Perspectives In Titus: The Example Older Men Should Set

Titus 2 v 2Last Monday we saw that Paul commanded Titus to teach the Cretans “what accords with sound doctrine.” We noted that this meant teaching them to reflect the Gospel by how they lived their daily lives. Today we will begin studying the practical application of living in accordance with God’s Word. Let’s look at the passage to see Paul’s approach.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 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 2:1-10 (ESV)

As you can see, Paul breaks his instructions down to specific groups within the Church. Notice, however, how the instructions overlap, saying much the same thing to each segment of the church while still maintaining distinct roles. Therefore, although we are women reading this blog, we can apply the principles given to each group.

Today we will focus on verse 2 of this passage, which addresses older men. The term “older men” does not refer to those holding the office of elder, but rather to men of a certain age (probably over 60). They serve as examples to the rest of the church, and therefore must set the start of godly behavior.

As  much as I love the ESV, they missed the boat by translating that first characteristic as “sober-minded.” The Greek word actually denotes avoidance of drunkenness, as seen more clearly in Titus 2:3 and Titus 1:7. Remember the cultural context of this epistle; the Cretans were known for their self-indulgence. Paul wanted Christians to stand out in contrast to that cultural norm as a reproach to those who lived in ungodliness.

Similarly, Paul instructed Titus that older men in the church should be dignified.  This word suggests reverence and proper behavior. According to John MacArthur, reverence for the Lord is assumed, so Paul uses the term to implies honorable conduct.

As if to double-down on this theme of behaving differently from the surrounding culture, Paul adds that older men must be self-controlled. Self-controlled  carries the idea of restraining one’s emotions, and goes back to Titus 1:8.  Clearly, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul insists that older men set an example of godly behavior for the rest of us to follow.

Finally, Paul requires older men to demonstrate soundness in faith, love and perseverance. Barnes cross-references “sound in faith” with 1 Timothy 1:10 and Titus 1:13, both of which speak of sound doctrine. Based on this cross-reference, it appears that Paul wants older men to be well established in the Christian faith, which can happen only through understanding Christian doctrine.

Soundness in love would show itself through the qualities described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Christian love seeks the good of others, even at one’s personal expense. This type of love contrasts the self-serving attitudes that marked Cretans. Indeed it contrasts the self-serving attitudes that mark present-day Western culture!

Paul concludes by encouraging soundness in steadfastness. Older men, having the experience of surviving various trials, should see how the Lord produces steadfastness, or patience, through those trials (see James 1:2-4).

As we said earlier, the character qualities described for each group Paul mentions in this section of his letter to Titus somewhat overlap. Although this blog addresses women exclusively, we can learn from the example of older men (or at least from Paul’s instructions to them). Next Monday we’ll discuss ways that both older and younger women should live in accordance with God’s Word.

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