I have been teaching through Titus during Wednesday evening Bible study and I came to 2:9-10 yesterday evening. After the first reading, I had initially relegated it to the "we'll give this a run-through" passage, kind of like an epistolary benediction or opening greeting. Of course, I then nearly concluded that, given that slavery is no longer a norm in American life, there is no real, ready application except in employee/employer relationships. That would be the natural place to go. However, as I really studied and prayed that God give me a fuller picture, this quote from a commentary caught my attention. And it changed my whole perspective on how to interpret these passages.
It is unfortunate that many teachers or preachers have applied Paul’s teaching on slavery in his epistles to the employer/employee relationship in modern economies. Such applications dilute the tremendous power of the Gospel as seen within the dark and unjust institution of slavery. The focus of Paul’s teaching with regard to Christian slaves must not be missed. Against the bleak hopelessness of this system of bondage, the Christian slave’s devotion to the Gospel and resulting godly attitudes and actions serve to make attractive in an unparalleled way the ultimate freedom that is only realized in Christ (Hayne, New American Commentary: 1,2 Timothy, Titus 308)I taught Titus 2:9-10 completely different after reading and thinking through this quote and applied it to the sum total of the Christian experience; anywhere a Christian finds himself under authority. The slave-master relationship should characterize the Christian life and just as a Christian slave should yield unquestioning obedience to his master, so the Christian should yield unquestioning obedience to his Master, Jesus--and this characteristic will manifest itself in all relationships where a Christian is under authority--even to an unbeliever.