Healthy teachings for slaves
Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
Paul has one last group within the Cretan believers to address. Slavery was quite common within ancient Rome; so much so that historians believe that the slave population would vary between 30% to over 50% of a given city. While some slaves toiled under harsh conditions, others appeared to be normal businessmen; however, the function and authority of both were under the supervision of their individual masters. Invariably, with such a sizeable population, there were slaves who became Christians. So they also would wonder “What’s next?” after choosing to trust Christ for their salvation from the penalty of their sins.
Titus 2:9-10 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
One source I found made this point: “Paul’s instructions on the respectful attitude of slaves toward their masters comes against the backdrop of a standard theme in ancient comedies: the arrogant, back-talking slave. Over and over the Greek and Latin comic playwrights present slaves as mocking their masters behind their backs, talking back to them with barely disguised contempt when they could (often getting a cuffing for comic effect), and generally being villainous characters. Admittedly a large measure of this picture was simply the comedic portrait, but it no doubt contains an element of truth…”
What’s helpful here is that Paul gives instructions for “What’s next”, but he also provides the why for doing these things. Did you see it at the end of verse 10?
so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive
Paul wanted the Cretan slaves to recognize that their work for their earthly master was their way to demonstrate who God is and what God has done in their lives. Against the cultural joke backdrop of the back-talking slave, a servant who is trustworthy in front of his master as well as when his master is not around would stand out.
The slaves were to recognize the authority of those above them, work to please them, be respectful, and not to misappropriate the resources they were in charge of or came in contact with. Their trustworthiness would gain them an audience with their master and those around them…their audience would find their motivations to be attractive. Titus was to make sure that the slaves knew that their everyday choices would build the platform from which they could share the good news of gospel. Every slave, from the one with huge responsibilities to the one who did the most menial of tasks, could make the gospel attractive by how they worked.
Although we do not find ourselves in the same employment situation as the Cretan slaves, there are some clear parallels and applications for all of us. In a culture that seems to take work less and less serious…how a Christian works is important, no matter what job we have in front of us. We represent our Savior in the everyday choices we make in our work.