1:5: God’s Grace to us in Ecclesiology
Ecclesiology a theology of the church. What does the Bible teach about the church? What is the church? What is supposed to look like? Who leads it? All of these questions are matters of ecclesiology.
In Titus 1:5 we see the pattern given in Scripture for the church is to have elders. At some point, Paul on his missionary journey visited and preached the gospel at Crete and some locals came to faith. But he had to leave before he could help get situated and established with local leadership. To remedy this, Paul left Titus to “carry on the things that remained” and to see that “elders were appointed” (1:5).
From this passage, and others, we see that the biblical pattern for a local church is to be governed/led/overseen by elders. An elder was an “overseer” and was to be considered God’s “steward”, or “manager of God’s household” (1:7).
But how should the local church choose to be their elders? The Apostle Paul gave instructions here in Titus (and in 1 Timothy) to help believers in the first century and throughout the church to understand what to look for. In Titus, we see that local elders were to have godly character and hold to sound doctrine (1:6-9).
As we think about this, it is good to note in this is how kind God is to us in giving us this pattern. He has not left His church alone to wander about in the Christian life. He has given elders to shepherd local congregations (1 Peter 5:1). This is God’s grace! God cares for His people through people led by Spirit and instructed by His Word. Grace!
While our culture bulks at submission to authority and questions the need for leadership in spiritual matters, preferring a hyper-individualized consumeristic me-first grab-bag spirituality, God has shown us that the way of wisdom is through having a local church led and shepherded by qualified, called elders who look after the spiritual welfare of the congregation. This is not something to reject, but to embrace as God’s wisdom and grace. What grace! What a kind God!