“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9 (ESV)
Consider the title of today’s devotional; Conservator of the Truth. A conservator is a person responsible for the repair and preservation of works of art, buildings, or other things of cultural or environmental interest. A conservator is also a guardian or protector of something or someone.
“Under U.S. law, conservatorship is the appointment of a guardian or a protector by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person due to old age or physical or mental limitations,” explains one commentator.
Similarly, a church elder or pastor is a conservator. He is a guardian or protector of the truth. The truth is another title for the Scriptures or the Word of God. In praying to God the Father on behalf of all His disciples, Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Therefore, an elder not only must evidence certain personal qualities but also faithful discipline. He must always be a faithful man of the Word and of God.
The phrase “He must hold firm” (ἀντέχω; antecho) grammatically refers to an elder’s personal and continual devotion to the Lord ((Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13; Titus 1:9). Such devotion is displayed “to the trustworthy word.” A pastor must always be devoted to the dependable, written revelation from God.
What an elder learns from God’s Word he must be dedicated to teach. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” What Paul instructed Timothy and Titus is applicable for today’s church elders.
Such dedication and devotion has a purpose. The pastor/elder “may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
This is never an easy task. There are those in the church who want to hear what they want to hear from the pastor and not what they need to hear. 3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV).
The faithful man of God must actively give exhortation (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) to the church through sound doctrine (ὑγιαίνω διδασκαλία; hygiaino didaskalia). This refers to correct and healthy instruction from God’s Word.
The pastor must also rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine. To rebuke (ἐλέγχω; elencho) grammatically means to presently, actively and infinitely reprove and expose false teachers. The instruction is not only to oppose false teaching but also false teachers. “This means to show one’s fault, implying that there is a convincing of that fault (Matt. 18:15; John 3:20; 16:8; Eph. 5:11; 1Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:9; Heb. 12:5; James 2:9; Jude 15, 22-23; Rev. 3:19),” explains one commentator.
False teachers are those who speak against God’s Word (ἀντιλέγω; antilego). They are not just in error but are in opposition to the Scriptures ((Lk 2:34; 20:27; 21:15; John 19:12; Acts 4:14; Rom. 10:21; Titus 1:9; 2:9). I have discovered these to be angry individuals who do not listen to anyone but themselves.
2 Corinthians 10:1–6 (ESV) says, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! — 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
To teach sound doctrine and to oppose false teaching is the elder’s task. If an individual is not up to this task, then they are not fit to be a church elder.
Pray today for the elders in your local church. Pray that they will be uncompromising in their biblical responsibilities. Have a God-honoring day.
Soli deo Gloria!