Titus 2:1 begins with a strong contrast. Literally, the verse begins, “But you…” Paul was calling Titus to be different than the false teachers that opposed him on Crete.
The closing charge against these false teachers is that “they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (Titus 2:1). They acted in a way that was inappropriate for those who know God. This indicated that they were not under His ownership at all.
A way of expressing Titus 1:16-2:1 would be, “The Cretan false teachers are fakes, but you, Titus, are not to be like them.”
In contrast to that Titus was to teach what was fitting for sound doctrine. In other words, Titus was to teach believers the kind of behavior that matched up with the Good News of Jesus.
What kind of behavior is fitting for those who are the treasured, blood-bought possession of Jesus?
Paul gives Titus instruction in this task by explaining appropriate behavior for the different genders, age groups, and roles within the church family. He doesn’t give an exhaustive list for each group. We shouldn’t approach Titus 2:1-10 as an exhaustive list. Instead, Paul deals with major sins of the culture on Crete and points the Cretan believers in the right direction. The only behavior appropriate for Christians is behavior that is consistent with God’s character and His Gospel.
It is also important to say that Titus 2:1-10 is not a list of good behaviors that we do in our own strength. Titus 2:1-10 is also not a checklist of behaviors that will make us right with God. Titus 2:1-10 is the new order of operations for those who are in Christ. These commands can only be obeyed on the basis of Titus 2:11-14. God has saved us by grace; God is training us by grace. (See more on this in the sermon intro found here).
Paul is not only calling Titus to be a contrast to the false teachers. Paul is also commanding Titus to train the believers to be a contrast to the sinful Cretan culture in which they lived. Titus 1:12 gives a general description of Cretans from Epimenedes, a Cretan poet. Epimenedes said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Paul confirmed that this was generally how Cretans behaved. We definitely see our culture mirrored in this. We have the same sins now that the church faced then. They may come in different packaging, but they are the same sins. Paul provides the Gospel contrasts to these sins in Titus 2:1-10.
Titus was to train the Cretan believers in the kind of grace-empowered behavior that was consistent with the Good News of Jesus. The task has not changed. This is what Jesus’ church is about today.
In the next posts, we will look at Gospel behavior in the different groups within the church body.
(This post is from a sermon I preached at First Baptist Church of Ticonderoga, NY on 11/22/2020)
More posts in this series:
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