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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and CollegesCambridge Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-99

Ch. 2. Apostolic Regulation of Public Worship

1 7 . Directions for Common Prayer and Intercession for all, since the Gospel is for all

1 . I exhort therefore that, first of all ] Rather, I exhort therefore first of all ; as my first special injunction after my general charge and commission, ch. 1 vv . 3 5, 18, 19; the verb itself partly suggests the taking up of the subject in new form.

that … supplications … be made ] The position of the Greek verb suggests its being middle voice rather than passive. So R.V. margin and Alford following Chrysostom: ‘I exhort to make supplications.’ The present tense implies the habitual making; and the absence of a subject leaves it unemphatic. In a modern rendering it might run exactly “I recommend therefore first of all the practice of common supplication and prayer, of common intercession and thanksgiving, in behalf of all men.” The middle is found in 17 places at least in N. T., in two of these governing the same word ‘supplications,’ Luke 5:33 ; Philippians 1:4 . So Chrysostom in his comment here uses as the natural phrase ‘for all the world … we make our supplication.’ The only place where the passive occurs is in the perfect participle, Hebrews 12:27 , ‘as of things that have been made.’

supplications, prayers, intercessions ] In the first word there is, from its derivation, the idea of a felt ‘want’ and petition for its supply; cf. esp. Philippians 1:4 ; Luke 1:13 ; 2 Timothy 1:3 . Notice how in English, in the prayer of St Chrysostom, ‘our common supplications’ is explained by “requests” and by “desires and petitions.”

In the second, the idea of vow and ‘worship towards’ God, cf. Matthew 21:13 , ‘ my house shall be called the house of prayer ,’ Acts 2:42 , ‘they continued stedfastly … in the breaking of bread and the prayers.’

In the third, the idea of a personal interview and solicitation, such as Abraham’s for Sodom: either (1) against, or (2) for some one: for (1) cf. Acts 25:24 , ‘made suit to me, crying that he ought not to live,’ Romans 11:2 , ‘he pleadeth with God against Israel’: for (2) Romans 8:26 , ‘The Spirit (and ver. 34 Christ Jesus) maketh intercession for us,’ Hebrews 7:25 ‘He ever liveth to make intercession for us.’ See note also on chap. 4:5.

The plural of each as being a collection of concrete examples is the earlier way of representing the abstract noun; and it also helps to give the force, implied by the whole context, of common, public , prayer. Augustine says that the four words refer to the liturgical form of administration of Holy Communion: we may certainly say the converse that our ‘Divine Liturgy’ is modelled on this authorised rule, taking e.g. the modern ‘Prayer for the Church Militant’ with its express embodiment of this passage, or the ancient Gloria in Excelsis (1) “In earth peace, goodwill towards men: (2) we bless thee, we worship Thee, O Lord, (3) Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us; (4) we give thanks to Thee, God the Father Almighty”: or taking the service as a whole, we get (1) the supplication for mercy and grace in the Kyrie after each Commandment, in the collects for the Queen and that for the day and the Church Militant, (2) the prayer of worship in the prayers of humble access and consecration, (3) the intercession in the Lord’s Prayer and following prayers, (4) the thanksgiving of the Gloria in Excelsis summarising all before.

2 . in authority ] R.V. in high place . The noun occurs only 1 Corinthians 2:1 , ‘I came not with excellency of speech,’ but the participle in Romans 13:1 , ‘the higher powers.’

Though there is no special reference to Roman emperors, yet as Wordsworth well says, under the circumstances of its writing, this exhortation is ‘an evidence of the courage and divine commission of St Paul.’ It is also a practical reply to the charge, so commonly brought at the time and after, of civil disaffection.

in all godliness and honesty ] ‘Godliness,’ a constant devout realization of God’s presence and greatness. The word occurs ten times in these epistles, and in 2 Peter 1:3 , 2 Peter 1:6 , 2 Peter 1:7 ; its opposite in 1 Timothy 1:9 . It is another characteristic word of the Pastoral Epistles. ‘Honesty’ appears to have the same sense as in the Marriage Service, ‘that they may live together in godly love and honesty,’ that is, purity and fidelity to the marriage vow, and therefore well to represent the Greek word which only occurs here and 3:4, and Titus 2:7 . The idea is that of propriety of conduct , the outward counterpart of godliness . The adjective which occurs 1 Timothy 3:8 , 1 Timothy 3:11 ; Titus 2:2 and Philippians 4:8 is in the last place rendered by A.V. ‘honest,’ by R.V. ‘honourable.’ Joseph in his thought and in his conduct exemplified both; “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Conybeare’s rendering gravity has been adopted by the commentators and R.V. The Prayer for the Church Militant expressly echoes this verse, ‘that under her we may be godly and quietly governed.’

quiet and peaceable ] Rather, peaceable and quiet ; ‘outward peace and inward tranquillity’ Olshausen and Ellicott, who translate ‘quiet and tranquil’: but the distinction is doubtful, and R.V. gives ‘tranquil and quiet.’

life ] ‘Manner of life’ according to the usual distinction between bios and zoè . See Trench, N. T. Syn . § 27.

3 . For this is good and acceptable ] We should omit For ; for the apparent abruptness compare Philippians 4:5 , The Lord is at hand,’ 2 Timothy 4:18 (right reading), ‘The Lord will deliver me.’ The connexion by ‘this’ or ‘these’ occurs in every chapter of this epistle; cf. 1:18; 3:14; 4:11, 15; 5:7; 6:2. It is especially characteristic of St John. Cf. John 1:30 ; John 6:50 , John 6:58 ; 1 John 2:22 ; 1 John 4:6 ; 1 John 5:6 , 1 John 5:20 .

good and acceptable ] Are taken best together with ‘in the sight of.’ Cf. a similar coupling and similar added clause in 4:4.

God our Saviour ] Rather, our Saviour God , or ‘our saving God.’ The first of four places where this order is observed, Titus 1:3 , Titus 1:2 :10, Titus 1:3 :4; here there is an obvious emphasis, as the thought of the next verse comes into view.

4 . who will have ] The exact rendering is that of R.V. who willeth that all men should he saved not the stronger word bouletai , ‘desireth,’ with a definite purpose. Chrysostom’s comment is “if He willed to save all, do thou will it also; and if thou willest, pray for it”: and Theod. Mops, in the Latin translation “evidens est quoniam omnes vult salvari, quia et omnes tuetur, quia est omnium Dominus.” Thus the Greek fathers accepted St Paul’s words in their prima facie sense. The Latin fathers seek to guard their application; and St Augustine actually says “by ‘all’ understand ‘all the predestined,’ because men of all sorts are among them.” The phrase is not “willeth to save all,” which would have been very near to universalism ; but there is implied “the human acceptance of offered salvation on which even God’s predestination is contingent” Alford.

be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth ] Notice the order of the words; salvation is according to the N. T. usage, past, present and future .

Past, 2 Timothy 1:9 , ‘God who saved us and called us.’

Titus 3:5 , ‘he saved us through the laver of regeneration.’

Present, Romans 13:11 , ‘work out your own salvation.’

Acts 2:42 , ‘The Lord added … those that were being saved.’

Future, 1 Peter 1:5 , ‘guarded unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.’

2 Timothy 4:18 , ‘will save me unto his heavenly kingdom.’

And here we are evidently to understand by the two clauses first a rescue from ignorance and sin, from life in untruth, and then an advance from this first knowledge of one’s true self as a sinner to the complete and perfect knowledge of the truth. So far then as the word ‘salvation’ and ‘saved’ are used to describe an experience of the first of these two stages, and are understood to be so limited , the language is Apostolic; and that indeed is a more incorrect usage which refers the word only to final safety, without guarding it as in our collect by a defining epithet “towards the attainment of everlasting salvation,” and without remembering the express statement of the Prayer-Book Catechism that by Baptism we have been now “called to a state of salvation.”

At the same time, so far as any teachers or evangelists regard all as finished and completed at conversion , they ignore and contradict the latter clause here; God willeth that all should come to the full knowledge of the truth, and not stay ever resting on a past acceptance of the message of forgiveness. The word for full knowledge , epignosis , is repeated four times in these Epistles, 2 Timothy 2:25 , 2 Timothy 2:3 :7; Titus 1:1 , and is contrasted with the knowledge, falsely so called, of the heretical teachers, cf. 6:20; Titus 1:16 .

The simple verb is rendered by Westcott, John 3:10 , to ‘perceive by the knowledge of progress, recognition.’ See also on John 2:24 .

The force of the distinction between the simple and compound word is well seen in 1 Corinthians 13:12 , “Now I am getting to know in part; but then I shall fully know, even as God knew me fully.”

5 . For there is one God ] Usually taken as a proof of God’s willing all men to be saved, as in the quotation from Theodore, ver. 4. But the parallel passage is ch. 3:15, 16, where the test word ‘the truth’ leads at once to the recital of an apparently well-known elementary creed. And so here, verses 5 and 6 give us a creed, a brief exposition of ‘the truth’; and verse 7 is seen to have a much plainer connexion and stronger force this creed, this Gospel, is what you have received with my imprimatur as apostle of the Gentiles, and is ‘the truth,’ whatever the teachers of false knowledge may say. See App. A iii.

and one mediator … the man ] Accurate rendering requires one mediator also … ( himself ) man . The word ‘mediator’ has now come to be applied without explanations to Christ; a token of the later use, even of creed formulary. The places in Hebrews 8:6 , Hebrews 9:15 , Hebrews 12:24 , where Christ is thus spoken of in contrast to Moses would lead on to this usage. ‘Man,’ not of the angelic race, whose aid some would wish to use for mediation, Colossians 2:18 . Cf. Hebrews 2:16 .

“The other equally essential condition that he should be God is not here insisted on, for the tendency of Gnosticism was to Docetism .”

6 . a ransom ] The word is a compound naturally formed, as time passed, to represent Christ’s own teaching, antilutron thus recalling the lutron anti of Matthew 20:28 ; Mark 10:45 . On this last verse Maclear distinguishes, from Trench’s Syn ., p. 276, the three great circles of images in Scripture used to represent the purport of Christ’s death:

( a ) sin offering or propitiation, 1 John 2:2 , 1 John 4:10 .

( b ) atonement, i.e. at-one-ment, reconciliation with an offended friend, Romans 5:11 ; Romans 11:15 ; 2 Corinthians 5:18 , 2 Corinthians 5:19 .

( c ) ransom, or the price paid for the redemption of a captive from slavery, Romans 3:24 ; Ephesians 1:7 .

This third image, which is St Paul’s latest love, occurs again, Titus 2:14 , ‘that he might redeem us from all iniquity,’ and is chosen by St Peter, 1 Peter 1:18 , and the writer to the Hebrews, Hebrews 9:12 .

Our Article II. like this creed, and unlike the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, adds a statement of the purport of Christ’s death to its statement of the fact; but takes the first and second of these images to express it; “who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice not only for original guilt but also for all actual sins of men.” Cf. Art. XV.: ‘He came to be the Lamb without spot, who by sacrifice of Himself once made should take away the sins of the world.’

to be testified in due time ] R.V. the testimony to be borne in its proper seasons ; the neuter substantive having its proper sense, ‘that which was to be testified of.’ The word may well have come into this creed from the familiarity of the Jewish Christians with its use (as Wordsworth suggests) in the Pentateuch, where it occurs 30 times in connexion with the Holy of Holies, the Tables of the law, the Tabernacle and the Ark. Cf. Acts 7:44 , ‘Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness.’ ‘The redemption made by the Blood of Christ was the True Testimony which was reserved for its full revelation in its own appointed season,’ Ephesians 1:10 , ‘a dispensation of the fulness of the seasons to sum up all things in Christ.’

The reading is not doubtful, though from the apparent abruptness (sufficiently accounted for if part of a brief creed) the scribes in the mss. seem to have stumbled at the clause, each giving some variety for smoothness. See note on verse 5 for the connexion; which makes the force and relevance of the familiar phrases strong and clear.

7 . Whereunto ] For the ministry of which, the True Testimony.

I am ordained ] There is in the Greek an emphasis on ‘I,’ Whereunto I remember was appointed . St Paul is always filled with his special mission to proclaim the universality of the Gospel, and appropriately recals his commission as teacher of the Gentiles . Cf. Galatians 2:9 .

I speak the truth in Christ ] Here the words ‘in Christ’ have no sufficient authority, and have been introduced from Romans 9:1 .

in faith and verity ] Better, in faith and truth ; see note on 1:1; a teacher, not in politics or art, but in religion, its morals and doctrine; its spiritual life , that the soul may go out to God in faith that worketh by love and a good conscience; and its spiritual knowledge , that the historic facts revealed may be fully grasped, and the haze of false doctrine be dispelled.

8 15 . Common Prayer. The part to be taken in Public Worship by men and by women

8 . I will therefore that men pray every where ] (1) the position of ‘pray’ shews the resumption of this subject as the main thought of the sentence, (2) the word used for ‘men’ and the article prefixed shew the contrast to women in verse 9, (3) we have boulomai not thelô : we may render therefore more accurately I desire then that prayer be made by the men in every place ; ‘in every place’ where public prayer is made; for the limitation of ‘every’ by the surrounding circumstances of the passage, cf. Philippians 3:8 .

lifting up holy hands ] For the exact force of ‘holy’ cf. note on ‘unholy,’ 1:9. With outstretched arms and uplifted palms was the Oriental and Roman attitude; cf. ‘duplices tendens ad sidera palmas,’ Virg. Aen . 1. 93. ‘The folding together of the hands in prayer has been shewn to be of Indo-Germanic origin.’ Ellicott.

without wrath and doubting ] It is a very even question of authority whether we should read the singular or plural, ‘doubting’ or ‘doubtings.’

It is also a very even question of usage whether we understand ‘inward disputings,’ that is, ‘doubtings’ or ‘outward disputations’; the former is the commoner meaning in N.T., cf. Luke 24:38 : but the latter is clearly found, Philippians 2:14 , and the verb, Mark 8:16 , &c. Perhaps, as a preparation for prayer, to have faith, as well as charity, enjoined, gives the greater point: compare the preparation required for our Chief Act of Prayer ‘To examine themselves, whether they … have a lively faith in God’s mercy … and be in charity with all men.’ Prayer-Book Catechism, s. fin .

9 . In like manner also, that women adorn themselves ] The point of likeness consists in the fitting attitude of men and of women towards Public Worship and Common Prayer; for men, to lead in prayer with suitable posture and prepared spirit; for women, to attend in quiet dress and quiet behaviour, ‘unadorned’ but still ‘adorned the most’ with the halo of their church work. Cf. Titus 2:3 .

modest apparel ] Or, seemly guise , if we take the word (which occurs only here) to refer like the Latin habitus not solely to dress but also to demeanour. The simple noun occurs often, e.g. Luke 15:22 , ‘bring out the best robe.’ The compound verb is used by the ‘town clerk of Ephesus,’ Acts 19:36 , ‘ye ought to be composed .’

with shamefastness and sobriety ] The word ‘shamefacedness’ is a vulgar printer’s corruption of the word used by the translators of the A.V. ‘shamefastness,’ now restored to the A.V. in the copies printed side by side with the R.V. The original word aidôs implies a reference to external standards ; a feeling of what is due to another (God or man) irrespective of consequences (in contrast to aischunê , the same feeling through fear of harm); the other word sôphrosunê , characteristic of these epistles, implies restraint upon oneself from an innate sense of what is right. The English words of the A.V. may carry the same distinction. Compare Xen. Cyrop . viii. i. 31, ‘the shamefast shun what is openly disgraceful, the sober-minded what is disgraceful in secret also.’ Cf. ch. 3:2. Trench, N. T. Syn ., is not quite right.

broided hair ] Lit. ‘plaitings’; ‘gold’ seems to have the best support of mss. here, though ‘gold coins’ is the best supported word in the parallel passage, 1 Peter 3:3 , ‘plaiting the hair and wearing a necklace of coins.’

costly array ] The R.V. raiment ; the word in its form suggests what we convey by the modern term ‘wardrobe.’

10 . which becometh women professing godliness ] Best as A.V. and R.V. forming a parenthesis to justify the boldness of the dress recommended immediately after.

godliness ] The noun occurs only here, the adjective only in John 9:31 , ‘a worshipper of God.’ It seems to be distinguished from its kindred word above, verse 2, thus: theosebeia looks to the worship being that of God in contrast to idols , and embodies the phrase in use for converts from heathen polytheism to Judaism throughout the Acts 13:43 , Acts 13:50 , Acts 13:16 :14, Acts 13:17 :4, Acts 13:17 , Acts 13:18 :7, ‘one that worshipped,’ and in full ‘one that worshipped God.’ While eusebeia , above and in nine other places in these epistles, by its prefix goes deeper than the change of outward worship heart reverence and devotion, ‘the best worship’: as the years went on a natural advance urged on the Christian converts in whom the seed was ‘to grow secretly.’ In this place then, where it is a question of public worship and the right surroundings, the word chosen here is the exactly appropriate one; ‘You profess the worship of God by your coming to the public prayers: your best dress is to be known and esteemed for your zeal in acts of love and service for Him in His church.’

with good works ] R.V. through ; the change of preposition suggests a change in the character of the phrase, that St Paul is now speaking metaphorically.

11 . Let the woman learn in silence ] The reference is still to the public assemblies. The exact rendering in our idiom of the article is, with R.V., Let a woman learn , in silence, in quiet , as in verse 2. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34 , 1 Corinthians 14:35 .

12 . The direction is made more emphatic by the position of the verb ‘to teach’ (according to the better supported reading) at the beginning of the clause: But teaching I permit not to a woman .

to usurp authority ] The verb does not go so far as this in later Greek, only to the extent of the R.V. to have dominion over . From authentikos ‘from first authority’ we get our ‘authentic’ in its proper meaning (Trench’s Select Glossary , p. 15; Cic. ad Att . x. 9) of ‘coming from the pen of the writer to whom a work is attributed.’ ‘The Turkish “effendi” (lord) is from the same word.’ Wordsworth.

13 . ‘The Apostle appeals to the original order and course of things. By inverting this relative position and calling the helpmate assuming the place of the head or guide, and the head facilely yielding to her governance was the happy constitution of Paradise overthrown.’ Fairbairn.

14 . the woman being deceived was in the transgression ] The compound verb should be read as in 2 Corinthians 11:3 , ‘as the serpent beguiled Eve’; ‘Adam was not beguiled,’ a general negative, limited by the compound verb following, ‘you may say he was not beguiled in comparison with the complete direct beguiling of Eve’; the woman being beguiled is found in transgression .

‘Was’ does not represent properly the perfect, lit. ‘is become,’ used, according to Greek idiom, because the past event is viewed as having a present influence, and continuing in its effects.

Here it helps the transition from the particular case of Eve in the past to the general case of women now. This is also aided by the further change to the future in ‘shall be saved.’

15 . in childbearing ] R.V. gives the exact force of the Greek through the childbearing , and leaves unsettled which particular interpretation is correct (1) the A.V. ‘in childbearing,’ the preposition rendering merely the circumstances, cf. Romans 4:11 ‘in uncircumcision’;

or (2) the margin of R.V. ‘through her childbearing’: ‘her child-bearing which is her curse may be her highest blessing, as with man’s doom, labour; her domestic life and duties, the sphere of woman’s mission, St Paul lays great stress on good works, the performance of the common duties of life, in opposition to the irregularities of the times; and yet adds the necessary previous condition “if they abide in faith” ’; so Conybeare;

or (3) ‘through the Childbearing the Incarnation of Christ,’ an early interpretation quoted by Theophylact, and also given in the Ancient Catena recently recovered and published by Dr Cramer, and supported by Hammond, Ellicott and Wordsworth, on the grounds ( a ) that the parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12 closes with a reference to the Incarnation, ( b ) that in speaking of the transgression and sentence it was in itself natural and appropriate to speak of the sustaining prophecy, ( c ) that ‘saved’ and ‘through’ both gain in fulness of force.

On the whole (2) seems most probable, this ‘childbearing’ being singled out from among the ‘good works’ of ver. 10. Compare ch. 5:13, 14, where the younger widows are urged not to be ‘idle’ (lit. ‘workless’) or ‘busybodies’ (lit. ‘prying into the work of others’) but to ‘marry, bear children , rule the household’; and note that the verb there and the noun here for childbearing occur nowhere else in N.T. This thought of ‘work’ woman’s proper work lasts on then to the end of the chapter, and gives the natural transition to other work, the ‘good work’ of a bishop in chap. 3.

if they continue ] i.e. women, from ‘the woman’ of ver. 14; the aorist tense implies ‘continue stedfastly.’

faith and charity and holiness ] Rather as R.V. love and sanctification , the form of the latter word implying a process of repeated acts: so ‘doubting’ above, the harbouring of doubt upon doubt. The fundamental idea of the Greek noun is ‘separation and, so to speak, consecration and devotion to the service of the Deity’; Trench, N. T. Syn ., p. 316. Cf. 2 Timothy 1:9 , ‘called us with a holy calling.’ ‘But the thought lies very near that what is set apart from the world and to God should separate itself from the world s defilements and should share in God’s purity.’ Hence the appropriateness of its being linked here with ‘sobriety’ so as to recal the feminine modesty and purity of ver. 9. Cf. Westcott, Hebrews 10:10 ‘the initial consecration and the progressive hallowing.’

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/1-timothy-2.html. 1896.
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