5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
We see here that Titus’ mission is similar to that of Timothy. It has become clear very quickly why Paul’s letter to Titus is grouped with the letters to Timothy as one of the pastoral letters. As before, we see Paul talking about church elders and the qualities which they should have. He continues on in more depth with following verses but I stopped here because I noticed something different in this passage in contrast to Paul’s letter to Timothy…or is it?
Did you notice the phrase “having children who believe”? He described this a bit differently in 1 Timothy 3, “4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),” It is easier for us to accept this than what we are reading in Titus, isn’t it? Ok, kids are under control…but now we read they must also be believers? The original Greek word used here is pistos meaning simply “faithful”. At the end of the definitions it begins to talk about being faithful to God, but this is one of those instances where I wonder if those definitions were tacked on after picking apart the original text of the bible.
Hermeneutics is very important. I touched upon this a lot in Cut and Paste Theology, but this is one of those instances where we must recognize that these texts (especially since these letters are written from the same author) that we must be careful not to put our own twist on it. Kids who are faithful are different from kids who believe in God. Faithful children are those who honor their mother and father. They do so because they were properly trained and lead by both parents to respect authority. If we look to any explanation outside of that, we then violate another principle that is found throughout the bible (mainly from Paul as well). We cannot be talked into faith by men.
We cannot convince someone or make someone truly believe in God. So how therefore can the gospel of grace define a person’s life if their children believe in God or do not? For one, that means that they must have “done something right” so their kids believe (even though faith is not of man, it is the gift of God). Secondly, how could Paul contradict himself in this letter when he just wrote something different to Timothy? He didn’t. The contradiction is in how we read it.
If you would like to delve more into the rest of this passage, you can read it in my explanation of when Paul wrote the same thing to Timothy: What Does it Mean to be Above Reproach.
How can we apply this to our lives today? What does it mean to you to be faithful? Not just to God, but also to those around you, those who are in your life that you will interact with when you are done reading this? Are we careful in how we read scriptures (or anything else for that matter) to not put our own twist on things?