Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Titus 1:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For this cause left I thee in Crete - That St. Paul had been in Crete, though nowhere else intimated, is clear from this passage. That he could not have made such an important visit, and evangelized an island of the first consequence, without its being mentioned by his historian, Luke, had it happened during the period embraced in the Acts of the Apostles, must be evident. That the journey, therefore, must have been performed after the time in which St. Luke ends his history, that is, after St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, seems almost certain.

Set in order the things that are wanting - It appears from this that the apostle did not spend much time in Crete, and that he was obliged to leave it before he had got the Church properly organized. The supplying of this defect, he tells Titus, he had confided to him as one whose spiritual views coincided entirely with his own.

Ordain elders in every city - That thou mightest appoint, καταστησῃς, elders - persons well instructed in Divine things, who should be able to instruct others, and observe and enforce the discipline of the Church. It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Titus 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic Church, though afterwards they became distinct. Lord Peter King, in his view of the primitive Church, has written well on this subject.

In every city. - Κατα πολιν . This seems to intimate that the apostle had gone over the whole of the hecatompolis or hundred cities for which this island was celebrated. Indeed it is not likely that he would leave one in which he had not preached Christ crucified.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For this cause left I thee in Crete - Compare the notes, 1 Timothy 1:3. On the situation of Crete, see the Introduction, Section 2.

That thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting - Margin, “left undone.” The Greek is: “the things that are left;” that is, those which were left unfinished; referring, doubtless, to arrangements which had been commenced, but which for some cause had been left incomplete. Whether this had occurred because he had been driven away by persecution, or called away by important duties demanding his attention elsewhere, cannot now be determined. The word rendered “set in order”, ἐπιδιορθώσῃ epidiorthōsēoccurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “to make straight upon, and then to put further to rights, to arrange further.” Robinson, Lexicon - There were things left unfinished which he was to complete. One of these things, and perhaps the principal, was to appoint elders in the various cities where the gospel had been preached.

And ordain - The word “ordain” has now acquired a technical signification which it cannot be shown that it has in the New Testament. It means, in common usage, to “invest with a ministerial function or sacerdotal power; to introduce, and establish, and settle in the pastoral office with the customary forms and solemnities” (Webster); and it may be added, with the idea always connected with it, of the imposition of hands. But the word used here does not necessarily convey this meaning, or imply that Titus was to go through what would now be called an ordination service. It means to set, place, or constitute; then, to set over anything, as a steward or other officer (see Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42; Acts 6:3), though without reference to any particular mode of investment with an office; see the word, “ordain,” explained in the notes at Acts 1:22; Acts 14:23. Titus was to appoint or set them over the churches, though with what ceremony is now unknown. There is no reason to suppose that he did this except as the result of the choice of the people; compare the notes at Acts 6:3.

Elders - Greek: Presbyters; see the word explained in the notes at Acts 14:23. These “elders,” or “Presbyters,” were also called “bishops” (compare the notes at 1 Timothy 3:1), for Paul immediately, in describing their qualifications, calls them bishops: - “ordain elders in every city - if any be blameless - for a bishop must be blameless,” etc. If the elders and bishops in the times of the apostles were of different ranks, this direction would be wholly unmeaningful. It would be the same as if the following direction were given to one who was authorized to appoint officers over an army: “Appoint captains over each company, who shall be of good character, and acquainted with military tactics, for a Brigadier General must be of good character, and acquainted with the rules of war.” - That the same rank is denoted also by the terms Presbyter and Bishop here, is further apparent because the qualifications which Paul states as requisite for the “bishop” are not those which pertain to a prelate or a diocesan bishop, but to one who was a pastor of a church, or an evangelist. It is clear, from Titus 1:7, that those whom Titus was to appoint were “bishops,” and yet it is absurd to suppose that the apostle meant prelatical bishops, for no one can believe that such bishops were to be appointed in “every city” of the island. According to all modern notions of Episcopacy, one such bishop would have been enough for such an island as Crete, and indeed it has been not infrequently maintained that Titus himself was in fact the Bishop of that Diocese. But if these were not prelates who were to be ordained by Titus, then it is clear that the term “bishop” in the New Testament is given to the Presbyters or elders; that is, to all ministers of the gospel. That usage should never have been departed from.

In every city - Crete was anciently celebrated for the number of its cities. In one passage Homer ascribes to the island 100 cities (Iliad ii. 649), in another, 90 cities (Odyssey xix. 174). It may be presumed that many of these cities were towns of not very considerable size, and yet it would seem probable that each one was large enough to have a church, and to maintain the gospel. Paul, doubtless, expected that Titus would travel over the whole island, and endeavor to introduce the gospel in every important place.

As I had appointed thee - As I commanded thee, or gave thee direction - διεταξάμην dietaxamēn- This is a different word from the one used in the former part of the verse - and rendered “ordain” - καθίστημι kathistēmiIt does not mean that Titus was to ordain elders in the same manner as Paul had ordained him, but that he was to set them over the cities as he had directed him to do. He had, doubtless, given him oral instructions, when he left him, as to the way in which it was to be done.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The character and qualification of pastors, here called elders and bishops, agree with what the apostle wrote to Timothy. Being such bishops and overseers of the flock, to be examples to them, and God's stewards to take care of the affairs of his household, there is great reason that they should be blameless. What they are not to be, is plainly shown, as well as what they are to be, as servants of Christ, and able ministers of the letter and practice of the gospel. And here are described the spirit and practice becoming such as should be examples of good works.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 617

The apostle Paul writes to Titus: “Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God.” It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words and not to hurry men into office without due consideration and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept. 5T 617.1

Said the inspired apostle: “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” In some of our churches the work of organizing and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work—men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity. 5T 617.2

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