Paul the Apostle greets his disciple and missionary companion Titus. He describes the requirements for becoming a church leader. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s chosen ones, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,
an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul served as an agent of Jesus Christ for promoting the faith.
knowledge of the truth. Paul tried to get the word out with fidelity. He didn’t just make things up.
1 Timothy 2:4. [God our Savior] who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.
in hope of eternal life. Paul’s intent was to raise people’s hope by pointing the way to life without end.
before time began. God’s plan of salvation was only recently revealed. However, it has been in-place since before the beginning of time.
VERSE 3. but in his own time revealed his word in the message with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior;
VERSE 4. to Titus, my true child according to a common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
VERSE 5. I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you,
set in order the things that were lacking. In his former missionary travels, Paul did not spend much time in any particular town.
He showed up and spoke about Jesus Christ. Perhaps some people became Christian believers. Then he went on to the next town, leaving behind a lot of things that incomplete.
Now, Paul sends Titus to deal with those things.
elders. The Greek word is πρεσβυτέρους (“presbyterous”). It means elder. Some translate it as “priest.” Perhaps the simplest term is “leader.”
appoint elders in every city. Titus was to ordain leaders in every town. That must have been quite a task. If Paul had sent you for that task, and you just arrived in a new town, how would you know who to ordain?
VERSE 6. if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior.
anyone. In this verse and the ones that follow, Paul lists criteria to help Titus decide who to ordain as leaders.
the husband of one wife. A leader is required to be married.
VERSE 7. For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward, not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain;
not self-pleasing. If you are a church leader, it is not about yourself.
not easily angered. If someone has a temper problem, they should not be church leaders. Placing a hothead in charge will make all sorts of problems.
not given to wine. A church leader cannot be an addict.
not greedy for dishonest gain. Church history is replete with leaders who misused their authority in the church to get rich.
holy. Church leaders are not exempt from our calling as Christians to be holy unto God.
VERSE 9. holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him.
exhort in the sound doctrine. A church leader needs to be gifted for biblical preaching. People need preaching that is biblically-based as well as compelling.
VERSE 10. For there are also many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
there are … many unruly men. In just about any congregation, there are troublemakers. They can be exceptionally difficult for the church leaders to deal with.
Yet if the church leaders do not rein in these troublemakers, the congregation might be destroyed.
those of the circumcision. This alludes to some Christian Jews who tried to convert Gentile Christians into Jews.
VERSE 11. whose mouths must be stopped: men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for dishonest gain’s sake.
VERSE 12. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons.”
Cretans are always liars. This ethnic slur is attributed to Epimenides of Crete, circa 600 BC.
Acts 27:7. When we had sailed slowly many days, and had come with difficulty opposite Cnidus, the wind not allowing us further, we sailed under the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone.
VERSE 13. This testimony is true. For this cause, reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
reprove them sharply. About the only way for a church leader to rein in a troublemaker is to rebuke them sharply.
It might need to take place in front of other people, and possibly the whole congregation.
This might be called the “Ministry of Rebuking.” It is targeted only at troublemakers.
But some church leaders rebuke everybody. In this case, the church leader himself is the troublemaker. The whole assembly needs to rebuke him or her.
VERSE 14. not paying attention to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
VERSE 15. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.
all things are pure. A surprising number of Christians have very negative views of material things.
This verse is a wonderful corrective. It is also a corrective to the many people in our day who are dualists.
Dualists think that “spirit” is good and “material” is bad. Many Christians are dualists, but do not realize it.
VERSE 16. They profess that they know God, but by their deeds they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
profess that they know God. Paul wrote about that in 1 Timothy 6:
1 Timothy 6:20-21. Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some profess, and thus have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.