Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST: WHERE YOUNG WOMEN ARE PROPERLY TRAINED”

Titus 2.4-5

 

When the Apostle Paul was converted to Jesus Christ he was saved out of first century Pharisaic Judaism, a strict sect of Jewish men who took the Word of God seriously, were dedicated to obeying the Law of Moses in every point, all the while being yet dead in trespasses and sins just like every Gentile in the world. Paul the Pharisee, just like every other human being, needed Jesus Christ as his Savior. The advantage the new Christians who were saved out of Judaism had over new Christians who were Gentiles in the first century was 2,000 years of culture and history that had instilled into them even before their conversion to Christ a God-consciousness and an awareness of God’s nature and will for His creatures. After all, they had the Hebrew Scriptures that contained the Genesis account of creation, they had the Law of Moses that ordered the lives of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation before the Babylonian captivity and dispersion, and they had a good understanding of the roles of men and women and the family structure that God had ordained and blessed with wisdom contained especially in the books of Deuteronomy and Proverbs.[1]

This brings me to a problem the Apostle Paul faced when he began his ministry in Antioch with Barnabas, where he may have encountered for the first time in his Christian life a considerable number of Gentile Christians who came to Christ without any awareness of God’s will for men and women’s respective roles, or the cultural heritage of family structure that the Jewish converts to Christ already enjoyed. How are men with sins forgiven and possessing new life in Christ to learn how to be Christian fathers and husbands? How are women with sins forgiven and possessing new life in Christ to learn how to be Christian mothers and wives? You are on your way to heaven after being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, so what is the best way to make that journey as a man or as a woman?

The remedies to the two problems faced by the apostle are not the same. Men and women are different, and the way they are brought to an understanding and the practice of their different roles in both the Christian family unit and the Church congregation are somewhat different. This morning I would like to address the problem Paul faced in Antioch, and in every other city where he traveled to establish congregations. How does a Jewish man engaged in Gospel ministry minister to newly converted women without violating cultural mores and at the same time take sensible precautions? Before we turn to the text of my message from God’s Word, let me bring to your attention two Christian women who played vital roles in Paul’s ministry, Priscilla and Phebe.

Priscilla was a Jewish Christian woman married to a Jewish believer named Aquila, Acts 18.2. Apparently born and subsequently converted to Christ in the city of Rome, Priscilla and her husband were forced to leave Rome by Imperial edict. They settled in the thriving port city of Corinth where they plied their trade as tentmakers, providentially meeting the Apostle Paul who was also a tentmaker. They took Paul in to live with them and threw themselves into his effort to establish the Church in Corinth. It takes little imagination to envision Priscilla’s role in the young Church. Being a Jewish Christian with 2,000 years of heritage undergirding her, who else would Paul have turned to guide the Gentile women and girls who came to Christ with no concept of God’s will for them as women, as wives, and as mothers? It could only be Priscilla and other Jewish Christian women like Priscilla. Priscilla could minister to those new Christian women with not only her example of Christian womanhood and wifeliness but she would no doubt also have regaled those new Christian women with stories from the Bible of Eve and Sarah, of Rebekah and Rachel, of Rahab and Ruth, of Deborah and Abigail, of evil Michal and Jezebel, and of Bathsheba and Esther. It may even be likely that one of those women Priscilla ministered to was a new Gentile gal named Phebe. Priscilla was so crucial to Paul’s ministry and is shown to have had an impact on the ministry of Apollos as well, until the time when she and her husband were allowed to return to their home in Rome.[2]

We learn of Phebe in Paul’s letter to the Romans, where we are told in Romans 16.1 and 27 that she was the courier who brought this largest letter ever written at that time to the Christians in Rome. Of course, in Romans we are informed that Phebe was a servant in the Church in Cenchrea. But Cenchrea was the Eastern port suburb of Corinth, so it could be that Phebe was reached for Christ by the Corinthian Church and that she later moved to Cenchrea when that congregation was founded. If she was a Gentile convert to Christ, and it seems that she was, then she was likely discipled by Priscilla or another older Jewish Christian like Priscilla. Was she married? Did she have children? We have no way of knowing. It might seem unlikely for her to be asked to travel alone to Rome or in the company of men as a single woman so that she may have been married to her husband not mentioned by Paul. Whatever her marital status, it would be most reasonable and likely that Paul and the pastor were not alone in molding her Christian life and service. An “aged woman” in the Church was almost certainly involved.

Thus, from almost the beginning of the Christian era there was a crying need for both men and women to be schooled in matters that were foreign to them, such as how a man who is a Christian is to become first a Christian man, and then a Christian husband, and finally a Christian father, with the same set of issues needing to be addressed by Gentile women recently come into the faith. Just because your husband is happy with you and your children love you dearly does not mean you have any notion of Christian wifeliness or Christian motherhood.

Of course, the problem in our culture is exactly the same as that faced by the early Christian congregations with both Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ, with one notable exception: When was the last time you knew of a woman who admitted she had no idea how to be a Christian woman, or a Christian wife, or a Christian mom? I received flaming responses to my sermon about Church being the place where boys become men a few weeks ago when I posted it on Facebook.[3] We live in the age of high self-esteem in which everyone thinks themselves competent in every area of life. Not so. Just because you feel good about yourself does not mean you know what you are doing.

In our text for this message, the Apostle Paul reminds his colleague Titus to apply the same lessons in the Churches on the island of Crete that had been applied so successfully throughout their ministry together. They are lessons we would do well to emulate here at our Church. Please turn to Titus 2.4-5. Once there, I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

4      That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5      To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

 

There are three significant truths established by our text that are of special importance to women:

 

First, IT IS ESTABLISHED THAT YOUNG CHRISTIAN WOMEN NEED TO BE TAUGHT

 

Verse 4 begins, “That they may teach the young women.”

The pronoun “they” has an antecedent in the previous verse that tells us who “they” are. “They” are “aged women,” translating the Greek word which is the feminine word for elder and is found only here in the Greek New Testament.[4] Thus, there is something that Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directed “aged women” in the Churches on the island of Crete to do, which was what Paul had found in his experience such “aged women” had done very well in other Churches.

What are “they,” the “aged women,” to do? Teach. So many of our older Christian women think that because they don’t have expertise as Bible teachers they cannot exercise the kind of ministry spoken of here. But if you will circle the word “teach” in verse 4, you’ll see differently. This is not the ordinary word for “teach” that is so common in the Greek New Testament. Rather than referring to the imparting of facts, information, and doctrine, as a school teacher would do, this word has in mind the idea of training, much as a coach would do when he trains an athlete to exhibit self-control in his preparation and his competition.[5] Ladies, a successful coach, has no need to be an orator. And she rarely functions by standing up in front of a large number of people. Think of a track coach who performs her function by watching her athlete work out. Then she approaches her athlete and comments on her form and technique, makes a suggestion here and there, and often demonstrates the proper technique that should be used instead. This is how an aged woman would deal with a young Christian woman, wife, or a young mother: “Honey, I’ve noticed that you’re having difficulty with your daughter. I want you to take heart and remember that I’m praying for you. But I would like to ask you something. When was the last time you gave that girl a real good whipping for talking back to you that way?” Then when the young mother says, “Well, I think she’s a little too big to spank,” the “aged woman” says something like, “Dear, spankings are determined by how the child behaves, not what size dress she wears. Would you like for me to suggest to you the proper way to discipline your daughter? And remember, your daughter doesn’t need you to be her big sister. She needs you to be her mother.” See? No oratory. No public speaking required. Just one-on-one attention from one who knows, to one who doesn’t . . . even if she thinks she does. And the result is that the young mom or the young wife is trained to be sober, is given the path to discipline. This method is the Biblical method.

Who are the “aged women” to teach? Though I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself, they are to teach “young women.” May I suggest to you that the need for young Christian women to be taught by older Christian women reveals a need in young women’s lives that is not addressed by their mothers or grandmothers unless their mothers or grandmothers are mature, godly, Christian women who are well-versed in the Bible? If you think your mother or grandmother who professes to be a Christian (but does not presently attend Church faithfully, know God’s Word well, or engage in real ministry to other young women) is the qualified “aged woman” who should influence you then perhaps we should meet privately to review what’s at stake. I am not suggesting that you should dismiss mom or granny, or dishonor them in any way. I am only presenting you with the opportunity to become the best possible Christian woman, wife, and mother you can be, by God’s grace.

 

Next, IT IS ESTABLISHED WHAT YOUNG CHRISTIAN WOMEN NEED TO BE TAUGHT

 

I will not take the time to review these items in detail, but will only clarify the issues and challenge anyone who doubts that these things need to be taught because the time needed to figure these things out is the time a young woman simply does not have.

As to what young women need to be taught by “aged women.” First, “to be sober.” This refers to teaching someone self-control.[6] Rarely is there a person who has no room for improvement. The greatest of athletes employ coaches to hone their skills and to encouragement them to improve. The same need exists with every Christian woman, especially the younger ones. Next, “to love their husbands.” This translates a single word meaning “husband-loving.”[7] I have been in the ministry a long time. Do you have any idea how many men’s mothers-in-law have called me up to complain about their daughter’s husbands while giving me no evidence that they are doing anything to encourage their daughters to love their husbands, while their husbands sit at home like well-behaved pets? Most women have not raised daughters who are skilled at loving their husbands, as evidenced by the number of young women who think love is a feeling and not an activity. Manipulating and controlling is not loving. Third, “to love their children.” If love is properly understood to be the meeting of the loved one’s needs then most moms these days are clueless. Oh, for an old hand whose own grown children are well-occupied, well-married, and well-churched to school young mothers. Fourth, “To be discreet.” This word refers to being prudent and thoughtful.[8] I am reminded of the Virgin Mary, who pondered the things she was made aware of without immediately reacting to things emotionally or wrongly.[9] Fifth, “chaste.” May I illustrate this from my childhood? My mother was delighted to be the first person in the room to laugh at the dirty jokes and to smirk at innuendoes. Not even a foul-mouthed scoundrel of a boy likes for his mother to be bawdy, irreverent, and comfortable with dirty jokes and innuendoes. That said, some women don’t seem to understand that. Sixth, “keepers at home.” If you are a slob and are determined to remain a slob, do not marry a guy who likes neat and clean. It will drive him crazy and be the cause of many an argument. But if you find that you are already married before you learn the importance of being a keeper at home, which is more involved than functioning as a maid by the way, perhaps an “aged woman” can make some progress with you. Back in the day, they used to teach home economics in high school. Fancy that. Seventh, “good.” Sometimes girls are not raised to be good girls but grow up to be bad girls. They look trashy, and act trashy because they are trashy. When a bad girl comes to Christ, she is especially in need of an older Christian woman to help her become a good girl, by God’s grace. And finally, “obedient to their own husbands.” Women who push their husbands around, women who flout their husband’s will when he is away, women who disregard the crucial importance of showing respect for their husbands at all times and under every circumstance, not only do not understand men at all but run the terrible risk of becoming a Jezebel in their own homes. “But the idea of submitting to him is repulsive.” Should have thought of that before you married him, Honey. If you are not going to submit to him, and you will not learn from an “aged woman,” perhaps leaving him is preferable to ruining him. Not suggesting, just thinking out loud.

I know that many women think they are Christians and also think they need no coaching or help with the difficult task of functioning as a Christian woman, a godly wife, or a wise and spiritual mom. However, I beg for the most part to differ. I beg to differ because of what I see as I move through life, and I beg to differ because of what I see in God’s Word. As an old man moving through life, I have noticed that the great majority of wives and mothers haven’t a clue about what they are doing, choosing to believe that a happy husband and happy kids mean they are fulfilling their role as a wife and mom. Not true. Too many of such women unconsciously operate under the delusion that their job is to enable their children to get whatever they want, which is the very opposite of what God wants mothers to do with their children. That is but one example. I also notice in God’s Word, and not just in our text but also in many other passages, that everyone’s life to live for God is not intuitive, cannot just be figured out. At least not in the short term. And by the time most women figure out how to be a wife or how to be a mom their marriage is either over or permanently ruined, and their kids are just about raised. You need to learn before you marry and bear children, or as soon after you come to Christ as a wife and mother as possible. There is simply too much at stake to do things any other way, and time is very rapidly running out.

 

AND IT IS WITH THAT IN MIND THAT WE CONSIDER THE FINAL POINT: WHAT IS AT STAKE

 

Paul writes, “that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Your kids’ lives are at stake. Your marriage is at stake. But even more is at stake than most people realize:

The word “blasphemed” refers to slandering something, to speaking lightly of that which is sacred.[10] The other day my wife and daughter and I were with a guy for a couple of hours. As things were wrapping up he suggested that we pray, and I agreed. His prayer began, “Hi, God.” Then he immediately changed into a more reverent tone, perhaps quickly sensing that I did not appreciate being included in that slap-happy and irreverent approach to God. That is the essence of what this word “blasphemed” refers to. Sacred things should not be treated in a disrespectful manner, with a flippant attitude, or with a slanderous air. Some things are so important that they should never, ever, be the brunt of a joke or a disrespectful comment or attitude. Such a thing is God’s Word, the Bible. That is why it is referred to in Psalm 34.11 as the “fear of the LORD.”

Incredible as it may seem, there is only one demographic group in all the Bible upon whom is laid the challenge to prevent the Word of God from being blasphemed. That group is not Jewish people. That group is not all Christian people. That group is not pastors, theologians, missionaries, preachers, or Sunday School teachers. Of all the identifiable subgroups of Christians that might be referred to, it is only young Christian women who are tasked with the holy duty, obligation, and responsibility of protecting the Word of God from blasphemy, doing their part to prevent anyone from slandering or disrespecting the Bible. What a burden that is. What an awesome responsibility. And it is a responsibility laid only on young Christian women. And the Apostle Paul did not lay that responsibility on young Christian women. He only declared the truth; he did not make it so. God made it so. How did He make it so? By giving to young Christian women the most difficult challenge that can be assigned to any group of believers, spirituality, and godliness while occupying a role that is both profoundly difficult and extremely vulnerable. That is why Paul wants women who have already run the gauntlet with demonstrable success to coach those about to run the gauntlet, or coach those who find themselves in the gauntlet. As seasoned gladiators are the best coaches of gladiators, and old athletes are the best coaches of athletes, so aged Christian women, especially those who have met with success in marriage and child rearing, are the best qualified to coach young women who need to get it done, no matter the cost.

 

Have you ever noticed how often people say “It goes without saying,” and then take the time to say what goes without saying as if it does not go without saying? It goes without saying that young wives and mothers are profoundly important to the successful rearing of children. For that reason, and to emphasize the obvious truth by not referring to it, Paul leaves that obvious truth alone.

If young women are not taught how to love their husbands and love their children, they risk making a terrible mess of both their marriages and their children. There is not a 100% correlation between good Christian mothering and how marriages turn out and how children turn out, but if a woman’s efforts were irrelevant, there would be no Scripture addressing the issues. But there is.

Can a woman do everything right and watch it all turn out so very wrong? Yes, she can. Some here today, in my estimation, have. That is why you need to be so prayerfully committed to Christian obedience that if it does go wrong with your marriage or with your children you can rest in the assurance that you did what you were supposed to do and that your husband or your child simply chose to reject the Savior.

Hear me well. There is no more difficult and challenging ministry in all the world than that of a Christian wife and mother seeking to glorify God and exalt Christ. That is why God brings to bear in the Church congregation both the ministry of the pastor and the expertise of “aged women” who have successfully negotiated their marriages and child-raising years to help them accomplish this astonishingly difficult task. Imagine submitting to a man, even a Christian man. In the best of worlds, it is a daunting undertaking. Then, on top of that, there are the difficulties of childbearing and child-rearing. And while those tasks are being performed, onlookers evaluate by that young woman’s life whether they will respect the Word of God.

Who would the onlookers be whose opinion of the Bible is so affected? The young mother’s own children. The young wife’s husband and in-laws. The young woman’s friends and her relatives. That is why no young Christian woman can accomplish these tasks by her own devices. She needs God’s grace by means of her entire Church congregation praying for her and supporting her efforts, by means of her pastor’s ministry, and perhaps as importantly by means of the godly “aged women” whose success in such desperate endeavors qualifies them to coach her in her own Christian life, marriage, and motherhood.

Young woman, we want God’s best for you. Our goal is to be here for you to help you in your struggles and to prayerfully encourage you onward to victory. That said, the responsibility to trust Christ is yours and yours alone. The responsibility to make the best use of the means of grace is yours and yours alone. It is in your best interest to seek and to then employ God’s wisdom to avoid stupid decisions while making right decisions. But the environment where God planned for that to happen is in your Church, under the ministry of your pastor, and with the wisdom and coaching of godly “aged women.” Are you ready for that? Good. We begin the process by you arranging a meeting with me and one of our wonderful women.

__________

[1] Deuteronomy 6.4-7; Proverbs 1.8ff

[2] Acts 18.18, 26; Romans 16.3

[3] http://www.calvaryroadbaptist.church/sermon.php?sermonDate=20160904a

[4] W. F. Moulton and A. S. Geden, A Concordance To The Greek New Testament, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, Fifth Edition, 1978), page 848.

[5] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 654.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 987.

[9] Luke 2.19, 51

[10] Rienecker, page 654.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org