After the trauma of major surgery, the body must rest and heal. Doctors, nurses, and family members all work hard to help the patient regain a sound, healthy body, where all the parts are whole and functioning properly. A similar kind of “spiritual soundness” is the concern of today’s passage where Titus was told to “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine” (v. 1).
Notice the two-fold focus. Titus must not only teach the sound doctrine itself but also “what is appropriate” to it, that is, a lifestyle consistent with sound doctrine. The two go hand in hand, for a doctrinally sound church should also have sound morals. So after having surgically removed the danger of false teaching, Titus must now instruct in proper living.
Titus was to teach the older men to be “temperate, worthy of respect, [and] self-controlled” (v. 2), virtues many Greco-Romans already prized. But there was a Christian dimension as well: to be “sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” They needed to live out their faith in tangible ways. Likewise, Titus was to teach the older women to show reverence and self-control in body and speech. Their actions around the home were to demonstrate good management of the household as well as love and respect for husbands and children. Older women were also expected to teach the younger women to follow their examples.
Finally, Titus was to “encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (v. 6). This is less about formal instruction and more about providing an example of doing good and showing “integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech” (vv. 7–8). Notice the repetition of “soundness” throughout the passage. Whether male or female, young or old, a sound faith must include sound living.