Paul commands Titus to teach sound doctrine. If you check the footnote you will see the better translation of ‘healthy doctrine’. We can have a theology that is maimed – with bits missing. We can have a diseased theology with bits distorted. Paul wants us to live in the good of healthy doctrine. By that he means teaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). To do that, Titus needs to lay down some concrete teaching, not just generalisations, with six categories of people.
Don’t forget in ancient times – old was over 40 and young was under 40!
1) Older men
One commentator calls older men the greybeards of the flock. They need some special advice and encouragement. Chrysostom wrote “There are some failings which age has that youth has not. Some indeed it has in common with youth, but in addition it has a slowness, a timidity, a forgetfulness,
an insensibility and an irritability.” Being a grumpy old man is not what Paul is looking for!
Older men should have a dignity and gravitas appropriate to their seniority, and self control. They need to have soundness in character too –
- Faith – trusting in God
- Love – serving others
- Endurance – waiting patiently.
2) Older women
Reverent means befitting a holy person. When you become a Christian you are a saint – a holy one. So behave like it! As John Stott comments, older women need to avoid the two moral failures that they have sometimes been associated with:
i) slander – back biting and gossip
ii) being addicted to wine.
3) Younger women
Specifically those that are married – they need to love their husbands and children and be self controlled and pure. The phrase “working at home” doesn’t mean they need to be stay-at-home mums or prohibit getting a job. There are plenty of women in the Bible with jobs! They need to not neglect their home-making ability in the midst of life – the opposite of being idle and going from home to home being a pain (ladies that lunch?!!!).
Paul calls for submission to husbands. That’s not out of inferiority or a demand for obedience. In the equal value of both sexes, there is a created order with masculine headship within a marriage of loving responsibility and care. John Stott again, “Christian marriages and Christian homes which exhibit a combination of sexual equality and complementarity, beautifully commend the gospel; those which fall short of this ideal bring the gospel into disrepute.”
4) Young men
Need to be self-controlled. Have you notice the commonality? They need to grow in self mastery – of temper and tongue, ambition and avarice and especially sexual urges. Self mastery is possible – God equips and empowers us for what He commands.
5) Titus himself
Titus as a young leader needs to be a good example and bring good teaching. Teaching and example, the verbal and the visible are great partners. He needs to live and teach in a way that those who oppose him will have nothing they can dig up.
Slavery was a gigantic cancer that drained the political, economic and moral fires of the Roman Empire. It was endemic and no giant can really be slain with a blow, unlike in fairy tales. Paul’s teaching undermined slavery and eventually (and way too slowly at that) led to it’s demise. Even today, where it is illegal, there are estimated to be 27 millions slaves. Paul taught that slave traders were breaking God’s law. He taught that slaves and masters were actually equal and while in bondage physically, slaves were free spiritually. So they are called to be godly and humble in lifestyle.
Lastly we come to the engine room of healthy doctrine – grace. It is grace that brings salvation and grace that trains us to be godly. If your understanding of grace means sinning doesn’t matter, you haven’t grasped grace.
Grace reveals the glory of God too. Let grace make us zealous for Him.