Verses 6-8 address instructions (in the third person, through Titus) to younger men and blend them with instructions to Titus himself (v. 7). The effect is similar to that achieved in 1 Timothy 5:1-2, where Timothy receives instructions as a member of an age group which generally apply to all members of that age group. What constitutes godly respectability for this group?
Paul draws from the same class of terms to describe observable Christian behavior. First, young men are to maintain a sensible and respectable bearing in all aspects of life (vv. 6-7; the NIV interpretation, self-controlled, captures just a part of this term's intention, and without a break in the Greek sentence between self-controlled and in everything, the latter belongs with the former).
Then Paul instructs Titus (as he did Timothy in 1 Tim 4:12) to be an example of "good works," which means in his visible expression of genuine faith. In his conduct Titus is thus to be the antithesis of the false teachers (1:16).
This contrast continues as the thought turns to ministry. First, Titus must teach, as the NIV interprets it, with integrity. The term envisions avoidance of the corruption introduced by the heretics. Moreover, since verse 8 takes up the thought of the content of Titus's teaching, "with integrity" probably focuses on motive of teaching; of course, the false teachers' motives were manifestly corrupt (1:11).
Second, in his teaching he must exhibit seriousness, the dignified bearing that bespeaks the importance of the Christian task. In contrast, the opponents were unruly, arrogant and rebellious (1:10).
Finally, Titus's message (not speech as in the NIV) is to be "sound"—that is, "healthy" (and health-producing; see 1 Tim 1:10)—in its doctrine, and untainted by the false beliefs (v. 8). This true gospel cannot be condemned by those outside the church as giving rise to disorder and unseemly behavior.
What is the motivating force behind this instruction? The purpose clause (so that) shows that the opinion of the outsider to the faith is in view (though some argue that the opponent in mind is the false teacher; see notes). The early church had to deal with criticism of its "new religion" constantly (1 Pet 2:12; 3:9-16). In Titus's case, the distortion of the gospel and related upset in behavior caused by the false teachers did not make the matter of relating to the world any easier. However, exemplary conduct, pure motives, dignified bearing and sound teaching leave no basis for the outsider's allegations. The outsider will be silenced and even put to shame for slandering those who are innocent. But Paul does not seek solely to legitimate the new religion in this way; his concern is to protect the gospel, continue the evangelistic mission (2:5, 10; 1:1-3) and at the same time encourage a lifestyle that exemplifies God's will for humankind.
Titus's lifestyle and ministry must be exemplary. They must bear the marks of dedicated commitment to the genuine Christian faith. In this way all basis for slander is removed and the way forward for the gospel is opened.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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