Titus 1:4-6 Elder Devotional
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Greetings to Titus (1:4): To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Notice that Paul addresses Titus as his “true Child in a common faith”(See 1 Timothy 1:2). In one sense Paul saw Titus as his son in the ministry. This may be because it could have been the Apostle Paul who led him to Christ. But in another sense he saw Titus as a fellow believer due to the commonality of their faith. This is telling due to the fact that Titus was a Greek and Paul was a Jew and yet they have a common faith.
Why would Paul being a Jew and Titus being a Gentile be an important point of reference?
For Some Background on Titus See: Galatians 2:3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. ; 2 Corinthians 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. It is also very likely that Titus, though he is not mentioned by name, was at the Jerusalem Council with the Apostle Paul in Acts 15.
Paul extends the blessing of grace and peace to Titus from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is not necessarily uncommon for the Apostle Paul but could be considered a standard practice of his literary style for correspondence.
According to The New American Commentary, The terms “grace and peace” are a standard feature in Paul’s salutations. It is likely that Paul developed the term “grace” (charis) in this context as a wordplay on the Greek term “Greeting” (chairein), customarily used in Greek letters in Paul’s day. To the Christian, however, the term “grace” suggests the “unmerited favor” given to us by God. “Peace” (Hebrew shalom), on the other hand, is a customary form of greeting in Jewish letters (Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary pg. 273).
Instruction to Titus (1:5-6): 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
Paul left Titus in Crete to complete some unfinished business. The unfinished business specifically referred to the appointment of elders in every town. This shows that initially there were elders (plural) in every town (singular). This was long before the modern denominational identities that exist today. There was only one community of faith in a particular town. Many of these congregations were divided into different homes but they were all considered to be one church. It is highly likely that the various home congregations were led by a single elder with a plurality of elders making up a governing body of the church in a particular town.
The term “appoint” means to assign someone a position of authority, appoint, put in charge (BAGD). Titus had been given the responsibility under Apostolic authority of assigning a plurality of elders in every town.
This shows the simplicity of the early church compared to today. The ancient reality of one church in a town or city already had ecumenical-ism built in. There was only one church even in the visible sense. Today we are divided by denominational lines due to the constant drift of the Christian church from orthodoxy. Unity is never unity for unity’s sake alone. There is a repeated call for unity around the sound teaching of the word of God.
Paul was clearly aware that one of the key roles of an elder was to combat false doctrine in Crete (See 1:10-16). Throughout church history it is apparent that the church has repeatedly struggled to keep false teaching out of the church.
Do you think the problem with apostasy could have anything to do with elders not carrying out their role? How so?