A Commentary by John Stott
Titus: 2:6. d). The young men.
*Similarly*, Paul continues, perceiving a parallel between the younger men and the younger women in the self-control expected of both, *encourage the young men to be self-controlled* (6). Thus the young men are to be urged to develop one quality only, that of self-mastery. ‘In this pregnant world’, Bishop Ellicott comments, ‘a young man’s duty is simply but comprehensively enunciated.’ For doubtless Paul is thinking of the control of temper and tongue, of ambition and avarice, and especially of bodily appetites, including sexual urges, so that Christian young men remain committed to the unalterable Christian standard of chastity before marriage and fidelity after it.
Some valuable lessons can be learned from this verse. First, self-mastery is possible, even in young men. since there would be no point in exhorting them to an impossibility, Secondly, encouragement is an appropriate means to secure such self-control, especially if it is the sympathetic, supportive exhortation of one young man to another within the solidarity of the Christian brotherhood. Thirdly, such an encouragement must be accompanied by a consistent example, which is exactly what Paul comes to next, namely the example which Titus must set.
e). Titus himself (2:7-8).
*In everything set them an example (‘a model’, NRSV) by doing what is good* (7a). We human beings seem to be imitative by nature. We need models; they give us direction, challenge and inspiration. Paul did not hesitate to offer himself, as an apostle, for the churches to imitate. ‘Follow my example,’ he wrote, ‘as I follow the example of Christ.’ (1 Cor.11:1; cf.4:16; Phil.3:17; 2 Thess.3:7, 9). And Paul expected both Timothy (1 Tim.4:12) and Titus (2:7) to provide a model which the churches could follow. The word he used was *typos*, a prototype or pattern. We are familiar with the idea that Old Testament characters are ‘types’ for us to learn from. What happened to them, we are told, ‘occurred as examples’ (1 Cor.10:6, *typoi*), and was recorded in Scripture as a warning or exhortation to us (1 Cor. 10:11b). But God has not provided us with dead models only (whether patriarchs in the Old Testament or apostles in the New); he wants us to have living models as well. And chief among these should be the presbyter-bishops of the local church.
Titus was, however, to influence the young men of Crete not only by his example, but also by his teaching. Teaching and example, the verbal and the visual, always form a powerful combination. And his teaching was to have three characteristics, namely *integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned* (7b-8a). *Integrity* translates *aphthoria*, which literally means ‘uncorruptness’. It may well allude to Titus’ motives in ministry. *Seriousness*, on the other hand, clearly refers to his manner in teaching, while *soundness of speech* means that the matter of his instruction must be wholesome and true. Perhaps the most important emphasis here is that people will not take serious subjects seriously unless there is a due seriousness in the preacher’s manner and delivery. As Richard Baxter put it, ‘Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest… You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them.’
In this century Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones made the same point. Having preached a sermon in Westminster Chapel on the wrath of God, and having called it ‘a controlling conception’ of Romans, where it occurs ten times, he said:
I confess freely, I cannot understand a jocular evangelist…Go back and read the lives of the men whom God has used in the mightiest manner, and you will invariably find that they were serious men, sober men, men with the fear of the Lord in them.
Titus, then, was to combine purity of motive, soundness of matter and seriousness of manner, *so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us* (8b).
|Tomorrow: Titus 2:9-10. f) Slaves.|
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.