The Book of Titus was written by a pastor, to a pastor, about pastors. The old and wise senior pastor, Paul, challenged the younger pastor, Titus, to establish new churches on the Island of Crete with godly pastoral leadership.
Paul’s command to, “appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5) seems very autocratic, though the process of this appointment is not defined. It is possible that Paul had verbally instructed Titus to assist small churches to recognize God-ordained men in a fashion similar to the election of deacons in the sixth chapter of Acts. If so, then Titus may have formally appointed or ordained these chosen men to the office and task of pastoring.
Paul’s direction to Titus concerning the virtue and character required of a pastor is similar to what he also wrote to Timothy. To Titus, Paul wrote, “An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it”(Titus 1:6–9).
To Timothy, Paul wrote, “An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:2–7).
Paul called this important church leader “an elder” (Titus 1:6–9) and “an overseer” (1 Timothy 3:2). Peter used these two words synonymously with the word translated shepherd and pastor (Peter 5:1-3). Elder, overseer, and pastor describe the same man.
A simple summary of the pastor’s job description is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. God calls and enables “pastors ... to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). The pastor isn’t called as the professional Christian to do all the ministry of the church, but to equip the members of the church to minister.
Paul knew that Titus’s work in Crete would be challenging, but he also recognized that “Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25) and that He alone was “the head of the church”(Ephesians 5:23). Paul and Titus relied faithfully upon Jesus’ wonderful promise: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
Pray for your pastor. He’s a frail and flawed man who has been commissioned to serve frail and flawed people...
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.