Paul’s instruction to Titus gives women the biblical foundation for their role as disciple-makers:
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 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.Titus 2:1-5, NIV
This passage contains the calling, character, content, and context for women as disciple-makers in the home and in the church. Our last post addressed the calling and character of discipleship. Today’s post explores the content of our curriculum and some biblical examples that demonstrate the context of such relationships.
Scripture not only gives the calling and the character for women who make disciples but the content for discipleship as well. In Paul’s directive to Titus, he emphasized sound doctrine, the teaching of what is good (Titus 2:1, 3). Likewise, Jesus commanded that disciples be made, baptized, and taught to obey what He has commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). How are women to apply these instructions as they make disciples of their children and other women?
First, the context of the entire letter of Titus helps one understand Paul’s instruction to teach sound doctrine. The Pastoral Letters to Timothy and Titus were written to encourage healthy church ministry based on biblical teaching. Paul instructed Titus as he appointed elders to look for godly men who “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that [they] can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). He then instructed Titus to “teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1) and to direct the older women to “teach what is good” (Titus 2:3b).
The content of this doctrine is the teaching about Christ—His sinless life, death, and resurrection for the redemption from the bondage of sin for those who would believe and trust in Him by faith (Titus 2:11-15). This gospel of grace should be communicated in the context of the entire metanarrative of Scripture: the Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration of all things.
Teaching one’s children and other women the foundational truths of the gospel and God’s eternal plan for the redemption of all creation is the primary curriculum of the disciple-maker. Helping younger women understand God’s character and a biblical worldview is “to teach what is good” (Titus 2:3b).
This sound doctrine enables women to live out their faith in a way that is counter-cultural. It empowers them to discern what is good and true in the midst of a culture that is deceptive and false. Sound doctrine is important because people live what they believe, and the way they live should reflect truth “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10).
The disciple-maker should be growing her understanding of these truths through study of God’s Word and even training, if possible. Then she should teach these principles to her children and younger women in the faith.
Second, the older women were to 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” (Titus 2:4-5). This teaching on family relationships corresponds to the rest of Scripture regarding healthy relationships.
The Law of Moses included the command to honor one’s parents (Exod. 20:12). Proverbs contains many verses that instruct believers on healthy relationships within the home (Prov. 11:22; 12:4; 14:1; 18:22; 15:20; 14:26; 22:6). Paul wrote that godly, submissive, and loving relationships between husbands and wives were a reflection of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:1-2).
He also instructed parents on how to relate to their children and vice versa (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:21-22). Children are to be trained in the Word and ways of God (Deut. 6:1-9). These qualities of self-control, purity, industry, kindness, and submission to authority are characteristics of godliness for all people.
While some have suggested that the directive for women to “be busy at home” forbids women to work outside the home, the wider context of Scripture refutes that interpretation. Priscilla, Lydia, and Phoebe are all New Testament examples of women who worked a trade (Acts 18:3; 16:14; Rom. 16:1-2). More likely, this admonition was for women to not be lazy, especially considering that Cretans were known to be so (Titus 1:12).
Together, these instructions are to help women grow as disciples of Christ and live in a way that points to Him, enabling them to share their faith with others and so multiply discipleship.
While sound doctrine must be the foundation of teaching women what is good, the spiritual disciplines are the habits that grow and develop one’s relationship with God (1 Tim. 4:7). These disciplines, such as Bible intake (reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture), prayer, fasting, and solitude are biblical practices for the purpose of closeness and conformity to Christ.
These disciplines are how one grows in love for God, love for one another, and love for one’s neighbors—the defining hallmarks of discipleship. While these can be learned and practiced in isolation, disciples grow best in community where accountability and encouragement are in place.
Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington use Jesus’ call in Matthew 4:19 to define a disciple as one who is “following Christ, being changed by Christ, and committed to the mission of Christ.” Teaching younger women how to study, pray, and apply God’s Word to their lives allows them to experience spiritual formation and growth as they are being changed by Him. Meeting regularly to read and discuss the Word, to pray, and to hold one another accountable encourages the disciple to continue to seek spiritual growth and to be on mission with Christ.
As these holy habits become consistent, the disciple grows to know, love, and trust God more. These disciplines of faith should be the means of biblical disciple-making, but not the end-goal. The pursuit of Christ should always be the objective. Hunt writes: “Biblical discipleship is not simply imparting facts or inculcating personal habits of Bible study, prayer, and evangelism, as helpful as those disciplines are. It is transmitting a way of thinking and living that unites all the parts into the glorious whole of glorifying God.”
As the spiritual mother lovingly comes alongside a younger woman, she encourages not just the habits of faith but the living out of God’s principles through her teaching and example.
God’s Word and His Spirit provide all the disciple-maker needs for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Through scriptural examples and the body of Christ, women are given the context for making disciples in their homes and in the church.
One example of the role of women as disciple-makers is that of Naomi and Ruth. The entire book of Ruth is set in the period of the judges, a time of moral and spiritual degeneracy for the nation of Israel (Ruth 1:1). While Scripture leaves much to the imagination regarding Naomi’s discipleship of Ruth, the results are obvious.
Ruth, the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi, was a foreigner; yet, her devotion to Naomi and Naomi’s God can only be attributed to a close relationship in which Naomi not only taught Ruth the ways of God but also modeled a godly lifestyle (Ruth 1:16-17). This story of transformation and redemption reveals the power of discipleship to change the heart of the disciple-maker as well.
Another biblical example of women as disciple-makers is that of Mary and Elizabeth. Luke wrote that sometime after Mary learned of her pregnancy, she visited Elizabeth where she received understanding and grace (Luke 1:42-45). Mary’s song of praise to God erupted after Elizabeth’s encouragement to her (Luke 1:46-55). Mary stayed there for three months, no doubt being encouraged and equipped for what lay ahead.
An example of women discipling their children can be seen in the relationship of Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. Paul provides a brief glimpse into this family dynamic in his first letter to Timothy: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (1 Tim. 1:5). This “sincere faith” had been passed down through these godly mothers who trained their children in the ways of God.
Women today are hungry for truth. In a culture that promotes self-reliance, women have the opportunity and privilege to instill and nurture faith in God through parenting, mentorship, and women’s ministry. Women play a vital role in the life and ministry of the church, and God’s Word provides the theological foundation for that role.
While the debate over women in ministry continues, ignoring the clear commands of Scripture only serves to distract and disrupt the process of multiplication. By studying the call, the character, the content, and the context of women as disciple-makers in Scripture, women can instead focus on living within that biblical dynamic and bring God glory as they make disciples who make disciples for the Kingdom.
 Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together (Chicago: Moody, 2017), 43.
 Susan Hunt, Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women, 2nd ed. 1993, Reprint (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 90.
 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014), 9.
 Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Spiritual Formation Is…: How to Grow in Jesus with Passion and Confidence (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2018), 101.
 Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington, with Robert E. Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 30.
 Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical, Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 68.
 Susan Hunt, “Women’s Ministry in the Local Church: A Covenantal and Complementarian Approach,” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 11, no. 2 (2006): 45.