Titus 2                “Reverence”


            Happy Mother’s Day! I know that there is a lot in this scripture that was read today, but I want to focus on just this one crazy and wonderful idea that is in verse 1 and 3 and is hinted at throughout this chapter. It is the idea of being a “preppy”!

            When we hear that term in English, we recall that it is a shortened form of “preparatory school student.” To be a preppy is to look like you are going off to an expensive private school in the hopes of one day applying to Harvard, Brown, Smith, or even Manoa. Of course, that cannot be the meaning in the Bible!

            In reading our texts we see the word “consistent” in the first verse and that is followed up in verse three with the word “reverent.” This word in the Greek is the adjective πρεπει (preppy). There is a little bit of a difference in these two verses that I will talk about in a minute.

            Saint Paul is therefore telling Titus to be consistent in his teaching and preaching of the Word. Let your arguments stand the test of time. Let there be no logical contradictions. Let your words strike as being totally valid.  Be consistent! This is the advice that we still glean from Paul’s admonitions to Titus.

            When we go out into the world, let us be consistent Christians. Let nothing you do invalidate your faith in Jesus. And, do not waiver in this. This is the typical WWJD, “What would Jesus do” argument. Admittedly, I often times am not sure what Jesus would do in certain circumstances.

            I have heard from so many of you recently about the issue of our drivers on the island suddenly becoming more impatient, speeding, and tail-gaiting incessantly. I think you have all noticed that. As we come out of the pandemic and the tourist vehicles have added to congestion again that our casual and loving driving habits seem to have drifted away in the tide. “Drive with Aloha” is not really working too well again.

            What would Jesus do? I have often wondered how Jesus would drive. Would he even have a Jesus bumper sticker on the bumper? No really, think about it! Would Jesus carry insurance and have the safety check sticker up to date? Then, the even bigger question is what kind of car would Jesus choose to drive? I think it would be at least a twelve seater van (you know, fit all the disciples in), but it might also be a British sports car. The Bible says He is going to come in a Triumph. My daughter thinks Jesus would drive a pick-up truck to just come pick us all up.

            Whatever you drive, and however you drive, know that you are still a Christian even behind the tinted windows. Let your driving be consistent with your faith. Do not put the Jesus sticker on your bumper and then drive like a bat out of Hell.

            Former mayor Brian Baptiste used to tell his supporters to proudly display his bumper sticker for re-election—unless they were going to break the speed limit or make some other illegal moves on the road. Be consistent. Be a preppy driver—as we might say in Greek.


            Now, let us look again at this word “preppy.” In verse three it appears again, but this time it is in a compound construction as the word ιεροπρεπει. The first part of the word is in reference to the Temple in Jerusalem actually. “Iero” is the Greek word for Temple. So, in fact, Iero-salem, Jerusalem, means the “temple of peace”—salem. The notion that Paul is trying to get across is that the elder women should be consistent or proper as if they were entering the Temple. They should be that way all the time. This concept has been translated for us here in our Bibles as being “reverent.”

            On this Mother’s Day I have to point out that this is really kind of a break-through concept for the day. Women were not allowed to approach the holiest of holies in Jerusalem. They were only allowed as close as the forecourt. The idea that they should be “Iero-preppy” is iconoclastic. Paul is saying that women should behave as priests. We call pastors “reverends,” so please note that this is the language that Paul is actually using here. Women are supposed to be so consistent in their faith that they could approach God in the Temple itself. That is really quite a breakthrough idea for the time.

            I want to just pick up from some of the things I was saying about being a Cretan back in the day from my sermon last week. This letter is to the church in Crete, headed up by Titus. They were and still are fiercely proud and very, very Greek. Amen to that. For instance, Titus will have nothing to do with all that circumcision stuff that the Jews think is necessary to be a Christian! Paul upholds that idea.

            Okay, about the Greek women of the time, if you have not read the classic Greek plays by Aristophanes, Lysistrata or the play The Women of Athens, you should know that the Greek women had their own society separate from the Greek men. That is one of the reasons that Paul writes instructions in a very gender-specific way to the churches in Greece. Lysistrata tells the story of how women stopped the Peloponnesian War by withholding wifely pleasures from their soldier husbands. The Women of Athens tells how the women took over the government of that city-state.

            In Greece at that time, women were used to being priests already. They ran the Temple of the Oracle at Delphi. They ran the Temple to Athena Nike in Athens. So, they are not very likely to be kept out of the priesthood of the early churches. We know that Jesus had female disciples. Mary of Magdala herself is named as a female apostle. Dorcas is named as a female deacon of the early church. So, that is not the Jewish way. A woman could never be a rabbi, for instance.

            So, Paul uses the word in Greek “iero-preppy” to state how women are supposed to be in the early church. They are supposed to be reverend. They are supposed to live their lives consistent with being priests of the Temple of God!


            I have to admit, that as much as I loved my mother, I cannot say that she lived her life so much consistent with being a priest in the temple. She was for sure a good Christian woman who loved her family, as Paul points out women should do, but she was no saint. She let a few colorful words fly from her tongue at times. She smoked. She drank. She even gambled in Las Vegas so much that they would just give her the hotel room for free. In other words she was a preferred regular in Sin City.

            You know, she also went to church every Sunday, read the Bible from the Lectern, served in many capacities in the church. She shared her spiritual gifts with the people around her. She actually had a very powerful spiritual life. I owe much of my own spiritual life to how she raised me up. She was very reverend as far as I was concerned. She taught me how to be a Christian more than anyone else in my life.


            I cannot look down on her at all because of the fact that she had a free hotel room in Vegas! That would be ridiculous. The last line of the passage for today really points that out. “Let no one disregard you.” Let no one put you down.

            In our time, it is much as it was back in the day of Titus and Paul. Christians are looked down upon. Christian bashing seems to have become very much like a sport. But, we cannot and shall not let that put us down. Jesus always stood face to face against his foes. He never cowered himself. He only ever projected His own reverence. He was the perfect “preppy” in that he knew all he did was in preparation for the Kingdom of God.

            So, I am not going to stand up here and cry foul because of the way Christians are treated in this world. I am going to be more like a Greek, like a Cretan, like my mother’s son, like my Savior Jesus Christ and not let anyone ever disregard me or put me down.

            That is the way it should be with everyone in the church. Be reverent. Act as if you are going up the steps to meet God in the Holiest of Holies in your life. Whether you are male, female, young or old. Be the “preppy” because one day you will most certainly be approaching the throne of God in heaven. This world is our prep school for the life everlasting.