The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Timothy

1 2 3 4 5 6

1 Timothy 2

1Ti 2:1

Vv 1-8: Prayers for all men: These vv deal with the great efficacy of God's grace, and its availability to all men. In view of this, Paul stresses the importance of prayer on behalf of all men. This matter of prayer is something very real and very important. Prayer is perhaps the strangest and most marvelous of all God's provisions. It is a way whereby a man may extend his influence for good far beyond his natural powers -- without limit -- into eternal things. A man who cannot appreciate the real power of prayer, in his life and the lives of others, is a man with little of the true faith.

We are constantly told in the Scriptures of the power and importance of prayer. Might we not pray much more than we do, that others may learn the Truth and obey God in baptism? God has given us a tremendous instrument for good -- for the good of man. Are we using it to the fullest?

Let us follow Paul's example, in praying not just for ourselves in the ecclesia, but for others, that they might turn to God. This was Paul's "heart's desire and prayer to God" (Rom 10:1; 9:2,3). This is true prayer -- filled with the love for others which God desires us to show. "Pray without ceasing"; the heart-felt supplication for the pitiful, purposeless miseries of blind mankind, vainly seeking a self-made peace and an impossible happiness, tragically destroying themselves with their own 'wisdom'.

Is that our attitude toward the world? -- true concern for them, and constant prayer that they may be helped out of the morass. There is a danger that we tend to be too self-centered and narrow in our interests and affections, ignoring other people's needs and sorrows, wrapped up in our "specially-chosen" selves and writing off the world as hopeless. This was Paul's first request -- therefore of prime importance. ("First of all" does not simply mean first in order of time, but rather foremost in order of importance.)

REQUESTS: From a root word meaning 'to bind oneself (to another) -- that is, to make earnest, continual, untiring petition and may fittingly be addressed on occasion to men also. In relation to the particular object for which supplication is made -- that is, all men: cp Paul's supplication in Rom 10:1, where the same word is used: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved".

PRAYERS: The word is the most common and therefore the most general word for prayer in the NT. It includes the idea of public prayer. This word gives prominence to personal devotion to God.

INTERCESSION: Sig a conference with someone, an interview, a speaking to and with God. This word gives prominence to a personal confiding with God. We must be the intercessors for the world, as Christ is the intercessor on our behalf (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:27,34). In this sense we are now a kingdom of priests (1Pe 2:9), having been "taken from among men" (Heb 5:1). That is, we are the only contact that aliens have with the true God. We are God's representatives to them, and quite possibly, the only means (in this age) by which others may learn the Truth. Today, especially, Jesus' words ring true: "The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few" (Mat 9:37,38). Our overriding concern must be that through us God's mercy through the gospel may be shown more widely.

EVERYONE: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of men. Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than "without exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1Ti 4:15; 5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.

1Ti 2:2

FOR KINGS AND ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY: Our prayers to God in relation to the world should also take this form: We must pray that God will be with the leaders He has set up, so that society may maintain at least a semblance and framework of Christian law. We are told that even the King's heart is in the hand of God, so that He may turn it wherever He will (Pro 20:1; cp Ezra 6:22). This is with the purpose that the true believers may have the opportunity to lead peaceable lives, with as little interference as possible from the ruling authorities. In this era of the world's history this has been the case, for which we should be very thankful. Likewise, Jeremiah was inspired to exhort the captive Jews of his day to pray for the peace of the cities in which they sojourned, "for in the peace thereof ye shall have peace" (Jer 29:7). It is well to remember, of course, that such peace as we now enjoy is a great privilege, not to be taken for granted.

Concerning governments, this is the teaching of all the NT. Paul, in Rom 13:1-7, tells us: "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers..." And in Tit 3:1,2: "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, and to be ready to every good work to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." Also see 1Pe 2:13-15.

This counsel was certainly appropriate, for there were many Jews in the congregations to which Paul ministered and their nation bitterly hated the Romans. And the same feeling could naturally be present among Jewish Christians. But Paul's (and Christ's) command is simple and all-embracing: Do good unto all them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Mat 5:44). The Jewish nation was to be overturned in a few years from the time of this writing. The times even then were difficult for all Jews in the Roman Empire and they were not going to get any better. But the Jewish Christians could not allow themselves to become partisans against the government in any way. They could not be implicated with their brethren after the flesh. The course of the true believer has always been meekness and subservience to the powers that exist, seeking at all times to live peaceably with all men.

Another point to consider is that God calls all men to repentance, including the leaders. There were examples of those in authority who were touched by Jesus and the apostles and their doctrine. Might we not pray for the opportunity of conversion of those in authority? Is anything impossible with God?

PEACEFUL AND QUIET LIVES: The two Greek words denote, first, quiet arising from the absence of outward disturbance and, second, an absence of internal strife. A true believer must not seek trouble with outsiders (even to the point of fleeing to avoid persecution -- Mat 24:16-20); nor with his brethren, although trouble may come regardless of his efforts to avoid it. His wholesome behavior must be directed toward the keeping of peace. But even if the conditions under which he must live resemble those described by Jeremiah ("Fear on every side" -- Jer 20:10) or Paul himself ("Without were fightings, within were fears" -- 2Co 7:5), still the disciple of Christ may have peace. He may be blessed with the "peace of God that surpasses understanding (1Ti 1:2n; Phi 4:7). This reflects a mental condition uncluttered with empty anguish and frustration, but a condition of quiet peace which enables the individual to face turmoils otherwise impenetrable. However, the desire is to live a life of physical, political, ecclesial, marital, and mental quiet, that we may work unhindered in God's vineyard.

GODLINESS: The word "eusebia" (godliness) appears fifteen times in the NT. Ten of these are in Paul's writings, and only in the Pastoral Letters. The word occurs once in 2Ti, once in Titus and eight times in 1Ti -- which might almost be called an exhortation to godliness. The theme of 1Ti, then, is this "Godliness with contentment" which Paul stresses throughout. Note esp 1Ti 6:6-10, and the comments on that section.

"Eusebia" is compounded from two words: "eu" which means 'well or right'; and the remainder, which signifies worship. True godliness is therefore "right worship", the practical expression in our daily lives of the worship and honor (1Ti 1:2) due to God. This is the lesson which Paul emphasizes in the often misused passage, 1Ti 3:16, concerning the "mystery of godliness". Paul is not saying that it is the "nature of the Godhead" which is a mystery. Rather, the "mystery of godliness" is the development of the perfect and unified body of Christ. It is the awe and wonder we must experience as we view the unfathomable depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God manifested in His plan through Christ for our salvation! The "mystery of godliness" is the compelling influence of the Word of God acting upon impure men and women to develop a godly character. This we do by practical application of God's principles, while we never lose sight of the fact that we are saved by God's grace alone and not by our own efforts.

See Lesson, Honesty (GG).

1Ti 2:3

GOD OUR SAVIOR: See 1Ti 1:1n.

1Ti 2:4

WHO WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED: If God is concerned with the sparrows that fall and the young ravens that cry (Mat 10:29; Luke 12:24; Job 38:41; Psa 147:9), certainly He is concerned with people. This must be our concern too, if we are His children. It is so easy to self-righteously attend our own comfortable meetings and then spend the rest of our time on our own selfish, temporal interests and welfare. We must get out of ourselves and keep before our minds the broad world picture: God is concerned with the world, and is working with the world. We help Him toward this end by going forth to preach the gospel to all men (Mat 29:19; Mark 16:15), following the example of the apostles (Col 1:23).

God DESIRES (Diag) all men to be saved. God is "not willing that any should perish" (2Pe 3:9). He "has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live... " (Eze 33:11; 18:23,32).

If God "wills" the salvation of all men, why do so many perish without hope? We must view the "will of God" in two senses: His general plan and purpose, which cannot fail (His 'active' will) and, secondly, His offer of the means of salvation to individuals which depends for its success upon their choices (His 'passive' will). In this second sense, God's 'will' can be thwarted, and He plaintively sighs: "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Eze 33:11; 18:31).

ALL MEN: Refers to all classes of men, Jews and Gentiles (v 1n). All are placed on the same basis with respect to God's grace. The great light that shined forth upon Israel (Isa 9:2; 60:1,2) also shined forth upon the Gentiles (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 60:3)! All classes of men have sinned and fallen short of God's glory; all classes of men may be justified through God's grace in Christ (Rom 3:9,23,24,29).

A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH: "Knowledge" is "epignosis", meaning exact knowledge. This is called an "active knowledge" in the Diag. This is more than just a basic theoretical understanding of the first principles, more than that which we require for baptism. It is moreover a practical knowledge, a growing always in grace and knowledge. It signifies 'increasing to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the (Divine) truth". There are many who are nominally "in the Truth" -- who miss the main point that our initial knowledge must work effectively to change our lives. Some do not appreciate the sanctifying, cleansing influence of the Truth received in its fullness (John 17:3,17; Eph 5:26). Paul describes this class as "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof... ever learning, but never able to come to the (exact) knowledge of the Truth" (2Ti 3:5,7).

1Ti 2:5

See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.

ONE GOD AND ONE MEDIATOR: If there is only one God and one Creator of all men, He must certainly have a deep concern for all men. Yahweh is not a tribal deity of the Jews. Paul argues in this way in the presence of the Athenian philosophers (Act 17:26-28): "(God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are His offspring".

If each nation had its own mediator, then we with the "hope of Israel" would need have no concern for other peoples. But there is only one mediator between God and men -- Christ Jesus.

There is only one mediator or intercessor for all men -- one mediator in contrast to the many mediatorial 'saints' and angels and spirits of the Catholic superstition, which was developing even in Paul's time, and to which he referred: "a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels" (Col 2:18). Paul foresaw the time when: "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed... to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" (demigods, departed spirits) (1Ti 4:1n).

Christ is the one mediator (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). Christ confirmed the new covenant by his death as the covenant-victim: "For where a covenant is, there must also of necessity be the death of the covenant-victim" (Heb 9:16-18). He told his disciples at the Last Supper: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). The blood of Christ, in a figurative sense, came to represent the "new and living way" which he had opened, and which is still open to all men (Heb 10:20-22).

MEDIATOR: See Lesson, Mediatorship of Christ.

THE MAN CHRIST JESUS: Jesus was "himself man" (RV): see Heb 2:14 and Rom 8:3 -- the perfect man, the representative of all men before God. The Jewishness of Jesus is one aspect of truth, but his similarities with all men, including Gentiles, far outweigh his differences.

1Ti 2:6

RANSOM: Paul is referring to a ransom from the bondage of sin which results in eternal death -- "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, who is our Lord" (Rom 6:23). Adam, the man, is the federal head of all natural mankind, including Jesus -- "in Adam all die". Jesus, the Christ, is the federal head, the firstborn, of mankind after the spirit "in Christ will all be made alive". If Jesus is our Lord, and not human nature, and if the law of Christ overcomes the law of sin in each of us, we shall be ransomed from the wages of sin which is not simply death, the death due to all of Adam's heritage -- but death in the final sense -- and we shall receive eternal life, the gift given to those who are truly, federally in Christ. The ransom paid was 'death' to sin -- to sin's flesh -- to human nature. This is accomplished in us through the forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Christ. Just as by one man's sin, we all became sinners, by one man's righteousness can we all be made righteous. Our minds, hearts and lives must revolve around Christ, His Word, and His Father. Originally we have little choice in the inclination of our natures -- we inherit the tendencies of sin and human nature's consequence. Now, as men and women, we have a choice and we have a way of escape from the finality of death, through the 'ransom' of Christ. A ransom, something of equally-appraised value, was given -- Adam lived, failed and died; Christ died, succeeded and lived -- lives. Truly we may say we have been purchased by precious blood. Truly we can appreciate more than any others the sacrifice of Christ since we know him to have been one of us, yet without sin.

We must recognize the necessity on our part of a holy life and of an admittance and disavowal of our sins. And we must understand that God, by the death of His son, has shown His personal displeasure with sin, and the punishment due for it -- which should rightly fall without mercy upon each of us. We must see that we are saved, not by a bargain between Jesus and God, but only by God's mercy and forgiveness. All this, and more, is encompassed in the concept of Christ as a "ransom for all".

RANSOM: "Antilutron": see Lesson, Redemption.

ALL: "All", of course, meaning not every person ultimately and absolutely -- but "all" prospectively, by invitation and possibility. Or perhaps, individuals from "all" peoples and "all" nations, but not every single individual.

The element of freewill, or choice, or faith, must be taken into account: a man must want to be redeemed before God and Christ will redeem him!

GIVEN IN ITS PROPER TIME: The last part of v 6 is better translated "which was announced at the proper time". Cp the phrase of Gal 4:4: "When the fullness of time was come... " Christ's sacrificial death occurred at precisely the time which God had appointed long before (see the prophecy of Dan 9:24-27).

1Ti 2:7

APPOINTED: KJV has "ordained". This is the same word as "putting into" of 1Ti 1:12. There is not implied here any special service of ordination or consecration. Paul was singled out and called and equipped by God, not by men or by any elaborate or secret rites. Baptism (after belief of the truth) is the only special ceremony whereby a person may become a "minister" or servant of God.

HERALD: KJV has "preacher". Lit, a 'proclaimer', one who makes a public proclamation on another's behalf. Note how Paul makes the application of two OT quotations (Joel 2:32; Isa 52:7) to himself and his work: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach ('proclaim' -- Diag.) except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom 10:13-15).

APOSTLE: See 1Ti 1:1n.

TO THE GENTILES: This included the Romans, whom the Jews hated by natural inclination as 'dogs', but to whom God offered His abounding grace and love. For this purpose Paul was God's "chosen vessel" (Acts 9:15; 26:17; Gal 2:7-9).

1Ti 2:8

TO LIFT UP HOLY HANDS: The lifting up of hands was a common practice among the ecclesias, as it was in Israel (Neh 8:6; Psa 28:2; 141:2). But let us remember that form means nothing, and "let us lift up our hearts with our hands" (Lam 3:41).

The hands mentioned here must be "holy" -- set apart for the work, cleansed from sin, hands that have not shed innocent blood; "clean hands and a pure heart" (Psa 24:4). Paul uses this phrase almost as an expression of sacrifice. We offer God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; but unless this offering is accompanied by that other sacrifice (clean hands and a pure heart -- James 4:8), our prayers cannot be pleasing to Him. The priest offered after he had first cleansed himself.

WITHOUT ANGER: Having no bitter arguments, no hard feelings: "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment... Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee: Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Mat 5:22-24).

Christ is certainly speaking for our benefit too. The gifts and sacrifices which we offer are our prayers (Psa 141:2; Hos 14:2) and Christ is the altar to which we approach (Heb 13:10). Before we pray to God, let us see that we have clear consciences, or else our prayers will avail us nothing. Unless we forgive others, we will not be forgiven (Mat 6:15).

DISPUTING: As in 'discussion' (the Greek word has been carried into English as 'dialogue'), 'disputing', 'controversy'. The same word is translated 'imaginations' in Rom 1:21. This word means much more than just honest doubt or weak faith. It means "vain disputings" (1Ti 6:4), evil thoughts of the heart (Mat 15:19), faith-destructive speculations. Angry disputes are out of place any time among brethren, and they are especially damaging when brethren are trying to draw near to God in prayers and service. To accomplish anything, we must all pray together confidently, "nothing wavering" (James 1:6,7), in unity of mind and love for one another. We must doubt neither God; Christ's work in us; nor the sincerity of the brethren. Prayer is a time for submersion and submission of self before God. Our mind must be readied to come into His presence.

1Ti 2:9

Vv 9-15: Sisters -- modesty and silence: These verses (comparable to 1Pe 3:1-6) concern the position of sisters. Two points are strongly emphasized. First, modesty and reserve in dress and deportment, with inner rather than surface ornamentation. Secondly, silence in the ecclesial meetings.

Men and women are very different in many ways. The modem world, in its godless ignorance forgets this divinely attested fact. And the distinctions seem to become more and more obscure each day. Each sex has its own special weakness and its own special strength. Each has its own place and function in the Body of Christ.

To the extent a sister departs from either of these divine requirements, she cheapens herself and lessens her true spiritual usefulness in the Body. It is always wisdom to make sure we are well over on the safe side of any command -- conforming to its spiritual purpose and value.

These are not merely arbitrary and restrictive commands. Rather they are to make sisters more fitted and more suited to the fulfillment of their own very real and very necessary part in the welfare and activity of the Body.

Some of Ephesus were "rich in this world" (1Ti 6:17). Some were certainly quite well educated in this world's wisdom. For them, the lures of high 'fashion' and women's 'rights' were not so completely thrust aside as they might have been. Paul is speaking through the young Timothy to such as these. And he is speaking in the ecclesial world of today, adrift in an age full of the same notions that plagued the ecclesia in Ephesus.

ALSO: The phrase "in like manner" (AV) also is a reference back to v 8: Men may pray publicly, but this is an activity closed to women -- as are many other activities in the ecclesias. But Paul is quick to show Timothy here, that women are not without their own peculiar sphere of responsibility. "In like manner" they must willingly fulfill their station. These two verses (8,9), then, must refer to the obligations of the sister in the meetings, as the public prayers of the men were offered in the meetings. But who can doubt that Paul intends these characteristics he describes, modesty and self-restraint, to be manifested at all times everywhere?

MODESTLY: The word is translated as "becoming" in Diag. Other versions render this as seemly, suitable, proper, or orderly. Apparel includes more than dress. It may be translated as 'deportment' or 'bearing'. Actions are very much a part of this "apparel"! This reminds us of so many Biblical passages showing clothing as a symbol of our walk, our life in the Truth: Job 29:14; Psa 132:9; 1Pe 5:5; Isa 11:5; and Rev 19:7,8.

DECENCY: The KJV has "shamefacedness" -- an old-fashioned word which reads rather awkwardly today, because it lays stress upon the word "shame", and it implies an embarrassed and frightened diffidence in no way intended by the original. Paul means that modesty which is firmly rooted in the character, not the modesty of a showy affectation. The Greek (which appears here and Heb 12:28) also suggests the idea of 'reverence'.

PROPRIETY: Suggests soundness of mind and judgement. It is an habitual, inner self-government, which puts a constant rein upon the natural desires and passions. Sobriety puts into action what the "decency" recognizes to be proper.

With the qualities of modesty and self-restraint the sister must adorn herself so as to be pleasing in God's sight. "The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1Sa 16:7). God sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12), and our "adornments" must be those characteristics in which He finds delight.

These verses are especially for the woman, but the ultimate application is for any with ears to hear: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1Pe 3:3,4).

Paul is commending the virtue of self-restraint, or refusal to conform to the foolish fashions of a vain and changing world. Perhaps this point is driven home firmly when we consider the counter-examples of Scripture: The harlot of the Apocalypse, with her wanton ways, her brazen attitude, her rich clothing (Rev 17:4), the scarlet "attire of an harlot" (Pro 7:10) and the garments of violence (Psa 73:6). Isa 3:16-24 presents the same type of grotesque picture: The daughters of Zion, the very members of the ecclesia in Isaiah's time, were haughty, wanton, and flirtatious with every imaginable type of 'fashionable' nonsense and tastelessness. Does not such a perverted, hideous picture indeed emphasize by contrast the virtues of modesty and sobriety?

How closely should a sister conform to the fashions of the world, as to dress, make-up, and so forth? Perhaps a few words would be appropriate here. We have already noted the apostle's commands to restraint and modesty. And we have referred to several counter-examples which Scripture puts before our eyes (esp Isa 3).

One point we must always remember is this: Men and women are born, make changes while they live, grow old, and die: and others come to take their places. This world's fashions come and go, and the only thing certain about them is that nothing will remain the same for long. But the Almighty God of heaven never changes. In this is sufficient reason to shun (as much as is reasonable) the passing fancies of a godless world. If we follow the world's standard we are constantly changing. But if we accept God's standard we have a steadfast, immovable rock on which to stand.

By scrupulously and slavishly following the fashions of this world, we are showing our misplaced dependence upon it. We are showing that we regard the favor of the world as of greater value than the favor of God. We think more of the world's fellowship than we do of God's fellowship.

Furthermore, stylish dress, elaborate hair-styles and make-up, which imitate the changing fashions of today, give the impression to others of a similarity of fashion in thought and behavior to those we imitate. This is something which a believing sister should never imply. As much as is practicable we must endeavor to show our separateness from the world. (The tendency to go too far in the other extreme must of course be avoided in this as in other matters. Else we may become hopelessly Pharisaic, endlessly scrutinizing the outward appearance of others to the detriment of our own inner selves). Extreme 'modest' dress may bring undue attention as well as undeserved identification with other groups who by their 'modesty' brings as much attention to themselves as immodest dress. The sister of Christ should be modest, neat, tasteful, moral, moderate -- not suggestive or skimpy in her clothes, not excessive in her spending, not elaborate and time-consuming in her hairdos. The overall key is for the sister to be modest, not seductive in apparel and deportment.

Our 'clothing' should follow the example of the Israelites, to whom God spoke the following: "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make the fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them: and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God" (Num 15:38-40).

The ribbands of blue upon the hems of the Jew's garments were to draw their attention to the heavens, from whence their God had revealed Himself to them. It was to remind them of their peculiar duty to the one true and living God who had called and separated them to His obedience.

How do the fashions of today compare to this God-given instruction? Sad to say, the hems upon the skirts of today's 'fashionable' only draw attention to the lusts of the flesh; never to the commands of God. May our clothing be a reminder of our unchanging obedience to God, not of our slavery to a changing world! If the world's blind masses follow a fleshly god of tinsel and glamour and worship the naked human body and refuse to be persuaded otherwise let them alone. Let our young sisters remain as far from such unholy enticement as common sense allows. They have an infinitely higher calling. God has called them to peace and holiness. Young sisters, trust to the characteristics of the spirit, to encourage the companionship of like-minded young brothers.

BRAIDED HAIR: The phrase only occurs this one time in the New Testament. It is translated as "wreaths" (Diag) for the hair -- and simply as "elaborate hair arrangements" (Amplified Bible). Can the emphasis of natural appearance to men above spiritual appearance to God ever be right? Common sense and simplicity should be the guiding principles in our attitude to all non-essentials.


1Ti 2:10

GOOD DEEDS: In the assemblies, the men pray, but in the assemblies and elsewhere, women may show their works rather than words. Good works are always more than a satisfactory substitute for good words. The statement that righteous women are "adorned" with good works is the literal interpretation of many beautiful passages -- passages concerning the preparation of the spotless bride of Christ: "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Rev 19:7,8).

All the saints are the collective bride of Christ. Each of us is a member of the multitudinous woman to be joined with Christ in the marriage which His Father has prepared. At the judgement only those who have truly kept themselves as "chaste virgins" (2Co 11:2) and who have carefully prepared their wedding garments will be allowed to participate in this glorious feast.

1Ti 2:11

The learning in subjection does not appear to be limited to learning in the ecclesia. A similar command is found in 1Co 14:34,35: "Let your women keep silence in the ecclesias: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the ecclesia."

This is in no way a punishment upon women, nor is it a proof that they are inferior to men, because in Christ there is no real difference between male and female -- "For ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

The relative position of men and women is only another of the ways by which God illustrates a lesson for our instruction. Women are to submit cheerfully to their husbands "as unto the Lord", for the husband stands in the same position to his wife as Christ does to the ecclesia (Eph 5:22-24). (Note also that the husband must be careful not to abuse the privilege of this dominant position -- Eph 5:25,28. It is not a privilege he earned or deserves; he was given it by God). In this matter, the natural is but a vague representation of the glorious spiritual ideal -- the complete and loving submission of our own will to the will of our Lord: "Yet not I live, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20).

Another act by which a woman demonstrates her modest subjection to her husband (and to God) is in covering her head when the occasion requires it (1Co 11:3-16).

These verses (1Ti 2:11 and 1Co 14:34,35) are fraught with difficulty. The broad picture is obvious and without quibble, but problems have arisen and still persist in applying the principle to everyday ecclesial life. We may safely insist that the sisters refrain from speaking at all in the memorial meetings and those for the public proclamation of the Truth. Furthermore, we may insist that, at all times, the sisters not assume the leadership of a Bible discussion (v 12). To go beyond this and to legislate sisters' complete silence at every other ecclesial function as well leads us to the question: Just what constitutes the "ecclesia"? For example, might not a single couple -- husband and wife -- constitute in some cases the whole or proper "ecclesia" -- thus requiring by the strictest possible construction the sister's absolute silence even in the sole presence of her brother-husband? Let it also be realized that the word for "silence" used in 1Ti 2:11 is almost identical to the "peaceable" of v 2 and the "quiet" of 1Pe 3:4 -- where in each case a content and obedient and humble manner of life (not absolute muteness) is intended. (In this connection, no one would think of citing Hab 2:20 -- "The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him" -- so as to enforce an animal dumbness upon all men.) Thus Paul's commandment to Timothy concerning the sisters may be obeyed, to the benefit of the ecclesia, without going to the extreme of a crotchet in the matter.

The quotation of 1Co14:34, 35 is more explicit: "It is not permitted them to speak." Yet one is still faced with the problem of defining the "ecclesia". What are the prerequisites of an 'official' ecclesial meeting? We understand that some latitude may be allowed to each ecclesia or family group, based upon such factors as the relative number of brothers and sisters, the degree of isolation, and the consciences of those most directly involved.

1Ti 2:12

I DO NOT PERMIT A WOMAN TO TEACH: The women are certainly not to teach in the public meetings, but this does not preclude their teaching of children or outsiders in certain circumstances: Both Aquila and his wife Priscilla, took Apollos and "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:26). And the older women are even commanded to instruct the younger women in their proper behavior (Tit 2:4,5). But for a sister to presume to teach brethren in an assembly is an entirely different matter. Not that a woman cannot be as wise in God's word as a man; this is not the point. These verses serve to confine the woman's sphere of influence to its rightful place -- the home and family -- where great good may be accomplished quietly (see also 1Ti 5:10,14).

OR TO HAVE AUTHORITY OVER A MAN: "Usurp" (in KJV) signifies to grasp, to seize wrongfully. There are many more ways for a woman to be domineering than just by teaching the assembly. And all such usurpations are forbidden. In both ecclesial and family life the woman should concede the authority of final decisions to the man. This is the right way, as God intended it to be. The man is the head of the woman. (Here the Greek for "man" is "aner" which commonly [but not exclusively] signifies 'husband'. The reference in the immediate context, to Adam and Eve, would seem to indicate where the primary emphasis of this passage lies. However the passage cannot possible mean that single sisters can teach in the ecclesia because they do not have a husband). But again, men must be careful not to misuse their pre-eminence, because they did not really earn it. It was only given to them by God. To get even more to the point, the woman's relative position to the man is designed to teach the man submission also (for all are subject to Christ, as his collective Bride).

Husbands should always take into account the feelings of their wives. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies... " (Eph 5:28). An enlightened love, which makes one willing to learn and change and cooperate can solve the most difficult marital problems.


"There was no question of public speaking. All were agreed that the law of the Lord prohibited woman's voice from being heard in public assembly. The question was whether in the non-public working or management of things, woman's voice might be allowed a place.

"The question seems an extraordinary one. The Lord's law is never directed to the prescription of impossibilities. You can no more suppress a wise woman's influence and wise woman's voice, than you can suppress the law of gravitation. You may prevent her delivering a public address: but you cannot prevent her giving good counsel, and you ought not. Though woman, by Divine law, is in subjection, she is not to be extinguished.

"If the Scriptures appoint man as her head, they do not exclude her from partnership in all that concerns their mutual well being. They show us women: (1) Laboring with Paul in the Gospel -- Phi 4:3; (2) As official servants of an ecclesia with business in hand, which the ecclesia was called upon to promote -- Rom 16:1-3; (3) Exercising the prophetic gift -- Acts 21:9; (4) Prominently ministering to Christ himself -- Luke 8:2, 3; and (5) Sometimes leaders in Israel, like Deborah -- Jdg 4:4.

"The denial of public speech to women is as far as we are justified in repressing them. I have seen tyrannical and unsympathetic men wrongly using Paul's authority to put down and quench godly women more qualified than themselves to exercise judgement and give counsel. Let women certainly be modest, but let her not be reduced to a cipher which God never intended. She is intended as a comrade and a help, which she greatly is, when enlightened and treated rightly.

"We ought to be thankful when women turn up who are able to help with wise suggestion. To object to such on the score of 'ruling the ecclesia' is to evince either a shameful misconception of duty or an itch for headship which disqualifies for the true service of the ecclesia.

"No man who wants to be head is fit to be head. The headship that comes from service is the only headship that is either useful or tolerable, or, in the long run, possible. Where the spirit of exalting each other, instead of exalting ourselves, prevails (as Christ commands), there is little danger of difficulties arising, and an easy settlement of them if they do arise" (RR, Diary of a Voyage).

1Ti 2:13

See Gen 1:27 -- "Male and female created He them". But this general statement is explained in detail in Gen 2, where we are told that God first created Adam (v 7), who remained alone for a time (v 18), and then created Eve out of Adam's side (vv 21,22). Paul uses a similar argument again, this time in 1Co 11:8,9 to demonstrate the woman's submission to the man: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man."

Note how often Paul appeals to events in the early chapters of Genesis. Certainly he believed that account to be the inspired, genuine history of man -- not some abstract allegory. The modern 'science' that can question the literalness of these accounts is most definitely a 'science falsely so called' (1Ti 6:20) and the "wisdom of this world" (1Co 1:20).

FORMED: A peculiar word, found only twice in the NT: here and in Rom 9:20: "the thing formed", in reference to God as the master potter and man as His workmanship. From these verses we see the idea of man's creation as the forming of a vessel from the clay by God's own hand.

1Ti 2:14

The Diag mg renders deceived as "thoroughly deceived" -- and Weymouth and Roth agree. There seems to be some difference among the available NT texts at this verse. But cp 2Co 11:3: "The serpent beguiled Eve." Eve allowed herself to be thoroughly deceived, to be swayed by her emotions. She was led away by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1Jo 2:16), set in such a pleasing form by the subtle, amoral reasoning of the serpent. (Of course the lusts that led her away were not working in her as they are in us. They are now part of our physical make-up -- they are constantly pressuring us. Eve first exhibited these tendencies which caused her to fall to temptation, and they became an inherent factor in all her descendants, which motivates them inexorably to evil rather than good).

The woman acted upon emotional impulse -- desire, without proper regard for God's word. She did not demonstrate a ready faith in God's promises. She fell to the deception of the serpent -- believing it spoke the truth. (This is quite a lesson for us: We are often ready to do something, knowing it is wrong, if we can only justify it by appealing to another's counsel).

Eve should have spoken with Adam before transgressing and Paul seems to bring this out. He tells the woman to look for spiritual judgment from her head, her husband, rather than doing something on her own. Eve should not have taken the step to "become as the Elohim". This usurpation resulted in sin and grievous punishment. She was then commanded to serve Adam. Paul shows forth this point. Man is for authority (not as a lord, but with love) and woman is for subjection.

This perhaps explains the problem of 1Co 11:10, "because of the angels". Because Eve sought to be equal in authority to the angels Paul says that a woman must cover her head, her glory, to demonstrate her subjection of a "lower" position to the angels. She is not yet equal to the Elohim. Not only this, but she also is subject to the authority of her husband.

Eve was first in the transgression, the first to be deceived, the first to fall into transgression. JT speaks of these verses in 1Ti as Paul's appeal to 'the unhappy consequences of Eve's talkativeness and leadership in transgression' (Elp 122). In Gen 3:13 Eve admits that the serpent deceived her; but in Gen 3:12 Adam states simply that: "The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

ADAM WAS NOT THE ONE DECEIVED: This did not pardon him, for he was in knowledge, but the woman was first in the transgression. It is probable that Adam was further influenced by the fact that Eve seemed to be none the worse from her experience; she had certainly not died.

On this matter the following words may also apply: "A man should never permit the words of a woman to intervene between him and the laws of God. This is a rock upon which myriads have made shipwreck of the faith. Adam sinned in consequence of listening to Eve's silvery discourse. No temptation has proved more irresistible to the flesh than the enticing words of woman's lips. 'They drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; and her steps take hold on hell" (Prov 5:3-5). Adam was a striking illustration of this truth... ' " (Elp 123).

In this verse (v 14), Paul seems to be saying that men are often guided by clearer, cooler reasoning than women and that women are more prone to spur-of-the-moment, emotional decisions. But man must not feel that he is superior to the woman. Each sex merely has its own capabilities. Even by their natures, men are born to be leaders of the needs of their wives. Women are born to follow and to support their husbands in the Truth.

"There is congruity in all the ways of God when the relations established by His law are observed. Man is the head, but only for nurture and protection and honour of the woman. Woman is man's equal fellow-heir of the salvation that is offered in Christ, but not to usurp the position that belongs to a man both by natural constitution and divine appointment. Man is for strength, judgment, and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy and ministration. Between them, they form a beautiful unit -- 'heirs together of the grace of life' " (LM 220).

To go even further along this line, we should all -- brothers and sisters -- be subject in love to one another: Looking for Scriptural encouragement and counsel before making important decisions; showing regard for the experiences and preferences of others as far as is practical. In short, behaving as a true family should. We refer in this regard to such passages as James 3:14-18; 5:16; 1Co 13:4-6; 12:25-27; Rom 14:1-4,10,13; 15:13; Gal 6:l-2; and many others.

1Ti 2:15

WOMEN WILL BE SAVED THROUGH CHILDBEARING: This phrase is then very similar to that of 1Co 3:15, where it is said that we are saved by (dia -- "through") fire (which symbolized trials -- 1Pe 1:7). Also, note Acts 14:22: "We must through (dia) much tribulation enter the kingdom of God." Trials and hardships are the paths over which we must all travel. They are the refining vats through which we must each pass so that our faith may be purified. God does not enjoy seeing us suffer but by His chastening He is helping and teaching us to walk in the right ways and He is molding our characters.

Thus we see childbearing for what it is -- a necessary trial for God's children. It was first a punishment placed upon the woman for her part in the first sin. The woman was to have sorrow and pain in childbirth, and her husband was to rule over her (Gen 3:16). But it is God's mercy and foresight that the very childbearing which serves to remind women of the part Eve played in the original transgression may be one of the trials through which they may enter the kingdom.

In another sense, God made possible the reward of eternal life through that role of woman which was a punishment. In this verse the word "childbearing" is preceded by the definite Greek article: Paul seems to be speaking about a single, very special birth: "the childbearing". At the same time that Eve was receiving the punishment for her sin, she received the promise of a special man to be born, called "the seed of the woman", through whom the serpent or sin power would be fatally wounded (Gen 3:15).

This same promise is mentioned by Isaiah -- that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who will be called "God with us" (Isa 7:14). And also in Jer 31:22 -- that a new thing shall happen: "a woman shall compass the man." These promises were all fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who was conceived not by the will of man, but by the Spirit of the Most High overshadowing Mary (Mat 1:21-25). This same Jesus, throughout his life, resisted sin in all ways and died a sacrificial death so that the way to life might be opened to all men and women. Thus the sisters can take courage to serve God in quietness and self-restraint now, comforted with the hope offered by the "seed of the woman".

One further aspect: the spiritual rather than the natural bearing of fruit to God. Through this we are all saved. In Rom 7:4, Paul likens the ecclesia to a woman, as he so commonly does. Her former husband has died, which is a way of saying that we have become dead to the present world and its lusts and that we are no longer the servants of sin (Rom 6:17). With her first husband now dead, she is at liberty to be married to another, Christ who was raised from the dead. And this new alliance (which we now have with Christ) is for the purpose of bringing forth fruit unto God (Rom 7:4). With Christ's help, in our new relationship with him, we may produce "the fruit of the Spirit": love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal 5:22, 23). We may then be saved through this bringing forth of fruit -- this new walk in the Truth, this new life in Christ, with new desires and new goals. The "child" which each saint bears is himself: "a new man in Christ Jesus". We must be "born again" (John 3:5) -- not only by water at baptism, but by the Spirit-word (1Pe 1:23) to "newness of life" (Rom 6:4). By doing this we shall be saved.

This can also be rendered, "through her childbearing". She can be saved through her childbearing -- how? Paul has just stated that the sister is to be modest and in subjection -- So what can she do? She can bear children -- not just carry them for 280 days and then deliver them; but nurture them, thus fulfilling the quiet, unsung duties of motherhood and the house (1Ti 5:10,14). By presenting mature, developed servants of God in the form of the children she has so wisely and scripturally brought up.

Maternal characteristics are those of self-sacrifice, preservation of others, compassion, patience, duty; unyielding and demonstrative and forgiving -- loving. This is another aspect in which the sister is saved in her child bearing. Often, these characteristics go undeveloped until she becomes a mother and these characteristics. (See Article, "Saved in childbearing".)

FAITH, LOVE: See 1Ti 1:5n.

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