There are many lovely and beautiful ladies in our churches! I love each of them and admire them for their qualities that I identify with, and for those qualities that I lack. All of us have differing talents and ability, strengths and weaknesses. Each of us has a certain set of responsibilities that God has given us, and I’m so glad that He has not left us to wonder and guess at what we should be about. Our Lord has directed us to some specific things we ought to be doing, who should be doing them, how we should be while doing them, and why.
It is a tragedy in our culture that the aged men and women are not held in as high regard as they ought. Too often an elderly woman is either pitied or neglected or both. This was not the case in the New Testament Church! After all, is it not our experiences and hardships that refine and build our spiritual sensitivities? Should we not value the highest those who have had the most time and experience in living out God’s Word? Is not the inner man being renewed day by day as the outward man is perishing (2 Cor. 4:16)?
The younger women in our churches carry a joyful burden that is also worthy of honor and respect. The hectic business of running a household and serving a family, training children and helping their husbands requires energy and strength that can only be supplied by the Lord. The care and love that they are giving has eternal rewards that must be cultivated and encouraged.
Both situations in life, and everything in between, are seen as essential to the life of the local church. Let us look at the dynamic that is described and prescribed in Titus 2:1-5.
1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Aged Women are to be the Example
The first group of believers that are addressed are the aged men. They are given a list of character qualities they must exhibit. Paul then uses the conjunction “likewise” inferring that the aged women are to have the same character qualities as the aged men. As I have written many times before1, note how a woman has just as much capacity to live a God-honoring life as a man. No inferiority here!
The word “sober” means “level-leaded, temperate, and vigilant.” The word “grave” means “dignified, worthy of respect, serious, august.” These are characteristics of a mature believer. This is someone who is not naive, afraid, happy-go-lucky, or unreasonable. The aged men and women, the elders, the mature believers, are to be people whom we can look up to and emulate. They are trustworthy, someone you can go to for advice and to ask for prayer, and you can know that they will take you seriously and give you biblical teaching. Likely, they have been doing the Christian life a long time, and they have a lot of experience overcoming sin, making the devil flee, and clinging to the Lord. We should all be striving to be like this.
“Sound in faith, in charity, in patience” in verse 2 are all objectives in the original language. That is, in every part of the Christian life, these elders are to be the example to follow. They are to uphold, not just faith, but THE Faith. They are not just to love, but to show what THE Agape Love is all about as they love unconditionally. The elders are not just to be patient, but to show THE Patience that comes from suffering for the Lord’s sake, withstanding the pressure to give in.
This all stems from the faithful teaching of doctrine (Titus 2:1). So as the older men are given a weighty and critical charge, likewise, Paul give some heavy-duty instruction to the older women. Look at Titus 2:3. “As becometh holiness” is interesting. The root word for “holiness” in this text is not our usual word for holy (“hagios” which is translated “saint” or “holy one”). This word is “hieros” which refers to the priesthood. Something that becometh holiness is priestly. The aged women are to behave in such a way that is consistent with the priesthood! The teaching from the aged women was to be dignified, in a noble way as the priesthood would do. Not spouting off whatever entered their minds like a drunk person or a slanderer. This was to be purposeful. They were to lift up, to build up the younger women. They were not to indulge the fleshly appetites which drag a person down.
I for one, love to see maturity in a woman rather than immaturity. I am amazed and impressed when she shows me her understanding and wisdom. She has obviously moved on from childishness and vulnerability. We should all seek to be this type of woman.
The Younger Women are to be Strong
Since the aged women are to teach the younger women, the inference then is that these are the things the young women must heed. These virtues are given to us from the Lord and it is not just nice advice from our grandmothers. No, the young women are to do these things.
“To be sober” reiterates Paul’s admonition to all people of the church. The older are to teach with a sober mind the young men and women to be sober.
We see how great a stress Paul lays on sobermindedness; in fact, the young men are also “to be sober-minded.” Christianity lends balance of mind to all its members, old and young, men and women, and fortifies them against all flighty deceivers who would unsettle them.2
Verse 4 literally says the women are to be “husband-lovers” and “children-lovers.” Further, they are to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands. The command from Paul to the young women, to be obedient to their own husbands, might seem harsh, but the Greek woman would have understood what was meant.
Some would make this command look ridiculous, insinuating that the Bible puts the wife in the same role as a child or, worse yet, as a slave. This is not what Scripture means. The wife is not to be obedient to her husband in the same manner as the children, or as slaves were in ancient times. She is to be submissive to her husband to his leadership as the head of the home. A godly wife who loves her husband, and whose husband loves her, will have no problem with this relationship. In fact, she will be happiest, most content, in the role that God created her for. Of course, she is an adult, intelligent like her husband; and a wise and godly husband seeks his wife’s counsel in making important family decisions. The apostles were consistent in teaching this relationship in the home (see also Eph. 5:21-23; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 2:11; 1 Pet. 3:1).3
Then we look at a warning given to the women in Titus 2:5. The danger warned against is that the Word of God be not blasphemed.
The old women are to be qualified for producing all this sober-mindedness in the young women. If women fail in what Paul here asks, he fears “lest the Word of God be blasphemed,” lest the whole gospel be vilified. So much depends on the women, in great part on the young women, of the church. The world will to a great extent judge the churches by the character which the gospel produces in the women.4
So rather than women being rated as second-class citizens, unappreciated, or inferior, Paul places a great amount of responsibility and trust in the women. They are charged with tremendous influence in the home and among other women of the church. In fact, in these ways, they influence the health and direction of the church itself! This is by no means disparaging to women.
The young women are on the front lines of the war for our families’ hearts and minds. The church needs them because they have the youth and vigor for the many and varied tasks. They must develop a strength of character and steadfastness that is necessary for raising their children, for supporting their husbands in their important work.
How are you doing?
How are we working toward these goals, ladies? Are we faithful? Are we loving? Are we growing? Let’s not shirk our responsibilities. Let’s not be downhearted about the job our Lord has given us to do. Complaints and weakness should not be a part of our Christian walk. Let us pray for one another and encourage one another as often as we can.
Lord, please help us women in Your Church to be sober-minded, to seek out other women whose example we can follow. Help us also to be that example to those younger in the faith that they may be able to follow us as we follow You. Lord bless our relationships with our husbands and our children, that You would give us the agape love we need to show them. Help us to be strong and obedient to your commands to us. Thank you for THE Faith and THE Love and THE Patience that can only come from You to accomplish Your will in us. Amen.
- See my articles, “God Created a Woman,” “The Fall of Women“, “What About Deborah“, and “Biblical Submission” plus my book reviews to read my position of Complementarianism.
- Lenski, R.C.H. (1937). The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, tot he Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon (pp. 911-912). Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern.
- Lenski (First Edition. p. 384).
- Lenski (p. 913).