How to teach Christians
Tips1 Here’s what I want you to do: teach the honest-to-goodness truth.
Senior men2 Tell older men not to get drunk; they need to keep a clear head. They should carry themselves with dignity and self-control. And they should stay true to the faith—showing its side-effects: love and patience.
Senior women3 Do the same for older women. Tell them to behave like ladies devoted to God. They shouldn’t go around badmouthing others or drinking too much wine. Instead, they should teach goodness.
Young women4 This way, they’ll be able to encourage younger women to love their husbands and kids. 5 And they’ll be better positioned to teach young women to be self-controlled, pure-hearted, and kind—and to encourage them to work at home, under the leadership of their husbands. If they do this, they won’t give anyone reason to badmouth the word of God that we’ve been teaching.
Young men6 Also tell the young men to use their heads and to make good choices 7 in everything. People should see them as a model of good behavior and a product of solid teaching. Their lives should reflect dignity, 8 without a hint of indecency. If they do that, people trying to argue against our teaching will get themselves embarrassed; they won’t have one rotten thing to say about us.
Slaves9 Tell slaves to do whatever their masters ask. They’re to keep everything pleasant. No backtalk. 10 No stealing. Instead, they’re to show their masters nothing but genuine loyalty. If they do this, perhaps people will develop respect for what we’re teaching about God our Savior.
God’s kindness has arrived11 God’s kindness has come, with salvation for everyone. 12 Here’s what we need to do about it. Stop dissing God by the way we live. Stop letting this world and its partying get the better of us. Instead, take control of ourselves. Honor God by the way we live in this world. 13 Meanwhile, we’re waiting for something wonderful: the arrival of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave his life for us. He did it to save us from the chaos that could destroy us. And he did it to wash spiritually clean a people he could call his own—a group of people eager to do good things in this world. 15 Tell people about all of this. Encourage them. And when necessary, give them what for. You have full authority to do that. Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re not important.
More literally, “grace.”
What an odd way to start the tips for ministering to senior adult men: “Tell older men not to get drunk” (2:2). We can only guess why Paul started there. Any guesses?
Paul’s advice to slaves is particularly troubling in our culture that sees slavery as thoroughly selfish on the part of the slave owner, and absolutely unjustifiable. So how can we justify cutting Paul some slack and allowing him to get by with telling slaves to “do whatever their masters ask…keep everything pleasant. No backtalk” (2:9)?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul’s advice for elderly Christian women includes just four points: “behave like ladies devoted to God,” no “bad mouthing others,” no “drinking too much wine,” “teach goodness” (2:3). Which piece of advice do you think would be the hardest for the ladies to practice, and why?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul seemed concerned that bad behavior of Christians might produce bad PR for this emerging religious movement, and for God. He didn’t want to “give anyone a reason to badmouth the word of God that we’ve been teaching” (2:5). In what way do you think Christians today produce bad PR for Christianity and for God?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul offers just a few suggestions for young Christian men. His list seems relatively paltry compared to the book of Proverbs, which many Bible experts say was compiled as a book of advice for young men. If you were going to add some of your best advice for young men, what would you include?
Paul said, “In a religious sense, everything is ritually clean to the person who is morally clean” (1:15). Really? What about prostitution, heroin, and rooting against the Kansas City Royals? Aren’t they bad? Well, at least two of them.