Titus 1:5

Friday, 25 May 2018

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— Titus 1:5

The words, “For this reason,” are speaking of what follows, not what has been spoken. With his initial words of greeting complete, Paul now begins his instructions to Titus for the maintenance of the church. Paul says that it is for those things which will now be presented that “I left you in Crete.” Titus was given care of the church on Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It is said to be approximately 250 miles long, 50 wide, and about 600 in circuit.

The Christian faith which had grown in Crete is not explained in the book of Acts. The only direct reference to it in regards to people of Crete is found in Acts 2:11, where some of those at Pentecost in Jerusalem were from Crete. But to say that they heard and believed, and then took the message back to Crete where it spread may be a stretch. They were Jews who may have gone back to the synagogue to share what they saw, but they would most likely have not have gone beyond their own people in evangelism. Further, having a Gentile convert over them seems unlikely as well.

It is probable that Paul evangelized there, and his time on Crete was simply included in a general statement without actually specifying the island as the spot where he was. However the word got to Crete, it had spread enough where churches had been established. It is this group which Titus had now been appointed over.

It is in this capacity that Paul then says, “that you should set in order the things that are lacking.” The word used by Paul for “set in order” is found only here in the Bible. It signifies to correct, or to further straighten. It is used in classical Greek writings concerning the setting of broken bones or even in the straightening of limbs which are crooked. Those things which were left unfinished in the establishment of the churches was to be taken care of by Titus. Further, he was to “appoint elders in every city.”

The word used signifies to appoint, ordain, make, or set. Thus Paul is indicating the appointment of men to a ministerial job. There is no note of how this was done, but it probably included the laying on of hands, as was noted in 1 Timothy 5:22 and elsewhere. Other than this, no specific directions in how to ordain are provided. Rather, only necessary qualifications are given. The fact that Paul mentions “every city” indicates that the Christian faith had grown extensively on Crete. It is a remarkable testimony to the accuracy of Paul’s words in Acts 28:28 –

“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

Paul finishes the verse with the words, “as I commanded you.” He had given instructions to Titus previously, and he was now following up on those oral instructions with a written epistle to ensure that Titus would remember everything he had been told, and also as a witness to the churches that what Titus was instructing had come from the hand of an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

Life application: In order to establish and properly run a church, the necessary instructions are found in the Bible. Nothing should be lacking from its requirements, and the only things that can be added are things which will not interfere with what the Bible instructs already. In other words, there is nothing wrong with having a TV in a church as long as it is used in line with what Scripture would already specify. Technology is neutral, but it should be used in accord with that which is already prescribed for a church in the word. Understanding this, there is great allowance for how churches can be run, and there is no “one size fits all” model which must be adhered to.

Lord God, thank You that there is such a wide variety of ways to run a church. You have provided the basic instructions for how a church is to be organized and structured, but beyond that, You have allowed us to form churches in accord with the times, cultures, and schedules of the people who gather to worship You. This is a real blessing as the nations can come before You in a variety of ways, and yet all be united because of the basic guidelines which bond us together in Christ. Help us then to hold fast to those basics, and to rejoice in our differences as well. Amen.

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