NKJ – Titus 1:9-2:1
9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,
14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
It is in this passage where Paul, after briefly outlining the character qualifications for an Elder, focuses in on the qualification of teaching for an Elder.
I believe 1 Timothy 4:13 – 16 helps us see the importance of teaching to the man who is in the position of pastor/elder. Even showing it to be at the very core of what he does and who he is.
I also believe Titus 1:9 – 2:1 helps us see more clearly what Paul means when he says a Bishop/Pastor/Elder must be “able to teach.” In other words if teaching is so important, so critical and central to the very position of Elder itself, how do you know if a man is “able to teach” or not?
Let’s look at Titus 1:9 – 2:1.
My translation 1:9:
He must cling to the faithful word as taught, (a)
to expose those who contradict it. (c)
ESV – 1:10 – 16
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
My Translation – 2:1
But you, speak what fits with sound doctrine.
I believe it is here where Paul more clearly articulates what he means by “able to teach.” Although the same word is not used here, most agree Paul is instructing Titus in the same way and for a similar purpose as his instruction to Timothy. If so the outline of this qualification here would correspond with the “able to teach” qualification in 1 Timothy 3:2.
What is Paul saying?
- vs. 1:9a => An Elder must cling to the faithful word as taught.
- This word “cling” is used in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 where Jesus says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted [cling] to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
- It carries the idea of “having strong devotion to” be “wholly dedicated to” something.
- “the faithful word as taught” This is very likely a reference back to 1:3 where Paul mentions the “Word” he has preached.
- Paul is saying that an Elder must be thoroughly committed to and wholly clinging to the Gospel. This is not someone who is still trying to figure out what they believe about the Gospel or toying with other views of the Gospel.
- This must be true of him for two reasons:
- 1:9b => “so that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine”
- This word “exhort” is a verb form (infinitive) of the noun “exhortation” found in 1 Timothy 3:14. It carries the meaning, “to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage.”
- His ability to exhort others is not simply as result of having a certain body of knowledge. Can he take that knowledge, organize it in such a way and speak the truth so that as a result others are exhorted? Or, though he has the knowledge are others left more in a fog, less clear as to what he is saying and certainly not exhorted?
- What is he to exhort others in? “the sound doctrine.” This is almost a technical term for Paul in the Pastoral Epistles. He uses it here and in 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:3 and Titus 2:1. It is “the sound doctrine.” Not various whims or fads, not this elder’s opinions or personal thoughts, but the sound doctrine which was give to Paul, passed on to Timothy and Titus, which they are to be in the process of passing on to others (2 Tim. 2:2) and which has been passed on to us in the Scriptures.
- 1:9c => “so that he may be able to expose those who contradict the sound doctrine.”
- He not only must be able to exhort and encourage others in the sound doctrine. He must be able to expose those who contradict the sound doctrine.
- Here is another criteria of what it means to “be able to teach.” Wholly clinging to the sound doctrine as it has been passed on to him, is he able to clearly understand the various errors which are being propagated in the church, why they are in error and clearly “expose” the error and those who are teaching the error for what it is?
- Paul uses this term 5 times in the Pastor Epistles (1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9, 1:13 and 2:15) clearly showing this to be a significant function of an Elder.
- Again, simply having learned a body of knowledge does not make one able to do this. Has he studied, been taught and humbly learned “the sound doctrine” fro others (2 Timothy 2:2)? Has he listened and learned the error which needs exposing? Is he able to clearly respond to the error with truth so that as a result it is vividly exposed for all that it is?
Paul continues in verses 10 – 16 of chapter 1 giving a vivid picture of why this is so critical. Why does an Elder need to be able to do these two things? Why does Titus need to ensure he is able?
Because there are false teachers within the church!
Is this not true anymore? Was that just an early church problem? I invite you to browse the shelves of your local “Christian Bookstore” if you think that for a minute!
In verse 13, Paul clearly instructs Titus to “rebuke” [expose] them sharply. If Titus is to do this and if he is responsible for the identifying and training of future elders then it is apparent they will need to be able to do the same.
Paul makes a transition in 2:1 and in so doing closes out the previous discussion (while at the same time introducing the next topic) by saying “But you, speak what fits with sound doctrine.”
In this transitional statement, Paul commands (“speak” is an imperative) Titus to speak what is fitting/suitable with sound doctrine. Titus is to ensure that his speech is fitting, unambiguous, clearly suitable to the truth of sound doctrine.
Conclusion: “Able to teach” – what is necessary for this qualification? (Parts #1 – #4).
- An elder must “be able to teach.”
- This ability is something that must be observed and confirmed by others prior to him becoming an elder.
- There is a level of giftedness that is apparent in those “able to teach.”
- This does not mean there is no room for growth and improvement, there certainly is as there was for Timothy.
- In order for this to be observed and confirmed a man should be given training both in doctrine and in the “art” of teaching by his leaders (2 Timothy 2:2). He should also be given a variety of experiences and opportunities to serve in areas of teaching where he can be observed and helpfully critiqued.
- In order to confirm that a man is “able to teach” the following three criteria must be met, according to Titus 1:9:
- He must be wholly clinging to the truth of sound doctrine in which he has humbly been instructed by others.
- He must be able to clearly express that which he has been taught in such a way resulting in those he is instructing being exhorted/encouraged in the truth.
- He must be able to clearly express that which he has been taught along with clearly understanding the errors currently propagating in the church in order to teach the sound doctrine in such a way that error is clearly exposed for what it is.
The standard is high. On one had we don’t want to make it higher than God has made it, on the other hand we don’t want to lower it.
A couple of questions we need to ask:
- Are we (as a church and leaders in the church in particular) actively training men both in sound doctrine and in the development of their ability to teach?
- Are we confirming a man as “able to teach” before we are putting him in a position that is a position of a teacher at its very core?
 This is the verb form of the noun found in 1 Timothy 3:14. Timothy is to give himself to exhortation.
 The phrase “sound doctrine” here and in 2:1 are nearly identical. In 1:9 both words “sound” and “doctrine” are preceded by an article in the Greek, whereas in 2:1 only “sound” is. As a result I have retained the article in 1:9 and did not include it in 2:1.