Sound Doctrine and Godly Living
Philippe R. Sterling
Qualified elders of the church are to counter false teaching and teach sound doctrine that leads to godly living.
Paul had visited Crete after his imprisonment in Rome and left the island with the work of organizing the local churches incomplete. He left Titus in Crete to set things in order and appoint elders in every city (1:5). He now writes to provide directions for the task.
Literary Structure and Content
I. Opening: Paul writes to Titus to further the faith and knowledge of the truth that corresponds to godliness
in accordance with the commandment of God (1:1-4).
II. Task of Titus: Establish order and appoint elders in the cities of Crete (1:5).
III. Appointing Elders: Titus is to appoint qualified elders in the churches of Crete who will be able to teach
sound doctrine and suppress false teaching (1:6-9).
A. Qualifications of Elders: Elders are to be above reproach holding fast the faithful word (1:6-9a). The qualities
of being above reproach are expressed positively and negatively.
B. Task of Elders: Elders who are above reproach and who hold fast the faithful word are able to teach
sound doctrine and suppress false teaching (1:9b).
IV. Establishing Order: Titus is to establish order in the churches of Crete by suppressing false teaching and
teaching sound doctrine (1:10–3:11).
A. Suppress false teachers (1:10-16).
1. Qualified elders are needed to counter false teachers (1:10-11).
2. The Cretans needed severe reproof so as to be sound in faith (1:12-14).
3. Purity of doctrine produces purity of life and a polluted mind renders one worthless for any good deed
B. Teach sound doctrine (2:1–3:7).
1. Statement of Task: Teach sound doctrine (2:1).
2. Instruction to Various Groups: Instruct various groups in godly living (2:2-10)
a. Older Men: Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in
b. Older Women: are to be reverent, restrained in gossip and drink, teaching and training the
younger women (2:3).
c. Younger Women: Younger women are to honor the word of God by lovingly fulfilling their roles as
wives and mothers (2:4-5).
d. Younger Men: Model and teach godly living to the younger men (2:6-8).
e. Servants: Servants are to adorn the word of God by their service in good faith (2:9-10).
3. The Grace of God and the Blessed Hope: Model and teach godly living in response to the appearing of
the grace of God and in anticipation of the appearing of Christ (2:11-14).
a. The Grace of God: The grace of God brings salvation and promotes godly living (2:11-12).
b. The Blessed Hope: Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of Christ motivates godly living
4. Restatement of Task: These things speak and exhort and reprove (2:15).
5. Further Instructions: Respect authority and be ready for every good deed (3:1-2).
6. Salvation by Grace not Works: We are justified by God’s grace apart from works (3:3-7). The Holy
Spirit regenerates and renews.
C. Review of Task: Teach sound doctrine so that those who have believed in God will engage in good deeds,
and suppress false teachers (3:8-11).
V. Closing: Paul addresses transition of leadership, hospitality for itinerant preachers, meeting pressing needs;
and conveys final greetings and a benediction (3:12-15).
Theological Reflection and Application
We can make the following observations and applications from Titus:
- The word of God, the grace of God and the Spirit of God are sufficient to develop godly leaders and godly believers.
2. The character of leaders is vital for the instruction of believers in the faith and the suppression of false teachers.
3. False teaching is destructive and has to be countered in the church.
4. We are justified by God’s grace.
5. The Holy Spirit regenerates and renews.
6. Grace enables us to live godly lives.
7. The blessed hope of the rapture motivates our godliness.
8. Believers are to engage in good works and present a good testimony.
9. How do we recognize sound teaching?
- It is in accordance with the word of God.
- It is centered on Christ.
- It is founded on grace.
- It promotes spiritual health in ourselves and others.
- It encourages good works.