Titus 2 Commentary

vv.1-2: “This whole chapter deals with what might be called The Christian Character in Action. It takes people by their various ages and stations and lays down what they ought to be within the world. It begins with the senior men. They must be sober. The word is n?phalios, and it literally means sober in contradistinction to given to over-indulgence in wine. The point is that when a man has reached years of seniority, he ought to have learned what are, and what are not, true pleasures. The senior men should have learned that the pleasures of self-indulgence cost far more than they are worth. They must be serious. The word is semnos, and it describes the behaviour which is serious in the right way. It does not describe the demeanour of a person who is a gloomy killjoy, but the conduct of the man who knows that he lives in the light of eternity, and that before so very long he will leave the society of men for the society of God. They must be prudent. The word is s?phr?n, and it describes the man with the mind which has everything under control. Over the years the senior men must have acquired that cleansing, saving strength of mind which has learned to govern every instinct and passion until each has its proper place and no more. The three words taken together mean that the senior man must have learned what can only be called the gravity of life. A certain amount of recklessness and of unthinkingness may be pardonable in youth, but the years should bring their wisdom. One of the most tragic sights in life is a man who has learned nothing from them.”[1]

vv.3-5: “It is clear that in the early Church a most honoured and responsible position was given to the older women. […]The older women to whom the years have brought serenity and sympathy and understanding have a part to play in the life of the Church and of the community which is peculiarly their own.

“Here the qualities which characterize them are laid down. Their demeanour must be such as befits those who are engaged in sacred things. […] As Clement of Alexandria had it: The Christian must live as if all life was a sacred assembly. It is easy to see what a difference it would make to the peace and fellowship of the Church, if it was always remembered that we are engaged in sacred things. Much of the embittered argument and the touchiness and the intolerance which all too frequently characterize church activities would vanish overnight.

“They must not spread slanderous stories. It is a curious trait of human nature that most people would rather repeat and hear a malicious tale than one to someone’s credit. It is no bad resolution to make up our minds to say nothing at all about people if we cannot find anything good to say.

“The older women must teach and train the younger. Sometimes it would seem that the only gift experience gives to some is that of pouring cold water on the plans and dreams of others. It is a Christian duty ever to use experience to guide and encourage, and not to daunt and discourage.”[2]

vv.3-5: “In the ancient Greek world the respectable woman lived a completely secluded life. In the house she had her own quarters and seldom left them, not even to sit at meals with the menfolk of the family; and into them came no man except her husband. She never attended any public assemblies or meetings; she seldom appeared on the streets, and, when she did, she never did so alone. In fact it has been said that there was no honourable way in which a Greek woman could make a living. No trade or profession was open to her; and if she tried to earn a living, she was driven to prostitution. If the women of the ancient Church had suddenly burst every limitation which the centuries had imposed upon them, the only result would have been to bring discredit on the Church and cause people to say that Christianity corrupted womanhood. The life laid down here seems narrow and circumscribed, but it is to be read against its background. In that sense this passage is temporary.”[3]

v.6: “The duty of the younger men is summed up in one sentence, but it is a pregnant one. They are bidden remember the duty of prudence. As we have already see, the man who is prudent, s?phr?n, has that quality of mind which keeps life safe. He has the security which comes from having all things under control.

“The time of youth is necessarily a time of danger.

“(i) In youth the blood runs hotter and the passions speak more commandingly. The tide of life runs strongest in youth and it sometimes threatens to sweep a young person away.

“(ii) In youth there are more opportunities for going wrong. Young people are thrown into company where temptation can speak with a most compelling voice. Often they have to study or to work away from home and from the influences which would keep them right. He has not yet taken upon himself the responsibility of a home and a family; he has not yet given hostages to fortune; and he does not yet possess the anchors which hold an older person in the right way through a sheer sense of obligation. In youth there are far more opportunities to make shipwreck of life.

“(iii) In youth there is often that confidence which comes from lack of experience. In almost every sphere of life a younger person will be more reckless than his elders, for the simple reason that he has not yet discovered all the things which can go wrong. To take a simple example, he will often drive a motor car much faster simply because he has not yet discovered how easily an accident can take place or on how slender a piece of metal the safety of a car depends. He will often shoulder a responsibility in a much more carefree spirit than an older person, because he has not known the difficulties and has not experienced how easily shipwreck may be made. No one can buy experience; that is something for which only the years can pay. There is a risk, as there is a glory, in being young.

“For that very reason, the first thing at which any young person must aim is self-mastery. No one can ever serve others until he has mastered himself. He who rules his spirit is greater than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).

“Self-discipline is not among the more glamorous of the virtues, but it is the very stuff of life. When the eagerness of youth is buttressed by the solidity of self-mastery, something really great comes into life.[4]

vv.11-14: “There are few passages in the New Testament which so vividly set out the moral power of the Incarnation as this does. Its whole stress is the miracle of moral change which Jesus Christ can work.

“This miracle is repeatedly here expressed in the most interesting and significant way. Isaiah once exhorted his people: ‘Cease to do evil; learn to do good’ (Isaiah 1:16, 17). First, there is the negative side of goodness, the giving up of that which is evil and the liberation from that which is low; second, there is its positive side, the acquisition of the shining virtues which mark the Christian life.

“First, there is the renunciation of all godlessness and worldly desires. What did Paul mean by worldly desires? Chrysostom said that worldly things are things which do not pass over with us into heaven but are dissolved together with this present world. A man is very short-sighted if he sets all his heart and expends all his labour on things which he must leave behind when he quits this world. But an even simpler interpretation of worldly desires is that they are for things we could not show to God. It is only Christ who can make not only our outward life but also our inward heart fit for God to see.

“That was the negative side of the moral power of the Incarnation; now comes the positive side. Jesus Christ makes us able to live with the prudence which has everything under perfect control, and which allows no passion or desire more than its proper place; with the justice which enables us to give both to God and to men that which is their due; with the reverence which makes us live in the awareness that this world is nothing other than the temple of God.

“The dynamic of this new life is the expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ. When a royal visit is expected, everything is cleansed and decorated, and made fit for the roval eye to see. The Christian is the man who is always prepared for the coming of the King of kings.

“Finally Paul goes on to sum up what Jesus Christ has done, and once again he does it first negatively and then positively.

“Jesus has redeemed us from the power of lawlessness, that power which makes us sin.

“Jesus can purify us until we are fit to be the special people of God. The word we have translated special (periousios) is interesting. It means reserved for; and it was specially used for that part of the spoils of a battle or a campaign which the king who had conquered set apart specially for himself. Through the work of Jesus Christ, the Christian becomes fit to be the special possession of God.

“The moral power of the Incarnation is a tremendous thought. Christ not only liberated us from the penalty of past sin; he can enable us to live the perfect life within this world of space and time; and he can so cleanse us that we become fit in the life to come to be the special possession of God.”[5]


[1] The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[2] The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[3] The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[4] The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (Tt 2:6). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[5] The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (Tt 2:14). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

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