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Brief Thoughts on Titus 1:5

Busy week in my world so I wanted to briefly blog on Titus 1:5.  This week I heard a teacher teaching from Titus 1:5 and he went so far as to teach that Titus was the pastor of a church in Crete and that what Paul is telling Titus in Titus 1:5 when he says that Titus is to put what remained in order and appoint elders in every town as he directed him was to fulfill the office of the pastor and lead the Baptist church in Crete and appoint elders who will help him serve under his pastoral leadership the laity in the church.

Let me briefly give a house church reply to this man’s views.

First, the Bible never says that Titus is a pastor.  No person in all of the New Testament is called a pastor.  Ephesians 4:11 is correctly translated in the ESV as “shepherds.”  Other English translations such as the NASB or the NIV both follow the traditional translation of the word poimen and translate the Greek word into English as “pastors.”  But of the 18 New Testament uses of the word poimen, only in Ephesians 4:11 do most English translations translate poimen as “pastors.”  They do this not because it is based on the Greek word but again, traditions of the Church.  Like the word baptism, poimen is translated out of tradition and not exegesis of the Greek text.  The word poimen is translated “shepherd” or “shepherds” in all NT references save the one in Ephesians 4:11.  The ESV then is correct to translate the word as “shepherds.”  No person is every called “Shepherd” in the NT other than Jesus Christ as a title (John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4).

So the thought that Titus was a pastor is incorrect.  Titus was in fact, like Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.  He too planted churches like Paul.  We don’t know much about Titus but we do know that he traveled with Paul (Galatians 2:1) and was a Gentile disciple (Galatians 2:3).  We know that Titus went to Corinth to deliver news from Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:6).  In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul says that Titus has gone to region of Dalmatia.  We assume to preach the gospel.

What we don’t find is Titus ever called a pastor.  He is not called an apostle either but based on his relationship to Paul, it seems best that he was an apostle more so than a pastor.  He was always on the go as Paul was.

Secondly, Titus is told to appoint elders.  The elders would serve the church and “lead” it by their example of faith (Titus 1:6-9).  Leaders in the New Testament Church were leaders by example than by title.  Their form flowed from their function.  They were shepherding the church and thus are called to be shepherds in Acts 20:28 (notice that he is addressing the overseers or elders based on verse 17).  The elders pastored or shepherd the local church (1 Timothy 3:1-7).  Notice also the plurality of elders.  Elders were always plural in the NT.  See Acts 11:30 for the first reference in the New Testament of elders in the Church.  1 Timothy 3:1-7 describes their work among the saints.  Notice that the ESV has “overseers” in 1 Timothy 3:1.  The term is translated as bishops in the New King James Version.  We know that elders are overseers based on Acts 20:28 where elders are said to be called by the Holy Spirit to shepherd the church.  Notice importantly that Acts 20:28 also says that the church is God’s church and not their own.  Jesus is Lord of His Church (Colossians 1:15-20) and He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47).

Conclusion

Contrary to this man’s teaching, Titus 1:5 is not instructing a pastor to place the church under his authority and appoint elders who will serve under his ministry.  The NT knows nothing of one person leading the Church.  Jesus alone leads His Church through His Spirit (Acts 13:1-4).  Jesus is Lord over His people who are His sheep (John 10:3) whom He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).  Elders serve among the people of God (1 Peter 5:4) but they are not to lord it over those whom God has entrusted to them (1 Peter 5:3).  After all, we have only one true shepherd (John 10:27).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/16/2012 at 5:00 PM

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