In Titus 1:4-9, Paul instructed Titus to “set in order the things that are wanting,” v.5. So, there were some things out of order (1 Cor 14:40) in these churches that Titus needed to set in order. And he was appointed to ordain elders in every city of Crete. These elders were going to be the pastors of the local churches there.
Elders, according to Paul and Peter, are “overseers,” Acts 20:17, 28, who “feed the flock,” 1 Pet 5:1-4. Thus, elders are definitely not some ruling body of governors who run the church and the pastor. In v.7, the elder is also called a “bishop,” (1 Tim 3:1) which is the title of his office. A bishop is the presiding elder, also called “senior pastor” today. The term “elder” refers to the pastor’s oversight. The term “pastor” refers to the pastor’s ministry of feeding the flock.
To help Titus make the right selections, Paul gave him a list of characteristics to look for in the men he would ordain. Titus 1:6 contains the first three characteristics that Titus was to consider. In other words, if the men under consideration didn’t meet these conditions, then there was no reason to consider them further. Titus was to ordain elders:
Who have a good report – Titus 1:6 – “if any be blameless.” The good report would have been an evaluation of his character from the time he was saved. Many a good pastor had a rough past before he was saved. “Blameless” does not mean sinless, but rather, that substantiated accusations couldn’t be brought against him that would mar his reputation and destroy the confidence of the flock in their pastor. Paul said he was “blameless,” Phil 3:6. Zacharias and Elisabeth were “blameless,” Lk 1:6, though Zacharias was obviously not perfect, Lk 1:20.
Who have a good marriage – Titus 1:6 – “the husband of one wife.” Women are not to be pastors. Pastors should be married. The condition here is that the man be married and monogamous. Bigamy (Gen 4:19) and polygamy (1 Ki 11:3) were widely practiced in the Old Testament, and are still common today in West Africa and many Arab nations. The same situation was evidently in Crete. Since Jesus has one bride, the men who preside over local churches should be married to one bride, as well.
Who have a good family – “having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” The condition here is evident. The elder should be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?),” 1 Tim 3:4-5. The idea is that if he can’t rule in his house, he won’t be able to rule (Heb 13:7, 17) in the church.
Men have added several addendums to these simple conditions to try to disqualify pastors they don’t like or that they don’t want. The conditions are straightforward and simple, since the pastors are to be “ensamples to the flock,” 1 Pet 5:3.
When a candidate was prequalified by these three simple conditions, then he was to follow certain standards of conduct found in v.7-9. As Paul wrote, the bishop must be:
Titus 1:7 –
- Blameless – since a bishop is “the steward of God” he must “be found faithful,” 1 Cor 4:2, and he must “strive lawfully,” 2 Tim 2:5. He must maintain his good report “of them which are without” after he becomes the bishop “lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil,” 1 Tim 3:7.
- Not self-willed – he must seek God’s will for himself and for the church he pastors. It is very easy for men to confuse God’s vision for the church with their own ambition. These are not the same thing.
- Not soon angry – he must rule his own spirit in all matters, Prov 25:28. He’ll face plenty of things about which he could get mad. A church can’t be manipulated by an angry pastor.
- Not given to wine – his Saviour didn’t drink wine, and neither should he. According to Prov 31:4-5, a man influenced by alcohol can forget the law and pervert judgment.
- No striker – he’s not to strike people; Jesus didn’t. He uses words, instead.
- Not given to filthy lucre – he’s not to use his office for his personal gain, 1 Pet 5:2. Nevertheless, “the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” 1 Cor 9:14. He should live well within his means.
Titus 1:8 –
- A lover of hospitality – he ought to be friendly and welcoming and given to a cordial and generous reception of members and visitors.
- A lover of good men – he should have enough discernment to recognize good men and he should love them. He’s going to need plenty of good men to help him in the ministry.
- Sober – he ought to be serious, sedate, thoughtful, and not given to extremes.
- Just – he ought to judge righteous judgment, neither in the fear of man nor with respect of persons, as in Lev 19:15; Deut 1:17. He must be fair.
- Holy – he ought to be holy, because the God he serves is holy, 1 Pet 1:15-16.
- Temperate – he ought to be able to keep his body in subjection, 1 Cor 9:25-27.
Titus 1:9 –
- Holding fast the faithful word – “as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” He has to know the word of God well enough to be able to exhort believers and hold his ground against those who criticize and contradict the Bible. Therefore, his life will be a life of study, 2 Tim 2:15.