Titus 1:1–9 (NKJV)
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.Titus 1:1-4
Paul offers a somewhat normal greeting to another of his sons in the faith, the pastor/overseer of the church in Crete. He offers a self-identification as an apostle, but also as a bondservant of God. He offers his credentials, which include God’s calling and the effectiveness of the gospel message which he preaches. He identifies Titus as a son in the faith and offers him the blessing of grace, mercy, and peace.
5 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—6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 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, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 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.Titus 1:5-9
After the greeting, Paul begins to remind Titus of his purpose in Crete. Paul left him there to oversee the church in that region, setting in order the things which were lacking, and appointing elders in every city on the island. Paul reminds him of the traits or qualifications which should be evident in every person appointed: blameless, faithful spouse, good parent with obedient, respectful children. Further, bishops should be blameless, good stewards, selfless, emotionally stable and calm, a non-drinker, not violent, not greedy. He also must be hospitable, righteous, clear-headed, operating in justice, holy, self-controlled, and knowledgeable and faithful to the Word. These leaders must be able to teach, preach, and defend the Word of God, offering sound doctrine, and be equipped to–through the work of the Holy Spirit–convict those who do not believe or else believe a false doctrine.
Paul sets the standard for leaders in the body of Christ. He also discusses these traits and qualifications in his first letter to Timothy, another son in the faith. While differing terms are used (elder, deacon, bishop), they all refer to leaders of congregations or regions in the church. What this tells us is that while there are some subtle nuances in the requirements or qualifications of differing offices, the general sense is that leaders must be held to a high standard of character, integrity, and accountability than those who do not lead. To desire leadership, one must be willing to submit himself or herself to a higher level of expectation and conduct. While leadership is noble and necessary, it is also more demanding. Be sure that you are up to the task. Churches should be sure who it is they ordain for such leadership and pray for them while holding them accountable as well. Without such standards, the church can be taken over by sin and false doctrine. The church needs, and God requires, leaders that lead well.
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