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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

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Analysis Of The Chapter

This chapter 1 Timothy 2:1-15 is occupied mainly in directions about the mode of conducting public worship. Timothy had been left at Ephesus to complete the plans which the apostle had commenced in reference to the church there, but from completing which he had been unexpectedly prevented (see the Intro.), and it was important to state the views which he entertained on this subject to Timothy. It was important also that general directions on these subjects should be given, which would be useful to the church at large. The directions in this chapter relate to the following subjects:

I. Public prayer; 1 Timothy 2:1-8.

  1. It was to be offered for all classes of people, without distinction of rank, sect, party, country, or name, especially for all that were in authority; 1 Timothy 2:1-2. The reasons for this were:
    1. That God desired all people to be saved, and it was acceptable to him that prayer should be offered for all; 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
    2. There is but one God over all the human race, and all are alike his children; 1 Timothy 2:5.
    3. There is one and the same Mediator between God and all people; 1 Timothy 2:5.
    4. The same atonement has been made for all; 1 Timothy 2:6-7.

(2)The way in which prayer should be offered. It should be with holy hands, and without the intermingling of any bad passion; 1 Timothy 2:8.

II. The duties of women; 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

  1. Modesty in their demeanor and apparel; 1 Timothy 2:9.

(2)Good works - the chief ornament of women professing piety; 1 Timothy 2:10.

(3)The duty of learning from others with a gentle and quiet spirit; 1 Timothy 2:11.

(4)The duty of a proper subordination and submission to man; 1 Timothy 2:12.

(5)The reasons for this subordination and submission are then stated. They are:

  1. That Adam was first formed; 1 Timothy 2:13.
    1. That the woman had been deceived, and should be willing to occupy a subordinate place, as she was first in the transgression and was the means of leading him into sin; 1 Timothy 2:14.

(6)Yet, as if to make a kind remark in favor of woman - to show that he did not intend to teach that she was degraded and abandoned of God - the apostle says that she would be under the divine protection, and that in the special sorrow and peril which had been brought upon her for her transgression, God would sustain her if she continued in faith, and evinced the spirit of a Christian in her life; 1 Timothy 2:15.

Verse 1

I exhort, therefore - Margin, “desire.” The word exhort, however, better expresses the sense of the original. The exhortation here is not addressed particularly to Timothy, but relates to all who were called to lead in public prayer; 1 Timothy 2:8. This exhortation, it may be observed, is inconsistent with the supposition that a liturgy was then in use, or with the supposition that there ever would be a liturgy - since, in that case, the objects to be prayed for would be prescribed. How singular would it be now for an Episcopal bishop to “exhort” his presbyters to pray “for the President of the United States and for all who are in authority.” When the prayer is prescribed, do they not do this as a matter of course?

First of all - That is, as the first duty to be enjoined; the thing that is to be regarded with primary concern; compare Luke 12:1; 2 Peter 1:20. It does not mean that this was to be the first thing in public worship in the order of time, but that it was to be regarded as a duty of primary importance. The duty of praying for the salvation of the whole world was not to be regarded as a subordinate and secondary thing.

Supplications - It is not entirely easy to mark the difference in the meaning of the words used here, and it is not essential. They all relate to prayer, and refer only to the different parts of prayer, or to distinct classes of thought and desire which come before the mind in pleading for others. On the difference between the words supplications and prayers, see notes on Hebrews 5:7.

Intercessions - The noun used occurs only in this place and in 1 Timothy 4:5, of this Epistle. The verb, however ἐντυγχάνω entungchanō, occurs in Acts 25:4; Romans 8:27, Romans 8:34; Romans 11:2; Hebrews 7:25. See the meaning explained in the Romans 8:26 note; Hebrews 7:25 note. There is one great Intercessor between God and man, who pleads for our salvation on the ground of what he himself has done, but we are permitted to intercede for others, not on the ground of any merit which they or we possess, but on the ground of the merit of the great Advocate and Intercessor. It is an inestimable privilege to be permitted to plead for the salvation of our fellow-men.

Giving of thanks - That is, in behalf of others. We ought to give thanks for the mercy of God to ourselves; it is right and proper also that we should give thanks for the goodness of God to others. We should render praise that there is a way of salvation provided; that no one is excluded from the offer of mercy; and that God is using so many means to call lost sinners to himself.

For all men - Prayers should be made for all people - for all need the grace and mercy of God; thanks should be rendered for all, for all may be saved. Does not this direction imply that Christ died for all mankind? How could we give thanks in their behalf if there were no mercy for them, and no way had been provided by which they could be saved? It may be observed here, that the direction to pray and to give thanks for all people, showed the large and catholic nature of Christianity. It was opposed entirely to the narrow and bigoted feelings of the Jews, who regarded the whole Gentile world as excluded from covenant mercies, and as having no offer of life. Christianity threw down all these barriers, and all people are on a level; and since Christ has died for all, there is ample ground for thanksgiving and praise in behalf of the whole human race.

See Supplementary note, 2 Corinthians 5:14.

Verse 2

For kings - On the respect due to rulers, see the notes on Romans 13:1-7. The meaning here is, that while all people should be the subjects of prayer, those should be particularly remembered before the throne of grace who are in authority. The reason is, that so much depends on their character and plans; that the security of life, liberty, and property, depends so much on them. God has power to influence their hearts, and to incline them to what is just and equal; and hence we should pray that a divine influence may descend upon them. The salvation of a king is of itself of no more importance than that of a peasant or a slave; but the welfare of thousands may depend on him, and hence he should be made the special subject of prayer.

All that are in authority - Margin, or, “eminent place.” This does not necessarily mean those who hold office, but refers to any of elevated rank. The happiness of all who are under their control depends greatly on them, and hence we should pray for them that they may be converted people, and inclined to do that which is right.

That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life - That their hearts may be so inclined to what is right that they may protect us in the enjoyment of religion, and that we may not be opposed or harassed by persecution. This does not mean that their protection would dispose us to lead quiet and peaceful lives, but that under their protection we may be saved from oppression on account of our religion. Christians are disposed of themselves to be peaceful and orderly; they ask of their rulers only that they may not be harassed in the enjoyment of their rights.

In all godliness and honesty - In the practice of all our duties toward God, and of all the duties which we owe to people. The word godliness here denotes piety - or the duty which we owe to God; the word honesty refers to our duties to our fellow-men. The Christian asks from civil rulers such protection that; he maybe enabled quietly to perform both these classes of duties.

Verse 3

For this is good and acceptable - That is, it is good and acceptable to God that we should pray for all people. The reason is, that he desires their salvation, and hence it is agreeable to him that we should pray for it. If there were no provision made for their salvation, or if he was unwilling that they should be saved, it could not be agreeable to him that we should offer prayer for them.

Verse 4

Who will have all men to be saved - That is, it is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires. The word “will” cannot be taken here in the absolute sense, denoting a decree like that by which he willed the creation of the world, for then it would certainly be done. But the word is often used to denote a desire, wish, or what is in accordance with the nature of anyone. Thus it may be said of God that he “wills” that his creatures may be happy - because it is in accordance with his nature, and because he has made abundant provision for their happiness - though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to make them happy. God wills that sickness should be relieved, and sorrow mitigated, and that the oppressed should go free, because it is agreeable to his nature; though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to produce it. A parent wills the welfare of his child. It is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires; and he makes every needful arrangement for it. If the child is not virtuous and happy, it is his own fault. So God wills that all people should be saved. It would be in accordance with his benevolent nature. He has made ample provision for it. He uses all proper means to secure their salvation. He uses no positive means to prevent it, and if they are not saved it will be their own fault. For places in the New Testament where the word here translated “will” (θέλω thelō), means to desire or wish, see Luke 8:20; Luke 23:8; John 16:19; Galatians 4:20; Mark 7:24; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 14:5; Matthew 15:28. This passage cannot mean, as many have supposed, that God wills that all kinds of people should be saved, or that some sinners of every rank and class may be saved, because:

(1) The natural and obvious interpretation of the language is opposed to such a sense. The language expresses the desire that “all men” should be saved, and we should not depart from the obvious sense of a passage unless necessity requires it.

(2) Prayer and thanksgiving 1 Timothy 2:1 are directed to be offered, not for some of all ranks and conditions, but for all mankind. No exception is made, and no direction is given that we should exclude any of the race from the expressions of our sympathy, and from an interest in our supplications. The reason given here for that prayer is, that God desires that all people should be saved. But how could this be a reason for praying for all, if it means that God desired only the salvation of some of all ranks?

(3) In 1 Timothy 2:5-6 the apostle gives reasons showing that God wished the salvation of all people, and those reasons are such as to prove that the language here is to be taken in the most unlimited sense. Those reasons are:

(a)That there is one God over all, and one Mediator between God and people - showing that God is the Father of all, and has the same interest in all; and,

(b)That Christ gave himself a ransom for all - showing that God desired their salvation.

This verse proves:

(1)That salvation is provided for all - for if God wished all people to be saved, he would undoubtedly make provision for their salvation; and if he had not made such provision, it could not be said that he desired their salvation, since no one can doubt that he has power to provide for the salvation of all;

(2)That salvation should be offered to all people - for if God desires it, it is right for his ministers to announce that desire, and if he desires it, it is not proper for them to announce anything contrary to this;

(3)That people are to blame if they are not saved.

If God did not wish their salvation, and if he had made no provision for it, they could not be to blame if they rejected the gospel. If God wishes it, and has made provision for it, and they are not saved, the sin must be their own - and it is a great sin, for there is no greater crime which a man can commit than to destroy his own soul, and to make himself the eternal enemy of his Maker.

And to come unto the knowledge of the truth - The truth which God has revealed; the “truth as it is in Jesus.” notes, Ephesians 4:21.

Verse 5

For there is one God - This is a reason for offering prayer for all people, and for the declaration 1 Timothy 2:4 that God desires that all people should be saved. The reason is founded in the fact that he is the common Father of all the race, and that he must have the same desire for the welfare of all his children, He has made them of one blood Acts 17:26, and he must have the same interest in the happiness of all; compare Ephesians 4:6 note; Romans 3:30 note.

And one Mediator between God and men - see Galatians 3:19-20 notes; Hebrews 9:15 note. This also is given as a reason why prayer should be offered for all, and a proof that God desires their salvation. The argument is, that there is the same Mediator between God and all people. He is not the Mediator between God and a part of the human race, but between “God and men,” implying that He desired the salvation of the race. Whatever love there was in giving the Mediator at all, was love for all the race; whatever can be argued from that about the interest which God has in man, is proof of his interest in the race at large. It is proper, therefore, to pray for all. It may be remarked here that there is but one Mediator. There is not one for kings and another for their subjects; one for the rich and another for the poor; one for the master and another for the slave. All are on the same level, and the servant may feel that, in the gift of a Mediator, God regarded him with the same interest that he did his master. It may be added also that the doctrine of the Papists that the saints or the Virgin Mary may act as mediators to procure blessings for us, is false. There is but “one Mediator;” and but one is necessary. Prayer offered to the “saints,” or to the “Virgin,” is idolatry, and at the same time removes the one great Mediator from the office which he alone holds, of making intercession with God.

The man Christ Jesus - Jesus was truly and properly a man, having a perfect human body and soul, and is often called a man in the New Testament. But this does not prove that he was not also divine - anymore than his being called God (John 1:1; John 20:28; Rom 9:5; 1 John 5:20; Hebrews 1:8), proves that he was not also a man. The use of the word man here was probably designed to intimate that though he was divine, it was in his human nature that we are to consider him as discharging the office. Doddridge.

Verse 6

Who gave himself a ransom for all - This also is stated as a reason why prayer should be offered for all, and a proof that God desires the salvation of all. The argument is, that as Christ died for all, it is proper to pray for all, and that the fact that he died for all is proof that God desired the salvation of all. Whatever proof of his desire for their salvation can be derived from this in relation to any of the race, is proof in relation to all. On the meaning of the phrase “he gave himself a ransom,” see the Matthew 20:28 note; Romans 3:25 note; on the fact that it was for “all,” see the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:14.

See also the Supp. note on the same passage.

To be testified in due time - Margin, “a testimony.” The Greek is, “the testimony in its own times,” or in proper times - τὸ μαρτύριον καιροῖς ἰδίοις to marturion kairois idiois. There have been very different explanations of this phrase. The common interpretation, and that which seems to me to be correct, is, that “the testimony of this will be furnished in the proper time; that is, in the proper time it shall be made known through all the world;” see Rosenmuller. Paul affirms it as a great and important truth that Christ gave himself a ransom for all mankind - for Jews and Gentiles; for all classes and conditions of people alike. This truth had not always been understood. The Jews had supposed that salvation was designed exclusively for their nation, and denied that it could be extended to others, unless they became Jews. According to them, salvation was not provided for, or offered to pagans as such, but only on condition that they became Jews. In opposition to this, Paul says that it was a doctrine of revelation that redemption was to be provided for all people, and that it was intended that the testimony to this should be afforded at the proper time. It was not fully made known under the ancient dispensation, but now the period had come when it should be communicated to all; compare Romans 5:6 note, and Galatians 4:4 note.

Verse 7

Whereunto - Greek, “Unto which;” that is, to the bearing of which testimony I am appointed.

I am ordained - Greek, “I am placed or constituted” - ἐτέθην etethēn. The word “ordain” has now acquired a technical signification, meaning to set apart solemnly to a sacred office by the imposition of hands; but it has not that meaning here. It does not refer to the manner in which he was set apart, or to any act of others in consecrating him to this work, but merely to the fact that he had been placed in this office, or appointed to it. He refers doubtless to the fact that the Lord Jesus had designated him to this work.

A preacher and an apostle - see the 1 Corinthians 9:1-6 notes; Galatians 1:11-12 notes.

I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not - That is, by Christ; or I solemnly appeal to Christ - a form of an oath; notes, Romans 9:1. Paul makes a solemn declaration similar to this in regard to his call to the apostleship, in Galatians 1:20. For the reasons why he did it, see the notes on that verse. It is probable that there were those in Ephesus who denied that he could be an apostle, and hence his solemn declaration affirming it.

A teacher of the Gentiles - Specially appointed to carry the gospel to the Gentiles or the pagan; see the Romans 11:13 note; Galatians 2:7 note.

In faith and verity - These words mean that he was appointed to instruct the Gentiles in faith and the knowledge of the truth.

Verse 8

I will therefore - The Greek word here (βοὺλομαι boulomai) is different from the word rendered “will” - θέλω thelō - in 1 Timothy 2:4. The distinction is, that the word there used - θέλω thelō - denotes an active volition or purpose; the word here used - βοὺλομαι boulomai - a mere passive desire, propensity, willingness. Robinson’s Lexicon The meaning here is, “it is my will” - expressing his wish in the case, or giving direction - though using a milder word than that which is commonly employed to denote an act of will.

That men pray everywhere - Not merely in the temple, or in other sacred places, but in all places. The Jews supposed that there was special efficacy in prayers offered at the temple in Jerusalem; the pagan also had the same view in regard to their temples - for both seemed to suppose that they came nearer to God by approaching his sacred abode. Christianity teaches that God may be worshipped in any place, and that we are at all times equally near him; see the John 4:20-24 notes; Acts 17:25 note. The direction here given that men should pray, in contradistinction from the duties of women, specified in the next verse, may be intended to imply that men should conduct the exercises of public worship. The duties of women pertain to a different sphere; compare 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

Lifting up holy hands - To lift up the hands denotes supplication, as it was a common attitude of prayer to spread abroad the hands toward heaven; compare Psalms 68:31; Exodus 9:29, Exodus 9:33; 1 Kings 8:22; 2 Chronicles 6:12-13; Isaiah 1:15; see also Horace Odes, iii. 23. 1; Ovid, M. 9:701; Livy, v. 21; Seneca, Eph. 21. “Holy hands” here, mean hands that are not defiled by sin, and that have not been employed for any purpose of iniquity. The idea is, that when men approach God they should do it in a pure and holy manner.

Without wrath - That is, without the intermingling of any evil passion; with a calm, peaceful, benevolent mind. There should be nothing of the spirit of contention; there should be no anger toward others; the suppliant should be at peace with all people. It is impossible for a man to pray with comfort, or to suppose that his prayers will be heard, if he cherishes anger. The following exquisite and oft-quoted passage from Jeremy Taylor, is a more beautiful and striking illustration of the effect of anger in causing our prayers to return unanswered than was probably ever penned by anyone else. Nothing could be more true, beautiful, and graphic. “Anger sets the house on fire, and all the spirits are busy upon trouble, and intend propulsion, defense, displeasure, or revenge. It is a short madness, and an eternal enemy to discourse and a fair conversation; it intends its own object with all the earnestness of perception or activity of design, and a quicker motion of a too warm and distempered blood; it is a fever in the heart, and a calenture in the head, and a fire in the face, and a sword in the band, and a fury all over; and therefore can never suffer a man to be in a disposition to pray. For prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts; it is the daughter of charity and the sister of meekness; and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in.

Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upward, and singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and rise above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconsistent, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings, until the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel.” “The Return of Prayers,” Works, vol. i. 638. Ed. Lond. 1835.

And doubting - This word, as used here, does not mean, as our translation would seem to imply, that we are to come before God without any doubts of our own piety, or in the exercise of perfect faith. The word used (διαλογισμός dialogismos) means, properly, computation, adjustment of accounts; then reflection, thought; then reasoning, opinion; then debate, contention, strife; Luke 9:46; Mark 9:33-34; Philippians 2:14. This is the sense evidently in this place. They were not to approach God in prayer in the midst of clamorous disputings and angry contentions. They were not to come when the mind was heated with debate, and irritated by strife for victory. Prayer was to be offered in a calm, serious, sober state of mind, and they who engaged in polemical strife, or in warm contention of any kind, are little fitted to unite in the solemn act of addressing God. How often are theologians, when assembled together, so heated by debate, and so anxious for party victory, that they are in no suitable state of mind to pray! How often do even good people, holding different views on the disputed points of religious doctrine, suffer their minds to become so excited, and their temper so ruffled, that they are conscious they are in an unfit state of mind to approach the throne of grace together! That theological debate has gone too far; that strife for victory has become too warm, when the disputants are in such a state of mind that they cannot unite in prayer; when they could not cease their contentions, and with a calm and proper spirit, bow together before the throne of grace.

Verse 9

In like manner also - That is, with the same propriety; with the same regard to what religion demands. The apostle had stated particularly the duty of men in public worship 1 Timothy 2:8, and he now proceeds to state the duty of women. All the directions here evidently refer to the proper manner of conducting public worship, and not to private duties; and the object here is to state the way in which he would have the different sexes appear. He had said that he would have prayers offered for all people (1 Timothy 2:1 ff), and that in offering such petitions he would have the men on whom devolved the duty of conducting public devotion, do it with holy hands, and without any intermingling of passion, and with entire freedom from the spirit of contention. In reference to the duty of females in attendance on public worship, he says that he would have them appear in apparel suitable to the place and the occasion - adorned not after the manner of the world, but with the zeal and love in the cause of the Redeemer which became Christians. He would not have a woman become a public teacher 1 Timothy 2:12, but would wish her ever to occupy the place in society for which she was designed 1 Timothy 2:11, and to which she had shown that she was adapted; 1 Timothy 2:13-14. The direction in 1 Timothy 2:9-12, therefore, is to be understood particularly of the proper deportment of females in the duties of public worship. At the same time, the principles laid down are doubtless such as were intended to apply to them in the other situations in life, for if modest apparel is appropriate in the sanctuary, it is appropriate everywhere. If what is here prohibited in dress is wrong there, it would be difficult to show that it is right elsewhere.

That women adorn themselves - The words “I will” are to be understood here as repeated from 1 Timothy 2:8. The apostle by the use of the word “adorn” (κοσμεῖν kosmein), shows that he is not opposed to ornament or adorning, provided it be of the right kind. The world, as God has made it, is full of beauty, and he has shown in each flower that he is not opposed to true ornament. There are multitudes of things which, so far as we can see, appear to be designed for mere ornament, or are made merely because they are beautiful. Religion does not forbid true adorning. It differs from the world only on the question what “is” true ornament, or what it becomes us, all things considered, to do in the situation in which we are placed, the character which we sustain, the duties which we have to perform, and the profession which we make. It may be that there are ornaments in heaven which would be anything but appropriate for the condition of a poor, lost, dying sinner on earth.

In modest apparel - The word here rendered “modest” (κόσμιος kosmios), properly relates to ornament, or decoration, and means that which is “well-ordered, decorous, becoming.” It does not, properly, mean modest in the sense of being opposed to that which is immodest, or which tends to excite improper passions and desires, but that which is becoming or appropriate. The apostle does not positively specify what this would be, but he mentions somethings which are to be excluded from it, and which, in his view, are inconsistent with the true adorning of Christian females - “broidered hair, gold, pearls, costly array.” The sense here is, that the apparel of females should be such as becomes them, or is appropriate to them. The word here used (κόσμιος kosmios), shows that there should be due attention that it may be truly neat, fit, decorous. There is no religion in a negligent mode of apparel, or in inattention to personal appearance - anymore than there is in wearing gold and pearls; and a female may as truly violate the precepts of her religion by neglecting her personal appearance as by excessive attention to it. The true idea here is, that her attention to her appearance should be such that she will be offensive to no class of persons; such as to show that her mind is supremely fixed on higher and more important things, and such as to interfere with no duty which she owes, and no good which she can do, either by spending her time needlessly in personal adorning, or by lavishing that money for dress which might do good to others, or by neglecting the proprieties of her station, and making herself offensive to others.

With shamefacedness - With modesty of appearance and manner - an eminent female virtue, whether in the sanctuary or at home.

And sobriety - The word here used means, properly, “sanity;” then sober-mindedness, moderation of the desires and passions. It is opposed to all that is frivolous, and to all undue excitement of the passions. The idea is, that in their apparel and deportment they should not entrench on the strictest decorum. Doddridge.

Not with broidered hair - Margin, “plaited.” Females in the East pay much more attention to the hair than is commonly done with us. It is plaited with great care, and arranged in various forms, according to the prevailing fashion, and often ornamented with spangles or with silver wire or tissue interwoven; see the notes on Isaiah 3:24. The sense here is, that Christian females are not to imitate those of the world in their careful attention to the ornaments of the head. It cannot be supposed that the mere braiding of the hair is forbidden, but only that careful attention to the manner of doing it, and to the ornaments usually worn in it, which characterized worldly females.

Or gold, or pearls - It is not to be supposed that all use of gold or pearls as articles of dress is here forbidden; but the idea is, that the Christian female is not to seek these as the adorning which she desires, or is not to imitate the world in these personal decorations. It may be a difficult question to settle how much ornament is allowable, and when the true line is passed. But though this cannot be settled by any exact rules, since much must depend on age, and on the relative rank in life, and the means which one may possess, yet there is one general rule which is applicable to all, and which might regulate all. It is, that the true line is passed when more is thought of this external adorning, than of the ornament of the heart. Any external decoration which occupies the mind more than the virtues of the heart, and which engrosses the time and attention more, we may be certain is wrong. The apparel should be such as not to attract attention; such as becomes our situation; such as will not be particularly singular; such as shall leave the impression that the heart is not fixed on it. It is a poor ambition to decorate a dying body with gold and pearls. It should not be forgotten that the body thus adorned will soon need other habiliments, and will occupy a position where gold and pearls would be a mockery. When the heart is right; when there is true and supreme love for religion, it is usually not difficult to regulate the subject of dress.

Costly array - Expensive dress. This is forbidden - for it is foolish, and the money thus employed may be much more profitably used in doing good. “Costly array” includes that which can be ill afforded, and that which is inconsistent with the feeling that the principle ornament is that of the heart.

Verse 10

with good works}But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works - That is, it is not appropriate for women who profess to be the followers of the Saviour, to seek to be distinguished for personal, external decorations. If they are Christians, they have seen the vanity of these things, and have fixed the heart on more substantial realities. They are professed followers of Him “who went about doing good,” and the performance of good works especially becomes them. They profess to have fixed the affections on God their Saviour, and to be living for heaven; and it is not becoming in them to seek such ornaments as would indicate that the heart is supremely attached to worldly things. There is great beauty in this direction. Good works, or deeds of benevolence, eminently become a Christian female. The nature of woman seems to be adapted to the performance of all deeds demanding kindness, tenderness, and gentleness of feeling; of all that proceeds from pity, sympathy, and affection; and we feel instinctively that while acts of hardy enterprise and daring in a good cause especially become a Christian man, there is something exquisitely appropriate to the female character in deeds of humble and unobtrusive sympathy and benevolence. God seems to have formed her mind for just such things, and in such things it occupies its appropriate sphere rather than in seeking external adorning.

Verse 11

Let the woman learn in silence - Listen attentively to instruction, without attempting to teach in public; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:35.

With all subjection - With due subjection to those who are in authority, and who are appointed to minister in holy things; notes, 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Verse 12

But I suffer not a woman to teach - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Nor to usurp authority over the man - notes, 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Verse 13

For Adam was first formed, then Eve - The apostle, in this verse, and the following, gives reasons why a woman should occupy a subordinate situation, and not usurp authority. The first is, that she was second in the act of creation, or was made subsequent to man. The reason here assigned cannot be understood to be merely that of priority of existence - for then it would give every old person authority over a younger one; but it must refer to the circumstances of the case as detailed in the history of the creation; Gen. 1–2. Man was made as the lord of this lower creation and placed in the garden, and then the woman was made of a rib taken from his side, and given to him, not as a lord, but as a companion. All the circumstances combine to show the subordinate nature of her rank, and to prove that she was not designed to exert authority over the man; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 11:8-9.

Verse 14

And Adam was not deceived - This is the second reason why the woman should occupy a subordinate rank in all things. It is, that in the most important situation in which she was ever placed she had shown that she was not qualified to take the lead. She had evinced a readiness to yield to temptation; a feebleness of resistance; a pliancy of character, which showed that she was not adapted to the situation of headship, and which made it proper that she should ever afterward occupy a subordinate situation. It is not meant here that Adam did not sin, nor even that he was not deceived by the tempter, but that the woman opposed a feebler resistance to the temptation than he would have done, and that the temptation as actually applied to her would have been ineffectual on him. To tempt and seduce him to fall, there were needed all the soft persuasions, the entreaties, and example of his wife.

Satan understood this, and approached man not with the specious argument of the serpent, but through the allurements of his wife. It is undoubtedly implied here that man in general has a power of resisting certain kinds of temptation superior to that possessed by woman, and hence that the headship properly belongs to him. This is, undoubtedly, the general truth, though there may be many exceptions, and many noble cases to the honor of the female sex, in which they evince a power of resistance to temptation superior to man. In many traits of character, and among them those which are most lovely, woman is superior to man; yet it is undoubtedly true that, as a general thing, temptation will make a stronger impression on her than on him. When it is said that “Adam was not deceived,” it is not meant that when he partook actually of the fruit he was under no deception, but that he was not deceived by the serpent; he was not first deceived, or first in the transgression. The woman should remember that sin began with her, and she should therefore be willing to occupy an humble and subordinate situation.

But the woman being deceived - She was made to suppose that the fruit would not injure her, but would make her wise, and that God would not fulfil his threatening of death. Sin, from the beginning, has been a process of delusion. Every man or woman who violates the law of God is deceived as to the happiness which is expected from the violation, and as to the consequences which will follow it.

Verse 15

Notwithstanding she shall be saved - The promise in this verse is designed to alleviate the apparent severity of the remarks just made about the condition of woman, and of the allusion to the painful facts of her early history. What the apostle had just said would carry the mind back to the period in which woman introduced sin into the world, and by an obvious and easy association, to the sentence which had been passed on her in consequence of her transgression, and to the burden of sorrows which she was doomed to bear. By the remark in this verse, however, Paul shows that it was not his intention to overwhelm her with anguish. He did not design to harrow up her feelings by an unkind allusion to a melancholy fact in her history. It was necessary for him to state, and for her to know, that her place was secondary and subordinate, and he wished this truth ever to be kept in memory among Christians. It was not unkind or improper also to state the reasons for this opinion, and to show that her own history had demonstrated that she was not designed for headship.

But she was not to be regarded as degraded and abandoned. She was not to be overwhelmed by the recollection of what “the mother of all living” had done. There were consolations in her case. There was a special divine interposition which she might look for, evincing tender care on the part of God in those deep sorrows which had come upon her in consequence of her transgression; and instead of being crushed and broken-hearted on account of her condition, she should remember that the everlasting arms of God would sustain her in her condition of sorrow and pain. Paul, then, would speak to her the language of consolation, and while he would have her occupy her proper place, he would have her feel that “God was her Friend.” In regard to the nature of the consolation referred to here, there has been a considerable variety of opinion. Some have held, that by the expression “she shall be saved in child-bearing,” the apostle designs to include all the duties of the maternal relation, meaning that she should be saved through the faithful performance of her duties as a mother.

Robinson, Lexicon. Rosenmuller regards the words rendered “child-bearing” (τεκνογονία teknogonia), as synonymous with education, and supposes that the meaning is, that a woman, by the proper training of her children, can obtain salvation as well as her husband, and that her appropriate duty is not public teaching, but the training of her family. Wetstein supposes that it means “she shall be saved from the arts of impostors, and from the luxury and vice of the age, if, instead of wandering about, she remains at home, cultivates modesty, is subject to her husband, and engages carefully in the training of her children.” This sense agrees well with the connection. Calvin supposes that the apostle designs to console the woman by the assurance that, if she bears the trials of her condition of sorrow with a proper spirit, abiding in faith and holiness, she will be saved. She is not to regard herself as cut off from the hope of heaven. Doddridge, Macknight, Clarke, and others suppose that it refers to the promise in Genesis 3:15, and means that the woman shall be saved through, or by means of bearing a child, to wit, the Messiah; and that the apostle means to sustain the woman in her sorrows, and in her state of subordination and inferiority, by referring to the honor which has been put upon her by the fact that a woman gave birth to the Messiah. It is supposed also that he means to say that special honor is thus conferred on her over the man, inasmuch as the Messiah had no human father. Doddridge. The objections to this interpretation, however, though it is sustained by most respectable names, seem to me to be insuperable. They are such as these:

(1) The interpretation is too refined and abstruse. It is not that which is obvious. It depends for its point on the fact that the Messiah had no human father, and in the apostle had intended to refer to that, and to build an argument on it it may be doubted whether he would have done it in so obscure a manner. But it may reasonably be questioned whether he would have made that fact a point on which his argument would turn. There would be a species of refinement about such an argument, such as we should not look for in the writings of Paul.

(2) It is not the obvious meaning of the word “child-bearing.” There is nothing in the word which requires that it should have any reference to the birth of the Messiah. The word is of a general character, and properly refers to child-hearing in general.

(3) It is not true that woman would be “saved” merely by having given birth to the Messiah. She will be saved, as man will be, as a consequence of his having been born; but there is no evidence that the mere fact that woman gave birth to him, and that he had no human father, did anything to save Mary herself, or any one else of her sex. If, therefore, the word refers to the “bearing” of the Messiah, or to the fact that he was born, it would be no more proper to say that this was connected with the salvation of woman than that of man. The true meaning, it seems to me, has been suggested by Calvin, and may be seen by the following remarks:

(1) The apostle designed to comfort woman, or to alleviate the sadness of the picture which he had drawn respecting her condition.

(2) He had referred, incidentally, as a proof of the subordinate character of her station, to the first apostasy. This naturally suggested the sentence which was passed on her, and the condition of sorrow to which she was doomed, particularly in child-birth. That was the standing demonstration of her guilt; that the condition in which she suffered most; that the situation in which she was in greatest peril.

(3) Paul assures her, therefore, that though she must thus suffer, yet that she ought not to regard herself in her deep sorrows and dangers, though on account of sin, as necessarily under the divine displeasure, or as excluded from the hope of heaven. The way of salvation was open to her as well as to men, and was to be entered in the same manner. If she had faith and holiness, even in her condition of sorrow brought on by guilt, she might as well hope for eternal life as man. The object of the apostle seems to be to guard against a possible construction which might be put on his words, that he did not regard the woman as in circumstances as favorable for salvation as those of man, or as if he thought that salvation for her was more difficult, or perhaps that she could not be saved at all. The general sentiments of the Jews in regard to the salvation of the female sex, and their exclusion from the religious privileges which men enjoy; the views of the Muslims in reference to the inferiority of the sex; and the prevalent feelings in the pagan world, degrading the sex and making their condition, in regard to salvation, far inferior to that of man, show the propriety of what the apostle here says, and the fitness that he should so guard himself that his language could not possibly be construed so as to give countenance to such a sentiment.

According to the interpretation of the passage here proposed, the apostle does not mean to teach that a Christian female would be certainly saved from death in child-birth - for this would not be true, and the proper construction of the passage does not require us to understand him as affirming this. Religion is not designed to make any immediate and direct change in the laws of our physical being. It does not of itself guard us from the pestilence; it does not arrest the progress of disease; it does not save us from death; and, as a matter of fact, woman, by the highest degree of piety, is not necessarily saved from the perils of that condition to which she has been subjected in consequence of the apostasy. The apostle means to show this - that in all her pain and sorrow; amidst all the evidence of apostasy, and all that reminds her that she was “first” in the transgression, she may look up to God as her Friend and strength, and may hope for acceptance and salvation.

If they continue - If woman continues - it being not uncommon to change the singular form to the plural, especially if the subject spoken of have the character of a noun of multitude. Many have understood this of children, as teaching that if the mother were faithful, so that her children continued in faith, she would be saved. But this is not a necessary or probable interpretation. The apostle says nothing of children, and it is not reasonable to suppose that he would make the prospect of her salvation depend on their being pious. This would be to add a hard condition of salvation, and one nowhere else suggested in the New Testament. The object of the apostle evidently is, to show that woman must continue in the faithful service of God if she would be saved - a doctrine everywhere insisted on in the New Testament in reference to all persons. She must not imitate the example of the mother of mankind, but she must faithfully yield obedience to the laws of God until death.

Faith - Faith in the Redeemer and in divine truth, or a life of fidelity in the service of God.

Charity - Love to all; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 13:0.

Holiness - She must be truly righteous.

With sobriety - All these things must he united with a becoming soberness or seriousness of deportment; notes, 1 Timothy 2:9. In such a life, woman may look to a world where she will be forever free from all the sadnesses and sorrows of her condition here; where, by unequalled pain, she will be no more reminded of the time when.

- “Her rash hand in evil hour.

Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she.


And when before the throne she shall be admitted to full equality with all the redeemed of the Lord. Religion meets all the sadnesses of her condition here; pours consolation into the cup of her many woes; speaks kindly to her in her distresses; utters the language of forgiveness to her heart when crushed with the remembrance of sin - for “she loves much” Luke 7:37-48; and conducts her to immortal glory in that world where all sorrow shall be unknown.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-timothy-2.html. 1870.
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