Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the November 2020 issue of Christian Standard + The Lookout. (Subscribe to our print edition.)
“How Do We Treat Those Student Drivers?” by David Faust (Lesson Application)
Discovery Questions for Nov. 15, 2020
Lesson Aim: Commit to proper application of biblical teaching to every demographic in the church.
By Mark Scott
Seth Wilson said, “All of our efforts to control people show our failure to convert them.” Jesus is the one who has control in the church. The rest of us have responsibility and influence. And influence is probably best exercised through teaching. At the end of the day, our ability to persuade people through teaching is our best leverage in helping them grow in Christ. That is why teaching is of such huge importance in the church. Teaching is also a major concern in this chapter. A form of the word teach occurs several times throughout this chapter. Words like speak (in Greek), urge, encourage, and rebuke are also used.
A new hurdle for teaching in the church today is that for the first time in history five generations are “going to church” together and being taught. In addition to racism and sexism, we now face ageism (see Haydn Shaw’s book Generational I.Q.). How was a young apostolate delegate like Titus to go about teaching the age and gender categories in the churches of the 100 cities in Crete? For Titus to teach (speak) what is appropriate to sound doctrine (v. 1) to every demographic in the church demanded patience, prayer, and Solomon-like wisdom.
Teach the Old
Yes, there were older first-generation Christians in the churches in Crete (Acts 2:11). Some of them were men. Titus was to help them to be temperate (sober-minded), worthy of respect (dignified; one who does not repel but attracts), self-controlled (discreet and disciplined), and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Obviously, Titus—a young whippersnapper—needed accelerated maturity to get the older men to accept his instruction (see vv. 7-8).
Some of the old were, of course, women. Titus was to teach them to be reverent (as in temple-sacred), not to be slanderers (devilish), or addicted(slaves) to much wine. In turn, Titus needed to convince the older women to invest in the younger women. For the sake of propriety, this arrangement always works best.
Teach the Young
In Western culture, we should not assume younger women automatically know how to be domestic. Learning how to love and be subject to their husbands is not easy. Loving children is a bit easier. The older women could help the younger women be self-controlled and pure. They needed to be taught to be “keepers of the home” (busy at home) and kind. If the older women did not teach the young women these things, then God’s Word could be maligned (blasphemed). Our behavior is a step forward or step backward to someone else’s belief.
Titus was also to encourage the young men to be self-controlled. But the best way to teach peers is by example (model) by doing what is good. If Titus showed integrity (incorruptibility or purity), seriousness (decency and dignity), and soundness of speech the young men would follow, and the opposition’s accusations would come to nothing. Titus 2:1-8 greatly expanded on 1 Timothy 5:1-2.
Teach the Slaves
It is difficult for us to speak of slavery without thinking of captivity, deportation, and oppression. Slavery in the ancient world was different (see Scott Bartchy’s First-Century Slavery and the Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:21). But in Titus’s climate in Crete, it was best to teach Christian slaves to be subject to their masters, please them, not talk back to them, and not steal from them so they could earn their master’s trust. This would be their best witness so that the gospel would be attractive. In his Galatians & Ephesians commentary, Kenny Boles said, “Paul plants the seeds by which slavery would finally be destroyed.”
Let Grace Teach
The grace of God, of course, was a better teacher than either Paul or Titus. Grace (God’s love for us that we do not deserve) saves, equips, energizes, and teaches. Paul closed this section of his letter by considering the past, present, and future of grace. God’s grace appeared (theological longhand for “Jesus came”). And Jesus offered salvation for all. But grace also teaches (trains) believers to refuse ungodliness and worldly passions. And grace teaches believers to embrace self-control and live upright and godly lives now. Believers do this while they wait for ultimate grace (the blessed hope) to appear in the return of Christ to the earth.
Paul wrapped this grace in the gospel. Jesus gave himself to redeem us so that we would be his people, eager to do what is good. Titus was to teach and teach and teach that again and again.
Repeating what is known is always good. The old people know it but are encouraged by it. The younger people begin to know and understand it while the newer believers or seekers start discovering something new.
Titus and Timothy as well as a chapter in Ephesians are good to study together about the elders. More qualified teaching elders would be a blessing to a congregation.