Theology 101 – Part 2
God uses our old age to impart gospel-centered wisdom to the next generation in the church.
What is one thing you thought was important when you were younger that you have since grown out of?
What is one thing that’s important to you now that would surprise your younger self? What are some of the reasons we grow out of pursuits like that?
Whether it’s video games, playing certain sports, or having tea parties, we grow out of things as we get older. The things that once were very important to us now seem childish because we’ve moved onto more important things. As we age, it’s important that we impart gospel-centered wisdom about life to the younger generation, and that we do so in a manner consistent with that gospel. In our text today, this is exactly what Paul teaches us.
Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.
Read Titus 2:1-2.
Paul first instructs older men to be level-headed. What does it look like to be this way? Do you know of an older man who exhibits this trait well?
Is it harder to be level-headed when you are older or younger? Explain your answer.
The term rendered “level headed” is from a Greek word group that literally means “soberness,” in contrast to drunkenness. If Paul was using this term figuratively, it indicates that older men are to have complete clarity of mind and its resulting good judgment. If he meant it literally, it indicates older men are simply to be wise with their use of wine (like the older women in. 3). Given the context of other attributes in the list, he all but certainly used the term figuratively, though a literal interpretation is consistent with the figurative.
What is respect? What does it look like for an older man to live in a such a way that earns the respect of others in the church?
The term rendered “worthy of respect” suggests dignity and therefore reflects upon the older man’s manner of behaving. He is not to be frivolous or silly in his conduct or relationships. This is not to suggest an older man should not have a sense of humor, but only that he should not behave in such a way that suggests life has no meaning within the context of eternity.
Paul also expects older men in the church to be self-controlled. What does this mean? Do you think this is harder for an older man than a younger man, or vice versa? Harder for a man than a woman? Explain your answer.
The third characteristic desired for older men is “self-controlled.” The importance of this characteristic being demonstrated by all Christians becomes apparent when we realize this term and other forms of it are applied directly not only to the “older men” in v. 2 but also to the “older women” (v. 4), the “young women” (v. 5), and the “younger men” (v. 6). It is one of the essential characteristics of the Christian life, not merely something for men or women, young or old. It should be a distinguishing feature of Christian character consistently practiced within the home, the church, and among nonbelievers.
Verse 3 ends with a call for older men to be “sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” What is the relationship between these three things? Are these especially challenging when we age, or not? Explain.
The latter years of life, especially for men, can be filled with regrets, a sense of uselessness or worthlessness, feelings of despair, self-absorption, or even a tendency to relax moral standards because of old age. However, Paul desired for the older men what he desired for himself as he approached the end of life: To have fought the good fight, to have finished the race, to have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7).
Read Titus 2:3-5.
Compare and contrast the list of directives for older women in verse 3 with those for older men. Which are similar? Which are distinct? What role does gender play for those characteristics that are distinct?
There is certainly some overlap between what Paul expects of older men and older women, but their different roles in the home, church and world lead to different points of emphasis from Paul as well.
As children grow up and leave home, the older woman’s focus may become less defined as her familial responsibilities become less demanding. This may contribute to feelings of uselessness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and self-pity. Paul suggested in this passage that older women should possess personal godliness, be worthy of respect, and play an essential role in the lives of the young women in the church. The concept of spiritual mentoring is especially evident in this passage.
Discuss the list of attributes that older women are to encourage in younger women (found in vv. 4-5). Are these things relevant to young women today? Why or why not?
The very specific characteristics proposed by Paul suggest that he primarily had younger wives in mind. Of the seven adjectives used to describe the desirable qualities for Christian young women, four implicitly presuppose a life involving marriage and family. The exhortation to “love their husbands and children” expresses two Greek terms that commonly described characteristics highly desirable in a woman. “Working at home” should be understood as “efficiently managing one’s household responsibilities,” while being “kind” indicates that a young woman should not be irritable in light of the nagging demands of maintaining a home and rearing children. Submissiveness does not imply inferiority, only a difference in roles.
Why do you think Paul chose to emphasize these things in the older men and women of the church?
What do these verses show us about the importance of relationships beyond those who are most like us?
If Paul were writing to our modern culture, how would he rephrase these commands?
What older Christian men and women have provided a good example for you to follow as you grow and mature in the faith?
Our spiritual formation is a life long process. As we grow older, we actually take on the responsibility of helping others along in their walk with Christ. In fact, We make the message of the gospel more attractive to outsiders when we live responsible, self-controlled lives.
Pray and thank God for the grace that not only finds us but then teaches to live in accordance with who God has made us to be in Christ. Pray that you will age well, imparting gospel wisdom to the next generation.