Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Neither male nor female" (8)


Titus 2:1-5

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

The letter to Titus differs from the letter to Timothy in a number of ways. While both men had similar tasks to perform in setting the chur­ches in their area of responsibility in order, the circumstances and cultures differed. Hence, Paul gives different instructions.

While Timothy had to deal with a problem in Ephesus where uneducated women had been spreading the doctrines of the false teachers, Titus did not have to deal with this situation. Paul says nothing here about women speaking. However, he does say that in a church which does not have to deal with a problem of unedu­cated women, women have a ministry which is almost identical to mens'.

His instructions to Titus in this part of the letter are first about "the older men". The Greek word here is presbutas. The word is related to that used in 1:5 "appoint elders in every town" (presbuteros, the usual word for the office of church or synagogue elder). It was Titus' mission to organise the chur­ches in Crete and Paul is giving instructions on how to appoint the church leaders.

In 2:3 he gives advice about "the older women". The word here is presbutis, the femi­nine form of presbutas. The characteristics which follow for both the older men and older women are very similar to the qualifications given for elders/bishops in both Titus and 1 Timothy. The suggestion has been made that these older men and women are part of the council of elders. The older womens' ministry includes teaching younger women to be exemplary Christians, but is not restricted to this.

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