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Titus 2:1-8: Lessons For Life & Leadership

A Study in Titus 2:1-8 – “Teach, Train, Encourage, Be An Example.”

In his letters, Paul usually teaches the doctrine first and then lays out the practical exhortation. Here in Titus, he does the reverse. The best way to establish a healthy, wholesome church or Christian community is to ‘teach, train, encourage’ the various categories of people in it. If we’re not going forward, we’re drifting or going backwards. The best way to address doctrinal error and ethical failure is to ‘teach…sound doctrine’ – to trust the Life in the Word to become the Life in the world! The promise is that it will lead to a good testimony; see Chapter 2:8.

Paul stresses ‘you must teach…sound doctrine’ (v.1), as a priority (the ‘you’ is in the emphatic form). Other aspects of church life/activity are important (worship, counselling etc.) but are always secondary to this – it is foundational and fruitful. It is interesting that the only verb in (v.1-6) is to ‘teach’, which confirms its priority. This was central to Paul’s ministry; see 2 Timothy 2:1-2 “the things you heard me say… entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others’ – remember, Jesus’ favourite activity was also to teach!”

‘older men…temperate…sound…in endurance’, (v.2), ‘older’ is to do with age, not an office (it is a different word to ‘elder’). Being well taught is not just to be Biblically informed; it means the nurturing of Christ-like character: the common ingredient in the four stated characteristics is wise self-control. This might be thought controversial, but if the men in any church/ministry are spiritually mature, it brings stability and security to the whole body of believers.

I’ve personally experienced that with student groups – if the guys are spiritually mature, it has a positive, wholesome effect on the whole group

The activity of teaching is to be done ‘in love and in endurance’ (v.2). This quality of love agape is sourced only in Christ through the Holy Spirit, John 21:15-17, ‘endurance’ hupomeno is lit. ‘remaining under’ in the sense that we draw our fortitude and long-suffering from Christ, and so accept our circumstances whatever is thrown at us, in Romans 15:4-6, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope… as you follow Christ Jesus’

‘Likewise…older women…to teach’, (v.3). The older women are to be just as influential as the older men. Again, it doesn’t separate behaviour from knowledge – the two are interdependent ‘in the way they live’. Our everyday living is our pulpit!

The women’s lives are to be befitting those who are identified with what is holy and sacred: ‘reverent…not slanderers…or addicted’, (v.3). Women were commonly known as gossipers lit. diablos so recognizing the evil source and effect of this. ‘overindulgence’ – douloo is lit. to be a slave to.

These vices often seem to go together; in 1 Timothy 3:11, ‘…their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers’. The Philistines were originally from Crete, and so was Delilah! She is a classic example of someone manipulating Samson through her words “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death”, Judges 16:16.

“train the younger women to love”, (v.4), the priority and battleground is clearly the home front, 1 Tim 5:11-15, “I counsel young widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to Satan”. This call is very ‘politically incorrect’ in today’s Western culture, but it is Biblical truth, and we’re clearly reaping the consequences of ignoring it! They are ‘to love their husbands and children’ – as someone has said: ‘the best answer to the world’s problems is not the electric chair but the high chair!’

‘self-controlled…pure…busy’, (v.5), ‘self-control’ is required of all four groups, (v.2, 4, 5, 6) and is a fruit of the Spirit, so if they are rightly related to Christ, they will also be internally ‘pure’ and externally ‘busy’ in a fruitful and productive way

The young women are to be ‘kind…subject to their husbands’, (v.5), it takes Christ’s grace to remain kind and not short-tempered when ‘busy’ and also Christ’s grace to be willingly ‘subject’ to their husbands. Being ‘subject’ or ‘submissive’, as in 1 Peter 3:1, where the model is Christ submitting himself to the cross) cannot be imposed, which would be abuse or domination. It has to be a choice, and the main consequence is that the proclamation of the Word of God (God’s revelation) is enhanced, not damaged

Paul moves on to the young men: ‘encourage…young men…self-controlled’ v6. As a young man, Titus would take special note of this! Young men are notoriously impetuous, vulnerable to excess in every area. ‘encourage’ parakalei is stronger than teach (it means to beg…urge…admonish) and is in the imperative (so command) tense

‘in everything, set an example’, (v.7), Paul reminds Titus that his own conduct must be consistent with his teaching – lit. ‘holding yourself alongside’. It requires ‘integrity and seriousness’. It is all too easy to so want to please or impress in our teaching that we compromise the truth for the sake of effect

‘soundness of speech, not ashamed, and nothing bad to say’, (v.8). This is the ultimate purpose of establishing a healthy church in Crete – the secular/pagan world around us is quick to condemn, and our best form of defence is to be sure not to provide any ammunition!

Paul finishes with ‘us’, and so Paul is identifying himself with them as other great leaders of the faith have done; Nehemiah 1:6, “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house have committed against you”, and Daniel 9:5, “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled”.

We all do well to remember that ‘there but for the grace of God’.

Key Prayers:

  •  Lord, help us to teach, train and encourage each other well and faithfully
  • Lord, help us to be self-controlled as the fruit of your Spirit in us
  • Lord help us be strong in grace ‘so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us’

  • Written by Peter Thomas for New Life Aus Ltd, 1 July 2022.
  • Photo image by Kirkmedia.