Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 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.
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 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. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
In this letter Paul cuts right to the chase by telling Titus why he had his young protege appoint elders for the towns in Crete. He gives the character qualities which should make an elder, which are directly opposite of what much of the population practiced.
As I read the Letter chapters of the New Testament, I can’t help but marvel at how the Apostles greeted the church leaders. When I first started to read the Bible, I used to think it seemed kind of pompous but as I’ve read and continue to learn, I can understand their desire to remind their recipients of these letters of Whom they stand on, and how everything they do is trying to help more people to know Jesus. It is also a good example for the readers of what a teacher, missionary, disciple should be. And by his reminder that he is a servant of God, he is reiterating that those who are “first, shall be last”. Jesus is the foundation, cornerstone and capstone of the Church, and yet He came to serve God the Father~ the apostles were meant to do the same.
Let’s look at the character qualities expected in elders:
They must be blameless, which means a good witness. Blameless means just that, that they do nothing that they can be blamed for, talked about, prosecuted for, a righteous man. A man who is above reproach.
Faithful to his wife and who raise his kids in the Lord. An upright family man, who’s family are good citizens and respectful in the community. A man who loves and cares for his family, not having any sexual relationships outside of his marriage.
They must not be overbearing, quick-tempered, given to drunkenness, violent, or pursue dishonest gain~ They must instead be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. Again, blameless and of upright moral character. These are very much the fruits of the Spirit, and shows that his outward life is the same as his inward spiritual life is. He is a godly man with a right relationship with the Lord.
Looking at the common society of Crete, it must have been hard to find such men. But like our time, they do exist. No man is perfect, but one can still live blameless lives. One that can be said “That’s a good man right there.” My Dad was one of those- highly respected and no bad word said against him. My Dad wasn’t perfect, but he lived his life responsibly, respectfully, was a model of self control, and always did what was right and good.
And, lastly, they 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.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Many good men can lead blameless lives, but without believing or understanding the Gospel and Scriptures as they are God’s Word, they can fall into teaching false doctrine. We see that in so many churches these days. So many people want comfortable messages, happy feelings and self contentment. I’ve seen some good solidly grounded pastors being let go because they wouldn’t follow the elders’ orders in preaching “positive” messages, but instead they’re accused of teaching too much Bible.
The descriptions of the rest of society, and even among so called Christians are pretty basic and don’t really need a full description. We can tell that some were religious, but without solid teaching, focused instead, like so many religious leaders of the pharisees and sadducees, focused only on rules- outward rituals. This confused and divided people who had heard the simplicity of the Gospel and salvation through grace. It was Paul’s desire that the people stop being fed false teachings, especially from people who were only in it for the money (think prosperity TV evangelists).
In our time when religious people are as quick to demand tolerance and love as secular people do , Paul’s last words in this chapter throw those ideas where they belong, and tells the truth. Truth might sound uncaring, unloving and intolerant, but if it saves people’s souls, it’s better to have the truth than continue in the lies just because they sound better. Corrupted, deceptive and disobedient people have no sense of the Spirit, and truly are good for nothing but dividing, deceiving and confusing- they can’t stand on truth, because they don’t know or ignore the truth for their own gain. Lest Jesus say to them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, people like them need to repent, receive the Lord’s forgiveness, and be baptized in the Spirit.
Next week we’ll see what else Paul has for Titus when we go into chapter 2.
I hope everyone has a blessed day!