Not Nice Clergy
St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor
26 January 2018
St. Titus was among the first generation of pastors appointed by the apostolic authorities. In the case of Titus, the Apostle Paul appointed him to his office. Titus was paradigmatic of the company of preachers that followed in the apostolic train. He was an uncircumcised Gentile, indicative of the sea change that overtook the church through its initial mission work. The Gentiles now made up a majority of the churches in the Roman world. The church was no longer a Jewish enclave, although Jews still were members. Now the church over which Titus would preside was heavily Gentile, like him.
 
The early church, now a majority Gentile community, was not merely "religious." The church was not an association of like-minded pious people; not a mere holiness association (like the church of Schleiermacher's romantic imagination). Otherwise, it might well have remained merely a Jewish religious sect. Instead it was a community of people all taught by God.
 
This was especially true of the clergy like Titus. They were expected to provide a high moral example, but that was the bare, and not unimportant, minimum for being considered for leadership in the church. The pastors also needed to be thorough students of God's Word. Scripture was to be their meat and drink. The robust piety of the New Testament was always a piety of the Word of God, not a piety of piety. Clergy who are merely "really nice" people were never considered to be adequate to the task; anymore than a "really nice" doctor who doesn't know the right from the left ventricle of the heart would be considered an adequate cardiac surgeon. Our pastors are to be spiritual surgeons of the heart, let's encourage them to know the surgical text book of God's Word. Anything less will be spiritually lethal, even if "nice."

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Jerome of Jerusalem
"To Titus Paul gives the commandment that among a bishop's other virtues (which he briefly describes) he should be careful to seek a knowledge of the Scriptures. A bishop, he says, 'must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it' (Ti 1:9). In fact, the lack of education in a clergyman prevents him from doing good to any one but himself and as much as the virtue of his life may build up Christ's church, he does it an injury as great by failing to resist those who are trying to pull it down.
 
"The prophet Haggai says-or rather the Lord says it by the mouth of Haggai: 'Ask the priests about the law' (Hg 2:11). For such is the important function of the priesthood to give answers to those who question them concerning the law. And in Deuteronomy we read 'Ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you' (Dt 32:7). Also in the 119th Psalm: 'Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning' (Ps 119:54). David too, in the description of the righteous man whom he compares to the tree of life in paradise, among his other excellences speaks of this, 'His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night' (Ps 1:2). In the close of his most solemn vision Daniel declares that 'Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever' (Dn 12:3).
 
"You can see, therefore, how great is the difference between righteous ignorance and instructed righteousness.Those who have the first are compared with the stars, those who have the second with the heavens. Yet, according to the exact sense of the Hebrew, both statements may be understood of the learned, for it is to be read in this way: 'They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the sky; and they that turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.'
 
"Why is the apostle Paul called a chosen vessel (Acts 19:15)? Assuredly because he is a repository of the Law and of the Holy Scriptures. The learned teaching of our Lord strikes the Pharisees dumb with amazement, and they are filled with astonishment to find that Peter and John know the Law although they have not learned letters. For to these the Holy Spirit immediately suggested what comes to others by daily study and meditation; and, as it is written, they were 'taught by God' (1Th 4:9). The Savior had only accomplished his twelfth year when the scene in the temple took place (Lk 2:46); but when he interrogated the elders concerning the Law His wise questions conveyed rather than sought information." 

 Jerome, Letter to Paulinus, 53.3
Titus 1:1-11

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
 
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. (ESV)
Collect for St. Titus
O Almighty God, by Your Son, our Savior, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds to guide and feed Your flock. Therefore we pray, make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For Michael Koutsodontis, that he might receive healing and health from God our heavenly Father while undergoing for cancer
 
For the Board of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, meeting on retreat in Texas, that their deliberations would be successful and their travel safe
 
For the clergy of the LCMS that they might ever be faithful to the Word of God and rebuke the wolves that constantly howl for the hearts of their flocks
 
For the Friends of Westfield House, that they might support the mission of proclaiming the gospel in Britain and Europe
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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