1:5-9 The character and qualification of pastors, here called elders and bishops, agree with what the apostle wrote to Timothy. Being such bishops and overseers of the flock, to be examples to them, and God's stewards to take care of the affairs of his household, there is great reason that they should be blameless. What they are not to be, is plainly shown, as well as what they are to be, as servants of Christ, and able ministers of the letter and practice of the gospel. And here are described the spirit and practice becoming such as should be examples of good works.
5. I left thee—"I left thee behind" [Alford] when I left the island: not implying permanence of commission (compare 1Ti 1:3).
in Crete—now Candia.
set in order—rather as Greek, "that thou mightest follow up (the work begun by me), setting right the things that are wanting," which I was unable to complete by reason of the shortness of my stay in Crete. Christianity, doubtless, had long existed in Crete: there were some Cretans among those who heard Peter's preaching on Pentecost (Ac 2:11). The number of Jews in Crete was large (Tit 1:10), and it is likely that those scattered in the persecution of Stephen (Ac 11:19) preached to them, as they did to the Jews of Cyprus, &c. Paul also was there on his voyage to Rome (Ac 27:7-12). By all these instrumentalities the Gospel was sure to reach Crete. But until Paul's later visit, after his first imprisonment at Rome, the Cretan Christians were without Church organization. This Paul began, and had commissioned (before leaving Crete) Titus to go on with, and now reminds him of that commission.
ordain—rather, "appoint," "constitute."
in every city—"from city to city."
as I … appointed thee—that is, as I directed thee; prescribing as well the act of constituting elders, as also the manner of doing so, which latter includes the qualifications required in a presbyter presently stated. Those called "elders" here are called "bishops" in Tit 1:7. Elder is the term of dignity in relation to the college of presbyters; bishop points to the duties of his office in relation to the flock. From the unsound state of the Cretan Christians described here, we see the danger of the want of Church government. The appointment of presbyters was designed to check idle talk and speculation, by setting forth the "faithful word."