Tit 1:5-6 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”
Throughout Paul’s ministry, we find that he had numerous companions. Some would be with him for a season, and then duties and responsibilities would make it necessary for them to be elsewhere for a time. In Paul’s mention of Titus in the epistle to the Galatians, it is apparent that Titus was a Gentile whom God had called into the ministry. He also labored faithfully among the saints at Corinth according to Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthian brethren.
Paul obviously had great confidence in Titus’calling to the ministry and his ability to rightly divide the word of truth. We still desire today to have those among us preaching the gospel in which we have confidence, not in man, but in the working of the Holy Spirit within those that God has called. Only by the leadership of the Spirit can anyone possible set in order things that are wanting in a congregation, regardless of what those things are and where that congregation may be.
In this particular instance, Paul is reminding his fellowservant and son in the faith (Tit 1:4) of the reason he left him in Crete. Apparently, there were still some things the Cretan brethren were not clear on (things that are wanting). Titus was to clarify these things and instruct the brethren there how to conduct themselves. It would seem there were multiple congregations on the island (per Paul’s instruction to “ordain elders in every city”).
Titus was to take care to ordain elders. While this can be seen as a title (as we refer to our ordained ministry as “Elders”), I believe it was also an admonishment to the character traits he was to look for. Titus was charged with ordaining those that were spiritually mature and settled in the faith. Paul further assures Titus that this is what he (Paul) had instructed (appointed) him (Titus) to do.
Titus was to discover men who were blameless. We are not to confuse this with an injunction to look for men who never made mistakes: outside of our Lord and Savior, there is no such man. Men who are going to be elders need to have a good reputation among those whom they will serve. That does not necessarily imply that they had never done any wrong, but that they had been seen to confess the wrong, repent of it, and labor to correct it to the best of their ability.
Those who were to be ordained as elders were to be the husband of one wife. There are some who believe that this requirement (also found in 1Ti 3:2) indicates that a brother must be married before he can be ordained into the ministry. However, if this were the case, then this requirement would disqualify Paul himself from being ordained. There are many thoughts on whether a man who has scriptural grounds for divorce should or should not be ordained. Without entering into any of these debates, it is clear that an elder was to be a man who could be trusted to be faithful.
The injunction that he is to have “faithful” children does not, in this instance, indicate that we have control over whether or not our children are believers. As much as we would like to, we cannot cause our children to be obedient to Christ or to believe on Him for salvation: that is the work of the Holy Spirit. However, we can (and should) teach our children to be trustworthy (see Strong’s definition of the word rendered as “faithful”). We have the duty to see to it that as long as they dwell with us and are our responsibility that they will not live in open immorality or insubordination.
This language was necessary for the Cretans, as they were historically given to avarice. Anything one had to do to get ahead was considered acceptable according to historians of that time and place. This does not mean that we should feel ourselves superior to the Cretans: they were living according to their carnal nature. To serve God, particularly as an elder to be ordained, it requires that we crucify the flesh and live after the Spirit.
May we always recognize that the true crucifixion of the flesh is the result of a true and unwavering confidence in Jesus Christ our Lord!