Wednesday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

Titus 1:5-9

Qualifications for Elders

It stands to reason that if one is to be a leader in the church of God that he be a godly man, which is what this letter is all about.  This is one of the very reasons Paul left Titus in Crete: To put things in order by appointing elders.  This tells us that a church of Jesus Christ is not a composed of a group of people who may organize themselves any ole way they wish.  There must be elders/overseers/bishops (which we generally call pastors) and deacons, providing the church grows large enough to need them.  (The office of deacon came later in Acts 6:1-7 and is not even mentioned here suggesting that the church in Crete was rather small.)  After these two offices, a church may create others but only as guided by wisdom and the Holy Spirit and always under the dominion of the elder(s) and not vice-versa.

The qualifications for elder (1:5, “overseer,” 1:7) are virtually the same as 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  He must be a “one-woman man,” that is, a man who is married must be faithful to his wife.  Later in history, this came to mean men who had never been remarried due to death or divorce, but such an interpretation squeezes the text for more than it says.  And if he is married with children, he must have children “who are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.”  Again, a toddler would not be a believer, nor would an elder have power over a grown man or woman who had left his household, so we must not torture Paul’s words.  But the obvious point is that a Christian man’s house is his church over which he is pastor; no man can escape this without being called out for dereliction of duty. 

Paul then lists some negative requirements, such as, “above reproach” (meaning respectable and honorable in deportment and behavior).  Then come a quick host of others: arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent, and greedy for gain.  What could be more opposite the conduct of a Christian, much less an elder, than such vicious behavior!  The positive list sets off the differences in a stark manner: hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  Thus, opposed to malice is behavior characterized by love of others and sacrifice. 

But the last qualification sums up the list in such a manner fitting the letter: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”  Again, saving faith and knowledge precedes godly living, and he must teach the faith so that others may live in a godly manner.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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