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What Must Be Taught to Various Groups October 23, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Titus 2.

Summary: Paul begins by exhorting Titus to preach the wholesome doctrine as long as he is a pastor. In particular, he should teach older men to:

  • avoid excessive drinking
  • have well-regulated habits
  • worship God
  • obey the second half of the Ten Commandments
  • be patient.

Paul also exhorts Titus to teach older women to show by the way they dress that they are holy and godly; their example will make younger women sober in their minds. Indeed, younger women should show love for their husbands; thus, their faults will not bring dishonor on the Gospel.

In addition, Paul exhorts Titus to teach younger men to be well-regulated and obedient to reason. Indeed, the power and majesty of Titus’ teaching should shine in his life. His words must be pure and free from all corruption – that he may prove himself blameless; this will shut the mouths of the ungodly.

Paul then exhorts Titus to teach slaves to obey their masters; in particular, slaves should neither answer their masters petulantly nor steal from them. Thus, their lives will be an ornament to the name of Christ.

Now Paul states that these teachings stem from the fact that salvation has come to all kinds of people. Salvation enables those who accept it to renounce their neglect of God and all human desires; believers can engage in pure worship of God and act rightly toward others in this present life. Moreover, believers await the blessed life that is kept for them in heaven, which will be revealed in Christ so that all His elect can share in His glory. Indeed, Christ has purchased believers for Himself as His possession; He has purged them of the sinful desires of the world and has consecrated them to good works.

Paul concludes by stating that Titus should claim for himself authority and respect in teaching the aforementioned principles; he also confronts the Cretans’ pride and orders them to stop despising sound and beneficial teaching.

Thoughts: This passage is similar to 1 Timothy 5 in that Paul – through Titus – exhorts various groups of people to live rightly. Calvin offers some head-scratching thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 3:

Paul proceeds to correct two other common faults among older women as he tells them not to slander people or be enslaved to drink. Talkativeness is a disease women are prone to, and old age seems to make it worse. In addition to this, women are never satisfied with talking unless they also gossip and attack people’s reputations. This results in women’s slanderous garrulity being like a burning torch and setting fire to many houses. Many older women are also given over to drinking; they put all thoughts of self-control to one side and indulge themselves.

Now this is an incredibly odd observation. On one hand, I can support the part of Calvin’s statement where he notes that women are susceptible to gossiping (which can be a destructive habit). On the other hand, I fail to understand how older women are susceptible to drinking. Was female inebriation a problem on Crete when Paul wrote this letter? Were older women in Calvin’s church frequently intoxicated? I assume that in general, men (including Calvin’s contemporaries) are more susceptible to getting drunk than women. Was Calvin a male chauvinist? If so, that could explain this strange statement.

In verses 9 and 10, Paul exhorts slaves to obey their masters. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 9:

There was a danger that the slaves might use the Gospel as a pretext for rebellion and maintain that it was not right for them to submit to ungodly people. Pastors must take great care to subdue and check this rebelliousness.

If Calvin had lived in the antebellum South, would he have told slaves that it was right for them to submit to their masters? I suppose that one could make a compelling case for either side of this debate, and this includes scenarios where an unbelieving master abuses his slaves. On one hand, by staying on their plantation and patiently submitting to the harsh punishments of their master, a slave could – by the work of the Holy Spirit – have a positive influence on their master. On the other hand, a slave master could be utterly convinced of the righteousness of their harsh punishments, and so the only way for a slave to show them the error of their ways would be for them to escape. One must wonder if Calvin is currently debating this issue with William Lloyd Garrison in heaven.

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