Summary: 1) Description of Those Who Must be Silenced (Titus 1:10–13a), 2)Reaction to Those who Must be Silenced, 3) Evaluation of Those Who Must be Silenced (Titus 1:15–16).
Titus 1:10–16. 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (ESV)
As parliament is set to resume after the latest federal election, people are wondering which pieces of legislation will be retabled. A prominent issue of concern has been the criminalizing and censorship of free speech. In one example, Bill C-10 – which would have empowered an unelected commissioner to take down any social media post deemed “harmful” – was gutted by the Senate just before the start of Election 44. Now, after the election Bill C-10 is poised to be one of the first moves in parliament.
One of Titus’s major responsibilities in overseeing the churches on Crete was to prepare them to counteract the false teaching and immoral living of certain leaders. Paul charged Titus, and through him the churches, not simply to correct their false doctrine and denounce their immoral behavior but to silence them and remove such spiritual cancers from the fellowships. It is the task of the church, and especially of its godly leaders, to silence those who associate with the Body of Christ in an effort to pervert God’s truth and confuse and corrupt His people. Paul warned Timothy that: “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Tim. 3:13). Like Timothy, faithful pastors and elders have standing orders to “guard what has been entrusted to [them], avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ ” (1 Tim. 6:20).
It has been said that we live in an age of tolerance. Some argue that people should be free to say what they want, how they want, where they want and when they want. The danger in the absolute freedom to do so should be obvious. We have standards in education to ensure what is taught corresponds to facts. Libel and slander laws prevent the sharing of false information as to not damage a company or person. Public safety laws prevent someone shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre so as to not cause undue panic. Through the courts, publications and common discourse, safeguards exist in order to examine, challenge and prevent the inaccurate or even dangerous spread of misinformation.
In Titus 1:10–16, the Apostle Paul outlines thee aspects of the requirement that false teachers must be silenced. First, he outlines a general 1) Description of false teachers in the church who are to be silenced (Titus 1:10–13a). He then specifies 2) What the reaction to those should be (Titus 1:13b–14) and 3) Evaluates their lives (Titus 1:15–16).
In order to deal with false teachers, we must first understand the:
1) Description of Those Who Must be Silenced (Titus 1:10–13a)
Titus 1:10–13a 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. (Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,) (ESV)
In describing the false teachers who were to be restrained and removed from the churches, the apostle points out their proliferation (v. 10a), their behavior, which included rebelliousness, empty talk, and deceit (v. 10b), their effect on believers in the churches (v. 11a), their motive (v. 11b), and their character, which was lying, savage, and gluttonous (vv. 12–13a). The fact that there [were] many false teachers in the churches of Crete made Titus’s responsibility to oppose them all the more urgent. It was also for that reason, among others, that he needed to carefully “appoint elders in every city,” as Paul already had directed (v. 5). No matter how diligent and persuasive Titus might have been, no one man would have had time to deal with the growing number of heretics and apostates. Most believers in those churches were new in the faith and had little defense against erroneous doctrine. The reason Titus is to appoint elders in every town and to ensure that they meet the standards Paul lays down is that there are many false teachers who are leading people astray. That is to say, when false teachers increase, the most appropriate long-term strategy is to multiply the number of true teachers, who are equipped to rebut and refute error (Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (p. 179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).