The Expository Files


The Scope of Sound Doctrine

Titus 2:1-10


But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.  Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Titus 2:1-10


“Sound Doctrine” is that body of instruction God delivered to the world through the apostles of Christ. It is the “word” manifested through preaching and written in the New Testament (Titus 1:3; Eph. 3:3,4), about Jesus and our response to Him.


Titus is charged by Paul to teach sound doctrine, as it applied to the various people who would hear his teaching.


There are older men, who need to hear teaching to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness. Titus must give to people the teaching from God that is relevant to their situation in life.


So, for older women, there is the need to teach them “to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.”


Younger women must be taught to love their husbands and children, “to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”


Younger men must be taught to be self-controlled. Titus would instruct them to show themselves “in all respects to be models of good works, and” in their teaching, showing integrity and dignity.

These men are to be known for “sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say…”


Slaves needed to hear from Titus too. They were to “be submissive to their own masters in everything … well-pleasing and not argumentative, “not pilfering, but showing all good faith,  so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”


From my friend, Dee Bowman, I picked up this expression – Apologetic Living. That word “apologetic” in this context, doesn’t mean you are sorry – it means, YOU ARE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER; you are willing to stand up for God’s Word. But not just verbally or in writing – BY YOUR LIFE; so that your conduct and influence will not cause people to raise questions. It enables them to see the doctrine of God. Remember – Adorn The Doctrine Of God.        

And, one more thing – it is the duty of gospel preachers to impart this instruction to old and young men. It is part of the work of teaching “what accords with sound doctrine.”  



Supplement _________________________

“The Aged Men Be Sound in Faith”

Shane Scott

“But speak thou the things which befit sound doctrine: that aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience” (Titus 2:1–2). The first half of Titus 2 contains instructions given to Titus by Paul for various classes of people: aged men (verse 2); aged women (verses 3–4a); young women (verses 4b–5); younger men (verses 6–8); and servants (verses 9–10). These instructions deal with the common problems associated with these various classes and demonstrate divine wisdom in meeting human needs. However, one bit of admonition surprises me—the statement in verse 2 that aged men be “sound in faith.” It would seem to me that by the time someone becomes aged he would already have matured to the point of being “sound in faith.”


Upon further reflection, though, this statement strikes me as being very insightful. The history of the Lord’s cause is full of examples of men who were faithful and fervent servants of the Lord in their younger days, but in their later days they lost their firm convictions. Alexander Campbell was a vociferous opponent of human societies in his early days as editor of the Christian Baptist, but later in the Millennial Harbinger Campbell supported societies, so much so that he became president of the American Christian Missionary Society. A century later, Foy Wallace, Jr. detoured from his early opposition of institutionalism in the old Bible Banner and endorsed practices and fellowshipped preachers he once opposed. These two notable examples illustrate the story of apostasy among older preachers which has repeated itself all too often (see Acts 20:17–35).


The more I reflect on Titus 2:2, the more I am reminded of something I read in my old psychology textbook. According to two famous psychologists in this century (Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg), as humans develop cognitive skills, moral reasoning evolves. Younger children tend to see ethical choices in pure black and white terms, but at the adult “level of reasoning, right and wrong are not tied to any existing ethical laws but rather to more abstract ethical principles” (Psychology: Being Human [1985], p. 243 [emphasis mine, SS]). As people grow older, the temptation to rationalize and consequently justify certain conventions grows.


In particular, I have noticed that older preachers who were initially very adamant in opposition to immoral practices such as dancing, mixed swimming, immodest clothing, and gambling begin to falter on these issues later, especially when their children are involved. Or, as in the case of Campbell and Wallace, doctrinal matters which were once the objects of great concern are swept aside because of diminishing militancy or personal squabbles.


I have said all of this not because I seek to insult the hundreds of older and faithful Christians who are yet warring the good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18), but because it is so disheartening to younger servants such as myself when those we admire and respect suffer an erosion of convictions due to increasing moral and doctrinal relativism. My plea to older evangelists is: please remain “sound in faith.” If your study of the Scriptures compels you to change, fine. But if not, please “Hold the pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13).


We younger Christians need you.[1]


(See previous treatment of Titus 2 by Warren E. Berkley, at this link.)



[1] Scott, S. (1991). “The Aged Men Be Sound in Faith”. In Christianity Magazine: March 1991, Volume 8, Number 3 (24). Jacksonville, FL: Christianity Magazine.



  By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 22.11; November 2015