Thursday, November 12, 2015

Honoring God’s Word by Teaching – Titus 2:3-5

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. (TLB)

Older Women

Do you wonder why much more instruction is given to women than to men? Everything that applies to the men also applies to women as he says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior” (Titus 2:3 ESV). That word, likewise, pulls in all the qualities that he addressed for older men and applies them to older women. These instructions parallel verses that list the qualifications for elders and their wives (1 Tim 3:8-13). Perhaps the reason that he spends more time with the women is that he previously (in Timothy) he has already instructedmen. Perhaps it goes back to the references about Cretans and there is something specific in this culture that women have been neglecting. Whatever the Holy Spirit’s reasons for this, it provides some good reminders for families and is applicable to both men and women.

Teachers and Trainers

Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2 RSV)

Where the NASU says that the women should encourage younger women, many versions and the NASU footnote use the word train. There are several implications of this instruction. The first is that older women have a duty to help younger women become godly wives. The second implication is that younger women need to be trained to love their husbands and children. We often think this comes naturally. Yet, the Lord used the idea that a woman could forget about her child in contrast to himself to emphasize that He doesn’t forget us (Is 49:15). Since it is possible for women not to love their husbands and children, they need to be taught how. By the way, men, I see ads on TV that tell us we need to train our boys to respect women. We shouldn’t need TV to tell us to do what is right.

The emphasis on women being submissive (Eph 5:22 and 1 Peter 3:1) perhaps overshadows the reality that there needs to be love as well as respect. If we go back to Genesis 3:16, we find a punishment inflicted on Eve for her disobedience to God and it is passed down through the ages, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" (NIV). While there is a lot of controversy over what this means, many believe that this means women have a sinful desire to rule over their husbands but God’s order is to have a hierarchy in the family with the husband as the head. If this true, it means that Christian women have a temptation that must be resisted. Paul’s solution to this is for older women who have found how to live in harmony with their husbands to teach younger women how to love their husbands. Peter says they do this by their godly behavior. I’ve also found out that what’s good for women is also is good for men. A godly husband with his behavior is able to resolve marital problems if he is patient and not overbearing demanding submission and subservience. Maybe Paul should have told older men to teach the younger ones as well, but the truth is that the instruction to the women is just as applicable to men as it is to women.

Submissive to Whom?

Submissive to their own husbands. (Titus 2:5 ESV)

Most translations correctly put the word “own” in this verse. While we may think it redundant to add “own” to “their,” the Greek distinguishes between simply saying it is their husbands and it is their own husbands. The word used for their own is idios,[1] which is used to differentiate between what belongs to one rather than belonging to another. Their (autos[2]) is used in other verses where there is no distinction between the ownership. An example is when the three kings opened their treasures (Matt 2:11). The implication is that their treasures were shared. With all that said, the implication is clear that there is no requirement for the women to be submissive to other women’s husbands. The point of this is the mistaken idea that women must be submissive to all men. It is very likely that the first century culture thought that women should be submissive to all men but Paul repeats what he said to the Ephesians (Eph 5:22) and what Peter said (1 Peter 3:1) applying submission only to the woman’s own husband. It also means that some of the appalling sexual communes are not biblical in any sense. Finally, it would mean that the normal marriage relationship would be only one man and one woman.

Shame on God’s Word

 As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:24 NIV)

This is the key to why Titus is supposed to establish elders who have great integrity and why everyone should behave in a manner worthy of the name of Jesus. Whether it is older men or women or the ones they are instructing, younger believers and their children, the point is that bad behavior blasphemes the name of Christ. You would think that people who are “foolish … disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending … life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3 NASU) – and that is what we once were - would not care how Christians behave if we were no different from them. Surprise! They know better and when they see Christians doing these things, it casts derision on the name of our holy God.

In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:4 NKJV)

Unfortunately, even when we do live godly lives, unbelievers will still find fault. Living a Christian life is a “Catch 22.” If we fail at a point, we are condemned as hypocrites. If we live godly live, we are condemned as being judgmental, self righteous, or intolerant, trying to force other to live up to our standards. Sometimes these things are true and we should avoid them. Other times, it is simply the world doing what the world does, trying to suppress righteousness and the truth (Rom 1:18).

When people's lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. (Prov 16:7 NLT)

How should we react to all of this? We have to get our eyes off the world and people who will condemn us one way or another. Generally, and proverbs speak in generalities, when we are God-pleasers instead of people-pleasers, then we will not have many enemies. But we also know that at times in our lives, walking with Jesus and living to please him will bring persecution of one sort or another (2 Tim 3:12). Our goal is, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18 RSV). We know that we will have opposition, but we do not want that opposition to come because we claim to be Christians and are living ungodly lives bring shame on the Word of God.

[1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, s.v. “NT:2398,”, (Biblesoft: 2006), Electronic Database.
[2] Ibid., “NT:846.”

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