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.
II. Paul's Ministry in
A. 4th and
final missionary journey: under centurion escort to Rome (Acts
1. Ship reached Fair
Havens and remained there less than a month.1
B. Later, after Paul's
release from prison in Rome, Paul appears to have returned to Crete
1. Paul leaves Titus in
Crete and eventually returns to western Greece where, in
approximately A.D. 65, some 2-3 years before Paul's final
imprisonment and death, he is now writing to Titus.
A. Titus 1:5
1. Why was Titus in Crete?
a) Titus was left in
Crete to take care of ministry needs that remained after Paul’s
2. Why were elders needed?
a) Shepherds - to nurture, guide, and develop the
fledgling Christian community in Crete.
b) Responsibility requires some measure of
c) What is an elder?
(1) Presbuteros (Tit.
1:5) = “older.” Age brings:
(a) Experience –
school of hard knocks, Christian experience.
(b) Wisdom –
practical ability to apply Christian teachings to real-world
(c) Knowledge of subtle
dangers which others do not see.
(d) Less subject to the
dangers of pride 1 Timothy 3:6 not a novice, lest being puffed up
with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
(e) Increase in grace –
as experience the need for grace.
(f) Meekness –
ability to disagree with grace, but without compromising important
(b) Oven abused in an
unbiblical attempt to build a hierarchical structure beyond what
i)Roman Catholicism's “college of bishops”: Archbishop,
Cardinal, Patriarch, Pope.
(c) Tip: where pointy
hats, miters, and ornate vestments predominate, its generally a clue
to look elsewhere for a place of fellowship.
i)Elaborate uniforms to enforce the separation “clergy”
from the so-called “laity.”
ii)Undermining the priesthood of all believers.
(3) Poimēn =
shepherd, most often a verb (action) rather than a noun (position).
(a) Tend, feed, guide,
(b) Equivalent to
Episkopos – the Episkopos are to “shepherd” the
church of God (Acts 20:28).
(c) Reflecting the
characteristics of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
i)1 Peter 5:1-4 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.
(1) “In every city” - does this mean
one elder leading each of several churches in the city?
(a) How many churches in each city during the time
of fledgling Christianity?
(b) Acts 11:30 – First mention of the term
“elders” in relation to the NT church.
Antioch sent an offering by Paul and Barnabas to the elders (plural)
of the (single) church in Jerusalem.
(c) Acts 15 – Both apostles (plural) and
elders (plural) in the church in Jerusalem.
(d) Acts 21:18 – When Paul visits Jerusalem
after his 3rd missionary journey, James and all the
elders (plural) were present.
(2) “In every church”
(a) Acts 14:23 – Passing through Lystra,
Iconium, and Antioch, Paul and Barnabas appoint elders (plural) in
(b) Acts 20:17 – From Miletus, Paul sends
for the elders (plural) of the church (singular) of Ephesus.
(c) Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants
of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in
Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
(d) 1 Thessalonians 5:12 And we urge you,
brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are
over you in the Lord (presumably in the same fellowship – a
(e) 1 Peter 5:5 – Peter urges the young
believers to submit themselves to their elders (presumably in the
same fellowship – a single church).
(3) Benefits of plural eldership.
(a) Breadth of knowledge concerning the
(b) Breadth of ministry gifting.
(c) Differences in personality and ministry style.
(d) Wisdom in counsel.
(e) Sharing the ministry load.
Moses' father in law: "Both you and these people who are
with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is
too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.”
(g) True accountability.
(h) Continuity of ministry (churches which fall
apart when figurehead steps down or falls).
(4) Practical considerations.
(a) Lack support base to financial support of all
those who are qualified to serve.
(b) Establishing a work where mature believers are
b) Why the need to belabor this seemingly obvious
(1) Human proclivities to elevate a single
(2) As one writer observed: "[Machiavelli
wrote] “a wise prince should devise means whereby his subjects
may at all times, whether favourable or adverse, feel the need of the
State and of him, and then they will always be faithful to him.”
This is consistent with a major and common failing on the part of
those in church leadership. Rather than inviting church members to
maturity in Christ and the independence that comes naturally with
that increasing maturity . . . church leaders often invite members to
become addicted to the sugar high of entertainment, programs, and the
charisma of a dynamic communicator. Not only does this often-applied
approach appeal to the leader’s ego, but for Machiavelli it is
a way to assure that followers will continue to be faithful to that
leader. In other words, singularity and authority demands methodology
that will maintain the continuance of that authority. . . . The
Biblical model is simple indeed. It would appear that mandating a
singular or monocratic leadership, or creating a complete distinction
between a pastor and an elder or between an overseer and a pastor,
represents a shift away from the natural interpretation of Scripture
and the simplicity that results, and a shift toward anthropocentric
and artificial forms of leadership." [Cone, 86,92].
(3) Not just a control/ego issue of the singular
elder: the sheep want to imprint on one man – on a particular
style or personality.
(a) Jer. 5:31 : The prophets prophesy falsely, And
the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it
so. But what will you do in the end?
B. Tit. 1:6 - “If a man is blameless”
- elders are men.
1. There are several
reasons for this biblical distinction that church leadership is
reserved for men only. Two reasons are found in Paul’s first
letter to Timothy wherein Paul gives similar instructions concerning
Church leadership as those found in this letter to Titus.
(1) 1 Timothy 2:11-14
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit
a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in
silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was
not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into
b) First, in 1 Timothy,
Paul appeals to the order of creation of Adam relative to Eve as
establishing God's intention that men should lead (2Ti. 2:13).
c) Second, Paul
indicates that, in general — all else being equal, women are
more easily deceived than men (1Ti. 2:14).
(1) There will always
be individual exceptions which can be pointed to.
(2) However, this
recognizes different characteristics between men and women —
differences which were intentionally designed by God.
(3) Women, generally,
are more relationally/intuitively oriented. Men tend to be
more fact-based and less concerned with preserving relationships when
doing so would be detrimental to the preservation of the truth.
(4) I believe that one
factor contributing to the growing dominance of women in today's
church pulpits is the trend away from doctrine in favor of
emphasizing commonality, universality, and relationship over truth.
d) Third, we find that
the scriptures consistently indicate female leadership over men to be
anomalous and a departure from the plan of God.
(1) The prophetess
(a) It is a
characteristic of false teachers to twist scripture. One such
method is to appeal to the exceptions within Scripture in order to
teach errant views (2Pe. 3:16).
(b) The prophetess
Deborah encouraging Barak to go up against Sisera, the captain of the
army of Jabin, king of Hazor.
(c) Judges 4:8-9 And
Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but
if you will not go with me, I will not go!" So she said, "I
will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you
in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into
the hand of a woman." Then Deborah arose and went with Barak
(d) As if to underscore
this unmanly period in Israel, when Barak finally does set about to
pursue Sisera, it is a woman who kills him in her tent by driving a
peg through his temple (Jdg. 4:22).
(e) It is no accident
that we find this episode recorded in the book of Judges, which is
chock full of ungodly examples illustrating ungodly behavior and
practices outside of God's ideals.
(2) Woman and children
(a) In a
statement which is critical of the practices in Israel, God states
through Isaiah: As for My people, children are
their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who
lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths."
reference to womenmay mean
that wives were unduly influencing their husbands who were rulers, or
that the male leaders lacked vigor.
(3) Jezebel, an
individual who dominated and manipulated her passive husband, king
(a) A model for a
similar individual in the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:20).
(b) Revelation 2:20
"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you
allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to
teachand seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality
and eat things sacrificed to idols.
(c) Not just that she
seduced, but that she was allowed to teach.
(4) Male headship in
the home (1Cor. 11; Eph. 5; Col. 3).
2. We will search the
NT in vain for a single example of a woman in the position of female
apostle, pastor, congregational leader, or elder.
3. What about Paul's
letter to the church at Galatia wherein he states there is “neither
male nor female in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28)?
a) The key phrase is
“in Christ Jesus” - this passage is speaking about
equality in access to and the means of salvation.
b) Using this passage
in an attempt to erase all male/female roll distinctions is to engage
in scripture twisting and make the Holy Spirit contradict Himself in
the many other passages where male/female roll distinctions are
upheld (e.g., 1Cor. 11; Eph. 5; Col. 3).
c) Christians who deny
male headship, either in the church or in the home, make the mistake
of confusing difference in role as necessitating difference in worth
d) Trinity as
4. A woman who believes
she is called by God to be a pastor is simply deceived. And if she is
deceived on something this basic, isn't she already a living
demonstration of the deception which Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 2?
a) As a leader,
already walking in deception, where is she likely to lead the sheep
which choose to be fed by her?
5. Why would a
Christian who knows the word of the Lord on this matter choose to
attend a church led by one or more women?
a) DISCLAIMER: Not
talking about a temporary situation, as on the mission field or in an
evangelistic setting where no qualified male is available.
b) Why would a person
knowingly place a person who is walking in open disobedience to the
plain teaching of the NT in a place of spiritual authority in one's
life? Is it realistic to expect to spiritually prosper under such a
c) What would it say
about our allegiance? Are we being guided by the Scripture or by the
culture? By the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the age?
d) Do we truly love
(1) Luke 6:46 "But
why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I
(2) Obedience is the
most direct, practical, objective way by which we demonstrate our
true love of Christ (Isa. 50:10; Lu. 6:46; John 14:15,21,23-24;
15:10,14; Acts 5:32; 1Jn. 3:24).
e) God is not obligated
to bless practices which are opposed to His Word.
IV. Points of Application
A. First: biblical Christianity is a form of
1. The body of Christ, the Church, is not
“disorganized religion” -- which many people today seem
2. Not “organized religion” as
practiced in some large Protestant denominations or as the Roman
Catholic church – with a large hierarchical structure above the
level of the local church.
a) Only three levels:
(1) pastor = elder = overseer = shepherd
(3) sheep (and we are all
3. Nor is it a democracy.
4. Nor is it fashioned upon a business model.
5. Leadership, but not as the world conceives of
leaders – servant leadership which exhibits humility in
alignment with the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
B. Second: the Church is to be led by men.
1. Recognizing that there will be some situations
where qualified men are temporarily lacking.
2. God’s design is to have
spiritually-minded men at the helm of the local church.
3. Where this mandate is jettisoned:
a) The church is already embracing unbiblical
b) Such a church will be increasingly
open to other deceptions which follow.
c) With women
leading the church, the deceptions will often be characterized by a
tendency to elevate relationship over revealed
is no accident that women pastors are at the forefront of the
ecumenical movement’s embrace and endorsement of unbiblical
lifestyles and beliefs.
such perversions of God’s truth are promoted by both men and
women, but we have no less an authority than Paul himself, writing
under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit warning us that the feminine
gender has a greater proclivity in this area.
the Church is to be led by several men.
there may be temporary or extenuating circumstances which make this
impractical at a given point in time, but the intention should be to
move toward such a leadership model.
are a host of benefits which accrue from the practice of plural
leadership which God has intended for the benefit of His people: both
the shepherds and the sheep.
summary: where all of these Scriptural norms are practiced, the local
church is closest to walking in the will of God in regard to church
government and will benefit accordingly.
Christopher Cone, ed., Practical Aspects of
Pastoral Authority (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press,
Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership
(Littleton, CO: Lewis And Roth Publishers, 1995). ISBN =
ship reached Fair Havens in the latter part of September, and was
detained there by a continuance of unfavorable winds until after
October 5” (Ramsay, p. 322). [Unger, s.v. “Paul”]