Exegetical Notes: Titus 2

Titus 2.1-15 – Strive For Spiritual Excellence

Paul’s purpose is to encourage Titus to encourage others to live their lives with certain godly behaviors, or marks of genuine salvation.

Paul addresses a variety of groups here (older men, older women, young women, younger men, bondservants).

Which leads us to conclude that no one who receives Christ as Lord should remain unaffected by the Holy Spirit in their lives.  As a person experiences and understands the truth of God’s Word, their conduct must follow the internal work of the Spirit on their lives.

  1. The Gospel Makes a Difference in Living (2.1-9)

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

  • “But” – Titus was to teach doctrine that was contrary to that of the false teachers (1.1-10).
  • “teach” – a command, literally “speak”,
  • Paul’s command for Titus to teach, or speak, consistent sound doctrine to those in the church suggests that h ultimately responsible for the spiritual knowledge of the believers on Crete.
  • “sound doctrine” or “healthy” doctrine, an emphasis of Paul in the pastoral epistles (Timothy and Titus).See: 1 Tim. 1.10; 6.3; Tit. 1.9; 2.1.  According to these references, sound doctrine 1) flows from Christ, 2) must be held on to, 3) must be lived out, and 4) must be taught.

2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

  • “older men” – no precise age is listed, but Paul probably is referring to those who have raised their children and seen them start families of their own; empty nesters.
  • “sober-minded” – temperate; in contrast to the behavior of one who is intoxicated.Paul states that these men are to exercise clarity of mind which results in good judgment.
  • “dignified” – one who carries himself in a manner worthy of receiving respect.
  • “self-controlled” – sensible; this trait is applied to the men and women listed below as well.Men and women of all ages are expected to behave in a sensible manner. Because Paul uses this word to describe the behavior across all sexes and ages, it suggests that self-control is needed and attainable in Christian living.
  • “sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” – the greek suggests that their faith, love, and commitment to the things of God stems from a personal relationship with God.They were to maintain that relationship.

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

  • “reverent in behavior” – their outward behavior was to be a reflection of inner character.The term reverent comes from an unusual combination of Greek (hieron – temple; prepeis – fitting or appropriate to), suggesting that their manner of behavior was lived out in service to God.
  • “slanderers” – it is inconsistent and impossible to do the work of God and slander at the same time.See James 3.7-12.
  • “slaves to much wine” – some versions: “addicted to much wine” – Herein lies the danger with alcohol – addiction.Any person, or thing, which controls an individual, other than Christ himself, is an idol.
  • “teach what is good” – in Greek an adjective, or characteristic which they should embody.Their advice, encouragement, and example of living should be marked by their understanding of sound doctrine.

4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,

  • The older women were to live lives influenced and governed by good teaching in order to influence those women who are younger than they.
  • “young” – also translated “new”.Suggesting that these women may be just beginning their own families.
  • “love their husbands and children” – two extremely desirable characteristics of women in this era.Ironically some in our society have placed less value on these characteristics among women.
  • Paul emphasizes the great need for strong families though this command as a backbone for strong society.

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.

  • “self-controlled, pure” – these run together in Greek and may suggest marital fidelity. Regardless, they are also to be sensible and morally pure in all doings.
  • “working at home, kind” – these are joined as well, suggesting that these ladies were to be efficient managers of household duties without irritability.
  • “submissive to their own husbands” – this is a submissiveness of function, not of value. Good definition of submissive – the responsible acceptance of a relationship in which God has placed one and the resulting honest attempt to fulfill the duties which it imposes on one.[1]
  • In considering the New Testament teaching on marriage, especially in Paul’s letters, the emphasis appears to be on the maintenance of a mutual or reciprocal commitment of the husband and the wife to an exclusive, intimate, loving, and caring partnership. When these prescribed biblical attitudes between husband and wife prevail, there will be little (if any) need for resorting to God’s intended order for establishing authority within the home.[2]
  • “that the word of God may not be reviled” – some may have been abusing their freedom in Christ by violating cultural and biblical norms for marriage. Paul forbid the exercise of such freedom at the expense of gospel integrity.

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.

  • The repeated emphasis on self-control, probably comes from the abuse of Christian freedom at the expense of sound doctrine.

7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,

  • “Show yourself” – Titus was to be diligent as an example for other men in the church to follow.
  • Often times, More is caught than taught.Titus was to be a role model for these believers, especially the young men.
  • Titus’ teaching was to be marked by serveral characteristics…
  • “integrity” – free from corruption
  • “dignity” – presented with dignity, or seriousness.Titus was to take his task of teaching seriously and handle it with respect.

8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

  • “sound speech” – a healthy, persuasive, well-thought-out, and attractively delivered presentation of the Christian gospel, characterized as “speech that cannot be condemned.” Paul obviously recognized that the medium plays an important part in the effectiveness or successful communication of the message.[3] Titus, as Timothy, was to be prepared to teach “in and out of season”.

9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,

  • “Bondservants” – The socioeconomic institution of slavery was extremely widespread in both Greek and Roman society. Slavery was protected by civil law. The military conquests of Rome produced many prisoners of war who were subsequently sold as slaves. Unlike the American institution of slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, slavery in the ancient world was not racially restricted, nor did it apply primarily to uneducated or socially deprived persons. Many slaves were well-educated, skilled individuals and therefore contributed greatly to the social and economic fabric of society. The condition of the slave’s life may have ranged from holding a position of trust and relative comfort to being treated in a most cruel and heinous manner. At any rate, slaves were the material possessions of their masters, who exercised complete authority over their activities and destinies.[4]
  • Although the New Testament appears to accept slavery as part of the socioeconomic fabric of its time and does not openly condemn it, it does not sanction slavery as a God-ordained institution. The New Testament does display a much different attitude to slavery from what was common at that time. The Christian gospel offered slaves, as well as freemen, the freedom from sin and its power that all men and women need. Converted slaves were brought into the fellowship of the church as sharing equally in God’s grace [5]
  • “well-pleasing” – their obedience to their earthly masters should serve as a testimony of their love for Christ.
  • “not argumentative” – apparently this was somewhat commonplace in NT times.Paul encourages Christian slaves to live in great contrast to others.

10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

  • “not pilfering” – they were not to steal from those in their charge, but were to demonstrate an overall since of trustworthiness.
  • The focus of Paul’s teaching with regard to Christian slaves must not be missed. Against the bleak hopelessness of this system of bondage, the Christian slave’s devotion to the gospel and resulting godly attitudes and actions serve to make attractive in an unparalleled way the ultimate freedom that is only realized in Christ.[6]
  1. Motivations for Living Godly (2.11-15)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

  • God’s grace in saving all people (young, old, slave, free) should motivate us to live godly lives.l
  • “grace of God” – unmerited, unearned favor
  • “has appeared” – God’s grace was made manifest in the person and life of Jesus.
  • “for all people” – the gospel is not constrained or issued dependent upon the lives of its recipients.Therefore, salvation is found in a variety of people and cultures.
  • God’s grace toward us is based solely on his love and our total inability to meet God’s standards. God’s grace is a gift we do not deserve and cannot earn. Without God’s grace, there can be no salvation since grace is foundational to salvation[7]

12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

  • The continual presence and working of God’s grace in a person’s life brings about life change.
  • “training” – instructing and educating; The Holy Spirit leads believers into truth and godliness
  • The Holy Spirit teaches us to say no to “ungodliness and worldly passions”.
  • And to say yes to “live” godly lives.

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

  • Not only does salvation change our behavior, it also gives us a new priority and focus for living.
  • Salvation should lead the believer to focus on the eternal, not the temporal.

14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

  • See Mark 10:45
  • This verse provides a great summary statement on chapter 2.
  • “gave himself” – Christ’s death was completely voluntary
  • “for us” – Christ’s death was substitutionary
  • “redeem” – a purchase from sin
  • “purify” – the purpose of Christ’s death results in purification from sin, which allows us to become “his own possession” marked by a new zeal in pursuing righteous living.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

[1] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (301). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (302). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (304–305). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (305–306). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (306). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (308). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[7] Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary (309–310). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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