By Kim Shay
(Editor’s Note: Next Tuesday we kick-off our Titus 2 Tuesday’s with an interview with Maria Moore, wife of CBMW Chairman of the Board, Dr. Russell Moore).
Who (or what) is a Titus 2 woman? She is part of a wonderful network of relationships meant to encourage women and build the Body of Christ.
Paul writes to Titus, whom he has left in Crete. A church has been established and Titus is there to appoint elders (1:5). Paul spends the first chapter of this book outlining what elders are to look like (1:6-9). He presents a picture of accountability and leadership. The reason the Cretan church needs elders is to refute the “insubordinate” people who have made their way into the church.
The first half of chapter 2 Paul instructs people within the church: older men, older women, younger men, bondservants, and Titus himself, who is to teach what accords with “sound” or “healthy” doctrine. It is wise to remember that the context here is one of relationships and accountability. It is within this context that the women are instructed.
First, she is called an “older” woman (2:3). An exact age is not indicated in this passage. However old she is, it is enough to have experience in what she teaches.
Paul says the older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, and not slaves to much wine. The word for “reverent” means to take seriously that we belong to God, as becoming one who is sacred. This does not mean older women must be dour, but rather aware of God’s holiness. To slander someone means to speak ill of him, or tear down his character. Someone who is aware of the seriousness of belonging to God will not do that; she will want to extend His love. There is also an expectation that these women aren’t running about town getting drunk and controlled by wine. They are to be controlled by the reality that they belong to God, and behave accordingly.
Paul tells the older women to “teach what is good” (2:3c). They are to train the young women in specific things: to love their husbands and children; to be self-controlled, pure, and working at home; to be kind, and submissive to their own husbands. We could probably spend a lot of time discussing what those individual qualities are. The applications are numerous. Not only is her disposition to be pleasing, kind, pure, and self-controlled, but her family is to be a priority as seen in her submission to her husband and the care of her home and children.
Notice what this doesn’t say: it doesn’t say she may not work. There are often misunderstandings and conflict over this picture. Paul is not saying the younger woman may not help her family by having employment. What he is saying is that her home and family are important. Whatever the circumstances are, our job as older women is to remind younger women the value God places on that aspect of their lives. This is so crucial. Often, younger women who feel burdened with home and children feel like their work is not important. It is so important that it is a priority in Scripture.
And what is the reason the young women should learn these things? The reason is so that the word of God may not be reviled; or as the NASB says: dishonored. To heed biblical teaching is to honor the Word of God.
Our conduct within the church is never a private matter. There is accountability. Furthermore, we must remember the connection between doctrine and conduct. Earlier in Paul’s description of the insubordinate ones, he says that they professed to know God, but denied him with their works (1:16). We do not want to deny God with our works, but rather reflect his glory. Running throughout this letter there is an expectation that faith produces good works. It is in this context that the older women are to teach the younger. The purpose is not to disparage the younger women, but to assist them in living in a way that their conduct adorns the doctrine of God. By placing older women in a position where they teach also puts them in a place of accountability. Quite simply, they cannot teach what they don’t do. Doctrine is never just a matter of instructions; it is something that directs our lives, whether we are men or women.
Kim Shay has been a child of God since 1985, married to Neil since 1987, and has been home full-time since 1989. She has three young adult children. She is currently a blogger, bible teacher and Curriculum Co-ordinator for her local church’s women’s ministry committee. She blogs at The Upward Call and Out of the Ordinary. You can follow her on Twitter @upwardcall
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