Titus: The Qualifications of Elders. Part Two.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,” (Titus 1:7 (ESV)

The apostle Paul switched from the term “elder” (presbyteros) to overseer (episkopos), or bishop”) in vs. 7. We derive our English word Episcopalian from this Greek word. Yet the two words have the same meaning.

“The two words are plainly interchangeable in the apostle’s thinking, referring to the same church office. The term “overseer” is singular here, but this certainly does not mean that there must be only one episkopos per congregation. Rather the word is used here in a generic sense. Paul was simply affirming that these qualifications are required of all overseers,” explains Dr. Duane Liftin.  

Paul stressed the stewardship nature of an elder. A steward (οἰκονόμος; oikonomos) was the manager of a household. The position refers to one who has authority and responsibility (1Cor. 4:1, 2; Gal. 4:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10). Paul adds that a bishop or elder is to be above reproach as a steward.

Additionally, a bishop must not be arrogant. Arrogance (αὐθάδης; authades) refers to being self-willed and stubborn (2 Peter 2:10). It means always wanting your own way.

Being quick tempered (ὀργίλος; orgilos) means to be inclined to anger. In other words, an elder is not to be hot-tempered, short tempered and irritable; either at God or other people.  

Neither is a church leader to a drunkard (πάροινος; paroinos) or addicted to wine (I Tim. 3:3). While the Scriptures do not teach total abstinence from alcohol (I Tim. 5:23), it does declare a person who habitually drinks too much, and thus becomes a drunkard, violates God command against such behavior; therefore forfeiting the opportunity to serve as an elder (Eph. 5:18).

Violence is never to be seen in a church elder or bishop. To be violent (πλήκτης; plektes) means to be a bully (I Tim. 3:3). Unfortunately, many individuals in ministry embody this behavior. It is to their shame.

Finally, an elder is not to be greedy. The phrase greedy for gain (αἰσχροκερδής; aischrokerdes) literally means greedy for dishonest gain (I Tim. 3:3, 8; I Peter 5:2). Shameful greed for money may result in leaders stealing from the church and bringing reproach upon the Gospel. This should never happen.

A survey of godly church leadership from today’s text informs believers in Christ as to the caliber of men called to serve as elders. Not everyone can serve as an elder. Not everyone should. Only those to whom God has called and who evidence holiness of behavior consistent with the call.

Pray that your church’s elders are such a few, good men. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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