Parenting is challenging work. When our first daughter was born, I was struck by our lack of anticipation of her basic needs: food, sleep, clean diapers—often at inconvenient times. But most parents discover that this stage is nothing compared with what is to come. The needs associated with the child's growth and maturity require greater attention and unconditional love from the parent. Encouragement builds self-esteem and propels the child forward to meet life's challenges. Correction instills and increases an understanding of right and wrong, as it teaches that human behavior has moral consequences. Parents must provide the child's life with structure and organization. In this way the young person learns about expected roles and responsibilities within the home and society, as well as lines of authority and the importance of interdependence among fellow human beings. Meeting these needs prepares the child for life as an adult. If all of this is taken seriously, parenting is not easy.
Parenting a church requires most of these same skills and responsibilities. As the church grows in numbers and maturity, its needs change much as those of the growing child do. When Titus received Paul's letter, the churches of Crete were still quite young, but quickly growing out of infancy. They had reached the stage where more structure was required, where church members needed to ascend to roles of leadership and where they could begin to carry on ministry independent of their spiritual parents. Preparing them for this was a task that fell to Titus. At the same time an element within the churches was introducing false doctrine that threatened the development of these Christians. Thus Titus's instructions include correction.
The tone and content of this passage are very similar to those of 1 Timothy. After a reminder to Titus about his purpose in Crete (1:5), Paul includes the same basic set of qualifications for the overseer/elder that he issued to Timothy (1:6-9) to guide him in his task. Then he calls Titus to correct the errorists (1:10-16).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.