When Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in every town (1:5), he immediately listed qualifications to find those men (vv. 6–9). What he spent little time on was the specific tasks they were supposed to do as elders.
From the remainder of the letter, it can be surmised that elders who oversee the church must silence false teachers (1:11), teach what accords with sound doctrine (2:1), model good works for others (2:7), exercise authority in matters of doctrine (2:15), and protect the flock from divisive persons (3:10). Yet, these are only some of the tasks mentioned in the New Testament. Today, I want to enumerate seven others, beginning with Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21..
Seven Tasks of an Elder Who Oversees the Flock
1. Feed the Flock.
It is arguable that the genesis of the pastoral office began on a seashore in Galilee. In John 21 Jesus went in search of Peter. Days before, on the night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied Christ three times. Crushed by his own disloyalty, Peter returned to fishing. However, as Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men before (Matt 4:19), he again came to restore Peter to Jesus’ ministry.
In verses 15–19 Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me more than these?” (Presumably motioning to the fish). Each time Peter responded, “You know I love you.” And each time, Jesus assigned him a pastoral task: “Feed my lambs” (v. 15); “tend my sheep” (v. 16); “feed my sheep” (v. 17). Using this pastoral metaphor, Jesus announced the primary duty of an elder (cf. 1 Pet 5:1)—to feed the flock of God with the food of God, i.e., God’s holy Word! Continue reading
In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. From nothing, the triune God made everything. Light, land, and lemmings all came from his all-powerful world. Genesis 1 records this marvelous, six-day creation, and the rest of the Bible treats the universe as one that had a beginning.
But what was there before the beginning?
Before the Foundation of the World
While Genesis starts with creation, later revelation explains that God was active before the beginning. John 1, which takes its cues from Moses’ introduction, says that in the beginning the Word already was: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (vv. 1–2). John’s grammar makes it plain that the Son of God, the Word, was already existing when the world was made. And John is not alone, Matthew, Paul, and Peter all reveal an awareness of events transpiring in the mind of God before he spoke light into the darkness.
On Sunday, my sermon considered one of the passages that speaks about what transpired before creation. Titus 1:2 says of eternal life that it was promised before the ages began. With such a phrase, it is worth asking what does the Bible say happened before the foundation of the world? Since the phrase “ before the foundation of the world” occurs five times in the NT, and “before the ages” three times, it will be profitable to list these verses and see what they say. While space doesn’t permit an explanation of each passage, let me simply draw your attention to them. Continue reading
Next week I will begin preaching the book of Titus on Sunday mornings. Although Titus is only three chapters and forty-six verses in length, it contains a great deal of instruction for the church.
Titus is often grouped with two other Pauline epistles—1 Timothy and 2 Timothy. Together these three letters are known as the “Pastoral Epistles.” They are written to two of Paul’s sons in the faith (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4), ministers of the gospel sent by Paul to Ephesus and Crete for the purpose of building up those churches. As a matter of fact, Timothy and Titus are not so much pastors themselves but apostolic delegates who are called to confront error (1 Tim 1:3-7), preach sound doctrine (2 Tim 1:13; Titus 2:1, 15), and further the faith of God’s elect (Titus 1:2).
From this little synopsis, one might get the impression that the Pastoral Epistles are strictly for pastors, or at least for those working in the ministry. One might conclude they only have tangential relevance for the stay-at-home mom or the factory worker. However, such a conclusion would be premature, for the Pastoral Epistles have great application for all Christians. What follows are five reasons why every Christian should read them, study them, and apply them. Continue reading
After a few months of deliberation, the decision has been made and is now made public. Titus, which means “big and strong” or “giant” (for Wendy’s sake we prefer the former) and Stephen, which means “crown,” both come from the New Testament. Both NT men were servants of the Lord and models of strong Christian character. This is what the New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (1995) says about our Titus’ namesake:
Titus was a man for the tough tasks. According to Paul, he was dependable (2 Cor 8:17), reliable (2 Cor. 7:6), and diligent (2 Cor. 8:17); and he had great capacity for human affection (2 Cor. 7:13-15). Possessing both strength and tact, Titus calmed a desperate sitaution on more than one occasion. He is a good model for Christians who are called to live out their witness in trying circumstances (1259).
Desiring great things for our son, I could not think of a more fitting description of the kinds of hopes and prayers that we have. As anyone who looks at the world today knows, these are trying times, and Christ’s church needs a resurgence of strong men who will be dependable, reliable, and diligent in the service of our king. I pray that Titus might be such a young man, and that Wendy and I might model before him and teach him such Christian traits.
Join with us in prayer for him as we await his imminent arrival. He keeps making himself known–hitting, kicking, and squirming in his mother’s womb. We pray that he will be just as active for Christ in his kingdom as he is now in utero.
Sola Deo Gloria, dss