PASTORS, BISHOPS, ELDERS & MINISTERS (Titus 2)
READ: Titus 1:5
God likes structure and organization. He made the universe to run very precisely. The laws of mathematics rule science and they never change. Everything has its place and interconnects with everything else. There is order, not chaos; planning, not chance; design, not accident. Since God created the universe to run that way, it should be no surprise He wants the church to run that way as well. We see that at the very start of Paul’s words to Titus.
After his opening introduction (Titus 1:1-4), Paul gets right to the reason he is writing: “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Titus was Paul’s representative to the house churches scattered throughout the island. Paul visited Crete many years earlier on his earliest missionary journeys but didn’t start any churches there. They had already been planted, probably by Jews who accepted Jesus as their Savior at Pentecost and returned home to Crete (Acts 2:11). The church was composed mainly of slaves who were owned by immoral, ungodly masters.
Titus is commanded to “straighten out what was left unfinished” (Titus 1:5). “Straighten out” is a medical term referring to setting a broken bone. The church there needed to be organized, structured, led by qualified, trained men who knew and followed the truth of God’s Word. The people on Crete had a reputation for being dishonest, lazy and corrupt (Titus 1:12). Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically change all that. Each person still has a free will choice to make about how they live. Paul had a lot to say about living a holy life and doing good works, because that was needed there, and it was up to Titus to encourage it. Also, there was a lot of false teaching going on (Titus 1:10-11). It was up to Titus to get things organized and moving in the right direction.
One of the first things Titus needed to do to accomplish this was to “appoint elders” (Titus 1:5). Paul always emphasized the need for order and organization in churches. In 2 Timothy he focused on church leadership and in Titus on church organization. Structure is very important to church health. It is necessary for the gospel to spread and believers to grow. God put structure, order and organization into the universe. We see it in math and science. We need to see it in the church as well.
These elders were to be spiritually mature, godly men who would oversee the Christians in the various house churches. There were usually two or more doing the planning, teaching and guiding in each local gathering throughout the island. Gentiles in the church would be familiar with the term and concept of qualified men leading others. Jewish synagogues had such an office as well.
There are two groups of leaders in a church: Elders are spiritual leaders and oversee the spiritual needs of the people. We also call them pastors today. Deacons are the second group and they care for the physical needs of the building, people, finances and resources so the elders can focus on the more important spiritual needs.
|Translation||Pastor||Elder||Overseer (bishop)||Minister (servant)|
|Literal||Shepherd||Commanding officer||Guardian||Wait on tables
|Main Idea||Gift, Duty
Shepherd by leading, feeding
|Office; Jewish title for head of synagogue – authority, personal dignity, maturity||Office; Gentile title for head of group of people, policy-maker||Attitude
Servant, slave of God
|Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-4||1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 5:1,17,19; Titus 1:5-6||1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4||1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 4:5|
Our job today as pastors is also to make sure things are going well in our church and the lives of our people. We must plan ahead, be organized and do things in a systematic order. We must set goals and make plans to reach them. We must keep the people in order with everyone working together like a big family. We can’t put off things that need doing or let disorder or discord take over in the church. We are in charge; God wants us to keep things in control and oversee everyone as He oversees us. (August 21, 2023 Doylestown, PA)
PAUL’S ADVICE: Each church needs leaders to organize and oversee its function.
1 Peter 5:1-4 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
What are some of the problems you have had to straighten out in your church?
Where is there disorder and disorganization in your life right now?
What must you do about it to follow God’s command to be organized?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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