This evening we will continue to broaden and deepen our understanding of biblical leadership in a congregation. Tonight we want to look at the profile of a man who could become an elder or bishop in one of the congregations on the island of Crete. One of the principal reasons that Paul left Titus at Crete was to appoint elders in every city.

As we approach this profile, let's briefly review a few things we discussed last week.

  1. Please remember:
    1. Congregations in the New Testament often enjoyed four kinds of leadership.
      1. Congregational leadership provided by an apostle.
      2. Congregational leadership provided by the Holy Spirit.
      3. Congregational leadership provided by evangelists, such a Titus.
      4. Congregational leadership provided by local elders.
    2. Last week I suggested that neither of the profiles in 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1 was intended to become a check list of elder qualifications.
      1. Neither said anything about the quality of faith the man had in Christ.
      2. Neither said anything about the quality of love the man had for Christ.
      3. Neither said anything about loving the people in the congregation.
      4. Neither said anything about the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).
      5. Neither said anything about Christian graces (2 Peter 1:5-8).
      6. If you want more discussion about these matters, please get a copy of last week's lesson.

  2. The situations in the congregation in Ephesus (singular) and the congregations on the island of Crete (plural) were different.
    1. Let's review Ephesus.
      1. It was the fourth largest city in the Mediterranean world.
        1. It was the religious center for Asia.
        2. It was a major center of commerce in the Roman empire.
        3. It had a wealthy, sophisticated, culturally advanced environment.
      2. That congregation had elders; elders had been leading it for several years.
        1. We know how the congregation began and how Paul worked there for three years (Acts 19; Acts 20:15-35).
        2. We know that they received leadership from an apostle, from the Holy Spirit, from an evangelist, and from elders.
        3. We know Paul was, in part, directing Timothy to address problems that Paul earlier warned the Ephesian elders were coming (Acts 20:17-35).
        4. We know that they had both good and sinful elders (1 Timothy 5:17,20).
    2. Consider Crete:
      1. For a few hundred years, this region was know for its piracy--in different ages, first the Greeks and then the Romans, had to suppress the piracy.
        1. They had an earned, deserved bad reputation.
        2. Paul quoted one of their own poets, Epimenides, who lived about 600 B.C., who wrote, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
        3. Paul only stated the prevailing opinion of Cretans in his day.
          1. Cicero wrote: "Indeed, moral principles are so divergent that the Cretans consider highway robbery to be honorable" (The Republic, 3.4.15).
          2. Polybius wrote: "Their laws go as far as possible in letting them acquire land to the extent of their power...and money is held in such high honor among them that its acquisition is not only regarded as necessary, but as most honorable. So much in fact do sordid love of gain and lust for wealth prevail among them that (the Cretans) are the only people in the world in whose eyes no gain is disgraceful (Histories 6.46.1-3.)
          3. Diodorus of Sicily related the story of a Cretan soldier who betrayed his army to the Romans. He scorned Roman citizenship; he wanted money Histories 6.47.5).
          4. (Historical research provided by Greg York.)
        4. For several hundred years the Cretans distinguished themselves by their greed, violence, and earthiness.
      2. A prominent, powerful group of Jews lived on Crete well before the first century.
        1. They obtained the protection of the Roman military is 141 B.C.
        2. A group of them were present on Pentecost in Acts 2 when Paul preached the first sermon about Jesus being Lord and Christ (Acts 2:11).
      3. We know nothing about the beginning the church in Crete.
        1. Paul once was a prisoner on a ship in the Fair Haven harbor (Acts 27).
        2. Later, after imprisonment, since he left Titus on Crete, he obviously visited the churches there.
        3. Congregations in Crete had leadership from an apostle, at least briefly; as was common, they had the Holy Spirit; they had the evangelist Titus for a while; but evidently not all congregations had elders.

  3. The question: is there any difference between the profile Paul presents in 1 Timothy 3 and in Titus 1 regarding elders for these two places?
    1. There are both parallels and similarities.
      1. That should be expected because both places need shepherds.
      2. But are there discernible differences?
    2. By my count, there are sixteen characteristics listed in each scripture.
      1. I Timothy 3:1-7
        1. Above reproach.
        2. One wife.
        3. Temperate (not under the control of addictive behavior).
        4. Prudent (discreet, humble minded, modest).
        5. Respectable (decorous [conducts self in good taste]; not offensive to others).
        6. Hospitable (loves strangers, guests).
        7. Able to teach.
        8. Not an alcoholic.
        9. Not pugnacious (does not use physical force as a solution; not violent).
        10. Gentle (the opposite of pugnacious).
        11. Not contentious (a contentious man loves to quarrel, create disputes).
        12. Does not love money (not greedy).
        13. Actively provides leadership for his family.
        14. Actively guides and directs his children.
        15. Not a recent convert.
        16. Has a good reputation in the community.
      2. Titus 1:5-9
        1. Above reproach (stated twice, verses 5, 7)
        2. One wife.
        3. Children who believe, who do not live lives of dissipation and rebellion (do not act like the prodigal son before he left home--Luke 15:12,13).
        4. God's steward.
        5. Not self-willed (not stubborn).
        6. Not quick tempered (Not easily angered).
        7. Not an alcoholic.
        8. Not pugnacious (does not use physical force as a solution).
        9. Not fond of sordid gain (not greedy).
        10. Hospitable (loves strangers and guests).
        11. Loves what is good.
        12. Sensible (self-controlled; mental soundness).
        13. Just (upright).
        14. Devout (holy).
        15. Self-controlled (exercises moderation).
        16. Clings to the faithful word so he can encourage with healthy teaching and refute those who contradict healthy teaching.
      3. Parallel qualities ( both reflecting identical qualities):
        1. Above reproach.
        2. One wife.
        3. Sound spiritual influence as a parent.
        4. Hospitable.
        5. Not an alcoholic.
        6. Not pugnacious.
      4. Similar qualities (not an exact emphasis, but areas of similar concern):
        1. Temperate (Timothy); sensible (Titus).
        2. Prudent (Timothy); self-controlled (Titus).
        3. Able to teach (Timothy); exhorts in healthy teaching and refutes contradictors.
        4. Not contentious (Timothy); not quick tempered (Titus).
        5. Does not love money (Timothy); not fond of sordid gain (Titus).
      5. Qualities that reflect a difference in emphasis:
        1. Timothy:
          1. Respectable or conducts himself in good taste; not offensive to others.
          2. Gentle.
          3. Not a new convert.
          4. Having a good reputation in the community.
        2. Titus:
          1. God's steward.
          2. Not self-willed.
          3. Loves good.
          4. Just (upright).
          5. Devout (holy).
      6. Last Sunday night we looked at the situation and needs of the congregation at Ephesus reflected in 1 Timothy.
      7. Look with me at the situation and needs reflected by Titus in the churches at Crete.
        1. Titus 1:16--there are people within the congregations who profess to know God (because of their knowledge they understand God).
          1. However, the things they do deny God.
          2. They are detestable, disobedient (reject Christ's guidance and authority?), and worthless for any good deed.
        2. Titus 2:11-13--God's grace, which brought us salvation, gives us these instructions:
          1. Deny ungodliness.
          2. Deny worldly desires.
          3. Live sensibly.
          4. Live righteously.
          5. Live godly.
        3. Titus 3:1-7
          1. Obey the government.
          2. Be ready to do good deeds.
          3. Do not attack each other's life and reputation.
          4. Do not quarrel with each other.
          5. Be considerate to everyone.
          6. Do not forget how foolish we were before we came to Christ.
            1. We were disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our own lusts and desires for pleasure.
            2. Our lives were consumed with malice, envy, being hateful, and hating each other.
          7. We changed for only one reason: God revealed His kindness and His love for people.
            1. God saved us.
            2. Not on the basis of our deeds or righteous conduct.
            3. But on the basis of His mercy by regenerating our lives by washing us clean and renewing us by the Holy Spirit.
          8. We are justified by God's grace--that is what gives us a right to God's inheritance, gives us the hope of eternal life.
        4. Titus 3:10--understanding this, reject the factious man after warning him twice because he is self condemned.
    3. Put all that evidence together and look at the difference in emphasis on the qualifications.
      1. This culture and society had hundreds of years of being self-indulgent, pleasure driven thieves who loved money and had no respect for people.
      2. As a society, their deeds and lifestyles were horrible.
      3. As a society, they were mean, violent, and hateful.
      4. When Christians enter Christ and are made a part of his church, they carry a lot of baggage with them.
        1. The Cretan Christians were no different.
        2. They needed shepherds basically like the shepherds in every congregation.
        3. But, to accomplish Christ's purposes in the society and culture of Crete, they needed emphasis on taking care of God's work (not their own selfish ambitions), on loving good (instead of loving the evil commonly honored in their society), on being upright (instead of being devious), on being holy (instead of being sensuous and earthy).
      5. Can you see in congregational leadership that the common needs that existed in the society and culture around them determined a significant part of the focus and outlook of those who could be leaders?
    4. Look at the difference in emphasis:
      1. Ephesus is a religious center in a large, successful community that has its own set of ethics and its own definitions of honor.
        1. The unique emphasis in elder qualifications stressed being respectable, being gentle, being spiritually experienced, and having a good reputation in the community.
      2. On the island of Crete you have an immoral society that steals, exploits people, and is prone to violence.
        1. Their ungodly society/community was not likely to respect anyone who had a "good reputation" as an honorable person.
        2. The unique emphasis in elder qualifications stresses being God's steward (instead of serving an evil society), not being focused on "what I want," being upright, and being holy.
        3. This emphasis addressed the special needs of their situation.

To me, the profiles drawn in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, do not create a "check list" of qualifications for a generic kind of leadership in congregations anywhere they exist in the world. To me, they stress this essential understanding: spiritual leadership in a congregation provides shepherding while addressing the real needs of the congregation in the real context of their existence.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 12 October 1997
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