Lesson 2: The Elders and the Offenders, Titus 1:5-16
We all live ‘someplace’! Where do you live?
Some live in the city, some live in the country, some live in Maine, to where we retired twelve years ago, and some live outside of Maine; some live in the Northeastern United States and some live in another country; another continent.
Perhaps we live where we live because we were born there, or perhaps moved here, as we did. Wherever it is that God places us as Christians, we are where we are, by His design–placed there to be a witness for Him.
Our minds paint pictures of different places in the world. If we were to mention New York, Chicago, Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, California…certainly many different impressions would crowd your thinking. Maine is our Jerusalem. It could be that the town in which you live has a reputation which may, upon hearing of it, cause other familiar with your locale to form a particular impression.
Today’s lesson takes place in Crete. Titus was in Crete when he received Paul’s letter. Where is Crete? What was Crete’s reputation?
LOCATION – Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, southeast of Greece. It doesn’t look very big on the map, but when you compare it to the other islands it is considered large.
The CIVILIZATION – The Minoan civilization flourished there before the time of Christ. Crete is extremely bold and mountainous, surrounded on all sides by the sea. It has very fruitful valleys, highly prosperous and was full of people in very ancient times. A Jewish colony existed on the island.
ACTS 2:11 tells us that on the Day of Pentecost, Jews from Crete were in Jerusalem and witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit. During Paul’s voyage to Rome, the ship on which Paul sailed skimmed the coast of Crete before being caught by the storm and was driven to Malta, Acts 27:7-21.
“Today Crete is called Candia. The Cretans of the present day are precisely what they were in the days of the apostle Paul. They are notoriously, whether Turks or Greeks, the worst character to the Levant.” – Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock & Strong, Vol. II C-D, Publisher: Baker.
It is important for us to understand what Crete was like, considering this is where Titus was and also to better understand the task before him in Crete.
No doubt you have heard it said, and maybe of yourself, if you want something done, give the job to a busy person. They will probably get it done. By and large, I think this to be true. Perhaps the reason for accomplishing the task is because that person has a heart to get the work done. They do more than ‘say’ they will do it, they agree and believe in something; they put their mind and shoulder to the task and accomplish it.
In today’s study, I chose to proceed in a Q & A format. Opening your Bibles, let us begin by reading Titus 1:5-16. Read the Scripture and try finding the answers to the questions for yourself, first.
As we have already established, the letter to Titus was sent him while he was in Crete. Titus was left on the island of Crete to complete the work Paul was not able to complete on an earlier missionary voyage to Crete.
Question 1 – Why was Titus left in Crete?
In verse 5, Paul makes it clear that there are some very needed things to be done in Crete; things Titus needed to accomplish; things he needed to establish; things that were necessary and needed. In particular, Titus was to establish a church in Crete and also to ordain elders in every city.
Evidently, from Paul’s previous visit to Crete, there were some convers; disciples were gathered, meeting places were arranged, but they were in need of spiritual leaders; no official organization had taken place. The work was unfinished.
Ryrie notes that “a church is defective unless it has constituted leaders.” These leaders were to be appointed or ordained by Titus.
Paul was dedicated to seeing whatever work he’d begun, be completed. If he couldn’t be the one to complete the job, he left worthy men, like Timothy and Titus to complete the work. (I Timothy 1:3; I Thessalonians 3:10). By way of information, Titus was written about the same time as I Timothy was written.
Too often, in our zeal to serve, we jump right in with two feet, without going to the LORD first and asking Him if what we are contemplating to do, is something He wants us to do. Our zeal may sometimes run amuck, because of pressure from others. A task needs to be done and no one is rising to the front to do the job, or perhaps, we are so zealous in the LORD that we want to be involved and will do anything and everything we are asked to do…and then some! Zeal is wondering! However, we have to run our zeal by the LORD FIRST! Not everything we’re presented with or asked to do by others is the LORD’S plan for us. On the other hand, we must not sit back and remain idle, either. Knowing where the LORD would have us to serve and how He would have us to serve, takes much prayer. And, then, it takes action. Once we accept a ministry or serve for the LORD, a good principal for us to follow is to finish that which we begin, in the LORD and for the LORD. Paul’s pattern is one that mimics God, for God does not “leave His work of grace unfinished.” Philippians 1:6 says this: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
The question I would ask you is this: What has the LORD required of us individually? What would He have us to do? Not, what we would like to do, but what would HE have us to do? Are we willing to do whatever He asks…and then, to do it?! Are we willing to not grow weary in well-doing and see the task to the end?
Titus was such a man. He was always willing to do the LORD’S will and to finish it.
Question 2 – Setting things in order affected who?
Men who qualified, verses 6-9, and were chosen for the office of elder; his wife and his children, verses 6-7, other people, verse 8, “good men” and those who contradict sound doctrine, that is the “gainsayers”, verse 9. (The ‘gainsayers’, according to Ryrie study Bible notes, are those who contradict sound doctrine.)
*a.) Note that this Epistle served not only as Titus’ credentials but also as a rule for Titus’ guidance. And, for today, it is also a code of rules for all time, as to the qualifications of elders and the mode of enforcing doctrine and duty.
*b.) Martin Luther, in speaking of the Epistle to Titus, said, “This is a short Epistle, but yet such a quintessence of Christian doctrine”, that this, the purest essence of the most typical example of Christian doctrine, “and composed in such a masterly manner, that it contains all that is needful for Christian knowledge and life.”
(a.) George Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement, pg. 326
(b.) The Unfolding Drama of Redemption, W. Graham Scroggle, pg. 239.
In verses 5-9 we will see the nature of the government in the church and then in verses 10-16, we will discover ‘the why’ it is necessary.
The principal office in the Church is that of bishop or elder.
Question 3 – From verses 6-9, what are the qualifications of a bishop?
I. His general qualifications: A bishop must be blameless, verse 6.
He must be a man of exemplary character and behavior in his private life. One who is not called in question or called to account.
In the Pastoral Epistles by Homer Kent, (page 213), we read that “the gender of the terms in this passage is masculine, showing that the overseer must be a male who cannot be successfully accused on any of these important matters.” Homer also says, “the reasons for such a high standard is the fact that overseers are stewards of God’s property.”
The Bible calls such a man as this: “blameless”.
II. His family qualifications: These are two-fold: the husband of one wife, and have faithful children, verse 6.
(a.) One wife – There was to be no polygamous unions.
We can see a picture of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the church, the bride. There’s only ‘one’.
(b.) Faithful children – That is, children who were believers; children who were not unruly; children who would not bring shame to their parents.
Children who were pagans would be a great handicap to an elder. And, also, having children who were believers, but were not respectful or well-behaved, ‘unruly’, as the Bible puts it, would also prove to be a source of embarrassment to their father. If he could not rule over his own family, how was he to be a good steward of God’s people? How could God trust such a man with this precious responsibility?
III. His personal qualifications:
He is to be a good steward of the things of God, not self-willed, a man that controls his temper, a man that is not a drinker, nor one that uses physical force, one not greedy of gain, hospitable, one who loves goodness, verses 7b-8a.
Let’s take these individually. He must be a good steward or caretaker of things that pertain or belong to God. What follows will help the elder be a good steward.
WHY should the elder not be one that is self-willed?
(a.) The elder is not to be a man that is interested in pleasing himself, that is, interested or to take pleasure in things for himself. He’s not a ME!, ME!, ME! person. This qualification involves not just ‘things’ that give pleasure, but also his behavior and his temperament. He is not to be a person who is self-willed and arrogant. These are not qualities that would make for good leadership and the good of the body of Christ. Such a man would be rivaling what God would have him to be and to do for the body, with what he wants to do either for himself, or in his own way. This type of man doesn’t lead and follow the LORD; this type of man dictates according to his own will.
When we see such a person as this, one that doesn’t meet these personal qualifications as a Pastor, it should send up a ‘red flag’ to the body of Christ as one who should not be in authority as their pastor.
Continuing with the qualifications, why do you think the elder must be someone who is not soon angry? Not given to wine? Not a striker? Not given to filthy lucre?
(b.) Not soon angry – In the Greek, ‘orgilon’, this speaks of one who is “irascible, prone to anger.” – Pastoral Epistles by Homer Kent, page 214. He must be a man who has self-control.
(c.) Not given to wine – We can see how being a drinker could certainly trigger the anger; how he could become quarrelsome; how his judgments concerning that over which he is a steward, could be flawed; how drink could lead to ‘being a striker’.
(d.) Not a striker – This refers to one who is pugnacious. One who is ready to use his fists to resolve a problem.
(e.) Filthy lucre – One that is not shamefully greedy of gain.
The Bible speaks to us of not serving both God and mammon…money. These are the ways of the world…and not how believers should respond concerning money. How much more for the elder to not be guilty of filthy lucre.
(f.) Hospitable – The root of this word: ‘philoxenon’, means loving strangers.
In these Biblical times, there were not many places suitable to accommodate those traveling. Inns were often scenes of brawls and vice. The elder was to be one that would welcome the traveler.
Homer Ken, Jr. adds that hospitality also had other opportunities to be given as concerning widows and orphans. – The Pastoral Epistles, Published by Moody Press.
(g.) Lover of good men – This is an extension of being hospitable. The elder is a lover of goodness: this is, a devotion to all that is good and beneficial; a devotion to everything worthwhile.
The elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, faithful children, a man who is a good steward of the things of God, one who is not self-willed, not soon angry, not a drinker or a striker, nor one greedy for money, one who is hospitable and devoted to everything that is good and beneficial.
When we look at these qualifications thus far, we can see how exceptional the elder must be and the great responsibility he bears before God and for the responsibility for God’s people. It is a very straight line to have to walk. Let’s now continue with a look at his mental, spiritual and moral qualifications.
IV. His mental qualifications – The elder is to be sound-minded. Sound-minded is also synonymous with being spiritually sober. Sober in judgment, calm so as to not be turned aside by false teachings. Again, referring back to “not given o wine”, the elder needs to be always controlled by the Spirit and to be without any impairments to his physical or mental capacities. Sound-minded!, verse 8b.
V. Spiritual and Moral Qualifications – Verse 8b, “just, holy, temperate” and verse 9, “holding fast” to God’s Word as he has been taught…so that he may teach others.
Let’s take these one at a time:
(a.) Righteous – (‘dikaion’) refers to being a ‘just’ man. The elder’s conduct must be one that meets with God’s approval.
(b.) Holy – (‘hosion’) refers to the elder being holy “in the sense of his being unpolluted”. The elder must be holy in themoral and religious sense; his walk and his talk should match.
(c.) Temperate – refers to the elder being self-controlled (‘egkrate’). He is a man that keeps himself in check and restrained in every way, and in the Greek, it particularly refers to sensual appetites.
(d.) Holding fast the faithful word of God – That is, the elder is one who must cling to the word which is characterized as faithful, trustworthy, or reliable (‘pistou’). – Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Pastoral Epistles, page 215)
Kent goes on to say “the elder must hold to God’s Word which is in accordance with the recognized body of Christian truth taught by the apostles”, Acts 2:42.
Why? That he might be able to encourage and exhort those whom he oversees, according to the Scriptures; according to God’s truth! It is his responsibility to always “ward off error” and promote truth.
From these qualifications thus far, we see from these very ‘public’ qualifications, the elder must be ‘loyal to the Word of god, able to teach, faithful as God’s steward.
Question 4 – Why did Paul require Titus to find men with these qualifications?
To find men with these qualifications would certainly be a challenge in Crete. They would be exceptional men in any society, but especially, at that time, in Crete. Why, you may ask? We find the answer to this in the answer to Question 5.
Continuing in Titus 1:10-16, we now come to the second portion of this lesson: The Offenders. Before continuing with the questions, take time to reading these verses now.
Question 5 – What is the reputation of the Cretans from (a.) verse 10? (b.) verse 12?
(a.) As we see from verse 10, they are unruly, vain talkers, deceivers; the Cretans are insubordinates; they are disobedient to God’s Word. Their talk is empty (vain), achieving no useful purpose.
(b.) We see in verse 12, God’s Word says, they are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons (slow bellies).
The “prophet of their own” that verse 12 refers to is Cretan poet, Epimenides. (Ryrie notes that he “exaggerated for effect”).
Question 5 – What further instruction does Paul give to Titus?
From verse 11, Paul’s instructions to Titus is to STOP the mouths of these OFFENDERS. The primary mean of “STOP” is to ‘gag, muzzle, bridle’ the mouths of these Cretans.
And in verse 13, Titus is to rebuke them sharply. Why would Paul give these instructions? Deceivers within the congregation of believers were not to be tolerated. They needed to be silenced by Titus and the soon-to-be appointed elders.
In verse 11, we see they are upsetting families by teaching a false doctrine; and their motivation to do this? PROFIT!! They choose to gain money for their own pockets, at the demise of another. Their evil ways would cause families to wander away from the truth. They certainly had no interest in a holy God, nor heeding his Word. Their only interest was themselves.
“We are not told how the silencing was to be accomplished. However, in these verses that follow, we have some examples of Paul’s intent.”
I Timothy 1:3, 4 – teaching only the Gospel; 1:20 – a remedial discipline of Hymenaeus and Alexander who had made “shipwreck” their faith. Ryrie says they were to be refused any help or fellowship from the church, and 4:7, “refusing old wives’ fables”.
II Timothy 2:16, 21, 23 – rebuking brings soundness in the faith; and 3:10, reject heretics after they have been warned twice.
“At first the errorist should be tenderly admonished so that he may be won for the truth. If he refuses, he must be sharply reprimanded and told to desist. The person who persists in his evil ways must be shunned by the church and disciplined. The supreme measure, excommunication, may have to be employed in order to safeguard the church and in order to bring the sinner to repentance”. – New Testament Commentary, William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, Publishers, page 351.
Question 7 – What is the character of the Cretans?
We find this answer in verses 14, 15 and 16. They were given to Jewish fables, or myths. They were Gnostics, that is, they had knowledge, of a sort, on Old Testament Scriptures (Adam, Moses, etc.,) or they were legalistic, I Timothy 1:6, and spread their stories, turning men from God’s truth, verse 14.
In verse 15, we read their “minds and consciences are defiled”.
In verse 16, they profess to be believers, but yet their lives deny God. They are reprobates.
We can see from this account the great responsibility given to Titus by Paulo. His appointing of elders to head p the various groups of believers in Crete would not be a trivial meaningless job, nor a responsibility that would be accomplished easily. Still, with great confidence, Paul knows Titus is the man for the job.
Question 8 – Despite the reputation, the character and the false profession in Crete, what is Paul’s direction to Titus?
Titus 2:1 – “Speak the things which become sound doctrine…”
We see that Titus certainly was charged with a humongous task before him in Crete. Finding men to be elders with these qualifications within the Cretan society would not be an easy task. But Titus was up for the challenge and ready to put his hands to the plow. He was a bold and faithful man of God.
Whenever God gives us something to do that is ‘foreign’ to us, we must realize that we are not alone in the working out of the task. God gives us what He knows we need and what He knows we can accomplish. If we are holding to faith and looking to Him for guidance and the wisdom to accomplish the task.
How do we meet the things the LORD presents to us when a new and unfamiliar challenge is placed before us? Will we trust the LORD knows what He is doing? Will we, by faith, go forward?
In our next lesson we will begin in Titus 2 and study on The Practice of Believers. Thank you for stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate.