Research continues to reveal that today’s children are less stable than previous generations. That is true physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The primary reason children are unstable is because their parents are unstable.
- 46% of children live with mom and dad in first marriage.
- 96% of children live in a dysfunctional family (at least one member has addiction > neglect).
What’s the solution? Godly men who lead their homes well, then equip other men to do the same.
Paul’s greeting set the stage. We must keep the outline in mind: Leadership > Doctrine > Conduct. No thanksgiving section nor mention of deacon. Why? Elders were the urgentneed.
Neglecting the gift of male leadership in the church perpetuates the downward spiral of instability in the home.
Read Titus 1:5-9
My aim is to simply reinforce what Paul has clearly stated: The path to leadership in the local church begins with leadership in the home.
The Task (5)
Titus’ task was training up “elders” (πρεσβύτερος) as Paul had always done (Acts 14:23).
How many? Plural, in every city…wherever there is a church.
Paul refers to the elder as an “overseer” (ἐπίσκοπος) in v.7. These are descriptions of the same office (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim. 3:1-2 and 5:17).
BCO 8-1 This office is one of dignity and usefulness. The man who fills it has in Scripture different titles expressive of his various duties. As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop or pastor. As it is his duty to be grave and prudent, an example to the flock, and to govern well in the house and Kingdom of Christ, he is termed presbyter or elder. As he expounds the Word, and by sound doctrine both exhorts and convinces the gainsayer, he is termed teacher. These titles do not indicate different grades of office, but all describe one and the same office.
The work of the elder is a “noble task”. It is a high calling, not to be entered lightly. Godly leadership in the church is just as critical today as it was in the first century. But, clearly, it’s not available to everyone.
In order to complete the task, men are needed who meet…
The Qualifications (6)
1 overall attribute (2x) > 2 regarding family > 5 vices > 7 virtues. These qualities apply to every Christian, but elders should be exemplary.
Above Reproach (cf. v.7)
Means blameless, not open to accusation. This serves as a header that applies to all of the qualifications. Elders are to be men of integrity. Their reputation are important. This implies the involvement of the congregation (commend/criticize).
Maybe the loudest condemnation comes from our own conscience. We know full well that our words, thoughts, and actions have not always been “above reproach”. So how do we find anyone who meets the standard?
We start by recognizing that Jesus Christ “who knew no sin” was made to be sin for our sake, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Our lives can only be lived “above reproach” as we walk by faith in the One who clothed us with his righteousness.
The Husband of one Wife
First, notice the gender is assumed. Literally = “a one-woman man”. The challenge is determining who Paul excludes. Very few people believe this excludes single men or men who were widowed but remarried. Both views would contradict Paul in other places. Most common exclusions are:
- Divorced Culturally common. Contextually challenging considering pastors have third highest divorce rate behind doctors and policemen. Doesn’t consider if the divorce occurred before salvation, or whether there were biblical grounds for it.
- Polygamy Although polygamists were certainly excluded, the phrase is probably more generic (cf. 1 Tim. 5:9, polyandry unheard of).
- Unfaithful In Marriage Marital unfaithfulness disqualifies a man.
Alexander Strauch Thus, it would prohibit an elder from polygamy, concubinage, homosexuality, and/or any questionable sexual relationship.
But is any man fully qualified? Matthew 5:27-28. All of us can admit unfaithfulness in the past, whether outwardly or inwardly. Once again, we must see the basis of our marital faithfulness as being rooted in and established by a Savior who is perfectly faithful to us, his bride.
Do all children need to make a credible profession of faith? What about adult children? Were that true, it would be a higher standard than Ephesus received.
“Believing” is a possible translation, but it’s probably not the best one. Context and comparison with 1 Tim. 3:4 suggests the determining factor is behavior, not status. The question is: Does he have control over the conduct of his children or are they wild and rebellious?
Why is this so important? Paul wants Titus to appoint men who already lead well, to expand their ministry beyond their immediate family. If they cannot lead their family well, they will not lead the church well.
The path to leadership in the local church begins with leadership in the home.
It’s a sobering reality. These qualifications aren’t simply boxes to tick. They require humble evaluation and prayer. It’s typically accompanied by a sense of unworthiness.
These are not qualifications for justification! It’s legalistic to suggest that our salvation is determined by our character (3:4-7). But, our justification reinforces the means of grace God has given for our sanctification, church leadership.
Let us pray for God’s protection and provision. May we always have elders who lead their homes well and equip other men to do the same.