1.  But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

Some people like to make a contrast between what they call “doctrinal” and “practical” portions of Scripture.  “Doctrinal” passages have to do with different theologies and doctrines, whereas “practical” passages have to do with how we live our lives.  The Bible, however, makes no such distinction between passages.  The opposite of “practical” is “impractical,” not “doctrinal,” and will we dare to say that any part of Scripture is “impractical”?  No, all Scripture is profitable, as the Lord tells us in II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  Moreover, as we look at this passage, we will see that the truths that Paul defines as “sound doctrine” are truths about how God wants His leaders to live, not about things that some would define as “doctrinal.”  The word “doctrine” just means “teaching,” and that is what the Lord is exhorting Titus to speak here: sound teaching.  And that teaching, as we are seeing, has to do with how we are to live today.

Titus must speak what is proper, whether or not people are happy to receive it.  Many people, even those who are believers, do not want to accept sound, practical teaching like we read here.  They prefer to accept the norms of society or the popular opinions of today as the standard whereby they should live.  Yet whether or not people are willing to receive it, God’s people need to speak what is true in regards to sound teaching.

Too many today do not teach sound teaching.  Rather, their teaching is corrupt.  Corrupt teaching is usually the result of taking God’s Word and building some doctrine upon it that is not found in it.  Sound teaching is based on entire scope of the Word of God, and takes careful note of the context of the passage.  Who was being spoken to, why, under what circumstances, in what way, under what dispensation, to what purpose and to achieve what result…all these are questions we need to answer in regard to any Scripture passage that we want to build our teaching upon.  Corrupt teaching makes no such careful consideration, but prefers to draw out of a passage whatever thought the teacher wishes to find in it.  When the Scripture is used in this manner, any number of false doctrines can be based upon it.  We need to confirm that the teachings we are taught about the Scriptures are sound.

2.  that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

These are the sound teachings that Paul wanted Titus to speak to the Cretans.  He was to teach them how the older men were to act.  Yet this word for “older men” is the same word as “elders” in the previous chapter.  This is not just advice for what we would consider to be “old men,” but rather for all men who are given a representative position over the people of God.

First of all, they are to be sober.  This does not just mean that they shouldn’t be drunk or high, but rather that they should be of sound mind.  God’s representatives need to have good minds and have a good grasp on the truth and on the realities of the world we live in.  No one who is, as we would say, “out of touch with reality,” should be set up as a leader or representative of God’s people.  Secondly, they are to be reverent.  This brings to mind the idea of being quiet or respectful.  Yet the idea here is not so much their attitude toward others as it is the attitude that others have toward them.  Elders should be the kind of people that others would listen to and respect.  We might say that they should be “respectable.”  They should not be the sort of person that no one would listen to or have any respect for.  Some older people are like that, and people would tend to look at them and say, “the old fool.”  Yet this is not the sort of elder that God wants to be in charge of His people.

Next, the elders are to be temperate.  This does not just mean in regards to alcohol, but rather has reference to all forms of self-control.  Some older people seem to think that they are exempt from controlling themselves.  I’ve had friends who have worked as waiters in restaurants, and they tell me that the worst customers are usually old people.  They tend to be critical, impatient, and demanding.  It seems that they think that their age exempts them from being polite or considerate or understanding.  Yet this is not the sort of elder that God would want in charge of His people.  Elders should be self-controlled, not led about by every whim they may have.

Finally, we learn that elders or representatives need to be sound in faith, love, and patience.  What does it mean to be “sound in faith?”  Well, we need to remember that “faith” in Greek is the same word as “belief.”  Both words are the Greek word “pistis.”  Thus this passage means that elders or representatives need to be sound in what they believe.  We do not set up leaders who do not hold with the truths of God’s Word.  Then, they need to be sound in love.  Leaders who do not care about the people they are leading are next to worthless.  And leaders whose “care” for their people only extends to what they can get out of them are equally bad leaders.  Leaders need to truly love and care for their people, not with false love but with a sound and true love for those people they have the privilege of leading and representing.

Finally, leaders or representatives need to be sound in patience.  I have experienced the necessity for this first hand.  Last year, I had the privilege of being a speaker at camp for a group of junior high and high school age kids.  While I was there I tried to be friendly to the kids, and happened to talk to a young girl that most of the other kids avoided.  I soon learned that the reason they avoided her was that she was kind of strange, and would babble on and on about inane topics such as her stuffed cat.  Well, I wanted to be a good example as a leader and show patience and love to this girl.  It wasn’t easy, and she could be a real pest.  But I know that the kids saw me doing it, and through God’s grace I hope I was able to model His patience for them in my attitude toward this socially inept little girl.  I kept thinking how Christ would look at this little girl, and how He is patient with me even when I might seem silly and pester Him with my little ideas and problems.  So that thought helped me to have patience toward this girl.  This sort of person is the reason our leaders need to be patient.

3.  the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—

The word here translated “older women” is simply the female version of the word for “elders,” “presbutis.”  This is the only occurrence of this word in the Bible, and it obviously refers to those women who are set up as leaders or representatives among God’s people.  This is a revolutionary concept, as all throughout the rest of the Scriptures, women are not allowed to be leaders.  Many point to the example of Deborah as proof that this is not so (Judges 4-5,) yet the very fact that this is the only exception that can be pointed to tends to prove the rule.  The point of having a woman in charge at this time was first of all that the men had absolutely neglected to take the leadership (consider Barak’s attitude in Judges 4:8) and that the whole point of the captivity to the Canaanites was that they were kidnapping the Israelite women to support their polygamy (see Judges 5:30.)  To take this as proving that God made women leaders is like using the days after September 11, 2001 to prove that the United States doesn’t allow airplanes to fly anymore!  We cannot take an unusual, extreme situation to prove a general rule.  The fact is that all throughout the Bible, only men are appointed leaders.  Yet now we have mention of female elders or “presbutis.”  This is a revolutionary concept, and is unique to this book in our dispensation of grace.

These female representatives also have instructions to them as how they are to act.  First of all, the women elders are to be reverent in behavior.  This word for “reverent” occurs only here, and is not the same as that used of the male elders in the previous verse.  These women are to act in a proper way for people who are the representatives of God.  They are not to act in ways that would not be appropriate for someone in this position.  What ways are those?  We can read them in the rest of the verse and in the following verses.

They are not to be slanderers.  Remember, Cretans tended to be liars, as we learned in 1:12.  God did not want His leading women to be ones who would spread lying gossip about other people.  Too often women can tend to this sort of behavior, and particularly old women whose families are grown tend seem to enjoy sitting around and sharing the latest story about someone or other with little regard to its truthfulness or whether or not it is benefiting anyone to spread it.  This sort of idle and destructive behavior is not fitting for any of God’s people, not to mention a woman who is in a position of leadership.

The women elders should not be given to much wine.  Some older people seem to have a tendency to “drown their sorrows” or to nurse their aches and pains with alcohol or pills.  The Lord does not outright condemn the use of such things, for medicines are often necessary and beneficial, but He does warn against women allowing themselves to become addicted to such things.  God’s leaders should be concerned about serving Him, not some addiction they might have.  Moreover, they need to be clear-minded, not having their judgment clouded by some drug.

Then the leading women should teach good things.  What good things, and to whom?  We will learn in the next verse.

4.  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

The representative women were to teach the younger women.  The Lord was very clear in I Timothy, the companion book to Titus (for it was written at about the same time and about many of the same topics,) that women were not to teach men.  In I Timothy 2:12, He said, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”  However, here He tells us whom women are to teach…they are to teach other, younger women.  This could be younger in age or simply younger in faith.  The best examples and the best teachers young women believers can have are women who are older than they are both in age and in faith.  The teaching of younger women is an important job that the women who are God’s leaders have.

Then the Lord tells us what older women are to teach younger women.  They are to teach them to love their husbands.  This might seem strange to us.  Our idea of marriage is that a woman goes out, finds someone she likes, falls in love with him, and gets married.  Yet this is not what the Bible means by love.  We mean by “love” a strong feeling you have toward another person.  Yet what God means by love is not so much how we feel as it is how we act.  For example, when Christ commanded His disciples to love their enemies, He did not mean that they should stand around and try to generate warm and wonderful feelings about people who treated them badly.  Rather, they were to do good to them, “bless” or speak well of them, and pray for them.  These acts were what Christ defined as “love,” not having mushy feelings about them.  In the same way, the leading women are to teach young women the things they need to do for their husbands that would be good for them and would thus be showing love to them.  Men can be a puzzle to young women, and sometimes they may have difficulty figuring out their feelings or how to please them.  It is the older women’s job to teach these young women the right things to do to show love to their husbands.

Then, the older women are to teach younger women the right things to do to show love to their children.  Young women who have little or no experience with children can often be caught without any idea what to do for them in a certain situation.  The ones who are to come to their rescue in times like this are the older women.

5.  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

The representative women are to teach the younger women to be discreet.  This has the idea of being self-controlled.  There are many ways that young women can learn to be self-controlled.  One that comes to mind is the common stereotype of the young woman who goes out and fills up all her husband’s credit cards with spurious purchases.  We laugh at this as a joke, but the fact is that some young women have a serious problem controlling themselves when it comes to spending.  In this and other things the elder women are to teach the younger women to be self-controlled.

Then they are to teach the younger women to be chaste.  This has to do with sexual purity.  Sexual purity involves, for an unmarried young woman, remaining a virgin, and for a married woman it involves staying faithful to her husband.  Too many voices in our society, including the voices of some older and supposedly “wiser” women, teach our young ladies that it is okay for them to have sex, or even for them to cheat on their husbands.  These elder women, however, are not to teach like this, but rather to teach the young women to maintain their sexual purity.

Then, they are to teach the younger women to be homemakers.  Some would claim that this command is cultural in nature.  There may be some truth to this.  Respectable women at that time could not work outside the home.  As there was no choice in the matter, what a good woman would need to do would be to be a good homemaker.  Thus I cannot say that I have any great problem with a woman working outside the home.  She is certainly free to do so if she wishes.  What I do have a problem with, however, is a woman leaving her young children and infants in the care of a stranger for forty hours a week.  Children need their parents, and younger children need their parents every waking hour of the day.  To farm them off to strangers is both cruel and neglectful.  Moreover, how are children to be trained in the ways of the Lord if their believing parents are not even raising them?  The care of children is an important issue, and if children cannot be cared for by their parents unless the woman remains a homemaker, then she should do so.

The elder women are to teach the younger women to be good.  Simple goodness is a fruit of the Spirit, and young women should strive to be good in all things.  This can also be in application to her family.  She must be good to her husband, and good to her children.

Young women are to be taught to be obedient to their own husbands.  This has to do with being subject to them, to listening to them, and to having a respectful attitude toward them.  In our day we often have a wrong idea about subjection.  We imagine a king lording it over his subjects, or a soldier standing over his beaten opponent holding a sword to his neck and saying, “Yield!”  Thus when we consider women being subject we imagine them being cast down or mistreated because of it.  We also get the idea that the Bible is telling us that women are inferior to men.  This is because of how subjection often works in our fallen world.  We consider kings as superior to their subjects, or the victors as superior to the losers.  Thus, when we see subjection, all we can think of is inferiority.  However, this is not the idea that we should have in mind when it comes to women being subjected to their husbands.  Rather, we should consider the example of Christ.

In I Corinthians 15:27-28, we read, “For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’  But when He says, ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He Who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him Who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”  This speaks of the Son being subject unto the Father.  Does this mean that the Son is inferior to the Father?  Not at all!  The Son is equal to the Father, as He Himself testified, “I and My Father are one.”  (John 10:30)  Therefore, He is not subject to Him out of inferiority.  Why, then, would the Son subject Himself to the Father?  As we read in the first part of the verse, all things are put under Him.  The Father gives Him all the authority and all the power.  He is under no obligation to subject Himself back to the Father.  Why does He do it, then?  I would say for two reasons: first of all, because He knows it is the right thing to do, and secondly, because He loves the Father and wants to honor Him by being subject to Him.  He doesn’t have to subject Himself, but He chooses to out of His Own free will.

In the same way, I believe, wives are to subject themselves to their husbands.  This has nothing to do with men being superior to women.  It is the very fact that men aren’t superior to women that makes wives being subject to their husbands be so meaningful.  They are not to be subject because they are inferior.  They are not to be subject because their husbands “beat them into submission.”  Rather, they are to be subject for the same reasons as Christ is subject to His Father: because they love their husbands and want to honor them, and because they know it is the right thing to do.  The Lord is not asking women to do anything that He wouldn’t do Himself, and He does do so in His relationship to His Father, thus being the ultimate example to us of submission.  What a privilege it is for women to model Him in this way!

There is also something for men to note in this, however.  There is no permission in the Bible for men to force their wives into subjection.  The Father never forces the Son to be subject.  In the same way, men should not try to force this on women.  If one’s wife does not choose to subject herself, then men should not try to force her to do so.  The only way this means anything is if wives do it voluntarily.  What a husband should do, however, is try to make himself the kind of husband his wife would feel safe subjecting herself to.  There are plenty of men out there that it wouldn’t be safe or smart for a wife to subject herself to.  In this case, we can hardly blame her for not doing so.  The husband’s part in this is not small: he should strive to be worthy of such trust.

Let us return to the list of things young women are to learn from the representative women.  This list ends with an explanation of why they are to learn these things: so that the Word of God will not be blasphemed.  Nothing can discredit God’s Word quite like those followers of His who do not live their lives according to its teachings and according to what is good and right.  Young women who treat their children and husbands poorly, who lack self-control, who are sexually impure, who neglect their homes, who are not good, and who disrespect their husbands, will cause those who see them acting like this and know that they are believers to blaspheme God’s Word.  This is no surprise, for their actions likewise blaspheme Him.  That is why young women must learn not to be like this.  And it is the job of the leading, representative women to teach them not to be like this.