Online Bible Commentary
A Pattern of Good Works
Titus 2:6 Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul continues this Pastoral Epistle to Titus, with instructions to those who teach the word of God. Titus has been assigned the task to appoint and train overseers (pastors) for the new churches on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea.
Cretans were infamous for their devotion to obtaining wealth, at any cost. Also, many of the new Christians, who were evangelized by Paul and Titus, were Jewish and wanted to hold on to the Jewish rituals, which were considered false teaching by Christianity. These were just some of the challenges that Titus faced.
In this passage, Paul begins by writing, through his amanuensis Luke, “Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded” (v. 6). He is calling for preaching to young men to be self-controlled in their actions.
Next, he writes “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works (v. 7a). The literal Greek translation of this is “concerning all things yourself, holding forth a pattern of good works, in the teaching.” Titus, himself a young man, is being called to good works in his teaching.
Paul continues by writing “in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility” (v. 7b). So, he defines “a pattern of good works, in the teaching” by giving three behaviors pastors are to model when teaching.
The word translated “integrity” is the Greek word “adiaphthoria’, which means “incorruptibleness of doctrine”. Their teaching should be of sound doctrine, the truth of Scripture.
Secondly, the word translated “reverence” is the Greek word “semnotes” which means “gravity”. Pastors should not play loose and fast with teaching. They should understand the gravity associated with speaking for the Lord, and prepare accordingly.
Lastly, the word translated “incorruptibility” is the Greek word “aphtharsia” which means “immortality”. Their teaching should be of unending existence. In other words, the word of God should be presented as never ending, never changing.
Next, Paul writes “sound speech that cannot be condemned” (v. 8a). The purpose of these behaviors is so that these pastors, and Christianity itself, cannot be condemned.
Paul writes “that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (v. 8b). Those who oppose the message will have nothing to hang their hats on, no proof for their accusations. The opposition includes those pagan critics outside the church, and those inside the church who may be supporting false teaching.
Next, Paul writes “Exhort bondservants” (v. 9a). After, instructing Titus on how to preach to young men and how to behave himself, he now instructs him on how to preach to slaves.
It is very important to understand that slavery was never endorsed by Christianity. The practice stands in stark contrast to Christian doctrine.
However, since slavery was the law of the land, it was addressed. It was always addressed in a manner that called for good treatment of slaves.
Many slaves were Christians, and as such commanded higher prices at public auctions than the non-Christian slaves.
Slaves would often be entrusted by their masters to purchase goods for them. Slave owners recognized that Christian slaves were being taught to be honorable and trustworthy.
Next, Paul writes “to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity,” (vv. 9b-10a). Paul calls for slaves in the church to be taught five virtues.
They were to be taught to be submissive to their masters, to try to please them, not to talk back, not to steal, and to be trustworthy in all things. This same teaching applies to the obligation of employees to their employers.
Paul completes this passage by writing “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (v. 10b). The purpose of these teachings was the same purpose of the teaching to the other segments of church members.
That purpose was so that Christianity could be seen as attractive to those outside the church. The goal was to spread Christianity, to take the Gospel to the world.
As Christians, we need to pay attention to our behavior. Non-Christians, especially our critics, are watching.
If we teach one thing, and do another we make ourselves out to be hypocrites. We make Christianity unattractive to others, and we destroy the message of the Lord.
We are called to be “a pattern of good works.”