Tit 1:7-9 “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
The Greek word translated as “bishop” is translated by Strong’s to mean “a superintendent, that is, Christian officer in general charge of a (or the) church (literally or figuratively): – bishop,overseer.”Being an overseer does not mean that we are the boss. Rather, we have the fearful, awesome responsibility to care for that which belongs to our Master. As a bishop, we are accountable unto Him for our service and care of His church. If we are a steward of God, then we are employed by Him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In order to do this effectively, we must be above the reproach of men. Do not assume this to mean that we are going to be liked or respected by everyone for standing on the truth of Jesus Christ. The admonition here is that we are to walk uprightly before God so that no man can honestly accuse us of willful unrighteousness. We cannot leave church on Sunday and get up on Monday morning and go about our lives in the same manner as those who have not been called to serve. Further, we are not to approach our calling as though we are something in ourselves.
We should not be arrogant (self-willed) as we walk before God’s people. God did not choose us to serve Him because we are such wonderful people: His choosing in all things is always because it seemed good in His sight to do so. If we walk arrogantly, it is going to be difficult for us to not be “soon angry.” Arrogance will predispose us to being short-tempered and defensive. Having a “short fuse” is unbecoming to us at the least and lessens our ability to persuade men that a walk with Jesus changes us.
There is no example anywhere in the scripture that indicates being drunk on wine is ever a good thing. Much harm comes from such intoxication. Noah (Gen 9:20-25) and Lot (Gen 19:30-36) are two examples in the scripture that come immediately to mind. Being called into God’s service does not leave room for worldly addiction of any kind in our lives. Often, these addictions (whether to alcohol, drugs, power, fame, etc.) will lead us to violate the next two negative injunctions. We will find ourselves being quarrelsome (a striker) and easily persuaded to all manner of dishonest dealings (filthy lucre).
We have looked at what a bishop must not be; now let us consider what a bishop must be. First, we are to be lovers of hospitality. This does not mean we are to look forward to receiving the hospitality of others (though we certainly enjoy that). Paul is talking to us about being givers rather than receivers. Strong’s defines the word rendered here as “hospitality” to mean “fond of guests.” We should not just school ourselves to be hospitable: we should love hospitality. Being able to show hospitality to others should bring us joy in the Lord.
After being lovers of hospitality, we are told to be lovers of good men. In other words we are to recognize and encourage those around us to be virtuous. We are to promote virtue by being an example of virtue in our own living and reassuring others of the benefit of virtue in their own lives. Those virtues include self-control (sober), being equitable (just) in our manner of living, consecrated (holy) unto the things of God, and strong (temperate) in the office that God has called us to hold.
If we are going to be strong in that office, then we must adhere to the trustworthiness (faithful) of the Divine Expression (word) that we have been instructed in (taught). While the Lord of Glory may use men from time to time as His instruments to help us in our study, we need to realize that Paul is not instructing us to be faithful to the things that men have taught us. Paul testified that the truth he preached was not learned from men but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12). Indeed, when Paul was holding fast to the word he was taught by men, he was devoted to persecuting the very church that he was now willing to give his life for.
We may find ourselves confounded by others when we try to defend what we have been taught by men, but this will never be the case when we are dealing with the faithful word. If we are declaring sound (healthy, uncorrupted) doctrine (instruction), then we are going to find a two-fold ability in that holy truth. First, we will be able to exhort (invite to come close) those that would refute the gospel of Christ. When they are drawn close by the faithful word, then we can also convince (admonish, rebuke) them with the truth, love, and grace of Jesus Christ.
May His bishops never lose sight of the truth that we are stewards of God tasked with living lives that teach the truth and give all glory and honor to Him!