A. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you
should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders
in every city as I commanded you-- if a man is blameless, the husband
of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or
insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God,
not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent,
not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good,
sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful
word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine,
both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
A. Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order
the things that are lacking and to appoint elders.”
B. The fledgling Christian community in Crete was
at risk until the “things which were lacking” were
established. This included the appointment of elders to shepherd
believers in each local church.
C. Having examined verses 5 and 6 in our previous
times together, we saw Paul set forth the following requirements
1. FIRST: it is God's ideal for there to be
multiple elders within each church – a plural leadership of
elders functioning within each local congregation.
2. SECOND: the Scripture uses several terms
emphasizing different aspects of the identical role of shepherding
the local congregation.
a) Elder (presbuteros)
b) Bishop or overseer (episkopos)
c) Shepherd or pastor (poimēn)
d) An elder is to be a relatively older, more
experienced, mature individual who is responsible, with other similar
individuals, for overseeing and guarding the local flock in a similar
way that a shepherd tends a flock of sheep.
e) The Scriptures do not support the idea that a
pastor is over a group of elders or that a bishop is over a group of
pastors. Elder = pastor = bishop = overseer = shepherd.
3. THIRD: an elder must be a man – in
accord with the gender-specific roles which God has established
regarding leadership within the church and family.
4. FOURTH: an elder must be 'blameless' –
the Greek term meaning “not
having been called up or arraigned before a judge.” Free from
reproach, not accused of having done anything wrong.
3:7 - “... he must have a good testimony among those who are
5. FIFTH: an elder must be a “one woman man”
- any man who would serve as a pastor/elder and is involved
intimately with a woman must be married and must exhibit consistent
and complete faithfulness to his God-given mate within the marriage.
6. SIXTH: an elder must demonstrate godly
leadership skills within his family – the children of an elder
must benefit from his leadership and instruction within the home as
reflected by their godly behavior.
A. Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop must be blameless,
as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given
to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover
of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding
fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by
sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
1. In verses 7 and 8 Paul continues to emphasize
character - the
personal qualities, or fruit of the Spirit, needed to serve
effectively as an elder.
2. In verse 9 Paul's emphasis shifts to gifting
– the abilities that an elder must possess to fulfill his role
as a ' bishop' or 'overseer.'
B. V7 - “a steward of God”
1. An elder is, ultimately, a steward of
2. Bishop (episkopos – meaning 'one
who watches over' or 'guards')
a) Who is being guarded?
b) Why do they need to be guarded?
c) How are they to be guarded?
d) Paul takes up these subjects in the remainder
of his letter to Titus.
3. Steward (oikonomos)
a) Oikos –
house, nomos –
law or rule.
b) One put in charge of
a household or estate: manager, administrator, trustee
(1) Not the type
of administrator/CEO visionary type many churches seem to be seeking
as their pastor, but a spiritual administrator
or trustee of souls.
4. What does this stewardship entail?
a) 1 Peter 5:1-4 – Peter writing to
believers of the dispersion: The elders who are among you I
exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of
Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving
as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain
but eagerly; nor as being lords over those
entrusted to you, but being examples to the
flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the
crown of glory that does not fade away.
writing to the elders of Ephesus "Therefore take heed to
yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made
you overseers, to shepherd the church of God
which He purchased with His own blood.
c) Stewards do not
own that which they are entrusted with. God is the owner of the
(1) The “flock
of God,” “the church of God.”
purchased with His own blood.”
of each believer.
flock, owned by God, is entrusted
to the leadership of the elders.
(a) Those being
shepherded belong to God to Whom the elders must give account.
13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch
out for your souls, as those
who must give account.
Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be
unprofitable for you.
e) The primary
function of an elder is to serve as an instrument under the Chief
Shepherd to safeguard the souls of those whom God has purchased.
f) As such, an
elder is a tool.
(1) A tool does not
have its own will.
(2) A tool serves
the purposes of the one wielding it.
(3) Each elder is a
tool chosen by God to serve His purposes in the local congregation.
In Acts 20, Paul told the Ephesian elders that is is none other than
“the Holy Spirit [Who] has made you overseers”
(4) In our passage,
Paul is describing two aspects of this “tool of God”
– what does the tool look like? What must an elder's life and
(b) Function –
what does the tool accomplish in its service under God's hand? What
are some of the primary responsibilities of an elder?
(c) As with
any effective tool, the characteristics of the tool are a
prerequisite for its proper function. Character must
(d) A tool might
embody tremendous function, but if its quality isn't up to the task –
and it breaks – it can no longer be used and may even damage
the work in progress.
(e) This is why
character is so key and why Paul focuses on issues of character prior
to gifting or function.
(f) 1 Corinthians
4:1-2 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards
of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that
one be found faithful.
5. Character of an elder
a) V7-8 - Paul contrasts 6 negative traits which
should not be found in the life of an elder with 6 positive traits
which should be found.
(1) Negative: without-blame, not self-willed, not
quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.
(2) Positive: hospitable, a lover of what is good,
sober-minded, just, hold, self-controlled.
b) V7 - Negative – these traits should not
characterize the life of an elder.
(1) FIRST: Blame – as mentioned before, an
elder must not stand accused of wrong-doing, in any legal sense,
especially among “those who are outside.”
(a) If such accusations are true, then the man has
demonstrated character issues which are incompatible with being a
(b) Even if such accusations are ultimately
untrue, the cause of Christ will still be compromised by the churches
appearance of endorsing moral failure. Such an individual should step
aside – placing the cause of Christ ahead of his own personal
desire to serve as an elder.
(2) SECOND: Self-willed – the word used here
denotes one who pleases himself and exhibits arrogance or
stubbornness or will not submit to external authority (2Pe. 2:10).
(a) Plural eldership simply will not work without
room for humility and cooperation among individual elders.
(b) As a tool of God, the elder should not have
his own agenda.
(c) Our culture exalts the self and especially the
self-will (often recast in more politically-correct terminology as a
(d) How often, one can only wonder, are dynamic
leaders with seemingly successful external ministries actually
lacking in humility and driven by self-will behind the scenes? This
is where plural eldership serves as a vital safety check.
(3) THIRD: Quick-tempered – prone to anger.
(a) This does not concern righteous anger where
(b) Paul has in mind a tendency to react to
disagreeable situations by resorting to anger rather than other more
godly means, such as respectful communication.
(c) Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away
wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
(d) Proverbs 25:11-15 - A word
fitly spoken is like
apples of gold in settings of silver. .
. . by long forbearance a ruler is persuaded,
and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.
(e) Remembering that we do not wrestle
with flesh and blood, but with spiritual entities which are not
(f) 2 Timothy 2:23-26 But avoid
foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And
a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to
in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps
will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that
they may come to their senses and escape
the snare of the devil, having been taken
captive by him to do
(4) FOURTH: Given to wine
(a) “Addicted to wine,” a drunkard.
(b) May be listed between “quick-tempered”
and “violent” because these are typical actions of a
person who is addicted to wine.
(c) Straight-forward enough, but often misused in
an unbiblical attempt to mandate that elders or all believers in
general must abstain from any use of alcohol.
(d) In regard to the use of alcohol, Scripture
teaches temperance rather than abstinence – except for cases
where use of alcohol (or other foods) would stumble a brother (Rom.
14:21; 1Cor. 8:9-13).
(e) The Christian means of overcoming sin and
abuse is found by walking in self-control under the power of the
Spirit rather than external legalism which has a tendency to excite
the flesh toward sin (Rom. 7:8-9; Col. 2:23).
(5) FIFTH: Violent – a bully or 'striker'
(a) A person who uses intimidation as a means of
(b) One who seeks argument or enjoys confrontation
by picking a fight.
(c) There are many who are “zealous for the
truth,” but the way in which they uphold the truth is primarily
confrontational and focused on 'winning their point' rather than true
edification or exhortation which has a motive of correction unto
restoration rather than victory.
(6) SIXTH: Greedy for money
(a) The motivation of an elder must not be
(b) This is essentially covetousness and violates
the 10th commandment (Ex. 20:17).
(c) Pastors who view serving as an elder as “just
another profession” and thus are attempting to “climb the
(d) Marked by relatively short periods of service
in any one fellowship.
(e) Always on the look-out for an opportunity to
move to the next fellowship with a larger congregation or bigger
(f) Exacerbated by the secularization of the
so-called “pastoral job market” where churches view the
role of an elder primarily as that of an employee instead of a New
(g) Just as in the business world, there is always
the temptation for a church to attempt to grow numerically through
human means by offering a larger salary to attract the best talent.
(h) Although the Greek word here has the desire
for dishonest gain primarily
in mind, it should be obvious that an elder who is motivated
primarily by financial concerns is unlikely to maintain spiritual
(i) Favoritism toward
largest contributors (Jas. 2:1-6).
(j) Reluctance to
enforce church discipline involving financially influential
(k) Inability to preach
the unvarnished truth due to fiscal liability.
c) V8 – Paul contrasts the preceding
negative characteristics with positive characteristics which should
be found in the life of an elder.
(1) FIRST: Hospitable – (filozenos)
- “exhibiting brotherly love for strangers”
(a) Kind to those he
doesn't know closely.
(b) Not exhibiting bias
toward a person on the basis of their origin or background.
(c) The NT equivalent
of what God told Israel in the OT – that they were to treat
strangers equitably since they too were once strangers in Egypt.
(2) SECOND: Lover of what is good
(a) Having a mindset which is in alignment with
that which God desires.
(b) Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
(c) One who dislikes evil schemes and perversity
and looks to the light rather than dabbling in darkness.
(d) Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever
things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things
are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are
lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is
any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on
(3) THIRD: Sober-minded
(a) Having a sound or healthy mind.
(b) Moderate – the ability to assess things
rightly and balance truths using wisdom to avoid extremes.
(c) Having the ability to curb desires and
impulses so as to produce a measured and orderly life. [Friberg, 373]
(4) FOURTH: Just (dikaios)
(a) One who is honest,
law abiding, and lives morally and ethically.
(b) Whose actions are
informed by Scriptural priorities and who is committed to live
according to Biblical principles.
(5) FIFTH: Holy (hosion)
(a) One who is
concerned to live right before God.
(b) Being in a right
relationship with God – not separated by unrighteous thoughts
(6) SIXTH: Self-controlled (enkratēs)
- “in or with power”
(a) Having a firm hold
over one's desires [Friberg].
(b) One of the fruit of
the Spirit highlighted in Galatians 5 (Gal. 5:3).
(c) One who exhibits a
consistency of living according to God's principles without
(d) Denying fleshly
impulses by the power of the Spirit.
C. V9 - The function of an elder
1. Having described the characteristics God
requires for those who would serve as elders, Paul now begins to give
the “job description” for the position of eldership –
as relates to gifting.
2. Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word as he
has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to
exhort and convict those who contradict.
3. Notice how contrary verse 9 is in light of
modern trends in pastoral ministry! Paul, you can't be serious?!
How old-fashioned and out-of-touch with today's purpose-driven and
customer-oriented ministry focus!
a) “Holding fast ?“– how
inflexible and unyielding!
b) “Sound doctrine?” – now
there's an irrelevant idea
c) “Convict those
who contradict?” - how divisive!
4. Paul has just given
us the character requirements for “applicants” for this
job and now, turning to the job description itself, he is presumably
going to tell us some of the most important elements of the task of
5. FIRST: an
elder is someone who has been taught the Scriptures.
His primary responsibility is to know God's Word – not business
acumen, not oratory skill, not motivational speaking, not house and
hospital visitation – as helpful as all these may be in their
6. SECOND: an
elder must hold fast to the faithful word.
Make no mistake: a minister's faithfulness to God is only as good as
his faithfulness to the Scriptures.
a) What does it mean to
“hold fast” and why is it important?
(1) The Greek word
denotes “to cling to,” “to be devoted to.”
(2) Why such
dramatic imagery? Apparently there will be forces actively working to
break the elder's hold on the Word – to move him away to
something else: anything else.
(3) Satan doesn't care
what it is that supplants the Scriptures from their rightful position
at center stage! Emotion, entertainment, ministering to felt or real
physical needs, spiritual activities – it really doesn't matter
so long as the minister's hold on the word is compromised or broken.
(4) As the elders move
away, so goes the fellowship!
(5) One of the first
questions we should ask ourselves when evaluating a potential elder
or when seeking a place of fellowship is what place do the Scriptures
have in the activities of the elders?
b) Assuming an
elder is “holding fast,” the next question is what does
he see himself as holding fast to? In his estimation, how faithful
is the Word?
(1) The investment that
an elder is willing to make in apprehending the Scriptures and making
them known will never be greater than his view of the reliability of
the Scriptures. Does the elder believe the Scriptures to be worthy of
complete trust in all matters they touch upon?
(2) When seeking a
place of fellowship it is critical to establish what the elders think
about Scripture! Is it inerrant? Is it inspired in all its parts and
on all matters it touches?
7. THIRD: an elder must
be able to exhort and convict those who contradict.
a) This is the ultimate
purpose for his knowledge of and steadfast hold upon that which he
views as faithful Scripture.
b) Although we know
from 1 Timothy 5 that not every elder will labor in the Word and
doctrine (1Ti. 5:17), this ability to exhort and convict from a
knowledge of God's Word should be the ability of every elder. Why?
Simply because it is impossible to be a spiritual leader
c) Correction and
growth involve both positive and negative elements.
– the same Greek word which describes “the Comforter”
or “Helper” - the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promised to send
in His stead (John 14:16).
who is “called alongside” to render needed assistance.
elders explain and uphold God's Word to encourage and assist
believers as they progress in their Christian walk by the power of
the Holy Spirit working together with the received Word.
exhortation,, the elders, as shepherds, lead the sheep in the right
direction – the sheep are already motivated and willing to go.
– to reprove, show someone his fault, convince someone of his
be they unbelievers or untaught sheep, contradict (antilegontas)
– speak against – the truth of God.
elders, as shepherds, attempt to turn these from their path and point
them in the right direction. In many cases, those who contradict
remain steadfast in their belief their direction is the correct one
and that it is the shepherds who are lost.
all ministry is encouragement and smiles – some aspects of
Scriptural ministry involve correction, conflict and possibly
elders embrace the responsibility of exhortation but shy away from
their responsibility to convict where required. Where there remains
an unwillingness to convict the truth will be sacrificed on the altar
of peace. A Biblically balanced ministry will embrace both
exhortation and conviction.
8. FIFTH: V9 - “by
a) What is the basis
upon which exhortation or conviction can take place?
doctrine – correct, whole, or well-grounded teaching.
c) Spiritual growth and
safety as a Christian are predicated upon receiving sound teaching
from God's Word.
is the reason why Satan seeks to unseat the teaching of Scripture
from the place of central focus in any Church.
e) Anything and
everything in the church must take second place to the teaching of
sound doctrine – no matter how desirable and worthy it may seem
– because this is the God-ordained means by which believers
grow in Christ (Rom. 6:17; 1Pe. 2:2).
(1) 1 Timothy
4:13-16 - Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to
doctrine. . . . Take heed
and to the doctrine.
Continue in them, for in doing this you
will save both yourself and those who hear you.
IV. Points of Application
A. What should we look for in spiritual leaders?
1. I would submit that these qualities and
priorities which Paul says are to characterize those who we would
submit to as spiritual leaders under Christ are not those which many
believers seem to look for when they evaluate a potential place of
2. Isn’t it interesting to see what Paul
doesn't mention? Slick talk or appearance, a forceful or
charismatic personality, being an inspirational visionary or a
dynamic administrator, demonstration of supernatural gifts, oratory
gifts, or having widespread influence.
3. Neither has there been any mention of the
ability to establish and promote programs and activities with a view
toward keeping everyone busy and feeling engaged.
B. The bottom line
1. A person
in spiritual leadership must be a mature Christian manifesting the
fruit of the Spirit. Otherwise, great damage can be done – both
to the elder and those under his influence. Fruit must precede
a) One is reminded of the words of Paul in Romans
2 Romans 2:21 - You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach
yourself? . . .
2. Elders must have a sound grasp of Scripture and
be willing to take unpopular stands to uphold its truths. The primary
responsibility of an elder involves knowing and making known the
Scriptures through sound teaching.
3. To the degree God's
people compromise these requirements or, more commonly, substitute
other requirements in place of these, we will impede the work of God
in our midst and compromise our testimony as people who know God.
Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical
Lexicon of the Greek New Testament,
Baker's Greek New Testament library, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker