1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
Chapter two switches from leaders to congregations. Chapter two shows how spiritually healthy congregations can influence communities where they live.
The first 10 verses of chapter two give instructions on how different groups in the church are to behave.
1 But as for you [emphatic],
Paul, in contrast to the problem of the opponents of 1:10-16, asserted Titus’s responsibility for instructing believers in the church. He gave Titus special instructions for the church in Crete.
“You” here is Titus. This word is in emphatic contrast to the three “they” of the previous verse (1:16). The “they” are false teachers. Titus had a different message for the church than for apostates.
speak the things which are proper for [in accord with] sound doctrine [healthy teaching]:
The word “proper” means fitting or accords with. Titus was to teach practical living that accorded with sound doctrine. His congregation was to live out their Christian experience according to biblical truth. They were to make their doctrine conspicuous by spiritual living. Truth and behavior are interrelated in biblical terms.
There are behaviors suitable to healthy teaching for the church. This statement is not merely about sound doctrine but also “the things which are proper” for it, things that themselves become sound doctrine. There are standards that fit correct teaching. Some things fall below these standards, not becoming to sound doctrine—which always eventuates in sound living.
Titus was to speak doctrine in its pure form—“sound doctrine.” Pure doctrine will produce strong Christians who will influence their community. This is the third time we have the word “sound” in Titus (1:9, 13). Healthy teaching is more than doctrinal statements on paper, more than belief in the trinity and inspiration of Scripture. It is possible to believe fundamental doctrines and still be a disgrace to the Savior. A person might have some good points, but so does a porcupine.
The word “speak” is a command. Titus was not to deviate from teaching sound doctrine. It was urgent that he speak out because of rising false teaching in the churches of Crete. Neither was he to divorce ethics from doctrine; he was to teach things proper for sound doctrine.
Approximately a year later Paul wrote 2 Timothy, where he challenged Timothy to teach sound doctrine:
2 Ti 4: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Sound doctrine eventuates in sound living.
Sound doctrine and ethics are inseparable. Healthy doctrine will eventuate in healthy living. Sound teaching will produce sound ethics. True ethics emerge from the message. The Christian message shapes the lifestyle and outworking of our lives. The Word of God never divorces doctrine from duty or truth from conduct.
The pattern of the New Testament epistles is doctrine first, then conduct. Romans 1 to 11 is doctrine, chapters 12 to 16 is conduct. Ephesians 1 to 3 is doctrine, 4 to 6 behavior. Colossians 1 to 2 is creed, 3 to 4 conduct. On it goes.
As this is true for the individual, it is also true for the congregation. Congregations can grow in doctrine and conduct. Right doctrine will yield right living. Pastors need to teach doctrine if they want their people to live right. This principle accords with evangelism.