The Job Paul Called On Titus To Finish
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered January 8, 2006
Text: Titus 1:4-8
Paul and Titus had a deep friendship. He had
great confidence in Titus and trusted him completely, and he had
good reason to. First, we read in verse 4 - "Titus,
mine own son after the common faith." The Greek word
translated own is gnhsiw gnosio (gnay’-see-o)
and means legitimately born. The word translated son
is teknw tekno (tek’-no) offspring. The two words together
indicate that Titus was Paul’s spiritual son, that is, Paul was the
one who led him to Christ. Second, while we do not know for
sure how Paul discipled Titus, we know that he certainly got a lot
of "on the job" discipling. Here’s why I say that. Paul called him
his partner and fellow helper (2
Corinthians 8:23) and, his brother (2
Corinthians 2:13). Titus traveled with Paul as well. We know
Paul took Barnabas and Titus with him to the Jerusalem, having been
sent by the church of Antioch to answer questions concerning
converts among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:1-10). It was while
at the Jerusalem Council that some Pharisees argued that Gentile
converts should be circumcised (Acts 15:5). Paul refused to
circumcise Titus. Peter agreed that circumcision was not necessary
for non-Jewish converts (Acts 15:7-11). James announced the
decision of the Apostles, which was, that "we trouble not…Gentiles
[which] are turned to God." (Acts 15:19-20). Titus had also
functioned as a faithful emissary to the troubled church in Corinth
(2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 8:6, 16). Titus carried Paul’s letter
of 2 Corinthians back for Paul (2 Corinthians 8:16-19).
Because Titus was one of Paul’s closest and most trusted companions,
we see in Titus 1:5 that Paul "left" him in "Crete" with a
BIG job to do.
The Job Paul Called On Titus To Finish
The Job Paul Called On Titus To Finish
Turn to verse 5 – "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:"
Crete is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. It is about 140 miles long and 35 wide. One historian says, "at one time [Crete was] a very prosperous and populous island, having a "hundred cities."
Paul wrote to Titus to give him instructions on what he wanted him to do in Crete.
First, he wanted Titus to "set in order the things that are wanting." The phrase translated set in order is just one word in the Greek, the word epidiorywsh epidiorthose (ep-ee-dee-or-tho’-ose) which in those days was a medical term meaning setting broken bones and straightening crooked ones. Paul was putting Titus in charge of straightening out the false teaching and doctrinal problems among Cretan believers (see 1:10-11, 13-14 & 2:1). There were also practical problems that needed correcting (1:16). Many of the Christians needed instruction in how to live the Christian life.
Second, we see that there were some things that were wanting, that is, things that were left undone when Paul left Crete. The key thing that Paul instructed Titus to finish was to "ordain elders in every city." Paul then goes on to tell Titus what to look for in these men he will appoint. But, before I got to these qualifications I want to explain something about an elder, bishop and pastor (shepherd). These three words all refer to the same office. In this passage we see the word elder, which is a translation of the Greek word presbuterov presbuteros (pres-boo’-ter-os). This word was very familiar to Jews, because it was frequently used in the Old Testament as denoting a person clothed with authority, and entitled to respect and reverence. At the commencement of the Christian era, when you referred to an "elder" what would come to mind would be the ruling council of Jews called the Sanhedrin. They were the respected leaders who exercised oversight in the Jewish religion. So, it was natural to call the leader of a local New Testament church an elder, because he was to be respected and reverenced as he exercises spiritual leadership over the flock entrusted to him.
The next word is bishop, which is a translation of the Greek word episkopov episkopos (ep-is’-kop-os), which means a superintendent. The use of the New Testament makes it clear that a bishop has the charge or oversight of the church with the power to direct it. You will note that after Titus is told to appoint elders in verse 5, in verse 7, when the qualifications are given, they are called bishops. The same office is in view.
Tragically, as Christianity drifted from its New Testament roots the word bishop was perverted and came to mean a spiritual leader who was of higher authority than an elder/pastor. Then levels of bishops were added…bishops, archbishops, etc. There is absolutely no Biblical authority for such a system. It is extra-biblical and wholly unbiblical.
The final biblical word is pastor. Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:11 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" The Greek word translated pastors is poimenav poimenas (poy-men-as) which means to shepherd. What does a shepherd do? He feeds, guides and guards the flock. Jesus Christ is the great shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20), and local pastors are the under shepherds who take orders from the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Turn to Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (bishop), to feed (tend as a shepherd) the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Again we read in 1 Peter 5:2 "Feed (shepherd) the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight (acting as a bishop) thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"
When you understand that the words elder, bishop and pastor are three words referring to the same office, you can better understand the office of the pastor/elder/bishop.
But what about some of the other titles, such as "Reverend." The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary states that "Reverend" came into use in 1449. Very Reverend is used of deans, Right Reverend of bishops, Most Reverend of archbishops. By 1486 it was commonly uses "as a courteous or respectful form of address." Protestant clergy did not start using it until around 1645."
While technically, because I was ordained, I was given the title "Reverend," I, do not want to be called Reverend because I believe the only one to be called Reverend is God. The only time in the Bible "reverend" is ever used, it is used of God - Psalms 111:9 "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name." Reverend means to be held in reverence, or awe. Only God is to be revered.
What about the title "Father?" The best I can tell, priests began to be called "Father" in the 1500’s. This is their explanation for calling the priest "Father" – "In the Jewish Tradition, it was always the father who presided over the Passover Feast; and this Tradition has been elevated to the status of a far greater Passover Feast (the Eucharist), where the faithful are able to partake of the ONE Sacrifice of Calvary -- made present in their midst." Their reason is that since the "father" in the Jewish family served Passover, they should be called "father" because they serve the Eucharist to their Roman Catholic family. However, the Bible does not support that position. Turn to Matthew 23:9 "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."
What Barnes says here is helpful – "This does
not, of course, forbid us to apply the term to our real father.
Religion requires all proper honor to be shown to your father,
Exo. 20:12; Mat. 15:4; Eph. 6:1-3. But the word
"father" also denotes "authority, eminence, superiority, a right to
command, and a claim to particular respect." In this sense it is
used here. In this sense it belongs eminently to God, and it is not
right to give it to people. Christian brethren are equal. Only God
has supreme authority. He only has a right to give laws; to declare
doctrines that shall bind the conscience; to punish disobedience.
The Jewish teachers affected that title because they seem to have
supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and
sought, therefore, to be called father. Christ taught them that the
source of all life and truth was God, and they ought not to seek or
receive a title which properly belongs to Him. My point is this;
"Reverend and Father are not biblical titles and therefore should
not be used.