Titus 2:1, “But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching.”

The second chapter of Titus starts out somewhat innocuously with Paul instructing Titus not to teach anything that isn’t consistent with sound teaching or doctrine.  The idea behind “consistent” is that it’s what is becoming or proper, it is how his teaching is to be distinguished.  So naturally, our curiosity wants to know—what exactly is this sound teaching or doctrine that we should be in agreement with?

When we read what follows, it may seem a little confusing at first.  Paul is giving instructions in what Titus should teach four specific groups but no specific doctrine is mentioned, he simply addresses the proper character and behavior that should be present if it is to be consistent with sound teaching.  We see a glimpse of Paul’s intentions at the beginning of his letter.  In Titus 1:1, Paul identifies himself as a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ—"to build up that faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.”
Paul had a similar conversation with Timothy in 1 Tim 6:3, sharing with him the guidelines of what constitutes “sound doctrine or teaching.”  First, it “must agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And second, it “must promote godliness.”  If either of these aren’t present, something within the message is unsound.  In fact, Paul goes on to say that the bearer of that message is “conceited and understands nothing.”  Paul’s efforts and goal are to teach and train—to disciple—the church, to nurture their faith and their knowledge of the truth so that they may become godly.  In Paul’s mind, any teaching that doesn’t contribute to the godly formation of their character or produce the fruit of godliness in their actions isn’t sound.

Additionally, Paul’s encouragement to live in a godly manner addresses another issue—that our behavior directly impacts how the message of God, the gospel, is portrayed and seen by others. If there is inconsistency between how we live and the sound teaching of God’s word, we risk His word being slandered (2:5).  When Paul told Titus that his message “is to be sound beyond reproach”, it was based on his previous statement to “Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching” (2:7-8). It’s of utmost importance that he realizes that his example is linked to his teaching.  Others are observing and it must be consistent in every way so that the message of his teaching is the same message that his life demonstrates.

Paul continues that when both messages (the words of our teaching and our actions) are joined together in practice, two things happen.  One, even our opponents will be challenged because they will have nothing bad to say about us.  And two, it demonstrates utter and complete faithfulness “so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything” (2:10).  In both cases, it makes sure that the gospel’s message is clear and attractive to all in need of the gospel—“for the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people” (2:11).

In verses 12-14, this gospel message circles back to what sound doctrine is.  It promotes godliness as it “teaches (instructs) us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  And it also agrees with the sound teaching of Jesus, that “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.”

So what are we to do with this exhortation of Paul to Titus?  The same thing Paul told Titus in the first verse, he now closes with in verse 15, “You must say these things”—it is critically important. Then you must follow that up with “encouraging and rebuking with all authority”—insuring that what you teach is actually being put into effect.  And finally, let no one disregard (or ignore) you”—it’s not optional but essential for the redeemed and God’s purpose for us.

by Mark Ott, Elder

No Comments






no tags