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Wednesday In The Word

Second Baptist Church

February 1, 2012

Titus 1:1-9


I.        Introduction: Following the first missionary journey (Acts 13-14), a debate developed as to whether Gentiles had to be circumcised in accordance with the Old Testament requirement for entrance into God’s covenant family (Gen. 17:1-14). The Lord had appeared to Peter and sent him to Cornelius (the first gentile convert) with no conditions of any kind and when Peter presented the gospel, the Holy Spirit entered the Gentiles just as He had with the Jews in Acts 2. There were no pre-conditions for the Spirit to indwell the Gentiles, and this was true throughout Paul’s first missionary journey. When Paul reported this, many raised questions, so a council was convened in Jerusalem to determine if gentiles had to become Jews in order to have eternal life (Acts 15: 1-35). Paul took Titus with him to the Jerusalem Council as a private test case to determine if circumcism was required for salvation, but it was determined this was not the case (Gal. 2:1-3). Titus became a trouble shooter for Paul in Corinth helping him in one of the most difficult moments in his ministry. He took I Corinthians to the church in Corinth and later met Paul to give him the good news that the Corinthians had responded well to his teaching and demands presented in his letter to them (II Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13, 14, 8:6, 16, 23, 12:18). Titus was on another trouble shooting venture for Paul. They were traveling together when they came to the island of Crete south of Greece and a bit southwest of Turkey in the Mediterranean. Paul saw great needs in the church that had already been established on Crete, so he left Titus there to do two things: set in order what remains to help the church to become healthy and appoint elders. Both of these are leadership tasks and Paul wrote his memo to remind Titus of what these responsibilities required.

II.       Verses 1-3. Paul salutation speaks of his calling as an apostle (messenger) of God’s grace found only in Jesus Christ, and his commitment to that calling (servant/slave). It is not enough to have a calling on your life; one must fully submit to that calling and be sold out to that purpose. Paul is sharing that when he heard the call to preach, he sold himself out to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to the Elect of God who stand on the truth of the gospel as assurance for eternal life. Paul shares that this truth comes from a God who does not lie and who has promised this great salvation since the beginning of the world. It is only in this last season of humanity that God has chosen to reveal this truth through the Son and through the preaching of the good news of the Son.

III.      Verse 4. Paul called Titus “my true child in a common faith.” That is a very amazing statement in the ancient world where no Jew would claim a Gentile as his “true child.” Gentiles were called dogs by Jews and they had as little to do with gentiles as possible. The by-product of the gospel was the uniting of humanity in the common faith in Christ.

IV.     Verse 5 points us to the historical background for this letter. Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean and is located an almost equal distance from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Crete actually comprises an area of 3.200 square miles. A high state of civilization once flourished there. However, by New Testament times, the moral condition of its inhabitants had deteriorated. Paul writes to Titus in Crete and simply reminds Titus of his mission, but was enforcing that mission by putting a stamp of apostolic authority on the ministry of Titus among all the Christians at Crete. Paul and Titus had previously visited the island of Crete and had not only preached the gospel, but had evidently been successful in establishing house churches in the various cities. Naturally, the Christians there needed biblical mentoring in the faith as babes in Christ, so Paul, being compelled to ministry elsewhere, left Titus to accomplish this vital tack. All Christians need to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18), but it was especially needed because of the moral conditions that formed the background of these Cretan believers. Paul tells Titus that he left him “To set in order the remaining matters.” But what is meant by “to set in order?” It means “to set right, to correct in addition,” i.e. to what has already been done, and the word in Greek occurs only here in the New Testament. The apostle undoubtedly chose this word because it so accurately expressed what was needed, a continuation of the mentoring and growth process that Paul and Titus began while Paul was present. Titus was to continue this work because to leave them as they were would be like giving birth to a child, carrying it for a while, and then abandoning it by leaving it on someone’s doorstep. The choice of this term indicates that the work to be done among the churches was the laying of the proper foundations for good spiritual growth. While the churches in Crete were deficient in a number of areas, the next statement, “and to appoint elders in every town, as I directed you,” describes the first and most basic deficiency that needed to be dealt with, namely, the appointment of elders. This is very revealing and instructive. It shows us that a local church or congregation of believers is defective if it lacks qualified elders. The obvious reason is because God has chosen this office (elders) and their function (oversight) for the shepherding care of the flock in order to continue the process of spiritual growth. “Elders” is the official designation of those who are to lead the local congregation of believers. Just as Paul instructed Timothy about the leaders of the local assemblies, Paul needs to remind Titus of these as well so that he might be able to make sure the fellowship is led by men of mature faith.

V.       Verse 6. The qualifications of elders. The first part of the list is a summary of all that follows. The elder is to be “blameless” is literally “without indictment or accusation, unchargeable (this is not a word). “He is one who has nothing that can be brought against him. The word stands at the head of the list as the general or broad quality that covers the whole of an elder’s life. Not only should his life be in order, but his family life should be in order as well. He should have only one wife and his children should not be wild and disobedient. “Husband of one wife,” most commentators agree that this phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity, which are unthinkable for spiritual leaders in the church.

VI.       Verse 7. The elder must also be a person who is not:

a. Overbearing/arrogant, the key idea of this word is “self-centeredness.” It profiles a man who desires to please himself for whatever reason.

b. Easily angered, this is describing the man who has a “short fuse.”

c. Not given to drinking much wine, it refers to one who sits long at his wine and becomes intoxicated and under it’s control rather than that of the Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18).

d. Not violent, refers to one who is quick with his fists or prone to strike an opponent, or to one who is prone to violence. This term looks at anger which is totally out of control and goes beyond verbal abuse to physical abuse.

e. Not greedy, refer to engaging in any kind of business that would discredit the name of Christ.

VII.       Verse 8. The elder must not only avoid some things but elders must hold on to certain positive qualities. The elder must be:

a. Hospitable, refers to the elders desire to extend his help to those in need.

b. Lover of good, refers to the desire or the motivation of the elder to do good at all cost, being motivated by good rather than personal or evil intent.

c. Self-controlled or sensible. Paul undoubtedly had in mind the idea of being thoughtful or sensible in a manner that is in keeping with the truth of Scripture. Soundness of mind or sound-mind thinking comes from knowing and living in the light of the Word of God, This affects values, attitudes, pursuits, and brings self-control through the Spirit.

d. Upright and holy, refers to the idea that an elder/overseer must be one whose conduct conforms to the righteousness directives of God’s truth.

e. Disciplined, it refers to the strength needed to hold the passions in restraint.

VIII.    Verse 9. The elder is to cling to “the faithful or trustworthy message or word” “as it has been taught.” The text stresses that for the message to be faithful or reliable, it must be according to the apostolic teachings of the faith (cf. Jude 1:3-4 and 2 Thess. 3:6 with Col. 2:8). The point is clear; elders/overseers must be men who are rooted in good doctrine. As overseers, elders must be able to perform two duties, both of which come through a strong working knowledge of the Word. Literally, the Greek says, “both to exhort…and to refute or correct.” The word “both” highlights the fact that elders need the ability for both duties described here. We build up with the Word, but we also use the Word to tear down the strongholds of sin.

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