Lessons from the Life of Andrew

What follows below are three simple practical lessons illustrated from the life of Andrew. These lessons may not be the main points of each narrative cited below, but they come to mind when we observe the various texts describing the life of Andrew. As simple as they may be, I hope they encourage you today.

Be willing to serve in the background.

We see Andrew in the background in a couple of ways in his ministry. First, in half of the instances that his name is mentioned, Andrew is described as “the brother of Peter,” implying Peter was more well-known than him (Matthew 4:18; 10:2; Mark 1:16; Luke 6:14; John 1:40; 6:8). Andrew faithfully served in Peter’s shadow to some degree. Second, Andrew served close to those who were closer to Christ during His earthly ministry than he was. Often called the “inner three,” Peter, James, and John were with Christ at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8) and in Gethsemane the night before His death (Matthew 26:37). John MacArthur calls Andrew one of the “inner four” because his name is always included with these three in the first set of four names in all of the lists of the disciples (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). He also joined the three to see Peter’s mother-in-law healed (Mark 1:29) and hear Jesus teach about end times (Mark 13:3).

Whether serving in his brother’s shadow or being close to the three but not one of them, Andrew still served his Lord. We should likewise serve the Lord in whatever role the Lord gives us.

Be willing to serve others on a personal level.

Andrew was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus (John 1:35–40) and personally connected people to Jesus in two instances noted in Scripture. First, he went and brought Peter to Jesus as well (John 1:41), and, second, he later brought some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20–22), allowing them to hear from Him how to have eternal life (John 12:23–24).

All it takes for someone to meet Jesus is for us to speak to that person and bring him to Christ. We can introduce him to Christ through the Scriptures, and if they believe, they, too, will see His face one day (Revelation 22:4).

Be willing to serve in tough circumstances.

Andrew showed himself faithful in an interesting way in the feeding of the five thousand. This crowd listened to Jesus teach long enough to need food (John 6:1–6, 10). When Jesus pressed the disciples with the people’s need, Philip could only think of the money involved while Andrew searched for food and pointed out a boy’s meal of five loaves and two fish (John 6:7–9). While Andrew himself was perplexed at what to do with such a small number of items for so many people (John 6:9, “What are they for so many?”), he at least did something. It was these same loaves and fish that Jesus used to miraculously feed the crowd (John 6:11).

Like Andrew, we must be willing to serve in tough circumstances, even if we do not know a difficult situation will be resolved. Faithfully serve, and God is perfectly capable of resolving any situation in His own time and in His own way.

Jesus Christ, Our Great God and Savior

Titus 2:11–14 gives us the reason for why we should live as godly men and women, old or young, and in our places of service (cf. Titus 2:1–10)—the saving grace of God has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ to teach us how to live godly lives. Part of this godly life is to expect our Lord Jesus Christ to appear again. Titus 2:13 describes us as “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” In the last phrase of this clause, we find one of Scripture’s strongest declarations of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not just our Savior and the Christ, but He is also “our great God.”

Some prefer to understand “our great God” to refer to the Father. If this is the case, Jesus is identified as both the glory of the Father and as our Savior Jesus Christ. However, five reasons suggest “our great God” also refers to Jesus Christ.1

First, one article before both “God and Savior” ties these two titles together as one and the same. The text literally reads “the glory of the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ.” The glory that appears, then, is Him who is God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Second, several passages similarly identify Jesus as God. John 1:1 and 1:18 identify Jesus as the Word who is God at the Father’s side. Thomas identified “him” as “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28. Acts 20:28 mentions “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Romans 9:5 identifies Christ as “God over all.” 2 Peter 1:1 speaks of a righteousness that belongs to “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Third, using references from just the Pastoral Epistles, while it is true that the Father is identified as our Savior (1 Timothy 2:3; Titus 1:3; 3:4), Jesus is identified as Savior as well (2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4; 3:6).

Fourth, if it was the Father’s grace in Christ to appear in Titus 2:11 and not the Father Himself, so also would we expect the “appearing” in Titus 2:13 to refer to Christ as well. Just as Mathew 25:31 refers to the final descent of Christ as when He “comes in His glory,” so also Titus 2:13 refers to Christ’s coming appearance as glory itself.

Fifth, Paul likely used a well-known phrase and applied it to Jesus Christ. “God and Savior” could refer to leaders or even the emperor, and Paul’s use of the phrase identified Christ as the only One who should properly receive such a title.

Whether using Titus 2:13 or one of the passages above, one truth is certain—the man Christ Jesus is also God. May the Father’s grace through Him continue to change us to be more like His Son, especially as we wait for Him to come again.

  1. See especially William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Word Biblical Commentary 46; Dallas, TX: Word, 2000), 426–31, and John F. MacArthur, Jr., Titus (MacArthur New Testament Commentary; Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 120–21. []

“The Wonder and Walk of Being in Christ”: An Overview of Ephesians

Background and Setting for Ephesians

Paul first visited Ephesus towards the end of his second missionary journey, leaving Priscilla and Aquila behind (Acts 18:18–19; AD 51). They likely evangelized in Ephesus, and Apollos made some disciples as well (cf. Acts 18:24–19:7). Paul returned (AD 54) to find this core of believers (Acts 19:1–7), evangelized further (Acts 19:8–10), and saw the hand of God at work (Acts 19:11–20; cf. 19:10, 20). Unbelievers there greatly opposed the gospel (Acts 19:21–41; 20:19), and Paul left shortly thereafter (Acts 20:1). Paul had lived Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31). He bid a final farewell to the Ephesian elders at Miletus during later travels (Acts 20:17–38).

Paul wrote Ephesians during his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30–31; AD 61). He would later wrote 1 and 2 Timothy (AD 64 and 66), both obviously to Timothy who was in Ephesus at the time (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:18; 4:12). The apostle John later addressed Ephesus and six other churches (Revelation 2:1–7).

Tychicus, likely an Ephesian (cf. Acts 20:4), carried Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21–22) along with two letters written at the same time, Colossians (Colossians 4:7–8) and Philemon (cf. Colossians 4:9 with Philemon 10). The ministry of Tychicus was similar to that of Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 4:12) and Titus (cf. Titus 3:12).

In writing to the Ephesians, Paul likely heard from Tychicus how the Ephesians were doing and of their angst for him in prison (cf. Ephesians 1:15; 3:1, 13; 6:21–22). Having known them for 6 or 7 years at this point, and having been with them for about half of that time, Paul wrote to encourage them in a very doctrinal and practical way—his suffering was for their glory and the promotion of the gospel (Ephesians 3:13, 6:19–20).

Overview of Ephesians

If I could boil Ephesians into a few words to say to us today, as simple as they may be, it would be this: You are in Christ—know what this means, and walk like Him.

What follows is an elaboration of this summary. I try to briefly capture the major thoughts of each passage in Ephesians, spoken to us today.

We wish all the faithful in Christ grace and peace (Ephesians 1:1–2) and especially bless the Father for all the salvation blessings that He gives to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3–14). Knowing these blessings, we should pray for one another to better understand the hope, riches, and power that are to us through Christ (Ephesians 1:15–23). Whereas we were once dead in sins, God made us alive in Christ in order to know His saving grace both now and forever (Ephesians 2:1–10). As Gentiles, our new life resulted in peace with God and becoming joint-citizens with all who are in the household of God (Ephesians 2:11–21). This amazing display of God’s wisdom to the heavens is the basis whereby we pray for one another to be spiritually strengthened in order to understand more fully the love of Christ to us (Ephesians 3:1–21). Being united in salvation, we must walk together in spiritual unity, serve according to God’s grace to each of us, and thereby bring all to maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:1–16). We therefore walk not as we were without Christ but with love, being like Him in every way (Ephesians 4:17–5:2). We walk not in darkness but wisely, as children of light who are filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:3–21). This Spirit-filled walk extends to how we relate as husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:22–33), children and fathers (Ephesians 6:1–4), and servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5–9). We stay strong in the Lord by wearing His armor (Ephesians 6:10–20), encourage one another, and wish each other peace, love, faith, and grace (Ephesians 6:21–24).

Wisdom and Instruction Concerning the Kings of Men

Proverbs and Kings

What follows below in this section is simply a brief summary of the verses in Proverbs mentioning a “king” or “kings.”

  • The glory of kings is their people, and their ruin is to lose them (14:28; 30:31).
  • To keep the favor of the king and to avoid his wrath, one should be wise, righteous and gracious in speech, pure in heart, skillful in work, and respectful of his office. One should not be shameful, disloyal, or self-promoting (14:35; 16:13–15; 19:12; 20:2; 20:26; 22:11, 29; 24:21–22; 25:6–7).
  • God expects a king to rule with wisdom (8:15), uphold His Word in judgment (16:10), do no evil (16:11), rid the land of evil (20:8, 26), investigate matters diligently (25:2), listen to righteous counsel (25:4–5), be just, refuse bribes (29:4), faithfully judge the poor (29:14), be prepared (30:22), and forsake immorality and drunkenness (31:3). Kings should be those whose bits of wisdom are proverbial for the land (1:1; 25:1; 31:1).
  • God is sovereign over kings (20:28) and their hearts (21:1) and is the only One who truly knows their motivations (25:3).

From the NT, whoever our kings may be…

The Life of Paul After Acts

What follows below is an attempt to figure out where Paul went after his first imprisonment in Rome.1 These travels of Paul are based on statements in Acts and the letters of Paul that indicate his intended or actual travels at this time. Especially helpful are the Prison Epistles since they were written during Paul’s two years in Rome, AD 60–62 (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians; Acts 28:30), just before his release. Also helpful are the letters written after Acts and during the time of these travels (1 Timothy and Titus  in AD 66, 2 Timothy in AD 68). If Paul was released in AD 62 and wrote 2 Timothy just before his death (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6–8), then Paul’s life after Acts continued for 5 or 6 more years.

After the events in Paul’s life in Acts 28, Paul stood before Caesar (Emperor Nero) in Rome as promised (Acts 27:24), probably in AD 62. Tradition tells us that he was released from his imprisonment, probably due to his innocence (cf. Acts 23:29; 25:25; 26:32). Already in Rome, he could have visited the believers there as he intended (Romans 15:24, 28), having met some of them already (Acts 28:15–16; cf. 28:30).

Being on the western coast of Italy, Paul may have then taken the gospel further west to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28) and stayed there for some time, maybe a year or two (AD 62–64), taking the gospel where it had not gone before (cf. Romans 15:14–21). Or, if Philippians 2:24 and Philemon 22 indicate Paul’s haste to visit Philippi and Philemon, Paul’s trip to Spain may have taken place later. Either way, we lean on tradition and not an explicit statement in Scripture that the trip indeed took place. But tradition suggests that Paul went to Spain just after being released.

If Paul did complete a missionary trip to Spain, he could have then sailed east along the northern coast of Africa and under Cicily to eventually land on Crete where he and Titus evangelized the island (Titus 1:5). Leaving Titus there, he could have gone north to Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20) and visited Philemon in Colossae thereafter (Philemon 22).

Not stopping in Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:38), Paul sent Timothy there while Paul traveled to the region of Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). While on the way, he left some items at Troas (2 Timothy 4:13) and then stayed in Philippi as he intended (Philippians 2:24). Paul may have then stayed in Nicopolis during the winter as he had hoped (Titus 3:12). He could have also visited Corinth at this time (2 Timothy 4:20), or maybe he traveled through there after being arrested and taken to Rome. Though many did not stand by him at this time (2 Timothy 4:16), the Lord Jesus did (2 Timothy 4:17; cf. Acts 23:11). Tradition tells us that Paul stayed in the Mamertine Prison and was beheaded in AD 68.

  1. The years and timeline here is primarily based on traditional, conservative dating for the NT’s events and letters and especially on William Combs, “The Life and Ministry of Paul” (course notes, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Spring 2007), 79, and Robet E. Picirilli, Paul the Apostle (Chicago: Moody, 2017), 241–62. []

Developing Teachers and Leaders in Our Church

The church’s mission church is simple—make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). Within this mission, pastor-teachers teach others to teach the Word: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Teaching takes place formally and includes directly teaching doctrine, but teaching takes place informally as well. A family teaches the leader when he is young, the church instructs him as well, and leaders then train these men to take their place in time. Consider two examples from Scripture.

First, consider Jesus and the disciples. Mark 3:13–15 speaks of how Jesus developed the disciples according to preference (“those whom he desired”), presence (“so that they might be with him”), preaching (“send them out to preach”) and power (“send them out…to cast out demons”). He singled out potential leaders, shared His life and ministry with them, and trained them to serve others.

Second, consider Paul and Timothy. Thanks to the ministry of Timothy’s family and his church (Acts 16:1–2; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), Timothy earned for himself a good reputation of character and being knowledgeable of the Scriptures. As a result, “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3). Then, Paul’s teaching and example developed Timothy all the more (cf. Philippians 2:19–24). Like Jesus and the disciples, Paul chose Timothy, shared his life and ministry with him, and trained him to serve others.

It is easy to plan formal teaching. Informal training—letting one’s life impact another by spending time together—this training must be planned as well, something formally informal. If our church is going to develop leaders, both formal and informal training are essential. The pastors teach those who can teach, and by building relationships with these men in other settings, they pass on their way of life as well—their character, their wisdom, and more.

Seeing the value of formal and informal training, our pastors will begin a program next year entitled “Entrusting Faithful Men.” Those who teach the church will read through a volume a year of Rolland McCune’s Systematic Theology and meet at least six times each year to discuss what we are learning. Any men besides are welcome to join. Our church has a fund to provide these books to the men in order to invest in them and thus our church. Our pastors will meet informally with these men as well.

As it applies to the church, expect somebody new to try his hand at teaching from time to time. Pray that God would raise up teachers and leaders in our midst. If nothing else, just as we pray for our women to faithfully serve, love their husbands, and raise godly children, pray also for our men to know the Word and be better husbands, fathers, and examples. May the Lord bless our church as we are mindful to develop teachers and leaders in our midst.

A Testimony from Teaching Some Teachers

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV).

This past week, I had the privilege of leading six men through a Doctor of Ministry class at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC: “The Theology and Development of Leadership.” They were from Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The time zones from my location in Rockford, IL, were either two hours back, one hour ahead, thirteen hours ahead, or fourteen hours ahead. While some were just seeing the sun, some had already seen it go down. Their roles as leaders include the following: a “retired” missionary from Paraguay, now serving in the States; an assistant pastor who also presides over a Bible college; an assistant pastor who oversees a counseling center in two locations; a senior pastor who also has a counseling center in his church; an assistant pastor who might become his church’s senior pastor within the next few years; and a pastor who recently relocated from one country to another.

I stayed up late each night, compiling as much as I could for these men. The best resource was simply the Scripture itself. We looked at the Testaments Old and New and especially focused on New Testament passages that taught about leaders and their development. We met together for thirty hours over the course of five days—four hours on Monday, eight on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and two on Friday.  Due to COVID-19, instead of meeting in Greenville, we connected via Zoom, a video program that allowed everyone to see and hear each other at the same time. We could even share our computer screens as desired, which was helpful when the men gave presentations about leaders from church history and when I simply taught through my own notes for the majority of the time.

The presentations and class discussions taught me much as well. I may have been the instructor, but these men had been called by God to teach in their churches and therefore had something to offer themselves. I was especially glad to listen to the “students” crowned with gray.

The greatest thing that prepared me to teach this class was simply becoming and being a pastor. Parents, brothers, pastors, and others invested their lives in me, especially the senior pastor at my previous church. Preaching the Word, pastoring, and being sharpened by others—these things and more go into what makes a pastor a pastor and a Christian leader a leader.

From the missionary now in the States: “This class has transformed my thinking, increased my understanding, and burned in my heart the desire to study God’s Word more.” Teachers should teach teachers. Iron sharpens iron-sharpening iron. All of us have something to teach and learn from one another. All glory be to God.

May the Lord be gracious to raise up leaders in all of our churches, and may we be mindful to teach these men so that they can teach others as well.

Discouraged? Take Courage and Take Heart

Unbelievers persecute Christians throughout the world, and an unbelieving worldview is capturing America and bringing opposition to the doorsteps of our churches. In spite of the difficulties we as Christians face today, I simply want to say this: take courage and take heart.

How, you ask? Consider the Lord’s dealings with Paul in Acts 27:1–28:16.

In Acts 23:11, Jesus commanded Paul, “Take courage” (tharseō) and promised him that he would “testify also in Rome” concerning “the facts about Me.” This idea of “taking courage” is similar in concept to “taking heart” (eutheumeō) as it is found in Acts 27:1–28:16 (cf. Acts 27:22, 25, 36).

As the story goes, Paul and 275 other passengers found themselves in a “tempestuous wind, called the northeaster” (Acts 27:14). An angel appeared to Paul and promised that the only loss would be the ship itself (Acts 27:22–26). The passengers would live, likely something God “granted” to Paul in response to his prayers (Acts 27:24). As Jesus promised in Acts 23:11, so also the angel repeated in Acts 27:24: “you must stand before Caesar.” For these reasons, Paul twice told the men to “take heart” (eutheumeō; Acts 27:22, 25). After encouraging them again that God would save their lives, “they were all encouraged” (Acts 27:3). “Encouraged” here is the adjective eutheumos, related to the verb eutheumeō. It seems these men now shared Paul’s confidence that Paul’s God would save their lives despite their looming shipwreck.

And save their lives He did. Just as Paul promised that eating food would give the men “strength,” or better, “deliverance” (sōteria, a word often translated “salvation”), the food gave them strength to swim and float to the Malta shore where they were “brought safely” to the island (Acts 27:44; 28:1). “Brought safely” is from diasōzō, another word from the family of words for “salvation.”

But Paul’s trials were not over. A viper bit him, and the shipwreck left him and the rest without any provisions (Acts 27:41–28:4). But Paul miraculously survived and even healed many others (Acts 28:6–9). As a result, the islanders happily honored Paul and his companions with the provisions they needed for the journey ahead (Acts 28:10).

Paul sailed along the Italian coast and finally made it to Rome by land. Just before getting there, however, fellow Christians came down to Paul in order to escort him to Rome (Acts 28:11–15). As a result, “Paul thanked God and took courage” (Acts 27:15). “Courage” here is from tharsos, a noun related to the verb tharseō that Jesus used to command Paul to “take courage” in Acts 23:11. From salvation from shipwreck to the faces of fellow Christians, Christ kindly provided Paul with what he needed to possesses the courage He commanded him to have.

While Paul’s situation was unique, we can still learn something from him today: when we trust in the promises of God, we take courage and take heart to persevere. That may sound too simple to grab your interest, but it can be difficult to do in a world run by the devil, especially when the devil is in the details.

Consider just two promises for now. Christ promised that He will build His church, and He promised that our souls are secure in Him. Whatever this world may do to oppose the church and each of its Christians, like Paul, we should take courage and take heart that God and the gospel will always prevail. The church will go on, and come what may, we will one day be in heaven. Whatever you face today, and whatever the church faces as a whole, trust in the promises of God, and take courage and take heart.

How to Recognize and Rebuke a False Teacher (Titus 1:10–16)

A church appoints qualified pastors because, if not, false teachers will gladly take their place. Pastors should be godly and gifted to teach (Titus 1:6–9). Many men are the opposite, and Titus 1:10–16 shows us how to recognize and rebuke them.

Realize that there are many false teachers (Titus 1:10).

“For there are many,” Paul warned, and he characterized them in three ways: (1) “insubordinate,” refusing to obey God and His word; (2) “empty talkers,” saying things that lack any Christian substance; and (3) “deceivers,” telling what is not true. These characterizations rang “especially” true “of the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10), those who required adherence to the Mosaic Law for salvation and sanctification (cf. Acts 15:5).

They must be silenced (Titus 1:11).

“They must be silenced,” Paul demanded. “Silenced” literally means “to put something on the mouth.” The reason is clear—these men were “upsetting whole families” with false doctrine, much like Hymenaeus and Philetus who were “upsetting the faith of some” concerning the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:18). In Titus’s situation, they were “teaching…what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11), “Jewish myths and the commands of people” (Titus 1:14). These “myths” were likely esoteric stories about people found in the genealogies of the Old Testament (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4), and “the commands of people” may have been denials of good things that God meant for people to enjoy (cf. Colossians 2:16, 21–22; 2 Timothy 4:3–4). These false teachers were motivated by “shameful gain” (Titus 1:11), something that would have immediately disqualified themselves from becoming pastors (cf. 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2).

Even their own people know how bad they are (Titus 1:12–13a).

“A prophet of their own” from Crete (likely Epimenedes) said that his fellow “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Interestingly, Crete was not known for its wild beasts, so Paul basically said that they had been replaced by the false teachers—lying, evil men who were given to their passions.1 Paul agreed with the so-called “prophet”: “This testimony is true” (Titus 1:13).

So, rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:13b–14).

Given this negative influence, Paul commanded, “Rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:13). Pastors were to rebuke (cf. Titus 1:9), and to rebuke “sharply” meant to not spare anything when using the Sword of the Spirit to tear apart their character and heresy (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:1–2, 10). The hope was that these men would no longer “turn away from the truth” but instead become “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13, 14; cf. 2 Timothy 2:24–26).

Whatever they might say, they are evil inside and out (Titus 1:15–16).

Paul gave one more description of false teachers by contrasting them with believers. All things that believers do are pure because they are “pure” within (Titus 1:15). To those inwardly “defiled and unbelieving,” however, “nothing” they do “is pure” because “their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Titus 1:15). So, even though these false teachers claim “to know God,” they show otherwise “by their works” (Titus 1:16; cf. 2 Timothy 3:5). At the end of the day they are “detestable” in their character, “disobedient” to God, and therefore “unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:16).

No true church wants a false teacher to worm his way into people’s homes and lead them astray, taking their money in the process. Should we ever detect such a one in our churches, may we rebuke him sharply, realizing his works deny his profession of faith. May God help us to appoint pastors according to Titus 1:6–9 so that our churches are not misled by men described in Titus 1:10–16.

  1. William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Word Biblical Commentary 46; Dallas: Word, 2000), 398. []

An Essential for Every Pastor: Being a Man of the Word (Titus 1:9)

Titus 1:6–9 is a key passage for determining who may or may not be a pastor in a church. Titus 1:6 describes how a pastor leads his family, and Titus 1:7–8 describes his character. Titus 1:7 lists five character traits that a pastor should not have, and Titus 1:8 lists six that he should. In the Greek, Titus 1:9 continues the sentence from Titus 1:7–8 and assumes the imperative verb “must” (dei) to give us a seventh positive requirement for the pastor: “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.”

We could generally sum of Titus 1:9 with this—a pastor must be a man of the word. More specifically, we could explain this verse with four statements.

A pastor has been taught the trustworthy word.

New Testament Greek sometimes uses whole prepositional phrases to describe a noun. Literally put, a pastor must be “holding fast to the according-to-the-teaching trustworthy word.” So, when Titus 1:9 requires that a pastor hold fast to the word, it’s a word that is described in two ways. It is according to the teaching, and it is trustworthy. And if it is according to the teaching, the pastor himself has been taught this word so as to be able to hold fast to it and teach it himself. Churches and their pastors should teach men who are able to teach. Bible colleges, seminaries, and institutes can aid this teaching, but however it is done, a pastor is someone who has been taught the trustworthy word.

The phrase “the trustworthy word” uses the same Greek words (pistos, logos) that Paul uses in the Pastoral Epistles when he says “This saying is trustworthy” (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8). These “sayings” always refer to a summary statement about the gospel or to a statement about the one who proclaims it. These passages show us that the “trustworthy word” is the gospel that leads sinners to salvation in Christ and to subsequent life of godliness.

Similarly, Paul commends Timothy as a “good servant of Christ Jesus” for teaching the brothers in that which he had been trained, “the words of the faith,” a phrase which uses these words again (1 Timothy 4:6). Timothy was an example of someone who preached the trustworthy word because he was trained to do so. Like Timothy, pastors must know this trustworthy word inside and out and all of its related doctrines as best they can. A pastor is someone who has been taught the trustworthy word.

A pastor holds firm to the trustworthy word.

“Hold firm” is technically a participle, an “-ing” kind of word in the English. Mentioned earlier, the main verb of Titus 1:7–9 is “must,” so the pastor “must” be “holding firm.” This same verb (antechō) is used to describe one being “devoted” to a master (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13) and how we should “help” the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14). It literally means to “hold against” one’s self whatever the object may be. As Titus 1:9 demands, a pastor must firmly hold the trustworthy word to himself. By doing so, he will save himself and his hearers (cf. 1 Timothy 4:15–16).

A pastor instructs in sound doctrine.

To fully understand this point and the next, we should note that a pastor will not be “able” (dunatos) to instruct in sound doctrine or rebuke those who contradict unless he first holds firm the trustworthy word. The two small words “so that” indicate that one action leads to two others—the pastor holds firm the trustworthy word “so that he may be able” to “give instruction” and “rebuke.” A pastor cannot instruct something that eludes his grasp, let alone know how to rebuke someone who is contradicting.

The translation “give instruction” is an interesting choice for the ESV since it is the only one of 109 instances of parakaleō to be translated this way. To be fair, parakaleō has a range of translations, shaped by context, varying quite a bit—comfort, urge, beg, invite, ask, appeal, exhort, entreat, plead, and encourage. So, when the action of parakaleō involves “sound doctrine,” it would mean at the least to “give instruction,” but these other choices are not far behind. “Sound doctrine” comes from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3), “follows… the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13), and thus “accords with godliness” (1 Timothy 6:3). It opposes sin (1 Timothy 1:10; cf. 1:9–10), rebukes sinners (Titus 1:13), and cannot be endured by those who are ruled by their passions (2 Timothy 4:3). Thus, sound doctrine must be instructed and exhorted, and those who hear it should be urged, invited, and asked to submit thereto.

A pastor rebukes those who contradict sound doctrine.

A pastor who is taught, holds firm, and instructs the word of God will be opposed by unbelievers. In Titus’s context, some of these unbelievers professed to know God, upset families in the churches, used the church for personal gain, and needed to be silenced through rebuke (Titus 1:10–16; cf. 1:9, 13). Titus was to do so “with all authority” (Titus 2:15) and avoid those who persisted in strife (Titus 3:10–11; cf. Romans 16:17–18; 2 John 10–11). Titus was to name the sinner and the sin, just as John the Baptist did with Herod for his unlawful marriage “and for all the evil things that Herod had done” (Luke 3:19).


Titus 1:9 is just one verse, but it teaches much about how a pastor is to be a man of the word. A pastor must have been taught the word, hold firm thereto, and instruct others in sound doctrine. When opposed, the pastor must rebuke those who contradict. May God help all of us as pastors and Christian leaders to live according to Titus 1:9.