To figure out the role of an “elder” (v.5), notice that before Paul ordained some elders he confirmed the disciples and exhorted them to continue in the faith despite tribulation (Acts 14:21-23). When he then ordained elders next, that means he expected elders to carry that work on when he was gone. So elders are the Bible teachers in an assembly.
“Blameless” (v.6) means saved (cf. I Cor. 1:7,8). What else would be at the top of the list of qualifications? This was important in view of the power struggle I believe was going on in Crete. We know the Jews causing trouble (Tit. 1:10) were unsaved, for if they were saved, God wouldn’t have let Paul go there, any more than he let him go to other places where there were saved Jewish kingdom saints (Acts 16:6,7 cf. I Pet. 1:1). And these unsaved Jews were teaching unsound doctrine to try to gain leadership in the churches.
They were probably also suggesting an elder could be the husband of more than one wife, based on their Hebrew Scriptures. Titus had to set that in order too. “Husband of one wife” (1:6) can’t mean divorced, by the way. “One wife” doesn’t mean there wasn’t a wife before any more than “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) means there were no baptisms before. If it doesn’t mean one wife at a time then widowers can’t be elders. We know it also doesn’t mean a man must be married, for neither Paul, Timothy or Titus were. There are advantages to being single (I Cor. 7:32) and there are advantages to being married (Pr. 18:22).
The word faithful in “faithful children” (1:6) is defined in this context by “not accused of riot or unruly.” The word “riot” means we’re talking about older children. An elder’s kids can’t be “unruly” because the kids of those unsaved Jews were, just like their fathers (Tit. 1:10). The “rule” they didn’t want to observe is that circumcision didn’t mean anything (Gal. 6:15,16). Since “riot” just means to be in a highly excited uproar, Paul is saying that an elder’s older children can’t be starting doctrinal riots like that.
When Paul switches from “elders” to “bishops” (v.7) it shows these terms were interchangeable, such as “pastor” and “minister” and “preacher” are today. Because of this, we can call our leaders whatever we want, just not “father” (Mt. 23:9) or “reverend,” for that’s God’s name (Ps. 111:9).
Spiritual leaders were also called “stewards” (1:7). A steward took care of a wealthy man’s goods (Gen.44:1), and a steward in the local church took care of God’s goods, the things in His Word (I Cor. 4:1). “Mysteries” there is plural for there are seven sub mysteries in the overall mystery given to Paul. But unruly talkers of the circumcision would want to be stewards of the prophecies of God, not His mysteries, so they were disqualified from leadership on this count too.
An elder must be “blameless” in dispensing God’s mysteries. Here the word means scrupulous (cf. Lu. 1:6). He also can’t be “selfwilled” (1:7). The only other time that exact word is used defines it as being rebellious against the government (II Pet. 1:10). That describes unsaved Jews in that day (Mt. 22:17; Acts 5:36,37). Peter calls such men “beasts” (II Pet. 2:12), and Jude agrees (Jude 1:8-10), and there were some in Crete (Tit. 1:12). Only a wild beast refuses to let a man impose his will on him.
A leader also can’t be “soon angry” (1:7). The unsaved Jews were, just as Paul was when he was an unsaved Jew (Acts 16:11). The law he worshiped “worketh wrath” (Rom. 4:15) in unsaved Gentiles because they don’t like God telling them what to do. But it worked wrath in unsaved Jews because it pointed to Jesus as their Christ, and Saul didn’t want to admit that. His anger about that spilled over into all areas of his life, and in the Jews in Crete as well, meaning they couldn’t be leaders on this count either. That may have driven them to drink, and Paul says a leader can’t be “given to wine” (1:7)
You wouldn’t think Paul would have to say that a leader can’t be a “striker,” but unsaved Jewish leaders struck the Lord (Mark 14:63-65) and Paul (Acts 23:2). Religious power goes to a man’s head and prompts violence against those with whom he disagrees, but a leader in the church can’t be a striker, or “greedy of filthy lucre” (1:7) like the unsaved Jews on Crete (Tit. 1:10,11).
God promised to give Gentiles eternal life before the world began (Titus 1:1,2), but didn’t make that promise “manifest” until Paul (v.3). But what made it the “due time…”?
That phrase is used when God sees that our power is gone (Deut. 32:35,26; Romans 5:6). When God gave the Law to Israel, they claimed they could keep it (Ex.24:3-7), so God gave them 1500 years to try! When they proved they were “without strength” to keep it (Rom. 5:6), He had Christ die for them “in due time.”
But as far as anyone knew He only died for Jews (Isa. 53:8). And that didn’t change in the New Testament, where the Lord claimed He only died for the “many” in Israel (Mt. 20:28). It isn’t until Paul that we learn He gave His life a ransom “for all” (I Tim. 2:5,6). Christ died for the ungodly in due time, but the fact He died for ungodly Gentiles wasn’t something that was testified until the “due time” given to Paul.
What made it the due time? The Gentiles knew they couldn’t save themselves. In time past they had to become Jews to be saved—true Jews, believing Jews, by believing on Israel’s God.The Lord sent the 12 to get them to do that (Luke 24:47) but they couldn’t get past Jerusalem till the children of Israel in that city were “filled” with the salvation of God (Mark 7:27). It looked like they were without strength to save themselves. But that’s when Paul testified they didn’t have to become Jews to get eternal life, because God had promised them eternal life too, knowing Christ would die for them too.
“Manifested” (v.3) means to make something known that had been secret or hid (cf. Lu. 8:17). That’s what Paul’s message was (Col. 1:25,26). It involved more than just the fact that Christ died for Gentiles, it involved “the fellowship of the mystery (Eph. 3:9), “that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body” as Jews in the Body of Christ. “Fellow” means equal (cf. Zech. 13:7), and for God to make Jews and Gentiles equal He had to create a whole new program called “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2) featuring a new creation called the Body of Christ.
God “committed” (v.3) it to Paul (I Cor. 9:17) “as” the kingdom gospel was committed to Peter (Gal. 2:7). That is, he was the dispenser of it, it was committed to his trust (I Tim. 1:11), then to Timothy’s (II Tim. 1:14) then to ours (II Tim. 2:2).
When Paul said God committed the message to Paul’s trust “according to the promise of God our Saviour” (v.3), he was talking to a Gentile (Gal. 2:3). That’s new with Paul too! God was Israel’s Savior in the Old Testament (Isa. 43:3), but Paul talked to a Jew about “God our Saviour… who will have all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:3,4). That explains how he could talk to Titus about the “common faith” (v.4 cf. Rom. 1:11-13). Jews and Gentiles didn’t have anything in common before that, especially not their faith! And when Paul talked about “Christ our Saviour” (v.4), that was new with Paul too! Before Paul, Christ was Israel’s Saviour (Acts 13:23), but now He’s the Saviour of the Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Christ (Eph. 5:23).
Titus was saved by “grace” (Tit. 1:4), but grace is a way of life, as we reflect God’s grace to others. “Mercy” (v. 4) is what Paul offered Titus and Timothy so they could remain single in the distress of persecution they were enduring (I Cor. 7:25,26). “Peace” (v. 4) was also something Titus had (Rom. 5:1), but peace is also a way of life (Rom. 12:18).
There’s no record of Paul visiting Crete in Acts, and Paul was imprisoned at the end of Acts and later died in prison. So we know he was released briefly and re-imprisoned. The “cause” (v. 5) or reason Paul left Titus in Crete was to “set in order the things that are wanting.” God loves order (Col. 2:5). When the Corinthians were selfishly out of order in church (I Cor. 11:20,21), Paul vowed to set “the rest” in order later (v. 34), indicating such selfishness was out of order. They were speaking in tongues in a disorderly way so Paul said to “let all things be done… in order” (I Cor. 14:40)
He was talking about order in the church service. Things were out of order in the church services in Crete too. Paul didn’t mean for Titus to be the permanent leader there (cf. Tit. 3:12), but setting things in order was his strength, and God believes in capitalizing on our strengths. What’s yours?
“What does Paul mean when he says that he was the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles ‘that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 15:16)?”
Under the Law, the Gentiles couldn’t offer themselves up as an offering that would be “acceptable” unto God as Paul tells us to do (Rom. 12:1,2). But now we are “sanctified” or set apart to God by the Holy Spirit—that is, by the Word of the Spirit, the words the Spirit teaches in His Word (1 Cor. 2:13). In His rightly divided Word, He teaches in Paul’s epistles that the grace of God is now available to Gentiles as well as to Jews. Paul told the Ephesian elders,
“…the word of His grace…is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
See the connection? The Jews were sanctified, and so their sacrifices
were acceptable to God, and now we too are sanctified by “the word of
His grace” that the Spirit presents in His Word through the Apostle Paul.
So when the Macedonians “gave their own selves to the Lord,” they
were able to do this “by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:5). They couldn’t
have done that under the Law, for God wouldn’t have accepted their
offering. But under grace, “the offering up of the Gentiles” is “acceptable,
being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.