A Commentary by John Stott

Titus: 2:2. a). The older men.

Titus’ first concern is to be for those Simpson calls ‘the greybeards of the flock’. They need special advice and encouragement. For, as Chrysostom put it, ‘there are some failings which age has, that youth has not. Some indeed it has in common with youth, but in addition it has a slowness, a timidity, a forgetfulness, an insensibility, and an irritability.’ The older men are to receive two main exhortations, which may be summed up in the words ‘dignity’ and ‘maturity’. As for the first, *the older men are to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled* (2a). That is, they are to exhibit a certain *gravitas*, which is both appropriate to their seniority and expressive of their inner self-control.

Secondly, one naturally expects older men to be *sound* or mature in every aspect of their character, not least in the three cardinal Christian virtues, namely *in faith (trusting God), in love (serving others) and in endurance (waiting patiently for the fulfilment of their Christian hope).

b). The older women (2:3-4a).

*likewise*, Paul continues, hinting at the closeness of the parallel, Titus is to *teach the older women*. Three areas of Christian conduct are singled out for them. First, they are *to be reverent in the way they live*. The Greek word for ‘reverent’ is *hieroprepes*, which occurs only here in the New Testament. It can mean either ‘befitting a holy person or thing’ or more particularly ‘like a priest(ess)’ (BAGD). Lock may well be right to suggest that older women ‘are to carry into daily life the demeanour of priestesses in a temple’. Or, as we might say, they are to ‘practice the presence of God’ and to allow their sense of his presence to permeate their whole lives.

Secondly, the older women are strenuously to avoid two moral failures with which they have sometimes been associated. They are *not to be slanderers* (back-biters or scandal-mongers) or to be *addicted to much wine*.

Thirdly, and positively, instead of using their mouths for slander, they are to use them *to teach what is good* (3b). Whom are they to teach? Their own family no doubt (children and grandchildren), but also and specially *they can train the younger women…*(4a). It is noteworthy that, although Titus is himself to teach the older men and older women (2, 3), and later the younger men (6), it is the older women who are given the task of teaching the younger women. This policy makes special sense when the presbyter-bishop is a bachelor, but may also be wise if he is married. There is a great need in every congregation for the ministry of mature women, whom *The Book of Common Prayer* calls ‘holy and godly matrons’. They can share their wisdom and experience with the rising generation, prepare brides for their wedding, and later advise them about parenthood.

c). The younger women (2:4b-5).

The younger women are to be trained by the older women *to love their husbands and children* (4b). Since both Greek words include the term ‘love’, this repetition should be preserved in the translation, e.g. ‘how they should love their husbands and love their children’ (JB). Thus love is the first and foremost basis of marriage, not so much the love of emotion and romance, still less of eroticism, but rather of sacrifice and service. The young wives are to be ‘trained’ in this, which implies that it can be brought under their control.

The younger women are also to be trained *to be self-controlled and pure, and to be busy at home.* The AV expression ‘keepers at home’ is a mistake. It renders *oikouroi*, whereas the better reading is *oikourgoi* which means ‘working at home’ (BAGD). It would not be legitimate to base on this word either a stay-at-home stereotype for all women, or a prohibition of wives being also professional women. What is rather affirmed is that if a woman accepts the vocation of marriage, and has a husband and children, she will love and not neglect them. J.B.Phillip’s word ‘home lovers’ sums up well what Paul has in mind. What he is opposing is not a wife’s pursuit of a profession, but ‘the habit of being idle and going about from house to house’ (1 Tim.5:13; Tit.1:11).

Next, younger women are *to be kind*, perhaps in the context meaning ‘hospitable’, *and to be subject to their husbands…* This ‘subjection’ contains no notion of inferiority and no demand for obedience, but rather a recognition that, within the equal value of the sexes, God has established a created order which includes a masculine ‘headship’, not of authority, still less of autocracy, but of responsibility and loving care. And one of the reasons the younger women are to be encouraged to comply with this teaching is *so that no-one will malign the word of God* (5b). Christian marriages and Christian homes, which exhibit a combination of sexual equality and complementarity, beautifully commend the gospel; those which fall short of this ideal bring the gospel into disrepute.

Tomorrow: Titus 2:6. d). The young men.


The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Titus. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.