Beyond the Lectionary Text: Titus 1

by Chelsey Harmon

Stewards of Houses

Paul tells Titus that his job is to continue the work they began while Paul was with him in Crete: organizing the believers with elders/overseers to guide their growth and protect their development. Reading through the qualifications, one thing becomes abundantly clear: living the faith with integrity is vital for everyone’s well-being.

But why do the qualifications for leadership start with familial relationships? In that time and place, men were first and foremost stewards of their homes. If they could not live out their faith by serving, upholding, loving, and encouraging those whom God had given them, then how could they do this for people who weren’t their flesh and blood responsibility? The home is the place where the faith can be most often expressed through action; if they failed to express it there, how could they do so elsewhere? If glorifying God in their small household was difficult, then leading the household of faith in the task would be impossible.

The virtues needed to foster a healthy home environment are all skills that the Holy Spirit uses to keep the church healthy/sound. When it is difficult to quickly make a laundry list of your faults or the damage you’ve done to those around you, you could be described as blameless, which means you are trustworthy and safe. Being married only once (or to one wife) is a clear indicator that you know what it means to be faithful and committed to someone/thing other than yourself. Having children who have come to faith shows that you can nurture and teach about God and the faith.

Anyone who grew up in a home with an alcoholic, someone with anger issues, or a strict disciplinarian who controlled everyone and everything to keep their image in the community intact (the sin of pride), knows all too well why Paul lists the vices he does. Such personalities do not make it safe for anyone; there is no flourishing in such an environment. The holes in the walls, struck by drunken or angry fists, even when covertly covered by well-placed pieces of furniture, still remind those who live within them that they are not safe. A church cannot be God’s sanctuary if the dangerous are given free reign.

Translation Choices

Proclaiming Christ