1 Timothy 2
1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Prayer from a righteous heart in belief and according to the will of God does accomplish much. Paul wants Timothy and the believers at Ephesus to pray for all people, particularly those who are in government and positions of authority. These may not believe in Christ, but they need Christ. Ultimately, God is sovereign over who is in authority and what they do and don’t do (Proverbs 21:1), though He will hold them responsible. We should find some positive things to thank God for as we pray for people, and we should also petition God to work to change things and people. It just might be that God will answer our prayers for those in authority such that we can experience peace and quiet and be able to live our lives of godliness. Even if the environment around us remains hostile to Christ and us, we can have the peace of God and live in a godly way, thereby being tranquil of soul. If we carry all of the burdens of the world on our shoulders, we will get weighed down, but if we let Christ carry our burdens as we offer our petitions to Him with thanksgiving, we can have peace (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-7).
3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It is right and good that we pray for all people, particularly that those who do not know Christ would come to know Him. God cares for all people, and He takes no delight in seeing any perish. He wants all to repent, and He is patient (Ezekiel 18:23, 18:32, 33:11). The free gift of salvation is extended to all people, if only they would receive it by faith.
5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
Christ’s death and resurrection was at the God-ordained time. He died as a ransom for all, paying the penalty of our sin to satisfy the wrath of God. Christ thereby became the mediator of a new covenant between man and God (Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). Christ is the only way that man can approach God and find eternal life. Since He is the mediator, He is the only way (John 14:6).
7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
Paul was appointed by God to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher, particularly to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16). His ministry was characterized by a message of salvation by faith alone and by defending the truth of the gospel against all errors and attacks. Because Paul wanted to see sinners come to Christ, he wanted the church to pray to God for sinners to be saved. But it was important that the church be able to pray to God from a clean heart. The normal prayer posture was to lift up hands toward heaven, and this symbolic gesture was meaningless and powerless unless the heart of the one praying was free from unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18). Men in particular tend to be more combative and prone to anger and arguing than women, though certainly we all are vulnerable to these vices. Paul seems to be emphasizing that he wants the men in particular to be praying rather than trying to advance the kingdom by willpower and cleverness alone. He wants them to embrace faith, purity, and humility, and He wants them to pray. Though this command is directed to the men, it certainly applies to women as well.
9Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,
10but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
Having just addressed the men, Paul now turns to the women with a similar burden of holiness and godliness. He desires that the women dress modestly and not in a showy or revealing way as to draw attention to themselves in a way that would be self-glorying or which would tempt a man to lust. There is nothing inherently wrong with jewelry, doing fancy things with hair, or wearing fashionable clothes (c.f. Ezekiel 16:10-13). Paul’s issue is when fashion and appearance becomes more of a focus and goal than godliness, particularly if how women dress is revealing and sensual. The true measure of a woman who claims to be godly is how they live and whether or not they do good and walk in holiness.
11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
Verses 11 and 12 help interpret one another. Paul is not saying that women cannot speak whatsoever in the gathering of believers. His point is that they are to remain quiet in a specific way, which is by not teaching or exercising authority over a man (c.f. 1 Corinthians 14:34 which is in the context of prophesying). This would involve ordering men around in the church, unduly taking charge of a church gathering where men are present, holding a position of authority over them, usurping God’s design for men being the elders, or having the formal teaching and preaching role in the church. There are times when a woman can be asked to teach a group of men and women. In such cases, the elders are still in authority, and the woman hasn’t usurped their God-given role. The issue that Paul is primarily concerned with is full and complete submission. He wants the men to serve in the way that God has designed them, and He wants women to honor that by being willing to subject themselves to this authority structure in the church. It is not that women must always be subject to all men, for they are only commanded to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:24) who are to love them as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Women must, however, honor the God-given authority of the leadership of men in the church.
13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
Paul’s reasoning for God’s design to have men be in leadership in the church is based, first, on the order of creation and, second, on the order of the first sin. Adam was made first, and Eve was made from Adam and as a suitable helper (Genesis 2:18) for Adam. Thus, God’s design for male headship and female submission within the marriage relationship was evident even from the beginning because of the order of creation. The inference that Paul is drawing is that it makes sense that men would also lead in the church just as they must lead in the home. As far as the order of sin, it was Eve who took of the fruit first and then gave to Adam. Eve ate in deception and Adam in rebellion. Adam, Eve’s head, was supposed to be looking out for her, but he let her be led astray. Thus, Adam is ultimately accountable for bringing sin into the world, not Eve (1 Corinthians 15:22). Thus, even how the first sin took place points to male headship and God putting ultimate responsibility on the man for how a home is led and for how the church is led.
15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
Paul calls women to keep the characteristics he has been emphasizing thus far in this letter to Timothy: faith, love, purity, and keeping a clear conscience. If they do this, they will keep from being deceived and getting led astray. They are not to be like their predecessor, Eve, and get led away and enticed by lust into being deceived and sinning. They are to exercise self-restraint, maintain sound doctrine, and demonstrate love and holiness. If they live as godly women, they can be those who fight the good fight of faith in the church, even though they are not in a position of authority. Women carry great influence in terms of how they affect their husbands and how they train their children. Their godly lifestyle can go a long way to impacting their husbands to obey (1 Peter 3:1-2) and passing on a legacy of godliness (1 Corinthians 7:14). As women raise up godly offspring, some of which will grow up to be future husbands and even leaders in the church, they will impact the course of the church in terms of its faithfulness and doctrinal purity. Rather than try to usurp authority in the church and get nowhere fast, women are better off trusting in God’s design and letting faithfulness in these places move people to change. Men can make life much easier on the women if they take the time to listen to them, to answer questions (1 Corinthians 14:35), and to encourage them and honor them for their faithfulness in their God-given roles.