Sermon Notes & References

The Priority Task

Titus 1:10-16

September 16, 2018

A. Background

    1. The Appointment of Elders

    2. The Task for These Elders 1

B. The Enemies Within

    1. The Disputer 2                                                    1:10-11

    2. The Sensual 3                                                     1:12-13

    3. The Falsely Religious 4                                         1:14-16                                                                               

C. Conclusion 5

1 Titus 1:10-16. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Priority Task


A. Background

    1. The Appointment of Elders

        a. Paul has just given to Pastor Titus the priorities in choosing leaders for the church in Crete – the qualification for men if they are to serve in this capacity in the local church bodies

            (A)    it was remarked even before NT times that on this relatively small island of Crete, there were many cities: one count was a 100

            (B)    moreover there had been Cretans present on the day of Pentecost when everyone there heard the gospel in their own language

            (C)   and as there were 3,000 converts on that day, surely there must have been some from Crete among those saved

            (D)   so, many of the Jews & proselytes from Crete attending Jerusalem would have returned home repeating the gospel they had heard

            (E)    these would have formed the backbone of the churches there

            (F)    by now 30 years have passed,

                 (1)    much of the Jerusalem church had been scattered abroad

                 (2)    Gentiles have been added to the church

                 (3)    believers gathered from place to place as part of Christ’s body

        b. so many of those cities would have their own local church; and Titus was to go city by city appointing elders


    2. The Task for These Elders

        a. these elders had a priority task to carry out

            (A)    it was not Titus’ task to carry it out; he was to return to Paul

            (B)    and in verse Titus 1:9 there is given the priority qualification to carry out this task

                 (1)    “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

                 (2)    they needed to be firmly grounded upon the Scriptures

                     (a)    to proclaim sound doctrine – sound in various ways

                         ¤  grounded firmly on the foundation of Jesus Christ

                         ¤  correct, according to the teaching of the apostles

                         ¤  healthy – promoting the growth of individual believers and the community of believers

                     (b)    but also to refute error

                     (c)    and as you will have notice as we read verses 10 to 16

                         ¤  there were two specific forms of error

                         ¤  the error of false teaching

                         ¤  the error of false living

            (C)   their task was lead churches so that in Crete the Church of Jesus Christ would ACT like His Bride

        b. this priority should not seem strange to us

            (A)    especially those who are parents

                 (1)    it has been said that every parent has as their task that of training and civilising savages

                 (2)    and that is only partly in jest

                 (3)    children give evidence of the biblical doctrine of original sin!

            (B)    but the same will be found true in new believers and new churches

                 (1)    why should it be any different?

                 (2)    For,” in the moment of coming to faith, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13)

                 (3)    that is the matter of salvation from the guilt & penalty of sin

                 (4)    then follows the life-long process of salvation from the power of sin – the Holy Spirit work in us called sanctification

            (C)   nor should it seem strange when we consider the world around us

                 (1)    for 1 John 5:19 says “… the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” – that is the norm for humanity

                 (2)    it takes a long time to clean out the world’s ideas, its values, its culture from the person who comes to Jesus Christ

                 (3)    and the character of the community of believers, the church, reflects the character of those who comprise it

        c. so, as we look further at these verses, let us not be surprised if we should see some matters that apply to each of us and our church

            (A)    note that we are not going to go into each of these verses in detail – you can do that as you meditate on the passage – nor classify all these items in a rigorous fashion

            (B)    but let us pick out some of the high-lights, and be warned when these appear in our own lives, or in the life ouf our congregation.


B. The Enemies Within

    1. The Disputer                                                    1:10-11

        a. “10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.”

            (A)    there used to be a cartoon called Pogo and one of the classic lines from it was “We have found the enemy, and it is us!”

            (B)    well, the most disturbing part of what Paul sayq needs fixing, is that it is not oppression against the church, nor such externals

            (C)   but rather what disturbs the church from within: the actions of the influential within the church; maybe even the respected, popular

            (D)   but their influence is used amiss – instead of using the qualities given in the earlier verses in selecting leaders, many a church has chosen those successful in business, or who have a good patter; and these churches have come to regret it.

        b. Romans 10:9-10 says “9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

            (A)    In which you will notice two criteria for salvation

                 (1)    recognising that Jesus is Lord – to be obeyed

                 (2)    recognising Jesus’ saving work – to believe

                 (3)    in fact obedience and faith are closely related in Scripture: if I entrust myself to Jesus it means I will do what He says

            (B)    rebellious men in the church miss this point: so are insubordinate and unruly

                 (1)    twice in the book of Judges it is mentioned that there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes

                 (2)    these are people who fail to realise that Jesus Christ is Messiah, King – and so do, and talk, just as they see fit and want

                 (3)    this was especially true among those of the circumcision – Jews – and reasons for that we shall look at in a few moments

        c. such men in the church have a terrible effect upon God’s people

            (A)    what they have to say is vain, empty of any useful substance for those who hang on their words, eagerly listening

            (B)    but this talk is not simply neutral, but deceiving, because it gives the wrong impression to others of what Christianity is all about

            (C)   in fact, as we look further, it is disruptive – in this, the family of God that is the church, there are whole families whose life of faith has been disturbed by their teaching

            (D)   such teaching is not necessarily a set of doctrines, but rather the things that they think are important

            (E)    As an illustration, I was told of some people who had left off going to a particular church, because influential and popular people used the fellowship there as a way of networking, passing out business cards, and so on – for the sake of shameful gain.

        d. so such people needed to be silenced

            (A)    hence the requirement that these elders be able to refute them

            (B)    so they would learn this lesson given in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”


    2. The Sensual                                                     1:12-13

        a. “12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ 13 This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith,”

            (A)    Paul really did not need any corroboration of this statement

                 (1)    he is speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit

                 (2)    in light of his own and Titus’ observations

                 (3)    but given anyway to show this is an objective observation

            (B)    the prophet in question seems certain to have been Epimenides

                 (1)    he was known as one of the seven wise men of Greece

                 (2)    and lived in about the time of Jonah and Amos

                 (3)    as a poet was thought by Cretans to be a prophet

        b. they were

            (A)    regarded as liars as they proudly boasted that Zeus (or Jupiter) was one of them and his grave was on their island

            (B)    thought of as wild beasts on account of their fever lust in hunting and killing of animals

            (C)   and the last criticism is really two

                 (1)    it is literally “lazy bellies”

                 (2)    showing a dislike for work

                 (3)    but an abnormal liking for eating

        c. perhaps you can see in these words a parallel to what are termed the seven deadly sins:

            (A)     pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth

            (B)    all of which have to do with the satisfaction of the physical senses

            (C)   when these aspects of this world’s culture enter into the temple of God, His church, then those bringing them need to be reprimanded

        d. “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)


    3. The Falsely Religious                                         1:14-16

        a. “14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.”

            (A)    the error being described here is that of the Judaizing teachers who began to come into prominence about 15 years before (cf Acts 15)

                 (1)    the Jewish myths does not refer to the Old Testament

                 (2)    but rather to the mass of tradition – against which Christ spoke in Matthew 16:1-6 – that they had heaped up above the Law and even making the Law of none effect

                 (3)    a load that Peter described as “a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear.” (Acts 15:10)

            (B)    in particular this seems to have been the enforcement of the Jewish dietary laws

                 (1)    it is that to which verse 15 (“to the pure, all things are pure”) refers; not, as I have heard it used, as an enticement to partake in some questionable activity

                 (2)    Paul’s judgement on such men is parallel to Jesus’ graphic words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

        b. what has that to do with us today

            (A)    well, there are still those who have sought various ways to the deeper life and holy living which are really just a resurrection of the attitude of the Pharisees

            (B)    they dictate extra-biblical rules of what is acceptable conduct and anyone who trips over these is put out of their fellowship

            (C)   the church at Galatia was facing such deceivers, and to them Paul wails, “1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)


C. Conclusion

    1. The Antidote

        a. to bring change to these churches and their people

        b. the elders given this priority task had to be, as we noted at the start, well grounded in the holy Scriptures

        c. note the reason for this and the corresponding result in these verses in closing

        d. “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate (proficient, complete), equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

        e. it is by our spending time in the reading and applying of God’s word that we as individuals and as a church will avoid these enemies within.




© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

       NRSV             New Revised Standard Version © 1989 Division of Christian Education of national Council of Churches of Christ

       JBP         The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

       UBS        Greek text of the United Bible Societies; particularly that published in 1954 by The British and Foreign Bible Society

       WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth


Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:


       Barnes –  Notes on the New Testament by Alfred E. Barnes

       Calvin –   Commentaries on the Bible, by Jean Calvin; translated into English & published in the Online Bible.

       EB   -      The Expositor’s Bible, edited by Sir William Robertson Nicoll, C.H., D.D., LL.D., 1903

       EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

       EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

       Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

       JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

       Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

       RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson