“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:2).
In chapter 2, Paul calls Titus to do his part in opposing the practices of those false teachers who, according to chapter 1, had failed to proclaim God’s truth accurately (Vs. 1:10-16). Titus is to do just the opposite. Rather, he must “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” “Sound doctrine” refers to healthy, solid, reliable teaching. He is to do his best to teach without error, distortion, or impurity. His teaching is not to be odd nor eccentric. The word “accords with” is a word that means ‘to be proper, fitting or appropriate’. When Titus speaks then, he is to always teach (present tense) what “fits” and is in line with the rest of God’s divine revelation.
One of the great tests for fulfilling such a command and a primary principle for interpreting the Bible is to compare Scripture with Scripture. God’s word never contradicts itself, and it is by looking at the overall teaching of a subject or topic in the Bible that we can better discover its intended meaning. That is not to say that all passages are easy to understand (See 2 Peter 3:15-16) or that all of our questions will be easily answered on every matter. We must depend on the illumination of the Holy Spirit to give us insight and to enlighten our understanding (See 1 Cor 2:14). John 16.13, for example, says that it is the Spirit who “…will guide you into all the truth.”
Paul then gives Titus a summary of the teaching that fits or is appropriate to five specific groups within the church: older men, older women, younger women as they learn from the older women, younger men, and bondservants.
This brief body of teaching is intended by Paul to prevent a believer from a lifestyle or set of behaviors that would defame the gospel or cause outsiders to speak evil against a Christian and so, also, Christ. In addition, he is to call them higher – to pursue good behavior and great character that would show off the beauty of God’s wisdom and revelation.
Paul concludes this chapter by giving Titus the reason he must teach with such integrity – it is because of God’s grace. God has shown his favor to those who do not deserve it. Salvation is God’s rescue of us who receive his grace by faith. This salvation is not a once-and-for-all event for the believer. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, we are being saved from the power sin, and we will be saved one day from the presence of sin. So, salvation begins in justification and then takes us on a journey of transformation to conform us to the image of Christ. This salvation trains us.
The word “training” contains the idea of training children. It is imperative that Titus get this right. Without the solid, healthy instruction of Scripture, we will not be able to grow up in our salvation as we ought, and will be left to flounder and struggle with the basic issues of this life and, more importantly, eternal life. As a result, we will find ourselves at the mercy of those who distort the Scriptures to their own destruction and the destruction of those who sit under their teaching.
After the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes died, secluded in a Las Vegas penthouse, a handwritten “last will and testament” surfaced — of all places, in the Salt Lake City offices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The unattested, uncertified, and unnotarized document left millions of dollars to someone Hughes claimed, in the controversial multi-page document, had once befriended him. Members of the Hughes family, unfamiliar with the individual named as beneficiary, and convinced their relative had died mentally incompetent, challenged the “Mormon Will” in court. It was never honored and the intended recipient, deserving or not, never collected a nickel.
Like the confusing document passed on by an eccentric old man, Titus and every believer are called to challenge the fake and faulty words that so many claim to be genuinely from God today. There is only one reliable document and it comes from God himself in his divine word. We should know that document like the back of our hand, taking confidence in it and nothing else.
Paul minces no words as he closes in verse 15: “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” In other words, Titus, Preach it! Tell them the truth! Make sure you move your hearers to understand and obey the Scriptures without compromise. Their eternal life depends on it.