Matters of ministry concern, 1:5-3:11

i] The selection and appointment of elders


In like manner to First Timothy, Paul gets down to business, although unlike First Timothy, the business is the appointment of elders - this is no chit-chat letter. Paul is giving instructions on the order of new house churches and the obvious first instruction is the selection and appointment of elders. As with First Timothy, there are fifteen listed qualifications, but of course, with some differences. Titus is to appoint the elders, and the men he appoints must be able manage their family well, be virtuous, and able to teach and refute error.


i] Context: See 1:1-4. The central section of Paul's letter to Titus consists of a series of general instructions, 1:5-3:11:

First, Paul has a word on the selection and appointment of the presbuteroV, "elder", episkopoV, "overseer, bishop", with particular reference to their qualifications, 1:5-9.

Paul then goes on to encourage Titus to hold "firmly to the trustworthy message" so enabling him to "encourage others by sound doctrine and to refute those who oppose it." This exhortation prompts Paul to warn Titus of the inevitable intrusion of false teachers, 1:10-16. Paul gives a cursory description of these teachers who are into "Jewish myths" and "merely human commands", and calls on Titus to "rebuke them sharply."

Unlike the false teachers, Titus is to teach by word and example behaviour that is "appropriate to sound doctrine", with respect to both men and women, and also slaves, 2:1-10.

These instructions lead Paul to provide the theological basis for such appropriate conduct, 2:11-15. God's saving grace, facilitated through the purifying redemption of Christ, is the effective means by which a believer lives a Godly life. Rather than law, it is grace through faith that "teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passion, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Thus, the focus of Titus' teaching must be the gospel of God's grace in Christ, encouraging and rebuking with all authority, 2:15.

Paul then goes on to give instructions with respect to the business of living within a secular society - respect toward legal authority and ones fellow citizens, 3:1-2. Paul again supports his argument by touching on the gospel. He makes the point that God's grace / mercy, is, by its very nature, what makes us gracious / merciful in our contact with those outside the Christian fellowship, 3:3-8. In typical fashion, the indicative leads to an imperative, namely, "that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good."

Finally, Paul returns to the potential problem of false teachers infecting the churches in Crete; instead of arguing with them over "genealogies" and "the law", Titus should "warn them", and if necessary, "have nothing to do with them", 3:9-11.


ii] Background: See 1:1-4.


iii] Structure: Paul's instructions on the appointment of elders:

The qualifications of an presbuteroV, "elder", episkopoV, "overseer".

Exemplary family life, v6:

faithful - "husband of one wife";

believing / faithful, rather than wilful children.

Virtuous / blameless:

vices that disqualify, v7;

virtues that qualify, v8.

Able to teach, v9:

understands the truth of the gospel,

iJna, "in order that [he may]";




iv] Interpretation:

In Paul's earlier letters there is a degree of flexibility in the management of a Christian fellowship. What seems to exist, certainly in the Pauline churches, is a team ministry exercised by gifted members. As to authority figures, there is obviously the head of the home where the church meets, as well as Pauline delegates, members of Paul's missionary team, who represent apostolic authority in the churches Paul has founded. Only in Philippians do we read of episkopoiV, "overseers", with the term presbuteroiV, "elders", not found in Paul's general letters, although found in Acts, James and 1 Peter. The fact that Paul now uses these terms in the Pastoral Epistles may indicate a later period of church order, although the administrative structure found in the Pastoral Epistles in no way reflect the more ordered structure of second century Christianity. The structural administrative step from a Pauline delegate to an elder / overseer is really quite minimal and doesn't require a later time frame.

It is an open question as to whether there is any difference between an "elder" and an "overseer" in the Pastoral Epistles. We have both words here in the passage before us (v5 and 7), just as both words are found in Acts 20 (v17 referring to elders, and v28 referring to overseers). A three tiered structure does soon develop in Christianity with the overseer / bishop exercising authority over a number of elders in charge of separate churches who in-turn exercise authority over deacons in their churches. So, we end up with the order of Bishops, priests and deacons. Yet, it is unlikely that anything like this structure in mind in the Pastoral Epistles. What seems more likely is that the elder / overseer is a singular authority / management structure, with the term "elder" describing the responsible person as a mature male, and the term "overseer" describing function. As Marshall puts it, Titus 1:5-7 "is concerned with the appointment of people to be elders and who are to act as overseers and stewards of God's people."

Text - 1:5

The selection and appointment of elders, v5-9; i] The appointment of elders by Titus, v5. The language implies a recent visit to Crete by Paul, who, on leaving, gives Titus the task epidiorqow, "to set things right", and "appoint elders in every town." Paul's visit may be the one recorded in Acts 27 (although unlikely, given the Acts account), or possibly earlier during the Corinthian period (unrecorded), or later, after being released from house arrest in Rome (unrecorded) - see Introduction. As directed by Paul, Titus is to appoint elders to the various house churches that have been planted in Crete.

carin + gen. "the reason" - for the sake of. This preposition expresses purpose / end-view. Paul's intention in leaving Titus in Crete was for the purpose of ordering the new churches and appointing elders.

toutou gen. pro. "-"- this. This demonstrative pronoun is cataphoric / forward referencing, and refers to the purpose for leaving Titus in Crete, namely, the appointment elders.

en + dat. "in [Crete]" - [i left you] in [crete]. Local, expressing space.

iJna + subj. "that" - that [the things lacking you should set in order and appoint]. Introducing a purpose clause.

presbuterouV (oV) "elders" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to put in charge." See interpretation above.

kata + acc. "in every [town]" - Here the preposition takes a distributive sense, "city by city."

wJV "as" - like [i directed, ordered you]. Serving here as a comparative; "just like I directed you."


ii] The qualifications of an elder, v6-9 - When Paul left Titus in Crete he instructed him to appoint elders and now Paul codifies the qualifications of those whom Titus is to appoint: a) An exemplary family life: faithful to his wife, and with children who are brought up in the faith and who are respectful of their family responsibilities.

ei + ind. "-" - if [anyone]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true. The apodosis of the conditional clause is assumed; "if as is the case, anyone is blameless ............. then he may properly be appointed as an elder."

anegklhtoV adj. "blameless" - [is] blameless. Predicate adjective. The first qualification / requirement for a person, tiV, "any person", being appointed as an elder is that their character is "blameless, above reproach", not open to criticism with respect to their Christian life.

gunaikoV (h koV) gen. "[husband of but one] wife / [faithful to his] wife" - [a husband] of [one] wife - The genitive noun is adjectival, relational, modified / limited by the attributive adjective "one". The sense is conveyed by NIV11 such that "marital and sexual fidelity are required of the potential elder", Knight, ie., he is a one-woman man, not entangled in multiple relationships, possibly even specifically "not polygamous." It is likely that the qualification is not restricting the role of elder to married men only, although for practical reasons, this has been employed in protestant churches in modern times due to the inherent sexual dangers facing a single person in a position of authority. Chrysostom noted that by his time, the church had viewed this qualification as a restriction on those who are divorced and remarried. This restriction has continued to the present in some Christian denominations.

exwn (ecw) pres. part. "-" - having [children]. The participle is adjectival, predicative; "if anyone is blameless, ......, is having children." Not a requirement that an elder must have children, but that his children are pista.

pista adj. "believe" - faithful, trustworthy, reliable. Attributive adjective modifying / limiting "children; "having faithful children." In the Pastorals, the word can be ethical, so faithful in dealing with others, especially one's family, so "trustworthy", but again, in the Pastorals, the word can just mean "Christian", faithful toward God, so "believing". Given that Paul goes on to speak of the children's ethical behaviour, it is argued that "faithful" is therefore a spiritual requirement, so Towner, Marshall, .... inc. Chrysostom and Jerome - if a person cannot nurture faith in one's own family, they are obviously not the right person to nurture faith in the church. Against this, the clause can be viewed as a counterpoint / equivalent construction, "trustworthy, not wild and disobedient", so Knight. Possibly "Christian" in a nominal sense, ie., the children do not worship with their mother at the local pagan temple. Mounce notes that "a decision is not easy." Paul is setting a high bar if he intends "believing". PK's (preacher's kids) are renowned for their early rebellion against the Christian faith, usually around 14 years old, often to return to the fold. If "believing" is Paul's standard then we are going to face a serious shortage of qualified pastors / priests. A general sense seems better; "with children brought up as Christians", Phillips.

en + dat. "[not] open to" - [not] in. Local, state / condition. The prepositional phrase is usually taken to modify "children", rather than tiV, "anyone", but it is not always read as such, eg., "if anyone is blameless, ........, not in accusation of debauchery or unruly" = "and not likely to be accused of loose living or law-breaking", Phillips. Technically, the negation mh, rather than ouk, indicates an assumed adjectival participle of the verb to-be, onta, introducing a relative clause limiting "children", "Christian children who are not open to the charge of loose living or being out of control", so Moule.

aswtiaV (a) gen. "wild" - [accusation, charge] of reckless living. The genitive is adjectival, probably epexegetic, so Perkins, ie., "reckless living" specifies the "accusation"; "his children being believers, while at the same time not open to any charge of profligacy or found to be wanting in obedience", Cassirer.

anupotakta adj. "disobedient" - [or] insubordinate, unruly, defiant of authority. Predicate adjective.


Paul now explains why a person needs to be "blameless" if he is to be selected as an elder, namely gar, "because", he exercises oversight over God's house; he is God's steward. Paul goes on to unpack what he means by "blameless", first with a list of negative qualities that would tend to disqualify a person's selection as an elder, before listing some positive ones in v8. "He must not be aggressive or hot-tempered or over-fond of wine; nor must he be violent or greedy for financial gain", Phillips.

gar "since" - for [the overseer to be blameless is necessary as / since he is (wJV) steward of god]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why an elder should be "above reproach". Probably not limited to the management of his family, but generally "above reproach."

ton episkopon (oV) acc. "an overseer" - the overseer. Accusative subject of the infinitive verb to-be einai. As Hort argues in The Christian Ecclesia, presbuteroV, "elder", describes the office, while episkopoV, "overseer", describes the function, so "'Bishop' here has the same meaning as 'elder'", Barrett.

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "-" - to be [blameless is necessary]. The infinitive forms a noun clause subject of the verb dei, "is necessary"; "the overseer to be blameless is necessary" = "it is necessary for an overseer to be blameless." "It's important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs of God's house, be looked up to", Peterson.

wJV "-" - as = since he is. Here expressing a characteristic quality, not "like God's steward", but "as God's steward", even better causal, "since / because he is God's steward", so Knight; Huther, Pastoral Epistles, 1893.

qeou (oV) gen. "God's [household]" - [manager, steward] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

mh ... mh .... mh .... mh .... mh ... alla "not ....... but ..." - Counterpoint construction covering v7b and 8.

auqadh adj. "overbearing" - self-willed, arrogant [nor inclined to anger, quick tempered, nor addicted to wine, nor greedy for money]. Predicate adjective, as with the rest of the negative qualities that serve to disqualify a potential elder. Identifying "greedy for money" is very perceptive as financial security often becomes an important concern for a Christian minister as they move toward retirement.


Paul now lists the positive qualifications: "On the contrary, he must be hospitable, a genuine lover of what is good, a man who is discreet, fair-minded, holy and self controlled", Phillips.

alla "rather" - but [hospitable, loving what is good, self controlled, upright / just / righteous, devout / pious, self-controlled / disciplined]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.


A particularly important requirement for an elder is their grasp of Christian doctrine and their ability to teach and defend it, "for the church cannot be governed in any other way than by the word", Calvin. He needs to be "absolutely devoted to the gospel ...... exhorting / encouraging the faithful and confuting the opponents", Fee.

antecomenon (antecomai) pres. mid. part. + gen. "he must hold firmly" - clinging to, holding fast to, being devoted to. The participle is adjective, predicative, adding a further positive requirement to the list. It is often translated as an imperative, as if an imperatival participle, but although it is without an article, it is more likely adjectival, and thus another requirement. "It is necessary for the overseer to be blameless since he is God's steward, not ........ but .......... holding fast to ..."

tou ... logou (oV) gen. "the [trustworthy] message" - Genitive of direct object after the verb "to hold fast to", modified / limited by the adjective "trustworthy, faithful." This is the same phrase used throughout the Pastoral Epistles for the trustworthy sayings, cf., 1Tim.1:15, 3:1, 4:9, 2Tim.2:11, Titus.3:8. Each saying presents an aspect of gospel truth, so Paul is stating that the elder must understand the gospel, the Christian tradition, Christian doctrine.

kata + acc. "as" - according to [the teaching]. Here expressing a standard, "in accordance with", introducing a prepositional phrase qualifying "trustworthy word / saying"; "the word that is in accord with the apostolic tradition" / "in accord with the teaching of both the apostles and Christ."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [he may be able]. Introducing a purpose clause; "so that he may be well able", REB.

kai .... kai .... "...... and ..." - both ..... and ..... Forming a correlative construction; "that he may be able both to encourage ...... and refute ......"

parakalein (parakalew) "encourage others" - [be able] to encourage. As with "to expose", the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able." The sense "exhort" is probably better than "encourage".

en + dat. "by" - in, by [sound, healthy teaching]. Instrumental, expressing means; "by his wholesome teaching", Berkeley.

touV antilegontaV (antilegw) pres. part. "those who oppose it" - [and to expose, reprove, refute, convince] the ones opposing; "he will have the ability ...... to refute opponents", Barclay.


Titus Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]