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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Titus 2

Verse 1

‘But you, speak the things which befit the sound doctrine,’

Titus is to ensure that he gives sound teaching which fits in with and is worthy of sound doctrine, especially with regard to the behaviour of different members of the church. ‘Sound doctrine’ is doctrine that is true and contributes to wellbeing.

Verses 1-8

SECTION 1. Titus Must Set The Churches of Crete On The Right Path In the Light Of the False Teachers Who Are There (Titus 1:5 to Titus 2:8 ).

In this section Titus learns that he must appoint elders, ensure that the church receive sound doctrine, warn them against false teaching, and require of them true Christian living. The fact that elders needed to be appointed points to a church which was growing throughout the island.

Overall Analysis

a Titus is to set things in order and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5).

b The moral requirements for elder/bishops (Titus 1:6-8),

c The need to hold to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).

d The false teachers, ‘many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, who are mercenary and whose mouths must be stopped (Titus 1:10-11).

e “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons”, so that the Christians must purify themselves from such behaviour by being sound in what their faith requires of them and by not being like them (Titus 1:12-13).

f They must not give heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth (Titus 1:14).

e The pure are compared with the impure, the former being pure, the latter defiled (Titus 1:15).

d Some profess to know God, but by their works they deny him and are abominable and disobedient (Titus 1:16).

c Titus is to speak the things which befit the sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

b The moral requirements for all believers, male and female, young and old (Titus 2:2-6).

a In everything Titus is to show himself an example of good works, showing uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech which cannot be condemned as regards his doctrine so as to shame any detractors (Titus 2:7-8).

Note that in ‘a’ Timothy is to set things right, and appoint elders, and in the parallel he is to show himself a good example in behaviour and words. In ‘b’ we are given the moral requirements for elders/bishops, and in the parallel the moral requirements for the church members (compare the similar pattern in 1 Timothy). In ‘c’ he must ensure that he preaches sound doctrine, and in the parallel the same applies. In ‘d’ he warns against false teachers who are also mercenary, and in the parallel he warns against who reveal themselves to be abominable and disobedient. In ‘e’ the Christians are to purify themselves from the behaviour of ordinary Cretans, and in the parallel the pure are compared with the defiled. In ‘f’ they are not to take heed to false preachers.

Verses 1-8

SECTION 1. Titus Must Set The Churches of Crete On The Right Path In the Light Of the False Teachers Who Are There (Titus 1:5 to Titus 2:8 ).

In this section Titus learns that he must appoint elders, ensure that the church receive sound doctrine, warn them against false teaching, and require of them true Christian living. The fact that elders needed to be appointed points to a church which was growing throughout the island.

Overall Analysis

a Titus is to set things in order and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5).

b The moral requirements for elder/bishops (Titus 1:6-8),

c The need to hold to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).

d The false teachers, ‘many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, who are mercenary and whose mouths must be stopped (Titus 1:10-11).

e “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons”, so that the Christians must purify themselves from such behaviour by being sound in what their faith requires of them and by not being like them (Titus 1:12-13).

f They must not give heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth (Titus 1:14).

e The pure are compared with the impure, the former being pure, the latter defiled (Titus 1:15).

d Some profess to know God, but by their works they deny him and are abominable and disobedient (Titus 1:16).

c Titus is to speak the things which befit the sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

b The moral requirements for all believers, male and female, young and old (Titus 2:2-6).

a In everything Titus is to show himself an example of good works, showing uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech which cannot be condemned as regards his doctrine so as to shame any detractors (Titus 2:7-8).

Note that in ‘a’ Timothy is to set things right, and appoint elders, and in the parallel he is to show himself a good example in behaviour and words. In ‘b’ we are given the moral requirements for elders/bishops, and in the parallel the moral requirements for the church members (compare the similar pattern in 1 Timothy). In ‘c’ he must ensure that he preaches sound doctrine, and in the parallel the same applies. In ‘d’ he warns against false teachers who are also mercenary, and in the parallel he warns against who reveal themselves to be abominable and disobedient. In ‘e’ the Christians are to purify themselves from the behaviour of ordinary Cretans, and in the parallel the pure are compared with the defiled. In ‘f’ they are not to take heed to false preachers.

Verse 2

‘That aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patient endurance.’

The older men (greybeards) are to be temperate. The word nephalios literally meant sober as opposed to those who overindulged in wine, and then soberly behaved generally, that is behaving in moderation. The point is that when a man has reached a certain age he ought to have learned what are, and what are not, legitimate pleasures. They should have learned that the pleasures of self-indulgence cost far more than they are worth. Older men are to be grave (semnos). This is descriptive of the seriousness which comes with age, when a man recognises, the closer that he gets to eternity, the more he must live in the light of it. The idea is not for him to be a sombre killjoy, but simply a man who thinks before he acts, and is not frivolous about life. He must be sober-minded and masters of themselves (sophron). This describes the man whose mind has everything under control. He has learned wisdom over the years and has control over his passions and instincts. The overall idea of the three adjectives is that the older men should have lost the recklessness and thoughtlessness of youth. It is interesting that while younger men might have faith, hope and love, these greybeards have faith love and patient endurance. Like Paul in 2 Timothy they are waiting patiently for God to call them, rather than expecting His second coming in their lifetime.

So they should also be sound in faith, love and patient endurance. First they must be sound in faith. Their maturity should enable them to trust God fully the more they experience of Him. The closer they live to Christ and the more that they walk in his ways the greater their faith will grow. Secondly they must be sound in love. They must avoid being critical and faultfinding, but have compassion and concern for one another and for younger members, increasing in tolerance and sympathy and seeking to bear the burdens of others, so fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2). Thirdly they must be sound in patient endurance thereby giving strength to, and being an example to, younger Christians who see their constancy, and meanwhile themselves growing ever closer to the Lord (compare Romans 5:1-5).

Verse 3

‘That aged women likewise be reverent in demeanour, not slanderers nor in bondage to much wine, teachers of what is good,’

The demeanour of older women is to be reverent and dignified. They are to demonstrate to all by their attitudes the importance of sacred things, so that those who come in touch with them become aware of Christ in them, and are themselves moved to worship. Such women are often the powerhouse of the church through prayer. They are not to be slanderers, gossips or talebearers, but should always rather look for and talk about the good in others, avoiding criticism, except when it is genuinely constructive and helpful, and rather spreading love. They are not to be on the bottle (a Cretan attribute). They are to teach what is good, aiming to help and uplift, guide and encourage, rather than dampening down all with whom they come in contact. Their ministry is mainly to be to the younger women as the next verse shows.

Verses 4-5

‘That they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.’

Above all they are to train the younger women into what they should be. This was an especially important ministry in a society where such younger women would have little contact with men. Today this ministry can be fulfilled in Sunday School teaching and women’s groups.

The younger women are to be trained up to love their husbands and their children. This is not referring to teaching them natural emotion, but to how they are to exercise that love in the home by being a good helpmeet to their husbands and by bringing up their children wisely because they love them. They teach them how to show their love. They are also to teach them to be moderate and thoughtful, chaste and pure, and to act as good home makers. This was especially important in a place where false teachers were upsetting households (Titus 1:11). By doing this they will be fulfilling their ministry, as described in 1 Timothy 2:15, of bringing up children ready for the Lord’s service. They are to be kind and submissive (that is, paying them due respect) to their husbands lest the word of God be blasphemed. The point here is that while in the Christian church women were to be seen as equals before God (Galatians 3:28), they must not by their behaviour bring discredit on Christ in a world where women were expected to be discreet and stay at home with little male contact. Were they not to do so the church would become seen as libertine, and be ostracised.

Verse 6

‘The younger men likewise exhort to be sober-minded,’

The younger men meanwhile must be exhorted to be in full control of themselves and sensible. They must be masters of themselves in Christ, fit for the Master’s use (2 Timothy 2:21).

Verses 7-8

‘In all things showing yourself a pattern (example) of good works; in your doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech, which cannot be condemned, that he who is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of us.’

Meanwhile Titus himself must be a good example to all. His doctrine (or his way of teaching) must be pure and uncorrupt, he must be seen to be serious, and what he says is not to be open to condemnation, for he must be wise, true and discreet in all that he says (compare James 3:1-2). He is to be the example that all can follow (compare 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17).

‘Having no evil thing to say of us.’ The point is not that people will not say evil of us but that we must give them no occasion for doing so.

Verses 9-10

‘Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing to them in all things; not gainsaying, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.’

He is to exhort bondservants to be in proper subjection to their masters. The stronger ‘be in subjection’ as compared with the milder ‘obey’ (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22) may suggest that there was a tendency in Crete for Christian bondservants to exercise their new freedom in Christ by becoming arrogant. Rather they are to seek to be well-pleasing to their masters in all things, not speaking against them or going against them or purloining what is theirs, but rather showing true fidelity towards them. They are to behave towards them as they would towards Christ, serving them in singleness of heart, and being content with their own position (although accepting freedom if it is offered - Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 7:20-23). In other words they are to be model servants for Christ’s sake. This is, of course a general instruction, and would not apply to any attempt by their masters to prevent them from being Christians. By this behaviour Christ will be honoured, and the spread of the Gospel will not be hindered. In this way they are to ‘adorn the teaching of God our Saviour’ in everything that they do, thereby bringing honour to God. For what is important is not this world and its status, but the next. The word ‘adorn’ means to present in such a way as to reveal its full beauty. Men should see their good behaviour and glorify their Father Who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

We may equally apply this idea to modern employment, although that is not to say that we should not react against unfairness and mismanagement in a proper way, for that would not be seen as rocking the foundation of our society and making us enemies of the people, or, in this modern world, as dishonouring to Christ, as long as it is done in the right spirit.

Verses 9-15

SECTION 2.

God’s People Must Live In The World As Those Who Are Looking For His Coming, And As Those Who Have Experienced His Saving Work (Titus 2:9 to Titus 3:11 ).

Overall Analysis.

a Christian bondservants are to be in proper subjection and are to conduct themselves towards their masters in a way that is well-pleasing (Titus 2:9).

b They must not be speaking against them or appropriating for themselves what is their master’s (2:10a).

c For their behaviour is to be such as will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour (Titus 2:10 b).

d For God is working out His saving purpose so as to(Titus redeem us through the One Who gave Himself for us and, as we turn from sin, make us righteous in life as we look for the blessed hope of the coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

e Titus is to speak and exhort and reprove with all authority, not behaving in such a way that men will despise him (Titus 2:15).

f The Cretans are to be put in mind to be in subjection to rulers and authorities and to be obedient to every good work (Titus 3:1).

e The Cretans are to speak evil of none and to be positively gentle and humble towards all (Titus 3:2).

d For when we were sinful God our Saviour revealed His kindness and love towards us, regenerating us not according to our deserts but saving us in accordance with His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit which He poured out richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being put in the right by grace we might have hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

c Their behaviour is to be such as befits those who have believed God (Titus 3:8)

b Titus must shun foolish questions and strifes and fighting (Titus 3:9).

a While promoters of dissension are to be rejected after two admonitions (Titus 3:10-11).

Note that in ‘a’ bondservants are to be in subjection and well pleasing, while in the parallel anyone who promote dissension is to be rejected as not well pleasing. In ‘b’ The bondservants are not to be argumentative or dishonest, and in the parallel Titus is to shun foolish questions, strife and fighting. In ‘c’ their behaviour is to be of such as will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and in the parallel their behaviour must be that of those who believe in God. In ‘d’ we have described the great saving activity in the Name of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and in the parallel we have described that that great saving activity is through Jesus Christ our Saviour. In ‘e’ Titus is to speak good and not let men despise him, and in the parallel the Cretans are not to speak evil of any but to reveal good. In ‘f’ we have the central fact that Cretans are to be in subjection to rulers and authorities and to be obedient to every good work

This section then divides into two parts.

Verses 9-15

SECTION 2.

God’s People Must Live In The World As Those Who Are Looking For His Coming, And As Those Who Have Experienced His Saving Work (Titus 2:9 to Titus 3:11 ).

Overall Analysis.

a Christian bondservants are to be in proper subjection and are to conduct themselves towards their masters in a way that is well-pleasing (Titus 2:9).

b They must not be speaking against them or appropriating for themselves what is their master’s (2:10a).

c For their behaviour is to be such as will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour (Titus 2:10 b).

d For God is working out His saving purpose so as to(Titus redeem us through the One Who gave Himself for us and, as we turn from sin, make us righteous in life as we look for the blessed hope of the coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

e Titus is to speak and exhort and reprove with all authority, not behaving in such a way that men will despise him (Titus 2:15).

f The Cretans are to be put in mind to be in subjection to rulers and authorities and to be obedient to every good work (Titus 3:1).

e The Cretans are to speak evil of none and to be positively gentle and humble towards all (Titus 3:2).

d For when we were sinful God our Saviour revealed His kindness and love towards us, regenerating us not according to our deserts but saving us in accordance with His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit which He poured out richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being put in the right by grace we might have hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

c Their behaviour is to be such as befits those who have believed God (Titus 3:8)

b Titus must shun foolish questions and strifes and fighting (Titus 3:9).

a While promoters of dissension are to be rejected after two admonitions (Titus 3:10-11).

Note that in ‘a’ bondservants are to be in subjection and well pleasing, while in the parallel anyone who promote dissension is to be rejected as not well pleasing. In ‘b’ The bondservants are not to be argumentative or dishonest, and in the parallel Titus is to shun foolish questions, strife and fighting. In ‘c’ their behaviour is to be of such as will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and in the parallel their behaviour must be that of those who believe in God. In ‘d’ we have described the great saving activity in the Name of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and in the parallel we have described that that great saving activity is through Jesus Christ our Saviour. In ‘e’ Titus is to speak good and not let men despise him, and in the parallel the Cretans are not to speak evil of any but to reveal good. In ‘f’ we have the central fact that Cretans are to be in subjection to rulers and authorities and to be obedient to every good work

This section then divides into two parts.

Verse 11

‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,’

And the reason that they are to behave like this is because of the tremendous event that has taken place. It is because the undeserved, unmerited favour of God has appeared, active on their behalf and bringing the open offer of salvation to all men, master and bondservant alike. A far greater freedom is thus now on offer besides which earthly freedom fades. For our Saviour Jesus Christ has given Himself for us so that we might be His saved people, and live like it (Titus 2:14). What Isaiah had promised, has now come (Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 45:17; Isaiah 46:13; and often). And it has come through God’s Servant (Isaiah 49:6). God has now acted in the world as never before.

Verse 12

‘Instructing us, to the intent that, denying (renouncing) ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world,’

And this salvation requires of us that we deny, renounce totally, all ‘ungodliness’, that is, all lack of faithfulness to either God or man, and that we turn our back on all worldly desires, (looking for gain or status in this world), rather living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world as our Saviour Himself did. The thought is not that we should not seek ordinary advancement. It is that it should not be the controlling factor of our lives. For our lives are to be lived in all seriousness in the light of things above as befits a servant of God, revealed in fulfilling Christ’s teaching on righteousness as found for example in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), in seeking to be pleasing to God in every way (Colossians 1:10), and in truly worshipping Him.

Verse 13

‘Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,’

And we are to do this in the light of His coming and what will come about then. For we are to do it looking for our blessed hope. And what is that blessed hope, it is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, that wonderful time when He will come in His glory, and all that is wrong will be put right, with every man receiving His God-appointed status, whether it be good or bad (Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We are to be like servants busy about the house, with sleeves rolled up and light burning, ever expectantly awaiting their Lord’s return (Luke 12:35-46). This was Jesus’ theme in the Sermon on the Mount, where all His injunctions were given in the light of His coming, and He required of us, in the light of that, that we do the will His Father Who is in Heaven (Matthew 7:21-27). It should be the expectant hope of every believer.

Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ For the One Who is coming is the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6), and He is the One Who has become our Saviour. God our Saviour (Titus 2:10) and Jesus Christ our Saviour, are as One. Our God is our Saviour, coming to set us free from sin. The construction ‘the great God and our Saviour’ indicates one and the same person (compare Romans 9:5). This is confirmed by the early Greek fathers, although not by the versions, and a similar phrase is found of the deification of the Ptolemies where the oneness cannot be in doubt. A similar construction is also found in Plutarch, for nouns linked by the same article generally designate the same subject unless they are proper names. Furthermore we never find in the New Testament the idea of a coming epiphaneia of God as such, and to speak of ‘the great God’ would be unusual if it simply referred to God Himself. It is because he is linking Jesus with God that he calls Him ‘the great God’ (Isaiah 9:6)

‘Appearing (epiphaneia).’ Compare 2Th 2:8 ; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2Ti 4:8 ; 1 Peter 1:7. The word indicates appearing in divine manifestation, and in the same way as a great King making a ceremonial royal visit. It points to the open revelation of His glory.

Verse 14

‘Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works.’

But the One Who is coming is not just the mighty King and Judge, He is also the One Who gave Himself for us in order to buy us back to Himself (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19) and pay our ransom (Mark 10:45) by the offering of Himself. The word translated ‘redeem’ means ‘to pay a ransom’. He is the Redeemer, the One Who pays our debts so that we might go free (Colossians 2:13-14). He is our Saviour, the One Who brings forgiveness and will make us completely whole (see Matthew 1:21). He ‘gave Himself for our sins’ (Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6), and ‘suffered for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). For ‘to redeem us from all iniquity’ compare Psalms 130:8.

‘Gave Himself for us’, that is, on our behalf. He did it for us (compare 1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). It was as a sacrificial offering (see Rom 8:3 ; 1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:14).

‘And purify to Himself.’ He not only redeems, He cleanses. See 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 John 1:7. Elsewhere we learn that this is partly accomplished through His word (Ephesians 5:25-26), and by turning from unrighteousness to righteousness (Isaiah 1:15-16). But it is primarily through coming to His light and through the shedding of His blood (1 John 1:7).

‘A people for his own possession, zealous of good works.’ And His purpose in all this is in order to produce a ‘people for His own possession’. A similar phrase occurs in Exodus 19:5 where it is used by God to indicate a treasure which He has set apart for Himself. These are to be His own people, His own treasure. They are the true people of God (2 Corinthians 6:16-18), springing as a refined remnant from the old (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-4), the new nation replacing the old (Matthew 21:43), the new branches of the true vine from which old fruitless branches have been cut off (John 15:1-6), the revivified olive tree (Romans 11:14-16), the new household of God (Ephesians 2:11-22), the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). They are His jewels (Malachi 3:16-18). But note carefully why He has made them His own possession, a people set apart for Him. It is so that they may be zealous of good works, eager to participate in and constantly maintain good works. It is so that they may be the light of the world, bringing glory to God by what they do (Matthew 5:16).

Verse 15

‘These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise you.’

These things Titus is to speak and exhort, and if necessary he must reprove those in the Cretan church who need it, with all authority. He is not to allow anyone to despise him, or override him, for these are the truths on which the Gospel is based, and will enable the Cretans to adorn the Gospel.

The word for ‘authority’ occurs three times in the Pastoral letters and four times in Paul’s other letters, and nowhere else in the New Testament. It is a typical Pauline emphasis.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Titus 2". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/titus-2.html. 2013.