My first post on this line will be an exigetical paper I was required to write for Pastoral Theology. I hope some of you enjoy it, and I look forward to critiques and comments. Unfortunately, I do not know how to get greek fonts to appear here, so I have had to transliterate the greek words.
The qualifications of a Bishop
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, to finish setting in order that which was lacking and to appoint throughout the cities elders, as I commanded you,
6 anyone who is beyond reproach, chaste in marriage, having faithful children not accused of shameful living and disobedience,
7 for an overseer must be beyond reproach, being a steward of the things of God, not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy,
8 but hospitable, loving what is good, modest, upright, pious, self-controlled,
9 holding firmly according to the teaching of the word of faith, so that he may be able both to encourage with sound doctrine and to refute those in error.
leiponta epidiortho: Literally, “What is lacking finish setting in order.” This follows from what Paul said in 1 Corinthians, that his job was to plant while another would water. Paul has planted a church in Crete, but he has left the job of watching over its growth and nurturing it to Titus. Titus is to continue what Paul started. This verse is the theme verse of the entire letter. Paul is reminding Titus of his purpose for being left behind in Crete. Teachers of false doctrine have become a problem in Crete just as they have in nearly every place. The primary defense of the church is to be the appointment of Presbyters.
presbuterous: This is probably the official title given to the man, similar to Pastor or Parson today.
avnenkletos: “Strictly, not having been called up or arraigned before a judge; hence, free from reproach, blameless, not accused for having done anything wrong” (Friberg Lexicon). Paul is showing a concern here that the church maintain an image in the eyes of the unbelieving that will not bring them into dishonor. Presbyters should not be men who had led lives of debauchery. While the legal sense is certainly an aspect of what Paul has in mind, the term should not be limited to legal convictions. Those with bad reputations should also not be appointed.
mias gunaikos aner: Strictly, of one woman(wife)a man(husband). This phrase has been understood in several ways throughout the history of the church, and she has never been in complete agreement. To impose one understanding over the others and insist upon it as the only proper one would be the height of arrogance, although it is certain that Paul only meant one thing. The primary interpretations are:
. 1. A prohibition of polygamy.
. 2. Prohibiting a man of being appointed if:
. a. he is divorced and remarried.
. b. he is widowed and remarried.
. 3. Marital fidelity.
. 4. A requirement that Presbyters be married.
I have favored the third over the others because I have always felt it best to err on the side of grace, and this interpretation seems the most gracious. The first is unlikely since polygamy was not practiced in the Roman world. However, it was practiced in Palestine, and it is possible that some of the believers carried the practice with them during the diaspora, and that this was seen as an offense in the eyes of the Roman citizens. Certainly, in as much as polygamy is offensive in most cultures today, it is against the spirit of this text to allow the practice amongst Priests and Pastors. Therefore, African churches are completely within the spirit of this text to require that their pastors not practice polygamy. While the second interpretation is certainly possible, and it has the force of history (the passage has been understood this way by many interpreters for a many years), it has a few inherent problems. The largest is that it allows no demonstration of grace. It treats divorce as an unforgivable sin. Also, it does not support the theme statement that a Presbyter is to be above reproach, since remarriage was not offensive to any culture of Paul’s day. Certainly the latter prohibition of remarriage after being widowed is not intended. While this was a requirement for Old Testament priests, Paul was not under the false doctrine of the papistic church that the Presbyters were Priests in the Aaronic line. The last was probably not Paul’s intent, as there were much clearer ways to make that point. However, the text does make it clear that a Presbyter can be married. Again, three is preferred because it meets the requirement of being above reproach and it does not deny grace. Paul probably had no intention of prohibiting remarriage after a man was abandoned by his first wife, divorced his first wife after prolonged infidelity with no attempt to reform her ways, or if his first wife had died. None of these would have brought offense upon the church. These cases only bring offense today because of years of pharisaical teaching in conservative churches creating misinformed consciences.
tekna echon pista: Most English translations interpret this to be a requirement that the man’s children are believers. However, pista can mean both “believing” and “faithful”, and is used both ways by Paul throughout the “Pastoral” epistles. Faithful is preferred for several reasons. First, and most importantly, it fits the context best. After making this statement Paul goes on to explain what he meant, a technique he has already been using in this epistle. After stating that the Presbyter should te,kna e;cwn pista, Paul expands the thought, saying that the children should not be accused of scandalous living or be disobedient. Paul is still expanding on the thought of a Presbyter being “beyond reproach”. His children should also not bring shame to his name, but be faithful to their father. To require that the children are “believers” is to have a rather Calvinistic understanding of “believer” as a once saved always saved concept. This is foreign to Paul, who always holds out that while one believes today, one can fall from the faith. If that would happen to the children of a Presbyter, would it require his removal from office? If his children returned to faith later, would he be reinstated?
asotias e anupotakta: Given to debauchery and insubordination. asotia is used by Luke of the lifestyle of the prodigal son. It probably includes both drunkenness and sexual immorality. anupotaktos means the opposite of being under authority. The force is most likely that the children are not to be disobedient to their parents, although certainly it implies that they also be subject to social and political authorities as well. These terms give force to the argument that the children are to be faithful to their father.
episkopon: Overseer, probably a description of the job of a Presbyter, and not a subordinate position. The context implies that Paul is simply restating and explaining the prior requirements.
paroinon: While this word is specifically used of one who gets unruly and quarrelsome when drunk, the broader meaning of regular, excessive drinking is probably intended. Since in his epistle to Timothy Paul requires that deacons and widows on the roster not be given to drinking much wine, it is hardly likely that he would be more lenient toward overseers of the church.
aischrokeron: Literally greedy for dishonest gain, but probably all covetousness is in mind here. Those who see the pastoral office as an easy way to make a good living ought not apply.
philoxenon: Literally lover of strangers, but the term had come to mean hospitable by Pauls’ day.
filagaqon: Lover of the good. Implies a desire to do good deeds.
sophrona: Literally having a sound mind, but implies the will to live a descent, respectable life.
dikaion: While this could be understood stereologically, an upright life is probably intended.
osion: While di,kaion had to do with an upright life in the eyes of men, this term is exclusively religious and is thus understood as piety toward God.
enkrate: Almost a synonym of sophrona, but Paul has a reason for using both terms, and this term can only be understood as having control over one’s evil or destructive desires. Therefore, the earlier term is interpreted with the emphasis on a modest life.
ten didachen pistou logou: The teaching of faithful words. Paul probably has in mind here the body of doctrine that he and Titus had been teaching in Crete. The remainder of this epistle deals with correcting and confronting false doctrine and exhorting the people to godly living with right doctrine. Paul had strong words for those who had heard his preaching and then accepted the teachings of those who taught contrary to his gospel.
Paul has planted a church in Crete with the assistance of Titus, and as soon as the form of a church was visible, Paul moved on, understanding that his job as a planter was done. But he did not leave the infant church defenseless. He left Titus behind to finish what they had started. We do not know the exact circumstances behind why Paul felt the need to write this letter, but we are indebted to him for writing it. Paul has handed down to the church in all ages the plan to keep the growing church in the true faith. It all hinges on the preparation and appointment of faithful men who will oversee the congregations and defend the doctrine of the church.
However, not just any man should be considered for this job. The primary work of the church is to preach the gospel to all nations, and to do this job she must maintain her position of honor in the community. To do this, her leaders and teachers must be men who are beyond reproach. They cannot be men who have led scandalous lives, even though they have now changed their ways, for the world around them does not judge with the grace of God. Paul has given guidelines for what it means to be “beyond reproach.” The man must be faithful in his marriage, have raised respectable and respectful children who will not drag his good reputation through the mud with their own scandalous lives. He must not be arrogant, quick-tempered, a drunkard, violent, or covetous. Even if he has not been accused of wrongdoing in the past, if he has any of these qualities, he will likely fall into disrepute soon. Rather, he should be hospitable (the opposite of covetous), loving good (the opposite of violent), modest (the opposite of arrogant), upright (the opposite of being a drunkard), pious and self controlled (the opposite of quick-tempered). However, above all things, the pastor must be able to teach, correct, and defend the doctrine of the church. To do this he must know the doctrine of the church, and know it well. He must be able to teach and edify his congregation with the Word of God, and he must be able to have a defense against teachers of false doctrine.
In this epistle Paul almost seems to be obsessed with the defense of the church against false doctrine. The church in Crete must have been under significant attack by those who would divide the church with their innovative doctrines. The task of defending the church against these false teachers was too great for just one man, so Paul encourages Titus to appoint Presbyters, Pastors over the congregations in each city to assist him in this job. Titus is to ensure that both in their conduct and in their doctrine that these men will be able to defend and honor the church. This job is no light matter and must be approached with all seriousness. We would do well to regain Paul’s fervor to protect the sheep from the false doctrine of ravenous wolves as well as from the scandal of our own lives. It is truly sad to see young men eagerly enter into the office with such a fervor for pure doctrine fall so quickly to a scandalous life. On the other hand, it is equally sad that so many enter into the office with no concept of retaining the faith once and for all handed down to them from the Apostles.