9 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.
Paul begins his letter to Titus by jumping right into his instructions for his fellow coworker to get about the business of establishing elders in the churches Paul had founded on his trip through Crete. In those instructions he gives Titus the qualifications he ought to be looking for in an elder. One of them differs slightly from the list Paul had given to Timothy, and that difference is here in verse 9. There other qualifications speak of an elder’s character and moral behavior, but here the issue is doctrine. First, he must hold firm to the truth that had been taught to him. Elders should not be making up their own theology, but should stay true to that which is found and clearly taught in the Bible and to the orthodox teaching of the church through the ages. Second, he should be able to teach others that same doctrine, passing on the truth. Third, he should have the ability to rebuke and refute those who contradict sound teaching. That is to say that his knowledge of the truth should be so clear that he can recognize error and correct those who are teaching falsely. This is a test not only for one to gain the status of elder, but it should also be the test for one to keep the position of elder. Is he continuing in the faith? Is he teaching the truth? Is he rebuking error? If not, it may be time to consider if he has not been disqualified to be in that leadership role. No man who teaches error should remain as an elder or a pastor in any church that calls itself Christian.