Click to enlarge
Mt Ida on Crete
Smith's Bible Dictionary
REASON I LEFT YOU IN CRETE: toutou charin apelipon (1SAAI) se en krete:
(Acts 2:11; 27:7,12; 21)
reason I left you in Crete was...". (NET)
reason I left you behind in Crete was for you to organize everything
that still had to be done and appoint elders in every town..."
"I left you
behind temporarily" (Wuest)
For this reason explains why Paul left Titus in Crete.
We have to read on to find out the full meaning.
While reading this book, we must understand that Titus was sent to Crete
to superintend the preaching of the gospel throughout that island. Crete
was at that time inhabited by a people who were only partially civilized
and sunk in the very worst of vices. Paul, therefore, tells Titus to
speak to them about things that would hardly be mentioned to Christians
nowadays. appoint elders in every town
to cause or permit to remain in a place upon going away and thus to leave
behind. Writing from prison Paul gave instructions to "bring the
cloak which I left (apoleipo) at Troas...". So just as Paul had at one time been in Troas
and left his cloak, at some time in the past he had been in Crete with
Apoleipo implies that the "being left behind" was
temporary, rather than permanent.
Wuest makes an interesting, albeit
somewhat speculative observation noting that Crete =
"was not visited
by Paul on any of his first three missionary journeys (Ed
note: At least there is no record of such visit in Acts or the Pauline
touched there on his way to Rome as a prisoner of the Roman Empire, but
at that time, Titus was not with him (cf
This is one of the facts which indicates that Paul was liberated from
his first Roman imprisonment and spent some time in missionary work.
Here he refers to the time when he the churches they had founded."
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
Crete (wikipedia) (2914)
(click maps below to
enlarge) is the
fourth largest island (150 long & 6-35 miles wide) in the Mediterranean
and the largest Grecian island (population
ca 500,000 in 2003) and is situated approximately 60 miles SE
of Greece and 110 miles SW of Turkey. A mountain range with peaks up to
9,000 feet (Mt Ida is said to be the "birthplace" of Zeus which gives
one a sense of the prevalent influence of myth and legend which in turn
was reflected in the behavior and morals of Cretans) runs the length of the island and slopes sharply on
so that most of the inhabitants live on the more gradually sloping
northern coast. A
civilization (Minoan 3000–1100 bc) once existed in
but was suddenly and dramatically destroyed in a mysterious manner about
1700 bc. Crete
is roughly equidistant from Europe, Africa and Asia and this strategic
location along with its fertile land, made Crete a prize of war and
commerce and accordingly Crete was conquered and annexed by Rome in BC
67. The Cretans were renowned as good sailors, skilled archers,
and experts in ambush and lying (Titus 1:12),
the latter frequently alluded to in classic writings. The untruthfulness
of Cretans was so ingrained that there was even a Greek term (kretizein)
meaning “to act the Cretan,” which was a synonym meaning
to play the liar.
"the moral level of its
inhabitants was deplorable. Their ferocity and fraud were widely
attested; their falsehood was proverbial; the wine of Crete was famous,
and drunkenness prevailed."
this ungodly mission field Paul had planted Titus to organize the church
("appoint elders in every city") and to "speak and
exhort and reprove with all authority" (Titus 2:15).
Titus must have taken "heed to the ministry which" he had "received
in the Lord" (Col 4:17)
for even today the name of Titus is honored in many villages, churches,
and monasteries in Crete.
THAT YOU WOULD
SET IN ORDER WHAT REMAINS: hina ta leiponta (PAPNPA) epidiorthose
6:32; Eccl 12:9; Is 44:7; 1Cor 11:34; 14:40; Col 2:5) (Acts 14:21, 22,
23; 2Ti 2:2)
Paul left Titus that he "might
set right what was defective and finish what was left undone" (Amp)
you might set right what remains to be done"
"to do what
still needed to be done"
you could put in order the things that still needed doing"
you might do what was necessary to put things in order there,"
might straighten out what was left unfinished"
might amend what was defective," (RSV)
"so that you could finish doing the things that still needed
to be done" (ICB)
"that any deficiencies in the organization of the
Church should be rectified"
those things which are still wanting." (Calvin)
(hina) is a preposition marking the beginning of a purpose
clause as Paul now explains why he had left Titus behind in Crete. See
value of observing this strategic
term of purpose or result (e.g., so that, in order that, that,
as a result)
Paul as the "wise
master builder (had) laid a foundation, and another (Titus) is building upon it" (1Cor
carrying forward the building up of the body of Christ in Crete.
held some additional charge, which consisted in giving a form to
churches that had not yet been properly arranged, and in appointing a
fixed kind of government accompanied by discipline. Having laid the
foundation, Paul departed; and then it became the duty of Titus to carry
the work higher, that the building might have fair proportions."
(only here in NT) (1930)
from epi = upon + dia = through,
intensifies meaning + orthos
= straight, erect, upright; English = orthodontist -
straightens crooked teeth or orthopedist who sets broken bones)
means to set right, to set in order, to correct in addition to what has
already been corrected, to finish setting in order, to have deficiencies
set right also, to complete unfinished reforms.
was used by medical writers to describe the setting broken limbs or
straightening crooked ones.
The use of the middle voice is "reflexive" and
implies that Titus himself (himself is a reflexive
pronoun) is personally involved in the process, and not merely
giving orders to others. Titus like an "spiritual" orthodontist or orthopedist is to
set right again what was still in a defective state.
this verb used "in the sense of setting right again what was
defective, a commission to Titus, not to add to what the Apostle himself
had done, but to restore what had fallen into disorder since the Apostle
had labored in Crete." (Vine,
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
the idea of to further set straight and therefore implies
that Paul had begun the work of setting in order the things that were
defective and that now Titus is to continue that same work. In other
words Titus primary task was not to evangelize but to straighten out the churches
that were already in existence yet deficient in organization and in
need of sound doctrine which produces godly living. He was charged with
the task of correcting and setting straight certain doctrines (e.g.,
Titus 1:10, 11, 13, 14; 2:1) and practices (e.g., Titus 1:12, 16; 3:9)
that had become defective. There were false teachers to be silenced, and
there was the pressing need for recognized spiritual leadership in the
assemblies. He left Titus to handle these matters.
quoting Greene explains that
"Setting in order churches that have gone wrong is a delicate and
large task-more difficult in many ways than evangelizing new fields.
False teachings are hard to correct, and when sin gets into a church, it
is difficult to dislodge it."
quipped "The church is a body, and the pastor must occasionally be a “spiritual
physician” and set some bones. (Wiersbe,
W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.:
(3007) (leipo) as alluded to above refers to those things in the
organization of the churches which were left unfinished or "wanting".
We can see Paul's heart is not to leave and forget about those he has
spent time with but as in this case leaving Titus to tend to their
Calvin calls us to
"observe the modesty of Paul who willingly permits another person to
complete the work which he had begun. And, indeed, although Titus is
greatly inferior to him, he does not refuse to have him for a
“corrector,” to give the finishing hand to his work. Such ought to be
the dispositions of godly teachers; not that every one should. labor to
make everything bend to his own ambitious views, but that they should
strive to assist each other, and that, when any one has labored more
successfully, he should be congratulated and not envied by all the rest.
ELDERS IN EVERY CITY AS I DIRECTED
kai katasteses (2SAAS) kata polin presbuterous os ego soi dietaxamen (1SAMI):
appoint presbyters in every town" (NAB)
appointing spiritual leaders in every city " (GWT)
placing men in authority over the churches in every town, as I said to
I left you there also so that you could choose men to be elders in every
and that you might appoint elders and set them over the churches
(assemblies) in every city as I directed you." (Amp)
(kai) introduces an emphatic, specific detail that
required the attention of Titus. The point is that the assemblies of
Christians in the various cities did not have sufficient organization or
elders - See article by Mark Dever -
Looking For a Few Good Men
Fausset and Brown add that "The
appointment of presbyters was designed to check idle talk and
speculation, by setting forth the “faithful word.”
The gospel had been preached in Crete, and converts made, but the
churches needed to be properly constituted. Churches without elders are
like an army without officers. Those err greatly who despise order.
from katá = down + hístēmi = to set or stand)
means literally “to stand or set down".
Most of the NT
uses of kathistemi are figurative and refer to "setting someone
down in office" or appointing or assigning a person to a position of
authority. To put in charge or to appoint one to administer an office.
To set in an elevated position.
In Acts 17:15
kathistemi means to conduct or "bring down" to a certain place.
kathistemi means to "set down", to constitute (to give formal
existence to; to make a thing what it is), to cause or show someone to
be (either sinner or righteous)
Kathistemi is used 22x and is translated in the NAS as -
appoint(1), appointed(4), appoints(1), conducted(1), made(5), makes(1),
put in charge(7),render(1), set(1).
Matthew 24:45 "Who then is the
faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge (set
you over, assigning to a position of authority) of his household
to give them their food at the proper time?
Matthew 24:47 "Truly I say to
you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Matthew 25:21 (Jesus in the parable of the talents describes the
master's declaration) "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and
faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you
in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.'
Matthew 25:23 "His master said
to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a
few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into
the joy of your master.'
Luke 12:14 But He said to him,
"Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?"
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said,
"Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will
put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the
Luke 12:44 "Truly I say to
you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Acts 6:3 "But select from
among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit
and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
Acts 7:10 and rescued him from
all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of
Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him (put him in charge as)
governor over Egypt and all his household.
Acts 7:27 "But the one who was
injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, 'Who made (put you
in charge as) you a ruler and judge over us?
Acts 7:35 "This Moses whom
they disowned, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the
one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of
the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.
Acts 17:15 Now those who
conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command
for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
Romans 5:19 (note)
For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made
(constituted) sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many
will be made (constituted) righteous.
Titus 1:5 (note)
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what
remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
Hebrews 5:1 (note)
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed (passive
voice = they did
not appoint themselves) on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in
order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;
Hebrews 7:28 (note)
For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the
word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made
Hebrews 8:3 (note)
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and
sacrifices; hence it is necessary that this high priest also have
something to offer.
James 3:6 And the tongue is a
fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our
members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the
course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
James 4:4 You adulteresses, do
you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes (shows
or exhibits himself) himself an enemy of God.
2 Peter 1:8 (note)
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render
(make or cause you to experience) you neither useless nor unfruitful in
the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Kathistemi is used about 136
times in the non-apocryphal
-- Gen. 39:4f; 41:33f, 41, 43; 47:5; Exod. 2:14; 5:14; 18:21; Num. 3:10,
32; 4:19; 21:15; 31:48; Deut. 1:13, 15; 16:18; 17:14f; 19:16; 20:9;
25:6; 28:13, 36; 32:25; Jos. 6:23; 8:2; 9:27; 10:18; 20:3, 9; 1 Sam.
1:9, 26; 3:10; 5:3; 8:1, 5; 10:19, 23; 12:7, 16; 18:13; 19:20; 22:9;
29:4, 10; 30:12; 2 Sam. 3:39; 6:21; 15:4; 17:25; 18:1; 1 Ki. 2:35; 4:5,
7, 27; 5:16; 11:28; 2 Ki. 7:17; 10:3; 22:5, 9; 25:22f; 1 Chr. 6:31;
9:29; 11:25; 12:18; 22:2; 26:32; 2 Chr. 11:15, 22; 12:10; 17:2; 19:5, 8;
21:5; 24:11; 25:3; 28:15; 29:4; 31:13; 33:14; 34:10; 36:1, 4; Ezr. 7:25;
Neh. 12:44; 13:19; Esther 2:3; 3:13; 5:1; 8:2, 12; Job 16:12; Ps. 2:6;
8:6; 9:20; 18:43; 45:16; 97:1; 105:21; 109:6; Prov. 29:14; Is 3:13;
49:8; 62:6; Jer. 1:10; 6:17; 20:1; 23:3; 29:15; 30:24; 40:4, 7, 11;
41:2, 18; 44:28; 46:4; Ezek. 34:18; Dan. 1:11, 20; 2:21, 24, 38, 48f;
3:12, 30; 4:1, 31; 5:11; 6:1, 3f, 28
Vincent comments that the primary
meaning of kathistemi is "to set down, it is used in classical Greek of bringing to a place, as a
ship to the land, or a man to a place or person; hence to bring before a
magistrate...From this comes the meaning to set down as, i.e., to
declare or show to be; or to constitute, make to be. (Word studies in
the New Testament: Vol. 3, Page 1-64)
Kathistemi is used
in Acts meaning to bring to a certain place or to conduct, Luke
those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a
command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they
departed. (Acts 17:15)
Kathistemi means to
"to make someone something" and is used by Paul explaining that "as
through the one man’s disobedience the many were made
(constituted - kathistemi) sinners, even so through the
obedience of the One the many will be made (constituted -
kathistemi) righteous." (see note
writes that "There is no more direct statement in
Scripture concerning justification than we find in" this verse. By
the one act of Adam in disobeying God, the human race was constituted
sinful, and this by the judicial act of God. Likewise, by the one act of
obedience of the Lord Jesus, all who believe are constituted
righteous, and this by the judicial act of God.
Paul was assigning
Titus, "setting him down" (giving him charge) to a position of authority
over the believers in the assemblies of Christians in the various cities
of Crete. Now that Paul had gone, Titus was in charge. Appoint
is preferable to the KJV rendering ordain, as there is
nothing in the context to imply a formal ecclesiastical ordination. This
was to an appointment, for the recognition of the local churches, of
those who had already been raised up and qualified by the Holy Spirit,
and had given evidence of this in their life and service. Similarly ,
the writer of Hebrews says that "every high priest taken from among
men is appointed (kathistemi) on behalf of men in things
pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." (Heb
The position of
High-Priest in the Levitical system was by appointment only. No man
could legitimately appoint himself High-Priest.
used kathistemi to describe the selection of deacons who
were to be "men of good reputation,
full of the Spirit and of wisdom whom we may put in charge (kathistemi)
of this task (of serving tables) (Acts 6:3)
the comparative form of présbus
= an old man
or an ambassador)
referred to men who were older or
more senior with no negative connotations but rather a sense of
Presbuteros is transliterated into English
as “presbyter” (a leader in one of the Jewish
communities--especially a member of the
Sanhedrin--or of the early Christian
churches) and from which the word “priest” (from Late Latin presbyter)
See other resources:
Elder - Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
Elder - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical
Elder - Holman Bible Dictionary rg
Elder (2) - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Elder in the New Testament - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Elder - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
is used 67 in NT: Matt. 15:2; 16:21; 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 3, 12,
20, 41; 28:12; Mk. 7:3, 5; 8:31; 11:27; 14:43, 53; 15:1; Lk. 7:3; 9:22;
15:25; 20:1; 22:52; Jn. 8:9; Acts 2:17; 4:5, 8, 23; 6:12; 11:30; 14:23;
15:2, 4, 6, 22,23; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18; 23:14; 24:1; 25:15; 1Ti 5:1, 2,
17, 19; Titus 1:5; Heb. 11:2; James. 5:14; 1Pet. 5:1, 5; 2Jn. 1:1; 3Jn.
1:1; Re 4:4, 10; 5:5, 6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4. The NAS
translates presbuteros as - elder(3), elders(57), men of old(1), old men(1),
older(1), older man(1), older ones(1),older women(1). KJV - V - elder
64, old man 1, eldest 1, elder woman 1; 67
is used 144 times in the non-apocryphal
- Gen. 18:11f; 19:4,
31, 33f, 37; 24:1f; 27:1, 15, 42; 29:26; 35:29; 43:27; 44:12, 20; 50:7;
Exod. 10:9; 17:5; 18:12; 19:7; 24:1, 14; 34:30; Lev. 4:15; 19:32; Num.
11:16, 24f, 30; 16:25; Deut. 31:9, 28; 32:7; Jos. 7:6, 23; 8:10, 30;
9:11; 13:1; 23:1; 24:1, 31; Jdg. 2:7; 8:14, 16; 11:5, 7ff; 21:16; Ruth
4:2, 4, 9, 11; 1 Sam. 4:3; 15:30; 16:4; 30:26; 2 Sam. 3:17; 5:3; 12:17;
17:4, 15; 19:11, 32; 1 Ki. 1:1; 8:1; 12:6, 8, 13, 24; 20:7f; 21:8, 11; 2
Ki. 6:32; 10:1, 5; 19:2; 23:1; 1 Chr. 11:3; 15:25; 21:16; 2 Chr. 5:2, 4;
10:6, 8, 13; 15:13; 22:1; 32:3; 34:29; 36:17; Ezr. 3:12; 5:9; 6:7f, 14;
10:8, 14; Job 1:13, 18; 12:20; 32:4, 6; 42:17; Ps. 105:22; 107:32;
119:100; Prov. 20:29; Eccl. 4:13; Is. 3:2, 14; 24:23; 37:2; 47:6; Jer.
6:11; 19:1; 26:17; 29:1; 32:8; Lam. 1:19; 2:10; 5:12; Ezek. 7:26; 8:1,
11f; 9:6; 14:1; 16:46, 61; 20:1, 3; 23:4; 27:9; Joel 1:2, 14; 2:16, 28;
The secular practice was for older
men with seniority to serve as ambassadors to other states and as
advisors within the Greek political community or in the management of
public affairs. So these were men of "ripe age" and experience to whom
was committed the direction and government of individual churches. It
should be emphasized that in the context of its Biblical use the concept
of elder had less to do with age per se than with the quality of one's
spiritual character (reputation is what others think about you but
character is what those most intimately associated know is really true
about you) and possession of the ability to teach. Simply being older,
including even being older in the faith, does not by itself qualify a
man for leadership in the church.
Presbuteros on rare
occasion is used to refer to one who is simply older than another
(albeit not necessarily advanced in years) as in the story of the
prodigal son where Luke records "Now his older (presbuteros) son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he
heard music and dancing." (Lk 15:25
cf Septuagint use in Job 1:13).
In Hebrews presbuteros
is used to refer to those men and women in the Old Testament who were
genuine believers, the writer recording that "For by it (faith)
the men of old (presbuteros) gained approval."
Presbuteros is used
some 145 times in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew)
usually to translate the Hebrew word "zaqen" (thought to
be derived from "beard" or "chin") and used to refer to advanced age (as
in Ge 18:11 "Now Abraham and Sarah were
old [Hebrew = zaqen, Gk = presbuteros],
advanced in age. Sarah was past childbearing."), experience, and
authority, as well as specific leadership roles. Refer to the article in
ISBE-OT) for more in depth
discussion of "elders", as used in the Old and New Testaments. In
general, depending on the context, the NT uses presbuteros to
refer to several distinct
(1) older persons advanced in years ("Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him
as a father, to the younger men as brothers" 1Ti 5:1, cf Acts
elders - this is the
primary idea in the 44 uses of presbuteros
in the Gospels and Acts where it usually refer to the Jewish leaders who
were opposed to Jesus.
(“The Son of Man must suffer many things, and
be rejected by the elders (presbuteros) and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” (Lk 9:22).
These elders in the Jewish community were usually
associated with the scribes and Pharisees and at the time of Jesus the
elders seem to refer especially to those who were members
of the Sanhedrin ("council" in
most translations, highest ruling body and court of justice among Jews
headed by high priest, composed of 71 men including "elders", and
scribes most of whom were Pharisees and granted some authority over
religious and judicial matters), the gospel writer Mark recording that
led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the
elders (presbuteros) and the scribes gathered together."
Note that Acts also uses presbuteros to
describe the spiritually mature leaders of the young, growing church of
Jesus Christ (click here
for discussion of these "elders");
(3) The 24
elders of Revelation
("And around the throne were twenty-four
thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders (presbuteros)
sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads."
Rev 4:4 - see
Spiritually mature leaders of the church,
as used here in Titus. Presbuteros meaning church elders is discussed initially in Acts, refined in the
"pastoral epistles" (especially 1Timothy and Titus), and
briefly mentioned in James and 1 Peter. In first Timothy Paul says "Let
the elders (presbuteros) who rule well be considered worthy of double honor,
especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching...Do not
receive an accusation against an elder (presbuteros) except on the basis of two
or three witnesses." (1Ti 5:17,19)
Most of the following discussion deals with presbuteros as
it refers to the elders in the local body of Christ.
book of Acts, Luke has several references to "elders"
in the sense of spiritually mature leaders in the church. In a very
instructive passage we read "And when we had come to Jerusalem, the
brethren received us gladly. And now the following day Paul went in with
us to James, and all the elders were present." (Acts
John MacArthur has an excellent summary of the
evolution of elder rule commenting that "the mention of James and all the
elders marks a significant change in that leadership. When the church at
Jerusalem began, it was ruled by the apostles (Acts 2:42; 4:35, 36,
37; 5:2). As the church grew, the apostles recognized the need for
assistance with the administrative details, and seven men were chosen to
serve under them (Acts 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Elders are first
mentioned in Acts 11:30, and by the time of the Jerusalem Council they had assumed a prominent
role ("And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate
with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain
others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and
elders concerning this issue" Acts 15:2, "And when they arrived at
Jerusalem, they were received by the church
and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all
that God had done with them." Acts 15:4, "And the apostles
and the elders came together to look into this matter." Acts
15:6, "Then it seemed good to
the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to
choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and
Barnabas—Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the
brethren, and they sent this letter by them, “The apostles and
the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria
and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings." Acts 15:22, 23; "Now while they were
passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees, which had
been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in
Jerusalem, for them to observe" Acts 16:4). Now Paul and the
others found the church led by the elders alone; the apostles are not
mentioned. At least one was already dead—James the brother of John
(Acts 12:2). The others had turned over the leadership
responsibilities to the elders and left the city to engage in missionary
work. Elder rule was thus being established as the New Testament
pattern of church government (cf. "And when they (Paul and
Barnabas) had appointed elders for them in every church,
having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they
had believed." Acts 14:23; 20:17)." (MacArthur,
J: Acts 1-12;
13-28 Moody Press)
of ELDER, OVERSEER, PASTOR
also has an excellent summary of the word
"elder" and how it relates to pastor
and overseer, writing that elder is
"a general term referring to those who are also called “overseers” in
("It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of
overseer (episkopos), it is a fine work he desires
to do"). That the titles elder,
pastor, and overseer all describe the same person is made clear by the
use of all three words to describe the same men in Acts 20:17,
from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders (presbuteros) of the
church....Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which
the Holy Spirit has made you
(episkopos), to shepherd (poimaino = tend flocks
like a shepherd - oversight, protecting, leading, guiding, feeding. Root
word poimén = shepherd, one who generally cares for flocks,
translated "pastors" in Ephesians 4:11-note) the church of God which He
purchased with His own blood.") The term “pastor”
(English word is from Latin "pastor" = herdsman, from pascere
= to feed) emphasizes their shepherding or feeding
function, “overseer” their authority and leading function, and
“elder” their spiritual maturity. This passage assumes such elders are
John: 1Timothy Moody Press)
In a similarly instructive passage
Peter writes "Therefore, I exhort the
among you, as your fellow
witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory
that is to be revealed (1Peter 5:1-note).
Then Peter summarizes the function of an elder
= Do it now and do it effectively) the flock of
God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but
voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but
with eagerness." (1Pe 5:2-note)
The writer of Hebrews exhorts his
command to continually obey) your leaders (including almost certainly the
command to continually submit) to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as
those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with
grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (He 13:17-note)
This should be a
sobering reminder to all church leaders that they will someday give an
account to God for their stewardship of God's flock and how they have
led those committed to their charge. Will the leaders of your church be
able to tell God that leading you was a pleasure when they stand before
James makes mention of
elders and their function in his discussion of illness, asking
anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church,
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the
Lord (James 5:14).
MacArthur in commenting on this passage (note that not all of his
comments on the controversial aspects of this passage are included as we
dealing primarily with NT elders) writes that the elders of the
church "are the spiritually strong, the spiritually mature,
the spiritually victorious. Weak, defeated believers are to go to them
and draw on their strength. They are to call (from
proskaleō, “to call alongside”) the elders to come and lift
them up. It is the same thought that the apostle Paul expressed in Galatians
6:1: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are
spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” The wounded,
exhausted, broken sheep are to go to their shepherds, who will intercede
for them and ask God for renewed spiritual strength on their behalf.
This is an important—and largely neglected—ministry of the church’s
pastors and elders. The apostles acknowledged its priority when they
said, “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the
word” (Acts 6:4). But in today’s church, weak, struggling believers
are often handed over to so-called expert professional counselors—who
often have little power in prayer. Those who have been defeated in the
spiritual battle do not need to hear opinions of human wisdom; they need
to be strengthened by the power of God through their leaders’ prayers."
J. James. Moody)
The "elders" in
Titus 1:5 are also referred to as an "overseer" in
Paul noting that
(episkopos) must be
above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered,
not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,"
which equates these two offices as discussed in more detail above.
sees a similar parallel use of these term in Acts 20
where Paul at Miletus
"sent to Ephesus and called to him the
elders of the church"
later in his parting remarks, warning the Ephesian elders to
guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit
has made you
to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
Note the mention of the role of the Holy Spirit in the "appointing"
of elders/overseers. So as Titus interacted with churches in each city
appointing elders, it would be imperative for him (and each church body)
to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit in the appointment process. An
excellent "model" for this process was provided "at Antioch" for
"in the church that was there, (there were) prophets and
teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of
Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and
Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the
Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the
work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:1, 13:2)
The practice of
appointing elders in every city
parallels Paul's practice on his "First Missionary Journey" to Asia
(Acts 12:1-14:28) for Luke records that
"after they (Barnabas and Paul) had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and had
made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to
Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to
continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must
enter the kingdom of God." And when they had appointed (voted
by raising their hands) elders for them in every church,
having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they
had believed." (Acts 14:21 22, 23)
One should not envision Barnabas and Paul arriving in Lystra and
authoritatively appointing elders that the local assemblies had
themselves neither approved or known. Their ultimate "fitness" of elders
was determined by the criteria in the following verses, criteria that
would only be well known to those in the local assembly. Titus in
delineating these requirements and probably also "chairing" the actual
selection process (although
that is not clearly stated)
would be fulfilling Paul's call to "appoint
Wiersbe adds that
"Titus was not the spiritual dictator of the island, but he was
Paul’s official apostolic representative with authority to work."
(4172) could be a relatively large number for Smith's Bible Dictionary says "in
early times (Crete) was celebrated for its hundred cities"
refers to Crete as a "hecatopolis or hundred cities").
charge to appoint elders in every city suggests that Crete had been
extensively evangelized, making these specific organizational tasks of
paramount importance. As to how Crete was initially evangelized, we
cannot be absolutely sure but Luke does record that Jewish Cretans were
among those in Jerusalem at Pentecost who heard Peter's proclamation
It is reasonable to assume that they probably brought the gospel back to
Crete when they returned home, but this premise cannot be proven from
alludes to the critical importance of
elders in every city
"In the spiritual
note: not a physical building but the mystical body of Christ) this nearly comes next to doctrine,
be (appointed), to take charge of governing the Church; and
therefore Paul mentions it here in preference to everything else".
(diatasso from dia = through +
= order) means
to give (detailed) instructions as to what must be done.
indicates that Paul had previously given Titus similar instructions
(probably orally but now written out).
By providing written confirmation of Paul's apostolic charge, the
churches in every city would know that appointments by Titus were made
under a divine mandate.
Our Daily Bread
devotional - Golf teaches us, among other things,
that we can't always take the easy way out of a difficult situation.
When a ball rolls off the fairway and into the rough, the golfer isn't
permitted to pick it up and place it where it will be easier to play. He
must hit the ball from the rough.
Young Titus found himself "in the rough." He had been left in Crete,
charged with the task of building up the Lord's work there. But he
encountered problems. The Cretans were generally deceitful, immoral, and
lazy, and this spirit had invaded the churches. Problem people were
causing division. Paul realized that his friend needed encouragement, so
he wrote to him. He began his letter by saying, in essence, "Yes, things
are bad in Crete. But that's exactly why I left you there. God can use
you to bring about great and necessary changes." Titus listened, and he
succeeded. Although the Bible doesn't record the results of this
encouraging letter from Paul, archeologists have found the remains of
stately churches that had the name "Titus" inscribed on their
Whenever we are in a difficult place, we don't help ourselves by looking
for the easy way out. Instead, by exercising our faith in God and facing
the challenge, we can battle our way through the problem. We'll become
better people, and we'll discover that God can make us victorious. —H. V. Lugt
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The greater the
the greater our opportunity to tap God's power.