Titus was a man in whom the apostle Paul had great confidence. Paul left him on the island of Crete to set in order things that were not yet finished there (Titus 1:4,5). Part of Titus’ work as a gospel preacher was to rebuke those who needed it. Two pointed instructions to Titus from the Holy Spirit made this plain. First, Titus was directly charged, "Wherefore rebuke them sharply . . ." (Titus 1:13). Second, Titus was commanded, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15).
The above verses make it clear that the Lord wanted Titus to rebuke people. Titus could not please Him unless he did so. The same is true for God’s preachers in our generation. The message of the first two chapters of the Book of Titus helps us understand a number of matters connected to rebuking others. Let us see them.
What It Means to Rebuke – Again, the Holy Spirit’s message to Titus was, "Wherefore rebuke them sharply . . ." (Titus 1:13). In this passage, the word "rebuke" is from the Greek word "elengcho," which means "to convict, refute, confute, generally with a suggestion of the shame of the person convicted . . . to find fault with, correct; a. by word; to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove . . .b. by deed; to chasten, punish" [Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 202,203]. Does not the charge to rebuke people contradict the instruction to love them? Not at all. In fact, Jesus said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Revelation 3:19).
Whom Titus Was to Rebuke – Was Titus supposed to just open up and "fire away" indiscriminately at every single person? The Bible says that he was to rebuke "them" (Titus 1:13). Whom might that be? In the context, it refers to those that were "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" (1:12, NKJV). He was to rebuke those that violated the will of God.
The Standard upon Which Titus Was to Rebuke – Rebuke is for those that are acting in violation of "the faith," with is the gospel (Titus 1:13). The command to Titus was for him to speak, exhort, and rebuke "these things" (Titus 2:14). "These things" refers to the matters that pertain to "sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). When human traditions are not followed, or personal preferences are not carried out, neither of these calls for a rebuke. That which justifies a rebuke is a violation of God’s standard, which is His word.
The Manner in Which Titus Was to Rebuke – The Bible says that he was to rebuke wrongdoers "sharply" (Titus 1:13) and "with all authority" (Titus 2:14). Since that is what God Himself prescribed, then rebuking in such a manner, when a situation merits such, is the right thing to do.
The Motive/Purpose Titus Was to Have for Rebuking – What was God hoping to accomplish by instructing His preacher to rebuke people? "Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13; emphasis mine, rdc). God wanted the rebuked ones to see their error, turn from it, and be sound or healthy in the faith. If that was God’s desire, then that should have been Titus’ motive or purpose in rebuking as well. The rebuking that Titus was to do was not to "rub people’s faces in" their mistakes, nor was it to show that Titus was somehow superior. Preachers ought to rebuke wrongdoers, but not just to show that they can do it, and not just to show that they are not afraid to do it. Rather, preachers ought to rebuke people with those people’s souls and wellbeing in mind: "that they may be sound in the faith."
The Conduct That Titus Was to Have As He Rebuked – It was essential that Titus conduct himself properly, not causing others to despise him (Titus 2:15). At all times he was to show in himself "a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7). Titus’ rebuke of others who did wrong would have no effect if he himself were living as a hypocrite, failing to live up to the standard by which he pointed out the mistakes of others.
What Else Titus Was Supposed to Do in Addition to Rebuking – There was more to Titus’ role as a preacher than just rebuking people. He had the task of setting in order unfinished business of the church (Titus 1:5). He was also instructed to teach and exhort (Titus 2:15).
God’s faithful prophets of the Old Testament era rebuked willful sinners. God’s Son did the same, as did His apostles and other preachers of the first century. Does the brother who preaches where you attend services ever rebuke anyone? If not, his soul is in jeopardy. Why? Because he is failing to do what the Lord requires of him. If he does rebuke sinners, and he does it scripturally, do you support him in it? If he does rebuke people properly, do your elders support him in it? Is so, then count yourself as blessed.
Yes, the Lord wants His preachers to rebuke those who need it. In fact, He wants all Christians to rebuke people: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).
By Roger D. Campbell
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