God or man.
Serving divers lusts and pleasures - Δουλευοντες· Being in a state of continual thraldom; not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living, as their slaves, a life of misery and wretchedness.
Divers lusts - Επιθυμιαις· Strong and irregular appetites of every kind.
Pleasures - Ἡδοναις· Sensual pleasures. Persons intent only on the gratification of sense, living like the brutes, having no rational or spiritual object worthy the pursuit of an immortal being.
Living in malice and envy - Εν κακιᾳ και φθονῳ διαγοντες· Spending our life in wickedness and envy - not bearing to see the prosperity of others, because we feel ourselves continually wretched.
Hateful - Στυγητοι· Abominable; hateful as hell. The word comes from Στυξ, Styx, the infernal river by which the gods were wont to swear; and he who (according to the mythology of the heathens) violated this oath, was expelled from the assembly of the gods, and was deprived of his nectar and ambrosia for a year; hence the river was hateful to them beyond all things, and the verb στυγεω, formed from this, signifies to shiver with horror.
It maybe taken actively, says Leigh, as it is read, hateful; or else passively, and so may be read hated, that is, justly execrable and odious unto others, both God and man.
Hating one another - Μισουντες αλληλους· This word is less expressive than the preceding: there was no brotherly love, consequently no kind offices; they hated each other, and self-interest alone could induce them to keep up civil society. This is the true state of all unregenerate men. The words which the apostle uses in this place give a finished picture of the carnal state of man; and they are not true merely of the Cretans and Jews that then were, but of all mankind in every age and country; they express the wretched state of fallen man.
Some of the Greek moralists expressed a dissolute and sensual life by nearly the same expressions as those employed by the apostle. Plutarch, in Precept. Conjug., says: Σωματος εστι κηδεσθαι, μη δουλευοντα ταις ἡδοναις αυτου, και ταις επιθυμιαις· "We must take care of the body, that we may not be enslaved by its lusts and pleasures." And Josephus, speaking of Cleopatra, Antiq., lib. xv. cap. 4, says: Γυναικα πολυτελη, και δουλευουσαν ταις επιθυμιαις· "She was an expensive woman, enslaved to lusts."