Wednesday, 6 June 2018
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: Titus 2:1
Paul has set forth the qualifications for elders, and then explained their necessary tasks, particularly speaking against those who bring in false doctrines. Now, he will relay what the teaching of wholesome doctrine is intended to bring about in the people of the church. In order to come to this, he begins Chapter 2 with, “But as for you.” This is the contrast between Titus (and any proper teacher) and the false teachers spoken about in Chapter 1.
For a person to be realized as a sound teacher, he says, “…speak the things which are proper.” The word translated here as “are proper” is prepó. We can think of the word “prepare” here. It comes from a verb meaning, “to tower up,” and thus it relays the sense of “to become conspicuous,” or to “stand out.” Those things which have been carefully studied, and which will rightly relay the intent of the Lord are what should be spoken. It is these things which are “for sound doctrine.”
The Greek actually reads, “for the sound doctrine.” There is an article before sound doctrine. One can have sound doctrine in philosophy, medicine, or jurisprudence, but that is not what Paul is speaking of. He is speaking of the sound doctrine of the church. The word translated as “doctrine” is used by Paul 19 times in his letters. He uses it 15 times in the 3 pastoral epistles. Outside of Paul, it is found only 2 other times in the New Testament. It means “instruction,” or “teaching.”
The high use of the word in the pastorals shows us the importance of proper teaching in the church, and especially in regards to those in leadership positions. The other two times it is used apart from Paul, it is seen in Jesus’ words when speaking of those leaders in Israel who teach “as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). This is what Paul warned about in Chapter 1. The teaching of God’s people is to be from the word of God, and it is to be taught carefully, in context, and according to the proper dispensation. In the case of the Gentile-led church age, the proper doctrine is to be first and foremost from Paul’s epistles.
Life application: Have you ever read a commentary or an article that says proper doctrine is not a main concern in New Testament times? Such writings are actually quite common, and one must ask what the people were smoking before writing them. Sound doctrine is extremely hard work, and it is also work which often finds the teacher ridiculed or spoken against. This is because those with unsound doctrine want to do what they want to do, regardless as to what the Bible teaches. If they are shown, clearly and properly, what they believe is wrong, they will rant against the teacher as if it is he that is the heretic. It can be unsettling, but it is always right to proclaim what is sound, and to refute those who are unwilling to do the hard work in order to show themselves approved.
Lord God, there is often an all-out assault on those who teach Your word properly. It is because Your word is like a mirror on their disobedient lives. It is so much easier to make stuff up in order to tickle people’s ears. But when the truth of the word is taught, it is quickly attacked as “hate speech,” “politically incorrect,” or “divisive.” Who cares? Shall we jump on the train to Heretic Haven just because people are offended? Or shall we stand on Your word and be found approved on that coming Day when we stand before You? The choice is clear. Guard our doctrine, and keep us close to Your word at all times. Amen.