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
C. This included the appointment of elders to
shepherd believers in each church. As we saw last time:
1. FIRST: the goal is for there to be multiple
elders within each church – plurality of eldership.
2. SECOND: the Scripture uses equivalent terms
which all describe a single role: elder (presbuteros) = bishop or
overseer (episkopos) = shepherd or pastor (poimēn).
a) Elders are to be relatively older, experienced,
mature individuals who are responsible for overseeing and guarding
the flock in a similar way that a shepherd tends a flock of sheep.
3. THIRD: elders are men – in accord with
the gender-specific roles which God has established within the family
A. Titus 1:6
1. The office of elder requires both character and
gifting by God, but notice how in both relevant passages Paul begins
with character qualifications
and only afterward discusses capabilities.
a) IMPORTANT –
in God’s economy, both character and gifting are needed, but
character has the higher priority. Gifting without
character is a prescription for shipwreck
of the individual, the ministry, and often those under its influence.
b) OBSERVATION –
Believers today seem to have little concern for character and often
follow gifted individuals or ministries lacking in character.
2. Blameless –
aneklētos, a compound word meaning “not accused”
a) Strictly: not having
been called up or arraigned before a judge. Free from reproach, not
accused of having done anything wrong.
b) 1Timothy uses a
slightly different word – anepilēmtos meaning “not
to be laid hold of”. The idea being similar: he has done
nothing wrong and stands without accusation of wrong-doing.
c) It does not mean
‘perfect’ or ‘sinless.’
(1) 1 John 1:8 If we
say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
d) It also does not
mean that everyone likes him.
(1) It means the elder
has not been formally accused of actual wrong-doing, especially
within the community at-large.
3:7 “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who
e) The position of
elder is a natural target for rebellious believers.
(1) As with anyone in a
leadership position, there will always be someone who has a perceived
reason to dislike the leader — typically because the leader is
in a position of spiritual authority and has challenged an
unscriptural practice of another.
(2) If an elder is
walking in wisdom and with deference to the one being disciplined,
then other non-elders in the fellowship generally will not know the
details of what has gone down ‘behind the scenes.’
(3) Elders won’t
shepherd perfectly, but they are attempting to walk a difficult
balance between leading by example and using God-given authority when
(a) Hebrews 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.
(4) Spurgeon -
“Lectures to my Students” concerning the advice that
those who would shepherd ought to act as if having “one blind
eye and one deaf ear.”
3. Husband of one
a) The Greek literally
reads, “[a] man of one-woman”
b) The phrase must be
important because it appears first on the list of qualities necessary
for church leadership in both Timothy and Titus (1Ti. 3:2,12; Tit.
1:6). Both elders and deacons are to be “one-woman men.”
c) How should this be
interpreted – there is some ambiguity as the phrase stands on
its own which leads to a number of possible meanings [Woods]
(1) If we take it to
mean “never divorced”, this would have a significant
affect upon who is qualified for the position of an elder since
statistics indicate that over 50 percent of all marriages in our day
(both Christian and non-Christian) end in divorce.
interpretations have been put forth in church history.
(1) Married to the
being allegorized or spiritualized to mean “the church”.
Married men (with real wives) do not qualify.
(b) Used in support of
the requirement for Roman Catholic priests to be celibate.
(2) An elder must be
married – unmarried men do not qualify.
(3) Only ever married
once, whether before or after becoming a Christian - widowers who
remarry do not qualify.
(4) Never divorced,
either before or after becoming a Christian - widowers who remarry
are acceptable as elders.
(5) Never divorced
after coming to faith - a man who is divorced while a Christian does
(6) Monogamy –
presently married to only one wife. A polygamist does not qualify.
(7) Moral husband for
all time – any husband who has ever been unfaithful does not
qualify. (Although unfaithful, the man may not have been divorced.)
(8) Moral husband in
the present – for a sufficient period that wisdom suggests he
qualifies for consideration as an elder.
e) Principles to
consider when evaluating the possible meanings
(1) Concerning the
possibility that it indicates that an elder must be a married man.
(a) Paul elsewhere
emphasizes that unmarried individuals can serve God with greater
dedication and less distraction (1Cor. 7:8,25-33).
marriage was required in order to have experience managing a family
produce children which could then be examined for their faithfulness,
what about married couples to whom God does not grant fertility?
is no indication that either Paul or Timothy were married (or had
monogamy – this was not an issue in the Roman culture outside
of Palestine. Also, it is said that the wife of a deacon must be a
“one-man woman” (1Ti. 5:9) – are we to conclude
that polyandry (a woman with multiple simultaneous husbands) is
meant? This was never an issue in that culture.
the other qualities which Paul mentions concern the qualifications of
an elder emphasize the individual’s present
to whether remarried widowers are excluded, in Romans 7 and 1
Corinthians, Paul indicates that after the death of the first spouse,
the marriage bond is legitimately broken thus allowing the surviving
spouse to remarry (Rom. 7:2-4; 1Cor. 7:39). Therefore, the surviving
remarried spouse is no longer bound to the deceased.
considering post-conversion divorce, we must remember that not all
divorcées are morally culpable.
granted permission for people to divorce on the basis of adultery
(Mat. 5:32; 19:9).
spouse could initiate divorce against the desire of the husband.
1 Corinthians 7, Paul indicates that an unbelieving spouse who
desires to depart from a believer should not be opposed if it leads
believers are forever limited by their pre-conversion sins, then is
their really true forgiveness and restoration to be found in Christ?
And what are we to make of God’s restoration of individuals
such as Moses (guilty of murder), David (guilty of adultery and
murder), and Paul (accomplice to murder)?
it logical to preach reconciliation and cleansing from all sin,
including murder as in the case of Moses, David, and Paul and then
hold up divorce as a more serious sin which permanently disqualifies
a man from ever being considered as an elder?
we experience less forgiveness and grace after
we are no longer enemies of God, but among the redeemed?
appeal of legalism and judgmental-ism to the flesh.
to God as a needy debtor of His grace and restoration, how quickly
having experienced it’s healing power we throw it off when our
gaze subsequently turns to take in our brothers and sisters in
other commentators and interpreters on this passage can be an
instructive, if depressing experience: a bewildering and arbitrary
collection of moralizing and limitation which serve in the main as a
healthy reminder to rejoice that our fellow man is not in the place
must be married, he can’t be married. He can never have been
divorced. He can’t have been widowed. If widowed, he can never
remarry... on and on it goes – much of it sorely out of touch
with the tenor of the entire New Testament teaching concerning
legalism and grace.
a man who is presently a faithful husband to one woman
over a sufficient period of time that wisdom suggests qualifies him
for consideration as an elder – just like the other
characteristics which follow.
like Moses, David, and the Apostle Paul were all guilty of far more
serious sins, yet following repentance and restoration, subsequently
served in leadership roles.
stance is more difficult and requires great wisdom and forgiveness,
but accords more closely with the great truths of grace taught within
with many other elements of New Testament truth, walking in the
Scriptural balance requires greater dedication.
requires less maturity and responsibility to walk in legalism, but
this seriously perverts the forgiveness and grace which are
absolutely critical components of the gospel message!
4. Having faithful
a) Faithful –
does this mean they must be believers?
children who believe” (NASB95), “his children are
(2) One commentary
makes, what seems to me, to be a very presumptuous statement: “It
must be supposed that a Christian father who has unbelieving children
is himself a recent convert or a very careless Christian.”
state, He who could not
bring his children to faith, how shall he bring others? [JFB,
(4) One wonders if
these folks have ever raised children or observed real families?!
(5) More importantly,
what does Scripture teach elsewhere concerning salvation?
(a) Is coming to faith
simply a matter of good instruction, godly example, and a wholesome
(b) If the church at
large did an exemplary job of presenting the gospel and living it
out, would the entire world flock to Christ?
election – does the elect include every child of an elect
i)What about situations where only one parent is a believer?
ii)How about situations (which we’ve all experienced) where
several children are brought up identically in the same home under
the same parents, but respond differently to the Christian faith? Was
it a difference in the conduct of the father in the home that was the
ultimate determining factor?
about the Scriptural truth that each individual
is responsible before God — and that one person can never
“make” another come to faith?
iv)John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the
right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of
the will of man, but of God.
(6) Jesus chose Judas
to be His disciple. If anyone had a perfect teacher and an
environment that would have assured coming to faith, wouldn’t
it have been Judas? Yet we know he did not come to faith, but
(7) Letter to Timothy
clarifies that this concerns faithful behavior subject to godly
discipline rather than being born-again, which no father, exhort
– teach – pray – as he might, can guarantee:
(a) 1 Timothy 3:4-5 one
who rules his own house well, having his children in
submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule
his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
Timothy 3:12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling
[their] children and their own houses well.
(8) Given the compass
of Scriptural teaching concerning the process of salvation, it is
best to understand this passage according to the reading adopted by
the NKJV: the children of an elder are to be faithful, that
is, reliable, trustworthy – whether born again or not.
(9) Here we can
agree with the venerable commentator Matthew Henry: And,
as to his children, having
obedient and good, brought up in the true Christian faith, and living
according to it, at
least as far as the endeavours of the parents can avail.[Henry, Tit. 1:6-16]
5. Not accused of
dissipation or insubordination
a) Dissipation –
which shows lack of concern or thought for the consequences of an
action—‘senseless deeds, reckless deeds, recklessness’
(2) a lack
of appreciation for how their actions affect others
(3) out of
5:18 – describes the effects of being ‘drunk with wine’
out of control – not subject to the father’s authority,
or authority in general
c) As Paul
makes clear in his letter to Timothy, the qualities of a good father
within the home are a requirement for service in a similar role in
motivating children to discover and develop their God-given gifts.
(4) Firm authority where needed (and it will
always be needed at times!)
IV. Points of Application
A. Christian Ministry has high standards.
1. Character is a prerequisite for
effective gifting – they must not be separated.
2. Gifting without character results in damage.
Damage to believers and damage to the cause of Christ.
3. The tendency in our time is to focus on gifting
to the detriment of character. The results are both evident and
B. The primary measure of a man’s character
is reflected in his treatment of his immediate family.
1. His wife
a) It is no accident that one of the first
requirements Paul mentions in both passages concerning the
qualifications of an elder is that he be a “one woman man.”
b) Steadfast loyalty and faithfulness.
c) Sexual purity.
d) Devotion to the partner God has given.
e) The most intimate relationship possible this
side of heaven.
f) Encouragement, protection, gentleness.
g) Trust – will it be earned and held?
2. His children
a) Do they respect him, even when they disagree?
b) Does he nurture them – or frustrate them?
3. 24/7 relationship – impossible to make it
out to be different than it is.
a) The man’s wife and his children are the
litmus test of who He and how he behaves is in close relationship
C. The Christian walk involves enormous grace and
1. Lack of forgiveness and legalism which
characterize many churches mar the face of Christianity
a) Observers who are outside fail to see the
enormous forgiveness and restoration which is only found in true
b) Believers, having come to faith, can face the
cruel and unbiblical reality of a congregation which judges them more
harshly than Christ and refuses to forgive that which is now past –
whether prior to coming to faith or after.
2. We experience
(and extend) no less grace after having come to faith than before
coming to grace. Christianity is all about grace!
3. Grace with
Wisdom and in light of true repentance and Biblical process.
22 years, he served as pastor of New Life Church operating from a
campus in northern Colorado Springs with a congregation of 14,000.
b) In November 2006, a male prostitute and masseur
alleged that over a period of 3 years Haggard had paid him to engage
in sex and also purchased and used methamphetamine.
c) A few days later Haggard resigned from all of
his leadership positions.
d) On February 6, 2008, the new pastor at New Life
Church, former home to Haggard, issued a press release announcing
that Haggard had requested to leave the team created to "restore"
him and that as Haggard's restoration is "incomplete", and
that he was not welcome to return to vocational ministry at New Life
e) On January 23, 2009 . . . officials from
Haggard's former church announced that a young male church member had
come forward in 2006 and that there was an "overwhelming pool of
evidence [of an] inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship [that]
went on for a long period of time [with Haggard]. Haggard's successor
said the church reached a six figure settlement with the man, who was
in his early 20s at the time.
f) On June 1, 2010 Haggard announced that he
intended to start a new church in Colorado Springs. On June 6, 2010
the first meeting of the St. James Church occurred with Ted Haggard
as the Pastor at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
g) This is a man who, during his most intimate
relations with his wife, knowingly exposed her to life-threatening
risks without her knowledge. This is a most extreme violation of
trust and evidence of selfishness!
h) Mr. Haggard has prematurely cut off the
brothers who were overseeing his healing and restoration process and
has entered ministry in a pastoral role after an extremely short
period of reflection and healing.
i) The fact that he would seek to shepherd others
so soon and after such deep betrayal of his wife and family is a big
j) This is not biblical wisdom – those who
place themselves under such a leader have only themselves to blame!
(1) Gifting – I’ve seen this man at
work personally at a missions conference some years ago.
(2) Character – I mentioned my suspicions to
Deb way before any of this became public.
(3) Here we go again: gifting without character!
5. As in all things of applied Biblical wisdom –
there is a balance.
a) Yes, complete
restoration and forgiveness can be found in Christ at any stage in
b) Yet it is also
presumptuous and spiritually reckless to promote one’s self or
another as being suited to lead God’s people relatively soon
after a serious betrayal of trust and a questionable period and
process of healing.
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on
the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), Tt 1:6–16.
Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset
et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and
New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.,
1997), Tt 1:6.
Newport J. D. White, The Expositor’s
Greek New Testament (Grand
Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1960), 4:187.