Summary: Titus and Timothy are both told to select appropriate men to lead the church as Elders. But what does God expect of these leaders and how can we (as the congregation) assist them in their role?

OPEN: In one medical school, the students were complaining that they didn’t see why a class in Physics was necessary for them to be doctors. Finally one student actually challenged the teacher with that question.

The teacher thought about that for a moment and then said “Well, we study Physics because it will help save lives.”

“Save lives?" Someone said “How could a class in Physics possibly save lives?”

The teacher smiled and replied “It saves lives because it keeps ignorant people from becoming doctors.”

APPLY: In every field of endeavor there are certain qualifications workers need to meet.

* Doctors need to know about diseases, and about how the human body works.

* Electricians need to understand the properties of electrical current and know how wire homes/businesses

* Auto Mechanics need to have a working knowledge of most makes of cars and how their engines work.

These are the kinds of information and skills these people need to do their job right.

When a business needs to hire new workers they’ll often post a help wanted ad - and the ad will tell what requirements necessary for someone to be hired for that job.

Here in Titus chapter 1 (and also in I Timothy 3) God has posted a help wanted ad. God wants good Elders to look after His church… and so He tells us what He expects of these men. According to Paul’s instructions to Titus, these are the qualifications for a good Elder:

· He’s a good husband

· He’s a good father

· He’s not someone who has to have his own way (not overbearing)

· He’s doesn’t get angry easily

· He’s not a drinker

· He’s a honest, gentle man who likes helping people out

· It’s obvious he takes his faith seriously and works at living a holy/disciplined life

· He knows the Bible well enough so that he can use Scripture to encourage believers and oppose heresy

· He must have a strong enough character to stand against immorality and false teachers

These are not optional.

These are requirements for the job.

Paul says “an elder must be…” these things (see footnote #1)

But why?

Why must an Elder “be these things”?

Well, because an Elder’s job is unique.

His job is different than the Preacher’s, Deacons, Sunday School Teachers, etc.

For example, there are a lot of preachers out there who could not be Elders.

Did you know that?

An Elder needs to be married, but there are some preachers who aren’t

An Elder needs to have children who are old enough to show what kind of father he is.

But there are many preachers who don’t have kids.

But why MUST an Elder a good Husband and Father. (Footnote#2)

Because the Elders are role models for the rest of the congregation.

· You want to know how to keep your wife happy?

You should be able to watch the Elders and find out how they treat their wives.

· You want to know how to raise obedient and happy kids?

You should be able to ask an Elder and his wife what he did in his family, and be able to get good answers because they have a proven track record in good parenting.

An Elder is supposed to be the model of what God wants EVERY man in the congregation to become.

He’s the measuring rod.

He’s the yard stick of what good Godly Christian men should be.

But that’s not all an Elder is.

He’s also a Pastor. One of the Shepherds of the flock.

Now I know it’s popular in many churches to call the preacher a Pastor, but that’s not how the term is used Biblically. Titus (who was a preacher) is never referred to as a pastor. Neither was Timothy. Neither was Paul (who wouldn’t have qualified anyway since he was not married).

The Bible reserves the title Pastor for the Elders.

Pastor is a job description of what Elders are called to do.

In I Peter 5, Peter talks to the Elders of a certain church and says to them:

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds (pastors) of God’s flock that is under your care…” I Peter 5:1-2a

Now notice - whose flock are the Elders shepherds of? (God’s)

The flock doesn’t belong to the Elders… it belongs to God.

Thus, Elders will be held accountable to God for how they lead/ protect His flock.

ILLUS: George Faull tells of the time a church selected a man as an Elder that the preacher knew had taken the job for the prestige it held. The preacher knew the man was wrong for the job, but because of the method the congregation used to select their Elders he couldn’t do anything about it. So, he asked George to come in and give a talk to the Elders.

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Talk about it...

Greg Nance

commented on Jun 22, 2013

Thanks Jeff for an excellent lesson on elders. We are installing two more this Sunday, Lord willing, and your lesson has been very helpful in preparing for mine. God bless.

Vic Pruett

commented on Jul 22, 2014

great lesson. but the text about husband of one wife could easily be translated "one woman man" rather than "husband of one wife". That would make sense due to the fact that so many men had women on the side that were not their wife. just a thought. thank you for your good work!

Jeff Strite

commented on Aug 4, 2014

Vic, your take on the "one woman man" translation of this text is intriguing. The idea that it was meant to warn against Elders who had mistresses has never been suggested to me before. However, the "mistress" solution to this text fails for one basic reason: ANY Christian who had a mistress would not only not be unqualified for Eldership... he'd be bound for hell. Keeping a mistress is called fornication and anyone who practices this is condemned. It is better to just accept the common understanding that an Elder is a faithful husband who has not gone through divorce. Such a man stands as a beacon of what God wants of other men in the congregation.

Roger Dalton

commented on Oct 31, 2014

Amen I agreed.

Michael Dawson

commented on Apr 14, 2015

Jeff, there is a lot of great stuff in here, and so much truth to the shepherding part of the sermon. However, I too am troubled with the requirement you have given on marriage to elders. Like the previous commentator, I have studied and been taught that it is the idea of a one woman man. While I agree that having a mistress would be serious grounds for Hell, we have to remember the culture that Paul was writing to Timothy and Titus in. They were both serving as Evangelists in Greek and Roman cultured cities. There may have been men in the church who didn't have mistresses, but may have had more than one wife. Two wives may not have been seen as a mistress type situation. For their setting, this may have been a pre-Christian marriage that was common in their society. If they were going to change culture, and bring about God's plan for marriage, one man committed to one woman for life, then they needed to represent that in church leadership. How did the early church handle these types of situations, did Paul encourage men with more than one wife, who became Christians, to divorce all but the first? What would this do to the family? Or did he encourage them to not add anymore wives, and stay faithful to the ones they had? I have heard missionaries that have taken this later approach, and over a generation, they have seen the culture change, and the new generation only marry one wife. They have even struggled having elders, because of the husband of one wife understanding. There was a major culture change that needed to take place in the early church. On a second note, I am hesitant to even limit a divorced man from serving as an elder in the church. I am not saying that a Christian man who divorces his wife and then wants to serve as an elder should be permitted, I would find this wrong and unbiblical. But let's say a young Christian, or even a non-Christian divorces his wife, and then becomes a Christian or grows in Christ. Are we going to say that the years that have past, and the growth that has taken place in this man's life, and the commitment he has made to either singleness, or even his current wife have no bearing on his ability to lead, because his distant past has a divorce. I do not want to limit the growth of the Holy Spirit at work in a persons life. Now, I realize that can be slippery ground, and that each case needs to be reviewed carefully. As a minister in the Christian Church/Church of Christ I hold a high regard to the Elders of my church and I know that our success rises and falls on the strength of the elders. If you have any further textual evidence that Paul indicated that marriage was an eldership requirement, not simply being married and committed to one woman as I have outlined above, I would love to hear. I certainly want to have a correct biblical understanding, because the success of God's church rests on the individuals our congregations select to lead us.

Michael Dawson

commented on Apr 14, 2015

An additional post because I failed to subscribe for comment updates.

Jeff Strite

commented on Apr 14, 2015

Michael, I understand your problem with this matter and I once held that opinion. What changed my mind was the gentle comment of the person who was holding the position I now hold: "Don't you think God is big enough to supply someone who has not been divorced to this position of Eldership?" Put that way, I had to concede that God could. That mentality (that God can supply what He needs when He needs to) has guided my ministry for 30 years. Not just in waiting on God for the right men for Eldership, but in waiting on God to supply circumstances, finances and other needful things for ministry that otherwise I might be tempted to seek alternative answers than to just wait and trust

Curt Larsson

commented on Sep 15, 2014

God showed me that the walls around Jerusalem is like the elders! The walls are there for the protection of the citizens of Jerusalem. They are males, and they also repair the walls that were broken down. If you were to talk to an elder, you have to go the gate. There were all the elders, in the gates. Deut. 21:19. Nehemiah wept and mourned because the walls were broken down and burned with fire. Are we sorry that we have not duly appointed elders to our churches. Do we weep and fast for God to move. And elders to be appointed!

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