Tuesday, 29 May 2018
…holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Titus 1:9
Paul has given the list of things which disqualify a person from becoming a bishop, and then he gave those things which were necessary for such an appointment. Now he continues with another key element necessary for such an appointment with the words, “holding fast the faithful word.” This faithful word is explained by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 –
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
The traditions are those things which the apostles directly taught to the churches. Personal visits were made and words were spoken. Also at times, letters were written. Those which were directly from the apostles, and confirmed as such, were to be held to without waving. Verifying authenticity of these letters was necessary because Paul also said in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 to “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
In other words, people were making false claims (by spirit), or were writing false letters (by letter, as if from us), which would poison the doctrine of the fellowship if accepted and then passed on as doctrine. This is a clear indication of apostolic authority being the only valid source of doctrine for such things. When the final Apostle of Jesus Christ was gone, the words of authority ceased, the canon was complete, and the Bible alone was to be held as authoritative.
Paul then confirms this with, “as he has been taught.” Nothing is said of additional revelation, or that a bishop was allowed to add to the body of doctrine that had been received. Rather, it was the Old Testament Scriptures, along with the words and writings of validated apostles, that gives the basis for the faith. From this sound foundation, Paul says, “that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
The bishop was to hold fast to the doctrine he was taught, and to not make stuff up out of his own head. Any who spoke against the truth (for example, the Judaizers Paul vehemently spoke against in the book of Galatians), were to be given the sound doctrine of the apostles. Believers who listened to the false teachers were to be exhorted to leave such aberrant paths, and to come back to the solid doctrine of the apostles. The job of the bishop’s exhortation is to then convict the uninformed, turning him to the truth.
Life application: Nothing has changed in today’s world from the time of Paul’s warning here in Titus. There are countless false teachings, heretical sects, and misguided instructors of the word out there. They have misused Scripture (the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, who deny the deity of Christ); they have added to the word (the Mormons, for example, who have added in the Book of Mormon); and they have misapplied Scripture (the Seventh Day Adventists and the Hebrew Roots movements, among others, who have mandated a return to the law – in part or in whole – thus diminishing the finished work of Christ). Where will one go to refute these heresies? The answer is obvious: “To the Bible.” Scripture has been received, it is sealed, and it is all the revelation necessary for life, doctrine, and practice. Let us not add to, or mishandle, this precious body of teaching.
Lord God, in Your word, we have a sure word. We have two testaments which tell of the anticipated Messiah, and then which reveal the Messiah who has come. We have the details of His fully sufficient and completed work. No other revelation is necessary, and none should be expected. Rather, we are to hold fast to this word for doctrine, teaching, exhortation, and convicting of those who have gone astray. Grant us wisdom to study this word daily, and apply it to our lives constantly. To Your glory we pray. Amen.