For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake (Titus 1:10-11).
AD. 62-64: the Church in Crete is threathened by false teachers, “teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake”. Paul writes to Titus instructing these false teachers must be silenced. But how will they be silenced? By sound doctrine. Contrasting the false teachers of the time, Paul tasks Titus to appoint elders/Pastors who will teach sound doctrine: “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”(1:9).
Clearly, the duty of a Pastor most importantly among many other duties is to teach the word and to teach it soundly. Not only in Titus, but in other places in Scripture, the need for a Pastor to teach and teach soundly is expressed. Further, Paul instructs Titus himself to “speak…the things which becomes sound doctrine”(2:1). We see clearly the importance of teaching sound doctrine if anyone identifies as a Pastor.
First, in Acts 20:28, elders are encouraged in the “pastoral” duties of overseeing and shepherding. Second, in 1 Peter 5:1–2, elders are exhorted to “shepherd” the flock of God that is in their charge, which is the role of a pastor. Third, in Ephesians 4:11, the one time that the word pastor occurs in the NT, pastors are treated as one group with teachers. This suggests that the chief role of the pastor is to feed the flock through teaching, which is a primary role of elders (Titus 1:9). Hence, the NT seems to indicate that “pastor” is another name for “elder.” An elder is a pastor, and a pastor is an elder.¹
One may ask, what then is sound doctrine? To answer that, we may first have to define what doctrine is:
The term doctrine refers to that which is taught. The Greek word in the New Testament is didaskalia, and it is variously translated as teaching, instruction, or doctrine. Christians use it to describe the basic theology which is understood to be the teaching of the Bible. In this sense it represents the content of the Christian faith.²
From this, we can simply say doctrine is what Christians believe as taught by Scriptures. Doctrine regulates Christian living. In Titus 2:2-10, Paul lays down some guidelines on Christian conduct. He spoke about how older men and women must conduct themselves. Then he spoke to young men and women. Further, the Christian is justified by faith alone in the finished work on Calvary.
Doctrine can be sound or unsound. Sound doctrine is any doctrine or teaching consistent with biblical teachings. Unsound doctrine will be the exact opposite of sound doctrine, that is, any doctrine or teaching inconsistent with Scripture.
A.D 2019: today’s Church in the modern world and in Ghana in particular is no different from the Church in Crete Paul wrote about. We have become inundated with unsound doctrine coming from many angles. There are all kinds of blasphemy parading around as gospel preaching and the true gospel—the good news of the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of sinners is no more preached. From the prosperity gospel, to health and wealth and various kinds of so called prophecies, many souls are been led astray.
When Paul charged that the mouth of these false teachers be stopped or silenced, he instructed the teaching of sound doctrine. And consistently in the epistle, we see Paul stressing the importance of sound doctrine (vv.9;13, 2:1). This tells us how important sound doctrine is to the life of the church and believer.
The teaching of sound doctrine matters because we are called upon to grow in our knowledge of Christ and not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. It is crucial we pay attention to doctrine because doctrine points us to whether our beliefs are true or not.
1. Matt Permann, “What Is The Role of An Elder”, accessed 10th January 2019, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-role-of-an-elder.