We don’t often think of strict rules as comfortable. But the sound doctrine of the Gospel, rigid & inflexible with its truth that salvation is in Christ alone, and the summons to obedience to our respective duties is anything but confining. It is, in fact, a comfort. This is what we were made for, to glorify God & enjoy Him forever.
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded… (Titus 2).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
Throughout this short letter, Paul repeatedly exhorts believers to good works, as well as avoiding foolish questions & ungodly indulgence. He’s affirmed their own prophet’s assessment when he called the Cretans lazy, lying slugs. The point is, some people get sucked into “foolish questions” out of laziness, not because they’re striving after good works.
In contrast to these unruly babblers who were besetting the Cretan church, Titus is to instruct the saints how to live in accordance with sound doctrine (v1). Paul will outline the substance of sound doctrine in the second half of this chapter, but he now spells out the behavior which should be expected from teaching this sound doctrine (vv2-11). The false teachers were subverting households through their tall tales. They were serving up a diet of deep fried theology. So Paul’s remedy for this ailment is healthy doctrine.
Old men are not only to be dignified, but full of the sort of faith, charity, and patience which is alive & healthy (v2). Older women are to cultivate a holy bearing, avoid loose tongues, refuse to numb themselves to life’s trials through wine or other similar “dulling” treatments, and teach good things (v3). Older women are given young women as their pupils, and virtuous home-keeping is their curriculum. Of all the duties given in this passage, the instructions to young women are the most extensive. It consists of seven things: sobriety, husband-loving, children-loving, the twin virtues of discretion & chastity, home-keeping, goodness, obedience to their own husbands; these duties are accompanied with the rationale. This manner of life is one of the potent ways to stop the blasphemous mouths of the false teachers (vv4-5; Cf. 1:11). Young men are told, very briefly to be sober-minded (v6); that encompasses a whole world.
Titus is told to set the example of bold teaching coupled with a holy example of good works, so that those contrary to him would be unable to say anything bad about you (vv7-8). Household servants are exhorted to live in such a way that will overthrow the wickedness innate to their servitude. Treat their master’s property (themselves included) with shocking respect. Obey their commands, don’t take what belongs to them, and be trustworthy. In so doing, a servant puts the Gospel on display, as if it was a precious jewel in a glorious display case (vv9-10)
Paul then sums up the sound doctrine which obligates us to these various duties. The Good Works commanded come out of the Good News proclaimed. God’s favor, which brought salvation, has appeared to all men (v11). This good news teaches us, and what it teaches is that we must turn from our sin and turn to godliness (v12). God’s grace has appeared to save us, but it is looking forward to the blessed hope of Christ’s second appearing which enables godly living. He gave Himself for our redemption, that we might be a priestly people, zealous for good works (vv13-14, Cf. Ps. 130:7-8, Ez. 37:23). Titus is to impart all of this with all authority; this firm insistence on sound doctrine & sound living might ruffle some feathers, so Titus should live as to give no room for being despised (v15).
HOME-WRECKERS & HOME-KEEPERS
It is striking that one of the features of the false teachers was that they were subverting whole households. Given the indulgence of Cretan culture, it would seem that Paul’s more extensive remarks to older and younger women were of particular concern. We learn more in the next chapter what exactly was so fascinating in the false teacher’s doctrines, but one thing is plain, women were particularly vulnerable to these serpents.
Elsewhere, Paul has warned of false teachers who creep into houses to lead silly women laden with sin and enticed with diverse lusts (2 Tim. 3:6). He’s also warned of the temptation for women to give way to being a busy-body which flits from house to house (1 Tim. 5:13). Here, Titus is to instruct older women not to give in to “wine-mom” culture. Rather, that ought to be sober-minded in order to pass on to young women the wisdom of how to love their husbands and children, by being home-ward. The enticement for young women is to nurture the whole world, while neglecting to make their own nest a place of warm and lawful indulgence.
Feminism teaches young women to spend all their time in the house of the corporate world, scrolling (often with envy) the homes of all the Instagram influencers, eating up all the latest celebrity Gossip, adopting all the fashionable opinions. Paul, however, wants Titus to teach these young women to make their home a garden for this Gospel life to flourish and be passed along. False teachers from the Jews of Crete, down to modern CRT Marxists, all aim to subvert the home. Godly women will see to it that they don’t listen to the serpent. A young women, living this out, is a blockade to God’s Word being blasphemed.
ORDER & ARDOR
The Apostle’s instruction here should make one thing abundantly clear. Good works are the expected outcome of the Gospel. Paul’s instruction for the various classes of Christians is summed up in his euphoric description of the Gospel. We’re told how we should live: abundant in the various good works described. But we’re also told why we should do so: because Christ appeared, and will appear again.
Some want the Gospel to liberate us into an antinomian lawlessness. But Paul insists that we’ve been redeemed from such lawlessness. Your salvation is from your lawless works to lawful ones. Order & ardor are not at odds. The Gospel frees us from our sin. These are indeed, glad tidings of great joy. But that joy is not feral joy. It isn’t tumorous joy. This is joy which lives in the wide borders of God’s will.
Sound doctrine brings the joy of life lived to God’s glory by God’s power, while false doctrine brings the misery of living to according to your own laws of self-indulgence. This Gospel of Grace brings us out of the barren wasteland and into fertile fields. You are free from your sin, in order to be free to be godly, by the new life He’s revealed in Christ.
THE GLORIOUS APPEARING
It’s providential that there’s no need to shoe-horn Christ’s Ascension into this message. It arises quite naturally, and nicely. Christ’s appearing is assured because of His ascension. He is reigning, and must reign until all enemies are subdued. He has tasked us with living in His Kingdom, and under His Lordship, in a certain manner.
Our obedience is an adornment on the Gospel. Of course, our obedience is not what procures our justification, but it is what should confirm to the world the potency of the Gospel. You believe that God raised that good teacher from Nazareth, what proof do you give? The Christian’s life ought to be a large part of the answer. Our sober-minded, joyful faithfulness in our God-assigned duties is the apologetic which Paul says will leave our opponents red-faced with embarrassment.
Salvation has appeared. You were dead, but now you are alive, and you are raised up with Christ. You are seated in Christ. And He shall appear again. All that should spark zeal for good works. This blessed hope, of the great God & Savior Jesus appearing again, is how you fight sin and live righteously. This is your only comfort, in life & in death.