Timeless Truths for Worshippers
1 Timothy 2:8-15
Primary Truth Taught
Male headship and female submission are divine mandates for all of God’s people.
In Chapter 1, we learned how important truth is in the life of the believer and the local church. Then, Paul moved to another vital subject as he addressed the prayers we are to offer up to God…I urge you, was the emphasis he placed on prayer in the body of Christ.
Now, the Apostle moves to some general exhortations concerning acceptable conduct for men and women in corporate worship. The context is corporate worship but these dynamics go further than just the church gathered. These dynamics are to affect life in every realm.
When God created Adam and Eve He created them in a complementary relationship-Adam was created to lead and Eve was created to follow.
So when God created man and woman, he made us the way we are—with the differences of manhood and womanhood—so that we would be suited for these complementary roles (and for the other expressions of complementarity outside marriage). In this drama man was meant to play the role of Christ, and the woman was meant to play the role of his bride the church.
It is very important for us to realize the biblical truth that men are created to be men and women are created to be women and this was God’s perfect plan pre-sin.
Now we fast-forward to today and see just how sin has, in fact, ruined God’s perfect creation. Men refuse to lead. Women refuse to follow. Men acting like women and women acting like men. Men dressing like women and women dressing like men. Honestly, I can’t keep it straight. The whole transgender debacle…now all you have to do is tell people you desire to be the opposite sex or tell them God made you a certain way and the world talks about how brave you are. If you desire to practice the sin of homosexuality or pretend you’re the opposite sex the world calls you brave and celebrates as you announce it.
Romans 1:32 (ESV)
32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
What we must realize is that anything less than God’s design is sin.
Let’s look together at what the Apostle Paul lays out for us as God’s design. We must keep in mind that if anything seems odd in this passage that it is because sin has greatly affected our perception of right and wrong and of God’s original design. If this seems odd we are the ones who must change and conform our thinking and our lives to the commands of God in the Bible. Secondly, we must also realize that what Paul is doing for the church is showing us what redemption in Christ should produce. Christ is restoring proper manhood and womanhood. He is in the process of remaking this world to what it was before the fall.
Human Need Met
This passage is needed today to take us back to God’s original design for men and women. This text corrects our thinking when it comes to men and women. It challenges us because we all need to let go of worldly perceptions and cling to what God tells us.
It does not matter who tells us otherwise…Just this past Thursday I heard the debate over what the pope said concerning this very subject. It doesn’t matter what the pope says. It only matters what God says in His Word. This must form our thinking on this or any other matter.
Please hear God’s Word…
1 Timothy 2:8–15 (ESV)
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, 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 became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
This is a natural transition from the previous section as Paul teaches of the importance of prayer in the local church. Here, he gives men the command to pray publically without anger or quarreling.
On the surface it seems as if this is a command dealing with the posture of prayer, namely, lifting holy hands and two commands dealing with the heart attitude while praying. Actually there are three commands and each one dealing with the attitude of the heart. This is not speaking of posture. In fact, there are many biblically endorsed postures while praying…standing, sitting, kneeling, laying prostrate, hands raised, hands clasped, eyes looking down, bowing, eyes looking up…
Lifting holy hands is a lot like what is taught in Psalm 24. Here, those who wish to ascend the holy hill of the Lord must have clean hands.
Psalm 24:3–4 (ESV)
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
Here, as in our 1 Timothy text today, clean hands are hands not defiled with sin. Don’t think clean as in no dirt but clean as in no sin.
John Calvin teaching this passage rightly comments, the outward sign for an inward reality, for our hands indicate a pure heart.
So the first point he wants to make is that men should pray having dealt with their sin rightly in Christ. If you desire to pray powerfully to God do not be caught up in sin. Sin affects prayer.
Men, if you desire your prayers to be effective, repent of sin, and make amends with others or with God.
Jesus said it best; in essence, reconciliation must precede worship…
Matthew 5:23–24 (ESV)
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Men, this is the kind of praying God desires. So, we are called to pray with clean hands and a pure heart not fighting with each other or with God. This is a good way to diagnose a poor prayer life. We lead humbly and pray powerfully.
It is also important to mention that this section does not teach that women should not pray during the gathering of the local church, 1 Cor. 11:5, Paul teaches how women are to pray publically…
9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
The first thing I want to mention is that men see women as beautiful and women, no doubt, desire to look attractive to men. This is good. For women, dressing is worship…Ladies might be thinking that they have a comeback now when their husbands are trying to get them out of the bathrooms on Sunday mornings…Ladies, you might be thinking that based on this passage and with dressing as worship your time in the bathroom is biblical. Pastor Brian said that dressing is worship so I’m just being biblical…
But how a woman is most attractive is at the heart of this section. She is most attractive when she dresses in a modest manner. This passage is very positive but for some reason it is usually seen in the negative.
What is usually focused on…
She can’t braid her hair, wear jewelry, or expensive clothing…this is not Paul’s focus and should not be ours either. His meaning here is that women should not make an idol out of their physical appearance. Braded hair was an extravagant ordeal in the ancient world, taking hours to accomplish. The hairstyle for the very wealthy was an elaborate braiding with gold and silver added. This is what the Apostle is writing against. He knows that this does not make a woman most beautiful. He also knows that excessive jewelry and expensive clothing do not make a woman most beautiful.
Simply put, a biblical dress code for all women everywhere who enter the doors of the church is modesty and respectable not haughty and extravagant.
Next, he mentions that it isn’t so much the clothing that makes women beautiful, even if it’s modest in nature but they are to be especially adorned with good works…
10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
We should understand good works as anything, which is pleasing to God. It’s more than good deeds because good works take in even heart attitudes. And here in this case, good works for women include how you dress.
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
First, let me acknowledge various attempts to lessen or limit Paul’s authoritative pronouncement. There have been attempts by those who see this command as too harsh for our modern times to water it down and lessen its impact.
Some say this was only meant for the Church in Ephesus. Others would try to convince us that it is only meant for unruly women who desire desperately to be heard and, therefore, create disunity within the church. Still others try to make is seem as if this is simply Paul’s opinion and not a command of God. Finally, there are some who teach that this only applies to wives and not women as a whole.
I’m afraid these arguments only go to show us how desperately sinful we are and how foreign God’s Word and will seems to us at times.
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.
Here, the Apostle does not mean that women cannot speak or interact in the local church setting. Ladies, you can most definitely talk. What he does mean is that your interactions within the corporate gathering should be with the attitude of a quiet and submissive spirit. In essence, women should be listeners and learners. Learning with a humble and submissive heart.
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
Here again verse 12 says very similar things. Women are to conduct themselves with a quiet spirit while in the corporate gathering. Ladies, God forbids the exercise of authority over men in any way. This includes most of all teaching where men are present and of course preaching in the local church setting.
Whenever, one teaches the Word of God there is automatically a level of authority that goes with it.
The key that unlocks this door is a very interesting observation. When you read the rest of 1 Timothy about the role of elders in the church, what you find is that the elders had two basic responsibilities: they were to govern and they were to teach. You can see this in the qualifications of 3:1–7, but the easiest place to see it is in 5:17, “Let the elders who rule [or govern] well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
I don’t think it’s coincidental that what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:12 is that he does not permit a woman to teach and exercise authority over men. He is saying in essence: I do not permit women to fill the office of elder in the church. The elders are charged with the leadership and instruction of the church. That’s a summary of their job. So when Paul puts those two things together and says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority,” the most natural sense is, “I do not permit a woman to assume the office of elder in the church.”
3. A Timeless Explanation
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
A. Adam Created First
The reason this principle of male headship and female submission is founded on the fact that Adam was created first and Eve created second to be his helper. Adam was created to lead and Eve created to submit and all this before sin entered the picture. So, very clearly it is God’s will for men to lead in their families and in the church. It is also God’
S will for wives to submit to their own husbands in the home and women to submit to the church leadership. This universal principle is how women conduct themselves in grace and beauty.
1 Corinthians 11:7–8 (ESV)
7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
If you’re trekking along with Paul and everything seems, well…ok so far then let the Holy Spirit stretch us all a little bit more.
Throughout the Scriptures, the Fall of Adam and Eve is often referred to as the sin of Adam. Adam is so connected with the fall that Paul refers to him in Romans 5 and writes that all are in Adam, speaking about all people being sinners. He then speaks of Jesus as being the Second Adam and all who are in Christ are forgiven of their sin.
While Adam is credited with the sin, Eve is credited as being the one Satan deceived. 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
The general thrust of this statement by Paul taking into account the context is that as soon as Eve left her estate of being Adam’s helper and usurped his authority as leader sin was the result. She did not seek to submit to her husband and tried to step up and fill his role and she was deceived.
Paul uses this account to make his point. Women should not seek to lead the church because they are not designed to lead but designed to follow and submit.
Even Eve admits that the Serpent was more than she could handle…
Genesis 3:13 (ESV)
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Please understand, this is in no way saying women are not intellectually equal to men but they are not designed to function as men. There are differences between men and women physically, emotionally, psychologically and in every other way. Ladies, the good works God has for you is to dress modestly and submit humbly.
Men are to lead. Men lead their families and their churches because that is God’s design. He made Adam first and when Eve stepped out from her God given role sin took place.
This is a timeless principle.
When a husband leads like Christ and a wife responds like the bride of Christ, there is a harmony and mutuality that is more beautiful and more satisfying and more fruitful than any pattern of marriage created by man…
Now the real test I think of whether we have grasped the biblical essence of manhood and womanhood and affirm it as true and beautiful—the real test is whether Paul’s application of it to the life of the church surprises and offends us or not. .—John Piper
I am so thankful for a church that seeks to obey God’s Word. I realize this goes against our cultural worldview.
By way of application I would ask that each of us examine how we are functioning in the local church and in our homes. Men are you leading your wives in your homes? Wives, are you practicing quiet submission? Men, are you leading in the church? Ladies are you practicing quiet learning?
John Piper of 2 Timothy 2
1 and 2 Timothy by Patrick Fairbarn
1 Timothy by William Hendrickesn
1 Timothy NICGNT by Knight
1 Timothy NICNT by Towner
 John Piper a Sermon on 1 Timothy 2
 John Piper