Titus 2:1
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine - respecting the special deportment of Christians of every age, sex, and rank.

I. CHRISTIANITY IS A SYSTEM OF DOCTRINE AS WELL AS LIFE. It is a doctrine that it may be a life.

1. The doctrine is contrasted with the fables of the false teachers, who did nothing by their speculations but lower the tone of Christian life. A true moral life was only possible on the basis of the facts of the gospel plan of salvation (ver. 11).

2. Its soundness contrasts with the unhealthy teaching of the false teachers. It is called "the good doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:6), and the "doctrine according to godliness" (1 Timothy 6:3). Every other system corrupts; the sound doctrine renovates, elevates, purifies; for our Lord said, "Sanctify them through thy truth." It is milk for babes and meat for strong men.

II. IT IS THE DUTY OF MINISTERS TO PREACH THIS SOUND DOCTRINE. It ought to be preached:

1. Publicly and plainly, since there are so many" vain teachers."

2. With certainty, as being the undoubted truth.

3. With all boldness, as without fear of man or seeking to please man.

4. At all times, in season and out of season.

5. In its due relation to the duties of religion, as the spring of obedience. - T.C.







But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine
Titus' duty is laid down by way of opposition, and knit to the former matter and chapter by the conjunction, But teach thou. As if he had said, Although the false teachers whom I have described dote upon dreams, and feed their hearers with fancies and doctrines of men, to the corrupting and poisoning of souls, and turning men away from the truth, thou must be utterly unlike them in thy preaching; they speak pleasing things, but thou must speak profitable; they, by despising the simplicity of the gospel, fall not only into dangerous errors which they broach, but into loose and idle discourses which bring diseases upon the soul; but thou, on the contrary, must plainly and familiarly discover unto all estates of men and women their estates and duties, that thereby they may be brought to soundness; they cannot but speak and teach as they are; but let them trifle as they will, and live as they list, thou hast betaken thee to another service than that of man, and must carry thy ministry as becometh a sound teacher of the truth, which is according to godliness.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

I. NO CHRISTIAN MINISTER NOR MAN MUST BE SO SHAKEN AT THE UNGODLY COURSES OF OTHERS IN THEIR RANK as that they either give over or give back from their uprightness in their duties, for Titus, although he might seem to be cried down by the general voice of false and pompous teachers, yet must he not be silent; and though he might be troubled and opposed, yet must he not be timorous or sluggish; and though his doctrine was not received nor obeyed, yet he must not be weary of tendering and teaching it; yea, be it that the world would rather applaud mockers and time servers, yet must not he discontentedly with Jonas turn another way, but look unto his own duty in serving God, his Church, and men's salvations. Let others stand or fall to their own masters, it is safe for every man so to lay his counters as that his Master may find him doing, yea, well-doing.

II. THE SCOPE OF EVERY MINISTER IN HIS TEACHING MUST BE TO FEED THE PEOPLE OF GOD WITH WHOLESOME DOCTRINE, such as may bring the souls of men to health and soundness. For —

1. If the common talk of Christians must be edifying, ministering grace, bring sweetness to the soul, and health to the bones; if it be required of every righteous man that his lips should feed many, nay, more, if the law of grace must sit under the lips of every virtuous woman, much more must the minister's, whose office in peculiar bindeth him to be a pastor or feeder, and that according to God's own heart, he having for this purpose received his calling, gifts, and approbation of God.

2. Otherwise he perverteth the whole course of his life and calling, and is no better than those false apostles who, turning themselves from sound teaching to unfruitful discourses, called vain jangling, are said to rove and err from the right aim, like unskilful darters or shooters.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

I. We have only to look at the remaining part of this chapter to learn WHAT PAUL MEANS BY "SOUND DOCTRINE." In this first verse he states the subject generally, and then branches it out into its various parts. Through the subsequent verses he directs Titus to explain to his flock the duties of their several stations, and to enforce these duties from motives suggested by the gospel. He was to exhort the aged and the young, masters and servants, male and female, to acquit themselves of every obligation which their situations imposed, and thus adorn the doctrines of God their Saviour. The performance of all their duties as Christians forms the perfection of holiness.

1. The apostle Paul says (Titus 3:8), "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works." The same apostle in another place, distinguishing between true and false professors, says, "For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things but our conversation is in heaven, from whence, also, we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." "We are His workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them." The whole of the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is written to show that the true end of the doctrine of grace is to sanctify men. But to mention particularly all the passages which oblige us to holiness would be to recapitulate almost all the Bible; the whole book enforces obedience to the precepts of our Divine Master. It is sufficient to recollect His own words, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." The religion of Christ, which is intended to bring us into communion with God, brings us first to holiness, without which this communion is not to be attained. Believers are temples of the Holy Ghost; but, while we live in sin, can the Spirit of God dwell in us? Can He dwell in a man without producing the effects of His power and of His grace? Can He possess the heart, and yet leave the affections enslaved to sin?

2. From the tendency of its doctrines, considered as motives to action, the same thing is evident. There is no discrepancy betwixt the various parts of the gospel. While it inculcates purity and holiness of life, it affords us the most powerful motives to live soberly, righteously, and godly. Do we examine its precepts and rules of conduct? These give us an idea of holiness in a manner at once lively and impressive. Do we consider the manner in which the nature of vice is represented? Its miseries are described so fully and so well that we cannot but hold it in abhorrence; everywhere the Bible abounds with reasons most powerfully enforcing the necessary practice of a good life; all its mysteries point to this; all its doctrines are as strong bonds to hind our hearts to the obedience of faith — they are so many weapons of war, mighty through God to cast down imaginations and every high thing — to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. The gospel consecrates to holy uses even what the light of nature teaches us, as, that God is our Creator, who, at the beginning, called us into existence; that He is our Preserver, who, by a perpetual influence, supports us — that it is His providence that watches over the whole universe — particularly guards us, and furnishes us with whatever His goodness and wisdom judge needful for us. What can more forcibly incline us to the practice of obedience than these important truths, if well considered? Since God is our Creator, who gave us life, ought we not to devote that life to Him? Be it ours to view the mercies of God aright, and acknowledge that they all demand holiness unto the Lord. But these motives to holiness, however great and powerful, are as nothing compared with those which the gospel does not take from the light of reason, but from revelation. These latter motives, comprehended in Christ and His economy, are such as must affect every soul which is not dead in sin and insensible to every right impression. That the Almighty, after all our crimes, should be reconciled to us; that He should give His Son — give Him to be made man — to be our brother — our example; that He should give Him to die for us the most ignominious and cruel death; is not this love and mercy worthy of eternal praise? Are not these the strongest inducements to be holy in all manner of conversation? Who shall be found so ungrateful as to be capable of sinning against a God so merciful — of counting the blood of such a covenant an unholy thing?

II. Let us next consider THE MANNER IN WHICH SOUND DOCTRINE IS TO BE SPOKEN. The view of the Christian revelation already given is a sufficient reply to allegations against the two common modes of preaching. Some complain that the explanation and enforcement of precepts is not preaching Jesus Christ, while others complain that doctrines are stated and enlarged upon which have no relation to practice. While we preach Christ crucified, or exhort to virtuous conduct, let none say that we overlook the end of revelation, for each part, properly stated, does, in the most explicit manner, promote the end of the gospel the sanctification of believers. Let it be remembered, then, that whether a minister enforces a precept or explains a doctrine, he is bringing that precept or that doctrine to take its share in the grand design of the whole — the salvation of mankind; and that, in choosing either as the subject of discourse, he does not lose sight of what the gospel constantly keeps in view — that men who would inherit the kingdom which cannot be moved must "serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

III. We next consider WITH WHAT MIND AND IN WHAT MANNER THIS "SOUND DOCTRINE IS TO BE HEARD." Though the preacher speak "never so wisely," if the hearers neglect the means of instruction, his labour must be vain. Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to prayer. You ought to hear with serious attention, having repaired to the house of God with holy awe, having composed your spirits by prayer, lay aside each low and earthly thought, and earnestly devote your minds to learn the things that are profitable unto salvation. You must hear with meekness. Come to the house of God with modest and tractable dispositions, bring along with you the persuasion that you need frequently to be reminded of your duty. They only, who in good and honest hearts receive the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit. You must hear with particular application. When you hear a vice reproved of which your conscience accuses you, apply the reproof to yourselves, "O my soul, thou art the man." Let the instructions which you hear be carefully laid up in your hearts, and reduced to practice in your lives. You must be "doers of the Word and not hearers only." Religion is not an empty amusement or an airy speculation; it is the science of holiness, a practical art, a guide and director of human life. Make your prayer before the Lord your God, that you may understand His truth; God alone can seal the instructions you may receive. Whoever may plant, it is God that giveth the increase. Ask, in faith, wisdom from above, and "God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, will give it you."

(L. Adamson, D. D.)

I.HE SHOULD BE A PREACHER. "Speak."

II.HE SHOULD BE HIMSELF. "Thou."

III.HE SHOULD BE A STUDENT. "Sound doctrine."

IV.HE SHOULD BE PRACTICAL. "The things which become."

(F. Wagstaff.)

Hearers are hence taught sundry duties. As —

1. To desire only this wholesome food that their souls may be well liking, laying aside their itching ears, which hunt after novelties, for the ministry is not appointed to beat the ear as music, but to sink into the soul as the food and medicine of it, by becoming the means and rule of life. Athenian hearing is the cause of Athenian preaching, and the diseases running upon such hearers showeth the curse of God on them, who with contempt of the manna from heaven, with the onions, garlic, and flesh of Egypt; these things they have upon their desire, and with them more than they desire, for they rot even between their teeth.

2. To receive the wholesome doctrine, as for the body we receive wholesome food what soever it be, or from whomsoever; let it be bitter sometimes, or seem too salt, yet if it be wholesome hunger findeth it savoury; no man but will strive to receive a bitter potion to restore his body out of any weakness to soundness; and yet who is it that will suffer a wholesome reproof to the recovery of soundness to the soul? and others stand so much upon toothsomeness of their meat, and must know their cooks so well, that before they can be resolved in these two, the plausibleness of the doctrine and the friendliness of the person, their souls are well nigh starved to death. Hence is it that we hear so many complaints. Oh, saith one, be seeketh not the goodwill of his hearers, nor casteth to please them; he is of a tart and bitter spirit; he seeketh to wound and gall, but he healeth nor suppleth not. But what preacheth he, whether any errors or the pure doctrine of God? No, say they, we cannot except against his doctrine. True, for they never trouble themselves so far as to examine it by the Word or themselves by it. But then, say I, is it the Word of God thou hearest, and the truth by thine own confession? Why dost thou then not tremble at that Word?

3. Hearers must hold wholesome doctrine when they have received it (2 Timothy 3:14). Continue in the things thou hast received; buy the truth, but sell it not, and bind it fast upon their hearts. And good reason, for if the meat be never so wholesome, if the stomach of the soul keep it not, but it slip the memory, and is not by meditation digested, the soul is as surely diseased as is the body when no sustenance will stay to strengthen it.

4. Hearers must so desire, receive, and hold this wholesome food, as they may grow by it, showing by their thriving in grace that they have wholesome meat (Psalm 109:4), for as in the body, if meat, when it is digested, send not virtue whereby the operation of it appeareth in all the parts, the body is diseased, some obstruction or opilation hindereth the work of it, so is the soul obstructed with the itching ear, covetous thoughts, hardness of heart, formal worship, all which keep the soul barren and empty of grace, yea, lean and ill-looking in the eyes of God. Seeing, therefore, the Lord hath spread His table for us, and liberally furnished it with store of this wholesome food, let it appear in our souls, by our strength to labour in Christian duties to which we are called, to overcome the temptations unto sin, to carry our victory in our strife against our own lusts.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

I. Genuine morality LEGISLATES ALIKE FOR ALL MANKIND.

1. Age.

2. Sex.

3. Relationship.

II. Genuine morality REACHES TO THE SPRINGS OF THE HEART.

III. GENUINE MORALITY IS THE GRAND PURPOSE OF GOSPEL TEACHING.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Sound teaching, according to Paul, is not teaching that has the conventional ring, not teaching that is divested of all freshness, originality, and stimulating force, but whatever goes to make moral fibre, whatever tends to build up strong men and women, whatever brings a healthy colour to the cheek, and gives life a true zest.

I. IT IS THE HEALTHY MIND ALONE THAT CAN IMPART HEALTHY TEACHING. A healthy mind is a free and untrammeled mind; a mind that plays freely around all questions, and forms its own unbiassed conclusions. A mind that has the clear vision of health, a mind that has the keen appetite of health, a mind that has the unvitiated palate of health, a mind that has the hardy courage of health, a mind that takes the world as it finds it. An independent mind, a mind that makes its own observations, draws its own inferences, is not a mere servile echo of other minds.

II. HEALTHY TEACHING IS THAT WHICH IS HEALTHFUL IN ITS EFFECTS. Bad food cannot build up a robust frame. I will imagine that a mother has a puling, pining infant to rear. There is a question between divers kinds of diet. One authority says: "You ought to use mine, because it has the correct label on it, and is done up in the proper regulation tins." But the mother says: "I have tried it, and the child starved upon it." "But it has all the requisite chemical constituents in their due proportions. It must have been the native perversity of the child which prevented its thriving. It is the recognised thing, endorsed and recommended by the entire faculty." "I cannot help that," says the mother; "labels or no labels, tins or no tins, faculty or no faculty, all I know is that I have tried that food, and that if I had gone on with it, my child would have been dead by this time." And then she is induced, by some old wife, perhaps, to try another preparation, natural and simple, nobody's patent, with no label or endorsement whatever. But, lo, and behold! the child grows fat and plump, the hue of health comes gradually to its cheeks, and it weighs heavier every day! "But this is not an accredited compound. The great authorities on diet have not prescribed it. It cannot be wholesome." Once more the mother retorts: "No matter. My child is alive and well." Now, that is the true test to apply to religious teaching. What sort of men and women does it make? "Sound doctrine" is that which produces a healthy, spiritual life, which builds up character.

(J. Halsey.)

Every faithful minister must fit and apply his doctrine to the several ages, conditions, and occasions of his people, that every man and woman, young and old, superior and inferior, may know not only what is lawful, but what is most expedient and beseeming our age, place, and condition of life. It is true that all virtues in general are commanded, as all vices in general are forbidden, to all persons, of what sex or estate soever; yet there be some special virtues which are more shining ornaments in some age and condition than others, as in young men staidness and discretion are special beauties, but are not (if wanting) such blemishes in their years, as in old men, because of their observation and experience. So there be some special vices (though all are to strive against all) which are fouler spots and stains to some ages than to others, and some to which men and women are more subject by reason of their age or sex, as youth to headiness and rashness; old age to testiness, frowardness, covetousness, etc.; women to curiosity, loquacity, etc., against all which the man of God must in special furnish and arm his people, instantly striving to root out such noisome weeds as of their own accord appear out of the earthy hearts of men, as also to plant the contrary graces in their stead. Examples of this practice we meet withal everywhere in the Epistles. Paul, in divers of his Epistles, as to the Colossians, but especially to the Ephesians, describeth in particular the duties of wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants, masters (see Ephesians 5:6). Peter, in the second and third chapters, is as large in the distinct offices of subjects, wives, husbands, servants. And from this practice the apostle John dissenteth not (1 John 2:12), where he giveth his reasons why he writeth to fathers, to babes, to old men, and to young men. Besides these examples are sundry weighty reasons to enforce the doctrine.

1. As first, the faithfulness of a wise steward herein appeareth, namely, in distributing to every one of his master's family their own portion of meat in due season (Luke 12:42).

2. To this purpose is the Word fitted, to make every man ready and absolute to every good work; and thus the wisdom of God is made to shine to all eyes, who can behold such a perfect rule of direction in faith and manners.

3. Well knew our apostle, with the other men of God, that general doctrines (though never so wholesome) little prevail, are but cold, and touch not men to the quick, without particular application to their several necessities; till Peter come to say, "You have crucified the Lord of glory," we read of no pricking of their hearts.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

Richard Baxter adopted the method of individual dealing with the parishioners of Kidderminster, bringing them to his house and taking them apart one by one. He tells us that, because of it, he had reason to believe that more than a third of the grown up inhabitants of the place were converted to God. The late Mr. Grant of Arndilly was so intent upon this habit of individual intercourse that in three months he had dealt with fifteen hundred souls, while the refrain of all his letters, as Mrs. Gordon says, was always this, "Speak a word for Jesus."

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