First of all, thank you all for your understanding and forbearance last Monday when I didn’t feel physically up to writing a Bible Study. I’m feeling much better, and played hooky Friday to see the tulips at Boston’s Public Garden.
As we enter the second chapter of Titus today, we’ll notice that Paul turns a corner in his train of thought. Please recall that he spent most of Chapter 1 describing (and denouncing) the self-indulgence of the Cretans and the false teaching of the Judaizers. Ladies, please keep this context in mind as we approach this next chapter.
Although we’re going to limit ourselves to discussing only verse 1 today, I want to quote it with its following verses so you can see Paul’s line of thinking. Understanding where he’s going in his letter to Titus will aid us in properly interpreting this verse.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. ~~Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)
As we begin this chapter, we see that Paul turns his attention to Titus, charging him to teach things in accord with Biblical doctrine, in contrast to the false teachers that he denounced in Chapter 1. The word that the ESV renders as “what accords with” has the sense of being proper or becoming. To this point, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown quote John Calvin’s commentary on this verse:
He deals more in exhortations, because those intent on useless questions needed chiefly to be recalled to the study of a holy, moral life; for nothing so effectually allays men’s wandering curiosity, as the being brought to recognize those duties in which they ought to exercise themselves.
In these times of “discernment ministry,” we might do well to ponder Calvin’s insight into Titus 2:1. As vitally important as is is to proclaim right doctrine, our proclamations hold little water if we live in ways that contradict the Gospel. Indeed, the verses that follow illustrate how Titus (and the elders he world appoint) should instruct various segments of the church to live holy lives that differed from the false teaching of the Judaizers as well as the license of the Cretans.
Where Paul wanted the mouths of the false teachers stopped Titus 1:11, he encouraged Titus to speak without restraint. Furthermore, he commanded Titus to teach healthy doctrine, as opposed to the unsound teaching of the Judaizers. In teaching sound doctrine, Titus could teach people how to live in integrity.
For the next few weeks, as we work through Titus 2:1-8, we may be tempted to think Paul’s teaching a morality gospel. Please guard against such thoughts! Later in this chapter we’ll reach a reminder that our behavior results from God’s grace. Until we arrive at that passage, let’s content ourselves with learning to live in ways that display thankfulness for His grace.