Titus 2 Women
What Is the Goal of This Teaching?The goal of all this teaching is the honor of God and His Word. "...so that no one will malign the word of God." When our lives fail to line up with what we teach, the world brands our entire basis of belief as invalid. Therefore, the outcome of not following this teaching in Titus 2 is that the Word of God will be dishonored. What does that look like? Time magazine printed this letter from a woman in November 1996: "I'm tired of hearing about what God said in the Bible. Who can prove that God has ever said anything? The Bible is simply a storybook written by scribes. Too many bloody wars, genocides, crusades, missionary atrocities, and persecutions have taken place because of 'God's word.'" (Time, 11/18/96)
What are mature women to do with the teaching of Titus 2:2-5?
This leads us to the next section in this chapter. What are they to do with this teaching? They are to use it to train. Notice the qualities and training desired for the younger women—v. 6.
A Profile for Younger Women
Before we get to the specific training specified by Paul for the younger women, notice that he didn’t instruct Titus to take primary responsibility for teaching the younger women. This was a job for the older women. Why do you think he took this approach?
- Titus was a young man and probably single. There are always inherent dangers involved when young, single men teach younger women, particularly married women, and especially in a culture like that of Crete.
- What these young women needed to learn could best be learned through the modeling and observation of older women with whom they could identify.
- The most efficient way to multiply ministry among women was for Titus to teach older women who in turn could train the younger. It was and is an excellent plan for discipling others.
In this passage Paul instructs Titus to teach the older women to train the younger women in the following ways:
To love their husbands—v. 4. One of the first things young women were to learn was to love their husbands. Why was this necessary?
Many of these women may have been married to men they really were not attracted to. In the Cretan culture, marriages were probably arranged by parents, regardless of romantic feelings. Many women in the first century, as already stated, were used as marital conveniences to produce offspring. There was little or no real sense of commitment, security, or fondness under these circumstances.
This brings us to a very important observation. The common word meaning “to love” in the New Testament is agapao. It refers to a love that does the right thing no matter what one’s feelings are. It was this kind of love that sent Jesus Christ to the cross, though in His humanity, He prayed in the garden that He might be able to avoid the experience. But He did the will of God because He knew this was the right thing to do, in spite of His feelings.
However, the Greek word used by Paul in Titus 2:4 is phileo, a word used to describe the emotional dimensions of human relationships. It involves friendship and expresses delight and pleasure in doing something. This is why agapao is not used in the Bible specifically to describe sexual love - particularly sexual responsibility. Sexual love involves emotions, and a person cannot be commanded to “feel” a certain way toward someone else. However, a person can be urged to do something in spite of his feelings. For example, the Bible says, “Husbands, love (in an agape sense) your wives,” or, more dramatically, “Love your enemies.” But one cannot force a person to feel positive when he feels negative. Thus Paul worded the statement to Titus very carefully: older women were to “urge (train) the younger women to love their husbands.”
This kind of love can be learned. And since the husband was now to love his wife as Christ loved the church - an unconditional agapao love - a wife would begin to discover a sense of security and emotional satisfaction that would make it possible for her to respond with warm feelings of attraction and commitment. One of the best ways to learn to respond this way would be to see it demonstrated. So if a younger wife sees a loving friendship in an older couple, take the woman aside: Ask how they developed a friendship with their mate or how they work at their friendship? What are the things they do to make their friendship mutually satisfying? Also, notice how they affirm and value their friendship. Once true friendship is observed, mimic it and learn from it.
By the way, this is a wonderful encouragement to a single person. What does this instruction say about your relationships? Develop a friendship with the opposite sex, not a sexually driven, emotionally intensive relationship. Learning to develop friendships is not only more satisfying now, but in the future. If it’s God's will that you marry, a mutually satisfying godly friendship is the basis for a lasting and love-filled marriage. It also sets a healthy atmosphere for the whole household when children are present. As Susan Hunt writes, “A wise woman will help a young woman see the good qualities in her husband and appreciate them.” And here’s a key principle for young moms: “We must tell young women that the most powerful thing they can do for their children is to love their daddy.” (Hunt, ibid.)
To love their children—v. 4b. This phrase actually comes from one Greek word (philoteknos), which literally means to be “child-lovers.” Again, as in our previous instruction on women learning to “love their husbands,” Paul was referring to a phileo love, which definitely includes the emotional dimension in human relationships. These women were to learn to “love their children,” that is, to have positive feelings toward their offspring.
Their difficulty in loving their children probably relates to the same barriers as loving their husbands. Bearing children as a result of “dutiful performance” doesn’t set a very good stage for a love relationship between mother and children. Resentment toward a husband can be easily transferred to the children.
Even in our culture, loving children is far from “natural.” Do you recall the young woman who recently left her newborn in a dumpster? Thankfully its cries were heard. How about Andrea Yates, who in 2001 drowned her five children? More and more frequently, we hear of women killing their own children. Abortion (including partial-birth abortions), neglect, and abuse are rampant.
But this doesn’t speak only to the extremes. Christian moms need help loving their children, too. They don’t know all they need to know to raise them. They need help balancing their minds and hearts, listening to God’s Word and His Spirit to raise godly children in a very dark world. They need older role models to help them see the value of spending time with and investing in their kids and other children as well. Even young women without children need to learn how to love them; to be trustworthy and caring role models to friends’ children, nieces and nephews, children in their churches.
To be self-controlled—v. 5. Once again we encounter one of the qualities of life Paul reiterated most often. Like all Christians, young women were to be in control of their physical, psychological, and spiritual faculties. They were not to be in bondage to human nature’s desires, impulses, and passions. This is a basic reason why Paul instructed young widows to remarry—1 Tim. 5:11-14.
As in Crete, virtually nothing in our culture (except maybe getting thin and healthy) encourages self-control. Young Christian women need help with delayed gratification, self-denial, and moderation.
To be pure—v. 5b. Closely associated with the quality of self-control is purity. Marital fidelity in the Cretan culture was not a common practice. If a husband was getting his sexual satisfaction at a local house of prostitution, why should his wife be faithful to him? The message of Christ that Paul and Titus preached to the people on the island of Crete cut straight across this kind of thinking. It was a new message, one of purity, of loyalty in marriage, and of marital fidelity.
Peter emphasized this quality of life for women who were married to unsaved husbands; it was to serve as a divine means to bring their husbands to salvation. Thus Peter wrote, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives”—1 Peter 3:1,2.
How do young Christian women observe modesty? What is an appropriate approach to intimacy within our marriages? How does a young single woman conduct herself? These are huge questions that, in some cases, only an older woman can answer honestly and biblically!
To be busy at home—v. 5c. From a 21st century perspective, this may be one of the most controversial qualities stated in this list. However, most of the problems can be resolved by a proper interpretation of Scripture. Paul had the same concern for young Ephesian widows who got “into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house." And, wrote Paul, “not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” Consequently, Paul counseled these young women “to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander”—1 Tim. 5:13-14.
Therefore, this call to be busy at home is not mundane, but sacred. The Greek words “to manage their homes” convey the meaning of a “house master,” a total ruler. The woman is to be the queen of the functional workings of her home.
Does this rule out working outside the home? This is unclear. So it appears it’s up to each family to make that decision prayerfully and wisely. But what is clear is that the home should be every Christian woman’s priority, and the phrase “busy at home” is the key. (Should it be the husband’s priority as well? Of course!)
Why don’t churches offer “elective” classes in the basics of cooking, gardening, baking, parenting, sewing, household management, etc.? This focus on the home is not extraneous, but central to a woman’s impact in the kingdom, and many of the young women in local churches may not have had a good example in their homes growing up. All the more reason for older women to help in this training and by their own example.
How did the wise woman in Proverbs 31 exemplify this industriousness both in the home and outside it? She’s amazing! It says, she “works with eager hands...considers a field and buys it...her trading is profitable... makes linen garments and sells them...she provides food for her family...her arms are strong for her tasks...her lamp does not go out at night...she makes coverings for her bed...she watches over the affairs of her household.” I would guess she had fantastic training in her home, extended family and from other mentors!
To be kind—v. 5d. The basic Greek word agathos, translated “kind” in the NIV, refers to excellence in any respect, by which someone or something may be said to be distinguished, or good. No doubt Dorcas stands out in Scripture as a unique illustration of the kind of woman Paul was describing. The widows who had gathered to mourn her death held in their hands the “robes and other clothes” that Dorcas had made for the poor while she was still with them. She was a kind and generous woman who used her sewing skills to meet others’ needs—Acts 9:36-43.
One of the most elaborate biblical commentaries, however, on what Paul had in mind when he instructed older women to teach younger women to be good or kind appears in his first letter to Timothy. Here he was dealing with the problem of widows who were old enough to be put on the church rolls for help. “No woman,” wrote Paul, “may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good (kind) deeds.”
Then Paul explains what these good deeds were: “...bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds”—1 Tim. 5:9-10.
Obviously, many of these “kind” expressions were culturally related to the needs of that day. They are, however, illustrative of what Paul meant when he said that a mature Christian woman is “to be kind.”
Kindness is foundational to so many endeavors.
Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10] For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” (NLT)
Women in our day are often not expected to be kind. They are told (or it’s implied) to go get what they want. If they can be nice along the way, great, but it’s not a prerequiste. In contrast, the Bible commands us all to be kind in our overt and kind actions.
To be submissive—v. 5e. Many Christians (and non-believers particularly) misinterpret what Paul and other writers of Scripture meant when they emphasized that wives were to be subject to their husbands.
- First, the Bible teaches that submission should be a mutual, reciprocal expression among all Christians. In other words, it’s not a word used only for women. Eph. 5:21 says: “...submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
- Second, submission doesn’t mean that wives should never express their opinions or feelings. To believe that it does severely violates all the “one another” concepts in the New Testament.
- Third, submission doesn’t mean a wife should indulge in sin because her husband demands it. There are times when all Christians, including wives, must take seriously the requirement to “obey God rather than men”—Acts 5:19.
- Fourth, it’s best, then, when it’s a willing choice. It should not be imposed/forced. (See Philemon 1:9; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7.)
- Fifth, it doesn’t cancel out our equality—Gal. 3:28; Heb. 5:7; 1 Peter 3:7.
- Finally, submission certainly doesn’t mean that a wife should subject herself to physical and psychological abuse. The laws of both men and God protect a person from this kind of abuse. Submission doesn’t give the right to anyone to abuse, mistreat, be harsh, or disrespect! (See: How to have Happiness at Home or at Work—Part 1, Colossians 3:18-4:1, by Bob Stone.)
Submission refers to an attitude of “teachableness” toward other members of the body of Christ. All of us are to be involved in this reciprocal relationship. However, the Bible goes a step beyond and emphasizes submission on the part of wives toward their husbands. This is a consistent concept throughout the Bible, even antedating the Fall. A woman was not to dominate or control her husband, but rather respect him as her God-ordained protector and leader. (See Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18.)
This concept is still true within Christian marriage. However, it must be pointed out that when a husband “loves his wife as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19), submission becomes a very natural and easy thing for a wife to do. In fact, if both partners are committed to Jesus Christ, it’s possible for a couple to experience on a day-to-day basis the benefits of equality.
In other words, a husband will not have to operate as “the boss.” God never intended that he do so. He said that Jesus Christ is to be the husband’s example, and His lifestyle for the body of Christ involved unselfishness, humility, and a sacrificial spirit. The “love” husbands and wives should have for each other is described this way in Scripture: 1) Love is INITIATING—1 John 4:19; 2) Love is HUMBLE—Matt. 23:12; Phil. 2:8; 3); Love is TENDER—Matt. 23:37; 4) Love is SERVING/ACTING—John 13:1; 5) Love is VERBAL—Matt. 17:5; 6) Love is NOT HARSH—Col. 3:19b; 1 Cor. 13:4-8,13.
The average woman will find submission a very easy matter when her husband emulates Christ. In the book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, shows “love and respect” in a circle he calls, “The Energizing Cycle.” He says “a husband’s love motivates a wife’s respect, and in turn, that motivates his love.”
We’re talking here about “voluntary submission” from a spirit of obedience to Jesus—Eph. 5:21. “Picture it as a ‘spiritual greenhouse’ where under her husband’s protection, provision, and with his blessing, a woman is encouraged to develop her full potential... The world tells women that submission is foolish and renders us powerless. Scripture tells us submission gives access to the power and protection of God.” (Hunt, ibid.)
It’s true, however, that not every marriage is ideal. For example, there are unbelieving husbands, as there were in the New Testament. It’s in such a marriage that a woman may have to submit under circumstances that are not to her liking. Hopefully, God will use her attitude of willing and loving submission to bring her husband to Christ so that he, in turn, may eventually love as Christ loved. This is the whole thrust of Peter’s emphasis in his first epistle—1 Pet. 3:1-6.
1 Peter 3:3-6 says: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” Is fear holding young women back from submitting to their husbands? You’d better believe it!
The result of good training, on the other hand, is a far-reaching blessing
If it’s faithfully and consistently done, the result is that the opposition will be put to shame and ultimately silenced—2:5. We should follow this instruction in Titus 2, “…so that no one will malign the word of God.”
That younger women would live lives of praise to God is another goal of spiritual mothering: God’s glory is the ultimate purpose - us desiring to make Him look good. “Once God’s glory is our purpose, then we have a center point to which we can relate each decision and each situation....when a woman is absorbed with God’s glory, she will interpret her life according to His truth.” When it all comes down, it’s all about moving from a “me” worldview to a biblical worldview. When God's glory is our purpose, we will desire to serve Him, and Paul is helping Titus and us see how women will be best equipped for service in the kingdom.
It takes partnership between generations, coaching, and an older woman coming alongside a younger one to hold out a hand on a dark path. There is great potential for a revival of faith and virtue among women which would profoundly impact a watching nation. Susan Hunt explains, “When we reach women, we will reach the spiritual tempo of our culture.”
Mary is a great model for the younger women amongst us. It appears she milked every moment, and was teachable. She sought out Elizabeth. Often older women are willing, but they feel it would be presumptuous to approach a younger woman. So don’t be shy, younger women. It may take your initiation. It has been said that “giving birth and nurturing are two of the most profound and noble ways God enables women to glorify Him. Not every woman can give biological birth, but every Christian woman can enter the high calling of spiritual reproduction and motherhood.”
Application Questions and Actions
A Profile for Titus 2 Women
As with men in Titus 2, Paul was first of all concerned with those women who were older, not just spiritually, but chronologically. Paul wanted them to be godly examples to the younger women. Paul is obviously dealing with some special problems among women in the Cretan culture, but as with the qualifications for elders and for men in general, these characteristics we have just considered emerge as a criteria for measuring Christian maturity among women of all time, both old and young.
Lessons for Older Women
1. To be “reverent in the way they live”
Lessons for Younger Women
1. “To love their husbands”
At least two significant lessons emerge from the study of “biblical love.” First, actions are to take precedence over feelings. In fact, in many instances, positive feelings emerge in the process of doing what we know we must do. Second, feelings of affection can be learned. Paul certainly implied this in his statement to Titus. In most instances, affection is learned through example and experience.
PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS: As a married (or widowed) woman, to what extent are you loving your husband (or did you love your husband) at the “action” level? To what extent are you attempting to learn to love more deeply at the “feeling” level? Are you (were you) friends? Some people do not learn to love at the feeling level because they won’t deal with feelings of anger and bitterness. How are your feelings?
2. “To love their children”
Every mother, particularly every young mother, at times experiences feelings of resentment toward her children (or her husband that may impact her children). These feelings are normal. However, constant resentment indicates a serious problem that needs to be resolved.
PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS: What are you doing to handle the normal feelings of resentment? Do you get sufficient opportunity to get away from these pressures on a periodic basis? Do you need help balancing your mind and heart, as well as listening to God’s Word and His Spirit? Have you shared any deep feelings of frustration and anxiety with your husband and/or a sympathetic friend e.g., a mature women who will pray with you?
3. “To be self-controlled”
How are you coping with delayed gratification, self-denial and moderation? Have you found the joy of putting off the old and putting on the new? As you put off the negative, what are you putting on its place?
A PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTION: Are you controlling any inapproproate (undisciplined) desires to eat, drink, spend money and engage in any other worldly habits?
4. “To be “pure”
Remaining pure is becoming an increasing problem for women in our culture. The new sexual ethic (which is really the old sexual ethic that existed many years ago in Crete) is making it more difficult, especially for young women, to maintain a high level of morality. Everywhere we look there are blatant suggestions for illegitimate sexual behavior.
A PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTION: To what extent are you maintaining a life of moral purity? Hear Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”—Phil. 4:8.
5. “To be busy at home”
A PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTION: The important thing is not whether you’re working outside the home, going to school, or pursuing a professional career. Rather, it is this: Are you neglecting your priorities as a wife and/or a mother? If you have chosen “to manage your home; be a house master; be the queen of the functional workings of your home,” then you have a responsibility to fulfill those obligations if you are to indeed walk in the will of God. How’s that working out for you?
6. “To be kind”
PERSONAL LIFE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS: Are you a kind person, helping others find fulfillment in life? Are you kind to all people—both Christians and non-Christians? Paul’s exhortation is, “Let us not become weary in doing good (in being kind), for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good (be kind) to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”—Gal. 6:9-10.
7. “To be subject to their husbands”
A PERSONAL-RESPONSE QUESTION: How submissive are you to other people in leadership? As we saw in our application of this phrase, Paul is not urging a blind submission. The ultimate goal is what Ephesians 5:21 says: “...submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” How do you respond to the following quote? “Picture Biblical submission (when it is done right) as a ‘spiritual greenhouse’ where under her husband’s protection, provision, and with his blessing, a woman is encouraged to develop her full potential... The world tells women that submission is foolish and renders us powerless. Scripture tells us that submission gives access to the power and protection of God.” (Hunt, ibid.)
What are some of the areas where a Titus 2 woman might train a younger woman? The passage says: “Then they can train the younger women” that is, if they are living as they should, they will be able to communicate effectively. Not only will they know God’s Word, but they will know how biblical principles apply to specific situations. What situations?
Here’s a beginning list for one-to-one and/or group training times:
- how to lovingly and wisely discipline a child
- domestic skills - cooking, gardening, sewing, shopping, decorating on a budget, etc.
- how to build good and nurturing relationships with in-laws
- how to deal with intrusive and negative relationships with parents and in-laws
- how to be a soccer mom who keeps all her priorities in balance
- helping your child choose good friends and how a mother can contribute to that process
- how to relate to a child’s peer group teacher at church and his/her teaching
- building a life of meaningful hospitality
- appropriate social graces for all occasions
- how to grow a caring heart in a child
- how to help a child lovingly respond to the needy of the world and their own town/neighborhoods/ schools/church (see “A CAR for all Generations”—Proverbs 31 by Bob Stone.)
- Have you ever had a “Titus 2” relationship with someone? What kind of experience was/is it?
- What’s the value to a young woman of having an older woman in her life, as opposed to simply relying on peers for support and wisdom?
- What, if anything, about this type of relationship is intimidating for you, either as the older or the younger woman?
- What are the cultural messages you have most easily bought into? How could an older woman help a younger one see the deception in that message?
- Which of the older woman’s qualifications (teach what is good, be reverent, not be a slanderer, not be addicted to much wine) will need the most work in your life? What would be your first step in allowing God to change you?
- What should always be our ultimate goal in pursuing a mentor relationship according to verse 5?
- Which of the mandates for younger women most needs to be trained in you?
- How would you go about initiating a Titus 2 relationship? What are the obstacles you face personally to doing so?
Getz, Gene A. The Measure of a Christian. Regal Books: Ventura, CA, 1983.
Getz, Gene and Elaine. The Measure of a Woman. Gospel Light Pub.: Ventura, CA, 2004 (rev.).
Hocking, David. “Titus: Memo to a Godly Leader.” Biola University: La Mirada, CA, 1989.
Hunt, Susan. Spiritual Mothering. Crossway Books: 1992.
Kraft, Vickie. Women Mentoring Women. Moody Press: Chicago, IL, 1992.
Kent, Homer A., Jr. The Pastoral Epistles. Moody Press: Chicago, IL, 1982.
Draper, James T., Jr. Titus: Patterns for Church Living. Tyndale House: Wheaton, IL, 1978.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Love and Respect. Integrity Publishers: Franklin, TN, 2004.
It can be an unnerving experience to stumble down a path you know should be leading you home, on a dark night. Not only are you afraid of danger with every step, but you are not altogether sure you will end up where you want to be. This culture is a far darker place for women today than a dark path on the most moonless of nights, and they need someone with a flashlight up ahead, someone who knows the path. They need a mentor.