Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: City

Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9


Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9 – 12/17/2015

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 1:5 (ESV) 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. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus begins the reason for his letter after the earlier salutation (see previous blog article) and outlines the reasons for initially writing and sets out what the mission for Titus should be. It is both a mission and a challenge because Titus would have to be very discerning in who he chose and he would require wisdom to ensure that the correct type of people were installed to help these churches to be strong. Let’s start in verse 5.

V5 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—

We learn from this verse that Paul had served with Titus in Crete which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Titus had been left there in charge of the church movement on the island to a group of people that would be what we would call in the modern church as a church plant. There were many people attending but also many new believers. Crete was a difficult place to be in because the inhabitants of the island did not have a good reputation and it was a difficult place because the attributes listed were not externally what you would associate with the reputation that the island had. It was also great because the ones who met these qualifications would certainly be living as “salt and light” in that place.

I know how this is as when I write this article I acknowledge that even though I live in a town that has a good reputation, the area in town I live in is not the best so I truly have to be “salt and light” to my neighbors and attempt to win them over with love first and then as they question what makes me different then win them over with the gospel. Titus had been left in Crete for the following reasons:

•       Put what remained in order
•       Appoint elders in every town
•       Follow directions

We have no clarification that Titus was being left in Crete so he is there for this purpose and is there to establish the churches there on a solid foundation and appoint those who would equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Like any new ministry, the church in Crete needed structure, order and the right leaders in place to ensure solid doctrine was being preached and that the newer believers were being mentored up in the faith of Christ Jesus. This is why the term “put what remained in order” which tells us that there was something that was not quite in order, it may have been something small but it may have required major intervention, we are not told this and such talk is just speculation. However the main point is that he should appoint elders in every city.

Paul sets out quite clearly the criteria for Eldership, so much so that many churches use these verses and verses in 1st Timothy chapter 3 to

1st Timothy 3:1 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The reason I use this scripture too is that in the Ephesian church model the church was more established and Timothy was asked to appoint deacons and elders but only elders are mentioned here in Titus. He had quite a job as the cities in Crete were large in number and he would have to do quite a bit of appointing. We see here that Paul wanted all of the cities to have their own leadership and this shows an immense amount of trust being placed on the shoulders of Titus, it gave him a tremendous amount of authority to be Paul’s man in Crete. Paul lists criteria for leadership that suggests that Titus had a job of ratification as well as selection.

V6 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. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

You will notice that Paul didn’t say to Titus “find me the tallest, the good looking, the ones who have a smooth personality, the winners, the popular, the ones you like or have an instant rapport with” he gives a criteria that is much better. Also he didn’t say “pick the willing, the volunteer, the one who isn’t really equipped but he is keen, the one who tithes the most, the one who compliments” he picks more about the character of the man.

I have grouped the criteria together because there is a lot to go through so I made a list but the overriding criteria that Paul is looking for is Godly character. That should be the entry level requirements for a candidate to get through the door, I notice that we don’t see education or a seminary background and whilst it is good to do these things, that does not always automatically qualify you for leadership.

Lastly and before the list is given, it doesn’t state that the man has to have it all together, I have seen some of the greatest elder appointments were to guys that were 80% there in doing the job already but they knew the criteria that they wanted to meet and they strived at that with all of their heart, not for personal gain but to increase in their service to their Lord.

Paul gave a list as follows:

•       Above reproach – Basically above gossip, not exactly Teflon (Non-stick)  but the congregation cannot be left wondering “why is he up there?” that there should be nothing that can be attacked either by the church or externally from outside the church. Basically one that is obvious in living a righteous life, he is an example to those he is serving.
•       The husband of one wife – It doesn’t say that a leader had to be married, but what it does say is that if the leader is married then he must be married to one wife. The idea is that the leader has the attention and sights set on one woman in the church only. Would you want your elders being flirtatious and causing the ladies of the church to stumble?
•       Children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination – The heart behind this instruction is the same as the one in 1st Timothy is that the man should be in control of his household and the ability to lead his own children should demonstrate his ability to lead God’s church.
•       Not be arrogant or quick-tempered – Arrogance, self-will and quick temper should be checks in the qualifications for leadership, these and the next few would certainly not make the candidate “above reproach” can you imagine the scene if an elder is brawling or arguing with members of the congregation on a regular basis?
•       Drunkard – which means the same as “not given to wine” and that is a just qualification as a man who is in leadership will be called to deal with all manners of people, some may have had issues with alcohol and may justify sin by measure that “well my elder does it” I think that personal sacrifice is a far better example as to not stumble a weaker believer rather than a brutish exercise in ‘personal liberty”. Am I saying don’t have a beer? No, I am saying don’t be drunk with wine.
•       Violent  – You have to be an example to all believers, unless you wish to breed a generation of violent brawlers then avoid this quality in your leadership. I am not referring to those who defend themselves but Paul is stating don’t pick people who are the cause of the fighting and are violent by nature and have not submitted that to the Lord. This goes for those who throw fists as well as those the throw words.
•       Greedy for gain – Do not pick those who were just like Judas! One eye on the prize of their pocket as opposed to doing the will and work of the Lord, I have issues in the past with elders who wanted to conduct business whilst doing the Lords work and it left a bad taste in the mouth and caused me to avoid that brother for a while.
•       Hospitable – Probably the most overlooked criteria for an elder but in my view it should be the first thing that is looked at. Is that ministry candidate willing to open up their home, willing to be scrutinized? Willing to feed the poor? Clothe the needy? Not because he wants to look all holy but because he has a heart to do the work of the Lord in the city he has been planted. Will he invite people into his home and open the word of God and mentor folks? If not then why would you trust him to in the church?
•       A lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined – Men who tell the crude jokes, have the dirty minds, love the debase things, do you want them in charge at your church? What about the jokesters? The ones who you are not sure could be serious when occasion calls? I am not saying that if a man ever told a joke then he should be struck off but if a man cannot be sober minded and mature enough to read a situation well then he may not be ready for leadership. The words just, holy and self-controlled refer to his attitude towards other men, God and himself. Matthew Henry is quoted as saying “How unfit are those to govern a church who cannot govern themselves!”
•       Holding firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it – And lastly he must know his doctrine! If he does not know his doctrine and is sure of it then how will he give instruction, exhort and convict those who either come to him or contradict him. Leaders need to have a solid foundation in the Word of God, which is why Paul commissions Timothy to not pick a novice.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to

TTE Advent Calendar Day Two – December 2nd


TTE Advent Calendar Day Two – December 2nd

Thank you for reading our second installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Micah 5:2 (ESV) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Thank you for reading day two of the TTE advent calendar, today we look at a verse which was often quoted in the time of Jesus being on this earth.

Where was the messiah to be born?

In yesterday’s article we looked at how the messiah was to be born of a woman, really, the skeptic among you may say “well that could apply to anyone” and that would be true. However passages in the bible really narrow it down to who is the messiah. They also point to the trustworthiness of the bible.

This passage was quoted in Matthew 2 when Herod asked where the Messiah was due to be born, we read…

Matthew 2:1 (ESV) 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Herod didn’t get the point of the messiah, he assumed that in the volatile political climate that he lived in that this Messiah would take away his limited power that he had. He already had to concede power to Rome and was essentially a puppet of Rome but he did not wish his power to be diluted any further by this religious messiah.

We can learn from this, we get so involved in our lives and our problems that we fail to observe or notice the messiah. We resolve to fix our issues ourselves instead of allowing the one who takes our burdens to bear them for us.

Why Bethlehem?

We are told Bethlehem, in the land of Judea was to be the place, what an honour for the place that was also the birthplace of David, the mighty King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart.

Historically this was a period that the nation of Israel were not proud about, they were ruled by a foreign Roman power, they were ruled by an unjust king in an uneasy political balance where Jerusalem was a melting pot between Roman, Herodian and religious authority.

So in these humble times, how fitting that God used a humble city, one that was not even regarded as much within it’s own borders to prophesy and deliver a messiah from. I see this in my life, that when I have been in the most humble of places, that is when God has used me and delivered abundance through me.

Ruler in Israel

This is where Herod got scared, he seen his power going away. Historically I find this laughable that he thought this way as the Messiah was known to be God. He could have taken out Herod with one word, however as we learn from the later part of Matthew 2, Herod was not going to last forever and he passed away while Jesus was in Egypt.

Jesus kingdom was not temporary, Jesus confirms this in his trial in the dialogue with Pontius Pilate, we read in the Gospel of John…

John 18:36 (ESV) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

What amazing humility to submit to those he had created. This truly blows my mind on so many levels. Jesus will rule, but when he comes back at the end of the world. The religious leaders thought they had snuffed out the problem when they coerced the Romans to crucify him. They did not want to face that he was God, but as Jesus proved at Calvary – YOU CAN’T KILL GOD!

Coming forth of old, from the ancient of days

This part shows that he was not just a man, limited by a finite span on earth. He was there of old, he was there at the beginning, he was there at the end, and he was and is and is to come. This gives further credence to the fact that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation.

This tells us that although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the story did not start there. He is the ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the end. (We read this is Revelation 22.) Being a third of the trinity he is as timeless as God.

The Gospel of John in chapter 1 (Quoted fron Genesis 1) .tells us when Jesus began…

John 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Who was Jesus?

He was all of this and more, he was God, he had humanity, he had humility, he was perfect, he was sympathetic to man, he was love, we was sacrificial, he was glorious, he was the fulfillment of prophesy, he was the creator and he was and is and is to come the only way to heaven. He was all this and much, much more. He is my Savior and is the LORD.

My hope is that this look at a messianic passage was a help to you and my hope is that this blessed you and hopefully stirred some questions about Jesus being your messiah.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.

UPDATE – City of Houston cancels subpoenas (and what will probably happen next)


UPDATE – City of Houston cancels subpoenas (and what will probably happen next)

As written about yesterday on the blog, we looked at the strange case of the Mayor of the City of Houston and her special treatment of five pastors in the Houston area. For whatever reason, this legal action has been cancelled as the Mayor stated that it “did not serve the interests of the City of Houston”.

 Seriously?  I don’t have a law degree and even I knew that! It was a self serving and frivolous abuse of power based on an individual’s bias and her own personal bigotry based on what she thought she may find in the sermons.

I know that she is the Mayor of that city and she yields certain powers, but such abuses of power and personal vendettas will not sit well for her should she be required to be re-elected. Closer to my home in California, a former Mayor of a local city was not re-elected after she tried to use her “executive authority” to override normal city policy and push through a LGBT month in a city that had little taste for it. In fact when it came to a public hearing, the LGBT side had to bus people in from almost 100 miles away to seem like it was a more credible number.

She also cannot force a pastor of a certain religion not preach theological truths of that same religion. I do not see her doing likewise at the local Mosque who would see her far worse than the local pastors.

What I see happening next

I see the LGBT community trying to force the issue and try to re-open a subpoena, either against the pastors or against the mayor/City of Houston. The liberals have not had their “pound of flesh” yet and someone is going to have to be the fall guy.

I can see the city trying to do something through the back door such as try to revoke a tax exempt status or something like that. I say that as we are only told that they are stopping “this legal action”. Call me a cynic but I think that also leaves the door open for further tests legally.

My hope, however is that it goes away, the pastors are left alone to continue to preach the word of God without any further hair brained hindrance from their local City. I think the city really mis-calculated how strong the opinion would not be on their side. Politian’s do not do things that are going to either stop them getting/elected/reelected/or to the next level.

Final thoughts

My hope and prayer is that we draw a line in the sand and this is the end of it, we are called in Paul’s epistle to the Romans in chapter 13 to “subject to the governing authorities.” here is the full text for clarification and for context.

Romans 13:1 (ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

You see God does not allow authority except it comes from God. (Even when they themselves rebel against the Word of God)

I hope this update was a blessing, please like, comment and share if the LORD leads

I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”


I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

Like most males based in America, I love me a little MNF (Or Monday Night Football for those who do not speak NFL) but I try to restrict myself to when my team are playing and I have it as more of a treat than a Monday night ritual. As you may have guessed by the title and picture that I have placed on the top of this article, I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I must have some sort of NFL style Stockholm syndrome by choosing a team that I have never seen live in the Superbowl (I was born in 1977) and who quite often lose in the playoffs, but I am a loyal guy and once I saw an aging Joe Montana throw snaps in the Red, white and yellow uniform, I was hooked and instantly loved the game.

A few years later in the country where I lived in Scotland we got the NFL Europe and we got a team called the “Scottish Claymores” and I continued to like this “foreign sport” along with about 10,000 other die hards until the team ceased operations in 2004.

When I moved to the US I continued to like the game and although I live no-where near KC, I have kept up with what is going on with a team that I have formed an association with and a team that has given me a great deal of joy, a great deal of frustration and a great cause of my mood swings.

Last night was a good night to be a Chiefs fan and it is hard because there is a tradition that we do at Arrowhead that I am not too fond of, this may sound hypocritical as I was not born in the US or am I a US citizen, however I am not a fan of the tradition of concluding the American national anthem with “The land of the free, in the home of the CHIEFS!” I am a really big fan of my team but I do think there are some things that you shouldn’t mess with. The US is a wonderful country and one of the greatest things about this place is that they are proud to be American.

Play by play, the Chiefs played better than the Patriots, won 41-14, they set a new Guinness record for noise and despite the fact I started the game about an hour after the rest of the country. (I had errands to run and I had the game DVR’d) I still finished it about the time the rest of the US and I was getting more and more excited as the game was drawing to a close.

This made me think, imagine getting into a state about a game that I have no control over and that for half of it I was cheering after the play had occurred, (even if I was in the stadium I would have little to do with the outcome on the field) when I don’t get in a state about the things that matter, things like I wonder how many of the 76,000 seats last night were occupied by people who were assured of going to heaven by having Jesus as their Saviour.

Please do not think I am against sports and enjoying yourself, that is not the case. I love watching football and love to see my team win, however I do realize and recognize that “tribal worship” like that is not exactly a good thing. Since I have been in California, I have seen folks check their smart phones to check scores whilst in church, rush out of church to get home to see their game or in some cases (and I have done this) when the church service collides with a game, not went to church.

That’s when you have to do some examining our natural face in the glass (as James would say in his epistle) and pray about what the LORD wants you to do. This maybe an emotive subject as I know many Christians who love the NFL and I know the teams they follow but precious little else about them, that is tragic and we do tend to wear our sports teams jerseys like some sort of cultish pride.

I am not against watching football on a Sunday, Monday or whatever day you choose to, but I do have some advice, last night when I DVR’d the game, I got through it in just over an hour as opposed to the nearly 4 hours I usually set aside. This is not a guilt trip and I am as much talking to me as anyone but when was the last time you spent nearly 4 hours in prayer and worship to the one true king? (Jesus Christ)

I do not wish to get all legalistic and we are all free to make our own choices. I can no easier see your heart as I can your motives in what you do, I have no idea what your daily walk with Jesus is like, however I do like to throw up warning flares and hope that the Holy Spirit uses these writings to fulfill the will of God. There is no anti sport agenda here as I love Rugby, Soccer, Football and Baseball. In fact if my “religion” was sports results then I would have been a happy worshipper with Dundee United, Glasgow Warriors and the LA Dodgers all winning recently.

It is like most things I guess in the Christian faith, all down to your heart. If it becomes a consuming passion in your life then it is clear that you need to take a step back and a step closer to Jesus.

From this member of the Red Tribe I pray that this blog is edifying, challenging and thought provoking, please feel free to comment, like or share below, God bless you one and all