Around 63 A.D. between his first and second imprisonment in Rome Paul, known as the apostle to the gentiles wrote a letter to Titus, of of his appointed leaders of the church in Crete, an island 100 miles southeast of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea.
Converted to Christianity by Paul, through the numerous mentions of Titus throughout the new testament we know he was of Greek origin and eventually became a missionary serving under Paul’s authority.
Described as the “guide book for churches” Paul’s letter to Titus covers a wide range of church essentials.
“1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” (Titus 1:1-3)
In his greeting to Titus Paul mentions the promise made by God onto those who have faith and knowledge in the hope of eternal life. This promise, made before any among us were born will be fulfilled upon judgment day, when all will bow before the throne and either be praised or become a victim of a self inflicted curse.
In his greeting to Titus Paul recognizes his duty as appointed leader of God’s church. Then the apostle calls Titus as a “true son” referring to their position within the family headed by Jesus Christ.
“4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” (Titus 1:4)
Paul now explains why he left Titus behind during their last visit to Crete. Like most churches of the time, to prosper and ensure the advancement of the gospel the Cretan church was in need of organization. Titus was chosen by Paul to handle this important responsibility.
“5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” (Titus 1:5)
Paul uses the Greek word “epidiorthoō” as the task assigned to Titus which translates to “straighten further” or “arrange additionally”. While the Cretan church had been solidly founded through the strength of the gospel it was in need of structure and leadership. Titus was chosen by Paul to find and appoint suitable leaders throughout the island.
Paul then describes the character required for someone to be appointed as a church elder. While these verses continue to stir controversy among the church today, there is nothing vague as to the biblical requirements for church elders then and now.
“6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” (Titus 1:6)
Elders must be men, not women. They must be married with mild mannered children, single men or remarried men, or men without children whose teaching has not been tested need not apply.
“7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” (Titus 1:7)
Paul’s description calls for a blameless man, not a perfect one. A blameless person lives an upright life, not a wicked life. While a blameless church deacon may still sin, he will not allow sin to control or define him therefore eliminating accusation, or blame hence blameless.
“8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:8-9)
The apostle calls on Titus to appoint men who know the word of God and are ready to teach it onto those who will listen. Elders must also possess the ability to rebuke those who choose to stray from the narrow path.
“10 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” (Titus 1:10-11)
Here Paul warns Titus of the Jewish or “circumcised” deceivers who need to be silenced, or exposed as false teachers so to protect the integrity of the church and gospel.
“12 Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.” (Titus 1:12-14)
Paul quotes the Cretan poet Epimenides who wrote about the Cretans around 600 B.C. Resident of the island did not have a good reputation throughout the Mediterranean and Paul saw to it leaders of Christ’ church would hold themselves according to the truth and do away with the Cretans’ reputation.
“15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” (Titus 1:15-16)
In his wisdom Paul then writes a comparison between the pure and impure which remains true today. Some among the Cretan church had reverted to Jewish ways calling on church members to abide by the Jewish law which divides what is pure and what is not.
Paul reminds Titus that what defiles a man is not that which surrounds him but what is within. Just as the Cretans we are to focus on Jesus Christ rather than rituals which are not biblical.
When church leadership is concerned, the word of God is clear. Though it is true the word of God never returns void, it is also true those who oppose or ignore the word open themselves to the wrath of God. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Paul,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre