A. The Principles
1. instruction that is:
a. communicated orally
λαλει (used here) emphasizes the importance of oral teaching, the act of speaking; λέγω emphasizes the content of what is spoken. Content is not unimportant – Paul stresses sound doctrine in verse 1 (υγιαινουση διδασκαλια), and sound speech in verse 8 (λογον υγιη). Sound, as in, free from defects (or lacks) which would affect its strength or usefulness.
Paul instructs Titus that by word (verse 1, 8 & 15) and example (verse 7) he must instruct and model holiness of life in such a way that his hearers will make the teaching about God attractive. Titus’ teaching is to have visible results in changed lives – it is to be the doctrine established and validated by the apostles which is proclaimed and applied to daily living: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2) Titus already knew this but by Paul including these principles the Christians in Crete would get the idea who they should be following as their example.
Godliness depends on sound and repetitive teaching – v. 1, 3, 7 & 10 (NKJV, doctrine, v. 1, 7, 10; διδασκαλια). Teaching that is sound will lead the hearer to God, that is, to salvation and then sanctification. Several things characterize the teaching: sound (v.1), good (v.3), having integrity (v.7), dignity (v.7), beyond reproach (v.8). Sound or wholesome doctrine is that which actually feeds souls, which not only is itself sound but also tends to make others sound in faith and practice.
In reference to the term “sober-minded” used in vv. 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, & 12: “There is a way of thinking which destroys and a way which saves. The man or woman who is sôphrôn walks among the beauties and perils of the world, feeling the love, joy, anger, and the rest; and through all he has that in his mind which saves.—Whom does it save? Not him only, but, as we should say, the whole situation. It saves the imminent evil from coming to be.” Moulton-Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament
Teaching is not the job solely of the pastor or elder; the older men and older women have the responsibility of involvement. Older women are to “teach what is good”, (v.3) and this follows the adverb “likewise” or “in the same way”. It indicates that not only the behavior but also the teaching duties of both older men and women are to be similar.
There is certainly precedent for one generation teaching the following ones in Deut. 4:9-10 and Deut. 6:2. The principle is that those who have wisdom and understanding which comes from experience in godly living should work to pass that understanding along to others within their sphere of influence who will then pass it along to others. Remember what Paul told Timothy? It’s a multi-generational process by which the truth leading to holiness is communicated from one group of people to another, from one individual to another.
B. The People
1. older men v. 2
a. general deportment
sober-minded or temperate; not prone to mood-swings
dignified or worthy of respect
Older men should not be poster children for Toys-R-Us, singing “I don’t wanna grow up” as they irresponsibly careen through life. Older men should behave in a mature way, showing that their years of life experience have produced fruit.
b. spiritual qualities
a healthy spiritual life demonstrated by sound faith, love and endurance
Paul again connects belief with behavior – sound faith (πιστει) is evidenced by love for the brethren and patient enduring, “steadfast adherence to a course of action in spite of difficulties and testings”. Friberg, Analytical Greek Lexicon Furthermore, faith and love would not endure without the seasoning of patience.
The goal for Titus, and by extension the elders in Cretan churches, is to so instruct the older men by his own word and example that these character qualities will be found in them. They are then to follow his example and train up the younger men in the same way.
2. older women v. 3
befitting a Christian
careful of what they say and how they act
teaching and encouraging the younger generation to be good wives
Older women are to not only be an encouragement and support to their own husbands, they are to mentor the next generation of women in developing the same qualities.
“One of the nation’s largest Southern Baptist seminaries [Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary], the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking — a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern’s president calls biblical family and gender roles.
Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home — teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children’s spiritual, physical and emotional development.” Associated Press, 08/09/2007
Paul specifies what “especially should be taught by the elderly female members of the church to the younger sisterhood, not intending thereby to supersede instructions of the same sort by the pastors of the church (comp. i Tim. v. 2), but coming in aid of them, and giving them a point and application which could scarcely be done in public.” Fairbairn, Pastoral Epistles
In addressing the women Paul highlights two vices in particular – slandering and being enslaved to wine. Perhaps in choosing these evils Paul was making the point that both older men and women, since he used the term “likewise”, were to act in a way that was counter-cultural. The priority for Christian Cretans was to stand out in the culture because of their righteous living, not be so like the world that others could say “see, those Christians are just like everyone else!”
3. young women v. 4-5
loving – both husband and children; cherishing family, treating them with tenderness, affection and careful nurture,
sensible (discreet): having ability to curb desires and impulses so as to produce a measured and orderly life
modest (chaste): pure and inspiring purity in their children
managing the home well
kind and agreeable
following the leadership of their husbands
4. young men v. 6-7
having the same qualities as the older men
The principle here is that of older men teaching younger men how to be men by word and example. If that is to occur, older men need to know what it truly means to be a man of God; they must also spend time with younger men so that communication of truths and values can actually occur.
5. servants (employees) v. 9-10
loyal and dependable
The bottom line is that when God’s people live as they should, God’s message will not be slandered (v. 5), opponents will be put to shame because there is nothing bad to say about the Christian (v. 8), and their lives will bring honor to God Matt. 5:16 (v. 10).
“…it is not enough that our conscience be pure and clean, and that we walk without any bad disposition; but we ought likewise to add such prudence that enemies shall have their mouth shut when they wish to slander us, that their impudence may be known, and that we may always be ready to give an account of what we have done, and that they may have no presence for blaspheming against the name of God and his word, because there will be no appearance of evil in us. True, we cannot avoid being slandered; but let us always attend to this, that no occasion may be given on our part, or by our imprudence.” John Calvin on 1 Tim. 5:14
C. The Promise
The grace of God, expressed by the truth of God, found in the living and written Word of God, proclaimed and modeled by the man of God, trains the people of God to live in a manner pleasing to God.
God’s grace has appeared, has been made widely known; it is ours now, not reserved for some future state. He has redeemed us for a particular purpose now – “to serve him in holiness and righteousness all our days.” Luke 1:74-75 In the here and now, God by his grace will accomplish our sanctification in part, and in anticipation of complete sanctification at his appearing. The promise is of present effectual grace and future glory connected with the return of Christ.
1. godly living v. 12, 14
denying godlessness and love of the world and its things; rejecting the mindset which shuts God out, thinking and living as if he did not exist and all that matters is this life
“…an ungodly man is a man who simply thinks, speaks, and acts without any reference to God — he seeks his own pleasure or interest, and guides his conduct according to the maxims of sagacity and worldly prudence.” Wm. Graham, Commentary on Titus
living sensibly, righteously, in a godly way
“Hence, the saving grace of God comes into consideration as the paedagogic or moulding power, by means of which our naturally wayward and corrupt souls are formed to that higher scheme of life.” Fairbairn, Pastoral Epistles
most eagerly desirous of doing good works, things commendable by God
2. fulfillment of hope v.13
living in the already, waiting for the not yet – active waiting
anticipating confidently the consummation
hope present in the context of grace
3. freedom from lawlessness v. 14
experiencing freedom from sin’s dominion; see 1 John 3:4
progressing in sanctification through the ministry of the Word and Spirit
purchased by God as his costly and treasured possession and being prepared for his special and particular use
All of this teaching and modeling and mentoring has as its object to prepare us for the return of Christ in great glory. It is effectual only when accompanied by the gracious working of God in the individual.
Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us; is being in his presence what you desire more than anything else? Do you want more of his grace to make you fit and ready for his presence? Does knowing that you are the treasured possession of the Sovereign God of the universe spur you on to please him better? Pray that God would graciously grant you repentance and strength to follow him more closely, living in a self-controlled, upright and godly way.