1 Timothy 2:1–15 (NKJV)
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.1 Timothy 2:1-8
Paul exhorts Timothy to encourage all believers to offer prayers and giving of thanks for all men, especially those in authority, including kings and other leaders. The reasoning behind this command is that in praying for leaders, and other people as well, we can usher in a peaceful society, full of godliness and reverence. When subjects denounce and criticize their leaders, with no offering of prayer, there is contention and an adversarial relationship. This does not lead to peace, and often turns people against people, creating enemies and adversaries. Prayer for others is good and acceptable in God’s sight. God desires that all men be saved, and peaceful lives lead to an openness to the gospel. Paul further reminds Timothy that there is one God and Mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus Himself, Who was given as a ransom for all. It is for His name, and for the furtherance of the gospel, that Paul was called as a teacher of the Gentiles. Paul is schooling his spiritual son in how to help bring about revival in all the land.
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.1 Timothy 2:9-15
In this section, Paul encourages prayer again, but this time does not offer an object of prayer, but rather a posture of prayer. He says that men should pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting. This suggests a submission to God coupled with faith and peace. This prayer invokes the presence of God and brings results. Paul then moves into a discussion of the posture of prayer for women. Perhaps this was to protect the women from the criticism of men or the transgression of societal norms. Either way, Paul preaches here the need for modest appearance, avoiding flashy or ostentatious adornment. This dress code would make the godliness and good works of the women the focus of their reputation, not their appearance. While this may sound restrictive, the overall principle is still valid for women and men: do not allow how you dress or your outward appearance stand in the way of the gospel. Your witness and/or your reputation should be based on your walk with God, not the label in your clothes or the value of your jewelry.
Paul goes one step further in his instruction to women by stating that a woman should not teach a man or exert authority over him. Instead, a woman should learn in silence. This could be a similar exhortation to that in the letters to the Corinthians where Paul suggests the same thing. In this context, one must understand that men and women sat in separate sections in the church gatherings for teaching. When women had questions about things that were being said, they would call out to their husbands for clarification or answers. This caused disruption and confusion, leading to this and the Corinthian prohibition of women speaking out in service. Paul further, though, discusses the primacy of man’s creation and woman’s being taken from man. He calls out Eve as the one being deceived, not Adam, and declares that according to the Edenic curse on Eve, she would serve her husband from that point on, and would suffer in childbearing. However, if she obeyed the command of God and of Paul, she would survive childbearing if she continued in the instruction of God. This is not incorrect in light of the Scriptures, and was perhaps even more emphasized in the days of Paul, as he ministered in a strongly patriarchal society that focused on the authority of men and the submission of women. The prohibition of women teaching and/or being in authority over men could not be a permanent edict, though, as the Bible gives many examples of women leading as judges in Israel, and also prophesying among men even in the New Testament. While none of the teaching of Paul is Biblically wrong, it is perhaps more culturally based than it would need to be in today’s society.
Paul’s teaching here is strong on prayer. Pray everywhere, and without wrath or doubting. Pray with hands lifted. Pray in modest apparel, so as to make Christ the focus and not self. Be respectful and orderly in all you do in the church, especially in teaching and leading. Do not discard the importance of another’s gift, but exercise your gift in humility and holiness. Honor one another without lording over them. This is God’s will. So, whether you pray or peach or teach, do so without wrath and doubting, without ostentation, and without division. God is Lord of all!
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