This exercise is a continuation of a series we started at Grace with our leadership while I served as interim there. For those who are not pastors or deacons, but who lead in some capacity in any arena of life, these books are a tremendous resource in Scripture. I encourage all of those who would be called leaders or who oversee to take advantage of these notes geared specifically toward leadership or roles with much responsibility.
Contrary to those who have not been purified by the blood of Christ, Titus was to speak the things which were fitting for sound doctrine. While Timothy was a young man, Titus was probably in his early fifties when this letter was written to him. Still, Paul is encouraging him to only speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. It seems that no matter how advanced we believe ourselves to be, either by age or by the amount of time we have been in church, we always need to be reminded to speak God’s words, not our own. This is why we need others in the church who will keep us doctrinally sound. For young Timothy and for Titus, Paul was their accountability. This is one reason we must have multiple elders who have the character qualifications listed in these pastoral letters. Accountability isn’t some shallow concept. Accountability does not cause us to nitpick any person’s life. It keeps us from making accusations and from gossip. It keeps us from complaining or placing blame concerning attendance or monetary giving. Accountability deals in theological truth and helps the elders stay grounded in God’s word. That is what we want. It is why we must always be introspective. It is why we live by the creed Semper Reformanda (always reforming in response to Scripture). Sound doctrine is that important. It is how we guard ourselves and the body from professing to know God, but denying Him in their deeds, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:16).
As an application of Titus’ responsibility to speak things that are fitting for sound doctrine, Paul addresses how he ought to teach older women, older men, younger women, and younger men. First, he mentions those who are older (not to be confused with the position of elder). Older men are to reject the pride the comes with age and experience. If Christ is king, then all men are humbled before His throne. No matter the breadth of a person’s experience, it cannot achieve the grace of God or accomplish the things of God. So, older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and in perseverance. Titus was to teach them to be this way.
He was also to teach the older women to, like the older men, be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine. Those older women who were teachers were to teach what was good (fitting also with sound doctrine). They were to do this so that they may encourage younger women. So, older women in the church had the responsibility to teach younger women. They were not to teach from their own experience or their own preferences or from their own life-lessons. They were to teach as Titus taught, those things that are fitting for sound doctrine.
Let us never be under the misunderstanding that Scripture treats women badly. Let us never make the mistake of growing in the kind of pride that comes with age and experience. Let us pursue always this maturity that comes through God’s word and sound doctrine. As we age, let us age in humility on our faces before God’s throne. He is king. We are depraved. He has all grace.
The application for young women and young men is parallel to that for older women and men. The Gospel, as humbling as it is for us, moves young women to love their husbands and their children in that true Gospel sense. It demands that young women be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, and subject to their own husbands. This serves the purpose of honoring the word of God- proclaiming the true Gospel in her lifestyle.
Young men were to be like the young women, sensible. In all things, they were to show themselves as examples of good deeds. They were to be pure in doctrine and dignified. They were to be sound in speech, speaking with reason and clarity and fitting with sound doctrine. This meant that they would not be domineering over their wives but would lead their wives to the cross, forgiving them for everything as Christ forgives His church. Husbands, too, proclaim the gospel with their lifestyle and Christ is king.
Slaves were to be willingly subject to their masters. This is not a condoning of slavery. It is a specific application to those who are bond-servants where slavery is a reality. Slaves proclaimed the true Gospel as they lived, adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. It wasn’t about the just or unjust nature of slavery. This was about making God known in every role that He, in His sovereign grace, appoints for us. Furthermore, the Gospel isn’t about us. It is about Christ and about making Christ known. The danger of the social gospel is this- that it pulls our attention from the work that God is doing eternally and causes us to focus on solving merely temporal problems. As leaders, it is easy to get caught up. Notice where Paul’s attention was. It was not particularly on freeing all slaves. It was on the proclamation of the Gospel through those slaves to their masters. When people come to know Christ, the Spirit convicts. Just read Paul’s letter to Philemon. Let us not have so small a vision as to only address social issues. The Gospel is bigger. Lord, make my vision greater. Give me eyes to see.
Paul clarifies by reminding Titus of those specific teachings that are the measure of sound doctrine, by which everything the teachers speak is measured. 1) the grace of God brings salvation to all men, 2) all men have the responsibility to deny ungodliness and worldly desires being righteous and godly, 3) because we failed, God redeemed us from every lawless deed, 4) God is purifying for Himself a particular people for His own possession, and 5) those people will be zealous for good deeds.
These are the things that the elders of the church are to use as the basic sound doctrines by which they speak, exhort, and reprove with all authority. Paul also instructs that we are to do so in such a way that no one disregards us, that we take on the painstaking toil of doing everything we can to plead with everyone, trying to bring some understanding of the true gospel. Pray for your elders/pastors. Let us pray for one another. This is our toil on this earth for the good of the elect and our own sanctification and preparation for what comes next.