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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: May 21, 2021
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome back to HBS everyone. I pray last week’s study of God’s Word, rightly divided, helped you understand in the present dispensation of the grace of God there is no unpardonable sin. Why? The Lord Jesus Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty (ransom) for “all our sin” past, present, and future (2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 5:8-11; Colossians 2:13). That particular teaching was meant for the nation of Israel including her religious leaders because they had rejected the overtures of the Godhead in totality, i.e., God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (See 1 Samuel 8:7; Luke 19:14, 23:34; Acts 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; and Acts 7).
Please open your Bible at 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and we’ll try to wrap-up chapter 2 today.
God’s Divine Order Of Men And Women
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Here our Apostle Paul instructed Timothy re: God’s divine order for the sexes or more to the point how they how they are to conduct themselves in the Church, in the home, and in their daily conduct. But this is where things go awry for many saved people have no trouble expressing joy and thanksgiving for “the grace of God” where their salvation and blessings in the heavenlies are concerned. But then quickly become disillusioned, if not distraught, after reading commands such as those in the Bible passage above. They can’t or won’t come to terms with Paul’s remarks about how they’re to walk (live their lives) “in the grace of God.” This is the norm in spite of the fact that Paul’s epistles consistently begin by introducing doctrine before deportment, calling before conduct, wealth before walk, position before practice, and revelation before responsibility or how the Believer is to walk “in the grace of God” wherever and with whomever they happen to be with (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
It might not be obvious to the casual Bible reader but this Scripture passage deals with the Believer’s ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). In verse 2:8 Paul refers to the “men,” and in verse 2:9 the “women.” In verse 2:9 the phrase, “In like manner also” clearly shows us he is comparing the conduct and responsibilities of the “men” with those of the “women.” When he wrote in verse 2:8a, “I will therefore that men (or the men) pray every where,” he’s referring to public prayer, and not one’s quiet time at home with the Lord for believing women as well as men are encouraged to pray “without ceasing,” that is, don’t stop praying or pray repeatedly and often elsewhere in his writings (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Timothy 2:1, etc.).
That being clearly expressed, is it not odd that several modern faith denominations which claim to uphold apostolic doctrine and practice in their assemblies ignore this important apostolic command? I say this because they appoint women as their leaders. Though this is consistent with the world’s outcry for women’s rights, it is not consistent with what the Scriptures say, especially the epistles of Paul, for Paul, more than any other N.T. writer, insists upon the subordination of the woman to the man. Anyone who doubts this teaching (doctrine) need only search his epistles for the truth.
While we’re here I should point out I do not overlook the fact that there are exceptional cases where a woman might be called to lead because men fail to take the lead. For example, Deborah in the O.T. was used of the LORD to deliver Israel because of the weakness and irresponsibility of the men at that time, especially Barak (Judges 4:4-8, 5:7). Other exceptions occur also, but the divine (God-given) rule is that the man, as God’s appointed head over the woman, should take the lead, and the woman should serve in her God-given capacity willingly accepting her subordinate position. Thus, it is God’s will, for the Church today, that the “men” lead in prayer “every where.”
After Paul commanded “that men pray every where,” he added an additional command saying: “…pray every where… without wrath and doubting” (2:8b). We’re going to look at these commands separately, so let’s turn our attention to verse 2:8a.
Is Paul saying “men” should literally lift up their hands in prayer? Some say “Yes,” while others say, “Not so much.” Though some question this spiritual activity, and others, by their actions and comments, show their disapproval for those who pray in this manner. However, I point out this is how David, “a man after God’s own heart,” prayed (1 Samuel 13:14; Psalm 141:2; Acts 13:22), so there’s nothing wrong it. Here’s the thing though, Paul’s saying those hands you lift up to God in prayer must be “holy.”
To help us understand Paul’s meaning let’s look at an O.T. scripture passage. Please turn to Isaiah 1:15. This is the LORD God of Israel communicating an important message re: their prayers: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I (the LORD God – Jehovah) will hide mine eyes from you: Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; Psalm 66:18).
This was true for the nation of Israel under the Law, but this cannot be what Paul had in mind for us for “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:15). Sin might hinder one’s prayer life due to one’s sense of guilt and shame, but sin does not block the Believer’s access to God in the dispensation of grace for Paul wrote: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).
“Being justified… we have peace with God… By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…” This is but one of many priceless blessings the Believer has in Christ Jesus. But, as with other things, many people of faith take this blessing for granted. They fail to appreciate what it means to be able to wake up every day, go about their business, and at day’s end go to bed always assured that through the Lord’s redemptive work the true Believer has “peace with God” and their eternal state is secure, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3; Ephesians 1:13-14). Surely, then, this knowledge ought to overwhelm one’s heart with continuous gratitude and have a profound effect upon their conduct.
The companion blessing to “peace with God” is our full and free “access” into God’s presence: another blessing of grace that is not appreciated fully. Think about what this means. God Almighty invites the Believer to come confidently before His “throne of grace” at their convenience: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrew 4:16).
We should never forget that this great privilege was purchased for us by the precious blood of Christ, and that having thus been purchased, it is God’s will that we Believers avail ourselves of this grace wherein we now stand: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrew 10:19-22).
Romans chapter 6 explains the power in the saved Believer to live apart from the sins of the unbelieving world listed for our edification in Romans 1:18-32 and elsewhere in Paul’s epistles. In that passage of Scripture we learn about the sins of ingratitude, wickedness, perversion, covetousness, envy, deceit, backbiting, pride, disobedience to parental authority, cursing, bitterness, etc. Because the Believer still has an old nature, they are still capable of committing sin so it’s possible that the Believer might continue to live an ungodly life after being saved. But Paul teaches us in Romans 6 the cross of Christ broke the power of sin, and the Believer can live righteously (this speaks of one’s practical sanctification) by the grace of God.
Based on all that there must be some other reason Paul speaks of lifting up holy hands, and there is. Keeping this command between the lines, or in context, Paul just finished instructing Timothy (and us) to pray “…for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). So Paul is actually saying the hands we lift in prayer to pray for any and all governmental authorities must not be involved in any unholy (subversive) activities against those same authorities for whom you are praying, those to whom God said we should be subject (Titus 3:1) without resisting (Romans 13:1-7).
This is also why Paul said men should pray “without wrath and doubting” (2:8b). Some folks try to connect his words here to God’s Kingdom Program, under the Law (See Matthew 15:24 and Romans 15:8), where the Lord told the Jews to whom He ministered: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).
Clearly, there’s no room for “wrath” in an instruction as that. The Jews were also told:
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:23-24).
But every Believer who has ever prayed without doubting, only to not receive whatsoever they earnestly prayed for, knows that we are not under God’s Kingdom Program for Israel any more than we are under the Law that God gave to them. So these references to wrath and doubting under the Kingdom Program cannot be what Paul had in mind when he said to pray “without wrath and doubting.” Thus, based on the context, Paul is instructing Timothy and the men to pray for those in authority minus the wrath directed toward them that was so common among God’s people back in Paul’s day that he had to address it by issuing this command.
Fast forward to today and it most likely goes without saying Believers are concerned while others are continuously angry with their elected officials and always doubting their ability to govern them. So Paul’s instruction that we should pray for them “without wrath and doubting” is as needful today as it was when this epistle was penned. This flows naturally from God our Savior’s view of humanity as a whole in which He sees “all men” equally loved and equally in need of “the knowledge of the truth” leading to salvation (2:3-6). So, bearing this in mind, instead of criticizing and condemning those we elect to serve us let’s all pray for them for it is God’s will.
I reiterate for emphasis, God is “all in,” as some say, about the salvation of the lost. So, after telling Timothy to pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (2:1-2); and so the gospel of grace can reach “all men” (2:3-4), Paul said it is “his will” that the men pray “every where,” since unsaved people are found “every where.”
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
Here our Apostle Paul proceeds to deal with the subject of the woman’s responsibility and testimony as to reflecting “the grace of God” in her life. Contrary to what some people believe, we note in this very first sentence Paul does not consider the woman as a “step-and fetch;” an item of tangible property meant for the man’s use as he sees fit. Far from it! Paul holds that the woman should be someone deemed very special in the family, one for whom the man will gladly show honor, love, and respect; and if necessary willingly give up his life in exchange for hers. Paul implied this truth in Ephesians 5:25 saying: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Here we carefully note Paul isn’t changing the subject when he begins speaking about the responsibility of the “women” (2:9). Married women also have a God-given leader whose leadership they are tempted to question and second-guess, thinking they could do a better job at leading the marriage and their household than their husband. This is something they should pray about “in like manner” instead of being bitter about it.
Paul said the first way a woman accepts the leadership role of her husband is by dressing “modestly” (2:8; Proverbs 7:10) “with shamefacedness,” i.e., a lack of being restrained by shame. “Sobriety” means making sound decisions while dressing, unlike the bad decisions women might make when they are under the influence of strong drink.
“Broided” or braided hair was associated with immodesty back then but it isn’t today. But if there’s nothing wrong with wearing “gold” (Genesis 24:53) or “pearls or costly array” (Ezekiel 16:10-13), why is Paul saying there is? Well, the Apostle Peter couldn’t have been saying he was against the “putting on of apparel” (2 Peter 3:3) in general, so he must have been against excesses in putting on apparel and gold. The Greek word for “adorning” he used (3:3) is elsewhere always translated “world,” so he’s saying if a woman’s whole world revolves around her adorning that’s a problem. By the way, the Greek word is kosmos (cosmos) from which we get the word cosmetics. A woman’s’ cosmetics should be “a meek and quiet spirit” and “good works” (2:9; Ephesians 2:10), especially the “good works” women excel at: “But (which becometh women professing (what?) godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 5:10).
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Speaking from experience, this is where many people tune God (not me) out, if not before. So, instead of being, “transformed by the renewing of their mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2), they demonstrate their disdain for God’s wise counsel by dismissing His commands for many reasons. Thus, they choose worldliness over godliness in spite of the fact that Scripture instructs them to resist being “conformed” to the world’s thinking, value systems, and conduct (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 1:13-14).
That lead-in takes us to verses 2:11-12:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
While we’re here let’s look at similar commands from Paul to the carnal church at Corinth, Greece: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: 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 church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
We’ll start by looking at the term, “silence” for on the surface it appears to be rather harsh. Older versions of the King James Bible render this word “quietness,” and in Acts 22:2, we read, “they kept the more silence.” Thus, the thought expressed here is the women “quieted down.” To illustrate I draw upon a personal experience. When I attended high school myself and others entered the classroom, and if no teacher was present we proceeded to meet up and talk with our classmates and friends. Those conversations were many so one often had to talk over their neighbor to be heard. The noise created by all this activity could be heard out in the corridor, but when the teacher entered we all “quieted down” out of respect and because it was the right thing to do.
When studying your Bible remember context is king, i.e., context is crucial for understanding any passage of Scripture. This is especially true when the verse, taken out of its context, is easily misunderstood. Verses 2:11-12 are but one of many Bible passages that are prone to misinterpretation and controversy so it needs to be carefully considered or interpreted. To that I add some people would rather skip over troubling verses as these and that need not be. For this provocative statement actually begins with an assumption about women which was foreign to ancient culture, specifically, encouraging the teaching of women. This idea and practice ran afoul of most cultural and religious traditions of Paul’s day. In traditional Judaism, for example, women were not allowed to study the Law. Paul's words here, then, start by following the pattern of Jesus of Nazareth, who taught women as part of His ministry: “And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him” (John 4:27–30, 11:28–30, 19:25).
The truly controversial part of the passage has served as the basis for much debate among Christians. Considering the context, Paul’s prior comments, and the culture of the time, it is clear that Paul does not mean that women are to remain "silent," or soundless. For the same Greek term (hesuchios) is used in several places where total silence is clearly not implied (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Peter 3:4). Knowing this, the term means a peacefulness, stillness, or calmness of spirit. One must also bear in mind in Paul’s day religious expressions in the house churches could be loud, showy, and at times rather hysterical. This is what Paul’s trying to avoid because these unchallenged, noisy displays are counterproductive, serving little to no good purpose.
The term “subjection” in verse 2:11 conveys the idea of “submissiveness” of the women to men, and in particular of the wife to her husband. This is another sensitive matter. I say this because it’s no secret that many women, even Christian women, are contending for equal rights with men. Anything or anyone who tries to hinder that campaign will come under fire, including our apostle. So then, instead of “shooting first, and asking questions later,” let’s consider this injunction in light of the Word of God itself. For we are “light” (Ephesians 5:8-10) and those who walk in “the light” of God’s Word often show the unsaved the way to the Light through their daily walk or manner of life.
In 1 Timothy we note Paul based his argument on both the order of creation and the fall of “the man,” a.k.a. Adam: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (2:13-14).
The Creator God (Jehovah in the O.T. and the Lord Jesus Christ in the N.T.) could have created “the woman” (Eve) first or He could have created both “the man” and “the woman” simultaneously, but He didn’t. Thus, it has always been His intention for men to lead and the women to follow. In addition to the divine order of creation: first “the man” and then “the woman,” Paul points out another significant detail. It was not “the man,” but “the woman” who was “deceived” in Eden and transgressed. The greater fault falls to “the man,” however, because he sinned with both eyes wide open. Opinions vary as to why, but if you’ve ever truly loved someone then you know why. Adam loved Eve. The serpent (Satan) knew the difference in their natures. This is why he approached “the woman” when she was off to herself, and caused “the man” to sin indirectly through the “the woman,” i.e., he chose to sin whereas “the woman” was “deceived.” There’s a significant difference.
These facts, of course, place the greater blame on “the man.” Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:12 saying, “ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
So then, it’s on these facts that God created “the man,” then “the woman” as an “help meet for him,” and that “the woman” was the more susceptible to deception, that Paul bases his argument for the relationship of the woman to the man. The former of these arguments is expanded in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, “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” (See Genesis 2:18).
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (quietness).”
That being understood she could teach the younger women, and indeed, Paul urged them to do so (Titus 2:1-5). They could also teach children, and Timothy is an example of this for he was taught the Scriptures from his youth by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-17) so these things do not “usurp authority over the man.”
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
I think it will help y’all understand this Bible verse if we look at Genesis 3:16 and the curse Jehovah, i.e., the LORD God, placed upon the woman for her role in the transgression: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
How can the woman “be saved in childbearing” and from what? Since opinions vary as to what Paul means to say here, I will point out what he’s not saying. Some believe the woman will be saved from death in childbearing, if she and her husband continue in “faith, love, and holiness, with sobriety.” But this cannot be true for in many cases where these qualifications were fulfilled the wife passed away in childbearing, while in many other cases godless women have survived childbearing.
The Roman Catholics teach the woman’s soul will be saved; that her childbearing will earn for her “merits” which God will accept. But the problem with this notion is her salvation, and others, is after works or by human merit, and in Romans 4:5 along with Ephesians 2:8-9, and other Scripture passages say otherwise. Salvation is neither by human works, or merit, “lest any man should boast” in their achievements.
It’s much easier to mention what this Bible verse is not saying than to say with all certainty what it does mean. But, in light of the context, Paul seems to be teaching Timothy (and us) in motherhood, i.e., in assuming her God-given role in the home, with her husband “in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” the woman will be “saved” (spared) from the pitfalls that have wrecked the lives of many women who ignore sound Pauline doctrine. Therefore, this Bible guide believes the word “saved” here is used in its broader sense, as in 1 Timothy 4:16: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Paul’s teaching one of the woman’s primary ministries is “childbearing” and the rearing of her children who will become godly adults and leaders themselves one day for “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
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