Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Paul’s letter to Titus is a Spirit-filled document with timeless truths regarding planting a church God’s way. It is also a glimpse into the heart of God’s love for lost man. When the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in the Upper Room, men from Crete are listed among those who heard the gospel in their own tongue (Acts 2:11). Paul had left Titus in Crete to organize local churches with elders as spiritual leaders (Titus 1:5) because that is God’s design for church structure and accountability. Thus he established a biblical pattern of God’s design for church oversight and accountability that is as necessary today as it was then.
There were 4 main areas of attack against the gospel of the grace of God in Paul’s day that are still active today.
1- There was antinomianism (Jude 3), which basically taught that since Christians have been redeemed from the curse of the law, they were no longer obligated to obey the moral law of God (cp. Romans 6:1; Titus 2:11-24). Any religious system that teaches that a Christian is freed from seeking to keep the moral law of God is preaching a false gospel.
2- There was mysticism (Colossians 2:20-22), which basically taught that Christianity was faith in Jesus plus a blend of esoteric practices of other religions. Any religious or spiritual group that proclaims that there is some other spiritual or religious experience that you must have in addition to faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ is preaching a false gospel.
3- There was legalism, which taught that the believer was obligated to maintain the ceremonial and dietary laws of Moses in order to be saved. Any religious system that adds any ritual or ceremony or sacrament as a requirement to be saved in addition to faith in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ is preaching a false gospel.
4- There was moralism. Like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22), there are those who believe that as long as you are a good person and lead a good life, you will be saved. Any person or religious individual who believes this is believing a false gospel.
Paul lays out character qualities of the kind of men who are to be ordained to oversee the local church. It is worth noting that these men are to be ordained by Titus, not voted in by some committee or congregation. These qualities are timeless and are not to be replaced by any other standards. These men were called to be “servants”, and the Greek word here is “douleuo”, which is “slave”. There is no greater thing in the universe than being the servant of the Eternal living God, the Creator of the universe. In this day and age when people are impressed with titles, please note that Paul identifies himself first as a servant before the fact that he was called by God to be an apostle. This phrase “servant of God” suggests a direct connection to Moses, David, and Old Testament prophets who were described as servants of God. A servant in the first century did not act on his own authority; he acted on his master’s authority, and in this case the master being The Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
As this letter unfolds, we are going to see over and over again that sound doctrine will always produce godly character and good works in the home, in the church, and in the work place for the glory of God. It would serve us well to remember that whatever the apostle Paul commands pastor Titus to teach and preach to the church at Crete regarding church oversight, Christ-like character for older saints, younger saints, women’s ministry, submission to governing authorities, and good works are timeless truths that are as relevant and necessary for the church today as it was back then. SELAH