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 - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 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, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 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.If you recall, back when I started this series, I said this:
- So you're saying to yourself, "cent -- don't be like this. Pastors have it hard enough, and the people who go after them are worse than wicked." Oh wait -- no: most of you are saying something like, "I sure wish my pastor was reading this," or, "I sure hope my ex-pastor is reading this -- maybe it'll drive some sense into his fool head."
Yeah, well, hold on a second: that's quite a mouthful there -- none of which I would deny in principle, but none of which I would actually endorse from this passage.
What this passage says is not that he will open a Bible (which they didn't actually have at that time -- no bound books, no printing press) and read out loud and then expound from it. It says first that he will "hold firm" to the trustworthy word as it was taught to him. That word there "ἀντεχόμενον" means to hold one's self up with, or to cleave to, or to pay special attention to another -- in this case, to the word which is itself trustworthy.
If you mull this over for a few hours, you'll find yourself seeing something here which you probably didn't expect: that what Paul is exhorting Titus to find is men who are informed by the word, not men who are particularly informative about the word. That is: when Paul gets to the "instruct and rebuke" part, it's not because Titus has found seminary graduates where there were no seminaries. It is because there are men there who have, in the end, listened to what the word teaches them, and they are made into something better for it.
So all this fruit of the spirit stuff -- the "blameless" stuff -- is one aspect of this kind of man, and the other is that he's not just a kind and generous soul but he is in fact made into a disciple by the word, therefore he is able to disciple and discipline others.
Yes: he prolly can open the word and teach from it. He prolly talks good. But that's not what Paul is getting at here. The man who is qualified to be an elder in the church is one who is cleaved to the word and listening to the word and standing up against the word -- and from that place, he can therefore tell others something they don't know, and turn away those who are doing themselves and others harm by their false teaching.
And this goes back to his character, dear pastor reader. You might say it this way: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the mockers -- because his delight is in YHVH's testimony, and on His word he meditates day and night. That man is like a tree planted by streams of water that bears fruit in season, and its leaves do not wither. All that he does will then prosper.
You might find another way to say it; I'm not sure it'd be better. But that's what the comments are for.