Much as he left Timothy in Ephesus, Paul has now left Titus in Crete to help serve the Christians there. “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you”(Titus 1:5). “What remained” here is better translated “the things that are lacking”(NKJV) or “what was left unfinished”(NIV). Something is missing because there are churches on the island of Crete that don’t have elders. Titus needs to correct that.
But why do churches need elders? Paul fleshes out qualifications very similar to those he gives Timothy (1 Tim 3:1-7) but adds some explanation. “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). Elders must know the word of God because they need to be prepared “to give instruction in sound doctrine.” They are teachers and must be able to give the brethren teaching that is healthy and proper. But they will also “rebuke those who contradict it,” meaning they can defend what they are teaching and correct false beliefs. Churches need elders because elders provide doctrinal guidance and defense.
There may be times when local churches must survive without elders, as they did in Crete, yet it is important that we know something is lacking. We need qualified elders to be examples and wise decision-makers. Yet the focus here is that we need elders to preserve the integrity of our teaching.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Do I appreciate and honor the elders I serve under?
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