Titus Series: Becoming a Healthy Church (Tit 2:1-10)



Becoming a Healthy Church


But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited. Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled, showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to do what is wanted and not talk back, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.

Titus 2:1-10 (NET)



How can we become a healthy church that is attractive both to unbelievers and believers? In Titus 2:1 Paul says to Titus, “But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.” The “but” in the verse distinguishes Titus from the false teachers infiltrating the Cretan churches described in Titus 1:10-16. Verse 16 says, “They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed.” These teachers professed God, but their actions did not match their professed theology. Consequently, believers were being harmed both by their doctrine and ungodly lives, and no doubt, many unbelievers were likewise being pushed away from the church.


Unfortunately, this commonly happens today. Many believers have seen religious hypocrisy—sometimes even in their own families—division, spiritual abuse, and false doctrine which has pushed them away from the church. And many unbelievers find the church and its doctrine incredulous because of the hypocritical lifestyles of professing believers. This is what Paul is concerned with in Titus 2. Three times he refers to the witness of the church. In Titus 2:5, he describes the need for young women to be self-controlled, fulfilling their duties at home, being kind and submitting to their husbands, “so that the message of God may not be discredited.” When wives profess Christ but that makes them worse spouses (or no different than unbelieving spouses), people don’t believe the message they profess or that being a follower of Christ has any value. Likewise, in 2:7-8, Paul encourages Titus to be “an example of good works” and to have integrity, dignity, and soundness in his teaching “so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say.” If a pastor preaches something but doesn’t live it, it brings scorn to the church. Therefore, his teaching must match his life. But, also in 2:9-10, Paul teaches that slaves, who were possibly around one-third of the Roman empire and the primary workforce, to not steal and to submit to their masters “in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.” “To bring credit to” can also be translated to “show the beauty of.” Paul wanted the church to be healthy so it could build up the saints, draw the lost, and ultimately demonstrate the beauty of Christ and his message. In fact, in verse 1, he starts this passage with telling Titus to “communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.” The Greek word for “sound” can also be translated “healthy.” We get the English word “hygiene” from it. Unlike the false teachers who had unhealthy doctrine and therefore evil works, Titus was to teach healthy doctrine which led to godly works, the health of the community, and a positive witness to those watching the church (both unbelievers and believers).


In Titus 2:1-10, Paul speaks about six groups within the church and the character that should define them as healthy members: old men (v. 2), old women (v. 3), young women (v. 4-5), young men (v. 6), ministers (as he spoke directly to Titus in verses 7-8), and finally the slaves which represent employees (v. 9-10). With each group, there are certain vices that they have to be careful of and certain strengths they should aim to grow in. As we study what Titus was commanded to teach, we must ask ourselves, “Are we a healthy church? Are we individually healthy church members? And, how is God calling us to grow so we can more effectively be a light to those outside the church?” Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”


Big Question: What are characteristics of a healthy church and its members?


Healthy Older Men


Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Titus 2:2


Observation Question: What are characteristics of healthy older men?


Though age comes with many difficulties, such as weaker bodies and at times failing memory, it can be a very fruitful season in the Lord. It must be remembered that Moses was eighty years old when he began his ministry. Therefore, Paul gives six traits that should be true of older men in the church, so they can continue to have a fruitful ministry in the Lord or begin one.


1. Older men should be temperate, sober-minded (ESV), or level-headed (HCSB).


This word has the sense of being sound in thought and judgment, being level-headed. The wisdom of these older men is needed in the church. Often when young, a person gets really worried and depressed when things are difficult or overly excited when things are good. Sometimes, the young can even act or feel like it’s the end of the world when a relationship or job ends. They need the sober-mindedness and level-headedness of the aged.


With that said, age does not necessarily lead to being sober-minded and level-headed. That is why Titus needed to teach the older men to be sober in thinking. Growing older can often lead to great wisdom, insight, and contentment, but it can also be very disillusioning. Life can feel less fulfilling and satisfying as one’s kids move out of the house and are busy with their lives or when we lose the ability to do many of the things we previously could. It can be difficult adjusting from full-time work to retirement. In all these things, older men must remain level-headed. This comes by having a focus on God and eternity. This keeps them sober and enables them to impart this perspective to those who are less seasoned.


2. Older men should be dignified or worthy of respect (NIV) in all they do.


Though it might be easy to fall into a rut of just watching TV all day, the older men should have a seriousness of purpose, especially as they realize their time is shorter than when they began. This seriousness about God and his work will inspire seriousness and awe in those around them, especially the young men. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have a sense of humor, but it does mean that they are not flippant in how they live their lives. Paul, who would fall into the category of an old man, said we should live our lives as spiritual athletes seeking to win the prize. In 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, he said, “So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.” Paul said he wasn’t somebody running aimlessly, just running in circles. He also wasn’t shadowboxing, just hitting the air. He wanted every move to make a difference, as he didn’t want to miss out on the prize or be disqualified at the end of his race. That surety of purpose should mark those who are aged.


As we study Scripture, we see that many don’t finish well. Moses was kept out of the promised land because of a decision at the end of his life. The last word we hear about Noah was that he became drunk, naked, and cursed his children and grandchildren. Isaac in his old age favored his older son causing discord with the younger and his wife. Older men must live in a dignified manner, with surety of purpose, as they seek to finish their races well in the Lord.


3. Older men should be self-controlled, sensible (HCSB), or live wisely (NLT).


This is important to hear because sometimes when older people retire, it can feel like a license to do anything, even things that are not wise. However, they must remember to practice self-mastery over all their passions, including eating, drinking, sleeping, and recreation. Again, Paul, who would fall into the category of an old man, said this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 in considering running to win his race.


Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.


The spiritual athlete must exercise “self-control in everything.” Certainly, the older men must be examples of this in the church. Old age or retirement is not a license to become a child again in the use of our time and passions. Our body is the Lord’s, and we must seek to glorify him with it (1 Cor 6:19-20).


Self-control is actually the predominant characteristic in this passage, as it will be repeated in one form or another to the four main groups—older men (v. 2), older women (v. 4 in the word “train,” which is a verb form of the word for “self-control”), young women (v. 5), and young men (v. 6). Therefore, we all need this characteristic to be spiritually healthy. In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul said this to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” This can only be done through practicing healthy spiritual disciplines and staying away from endeavors that cause spiritual harm or spiritual laziness.


4. Older men should be sound in the faith.


Paul mentions three specific aspects of soundness or healthiness that older men should have in their character. They should be sound in faith, love, and endurance.


In considering being sound in faith, this probably has an objective and subjective aspect. (1) The older men should have a strong objective grasp of Bible doctrine from their years of studying it. This helps them live godly lives. (2) But, they should have a strong trust in God, which is the subjective aspect of their faith. They have seen God move mountains multiple times to open doors where there didn’t seem to be a way out. They have also experienced God giving them strength to persevere through sickness, loss, and various disappointments. Because of their sound faith, both in knowing God’s Word and trusting him, they help others understand God’s Word and obey it and also help them hold onto God when it’s hard to trust him. Their “healthy” faith is a tremendous resource to congregations.


5. Older men should have a sound love for God and others.


Again, this is not something that naturally comes with age, which is why it has to be taught to older men. It is entirely possible for older men (and women) to be less loving as they get older—more prone to being grouchy, insensitive with their words, and sometimes even holding hardened, racist, insensitive views towards certain groups. However, instead of those vices, they should be growing in loving God and others. The word for love used here is “agape,” referring to God’s love. This is not necessarily a love of the emotions (though not void of them) but a love of the will. It’s the ability to love people who are unlovable, difficult, and even mean at times. It’s the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s patient with others, kind, and forgiving, as it doesn’t hold a record of wrong. Some elderly people can tell you with great detail all the ways a person at work or in their family hurt them and exact dates, though the event happened many years ago. However, this is not God’s will for them. It’s God’s will that they learn to love, including forgive, those who failed them and model it for others. Another aspect of agape love the elderly men must seek to excel at is hospitality and sacrificial giving. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for them, and healthy older men aim to demonstrate this sacrificial love to those they come in contact with. Older men should have a healthy love, which others seek to model.


6. Older men should have sound endurance.


Endurance is the ability to stand fast in trials instead of constantly complaining, becoming angry, giving up, or running away. No doubt, these mature saints have developed endurance from years of going through trials and seeing God’s faithfulness in them, but also, they have seen how God used trials for their good—to develop more patience with others, trust in God, the ability to love the unlovable, and many other virtues. James 1:2-4 says,


My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.


Though not perfect in practicing this, they have matured in it, experienced its fruit, and can encourage others to endure their trials as well.


In a healthy church, there are older men (and women, as we’ll see next) who are sober-minded, dignified in how they live, self-controlled, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. Therefore, they are a tremendous gift to the church, which helps others develop these virtues.


Application Question: Why is the ministry of healthy older men so important? How have you benefited from their ministry? How have you seen or experienced some of the vices they are prone to?


Healthy Older Women


Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home…

Titus 2:3-5


Observation Question: What are the characteristics of healthy older women and what do they mean?


In verse 3, Paul says “likewise” in referring to the older women. This means that older women have a similar task to older men. What are their characteristics?


1. Older women should be holy or reverent (v. 3).


The Greek word for “holy” in verse 3 is used only here in the New Testament and means “like a priest” or “temple fitting.” It was used of the behavior of priests serving in the temple. Older women should have a reverence about them as seasoned worshipers of God. This reverence should affect the clothing they wear, the words they say, and how they act. These women should be known for their worship, prayer, and wise counsel which comes from all their time in God’s Word and prayer. It’s hard not to think of the prophetess Anna who met Christ shortly after his birth. In Luke 2:37, it says, “She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” These women are tremendously valuable to the health of the body.


2. Older women should not be slanderers (v. 3).


To slander means to make false or unsupported accusations against others. The word “slander” is translated thirty-four times as “devil” in the New Testament. The devil commonly slanders God, others, and us. When we listen to or spread gossip about others, we are doing the devil’s work. In 1 Timothy 5:13, the widows are also warned about this. Because they have no husbands, they tend to become idle and busybodies sharing everybody’s business. However, these healthy older women are not known for this. They are careful to not listen to or share family, work, church, or even political gossip because they understand their words are meant to build up and not tear down and that we’ll be judged by God for even idol words (cf. Eph 4:29, Matt 12:36). And because they are known to be truthful and not share slanderous or controversial information about others, they gain an audience with all who know them.


3. Older women should not be known for being addicted to wine (v. 3).


Alcoholism must have been a common cultural problem in the early church, as it is today. In each of the lists of characteristics of church ministers being addicted to wine is forbidden (1 Tim 3:3, 8, Titus 1:7; cf. 1 Tim 5:23). In addition, it was a special problem in Crete, as heavy drinking was considered a virtue in that context. Though over-drinking is a problem for people in general, it can be a special temptation for the aged. It’s easy to start to over-drink to deal with aches, pains, loneliness, and depression. Older women should be careful of this temptation. We are not called to be drunk with wine to deal with life’s issues but to instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, relying on God more (Eph 5:18). These older women are sober and filled with the Spirit instead of wine or any other drug to help them deal with life.


4. Older women should teach what is good, especially to younger women (v. 3-5).


Many have struggled with Paul’s teaching in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 about how only men can fulfill the role of pastor/elder in the church. They have often said, “Well, who will teach and mentor the women?” Paul answers that here in addressing the older women. They are to teach what is good. Certainly, they are to teach their children and grandchildren (cf. 2 Tim 1:5), but they have a special role in teaching other women in the church. This would be especially important with women coming from pagan backgrounds. Many of them had no idea about how to live as Christian spouses, mothers, and servants of the church. The older women were called to teach them what is good.


The responsibility of initiating these relationships falls both on the older women and the younger ones. Younger women should reach out to the more mature females in the church to ask questions about marriage, parenting, cooking, cleaning, hospitality, and balancing any career duties. Older women should be on the lookout for those who are younger to counsel, encourage, and in general do life with. If these mentoring relationships don’t happen in the church, then the younger ladies (and men) are doomed to learn many things the hard way instead of through the failure, pain, and success of others. In fact, without this counsel, some marriages won’t last, and some children will grow up and have very difficult lives because of it. Also, there will be leadership gaps in the church if young ladies don’t grow up into older, healthy, mature ladies (and the same is true with young men).


Application Question: How have you benefited from healthy older women in the church? Why is their ministry so important? How can the church better utilize them and their ministry? How have you seen or experienced some of their vices?


Healthy Younger Women


In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.

Titus 2:4-5


One of the things that must be noticed is that Paul doesn’t tell Titus to train the young women. Certainly, they weren’t barred from hearing him teach, but they weren’t supposed to be the focus of his ministry. If there was a young women’s class, Titus probably shouldn’t have been the one leading it. Instead, he was to equip the older women to teach the younger ones. Obviously, this would protect him and the young ladies from any unnecessary temptation or even the appearance of it.


Observation Question: What are the characteristics of healthy young women?


1. Younger women should love their husbands (v. 4).


It probably seems strange that women needed to be taught to love their husbands. This implies that the practical applications of love don’t necessarily happen naturally. They need to be learned. This was probably especially true in the ancient world where most marriages were arranged and therefore were at least initially less romantic. They were often arranged based on social or economic status—moving up in the world and having an heir. Husbands having concubines (official mistresses) was normal, especially when wealthy. Marriages were commonly functional, and love was not involved. However, these young women needed to learn what God expected from a marriage, including loving their husbands. The word for love used here is “philandros.” Philos love was the love of friends, and therefore, Paul’s command implied that wives were to develop companionship with their husbands. They were to learn how to listen to him, care for him, and sacrificially serve him. They were to forgive their husband’s failures and not hold grudges against him. MacDonald’s comments in the Believer’s Bible Commentary are helpful. He says:


A young woman should be taught to love her husband. But this means more than just kissing him when he leaves for work. It includes the myriad ways in which she can show that she really respects him—by acknowledging his headship in the home, by making no major decisions apart from him, by keeping an orderly home, by paying attention to personal appearance, by living within their means, by confessing promptly, by forgiving graciously, by keeping the lines of communication always open, by refraining from criticizing or contradicting her husband in front of others, and by being supportive when things go wrong.


2. Younger women should love their children (v. 4).


Again, teaching young women to love their children may sound strange because it should be innate; however, this again is not so much referring to the emotion of love but the actions of it. Young mothers need wisdom in how to love their children correctly. Proverbs 13:24 says, “The one who spares his rod hates his child, but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him.” No doubt, many a mother has said something like, “I don’t spank or discipline my child because I love them too much!” However, Scripture teaches disciplining children is integral to loving them. Mothers must love their children by imparting wisdom to them through both teaching and discipline, including forms of corporal discipline. Proverbs 29:15 says, “A rod and reproof impart wisdom, but a child who is unrestrained brings shame to his mother.” Also, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The implication of this is that the older a child gets, the more difficult it will be to train them. Wisdom and experience tell us the same.


When children are young, they will need discipline more than discussion/teaching. The primary lesson a young child should be learning is immediate obedience. It is in the early years that they learn the basic principle of obeying authority. As they learn this in their young years, they will struggle less with obeying teachers, bosses, government authorities, and ultimately God. If they don’t learn this as young children through discipline, they may struggle with authority their whole lives. As children get older, they will need more teaching/correction in their learning process and less discipline. Since they are more mature, they can hold more discussions and learn more from that model of training. Unfortunately, it’s common for parents to do a lot of discussion with a two year that is throwing a tantrum and yelling at them instead of disciplining him. And then, when the child is older and out of control, they try to add more discipline which at that point often causes more rebellion. When they are young, they learn obedience through both teaching and discipline, and when they are older, teaching/discussion becomes the prominent means of training. Young mothers need to be taught how to love their children wisely.


With that said, the most important way young mothers can love their children is by teaching them Scripture and helping them come to a saving relationship with Christ. When they are young, they should read the Bible to them, ask them what they heard, make them repeat the essential messages, and then explain and apply it to their lives. As we train them in the Lord through Scripture reading, Bible memory, sharing the Gospel with them, and attending church to worship God and hear his Word, we plant the seeds for a relationship with God who can mend all our failures in the parenting process.


In addition to this, similar to the command for younger women to love their husbands, the word used is “philoteknos.” Again, with the root of philos, it implies the need for the mother to develop a friendship with their children. As the children grow into adulthood, this friendship should continue to blossom and be enjoyed. In fact, when they are adults, we will influence them most as their friends and not as their authorities.


3. Younger women should be self-controlled (v. 5).


This is the third time a form of the word “self-control” is used in these admonitions about older men, older women, and now the younger women. These young women must develop self-mastery. Youth is often a time where people practice less control and have less wisdom in general. They sleep late, get up late, practice overeating, indulge in lots of entertainment (including ones not very spiritually healthy), and sometimes even indulge in too much alcohol. Because of their lack of discipline, they often struggle emotionally and mentally—repeating unhealthy thoughts and words about themselves and others. The older women are to help the younger women to live self-controlled lives that honor God and bless their families.


4. Younger women should be pure (v. 5).


This refers to being morally pure both in thought and actions but probably emphasizes her sexual life. She is to be committed to her husband and not entertain thoughts about other men, nor flirt with them. If she works outside the home, there will be more temptation in this area. She must wisely set boundaries, so others know she is committed to her spouse. If she is single, she must maintain purity in her thoughts and actions, including in any dating relationship or male friendships. Younger women are to be known for being pure and not flirty or promiscuous.


5. Younger women must fulfill their duties at home (v. 5).


Interpretation Question: Is Paul’s command to young women about fulfilling their duties at home (or being “homemakers”) cultural or does it apply to women today?


The NKJV translates this word as “homemakers.” Do Paul’s comments mean that a woman cannot work outside the home? It should be remembered that the Proverbs 31 wife is not only a homemaker but also excels in business as well. She considers a field and buys it and with the money earned plants a vineyard (v. 16). She is involved in trading (v. 18) and also makes and sells linens (v. 24). What Paul seems to be emphasizing is that whether the wife works outside the home or not, the home should be her first priority. She is committed to her husband and children before any other priority. To prioritize the needs of the family, especially when children are young, many choose to stay at home full-time. Certainly, the woman’s outside activities, whether at work or church, must be carefully prayed about and discussed with her husband to discern what is best. Either way, the family must be first both for the wife and the husband.


Though homemaking is at times looked down upon in our society, especially from a feminist perspective, Scripture honors this occupation, and therefore, it has been historically honored and emphasized in the church. Oliver Greene states this well when he says:


Christianity is the patron of domestic virtues.… There can never be a great local church without great Christian families; and there will never be a great Christian family without Christian fathers and mothers—not only Christian in word, but in deed and in truth. Great homes make great churches; great homes and great churches make great nations. A Christian home is a place of contentment—a place of peace; and when domestic duties are neglected, the home suffers severely. Regardless of how much a mother may do outside the home, whatever self-denial and zeal she may contribute to outside interests, and regardless of how much good she may accomplish outside the home, if she neglects her home she has brought reproach upon Christianity. The duty of a Christian mother is first to her home, and these other interests must be secondary.”


In addition, William Barclay comments on the importance of homemaking are helpful:


It is the simple fact that there is no greater task and responsibility and privilege in this world than to make a home.… In the last analysis there can be no greater career than the career of homemaking. How many a man, who has set his mark upon the world, has been enabled to do so simply because there was someone at home who cared for him and loved him and tended him. It is infinitely more important that a mother should be at home to put her children to bed and to hear them say their prayers than that she should attend all the public and Church meetings in the world.


Certainly, all young married women must give great attention to this duty, and the older women in the church will be great encouragers and mentors at this.


6. The younger women must be kind (v. 5).


The word can also be translated “good” and may modify the call for young women to be homemakers. They are to be good homemakers. But, it also could stand alone, which is why it is often translated “kind.” Young women should be kind, always thinking about the members of their family and also how they can help people in the church. They should be sympathetic and merciful to those who are hurting, offering a listening ear, sage counsel, and a helping hand. Proverbs 31:26 says this in describing the Proverbs 31 woman, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.” In order to be kind, one must think of others even above themselves. This is a trait that must be learned, and certainly, Christ is our perfect model. Philippians 2:3-5 says:


Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,


7. Younger women must be subject to their husbands (v. 5).


Finally, in verse 5, Paul says the women should be “subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.” Certainly, many struggle with this concept which is taught throughout the Bible. Why should women submit to their husbands and not the other way around? Or why should there be any authority in the marriage union at all? Some might ask. But, the reason is because God made man and woman in his image from the beginning (Gen 1:27), and in the God-head of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, there is equality, authority, and love. The Son submits to the Father and the Spirit submits to the Son and the Father, though they are co-equal. Paul actually teaches the parallel between the order in the God-head and that of marriage in 1 Corinthians 11:3. He says, “But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman [wife], and God is the head of Christ.” Again, in the analogy, the man reflects God, and the woman reflects Christ. God is co-equal with Christ, but yet is his leader, and the man is co-equal with his wife and yet is her leader. Now, it must be said this does not teach the submission of every woman to every man, as is true in some cultures. It teaches the submission of the wife to her husband. And because this union reflects the Trinity, when love and equality are absent, the relationship breaks down and mars God’s image. Christ, though the leader of his disciples, bowed down and washed their feet as a servant and eventually died for them. In the same way, the husband must sacrificially love his wife, and she must in humility serve him as is her duty unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22-27 teaches the same:


Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church—he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.


The marriage union should not only have authority in it but also equality and sacrificial love, especially from the leader. When a man willingly gives up his right as leader to sacrificially serve his wife and put her first, as Christ did with the church, she will not have a problem honoring him as her head.


The reason Paul gives for women to submit to her husband and probably also all the other characteristics before that (loving children, husband, homemaking, purity, etc.) is “so that the message of God may not be discredited.” Again, Christians being a good witness to the world by obeying sound doctrine is one of the major themes throughout this passage. A healthy church that obeys and submits to sound doctrine will have a beautiful witness to the world. However, an unhealthy church, with unhealthy members, will dishonor God and his Word and ultimately push people away from God.


Applied specifically to Christian marriages which are supposed to reflect the God-head in its equality, love, and submission, when it does not, it mars the beauty of God and the church’s corporate witness. When people see that Christian marriages are no better than the world’s, it discredits the truths in the Word of God. They think to themselves, “If there is no power in the Gospel and ‘God’s Word,’ why should I believe it?” Younger women should submit to their husbands to honor God and his Word before a lost world which greatly needs the witness of Scripture.


With all that said, a woman must not submit to her husband if he tells her to do anything that would disobey God and his Word, and this is true in all our relationships with authority. God always must be first. In addition, Scripture never commands a husband to make his wife submit to him. The domineering leadership of the husband is the result of the fall (Gen 3:16). Certainly, he should teach her Scripture and at times humbly correct her from it, but he cannot make her do anything, only God changes hearts. But, as we humbly teach her Scripture and sacrificially love her, often that is the means God uses to change a hardened heart.


Application Question: What characteristics of healthy young women stood out most to you and why? Why is homemaking such an important skill for young women, the church, and society in general? How is the vocation of homemaking commonly looked down or put down in the world?


Healthy Young Men


Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled

Titus 2:6


Observation Question: What is the chief characteristic of healthy young men?


With the young men, Paul only gives one characteristic for them to develop and that is “self-control.” It’s the same characteristic that the other groups needed to develop as well. However, it is the chief characteristic for healthy young men, probably because they often fail in this area. They must practice self-control in their passions. Why is this so important?


1. Young men have a tendency towards addictive practices.


These may be excessively drinking alcohol, playing video games, binging television shows, watching or playing sports, playing on social media, or ever being overly career-driven. These endeavors may not be bad in themselves but when they take up so much of one’s time and passions, they can be destructive idols. They can hurt one’s grades while in school, hinder one’s progress and witness in their career, and even hurt their family. Many wives have felt neglected because of the undisciplined passions of their husbands. They go into their man-caves to watch sports and neglect their wives or spend all day at work and have no energy for their kids when they get home. Young men must develop self-mastery, lest their passions hurt their families, careers, and productiveness for the kingdom.


2. Young men have a tendency towards uncontrolled lust.


Lustful thoughts, consuming sexual media, having multiple dating partners, or even being unfaithful in marriage are all things young men have to be especially careful of. It’s not that women don’t have these problems, they do. But, they seem to manifest in young men more. If the men are single, they must develop self-control, so they can be pure in thought and body until God provides them a wife to love and serve. If they are married, they must learn to commit their passions to their wife alone. The father in Proverbs 7 specifically warns the naive young man who lacked wisdom about the allure of the adulterous woman. Many men had been fatally wounded by her, he says (v. 5-27). Certainly, men must develop self-control in the area of lust.


Development of Self-Control


Application Question: How can young men develop self-control?


(1) Self-control specifically is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). In Galatians 5:16, Paul says if we live in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. By abiding in God’s Word, prayer, worship, service, and accountability, young men receive supernatural grace to control their passions and direct their lives in the best possible means to build the kingdom of God. The problem with many young men is that they don’t “live” in the Spirit, they “temporarily visit” him. They are undisciplined and inconsistent spiritually, which allows many weeds to grow in their lives and choke their harvest. When God is not their ultimate passion, many idols replace him to their detriment.


(2) In addition to living in the Spirit, young men must find godly mentors who will hold them accountable and provide a good example for them. Paul challenged Titus, as a young man himself, “to be an example” (v. 7) to the young men and others in the congregation. Likewise, Christ took the young apostles who were prone to pride and failure and made them disciplined men who could turn the world upside down. Similarly, Paul provided mentorship and an example to both Timothy and Titus and told them to find faithful men to do the same with (2 Tim 2:2). The passion of young men is important. It is needed to build God’s kingdom on the earth, but it needs to be harnessed and guided by wisdom to the best possible end. Lord, let it be so!


Application Question: In what ways have you seen or experienced the weakness of self-control in the lives of young men? What are some important disciplines for young men to develop to overcome their weakness in self-control? How has God helped you grow in self-control?


Healthy Ministers


showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us.

Titus 2:7-8


Observation Question: What are the characteristics of healthy ministers, as seen in Paul’s instructions to Titus?


After talking about the young men, Paul speaks directly to Titus. Apparently, Titus was a young man as well, so these words can be applied to young men generally; however, they may be most applicable to other ministers, whether that be pastors, teachers, small group leaders, worship leaders, etc. Since ministers shepherd the church under Christ, they have a large effect on the health of the church and its attractiveness to believers and unbelievers


What are characteristics of healthy ministers?


1. Ministers must be an example of good works in every way.


John MacArthur said this about the Greek word Paul used for example:


Tupos (example) literally refers to a mark or impression left by an instrument such as a pen, a sword, or a hammer … It also came to be used figuratively of a pattern, mold, model, or copy of the original of something, whether a physical object, such as a statute, or a principle or virtue.


Titus was to live in such a way that his life made such a positive impression on others that others tried to model it. Titus was to be an example in his devotional life, fervency in prayers, patience with difficult people and in trials, hospitality to strangers, mercy to those that were hurting, purity with the opposite sex, self-control, among other things. Though young, Titus’ life was to make an impact. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul said the same thing to Timothy who was pastoring in Ephesus. He said, “Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity.”


These are lofty standards, but many intrinsically expect them of their spiritual leaders and therefore are very disappointed when they fail. Certainly, our leaders are people who, like us, fail and make mistakes and because of this, we must give them much grace. But, we should select members for leadership who, though not perfect, are setting an example for others and then help them continue to grow in doing so.


The standard Paul commanded of Titus and Timothy, he also set for himself. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Also, in Philippians 3:17, he said, “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.” Christ is our perfect example, but we need examples of those who are not perfect—those who fall, make mistakes, and still get up to follow Christ. That’s what our ministers must be and that is what we must aim to be as well.


God has placed many good and sometimes excellent imperfect models in the church who we are to seek to follow in the areas they excel at. Are they excelling in their counseling, teaching, evangelism, homemaking, hospitality, leadership, or general service? Let us watch them closely and at times even ask for them to teach us so that we can grow in ultimately imitating Christ.


Again, Paul’s command to Titus should be the aim of our church ministers as well—small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, elders, youth ministers, elders, and pastors. They should aim to be examples of “good works in every way.” Certainly, we must consider the areas we fail at, whether that be self-control, discipline, contentment, helps, our entertainment, or how we respond to those who hurt us and seek to grow in those areas to set a better example for others. This is how God has called the church to grow, not only through hearing sound teaching from its ministers but by modeling their sound examples.


The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible aptly said this in considering the unwillingness of many ministers to seek to live up to this high calling:


People have a right to expect the minister and teacher to live what they preach and teach. The great tragedy is that too few live what they profess. Too few pray—really pray—and too few really study the Scriptures devotionally, and even fewer consistently witness and share Christ with the lost. The great cry of God is for ministers and teachers who will live like they should and who will be a pattern, a dynamic example of good works. This is the only way laymen will ever become the witnesses for Christ that they should.


Lord, help both our ministers and laymen become better imitations of you, in Jesus’ name, Amen!


2. Ministers should teach in a way that honors God and hinders slander.


In verses 7-8, Paul said this, “In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us.” Ministers should not only set a godly example but teach healthy doctrine. He gives three characteristics of their teaching which would not only help the church grow healthy but also protect the minister from slander. Ministers will always be attacked for preaching God’s Word. It’s the reality of the spiritual war we are in. In the Parable of the Soils, every time the word was sown on the hard ground, the sparrows came, representing Satan and demons, to steal the Word of God. Not only does Satan attack the Word so people don’t accept it, but he also constantly attacks the minister of the Word. However, unfortunately, many ministers open themselves up for attack not for teaching the Word, but how their manner of teaching in general. The Word of God is offensive enough, ministers should not add further reason to slander by our character or lack of wisdom.


Observation Question: What should be the three characteristics of the minister’s teaching according to Titus 2:7-8?


The first two seem to focus on “how” one teaches and the last one on “what” one teaches.


• Ministers should have “integrity” in their teaching.


The word “integrity” can also be translated “purity” (NASB). It literally means “uncorruptness.” This probably refers to the minister’s motives. He must not preach for fame, money, or attention. He must preach to honor God and bless people. However, he must also not preach as though he perfectly follows the message, he teaches others. He must have integrity in his preaching. Even Paul called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15) and said the things that he wanted to do, he didn’t do, and the things he didn’t want to do, he did (Rom 7). He had integrity in his teaching. Many cannot relate to their preachers because they lack integrity and authenticity in their preaching. This at times makes them unrelatable or pushes people away. Integrity in teaching may also refer to Titus’ need to attempt to faithfully follow his message. Again, he must set an example for others in seeking to submit to God’s Word, in the same he exhorted his audience. If a minister is not seeking to practice what he teaches, he will quickly lose his audience and even push them away from God. He must have integrity.


• Ministers should have “dignity” or “seriousness” (NIV) in their teaching.


If the minister is not serious in the way he teaches, then the audience will often not take the message seriously as well. Certainly, there is a place for humor in sermons. However, ministers are called to teach as “the oracles of God” (1 Pet 4:11 ESV)—like they are God’s very mouthpieces. If God’s heart is breaking for those who are caught in sin and falling short of his glory, there should be a due seriousness in our message that reflects this. If God’s Word seeks to demonstrate the glory and majesty of God, there should be a certain reverence and awe in our teaching that reflects this. Richard Baxter said it this way, “Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest … You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them.” In healthy churches, the ministers teach with a seriousness, as though seeking to speak God’s exact words.


• Ministers should be “sound” in their teaching.


The word “sound” has the basic meaning of “well, healthy, and whole.” It is the same word Paul used in verse 1 in calling Timothy to “communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching.” In contrast with the false teachers in Titus 1:10-11 who were deceiving and misleading whole families by their teaching, Titus’ teaching was to be healthy and sound. It was to promote the health of families, as he taught them right doctrine and the behavior required from right doctrine. In Acts 20:26-27, Paul said this to the Ephesians elders, “Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God.” The whole “purpose” or “counsel” of God refers to everything in the Scriptures. The minister should not just preach his favorite doctrines or what people want to hear. He must aim to preach God’s counsel from Genesis to Revelation. One of the best ways to do this is by simply teaching verse by verse through the Bible. This doesn’t allow the pastor to skip difficult or offensive texts. He must preach exactly what God’s Word says, and it will keep him from having blood on his hands before God because he did not teach God’s Word. Certainly, there is a place for strategic topical sermons, especially as they reflect major doctrines in Scripture such as the Trinity, the Gospel, sanctification, the end times, prayer, etc. Just as a healthy diet includes all the food groups God has created, including meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, etc., healthy teaching seeks to cover the whole counsel of God, including Old and New Testament and the major doctrines in Scripture.


Certainly, these criteria should help us in selecting a church to attend and be involved with. Do they have healthy teaching? Are they seeking to teach the whole counsel of God and not just the pastor’s hobby horse or comforting words? Often, to help us become healthy, the doctor has to tell us when we have a disease and the changes that need to be made to be healed. We may not want to hear that we need to give up certain foods, get a certain procedure done, or make changes to our lifestyles; however, it is good for us. Healthy preaching does the same.


As ministers set an example by their good works and practice integrity, seriousness, and soundness in their teaching, it will promote the health of the congregation and its members and hinder the ability of opponents to slander ministers. Again, ministers will always be under attack because of the ministry they do; however, the attacks should be related to God’s message and not their character or how they teach. Since ministers lead the church under Christ’s direction, the health of the church is largely affected by their witness.


Application Question: What makes ministry (both volunteer and vocational) so difficult? In what ways has God used ministers at church or elsewhere to really help you grow in the faith? How can Christians support their ministers better? If you could speak to your pastor or pastors, what would you tell them to encourage them in their ministry?


Healthy Christian Employees and Employers


Slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to do what is wanted and not talk back, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.

Titus 2:9-10


Observation Question: What are characteristics of healthy slaves and therefore healthy Christian workers?


In the Roman world, there were over fifty million slaves which was about one-third of the population. People could become a slave by being captured in war, selling themselves to pay off a debt or to have their basic necessities met, being born to slaves, or even being trafficked. Unlike slavery in colonial America, slavery in the Roman empire was not a racial issue. There were slaves of every gender, race, and nationality. Sometimes, slaves had more education than their masters and served as doctors or teachers. Though many slaves were mistreated, some had good relationships with their masters. Some were even given plots of land to grow food for their family and provided with a small salary. It’s commonly been said slavery provided a better life than a typical day worker who struggled to make ends meet for their families. The slaves’ housing, clothing, and food were taken care of by their master. The New Testament does condemn the slave trade. In 1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NIV), it says,


We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine


However, the NT never condemns slavery as an institution. It instead provided guidelines for masters and slaves, so they could bring glory to God in the institution (1 Cor. 7:21–22; Col. 3:22; 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:1–2; Tit. 2:9–10; 1 Pt. 2:18–25). The Christian community shocked the ancient world by providing a place where slaves and masters fellowshipped and worshiped together. In fact, sometimes slaves would be the church elders over their masters. God’s primary plan has never been to overhaul secular institutions by a revolution. Instead, God’s plan has always been to overhaul the hearts of sinful men which ultimately has always led to the overhaul of sinful institutions. By confronting racism, greed, pride, and malice in the hearts of men and replacing them with humility, love, forgiveness, and selfless service, Christianity has overhauled many institutions. It has led to the equal rights of women in many nations and the abolition of slavery throughout history, not by fighting and war but by changing the hearts of sinful men.


With all that said, Paul’s instructions to Titus about slaves apply most directly to Christian employees and employers in our context. His instructions to Christian slaves were ultimately “to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything” (v. 10). Christian slaves were to win their masters, other slaves, and those watching to Christ. Being a Christian did not make them revolutionaries; it made them better workers and servants. It was for this reason in the ancient world, Christian slaves went for higher prices than their secular counterparts. To have a servant that worked hard, was honest, and didn’t talk back was a master’s dream. Likewise, to have a master who was gentle, loving, and concerned about the slave’s welfare, led to the conversion of many slaves. Similarly, today, people are always looking at Christian employees and employers to see if there is any difference in their lives. Does their faith really matter? they ask. And when it does, it often adorns the gospel, drawing people to the beauty of Christ. John MacArthur wisely said this about the evangelistic opportunities in the workplace:


For many Christians today, as throughout church history, the most important and fertile field for evangelism is the place where they work. That is their mission field. As in almost no other place, unbelievers have the opportunity to observe believers in day by day situations and activities. They see whether the believer is patient or impatient, kind or uncaring, selfless or selfish, honest or dishonest, clean or vulgar in his talk. They have the opportunity to see how well the Christian lives up to the faith he professes and the principles of the Scripture he claims to hold dear. Inviting unsaved friends to church certainly has a place in witnessing for Christ, but it will be useless and even counterproductive if one’s attitude, reliability, and honesty on the job are questionable.


In Paul’s final statement to Titus about the healthy church which attracts unbelievers and other believers, he gives five principles to Christian slaves, which apply to us as Christian employees and employers.


What are characteristics of healthy Christian employees and employers?


1. Christian employees and employers must be subject to their leadership in everything (v. 9).


“Subject” in the original language is a military word used of a soldier to his superior officer. His obedience was not optional. In the same way, when it comes to work, Christians should obey their superiors in everything. Certainly, they should not obey if it means disobeying God by doing something immoral or unethical. Christian workers should demonstrate their faith by obedience to their leadership. To not obey would dishonor God.


2. Christian employees and employers should do what is wanted by their leadership, including in their attitude (v. 9).


“To do what is wanted” can also be translated “to be well-pleasing” in ESV. It is possible to be obedient and yet not do it with the right attitude or effort which would be unpleasing to one’s leadership. Ephesians 6:7 says this to slaves in the context of submitting to their masters (cf. Eph 6:5). It says, “Obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people.” Also, Colossians 3:23 says this to slaves, “Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people.” The Christian worker should work hard, with a delightful attitude and a spirit of excellence in everything he does. He should work well with others and desire to improve his performance and that of the company. He should do this both to please God and his leadership. John MacArthur said this about working to please one’s leadership as Titus 2:9 commands:


It is not wrong to work hard, do excellent work, and seek to please our employer in order to advance in a company and increase our income. In the right spirit, those motives are legitimate. But they should never be a Christian’s highest objectives. Above all else—far above all else—should be the sincere desire, even on the job, to do that which is pleasing and acceptable to our Lord.


3. Christian employees and employers should be edifying in speech when corresponding with their leadership and co-workers (v. 9).


Paul says slaves should “not talk back” to their masters. This can also be translated to not be “argumentative” (ESV). It literally means “to speak against.” Christian workers should not be disagreeable or confrontational. They should not talk bad about their leadership behind their backs (or even to their face). Words are an indication of what is in our hearts. Luke 6:45 (ESV) says, “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If Christ is in our hearts, others should be able to tell by our speech. This will be one of our biggest witnesses to our leadership and co-workers. Instead of complaining, cursing, and back-biting like everybody else, we are thankful, wise, and courteous with our words. Philippians 2:14-15 says this:


Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world


Ephesians 4:29 says, “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”


4. Christian employees and employers should never be dishonest (v. 10)


“Not pilfering” means to not steal. Since slaves were often business or household managers, they had access to money, food, jewels, and other valuables. Unfortunately, they commonly had a reputation for petty theft. Likewise, Christian workers commonly oversee spreadsheets, bank accounts, flexible money, and even properties. Especially when abuses are common in the workplaces, including amongst the leadership, there can be a temptation to not have absolute integrity in our stewardship. Though not bending the rules a little bit can cause conflict with our leadership or co-workers, all real leaders want employees with integrity, even if they are honesty sticklers. Danny Akin said it this way:


This servant will go the extra mile in maintaining his financial accountability. There will be no inflated expense accounts, falsified time sheets, or unauthorized use of his employer’s resources. From a paper clip to a corporate jet, he will conduct himself with absolute honesty and integrity. After all, he serves Christ, and he would never think of stealing from Jesus.


To add to the Christian workers’ integrity, they should not be dishonest by wasting their employer’s time by playing on social media or with video games during work hours. They should give eight hours of labor for eight hours of pay. They should at all times aim to be people of absolute honesty and integrity.


5. Christian employees and employers should be trustworthy and dependable. (v. 10).


Instead of stealing, Paul says, they should show “all good faith.” Faith seems to refer to faithfulness, dependability, and trustworthiness. This means when given a task to complete, the Christian worker gets its done. His boss doesn’t need to continually look over his shoulder to make sure he is getting his work done. He is utterly reliable. When Christian workers are unreliable, it reflects negatively on their faith—often causing others to look down on Christians, their work ethic, and even blaspheme Christ.


6. Christian employees and employers should demonstrate the beauty of the gospel in all they do (v. 10).


Paul says Christian workers should do all these things “in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.” Healthy Christian workers understand that their employment or their volunteer work is an opportunity to demonstrate the beauty of Christ. “To bring credit” can be translated to “adorn” or “show the beauty of.” The word “kosmeo” is used in this phrase from which we get the word “cosmetics.” People wear cosmetics to better demonstrate their beauty or attractiveness to others. In the same way, when Christian employees work hard, have integrity, don’t steal, and seek to please their leadership, they demonstrate the beauty of the gospel, how it truly changes people’s lives. It demonstrates that there is something different about them and therefore draws people to consider Christ as their savior. And unfortunately, when the Christian employees’ work ethic doesn’t live up to their testimony, it pushes people away from Christ.


Application Question: What career field do you feel God has called you to as a missionary? How has God used your career as a place to challenge you, use you, and help you grow in the faith? How can Christians better see their workplaces as mission fields and what are some best practices for ministry in the workplace?


Conclusion


Again, in this passage, Paul tells Titus to teach the Cretan Christians to demonstrate behaviors that are in accord with sound, healthy doctrine (2:1). As older men and women, younger women, and men, ministers, and Christian workers demonstrate a healthy, vibrant faith, it draws people to Christ, including both struggling believers and unbelievers. Instead of pushing people away from God, which so commonly happens in unhealthy churches, healthy churches leave no room for others to slander them or Christ because of their chaste lives. If they are slandered, it’s because of what God’s Word says, not because of any disunity between God’s Word and their lives.


In a healthy church, the older men and women mentor the younger Christians. Pastors encourage the church through sound and serious teaching and reflect that teaching through their faithful example. The young men and women practice discipline and put their families first, even before church and work. Christian employees and employers practice excellence and integrity in their labor to demonstrate the beauty of the gospel. When the world looks around and finds nothing but dishonesty, abuse, greed, fighting, and lack of hope, they look to the church to see if Christ truly offers anything better. Lord, help us be a healthy church and raise up many other healthy churches which demonstrate the beauty and hope of your gospel to a dying world.


Application Question: What stood out most in the study and why? How is God calling you to apply this to your life?


Prayer Prompts


• Pray for God to bless the older men and women in our church, that they would continue to grow in the Lord, trusting him even in old age. Pray that God would anoint them even more in the final season of their lives to serve others and raise up a generation that will continue building God’s kingdom and that they would finish strong.

• Pray for the young men and women to be self-controlled, faithful to their spouses and children, putting their family even before church and career. Pray for the singles to excel in being devoted to the Lord, to be pure, and for God to bring them faithful spouses in his timing, if it be his will.

• Pray for our church ministers, including elders, worship leaders, children and youth workers, ushers, and administrators that God would strengthen them, protect them from evil one, and bless the works of their hands, bearing much fruit through them.

• Pray for our Christian workers that they would be lights in the workplace in their motivations, words, and actions. Pray that like Daniel, God would make them ten times wiser than their peers, that he would bless the works of their hands, draw the lost and struggling believers to Christ through them, and protect them from all attacks of the enemy.

• Pray for God to deliver people, including entire nations and cultures, from pride, greed, hate, unforgiveness, racism, ethnocentrism, division, and anything else that leads to the abuse of others in the workplace, trafficking and slavery in other places, and even war around the world. Pray that God would destroy every evil institution by breaking the bondage of sin on people’s hearts.

• Pray that our church and local churches would be healthy, that they would worship God with sincerity and holiness and be a blessing to communities, cities, and nations to the glory of God.



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