Thursday, 7 June 2018
…that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; Titus 2:2
Paul now states “the things which are proper for sound doctrine” noted in the previous verse. He begins with “the older men.” This is not a category such as the elders in the church. Instead, it is speaking of men of age. His words are especially important in this regard for this category of men because the Christian faith was new to the region. Those who were older had spent their entire lives as pagans, and not only pagans, but such as were described in Chapter 1. They would need to now set a new example. Paul starts the list of that which is proper with the word “sober.”
The word is used three times, and only in the pastoral epistles. It indicates “sober” or “not intoxicated.” Although there is scholarly disagreement on its meaning, this does not mean that a person in such a position could not drink alcohol at all. That would be contrary to the entire body of Scripture in both testaments. Rather, it would extend to mean that they are not to be intoxicated from alcohol. As much as the word speaks of sobriety, it is figuratively used to mean “circumspect.” It is a warning not against drinking alcohol, but allowing any sin to infect his conduct. A person not known for such an attitude was to be rejected.
Next, they are to be “reverent.” The word signifies that which is honorable, or which bears dignity. HELPS Word Studies says that it indicates, “deeply respected because viewed as majestic (having gravity).”
After this, he says they are to be “temperate.” It is a word found four times, and only in the pastoral epistles. It signifies soundness of mind. Such a person is to be well-balanced from God’s perspective. It is a person who lives according to the word of God, setting the boundaries of his life in accord with that word. Thus, a good definition of this word would be “discreet and discerning.” HELPS Word Studies gives the following example: “An opera singer controls the length (quality) of their tones by their diaphragm which even controls the ability to breathe and moderates heartbeat. Hence it regulates (‘brings safety’) to the body, keeping it properly controlled.]”
Paul then says that such are to be “sound in faith.” Those who have called on Christ are to not waffle in their convictions, but are to be steadfast in the faith which they profess. When someone comes to them looking for encouragement during tough times, they are to remind him that Jesus had tougher times, and that He endured them for our sake. Now believers are to be sound in their faith concerning His having prevailed over this life. Further, they are not to tolerate aberrant doctrine which would diminish the faithful life of other believers. They are to hold fast to what is moral, pure, and undefiled.
After this, Paul notes [sound in] love. Older men were to possess love, and convey that love to all. There should be a resolute form of volitional love of the body, and for the lost. But even more, they are to possess the love of God in the highest degree, being grateful to Him for the salvation which He granted to those of the faith.
Finally, Paul says that they are to be [sound in] patience. The word gives the sense of “endurance.” Despite the challenges of life, the older men are to exhibit faithful patience (endurance) in and through them. Thus, they would be examples to the younger men of how to persevere through the challenges that lay ahead for them as well.
Life application: Paul’s words to the older men are not cultural, nor are they temporary for the times of the early church. They are prescriptive writings which are given for the duration of the church age. At all times, older men are to exhibit these qualities, because it is these that reflect what is sound in doctrine. In their example, others should be able to find strength to act in the same manner in their own lives.
Gracious heavenly Father, you have been so very good to us in giving Your Son for our reconciliation to You. Now Lord, help us to respond to that calling, and to live out our lives pursuing sound doctrine leading to holiness. It is holiness to which You have called us, and it is holiness in us which You desire. Therefore, guide us on this beautiful path which You have called us to walk upon. To Your glory we pray. Amen.