Passage 1 Timothy 2:8-15
Other passages Galatians 3:28
Synopsis of the passage Men, pray, without dissension
Women, do good works, without ostentation
Words and Works are complementary
Instructions to and about women regarding teaching and authority
Message Outline Instructions to Men, and instructions to Women
The ministry of Words and ministry of Works are complementary
Women and teaching/authority
● two basic approaches
● Pertinent background
● non-traditional reading
Application Challenge for M&F to do their part in Word and Work ministries
Title Men and Women at Church
1 Tim 2:8 Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. 9 Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess to worship God. 11 A woman is to learn quietly with full submission. 12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. 15 But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.
● This is the fourth in our series on the 1st letter to Timothy, which Paul wrote to guide his youngish disciple Timothy in fixing major issues in the church at Ephesus.
● Paul states that his letter is to teach us how we should do church
○ It applies not only to church leaders, but all members of the body of Christ.
Because the church is something that we do together.
● Previously we had learned
○ That the gospel is the core message we should be teaching, and that the goal of teaching should be useless information, but sincere faith, a pure heart, good behavior, and love
○ There is a Law for Christians, but it is not the Law of Moses, it is the Law of Christ, and it is meant to change us from the inside out.
○ That our life is a fight, and its weapons are spiritual, especially prayer. We should pray as a church for Japan and its leaders, for our neighbourhood, and for the health and work of the church – in particular evangelism.
● In today’s passage,
○ Paul completes his general instructions for the church before he gets into specific issues.
○ This includes instructions for each gender, men and women.
○ And we will touch a little on a controversial topic, the role of women in the church
● So let’s get into the passage.
2. Godly manhood
● v8 Paul tells men to pray. This is a continuation of the previous verses, which says the church should pray together for the environment of the church, the health of the church, and the work of the church.
● And he adds that this should be done without anger or dispute.
● Now you might remember from the 1st message on this series from chapter one:
○ Bad teachers had been teaching false or useless things, which led to endless controversies with no resolution
○ And thereby losing the focus on the goal of love, which is served by sincere faith, a focused heart and acting according to conscience.
● So, there were arguments and there was anger.
● This is typical male bad behavior.
○ Men are especially competitive.
■ Men especially seek admiration by accomplishing things, in competition with other people.
● It could be physical fights, or arguments, or business success, etc.
■ Men compete, and we tend to seek power
■ The rewards for success include status and access to resources
■ Women tend to choose men who excel and who can provide for them and their children.
■ The roots of this are biological and deep.
○ Men, more than women, are also especially prone to overrate themselves
■ So we think we can win, and we will compete even if we will likely lose.
■ So we can fight even when we there is no benefit
○ Or if we are losing, we may just withdraw to avoid shameful loss of status and feelings of failure
○ Unless these issues are addressed, they can cause unnecessary friction, disengagement, etc.
● And Paul is saying here to men:
○ There is important work to do, so concentrate on doing it.
■ Instead of fighting, do what I have urged, and pray.
● Jesus told us ‘if we agree in prayer, God will answer’ (Matt 18:19)
■ When we pray, esp. corporately, what do we pray for?
● We pray for others, not for ourselves. Prayer is other-focused.
● And as we saw last time, other-focused doesn’t simply mean for others in the church, but for our families, for our countries and leaders, and all people.
■ In praying, we are recognizing that
● God’s action is critical
● God has the highest status, and should get the glory
○ This is not competition.
○ Further, your prayers should be with holy hands
■ Your hands too, i.e. your actions, must be holy, that is dedicated to God.
■ So when you offer up prayers, your life should be godly as well.
● E.g. Jesus said, if you have problems with a brother, you should resolve that conflict before you offer your worship. (Matt 5:23)
● So, Men are called to use our masculine drives properly
○ master our emotions and competitive instincts
○ serve the church, and in particular by leading prayer
3. Godly womanhood
● Paul also has instructions specifically for women.
● v9 Women are to dress modestly and decently, not showily.
● There are a couple of things going on with female adornment:
○ More than men, women get status and power from being beautiful.
○ This links to self-confidence on one hand, and envy on the other.
○ Not unlike today, in the Roman empire, women took great care with their appearance
■ wore makeup,
■ dyed (blond was popular), and elaborately styled their hair, and often wore wigs
■ wealthy women wore jewels as earrings, necklaces, or sewn into their clothes.
○ OTOH, display of wealth is a typical way to express yourself when you are barred from power and social status
■ Women could not hold political office. But they could own businesses. And of course they may belong to a rich family.
■ The general human tendency if you have money but not power and status, is to show off your wealth by extravagant display.
■ At times, the Romans passed laws (Sumptuary Laws) against extravagance, the first being against women, and the ones that followed against people in general. I think the same thing happened in Japan, as well as other places in the world.
■ These are basically ways to control society and privilege, and keep everyone in their place without arousing envy.
○ But regardless of these details, there is a point here about values
■ Do we want to cause envy and shame by drawing attention to ourselves?
■ Or do we want instead to serve others?
● So, Paul says to women:
○ Rather than make yourself attractive with fancy hairdos and jewellery and clothes
○ Make yourself beautiful by your good deeds.
And this is the appropriate way to act if you worship God.
● And this is clearly a strength of women.
○ It is usually women who are more sensitive to people’s needs, and who reach out in compassion.
○ It is more typically women who tend to people’s physical and emotional needs
○ The church needs women to use their gifts of compassion and service.
4. Ear and Eye, Word and Works
● So we notice two types of ministry here:
○ Ministry of Word: teaching and prayer
■ Not for strife-making,
■ Elicit and nurture faith and love
○ Ministry of Works
■ Not to draw attention to personal beauty or wealth
■ But to make the truth visible and appealing
● So let’s call this dual focus ‘Word and Works’ or if you like ‘Ear and Eye’
○ Both of these are acts of worship
● These two work together.
○ But that is a topic for another occasion, when we have more time.
○ I just want to say that the Romans were very struck by the kind works of Christians towards non-Christians as well as towards themselves..
● And let’s just remember the example of Jesus
○ With Words he called people to enter the Kingdom
○ With His Works of healing, providing for needs, and ultimately in the cross, he made the kingdom visible and showed its loveliness
● Word and Works work together in many ways.
○ We need both.
○ We are commanded to do both.
5. I Suffer Not a Woman
● Now we come to v11-15. Let me summarize Paul as saying:
○ v11 When a woman is hearing the Word, she should be quiet and not dispute what is taught
○ v12 A woman is not to teach, or have authority over any man
○ v13-14 And this is based on Genesis, on the teaching on Creation and the Fall.
○ v15 Unclear, various possible interpretations.
● v11-15 This section is very controversial. How do we make sense of it?
● So there is a big controversy in the church about this as a practical matter.
○ Some denominations allow female pastors
■ I have visited two churches in Japan with women pastors, both were charismatic churches.
■ Equality of the sexes is interpreted as equality of access to roles including teaching and leadership.
○ OTOH, many traditional churches do not allow women pastors
■ The idea is ‘Complementarianism’, that men and women are equal but have separate roles. Women are not allowed to be pastors or teach men, but they are encouraged to teach other women.
● There are two basic ways that people take this passage
○ This is instruction only for that time, place and situation, and we can ignore it for today.
○ This is valid since creation up to today. So today, women are not to have leadership in the church
● This is an important topic deserving more time, but let’s spend a few minutes that we have now.
● Here are some things we should consider
○ Women are full members of the body of Christ. This is what it means by ‘there is no slave or free, male or female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal 3:28). There are no second class citizens in the church.
○ OTOH, there is a clear expectation that church leaders were expected to be men.
■ The 12 apostles were all men.
■ The first 7 deacons appointed were men.
■ Timothy is told to appoint faithful men, as overseers and deacons, and replace false teachers who were also men.
○ There seem to be some possible exceptions, although that is not clear in the NT.
(OT examples are more clear.
● Now let’s look at the situation at the time
○ There were matriarchal religions, for example Cybele/Gaia/Rhea/Demeter the Great Mother, that elevated women, and were associated with all kinds of wild behavior.
○ Also some proto-gnostics said
■ Eve was created first, and Adam was created from her.
■ Sattan gave secret knowledge to Eve, which she gave to Adam. Satan was a good guy.
■ Because matter is evil, the creator God is evil
■ Having children is bad.
● So with this in mind, one interpretation is that:
○ Paul is countering outside religious influences that were popular among women
■ Specifically, women claiming authority over men
■ Based on false teaching about the order of creation
■ And in particular, v15 is saying there is nothing wrong with having children.
○ And so, this is a policy that Paul personally has for that time and situation
● There is more on this line in a popular book ‘I Suffer not a woman’ that makes this case:
○ But some of the readings of scripture look to me to be clearly wrong, and some examples are disputable.
● I think what we can take away here is:
○ We cannot simply take this as a universal rejection of women teaching or having leadership role over men and women.
○ OTOH, we have nothing here that goes against the traditional understanding and practice that
■ there is a hierarchy rooted in the creation order
■ it is men who are typically expected to take leadership roles.
■ Even if they also are susceptible to teaching heresy!
○ We should be careful when using scripture to not abuse it to make it fit our culture’s agendas.
● We are not to be conformed to our society, or to what may come naturally to us
● The church has a dual ministry, of the Word and of Works
○ Through the Word, we offer up worship, we strive for the world and the church
○ Through Works, we put form to and beautiful clothes on the Word
○ These two ministries are complimentary
● We are called to reorient ourselves, to take our strengths and us them in a different way, for God’s kingdom
○ Men, without anger or dispute, are you praying and fighting for the kingdom?
○ Women, are you decorating your lives with good works, and so worshipping God?
Let us pray.