This article is about one of forgotten gifts of the Holy Spirit, the teaching by women. The Scripture passage Titus 2:2-7 is discussed, where the older women are told to be teachers to the younger women.

Source: New Horizons, 1991. 3 pages.

The Forgotten Gifts of the Holy Spirit Women as Teachers/Disciples

In so much of the heated debate over the ordination of women, we have tended to overlook a biblically mandated role in which women are to use teaching gifts. We desperately need women to carry out this role with commitment and joy, and it is the responsibility of pastors and elders to equip them for this vital ministry. I am thinking of Paul's charge to Titus, found in Titus 2:2-7:

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

Who should Train Young Women?β€’πŸ”—

Older men, older women, younger women and younger men are all to be taught to live sensible, self-controlled lives (the Greek word here seems to bridge both ideas). For three of these four groups, Titus, as a pastor, is to be directly involved in their training. But the training of younger women is specifically entrusted to the older women, not to Titus!

Why is that? Perhaps in part it is to avoid tempting and compromising situations, as Paul instructs Timothy to "treat… younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (Timothy 5:1-2).

But the immediate context in Titus suggests a more important reason. Notice first how Paul tells Titus to urge the younger men to be sensible and self-controlled (2:7): by presenting himself as an example to them. For the younger men in particular, Titus's role as teacher/trainer depends on his personal example.

Notice next the qualities in which older women are to be trained (v. 3). The first and last are positive: in behavior doing what befits their holy status, and teaching what is good. The middle two help to define holy behavior in a negative way: not a gossip, and not a slave of wine. So, we might sum up the qualities which mature women are to exhibit as holy behavior and teaching others holy behavior.

Now, mature women are to use these qualities for a specific purpose (v. 4): to train young women, to disciple them, so they will be sensible and self-controlled. Just as young men are to learn from Titus's example what godly behavior involves, so young women are to learn from the example of mature women how to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, conscientious, kind and submissive to their husbands.

Of course, the temptations and spiritual struggles facing young women are not fundamentally different from those facing other Christians. The remedy for their temptations and trials is to be found in the Word of God, which Titus is called to teach to the whole congregation. But for the practical training of young women in the specifics of the life of discipleship, Titus is to enlist the gifts of mature Christian women, whose behavior will model the good that they teach.

Pastors and elders have a vital role in this practical discipling of young women. Remember the context: Titus has been given the task of teaching the older women "what is in accord with sound doctrine" (v. 1). Have our pastors and elders been doing this? I was speaking on this text to a women's retreat recently, and some of the younger women said that there were older women to whom they looked for their example and wisdom, but that some of these older women did not think that they had anything helpful to share with the younger generation. If godly women in our congregations lack the confidence that Christ's Spirit will enable them to impart what he has taught them to the next generation, then our elders have some work to do!

The Desperate Need for this Ministryβ†β€’πŸ”—

There are four reasons why this ministry of women is so badly needed today:

  1. Because of the separation of the nuclear family from the extended family. More often than not, the young wife in our modern society cannot hop over to her mother's house for advice three times a week. She may not have a grandmother, aunt, or older sister from whom she can get advice. The young woman in college, far from home, needs to see Christian womanhood in action and know where to turn for advice from a woman who walks with God. The family of God must raise up mothers for those who have been made motherless by miles and mobility. (Even for young women living at home, we as parents are grateful for committed Christian young women who are members of our congregation and who are godly big sisters, friends and examples to our daughters as they grow in their walk with Christ.)

  2. Because of the general decline of the Christian worldview and lifestyle in our society. This means that fewer women who are converted as adults are likely to have had even a culturally Christian model in their own families as they were growing up.

  3. Because of the stresses on families where the wife or a single parent works outside the home, or because of the world's subtle influence to measure happiness and success in terms of acquisition and consumption. These pose special tests to women's faith and Christian discipleship in the 1990s. Women who are less experienced in the faith need the guidance of mature Christian women to pilot them through these pressures and dangers.

  4. Because of the overarching goal given in the Word of God itself: "So that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:5). Paul says that Christian family living – particularly a loving, sensible, pure, disciplined, kind pattern of life on the part of women in their homes – is vital to the honor of Christ and his gospel.

How to Meet this Vital Needβ†β€’πŸ”—

We must identify, encourage, train and pray for the mature Christian women in our congregations who can "mentor" the newlywed wife, the young mother and the mom of adolescents. Have your elders equipped the mature women in your congregation so that other women can go to them for help when they face a crisis or a major decision – a husband who is never home, or arguments over money, or a child on drugs, or the question, "Should Mom work to earn Christian school tuition?"

We need to pool ideas on how to train the mature Christian women in our churches to carry out this discipling ministry. The women at the retreat that I mentioned earlier went back to their elders and asked them for the training they needed. The elders in that congregation identified women who had the maturity and gifts for this sort of ministry and obtained training for them in biblical counseling. We can and must find ways to develop this vitally needed gift in the women who belong to Jesus Christ.


Here, then, are some gifts which the Holy Spirit has given, but which we may have forgotten, to the impoverishment of our life together as the body of Christ: gifts of helping and guiding, the creative arts, and the discipling ministry of mature Christian women. Let us thank the Lord Jesus for bestowing such gifts on his church by his Spirit, and let us consider how we can recognize and encourage the body members who have such gifts, so that these treasures from Christ's unsearchable riches can be put to use as he builds us into his living Temple, filled with the Spirit.

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