In the second chapter of Titus we see Paul focus teachings to different groups of people. These groups came down to older men, older women and slaves, with a section on what the older women should teach the younger women included. None of these groups are the elders that were mentioned in the previous chapter. Before discussing what is actually taught to the different groups it is important to look at the reason for this section.
There are two places referring the purpose for these instructions. The first one is that these are proper for sound doctrine. The second reason is alluded to twice in the chapter, the first time occurring in verse 8 where the purpose is so that no one has anything evil to say about them and the second time in verse 10 which talks about making the teaching of God as savior attractive. Different translations do have different words for these sections, but they all amount to the same meaning.
For older men, they are to be taught to be sober, reverent, sound in faith, in love and in patience. This list does vary significantly with different translations, and so it is important to look at each of the terms to see what the meaning would come down to. Sober is also translated as temperate, sober minded, and then as self-control. Next is reverent which is also translated as grave, dignified, worthy of respect. Then comes the phrase ‘sound in faith’ which is kept the same in virtually every translation. The idea of ‘sound in faith’ starts a new subsection in the list where the rest of the terms are followed by the word in which implies we are also to be sound in love and patience (also endurance or steadfastness) as well. This is important because it means that people could also be unsound in love, faith and patience.
To provide application in life, it can be helpful to look at where love is not shown as love but a lesser shadow of love. A good example comes to mind is my newborn daughter. All she really does is eat, sleep and make daddy change her diaper. With that in mind, we have to feed her every 3 hours or for her to grow. However, she often wants to sleep past her feeding time. So while she looks so peaceful sleeping and I want to do the kind thing and let her sleep, I often need to do the more loving thing and wake her up so she can get the nutrients she needs. This is a very basic example of what a shadow of love would be, but to make it more applicable to anyone lets look at another situation. If you had a friend who was also a Christian and saying they started dating someone. If they started thinking about moving in together despite not being married it may at first seem loving to want to “encourage them” but really you are doing nothing but promoting their sin. As Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (NIV) Therefore in that situation the loving thing would actually be to intervene in your friend’s decision with love and wisdom and hopefully spare them from sin.
To the older women, it starts with the word likewise, or similarly depending on the translation, which implies that the older women should learn the same things as the men, and then goes on to give a couple extra instructions. Namely that their behavior or demeanor should be reverent which is simply about honoring God with their attitude. Then Paul goes on to correct two actions common among the Cretans, who Titus was ministering to: namely slander and drinking much wine. We can assume Paul was correcting an action here because early in the letter during chapter 1 there is a reference to the general attitude of Cretans being “liars, evil brutes and gluttons” (1:12) which Paul has already rebuked so that they might be sound in faith. What would you know? This idea of being sound in faith is a recurring theme.
There is one more command to the older women and that is they would be teaching the younger women to love their husbands, to be discrete (also goes with the idea of not being a slanderer), chaste (or pure) to be a homemaker. Homemaker is more often translated as working at home or a variation of that referring more likely to keeping busy when at home. As the Proverbs 31 women, she kept her home and sold her wares, indicating she worked both at home and in the workplace, not sitting idly by, getting drunk and slandering, while her husband worked. And lastly the older women should teach the younger women to be submissive to their husbands. This needs to be seen in context and without launching in to a major study regarding husbands and wives, it should be noted that submission is always first and foremost to Christ, and that all believers are supposed to submit to one another. Also, if you are the leader, you ought to be leading like Christ, or sacrificially instead of the gloating leadership commonly seen in the world.
We have already established that the purpose of these specific action commands is to bring positive attention to the Gospel, and Paul emphasizes this at the conclusion of the list of commands to older men and then older and younger women by saying “that the word of God may not be blasphemed (maligned, reviled, discredited).
Next Paul talks about the young men and it is really interesting that there is really only one thing to say to the young men. He does once again use the word likewise implying that all of the above applies to them as well, but he emphasizes being self-controlled/sober minded as he instructed the older men earlier. Clearly younger men need to learn this lesson since it was brought up again as though one time would not be enough.