Titus: More Than the “Titus 2 Woman” Part 2



Let’s take a look at Titus 1:5-9:

(O)This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and (P)appoint elders in every town as I directed you— (Q)if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[d] and his children are believers[e]and not open to the charge of (R)debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer,[f] (S)as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not (T)be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent (U)or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, (V)and disciplined. He must (W)hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in (X)sound[g] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

{Once again, I’m leaving the footnotes and cross references for the curious at heart.}

At first glance this letter to Titus might appear as though it’s just another book about church order, elders, and so on. We get these virtue and vice lists and might be tempted to gloss over them since we assume they may not pertain to us (elders were to be men in this passage, so we women might think it’s not for us). Wrong! Every word is helpful for understanding the Cretan culture, Paul’s ministry model, Titus’ task on the island, order in the church, and so on. It’s the first time Paul lets us in on why sound doctrine is so important for living the holy life. These leaders of the church would set the precedent for how God’s Word would be lived out in every day life. If they were to be teaching sound doctrine and rebuking those against it, then they most certainly needed to be living it out.

The talk that our teacher (Donna) did was broken into two sections: Put into Order and Character Matters.

Put into Order

Elders were to be appointed in every town on the island. Acts 14:23 reveals how the apostles approached the appointing of elders (and it was no small thing!):

23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Prayer. Fasting. Committed to the Lord. You might say it was a sort of ordination into the ministry. It appears to be as serious as how we might handle the election of a pastor for our church.

Paul tells us in verse 5 that Titus was to put into order what was lacking or what remained. This phrase to put into order was actually a medical term that meant to set broken bones or to straighten those which were crooked. Now 2 Timothy 2:2 gives us more insight concerning what these men were to do:

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

They were called to teach the word which had been entrusted to them. We talked about the idea of being “entrusted” with the Word in the previous post. It is a careful guarding.

So if the appointment of elders was such an important task and not to be taken lightly, this tells us that the organization of the church was important to God. I love that He cares for order! But this is not an order for order’s sake. Order indicates that there’s a purpose behind the plan. It’s been well thought out and is intentional. God cares about and is involved in the smallest details and the big picture.

Character Matters

I love the main descriptor for the elders in verse 6 – to be above reproach. Someone who reproaches another is expressing disappointment or disapproval. The elder was to be above reproach. That would mean that even if someone expressed disapproval, that person would be put to shame because the elder would be above the claim made against them. This word does not mean that the elder is sinless (no one can be sinless), but rather that he is “without indictment or accusation; unchargable.” 1 Peter 3:16 tells us we are:

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Paul then goes on to list (1) domestic character, (2) moral character, and (3) doctrinal character.

1) Husband of one wife. Boy that phrase is loaded with years and years of arguments and interpretation! What did Paul actually mean? If all the scholars were to duke this one out, two arguments stand above them all: the husband should never have been divorced v. the husband should have only one wife (as opposed to many). The Greek phrase literally means one woman man. Regardless of where you fall in your interpretation of this passage, one thing is certain – the elder’s relationship with his wife is paramount. {I tend to believe that being divorced, under certain circumstances, should not disqualify a person from being able to serve as a leader/elder.}

  • Believing children. Wow, Paul! Could we ease up on the controversial topics? Once again this is a touchy subject and can be interpreted in different ways. Are we talking about young children (only in the home, under the father’s care) or also about children who have left the home (no longer under the father’s authority, per se)? We have seen that the parents can do well to raise their children to know the Lord, but those children can later turn from the faith. These are difficult issues that can touch our hearts in very tender ways. Ultimately what we need to remember is that the way a man father’s his children reveals his heart. The idea is that “if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim 3:5)
  • In fact, the next verse calls this man God’s steward (if you take “overseer” to mean “elder”. Please note that these are two different words in the Greek, and some believe this is a separate calling). A steward is someone who manages their Master’s business/property or household. The elders/overseers were to manage God’s household, the Church.

2) Before Paul lists all the things the elders are to be, he tells them what they should NOT be. I find this to be very helpful because it paints a more poignant picture. We can say we are self-controlled in some things, but do we have a quick-temper? The elders were NOT to be arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent, or greedy. Let us keep in mind that these are qualifications for elders and not for all people that come through the church doors. If you are a regular church attender and have issues with arrogance or anger, this does not disqualify you from entering into the fellowship with other believers. However, all Christians should avoid these vices for they are unbecoming to the one who wears Christ’s name (but that’s another conversation for another time).

  • To be arrogant meant to “enjoy oneself or take one’s pleasure” and came to mean “self-pleasing, self-willed, obstinate in one’s own opinion.” Prone to anger didn’t mean having angry moments, but rather that the person was a ticking time bomb. To be a drunkard literally meant to “sit alongside wine”. Violent goes without saying. Greedy for gain implies dishonesty or shameful means of gaining wealth.
  • Verse 8 then lists the virtues (what the elders should be): hospitable, lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Hospitable meant to love strangers. That the elders, leaders in the church, were to be hospitable meant that they were to be servants and not beneath the act of caring for strangers. To love what is good is a fascinating qualification to me. This one carries the idea of being peace-loving and pure (not having a poor/negative attitude and not loving what is bad/evil). To be self-controlled meant to have reign over the mind and the body. Upright and holy really go well together. Disciplined meant to exercise self control or mastery over oneself.

3 Finally Paul tells Titus that the elder must hold firm to the trustworthy Word. These men were to teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.

  • 1 Timothy 4:16 tells us,

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (NIV)

  • And Colossians 1:28 says,

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

  • We should all hold firm to the Word, being careful to watch our doctrine, for by His Word we are made mature. The elders were to teach and warn the people so that they could present God’s Church to Him, mature or complete. Their task was no easy or small task.

To wrap up the passage, Donna read this from Charles Spurgeon:

It is the fashion, nowadays, to talk much about preaching Christ, but not His doctrines. I neither understand nor wish to understand what that expression can mean. Christ without His doctrine? The great Teacher without His teachings? The Lord without His commands? The Christ without His anointing? Jesus, the only Savior, without His precious blood of Atonement? This is Judas-like, to betray the Son of Man with a kiss, to set up a engraved image in the place of Christ, a stuffed idol from which everything is absent that is vital to the true Christ of God! Dear Friends, we love “the doctrine of God our Savior” with all our hearts! We have received it to the joy of our spirit and in it we find the mainspring of motive which leads us to love our God and to walk in obedience to His precepts.

Do you love Christ? Yes? Then you will also love His doctrine.

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