Teaching Sound Doctrine

Continuing our study of Titus, which began here.

After Titus is instructed to speak that which is fitting for sound doctrine, see here—we have a verse directed at older men, and a few directed at older women.  These verses are directed at those older in years and in faith–so while at times in my life I thought “I don’t need older women!” The truth is–all the generations need the others, and as for matters of wisdom, we need those who have been walking with Jesus faithfully for many years.  

One common thread you’ll note is that Paul instructs Timothy to encourage the older generation, as Stott points out, and quotes a much older theologian as well in agreeing that being older comes with its own temptations and struggles. 1  Tired, weary, wondering if it is worth it…  Wondering if you still have a purpose…or feeling like you deserve to retire–I’ve retired from my job, why not also retire from caring about God’s Kingdom?  I’ll just sit back and enjoy what the younger generation are doing.  Or, some form of irritability…grumpy old men, or ornery old women. 

Encouragement for those in this generation, and a goal to work towards for the younger generations!

2:2  Dignity, sensibility, maturity.

Temperate, worthy of respect, self controlled.  Or as Stott puts it, gravitas.  Life is not a joke, life is worth living on purpose–they have lived in such a way as to commend respect and honor, and display the fruit of the Spirit most difficult to achieve (self-control).  They are sensible: sound in mind, well and whole in mind, moderate as to opinion and passion and emotional displays, discreet, sober, temperate, self controlled.  

Sound, mature.  Sound, whole, well.  And in possession of the three cardinal virtues: faith, hope and love.  Hope is not spoken of here, but they display perseverance which you cannot truly have unless your eyes are on the prize, on the hope of your calling, eternal life in the presence of JESUS!!!  They are waiting patiently for the fulfillment of His promises, our true hope.  They wait patiently rather than growing disgruntled, they are as Paul says “afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing”  they trust the steadfastness of Christ, they know He is faithful.  These truths impact their character, and they are known for this character; they have not resigned to merely plod through their remaining days, they still have the zeal spoken of late in this chapter.   

See 1 Tim 6:11, 12; 2 Tim 3:10; 1 Thess 1:3

Failings they are warned against:

Temperate, so whether in drink or other behaviour, they are not addicted or controlled by substances or choices.  They show self restraint in their actions.  

2:3-4  Likewise, older women…  Likewise, because sound doctrine is important to the character of both men and women.  Note here that Titus teaches the older men, the older women, and next week we will see him instructed to teach the younger men.  But who teaches the younger women?  Are they excluded from Titus’ teaching?  Not necessarily, but we know the older women are instructed to teach the younger.  


In the way they live, known for their holy conduct.  They do not carry themselves in a mysterious way, or a hidden way, or a crass way–they are recognized for holy conduct–reverent behaviour, they imitate God as beloved children (Ephesians 5).  The Greek word here carries the idea of “priestess.”  Think of this verse as relating to the “priesthood of believers.”  The older women in the church are to live so much in love with their LORD that they are recognized as one befitting a holy calling to the priesthood.  They abide in Christ!  They sit at His feet as Mary did, they cling to Him as she wanted to at the resurrection.  And then they…

Teach what is good

Not just those who sense they have the gift of teaching.  Older women in general; older women who have been in the faith will be teaching what is good.  Though this list that follows seems to focus on behavior–remember Paul is not into behavior modification.  First comes sound doctrine, then comes character and actions as the fruit.  They encourage younger women not just in the “you should do this” but in the “how” and “why.”  Is any of this to God’s glory?  How?  I need to know!  We do not pass on a to do list, but pass on all that we have learned.  

Failings they are warned against:  

Not slanderers (or as Stott puts it, not scandal-mongers), not addicted to much wine.  Notably the women in Crete were struggling with these.  But are not women we know likely to struggle with these?  From a very early age girls are given to gossip, slander and envy, malicious talk, and back biting.  It is human nature.  By abiding in Christ, we fight this–we bring the tongue under His control, putting to death the deeds of the Body as the Spirit leads (see Romans 8).  These women have fought that good fight of the faith and will be an example to the younger women.  They will be the Proverbs 31 woman who has hesed and truth on her tongue, rather than slander or scandal.  As for the wine, we know from Ephesians 3 why we cannot drink too much, and we know how addictive such behaviour becomes.  These women enjoy their wine without drunkenness or addiction.  It is not a “must” and there is not withdrawal in their lives.  

2:4-5 the teaching of younger women

How to love husbands, how to love children.  Two repeated words, signifying the need to learn the nuances of love; not merely “and” but love and love.  So while not all cultures agreed then, nor do they agree now, the Scriptures do teach the need for love as a foundation for a godly marriage.  Not a romance, definitely not eroticism; but the love of sacrifice and service and mutual submission and edification.  

Why must they be trained in this?  Do you believe you need training–or just all the others?! The world tells you to find someone who completes you, or who idolizes you; someone you can leave if you please. This is earthly wisdom, not godly wisdom.

Self control, pure, workers at home.  These roles need training, as she must be trained to tend rather than neglect others.  Not “stay at home” but busy at home, worker at home; in other words the home is to be her primary sphere of influence, a husband ought to trust this work to her.  She sets the tone, she loves her family enough to create and foster an atmosphere reflecting God’s love and providence and all His other awesome attributes.  She does not stay imprisoned there, she can work outside the home.  This was most likely addressing idleness, and the temptation to be busybodies going from house to house for gossip while neglecting one’s own family.  

Kind here includes hospitable; subject to their husbands.  Subjection not different from Ephesians 4!  Created order includes masculine headship, but not authority or autocracy.  He is responsible, he must care for, nourish, and cherish.  They are subject to one another, they fulfill their own roles without causing grief to the other or trying to live seperately.  He is not her mediator.  When they fulfill these complementary roles, then no one can malign the word of God on their account.   

For further reflection:

In all this, ask yourself, do I submit to sound doctrine; do I crave it; do I partake in life in my local church under elders who shepherd us in sound doctrine; and does this trickle down to help me live in the day to day? Or am I craving something and seeking too many teachers, not really knowing if it is sound doctrine, and not really knowing how to tell if it is, and (whether due to this year’s circumstances or simply a desire to sleep in) have you dropped away from the fellowship that God has ordained? This book will become so sweet if, by the Spirit, you seek out His answers to your questions about ‘church’ rather than trying to find answers apart from His Word. Persevere, brethren!

photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

  1. John Stott. Guard the Truth. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996). 213.

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