A Noble Task (Titus 1:5-9)
Working as an elder is the most noble work on earth. Those who desire to be elders desire a “good work” (1 Tim 3:1). This work is good, for God has appointed the eldership to watch for his church. This work is good, for only the best men can serve as elders.
This morning, we want to examine the noble office of the elders.
A Noble Need, v 5
Paul and Titus had worked together in Crete. Paul went to work elsewhere. Yet, he left Titus behind in Crete.
Titus remained on Crete to appoint elders.
Titus was to set in order the things that were lacking. The idea behind “set in order” is to set right or correct. A church’s not having elders is wrong. Churches must do everything in their power to make sure that they have elders. Churches cannot appoint unqualified men to serve as elders. It is far better not to have elders than to have unqualified men serving as elders. For churches without elders to be pleasing to God, they must be working toward having elders.
Titus was to appoint elders in every city. This follows Paul’s own actions—In Acts 14:23, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church.
Paul does not tell Titus how many elders to appoint. However, the term “elders” is in the plural. More than one man must serve as elders.
These elders were to be appointed “in every city.” Each congregation was to have her own elders. There is no biblical precedent for elders serving more than one church.
A Noble Man, vv 6-9
An elder is to be blameless. “Blameless” refers to being irreproachable. There is no accusation that can be brought against one who is blameless. Elders are to be men known in the community to be honest, upright men.
An elder is to be the husband of one wife. An elder must be a man who has kept his wedding vows. An elder should set an example to younger Christians of what Christian marriage is all about.
This does disqualify a woman from serving as an elder. No woman can be the husband of one wife. A woman cannot teach or have authority over a man (1 Tim 2:12).
An elder is to have faithful children. The home serves as a training ground for elders. If elders cannot properly teach their children, they have no business leading God’s children.
An elder’s children are not to be accused to dissipation or insubordination. Dissipation refers to riotous living. The idea is that those accused of dissipation live wild lives. The same word is used in Luke 15:13 to describe the prodigal son’s behavior. Insubordination refers to rebellion—the elder’s children should be submissive to him and to God.
There must be evidence that an elder has raised his children to know the Lord. Children are to be raised “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). If a man cannot raise his children to know God, how can he help a church to know God?
A bishop is a steward of God. A “steward” was in that day a man in charge of the house. Likewise, elders are managers of the church—they are to make sure the church operates in accordance with Scripture.
An elder cannot be self-willed. “Self-willed” refers to a man who is stubborn and arrogant; he always wants things to go his way. Elders cannot be stubborn or arrogant—they need to be willing to compromise and work with the other elders.
An elder cannot be quick-tempered. “Quick-tempered” refers to being inclined to anger; one who easily looses his temper. Christians are to be slow to anger, for “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Js 1:19-20)
An elder cannot be given to wine. Win destroys sound judgment—elders must be men who have sound judgment. Those who are wise do not abuse alcohol. “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov 20:1). Proverbs 23:29-35.
An elder cannot be violent. The word here for “violent” is actually “striker.” The term can also mean “bully.” The idea behind “striker” is one who is always ready to come to blows with his opponent. An elder cannot be one ready to his another.
An elder must not be greedy for money. Elders oversee the distribution of funds within a congregation (Acts 11:30). Elders cannot be men tempted to take from the church’s fund.
An elder must be hospitable. The word hospitable literally means “lover of strangers.” In the day of Paul and Titus, inns were notoriously expensive, dirty, and immoral. An elders must be one willing to help those he doesn’t even know as they were going forth to share the Gospel.
An elder must be a lover of what is good. This refers to being a lover of good men as well as good things. An elder must be interested in what is good.
An elder must be sober-minded. This refers to a man who is prudent and thoughtful. This man doesn’t rush to judgment, but he weighs every side carefully before he makes a decision.
An elder must be just. This man is just in dealing with people. He treats everyone fairly.
An elder must be holy. An elder’s life must be totally devoted to God.
An elder must be self-controlled. An elder must be in control of himself. He can’t live his life by impulse.
An elder must hold fast the faithful word he has been taught. He must hold fast to the word so that he can exhort and convict those who contradict. An elder must be able to defend the flock against false doctrine. On Crete, Judaizing teachers were causing a problem. Elders were to be appointed to stop this doctrine. Elders today must stop false doctrine in the church.
Elders have a noble work.
Is your life filled with noble tasks?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.