Paul’s first instruction to Titus concerns the appointment of elders. He gave Titus specific criteria for the selection of elders as well as their responsibilities. In this lesson, we will study why the appointment of elders was such an urgent task in the churches in Crete. Many deceptive teachers were active in the congregations. Because of the damaging effects of false teachings, church leaders must immediately put an end to false teachings and restore the believers to sound doctrine.
Did You Know...?
- “A prophet of their own” (12): This was the philosopher Epimenides (5th to 6th century B.C.), whom the Cretans regarded as prophet.
- The Cretans gained such notoriety for being untruthful and immoral that the phrase “To act the Cretan” means, “to play the liar”.
- Description of the False Teachers (1:10-13a)
- Measures to Take (1:13b-14)
- Condemnation of the False Teachers (1:15-16)
How does verse 10 follow from the previous verse?Hide Answer
In verse 9 Paul instructs Titus that elders need to be able to convict those who contradict. Verse 10 and the remaining of the paragraph explain why this is necessary (Note the word “for” in verse 10).
What immediate tasks must Titus and the newly ordained elders do?Hide Answer
They were to silence the false teachers (11) and rebuke them sharply (13).
What kind of people are “idle talkers”?Hide Answer
They are those who can impress others with eloquent speech but do not have godly conduct to support their teachings. They make empty promises but are unable to build up the listeners’ faith.
Who are “those of the circumcision”? (cf. Acts 15:1; Gal 2:12; 6:12- 13; Php 3:2)Hide Answer
While this term sometimes means Jewish believers in general (Acts 10:45; Col 4:11), in this and other contexts, they are Jews who advocate the necessity of obeying the ceremonial laws of Moses, especially circumcision, for salvation.
What are the characteristics of the false teachers?Hide Answer
Insubordinate/rebellious/disobedient; idle talkers; liars; evil beasts; lazy gluttons; professing to know God but deny Him in their works; abominable; disqualified for every good work.
Dishonest gain (11).
What is their motive behind their deceptive teachings?Hide Answer
Dishonest gain (11).
What kind of teachings are they advocating (cf, 3:9; 1Tim 1:4)?Hide Answer
1. Jewish fables—teachings based on imaginative interpretation of Jewish apocalyptic literature or genealogies.
2. Commandments of men who turn from the truth—man-made rules based on tradition rather than on the Scripture (cf. Mt 15:8-9).
How did this influence the church?Hide Answer
Their teachings were ruining the faith of entire households (11).
What is the objective for rebuking the errant believers sharply?Hide Answer
So that they may be sound in faith.
Explain verse 15.Hide Answer
If our hearts are pure, we will do all things out of faith in God and enjoy all things in creation for our spiritual benefit. But if we are impure in our hearts, we would misuse the things God created to fulfill our sinful desires, even if they were meant to be good things. The main point here is that external things do not make a person impure. Rather, it is inner purity that makes him and everything he does truly pure.
In Mark 7:5-23, the Pharisees and the scribes found fault with Jesus’ disciples for eating without first washing his hands. But the Lord taught them that food cannot defile a person and that only the things that proceed out the heart can defile a person. Thus, he declared all foods to be clean (vs. 19).
To cover up their impurity, some people practice false piety and take on a form of superficial holiness. We can see examples of this in 1 Tim 4:3 and Col 2:20-23, where Paul referred to people who forbid marriage and certain foods as well as other things that God has blessed. They tried to impress people with their regulations. But such practices of asceticism and abstinence without an inner change of heart had no value in achieving holiness.
Note that Paul says that those who advocate such false teachings are themselves defiled. Their tendency to judge others based on food shows their inner impurity. To them, nothing is pure because their defiled mind and conscience make them unable to partake of anything with thanksgiving or a clear conscience (cf. Rom 14:23).
According to verse 16, what makes a person a false worshipper? What lesson can you learn from this?Hide Answer
A false worshipper pays only lip service to God. His conduct is against the commandments of God.
In the same way, if our conduct is godless, our claims of knowing God are false (1Jn 1:6; Lk 6:46).