Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Paul reminds Titus of his mission on Crete. He was to solidify a witness for Jesus Christ by appointing leaders. All church leaders are to meet the standards set forth here & guide others to greater maturity in their relationship with Christ.

TITUS 1: 5-9


Paul here reminds Titus of his mission or what he would have him accomplish while in Crete. It was no small job for Paul wanted Titus to carry out the arrangements which would organize the churches there. He starts off with the qualifications and responsibilities of the pastor, presbyter-elder or overseer.

Stuart Briscoe writes about a funeral for a war veteran in which the man's military buddies had a role in the memorial service. The friends requested that the minister lead them to the casket for a moment of silence. They would then follow the pastor out a side door.

The plan was carried out with military precision--until the minister marched them into a broom closet. The soldiers had to make a disorganized retreat.

That pastor made an honest mistake, but it illustrates that leaders must know where they are going. As go the leaders, so go the followers.

The apostle Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to solidify a witness for Jesus Christ. Titus was to appoint leaders for the growing band of believers. Except for preaching the gospel, nothing Titus did for the Christians on Crete was more important than finding them the right leadership. [Robinson, Haddon. Marching Into a Closet. Our Daily Bread. Radio Bible Class.] All church leaders are to meet the standards set forth in Titus 1:6-9 and to guide others to greater maturity in their relationship with Christ (CIT).

Let me add that the only leader worth following is the one who is following Jesus. If he's not you could wind up somewhere much worse than a broom closet.

I. ELDERS, 1:5.


Paul's ministry in Crete must have been fantastic. He left churches and converts wherever he went. But churches need pastors if they are going to be established and become spiritually strong. Paul thus asked Titus in verse 5 to consolidate the works there by appointing church leaders. "For this reason [the common faith of verse 4] I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you."

Paul's strategy for church planting included the eventual selection of leaders from among the converts to oversee the ministry and spiritual growth of the community (Acts 14:23). In this way the missionaries could move on freely to expand the work in new and unreached areas. As Paul's team of trained coworkers grew, he entrusted a good deal of the work to them. In the case of the Cretan churches, Titus remained behind to train the new Christians and develop them into a cohesive unit.

Paul spells out his purpose in appointing Titus to the work in Crete in verse 5. It has two parts. He was to organize the church structure and he was to select the developing pastors for the individual churches. Titus' first responsibility was to set in order what remains or the things left undone. "Set in order" literally is to set straight [epidiorthose]. The term was used by medical writers to describe the setting of broken limbs or the straightening out of crooked ones. It takes time to straighten out lives sufficiently so that they can come together to create a new church, who become unified believers around the goal of seeking to glorify Christ and extend His Kingdom in the world. While Titus taught the believers their responsibility to worship and win their part of the Island [Crete was one of the largest [4th] and most important islands in the Mediterranean Sea] leaders would begin to emerge. Not every one who steps up to lead is fit to pastor the church, thus qualifications were established.

The word elders is presbutérous which is sometimes transliterated as presbyters. These "elders" in Titus 1:5-6 are further described in verses 7-9 under the title of "overseers" [akin to 1 Tim. 3:1-7; also 2 Tim. 2:24-26]. It can be used as a designation of age as well as a title for office. [In the Jewish culture of the day it was used to denote a leader of a group like the Sanhedrin (Mt. 18:2; Mk. 7:35) or other governing body or synagogue.] Paul equates the Elders at Ephesus as overseers who shepherd the flock (Acts 20:17, 28) [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983, p. 762.].


There's no room for political maneuvering in spiritual leadership. So next a list of qualifications or the necessary requirements for the office of elder or overseer is given. [Four major texts deal with the qualifications of the pastor or elder (1:5–7; Acts 20:28–35; 1 Tim. 3:1–7; 1 Pet. 5:1–4).] Verse 6 begins these characteristics. "Namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion."

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