I’m so excited to finally teach Titus 2:3-5, the passage that originally inspired me to write this Bible Study series. Today I will take you through the entire three verses, and then next Monday I plan to go over verse 5 in greater detail.
Let me quote these three verses with just enough context to remind you that Paul wanted Titus to provide different groups within the churches in Crete with specific, yet overlapping, directions in how to behave.
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. ~~Titus 2:2-6 (ESV)
Verse 2, as we saw last week, gave older men the responsibility of setting a godly standard of behavior for everyone else in the church. Next he addressed the demographic that I belong to: women over the age of 60.
Older women, we see in verse 3, are expected to live up to the same standards as older men, especially in being reverent in our behavior. The King James Version renders this word as “becoming holiness.” The Complete Word Study Dictionary applies it to this verse as “meaning to act like a sacred person.”
The verse goes on to name two examples of reverent behavior. Firstly, we must not falsely accuse anyone. I didn’t consult commentaries to find out possible reasons that Paul might have admonished us, as older women, against slander, but obviously making false accusations hardly reflects a reverent spirit.
Secondly, we must not be drunkards. You’ll recall that Paul required that elders not be drunkards (Titus 1:7-8), and that he insisted on self-control in older men. Although all Christians should avoid drunkenness, Paul particularly emphasized this point in reference to Crete because of its reputation for an undisciplined lifestyle.
In contrast to the wildness of their surrounding culture, older women are commanded to teach what accords with the Gospel. When we get to verse 4 momentarily, we’ll notice that we are to teach other women, not to teach the general congregation (1 Timothy 2:12). Rather than go into a lengthy explanation of Paul’s reasons for prohibiting women from teaching men right now, I’ll refer you to the Women’s Ministry link in the Categories section on the sidebar of this blog, where you can find several articles on the topic.
Verse 4 doesn’t lend itself to much exposition. All it does is summarize who older women should teach, and what we should teach them. Specifically, older women should teach younger women to love their husbands and children. This training aims at practical living.
Thankfully, verse 5 expands on the principles of loving one’s husband and children. It begins by saying that older women should teach younger women the art of self-control. We teach this art by example, though our example should be accompanied by explanation and instruction.
Similar to self-control, we must teach purity. This purity can refer to sexual purity, which should be a given. It might also extend to purity in the Christian faith, or doctrinal purity. If indeed it does extend to doctrinal purity (as I believe it does), the work of women’s discipleship falls under that umbrella.
The instruction that younger women be workers at home doesn’t prohibit them from outside employment. Lydia, for instance, worked as a seller of purple goods (Acts 16:14) and Priscilla shared her husband’s trade as a tentmaker (Acts 18:2-3). Paul’s point here focuses on women tending to their responsibilities at home rather than being idle busybodies. Please look at 1 Timothy 5:12 to clarify Paul’s meaning.
Older women must also teach younger women to be kind. In a self-indulgent environment like Crete, people often used anger to accomplish their goals. Kindness, therefore, would stand out as a different way of life.
Lastly, older women should teach our younger counterparts to submit to their own husbands. That’s never a very popular idea, and it definitely needs to be carefully and consistently taught. Yet submission in family structure, as Paul demonstrated in Ephesians 5:22-33, models how the church relates to Jesus Christ. It serves as a testimony to a rebellious culture.
In summary, Paul wanted older women to teach each of these things for one overarching reason. He didn’t want women to live in ways that discredit God’s Word. All the behaviors he listed in this section align with sound doctrine, and a refusal to employ them indicates that we don’t take Christ seriously. Consequently, unbelievers will understandably dismiss us as hypocrites and conclude that they also have no reason to consider the authority of Scripture. Ladies, our behavior means something.