Contained in the instruction to the older women is instruction to younger women as well. In Paul's teaching format, which is limited to the most typical categories of society, younger women means younger married women, for in that day most would have been married. Such a woman was to excel in the socially acceptable role of the homemaker, and therefore domestic concerns dominate. Paul's choice of verb, train, is related to a word that means "self-control," "prudence," "moderation" and "discretion" (2:2, 5; 1 Tim 2:9; 3:2). Though it can mean "to bring back to one's senses" (which might imply that some young women had been influenced by the false teaching; 1:11), perhaps Paul chose it to underline the theme of discretion and self-control in outward Christian behavior.
Although there were exceptions (and Paul envisaged one; see below), for the young woman of that day respectability generally meant marriage. Within marriage she was to love her husband and children. To the honorable Jew or Gentile in that day, the presence of this kind of love indicated an exceptional wife. The Christian wife who sets an example of love sends a powerful message that is understandable even to those outside the church.
The next two terms, self-controlled (or "sensible"—2:2; 1 Tim 2:9; 3:2) and pure (1 Tim 2:15; 4:12; 5:2, 22), seem to digress from the theme of domesticity. However, in that they probably refer to sexual conduct, they are quite appropriate to discussion of a wife's Christian conduct. If the matter of love just mentioned is settled, self-control and purity are bound to follow.
Next, another pair of words either instruct the young woman to be busy at home and kind or together mean "to be an efficient homemaker." In either case, the emphasis on skill in managing the home is typical of Paul's (and secular) thinking about the young woman's acceptable role (1 Tim 2:15; 5:14). A reference to "kindness" undoubtedly would remind the young woman to pay attention to those around her as she goes about her daily business.
Finally, submission to the husband is mentioned. This is a typical feature of New Testament teaching about the role relationship of the wife to the husband (Eph 5:22; Col 3:18; 1 Pet 3:10) and again is obviously in touch with the secular idea of marriage. However, Paul's concept of "submission" contained notions of mutuality of respect and love and thus clearly transcended the secular notion.
Compared with the discussions in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, Paul's "subordination" teaching in Titus 2:5 is abbreviated; he has left off instructions to the husband that would emphasize mutuality of responsibility, and he has added the purpose of protecting God's Word (see below). There are two possible explanations for the "harsher" appearance of 2:5 (see on 1 Tim 2:11-15): (1) All that is set forth in Ephesians is implied; he writes briefly and addresses the more serious problems surrounding the home and women in the home. (2) The instruction is indeed intended to be stricter; disruption in the church that affected the women led Paul to clamp down on women to protect the church's reputation in the world. Given the fact that there is really nothing here that Paul does not say in related passages (he simply passes over the husband's role), the first alternative seems best. Perhaps we should (1) acknowledge the special problems in the Cretan Christian households, (2) consider Ephesians 5 as a more thorough treatment of marriage and (3) focus on the purpose (see below) of the wife's full engagement in the institution of marriage.
There is no question that the behavior of the Christian wife taught here would have pleased the pagan critic. In fact, this lifestyle has the outsider in mind, as the purpose (so that) of verse 5 reveals. One of Paul's concerns was to protect the Christian message (the word of God; compare Col 1:5; 1 Thess 2:13) from charges that it encouraged disrespectful or revolutionary behavior. The Old Testament prophets feared that God's name would be slandered by the nations because of the ungodly behavior of God's own people (Is 52:5; Ezek 36:20-36; see 1 Tim 6:1 and notes). This same theme receives a more distinct missionary interpretation in the New Testament: respectable behavior, which bears witness to the power and truth of God, enhances the church's witness (1 Thess 4:12; 1 Tim 6:1; 1 Pet 2:11-12).
There was, however, an important exception to the rule of marriage, and in view of the modern situation we should pause to consider it. In Paul's thinking, for a Christian woman (or man) to remain single had many advantages for ministry (1 Cor 7:1, 7, 8, 32-34), but it required a special gift (Mt 19:11-12; 1 Cor 7:7). The advantages led Paul to encourage those with this gift to remain single. But alongside the advantages of singleness were dangers in the form of temptation. So the qualities of self-control and sexual purity (v. 5) were to be clearly evident (compare 1 Cor 7:2, 5, 9) among the unmarried. A single Christian woman would be expected to exhibit a lifestyle that avoided any suspicion of immorality.
If anything, the challenges that face the single Christian woman (and man) today are even greater. With greater freedom, mobility and responsibility, combined with society's indifference to sexual behavior, the temptations have multiplied. Yet God's will has not changed. Purity and self-control must characterize the lifestyle of the single Christian woman. And the "countercultural" message she sends will be received all the more clearly.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.