Last time I spoke about Bishop Titus, I reviewed the guidelines that he received regarding the selection of Bishops. Paul saw his role as a dual one. He was to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1: 5). Since we have already dealt with the job description of the bishop, I will not rehash except to say that there are no major differences. However, it is important to understand that a key role of the bishop in the body of Christ is to “set things in order”.

What does it mean to set things in order?

We will understand this by an examination of Titus’ particular scenario. One of these was related to the activity of false teachers, especially those who taught the doctrine of circumcision for salvation. In spite of his earlier efforts, Paul had not been able to get rid of this faction from the church (Acts 10). They continued to exert an unhealthy influence on the body of Christ. Paul called them gain sayers, unruly and vain talkers and deceivers (Titus 1: 9, 10). Look at what they did. They subverted “whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake”, even using the prophetic ministry to advance their teachings (Titus 1: 12). Some of their teachings included Jewish fables, commandments of men and evil speaking about the Cretians (Titus 1: 12, 14).

Moreover, the lives and actions of these teachers were contradictory to the truth, revealing that they did not know God, but were “abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1: 16). Paul was essentially saying that “they claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good” (NIV).
As the general bishop, Paul had become angry that entire congregations were being lost to these false teachers. Was his work going to be in vain? No. He had to defend the flock given into his care. He was therefore strong in his instructions to Titus, basically telling him that he had to earnestly contend for the faith.

Titus’ role was to appoint elders/bishops who would be capable of “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1: 9). The bishop would then teach and oversee the flock:

* stopping the false teachers (Titus 1: 11) and

* rebuke them sharply, so that they would be sound in the faith (Titus 1: 13).

Titus was to exert his influence by teaching “the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2: 1).

Titus chapter one beautifully outlines two elements of church leadership to me. One of these is the lines of authority in the church, with Paul the general bishop delegating a particular job to Bishop Titus, who would then select and do the same to others under his leadership. The second element relates to the need for strong teaching in the church and the need for elders to be strong in the word. No one should be appointed to the role of elder unless that individual has shown that he/she is strong in the word.

This begs the question that every individual desiring to be an elder should be should be strong in spirit, strong in the word of God, able to withstand opposition to the truth by teaching sound doctrine. He/she can only learn sound doctrine by becoming a student of the word and receiving revelation of the truth as taught by the Spirit of the Lord.

It is becoming evident that the role of leader in the church is not one to be entered into lightly. I pray that those in these roles will be faithful to the call and carry out the charge with diligence and faithfulness. May God bless you.

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