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Leadership #13 - Titus 1

Qualities of Leadership II
Titus 1:5-9

Teaching Moments

You will notice that qualities of leadership in Titus are not exactly the same as in 1 Timothy. For example, Titus does not prohibit a “new convert” from taking the role of elder. Paul tailored the qualities to the needs of the two churches he is addressing. With newly planted churches in Crete, all the converts were “new” there so the requirement was not appropriate, but in Ephesus (where Timothy was) it was appropriate since the church had been established there for about a decade. These qualifications, then, are tailored to the needs of the church and the culture in which the church was set. There is common ground between them and they are essentially one, but the emphases are different because of the different contexts. It is their character and faithfulness to the word that is important in both contexts.

1. This text may be divided into five parts: (a) Introduction to Titus (1:5); (b) Positive Requirements (1:6); (c) Negative Requirements (1:7); (d) Positive Requirements (1:8); and (e) Task (1:9).

2. Paul does not offer Titus any praise. In fact, he appears to rebuke him because he was not doing the two jobs Paul left in Crete to do. He was to (1) shape the community with teaching that they had lacked and (2) appoint elders. Paul takes up the elder task in this chapter, but takes up the teaching task in chapter 2. Titus is expected to establish elders in these new-planted churches in Crete, just as Paul had done in Acts 14:23 after his first missionary journey in Galatia. Thus, in this text we have a record of an apostolic directive to appoint certain kinds of men to the eldership. “Appoint” here is a semi-technical term which usually means to appoint to an office. It is certainly used to mean here that these men are appointed to a role and task that is not shared by everyone in the community. These are the leaders of the community along with Titus himself.

3. The Positive Requirements (1:6). “Blameless” is used twice (1:6 and 1:7). Each time it is used to introduce a cluster of qualities. Here “blameless” describes his family relationships. His family life must be “without accusation” or “blameless” (a slightly different word is used in 1 Timothy 3:2) so that his conduct has not been called into question. He mentions his wife and children.

   a. “the husband of but one wife”--this is the same phrase used in 1 Timothy 3:2. See the comments on that phrase in the January 17 lesson.

   b. “a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient”--this is an ambiguous statement in Greek though the NIV tries to make it clearly teaching one idea. The word “believe” in Greek is literally “having faith” which may mean (a) “those who believe,” that is, Christians, or (b) “faithful,” that is, obedient children. Which is it? Christians have debated this one for years. I am inclined to “obedient” because the modifying phrase stresses this point (these children are not wild [debauchery] or rebellious) and because there is no requirement for Christian children in 1 Timothy 3. Neither of those considerations are definitive, but they are suggestive to me. I believe one can be appointed an elder who does not have baptized children and still be faithful to this text as long as those children are respectful and obedient to their father. However, if there is not a consensus on this interpretation, I would not press it. But I think Paul’s point is about healthy family relationships (whether or not the children ever actually believe in Christ or remain faithful Christians--parents cannot dictate their children’s faith nor guarentee the outcome).

4. The Negative Requirements (1:7). Paul emphasizes the role of elder by calling him a “bishop” (overseer). This demonstrates that bishop and elder are the same task. But he also calls him a “steward.” He is God’s representative who manages God’s house. He acts on behalf of God’s interests and is entrusted with the flock for his care. The emphasis here is on God as the steward’s boss. This is God’s house, not the elder’s. He must always treat it as that which first belongs to God. He must be blameless (without accusation) in other relationships as well (in addition to his family). He must not be:

   a. not overbearing -- self-willed; arrogant (literally, “self-pleasing”); consequently, must be concerned about team and shared-leadership; doesn’t always get his way and is sensitive to other’s feelings.

   b. not quick-tempered -- slow to anger (cf. Proverbs 29:22; James 1:20).

   c. not given to much wine -- see 1 Timothy 3:3 for the same phrase.

   d. not violent -- see 1 Timothy 3:3 for the same word.

   e. not pursuing dishonest gain -- must not turn the house of God into his own business for monetary gain; he must not be greedy and out for his own financial interests; he must not turn his position into his own financial advantage.

5. More Positive Requirements (1:8). Now the character of the elder is stated more positively. He must also be:

   a. hospitable -- see 1 Timothy 3:2 for the same word (literally, “lovers of strangers”)

   b. one who loves what is good -- literally, “lovers of good”; one who willingly does God even at the cost of self-denial; he loves what is good more than he loves himself. Thus, always helpful, generous, kind and loving.

   c. one who is self-controlled -- see 1 Timothy 3:,2 for the same word (prudent, sensible)

   d. upright -- just, righteous; acts in accordance with God’s standard of righteousness.

   e. holy and --devout, pious, godly characgter and conduct; committed to God’s character.

   f. disciplined -- self-restrain, self-control; does not give into sinful desires; stability.

6. Task (1:9). The requirement is a person committed to the “faithful word” (literally) according to the teaching Paul has given. This person must know the teaching and be able to communicate it. He must be able to (1) exhort the church and (2) refute those who contradict it. An elder must be able to exhort and rebuke according to his knowledge of the word. The elder must protect the flock from false teachers and exhort it in godly living. “Sound doctrine” refers primarily to ethics in Titus (cf. 2:1-10).

Discussion Questions

1. What is the difference between an ethics of “doing” and an ethics of “being”? [“Doing” refers to acts and deeds and assesses character by a list of accomplishments; but “being” refers to one’s orientation in life, their direction, their goal and assesses character by a mode of existence, a mode of living, and general approach to life.] Which does Paul emphasize in Titus? What characteristics refer to “being” and which to “doing”?

2. Assess the relative importance of this list as a whole. Given the current situation of the Cordova Community Church and the knowledge that Titus is functioning in newly planted churches, what do you find especially significant for Cordova in this text? Why?

3. Can you describe a person in your experience that reflects these qualities? Who in your past history of Christian friends and acquaintances would fit this description? What about this person makes you think this way? [Looking for concrete examples of such a person as described by Paul here. Do they exist? Where have you seen one?]

4. Is there a danger that we press the qualifications legalistically? What does that mean? Does it mean that we should not seek perfection in each of these areas, but does it also mean we should expect some maturity in each of these areas?

5. What kind of behavior should disqualify a person from being an elder based on what Paul offers Titus here? Give concrete examples.

6. Why do you think Titus 1:9 is emphasized so heavily here whereas in 1 Timothy the ability to teach was listed without comment? Is this particuarly important in a new church? Or was Titus doing the elder’s job, and Paul wanted Titus to his job and not the elders’? Cf. 1:10-16 and 3:9-11.


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