T. PIERCE BROWN
A few moment ago, while reading Titus 3:4, I was struck by three things which I had never noticed before in over 50 years of Bible reading. I am convinced that if lived for a thousand more, I would keep on finding new things.
First, when the older women are told to “teach” (KJV) the young women, the word is not “matheuteusate” as in Matthew 28:18, nor “didaskontes” as in Matthew 28:20, both of which are translated “teach” in the Authorized Version. The word here is “sophronizosin.” This word involves more than verbal instruction. Its approximate meaning is “to train to have sound judgment, wisdom, prudence and discretion.” This training would doubtless involve example, action, correction, as well as instruction.
Second, the text does not merely say that the older women are to teach the young ones how to love their husbands and children, but to teach them to be lovers of their husbands and children. This involves both the teaching them that they should be, and how to wisely accomplish that which they should be doing. Have you considered the importance of both those concepts in many areas? To love your enemy is commanded, but one needs to know how to do it. To give as prospered is commanded, but one may have to do more studying to find how to give as prospered. To take the Lord’s supper is important, but how is also important. So when older women teach younger ones to be lovers of husbands and children, they need also to be able to teach how to show love wisely and properly, for that is involved in the meaning of “sophronizosin.”
Third, I noticed that words involving love of husbands and children are “philandrous” and “philoteknous.” Husbands are told to love (agapao) their wives (Eph.5:25, Col. 3:19). No doubt wives are to love (agapao) their husbands, although I am not aware of a specific command that puts it that way. However, if 1 Peter 1:22, Romans 13:8,9, 1 John 4:21 do not cover it, perhaps Matthew 4:44 and Luke6:27would. Husbands would surely fall into the category of “each other,” brother, neighbor or enemy!
But these words in Titus are not agape-love, but philos-love. Agape is not a feeling of emotion or affection. It is a choice of the will by which one deliberately chooses to sacrifice of what he is and has for the pleasure or good of another. Husbands and wives can be trained to do that too, but this is NOT what Paul here instructs the older women to do. They are to teach the younger women THAT they are to, and HOW they are to show wisely, prudently and discreetly the proper feeling and concern for their husbands and children. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many mothers who love (agapao) their children, but need to be trained to be “philoteknous”–show prudently discreetly and wisely the proper kind of affection, for some, as Shakespeare put it in Othello, have “loved not wisely, but too well.”