Translation & Notes

Titus 1:5-9

5 Τούτου χάριν ἀπέλιπόν σε ἐν Κρήτῃ, ἵνα τὰ λείποντα ἐπιδιορθώσῃ καὶ καταστήσῃς κατὰ πόλιν πρεσβυτέρους, ὡς ἐγώ σοι διεταξάμην,

For this reason, I left you in Crete, so that you might set right what was lacking and you might  appoint elders in every city, as I instructed you,

Τούτου χάριν or “for this reason” is used 3x in Paul, also in Ephesians 3:1, 14. Both times in Ephesians the ESV has the translation “for this reason.”

ἵνα τὰ λείποντα ἐπιδιορθώσῃ or “so that you might set right what was lacking” could also be translated as “so that the things lacking might be set right.” Either way, the implication of the phrase is that Paul left Titus in Crete for a very specific reason, and that the reason was something lacking in the church at Crete. This whole section discussing the appointing of sound leaders in the church at Crete flows from this purpose statement. By appointing these faithful men, Titus would complete what was lacking.

καταστήσῃς or “you might appoint” can be translated as to appoint or to put in charge of. Some argue that the idea of “ordain” could be present here as well. Whatever the case, the clear implication is that these men would serve as the recognized leaders of the churches in Crete.

κατὰ πόλιν πρεσβυτέρους or “elders in every city.” The implications of this phrase are open to dispute. Some argue that the plural “elders” in every “singular” city is a clear reference to a plurality of elders in every church. Some would contend that the plural “elders” could be elders over multiple house churches in each city.

6 εἴ τίς ἐστιν ἀνέγκλητος, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ, τέκνα ἔχων πιστά, μὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ ἀσωτίας ἢ ἀνυπότακτα.

if anyone is beyond reproach, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, with no accusation of reckless living or unruliness,

ἀνέγκλητος or “beyond” reproach is a different word than Paul used in 1 Timothy 3:2, though the idea seems to be the same. “This does not mean that an elder must be perfect, but it may be fairly said that each named characteristic marks his life.” 1

“μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ” or “husband of one wife” implies faithfulness on the part of the overseer to his wife. This phrase has been interpreted to mean that Paul is addressing polygamy, remarriage after the death of a spouse, or men who have been divorced. Based on the rest of the New Testament, polygamy seems not to have been a pressing issue in the early church, and Paul elsewhere makes clear that marriage after the death of a spouse is acceptable (Rom. 7:1-3). The phrase “husband of one wife” or “one woman man” seems to indicate that divorce is not primarily on Paul’s mind here, but that Paul is suggesting that the overseer must be faithful in the context of his marriage relationship.

τέκνα ἔχων πιστά or “having faithful children” seems to assume that most elders would have children. It seems unlikely that Paul is mandating that all elders must have children, but the expectation seems to be that most would. These children must be “faithful.” Some translations suggest that the children must be believers (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB). More likely, the word should be translated “faithful” and Paul is suggesting that the children must be submissive to their father, much like Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 3:4. Thus, the final phrase in this verse, “with no accusation of reckless living or unruliness” further describes how “faithful” children would live.

7 δεῖ γὰρ τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνέγκλητον εἶναι ὡς θεοῦ οἰκονόμον, μὴ αὐθάδη, μὴ ὀργίλον, μὴ πάροινον, μὴ πλήκτην, μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ,

For it is necessary for the overseer to be beyond reproach, as a steward of God, not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy,

In 1:7, Paul uses the word ἐπίσκοπον  or “overseer” instead of the word elder (1:5). The most likely implication is that Paul was using these words interchangeably to refer to the same office. Paul also reemphasized the claim that the elder or overseer must be ἀνέγκλητον or “beyond reproach.” This implication is likely two-fold. Looking back to 1:6, an elder with wild and reckless chidden in his home cannot be “beyond reproach.” Neither can a man known for any of the following characteristics be considered “beyond reproach.”

Titus 1:7 contains a list of 5 negative characteristics that must not be part of the elder’s character. For an elder to be “beyond reproach” means that none of these things will define his character.

8 ἀλλὰ φιλόξενον φιλάγαθον σώφρονα δίκαιον ὅσιον ἐγκρατῆ,

but hospitable, loving what is good, wise, just, devout, self-controlled,

Titus 1:8 balances the 5 negative characteristics of 1:7 with 7 positive characteristics that must define the character of the elder. These 7 words refer to the character or actions of the elder. Even the term δίκαιον or “just” is not a reference to the elder being justified through faith in Christ, but it is a reference to the elder living in a way that is characterized by justice.

9 ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου, ἵνα δυνατὸς ᾖ καὶ παρακαλεῖν ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ καὶ τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν.

one who holds to the faithful word as taught, so that he might be able both to exhort with sound teaching and to rebuke those who speak against it.

ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου or “one who holds to the faithful word as taught” is the final qualification for elders in Titus 1:5-9. The qualification states that an elder must have a firm commitment to the faithful word of God as handed down through apostolic instruction.

παρακαλεῖν ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ or “to exhort with sound teaching.” Paul gives two specific reasons why an elder must hold to the faithful teaching. First, he must be able to exhort or encourage with sound teaching. This is one of the primary functions of an elder, to encourage the church with faithful teaching.

τοὺς ἀντιλέγοντας ἐλέγχειν or “to rebuke those who speak against it” is the second reason the elder must hold to the faithful teaching. This phrase also speaks to one of the primary functions of an elder, to guard the church against false teaching.

1 George Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 289.

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