The Scriptorium

Sound Doctrine

A healthy church begins here. Titus 2.1, 15

Titus 2

Pray Psalm 4.1, 2.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

Read Titus 2.1, 15


1. On what does Paul charge Titus to concentrate? Why?

2. Note the verbs Paul uses with this charge.

Maintaining orderliness and health in a congregation is the responsibility of those who lead, beginning with the pastor and the elders. While, as we have seen, the elders are to guard the flock of God against false teaching, ministering even in the “house churches” to care for the saints, the pastor’s duty is to teach what accords with sound doctrine. 

In Ephesians 4.11 Paul refers to the pastor of the local church as “pastor/teacher.” The two duties go hand in hand. Pastors shepherd their flocks, build their churches, and equip the people for their own ministries by teaching sound doctrine, exhorting the people to receive and obey the teaching of God’s Word, and rebuking them when they fail to do so. There are those today who want to downplay the importance of doctrine and the need for confronting the people of God in their sins. Paul, however, was not among them. He insisted that Titus do his work of teaching, and that no one be allowed to disregard what he had to say. 

We note that this chapter takes the form of an inclusio, beginning and ending at the same place. This structural component is designed to emphasize the apostle’s call to Titus to teach sound doctrine. It’s not as though teaching is one of many duties a pastor must fulfill; teaching is the pastor’s primary duty. Indeed, since the shepherds of God’s churches have only the tools of prayer, teaching, and personal example by which to do their work (Acts 6.4; 1 Pet. 5.1-3), it is important that all their ministry in the church be carried out by one or another of these means. The sound teaching of the pastor is essential to equip the elders to do their work of guarding, instructing, and caring for the flock. The pastor equips the elders and feeds the flock on the solid food of God’s Word; the elders then, nourished by the Word, help the congregation to digest the Word by their “hands-on” ministries of looking well to know the state of God’s flock (Prov. 27.23; Acts 20.28).

But it all begins with the pastor, and with sound doctrine.

1. Why do you suppose people today don’t have much taste for doctrine?

2. Explain each of the verbs Paul attaches to Titus’ ministry of sound doctrine?

3. What does it mean for a pastor or shepherd to minister sound doctrine “with all authority”?

He gives the appellation of sound doctrine to that which may instruct men to godliness; for all trifles vanish away, when that which is solid is taught. When be enjoins him to speak those things which agree with "sound doctrine," it is as if he had said, that Titus must be continually employed in this preaching; for to mention these things once or twice would not be enough. And Paul does not speak of the discourse of a single day; but so long as Titus shall hold the office of pastor, he wishes him to be employed in teaching this doctrine. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Titus 2

Help me to love sound doctrine, Lord, and to seek more of it from Your Word, so that I…

Pray Psalm 4.1-3.

For what works of glory has God set you apart today? Consecrate yourself to them as you pray these verses.

Sing Psalm 4.1-3.
Psalm 4.1-3 (Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent)
Answer when I call, Lord Jesus, God of all my righteousness! 
Bend Your holy ear, relieve us from all terror, all distress! 
Lord, receive our prayer, release us; send Your grace to save and bless! 

Wicked men reproach and scorn us, loving what is vile and vain. 
God with grace will shield and adorn us through the Savior’s blood and pain. 
Jesus, You have bought and borne us; hear our cries for help again. 

T. M. Moore

What are church leaders supposed to do in leading the Lord’s flock? Our workbook, Shepherding God’s Flock, will show you how to bring effective pastoral ministry and disciple-making into the everyday life of your church. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore