Last week we began our journey through the Epistle to Titus. In the introduction I asked three questions… Can churches be led effectively in a day and age where so many spiritual leaders/Pastors of churches have fallen into sin by either abusing their power and authority, living secretive and sinful lives, or depending solely on their abilities, personalities, and gimmicks? Then I asked can a good church exist in a culture that so clearly and willingly embraces and celebrates all things ungodly and anti-Christian? Lastly, I asked is there such a thing as good Christians who live in a highly secularized and sexualized world that is continually vying for you affection, minds, and loyalty? I addressed the first question last week as we looked at Titus chapter 1. Today, I will address the second question as we look at Titus chapter 2.
The Apostle Paul addresses these questions in his letter to Titus. Now it is important for us to keep the context of this letter at the forefront because we need to be continually reminded who Paul is addressing when writing to Titus. At some point Titus was chosen to appoint elders to the churches in Crete. This was a challenge because Christian followers on the Island Crete were having difficulty living Christ- honoring lives. Their commitment to Christ meant changing the way they lived as they transformed into the image of Christ and this was not the case. Unfortunately, Paul receives a report that the Cretan Christians were looking and acting more and more like the pagan god Zeus than they were Jesus. In addition, these young churches in Crete had come under the destructive teaching of some so-called Christian leaders—who were Jewish born Cretans. They claimed to follow Jesus, but they also demanded gentile Christians become circumcised in order to be true followers of Jesus Christ. These leaders were also engrossed in Cretan culture, and ended up endorsing the immoral values of Crete and ultimately creating and teaching bad doctrine which led to churches and their congregations looking more Pagan than Christian.
Titus 2:1 - 8
In Chapter 1 Paul talks about the qualifications of a leader in the church. He concludes by calling out and contrasting the bad leaders and false teachers in the Cretan Churches. Now, Paul turns his attention to Titus, the one chosen to appoint elders, and exhorts him to teach what is sound
Vs 1: Paul gets very personal in this verse and Titus cannot take this task very lightly. As a leader, if he is going to identify, appoint, and train elders, he must also be above reproach in his speech and teaching. Thus, Titus is commanded by Paul to promote living lives that reflect wholesome teaching or as some versions read, sound doctrine or sound teaching. What are these wholesome teachings and sound doctrine? They are teachings written and approved by the apostles. These teachings are intended to protect the church from heresy and point churches in the right direction as how they should function in Christ-honoring ways. Paul most likely refers to the teaching of Salvation by grace through faith and the importance of living God-honoring lives that reflect the gospel they proclaim.
Vs 2: Keep in mind that what we view as older men today, was probably not the same age group as we would consider old today. Life expectancy was much shorter in the Roman empire. So, there is evidence that Paul had in mind the age of about forty or fifty and upward.
Paul begins by telling Titus to teach older men to…
Vs 3: Titus must address the elderly women in the same pastoral manner that he does the men. So, he says, “Similarly” or “likewise” the older women are to display Christ in their behavior and character. In instructing, Paul points to the aspects of a Christian woman’s demeanor and presence, in both public and in private life. They must honor God in all they say and do. Thus, Titus is to instruct the women to honor God in their…
Vs 4 - 5: Paul declares the calling and purpose for the older women of the church as they are called to teach and instruct younger women in their congregations. This is a call to mentoring and discipleship. Elderly women are to train and teach the younger women. Now, some people may think that what they teach is out-of-date and archaic but let us remember who Paul is writing to. The women of Crete were not your typical submissive, quiet, and subservient women. They were “liberated”, carefree, and promiscuous. Paul is encouraging Titus to exhort the mature Christian women on how to teach to respect the institute of marriage, to love their husbands and children, to be faithful, and to honor God in all they do. When they do this, they are displaying a transformed Christian life to the outside world who does not and cannot fathom or understand why someone would choose to live this way in a “liberated” free society and culture.
Vs 6 - 8: In the same manner the older men are to encourage the young men to live wisely and with integrity. Titus is to teach and live in the truth. He is to let everything he does reflect the integrity of his teaching… practice what you preach. Titus is commanded to let the truth speak for itself, so that nobody can criticize him and call him a hypocrite.
Titus 2:9 - 15
Vs 9 - 10: It is important to note that Paul is not promoting slavery in verses 9 & 10. Keeping in context the commands are to be looked at in the setting of ordinary daily life in the first century. The reality was that slavery was a fact of life and there was no point pretending it wasn’t. According to theologian N.T. Wright, “You could no more abolish slavery overnight in the first century than you could invent space travel. The fact that you might hope it would happen one day, and wished it would, wouldn’t justify giving slaves the impression that now they were Christians they could disobey their masters—any more than a futuristic fantasy about space travel would have justified Paul in selling tickets to Mars. The early Christians worked within what was possible at the time, while constantly lodging protests against abuses within the system and, where they could, against the system itself.”
The reality was that slaves, even though Christians, should not consider themselves as above the law. Again N.T. Wright says, “Some might think, ‘Because my master isn’t a Christian, and I am, this gives me a right to tell him what’s what—after all, I’m a servant of the King of the World and he isn’t!’ What message would that send to the watching world of Crete or anywhere else? It would indicate that this new cult was simply making trouble and ought to be stamped out. No: Christian slaves, like Christians in every walk of life, must be good advertisements, good ambassadors, for the teaching of God our Savior.” I am not going to address the issue of slavery in the Bible, other than to say that slavery was not promoted in the NT as much as it was a reality of the time. We will look at the issues of race and racism in a few weeks.
Vs 11 – 15: Since the Cretan’s have heard the gospel of grace and have been saved, they are called to live changed lives. However, they are not called to disconnect from the world, but they are called to live in a culture and in a manner that is godly, wise, and in devotion to God. They are to influence culture, not be influenced by culture. They are to live in the hope for their future glory when Jesus is revealed. He gave his life so we can live our lives for his glory, he has cleansed us from all unrighteousness and he has made us his children, so we can live committed lives for Him and doing good deeds for His glory.
Paul concludes chapter 2 by reminding Titus that he MUST teach the truth and encourage the Cretan Christians to do them. He then tells him that he has the authority to discipline as necessary so do not let people take what he says lightly.
As we conclude today, I would like to touch on four qualities of a Church that does good according to Titus Chapter 2. A church who takes on these four qualities not only makes an impact in the community, but it also impacts the culture and all within it. So, I want to conclude by answering the question, “Can a good church exist in a culture that so clearly and willingly embraces and celebrates all things ungodly and anti-Christian?”
A Good Church is effective in a secular culture when…
My challenge today is twofold,
1. Elderly men and women, look around… There are many young people in this building. Pray about how you can invest in their lives and help disciple and mentor these young people to become grounded believers who live their lives for the glory of God.
2. Young people, look around… There are many elderly in this building who love you and pray for you. Pray about how you can be a recipient of the life experiences, values, wisdom of the elderly in our church.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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