Jesus of Nazareth taught that true religion is not one that is accomplished through various holy acts “to be seen of men” to garner personal religious praise (Matt. 6.1, 2, 5, 16); nevertheless, disciples of Jesus are called to live a life that is demonstrative of “subjection” (Gr. hypotasso) to the Lord’s desires and will (1 Pet. 2.13, 19; 3.1, 5, 7; 5.5).
A life lived in submission to God is a powerful demonstration of faith in a world of onlookers. Everett F. Harrison, in this connection, writes:
At a time when the New Testament canon was incomplete, much less collected, when the doctrines of the faith had been preached in few places with such publicity and thoroughness as to give the populace an understanding of Christianity as a system of truth, it was imperative that every believer should preach with his life so as to adorn the doctrine and commend it to others.
This observation of Christians in the first century is enlightening. The New Testament clearly teaches the importance of a Christian example.
Likewise is this seen in Paul’s letter to the evangelist Titus; in which, our study continues on the importance of genuine Christian living. Living a life where Christ is seen in a person does not materialize out of thin air; it is derived from living out the teaching of “sound doctrine”.
Hypocrisy is condemned because of its fraudulent nature (Tit. 1.16), it claims an allegiance to God but is void of any demonstration in the person’s life. Consequently, from the Divine point of view, such are so atrocious that they are regarded as “detestable”, “rebellious”, and “unfit” for spiritual service (Tit. 1.12).
In order to develop genuine followers of Jesus of Nazareth, Paul required Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (2.1). Those who share the gospel are required to lay out the elements of Christ’s teaching. One cannot represent themselves as a disciple of Jesus without knowing his instruction. Teacher and student take note.
The teaching Titus provides is to be “what accords with sound doctrine”. The teaching is “distinguished” from other kinds of learning by the health related metaphor “sound” (Grk. hugiaino). To be “sound” means, in a literal sense, “to be healthy, sound in health”. It emphasizes a strong hygienic constitution.
The word is found twelve times in the New Testament. Hugiano is used four times in its literal sense (Luke 5.31, 7.10, 15.27; 3 John 2). The remaining eight instances are metaphorical. In Titus 1.13, being sound in faith reflects a robust Christian life. It is hoped that they be “healthy like a horse” when it comes to their Christian living. In other words, Christians are to live “correctly” in balance to the truth of the gospel.
In seven other passages, Paul associates this idea of healthiness as a metaphor for “true and incorrupt” teaching (1 Tim. 1.10, 6.3; 2 Tim. 1.13, 4.3; Tit. 1.9, 2.1-2). To be healthy is to be free of any agents that corrupt one’s hygienic profile; metaphorically, then, our teaching is to be distinguished by the fact that is it free from any corrupting or debilitating agents.
The Range of Christian Living
By teaching “what accords with sound doctrine” (Tit. 2.1), Titus is to set forth the principles of pure Christian living. These principles are evident in the guidance Paul gives him in 2.1-10. This passage may be outlined in the following way: (a) Instruction for the Aged (2.2-5), (b) Instruction for the Younger Men (2.6-8), and (c) Servants and Masters (2.9-10).
Paul concludes every section with an appeal to consistency of believers so that God’s word may not be reviled (2.5), that onlookers will have nothing evil to say about Christians (2.8), because Christians must adorn themselves with the apostolic teaching (2.10). The Christian is to live a life that is beyond reproach. Read below and reflect:
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2.2-10 ESV, emphasis added)
- Everett F. Harrison, 1941, “Exegetical Studies in 1 Peter Part 7: The Testimony of Christian Conduct (2.11-3.7)”, Bibliotheca Sacra 98.392 (October): 459.
- William E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr, 1984, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson), 2.55.
- Vine, et. al., 2.589.
- Joseph H. Thayer, 1889, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1962), 634.
- Wayne Jackson, 2007, Before I Die: Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus (Stockton, Calif.: Courier Publications), 334-44.