Adorn the Doctrine of God (Titus 2:9-10)

Adorn the Doctrine of God (Titus 2:9-10)


Goldingay A slave has no rights and slave owners may assume they are free to do with the slave as they wish and to require of the slave whatever they wish.

We have this definition in the back of our minds clouding our interpretation of passages like this. That’s typically unhelpful, because in addition to there being contextual differences, it makes the focus too narrow.

Although the institution of slavery is no longer applicable, much of the instruction here applies to any relationship between inferiors and their superiors (employer/employee, parent/child, see WLC Q.127).

It is generally true that we have an aversion towards submission to authority (home, work, state). Household codes spend most of their time correcting these tendencies.

The beauty of the gospel is displayed by your consistent submission to authority.

Paul instructs Titus to establish godly leadership > sound doctrine > sound living.

Read Titus 2:9-10

Submit to Your Master (9a)

19C slavery is not 1C slavery (25% of population).

  • Differences:
    • Not determined by race.
    • Rules regulated the industry.
    • Typically paid (Manumission possible).
    • Various Jobs: Doctors, teachers, managers, musicians, artisans.
  • Similarities:
    • Not voluntary. Most born into it, some captured in war/kidnapped.
    • Most had no hope of freedom.
    • Many had miserable jobs (mines).
    • Schreiner Slaves had no legal rights, and masters could beat them, brand them, and abuse them physically and sexually.

Slavery is never commended in Scripture. In fact, since the gospel instructs everyone, there are significant implications for Christian masters and slaves that had to be considered.

Here Paul only addresses the slaves, but in other places he addresses the masters as well. All parties were to honor God in how they treated one another.

John Murray There are few things more distasteful to modern man than subjection to authority and the demand for obedience to authority.

Submission has been particularly important from the beginning of creation. Ever wonder why submission is so challenging? It wasn’t always this way.

God created Adam with the responsibility to “work and keep” the garden. This was worship (same words describe priestly duties to “guard and minister” Num. 3:8-9).

But the serpent became their master > destroying relationships > bringing a curse upon their work/service. The fall brought corruption into the workplace.

Submission involves…

Please Your Master (9b-10a)

Two positive commands surround the negative commands (chiastic). The slave should aim to satisfy his master. He should not grumble and complain, talking back to his master. Nor should he feel the freedom to pilfer/steal/embezzle from his master. Instead, his work should reflect a faithfulness to his master.

Why no criticism of the institution of slavery? Christians are not called to be social revolutionaries, but to adorn the gospel.

I’m not suggesting Paul agreed with slavery. In fact, the New Testament never commends/endorses the institution of slavery. The institution of marriage is commended because it was ordained by God. Not so with slavery.

However, if social justice was the church’s primary purpose passages like this would make little sense. If that were the case, then Paul really missed an opportunity here.

Rather than calling for the end of slavery, he challenged gospel adorning.

Seek to adorn the gospel with a submissive and well-pleasing demeanor. Many of us would rather fume in anger with an argumentative attitude than consider how we might adorn the gospel at work.

It can be a lot easier to think of our work life as separate from our Christianity. But the reformed faith has always promoted a robust theology of vocation. Your work is your calling. Worship through your work.

How can we…

Adorn the Gospel (10b)

Pastor Joke: Structure for sermon – 10 reasons for Paedobaptism (or any other doctrine). A closing word on the Gospel. Unfortunately, many sermons have been structured that way.

However, the truth is, your ability to submit in everything to the authorities God has given you has a lot to do with the gospel. Your submission, especially in difficult circumstances, displays the impact of the grace of God in your life.

The gospel = the doctrine of God our Savior. We were in such a state of hopelessness that we needed to be saved. Spurgeon speaks of Jesus as the author, substance, and object of this gospel.

Spurgeon You can never think too much of this great salvation. When you desire it, prize it as a beggar might prize gold; when you have it, grasp it as the pearl of great price. We have indeed a great salvation…

We beautify the gospel by maintaining a submissive and well-pleasing manner towards our superiors.

Why? Because the gospel is about trusting in the work of a Sovereign God who not only sent his Son to bear the curse of our obedient service, but to bear the wrath that our disobedience deserved.

He is the One who ultimately receives our work as worship. We do all things as if we were submitting to and pleasing Him!



  1. Submit to Your Master (9a)
  2. Please Your Master (9b-10a)
  3. Adorn the Gospel (10b)

The beauty of the gospel is displayed by your consistent submission to authority.

Augustine The apostolic teaching assumes the placement of the master above the slave and the slave beneath the master, but Christ has given the same price for each of them.

Although the parallels to all inferior/superior relationships are relevant, we shouldn’t miss the significant truth that the lowest people in society are capable of not only being reached by the gospel, but of bringing a greater beauty to the gospel by their transformed character.