Titus 1 verses 6 through 9
6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion.
7 For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain.
8 Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled.
9 He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it.
An elder – this word is also used in the previous verse. The Greek is, presbyteros, where we get our word presbyter. The word means an older person, a rank, or an office. In this passage they are equated with an overseer in verse 7.
The “elders” of the New Testament church were the “pastors” (Eph 4:11), “bishops or overseers” (Act 20:28), “leaders” and “rulers” (Hbr 13:7; 1Th 5:12) of the flock. Everywhere in the New Testament bishop and presbyter are titles given to one and the same officer of the Christian church. Easton’s Bible Dictionary.
Why do you think a leader is associated with a word that has to do with a person’s age?
must be blameless – this does not mean sinless in this context, but other English versions have translated it as follows:
- above reproach,
- free from all charge against him,
- and having a good record.
If an elder is not blameless, what problems could arise in the church?
the husband of one wife –
A few English versions say, He must be faithful to his wife. One says, true to his one wife. Although the Greek word for faithful or true is not in this passage, this is the most probable interpretation to this phrase. That is, an Elder should be faithful to his current wife. He should be a one woman man. He should not be living a sexually immoral life. The Greek phrase says, man one woman. Since the context includes children, the verse is translated husband one wife in place of man one woman. But if translated, man with one woman, or even, a one woman man, it gets down to the sense of Paul’s meaning.
A second interpretation of this phrase is the Elder should not have multiple wives, a polygamist. God’s pattern in the creation was one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. So this interpretation seems plausible. However, 1 Tim 5 gives the qualifications of a financially supported widow. It says she should be the wife of one husband – nearly the same phrase as husband of one wife for the Elder. Since a woman with multiple husbands did not exist in this time period and culture yet nearly the same phrase is used to describe her, then it is unlikely that this phrase, husband of one wife, means polygamy when referring to the Elder.
Incidentally, what church would not support a widow who had previously been divorced before being faithful to her current husband who has now died? The church would surly support her. Therefore, it is unlikely the phrase, wife of one husband, or, husband of one wife, has anything to do with divorce.
1 Tim 5
9 No widow should be put on the list unless she is at least sixty years old, was the wife of one husband, 10 and has a reputation for good works: as one who has raised children, practiced hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped those in distress – as one who has exhibited all kinds of good works.
Third, this Elder passage is not talking about a widow who has remarried. We know a widow is free to remarry in the Lord. Therefore, a remarried widow may be an Elder even though he has had more than one wife in his life.
Forth, an Elder may be a single person. Even Paul encourages Christians to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7. Therefore, this passage is not teaching that an Elder must be married with children. This text in Titus is only talking about married Elders which is the most common situation.
Fifth, this passage does not restrict a man to be an Elder that is a victim of adultery or abandonment. We know Jesus gave an exclusion for divorce in situations with adultery, and Paul mentions a Christian is not bound to a non-believer who wishes to leave. Therefore, a divorced and remarried man who was a victim of adultery or abandonment may be an Elder even though he had two wives.
Last, this passage does not restrict a man from being an Elder who once led a sinful life of adultery but has since repented, apologized and tried to reconcile with his ex-wife, if feasible. If he now has a long proven life of genuine faith, then this man may be an Elder even if he has remarried a different woman. Paul consented to Steven’s murder and the death of other saints, yet he was still used of Jesus to be a great Apostle. If Paul can still be used of God to be an Apostle, then why can’t a repentant man of adultery be an Elder? If God has washed, sanctified, justified, forgiven, and cleansed the man from all unrighteousness, then why should we see a spot to keep him from being an Elder.
Acts 26:10 (NET) 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death.
1 Corinthians 6:11 (NET) 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Why would Paul require Elders to be a one woman man?
with faithful children – some English versions say believing children. However, the Greek word for believing is almost always translated ‘faithful’. The children should be faithful to carry out the parents commands and rules.
who cannot be charged with – the Elder’s children should not be accused or charged with…
- dissipation – in other words, while living in the Elder’s home, the children should not be charged with
- undisciplined living
- Wild living
- Riotous living
- Loose living
- Debauchery, or
The child’s character cannot be allowed to dissipate while living in the Elder’s home.
or rebellion – while living in the Elder’s home, the children should not be charged with being ….
Paul means an Elder is disqualified if his children are wild and rebellious because of his own neglect in not creating rules, confronting broken rules, and enforcing consequences. However, if an Elder is dealing with a hard-hearted child but is still maintaining order in his house by lovingly and firmly confronting the child’s rule breaking, then this is exactly the type of Elder needed to refute false teachers and rebellious professing Christians in the church.
1 Timothy 3
4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity.5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God?
What are reasons so many in our society let their children run wild and unrestrained? What are the consequences of a undisciplined home? How could the church look if the member’s actions and teachings were left unchecked?
For the overseer – called an Elder above. Other English translations say, Bishop. The Greek word, episkopos, which means a superintendent or guardian that watches over things to make sure they get done rightly.
must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work – Paul repeats that the Elder / Overseer must be blameless as previously mentioned above. ‘One entrusted’ with God’s work – the Greek word, oikonomos, means a manager, steward, or governor of a household. In this case, he must be blameless to be trusted as a steward of God’s household.
not arrogant – he should not be willful, self-willed, self-pleasing, head-strong. Instead he should be humble, respectful, and consider the thoughts of others.
What could happen in the church if the Elder is willful and stubborn?
not prone to anger – not hot headed, not quick tempered, not soon to anger, not easily angered.
not a drunkard – not addicted, nor given over to wine, or these days, we would say not an alcoholic or drug addict.
not violent – not a smiter, not a striker, not a brawler, not contentious, not a bully.
not greedy for gain – the Greek words means filthy gain. Gain through hard work is good. Gain through stealing or taking advantage is wrong. Stealing from God’s people is very hurtful.
Why do you think Paul mentions that an Elder should not be greedy?
Instead he must be hospitable – the Greek means a friend to strangers. Other English translations say, opening his home to guests.
What advantage do you see of a pastor who is hospitable?
devoted to what is good – the Greek word translated devoted means, a friend, then he is a friend of good. Other English verses translate it as, a lover of good.
sensible – the Greek word means, sound in mind; moderate in opinion and passion; curbing ones’s desires and impulses. Other English versions translate as: temperate, self-controlled, sober, sober-minded, serious-minded, master of himself.
upright – Greek word has two usages: righteous and just. Some English versions emphasize the righteous and upright manner of the man. Other English versions emphasize the just, fair, and equitable manner of the man.
devout – almost all the English versions translate this word as, holy. It is often used to refer to Christ. The Greek-English Lexicon says for men it means devout, pious, pleasing to God, holy.
Upright and holy are very high high standards to meet, why should the Elders be held to such a high moral standard?
and self-controlled – the Greek means, in-strong, and it is only used in this verse in the New Testament. Other English versions translate it as, temperate or disciplined.
He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught – the Greek word for hold firmly means to ‘hold-against’ – the Elder should hold the ‘trusted words’ as taught by Jesus and the Apostles tightly like he is pulling a tug of war rope. He must not let anything or anyone pull them from his hands.
so – meaning the Elder should hold tight to the word for the two following reasons.
that he will be able – Greek word for ‘able’ means ‘power’ or ‘strong’. An Elder must have the ability…
to give exhortation in such healthy teaching – the Elder must be able to exhort. Exhort means to not only encourage and comfort, but to also beseech and intreat which are much stronger words. Exhort means to call loudly to one’s side. Healthy teaching means sound teaching or doctrine. Greek word for ‘healthy’ is our word for ‘hygiene’.
Why should the Elder not only teach, but exhort while teaching?
and correct those who speak against it – the Elder must have ability to correct those who are against healthy and sound teaching. The Greek word for Correct means to refute or convince false teachers.
What were the false teachings of Paul’s day, and what are the false teachings of our day?
Why is refuting false doctrines so important?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Do you have the Character of an Elder?
At your age you have learned and experience much. I want you to have the character qualities of an Elder. Be blameless. Be sexually pure. Lovingly confront your children.
Don’t be willful and stubborn, but listen to the concerns of others. Open your home to others. Be upright and holy like Me. Persuade others to follow My Word. Respectfully confront false doctrines.