“The Word is faithful. And I want you to speak confidently about these things in order that they might be intent on doing good works to lead those who have believed in God. This is good and useful to man.”
There are two interpretive decisions that are made here that cause this translation to vary somewhat from others. The first is found in the introductory phrase: Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος (pistos ha logos). Many of you who are not familiar with Greek will still recognize the word “logos” from our application of the term in English, both inside of the church and outside of the church. In Greek, this is the word for “word,” yet, depending on its context, it can refer to a saying, an idea, a general item (a “thing”), or even to a situation in question.
The question we are left with, then, is how is Paul using the term in our text. In Paul’s pastoral epistles, he employs this phrase five times (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; and here). Further, in most of these cases, our English Bibles tend to render this: “the saying is trustworthy,” and that is a perfectly legitimate translation. Yet, here and in 1 Timothy 4:9, I would submit that “The Word is faithful” as a better translation given the context of the passages. In each case, Paul is contrasting a life that is ordered around the Scriptures as opposed to a life that pursues the myths of the present age. Thus, in this case, what must Titus insist upon? The reliability and trustworthiness of the Scriptures as a whole, not of an isolated saying within the scriptures. The same argument can be made based on the context of 1 Timothy 4:9.
The second point of interpretation is the word προΐστημι (proistemi). The ESV and NIV translate this as “to devote,” the NASB as “to engage,” and the KJV as “to maintain.” Again, this is one of those words that has different nuances depending on its context. A basic definition of the word reflects the idea of showing concern for the perpetuation of something…hence the translation choices above. At the same time, the term also carries with it the idea that the reason one shows concern for the perpetuation of this something is because the person is in a position of leadership and authority. In the context of Timothy, which contains a great deal regarding instructions to leaders, it seems to suit the context to apply this term particularly in the context of leadership. Thus, leaders in Christ’s church are to lead the church in the context of these good works…for the good works of the church in society are good and useful to men.