SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. (Titus 1:5)
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.. (Acts 20:28)
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples of the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3)
Last week we concluded the greeting section of Paul’s letter to Titus. In it, Paul established a few important truths that we must understand going into the body of the letter. First, he identified himself as both a slave and apostle, meaning that he was sent out by God to serve the body of Christ. Second, Paul addressed the purposes for his apostleship and writings as being the growth of Christians’ faith and their knowledge into godliness. Third, he presented the goal behind his purpose, that the believers would have hope in eternal life. Finally, Paul pronounced the gospel blessings of grace and peace in Christ to Titus.
We now move into the body of the letter, and Paul begins in this verse by clarifying his command and expectation to Titus. Primarily, Paul left Titus on the island of Crete for the purpose of organizing the churches there. As we see in the first chapter of Genesis, God is a God of order and structure. In the creation of the world, He took the world methodically from chaos to structure in the span of six days. So God longs for His body, the church, to be organized so that it might function well for His kingdom.
Paul specifically urges Titus to put order to the churches through the appointment of elders in each town. Because the cities then contained only one church, Paul is thus directing the establishment of multiple elders for each church. As we study through what Paul meant by church elders, we may notice that his idea of church leadership looks different from most current churches’ leadership structures; however, our main concern is with understanding and living according to the Word of God, not the wisdom or plans of man.
Read verse 5 and discuss the following.
- Paul’s primary mission for Titus was for him to organize each church of the cities of Crete through the appointing of elders. What is the biblical idea of church elders and deacons? How is that idea similar or different to your previous idea of church leadership?
- Since throughout the New Testament there was only one church per city, Paul’s command to appoint elders in every town seems to point to multiple (or a plurality) of elders in each city. Does the rest of the Bible support this concept of plural elders for each church? Why or why not?
- What is the main reason that most Baptists no longer practice plurality of elders? Is this a sufficient reason for changing the Bible’s design for church leadership?
- What are a few practical benefits of elder plurality?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Take time to thoughtfully consider the biblical concept of elders within the church and how it differs from most churches’ established leadership.
- Pray that in all things, especially matters of the church, we (both corporately and individually) would submit ourselves the Scriptures and its teachings.