Study Notes

1Timothy 2:9-15


When we left off last week, Paul was making the point that we as Christians need to be praying for the authorities in our lives, because God desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. He said,

1Tim. 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

The reason he gives this instruction is that people are prevented from coming to Christ when they see a division between our message and our behavior. People will not listen to the gospel when they see a difference between the message of love we preach and bickering and backbiting between believers in the church.

So Paul said, "guys, I want you to pray, to lift up holy hands. I don't want wrath and dissension in the church. God wants everyone to be saved. Don't be a hindrance to that."

This was the instruction for the men. Now, Paul is going to give instruction regarding the women in the fellowship.

2:9-10 Proper Clothing

Likewise, Paul said. God wants everyone to be saved, and hypocrisy is a hindrance to that. Our message and methods should be in unity. Therefore, this is the direction he gave to the women in the church.

First, they need to dress properly. Of course, the question arises, "who is to say what is inappropriate, and what is proper?" Is there going to be a dress code? Who decides? Paul answers that in the same sentence.

Modestly And Discreetly

Proper clothing is modest and discreet. What do these words mean?

"Modest" in Greek is "KOS-mee-os." It means to be orderly, harmonious, well-balanced. It is where we get our words "cosmos" and "cosmetics." Things that are an orderly arrangement.

This doesn't mean to make sure that your clothes match, but that they are in harmony with your testimony. That the way you are dressing is sync'ed with your profession of the gospel.

"Discreetly" is the Greek word "ahee-DOCE." This word carries with it the negative of shame and disgrace. When you dress discreetly, it means that you are dressing to avoid shame, it means that you have a sense of honor. That you are dressing with regard to men and reverence toward God.

So Paul is saying, "Ladies, consider what you are wearing." Is what you are wearing consistent with your testimony? Do you consider God and men when you choose your clothes?

Men are driven and stimulated by sight. Thursday night, we read of the terrible sin that David fell into with Bathsheba. This came about because he was tempted when he saw her bathing. Jesus also acknowledged men's weakness in the area of sight when He said,

Matt. 5:28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Men look with lust. Now I have heard women say, "Well, that's their problem. I'm going to wear what I like." But that is not the attitude we are to have. We are to be mindful of the weaknesses of others. As Paul instructed,

1Cor. 8:9 But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

1Cor. 8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.

When you wear a low-cut shirt, a short skirt, a tight fitting sweater or pair of pants, it causes men to stumble. Are you willing to give up your freedom to wear these things out of respect for your Christian brothers?

Adorn Themselves

Paul also addresses what some ladies in the churches were doing in that day. They would braid their hair with expensive gold banding and flaunt their wealth by displaying expensive jewelry. They were adorning themselves to draw attention to their beauty and social standing.

Ladies, take a look at your entire look. What about your makeup, hair, and jewelry? Is your makeup done in a way to cover blemishes, or to really "wow" the guys? Is your hair style this way because it is easy to manage, or are you trying to draw attention to it? Is your jewelry a nice accent, or is your motivation to have people say, "Wow! That must have cost a fortune!"

You see, while people are impressed with the outside, God is impressed with the inside.

Prov. 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, {But} a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

1Sam. 16:7 ...God {sees} not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

If you want to adorn yourself with beauty, don't do it with sexy clothes, excessive makeup, a fancy hairstyle, or expensive jewelry. Do it with your actions, your good works.

As you age, your soft skin will wrinkle. Your nice shape will fall. Your outward beauty will diminish. But if you adorn yourself with good works and godliness, your beauty will increase as you age. The more godly of a woman you are, the more attractive you will become.

Women's Liberation Through Christianity

Now, before we continue with these verses, I want to clarify something in regards to Christianity and women.

Two thousand years ago, women were not considered citizens. Plato wrote,"I thank the gods that I am a Greek and not a barbarian. I thank the gods that I am a freeman and not a slave. And I thank the gods that I am a man and not a woman."; In that day and age, men were forbidden to talk to women in public, including their own wives and daughters. In India, the teaching of reincarnation was that bad people became dogs, worse people became spiders, and really, really bad people became women!

Jesus destroyed all of this nonsense. He talked with women publicly, He reached out to them compassionately. The woman at the well, the woman caught in the act of adultery, the woman with the issue of blood. He made women a key part of His ministry. As a matter of fact, the first people He appeared to after His resurrection were women - even though at the time, a woman's eyewitness testimony meant nothing in court. Historically, Christianity freed women, recognizing them in society as real people. So, as we examine some of these things, don't fall into the trap that this is just ancient male chauvinism.

2:11 Receive Instruction

Paul says that a woman should learn quietly with submissiveness. That could sound very chauvinistic, until you understand two things.

First of all, Paul is saying that they are to be instructed in the church. That may seem like a "given" in today's society, when there are more women than men in church. But in that first century culture, things were different. Women were discouraged from learning. Most of the rabbis of the day refused to teach women. The Greeks discouraged the women from appearing in public - and never alone. They were not even allowed at public assemblies.

And so, the positive side of this is that women were welcome in the church, against the social trends of the day.

But it says that the women were to "quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness." Add this to what Paul told the Corinthians, and you're likely to have most women up in arms.

1Cor. 14:34-35 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Does Christianity teach that women are to be seen and not heard? No. Paul himself approved women's freedom to pray or prophesy in church (1Cor 11:5). He was the one who wrote,

Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

So how do you reconcile this apparent "gag order" against women in the church? In those days, the Christian church followed the custom of the Jewish synagogues. Men sat on one side of the room, women on the other side (you find this in Orthodox synagogues even to this day).

When a prophet or pastor/teacher gave instruction or a word of prophecy, it was common for the women to shout across the room to ask their husband a question or get a clarification This was terribly disruptive! So they were to receive the instruction in church, and if they had questions, they should ask their husbands later, at home.

And speaking of the teaching, Paul brings this up as well.

2:12-14 Eve's Deception

Women are forbidden to be the spiritual heads over men in the church. They are not to teach men or have authority over men. They are free to serve in many areas of ministry, but being pastors and elders is not allowed. Is that a cultural distinction that no longer applies? No, it goes outside of Paul's day and Roman and Jewish cultures, and traces right back to the garden of Eden.

Gen. 2:18-3:6 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought {them} to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'" And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make {one} wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Eve's problem was not that she was tempted to sin. It was that she was deceived into sin. As 2Corinthians 11 says,

2Cor. 11:3 ...the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness...

Because Eve was deceived by satan, women are not to be the spiritual authorities. You may say, "Well, wait a minute! Adam ate the fruit too!" Yes he did, but he was not deceived. Adam was not deceived, he sacrificed himself knowingly. He knew that he was going to die as a result, but loved Eve to the point of self-sacrifice. He was willing to die with her rather than live without her.

Women Serving In Church

Now, does this preclude all women from having any ministry in the church? Not at all. Women in the Bible serve as many things. We see that Moses' sister Miriam was both a prophetess and a worship leader. Phoebe was a deaconess of the church in Keng-khreh-AH (Romans 16:27).

Women are also teachers of children and younger ladies. Paul wrote to Titus,

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

So the ban is simply on women teaching men or being authorities over men in the church. Again, this is not even a societal ban. A woman can teach men in a college class. A woman can be an authority in your place of business. We are talking strictly about spiritual matters in the church.

2:15 Preserved Through Childbearing

Finally, Paul says that women should continue in faith, love, purity, and self-control. If they do this, they will be preserved through childbearing. Remember, the death rates for women who gave birth were astronomically high. Becoming pregnant was the source of both extreme joy and fear of the delivery.

When did this come about? When Eve was deceived and fell into sin, the curse that was placed upon women was,

Gen. 3:16 To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

Apparently, childbirth was easy before the fall. Now, it is painful and even life-threateningly dangerous. God has given women this promise, "Your ancestress Eve fell into sin and brought about this pain. If you continue in faith, love, and sanctity with self-restraint, I will preserve you through the pain of that curse placed upon you."

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