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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

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Verses 1-2

‘I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.’

‘Therefore.’ To what does this ‘therefore’ refer? The only answer is that it has in mind the spiritual warfare in which Timothy was to engage. Here is, as it were, the first bombardment of the war.

And Paul here brings out that the first essential in the present warfare is prayer. He thus exhorts ‘first of all’ that much spiritual effort be put into praying and giving thanks for all who are in high places, among all nations (this last is what ‘kings and all in high places’ has very much in mind). Note the accumulation and multiplication of the thoughts, ‘supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings’. The powers that be are needful of prayer of all kinds, and are, as it were, to be flooded with and surrounded by both prayers of all kinds and thanksgiving. If we are to distinguish them we may see supplications as referring to prayers for the physical and emotional needs of men, prayers as indicating prayers for the spiritual needs of men, intercessions as revealing that we come as subjects to a King on behalf of others because we have privileged access, and thanksgiving as revealing that we are grateful for all the He does, and has done, for us.

‘For all men’, that is, for all men at all levels of society, including all levels of authority. And the aim was so that Christians might be able to live in peace and tranquillity, and live godly and serious lives (compare Jeremiah 29:7). This does not mean that they should be humourless. The godliness was so that they might please their Father in Heaven by the purity of their lives and worship, the gravity was because they must take seriously their world responsibility described in the next verse. All Christians are to be very grave when they are considering the evangelising of their neighbourhood as part of world evangelisation.

‘Godliness.’ That is piety, Godly faith, genuineness towards God from a worshipful heart’. This is a word not used previously by Paul, but Paul is here writing to a prominent church leader, and therefore portraying things from a different angle than he does in his earlier letters. This is, in fact, the explanation for many of his new terms found in the Pastoral letters.

‘Gravity.’ Aristotle places the word halfway between complacency and wilfulness. It signifies concern about what is important and right. Thus the Christian’s concern is first to be towards God, and then concerning what is important and right.

But we must not overlook the important lesson here that Christians are not just to be tied up in themselves and their own little world. They are to have broad vision, and they must even have an effect on ‘kings’, and both Josephus and the inscriptions indicate that this title included Caesar himself. It thus referred to kings large and small. For the peace and tranquillity of the world matters to God. Peace is His aim, and indeed final peace and tranquillity in Heaven is His final aim. This is made clear in some of the earliest words of Jesus, ‘Blessed are the peace-makers, for theirs is the Kingly Rule of Heaven’ (Matthew 5:9).

This is the other side of the daily prayer, ‘bring us not into testing, but deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:13). While testing, trial and persecution is often the lot of the Christian, his prayers should be to avoid testing, not to be tried and to escape persecution, for he is aware of his own weakness and frailty. He is to look for peace and tranquillity. Then he knows that whatever comes to him comes from God, and he will be able to rejoice in it (James 1:2).

Verses 1-10

Rallying The Troops. Paul’s Exhortation To The Men And Women Of The Church To Pray (1 Timothy 2:1-10 ).

Having called Timothy to war the good warfare, while ensuring that he maintained faith and a good conscience, and having given examples of those who had not, Paul now calls on all the men and women in the church to join in that warfare. And they are to do that first by praying for all in authority, praying that they would govern wisely and justly so that all Christians may be able to lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and all seriousness of purpose. For this will then lead on to the progress of the Gospel which will be pleasing to God Who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

And he stresses that there is only one truth which offers salvation, and that is that there is One God, and one Mediator between Himself and men, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, in a once and for all action, although testimony to it would be borne to it at the right times. This indeed was why he, Paul, was appointed as a preacher and Apostle, bringing faith and truth to the Gentiles. So in view of this all Christians in every place where Christians meet are to pray genuinely in total unity of spirit, ensuring that their hands are holy (unstained by sin and sanctified to God), and their manner of dress modest (for the same reason), and that there is no anger or dissension in their hearts.

Note the continued emphasis on ‘all’ and Paul’s emphasis that he was appointed as the Apostle of the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7). This would serve to confirm the Jewish nature of the false teaching being combated by Timothy.


a I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all that are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

b This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

c For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony to be borne in its own times (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

b To which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:7).

a I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing. In the same way that women adorn themselves -- through good works (1 Timothy 2:8-10).

Note that in ‘a’ Paul seeks for prayer for all in authority for peace and tranquillity so as to aid the spread of the Gospel, and in the parallel he seeks prayer from all men and women in the church, offered from a pure heart and spirit, with pure hands, or in modest apparel with good works, ensuring peace and tranquillity in the whole body of Christ. In ‘b’ he declares God’s desire that all levels of men and women, from the highest to the lowest, may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and in the parallel he declares that that was why he was made a preacher, Apostle and teacher to the Gentiles (‘to the Gentiles’ being so that people of all kinds may be saved), himself operating in faith and in truth. Centrally in ‘c’ he reiterates the Gospel message (1 Timothy 1:15) in a slightly different form.

Verses 1-15

In View Of What Christ Has Done Paul Lays Out The Battle Plan For The Future And Organises God’s Forces In Order To Ensure That His Church Will Be The Mainstay Of All That He Has Accomplished (1 Timothy 1:18 to 1 Timothy 3:16 ).

Calling on Timothy to prepare for spiritual warfare (1 Timothy 1:18-20), he exhorts prayer for all men, and especially for all in high places, in order that the work of God might go forward peaceably among all men, for that was why He had sent His Mediator as a man among men and as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:1-7). All are to play their part in accordance with what God has revealed. Christian men (including women) are all to participate in this prayer, lifting up holy hands in Christian oneness, while Christian women are also to play their part by godly sobriety, and being careful to maintain their rightful place, lest the error of the Garden of Eden be repeated. Avoidance of this, and fulfilling of their major role in child-bearing, will then turn out for their blessing and salvation (1 Timothy 2:8-15). Meanwhile the principles of leadership are laid out as Paul gives advice to Timothy about the appointment of male ‘bishops/overseers’ and ‘deacons’, and also of ‘women’ (1 Timothy 3:1-13), and he concludes the section by pointing out that his instructions are being sent to him so that he might know how men and women are to behave within the household of God, that is the church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:14-15). Finally he ends by again directing his own and their minds to heavenly things (compare 1 Timothy 1:17), but this time in terms of the coming of the Incarnate One and what He has accomplished (1 Timothy 3:16), a truth of which the church is to be the mainstay in the world (1 Timothy 3:15).

We can summarise this section something like this:

· Warring the good warfare and the collapse of some of the fabric (1 Timothy 1:18-20).

· Rallying the troops both male and female to make use of their spiritual weapons (chapter 2).

· Choosing the officers, both male and female (1 Timothy 3:1-13).

· The responsibility of the Church as the pillar and mainstay of the truth and the description of the One Whose incredible accomplishment guarantees the success of the warfare and provides its incentive (1 Timothy 3:14-16).

Verses 3-4

‘This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.’

For a world at peace is pleasing and acceptable to God our Saviour Whose one aim is to bring all levels of men, from high to low, from all nations, to Himself. Notice that ‘all men’ has been defined by 1 Timothy 2:1. He wants all levels of men from all nations to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. We know from 1 Timothy 1:15 that ‘saved’ refers to sinners. It is sinners whom God wants to save. Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Note the equating of ‘being saved’ with ‘coming to the knowledge of the truth’. It is a ‘true spiritual knowledge’ (epignowsis) of the truth that brings about salvation in those who believe and are saved. But the emphasis is on the truth and not on the knowledge. There is a knowledge that is to be refuted and rejected (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:6). It is the genuine knowledge of the truth that matters.

‘God our Saviour.’ And the Saviour to Whom they must look is no secondary figure. It is God Himself. We are very much in the area here of the clearly stated elsewhere, ‘our God and Saviour Jesus Christ’ ( Tit 2:13 ; 2 Peter 1:1, compare 11). It is not the Father alone Who is the Saviour, it is God in the fullness of His Being.

Some see here a general will of God that desires the salvation of all men. Compare also such verses as ‘God so loved the world --’ (John 3:16), and ‘The Lord is --- not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9), ‘a propitiation for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2). And certainly there is no reason for denying God’s benevolence towards all men (‘He sends the rain on the just and the unjust’ - Matthew 5:45). Furthermore He does through His servants truly make His offer of salvation open to all men, and He would if it were possible save them all. But that it is not possible is clear from the consequences. No one is more clear than Jesus on the fact that not all men will be saved (e.g. Matthew 7:13-27).

However, we should note that from the beginning God has for a time preserved all men for a period from the judgment that they deserved, preserving them for a time from the fate that awaited them, and offering them salvation if they would respond to Him. In that sense He is the Saviour of all men without distinction. He saves them from wrath for a time. But in the end His full salvation is only for those who believe, and therefore in the final sense His Saviourhood also is only for those who believe (compare 1 Timothy 4:10). Some have distinguished between His potential Saviourhood and His actual Saviourhood which is what 1 Timothy 4:10 appears to infer, and this may be helpful to some, but that is merely to simplify what we have described.

Verses 5-6

‘For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony to be borne in its own times,’

The Saviourhood of God is now defined. The words here are delicately balanced. ‘There is one God’, God the Saviour (1 Timothy 2:3). In this description is summed up the whole of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their eternity of Being. But from the Godhead came One Who entered into the world and became man, and in that Manhood He has become the mediator (the One Who brings two parties together) between God and man. Thus it is no intermediate being to whom we look, but to One Man Who is the mediator between God and man, and that Man ‘Christ Jesus’. The relationship and mediatorship is as close as can be, and as that Man is Christ Jesus, He is therefore also ‘the Lord’ (1 Timothy 1:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:12), and therefore also truly God, which is why He can bring man to God.

And wonderfully this God-Man gave Himself a ransom ‘on behalf of’ (huper) all (but ‘in the place of’ (anti) many - Mark 10:45). Humanly speaking all could respond. None must feel excluded. The word ransom (antilutron) brings out the greatness of the price that He paid on the cross, and the ‘anti’ reveals its substitutionary nature. It was a substitutionary ransom. He paid a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-20) that we could not. And it was sufficient for all the sin that could ever have been committed, for it is measured not in terms of quantity but in terms of quality. He did not die for all sins, but for all sin. Thus it is sufficient for all. And while only those will be saved who truly respond to Him and believe, the ransom will achieve its full quota, for it will cover all who believe, who are in the final analysis those on whose behalf it was offered.

The picture is being described from the human side. In the words of the hymn, ‘Whoever will, may come’ (Matthew 7:24 and often; John 3:15-16; John 6:40; John 11:26; John 12:46; Acts 2:21; Acts 10:43; Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11; Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17). The divine side, the fact that it is all His work, is revealed elsewhere (e.g. John 6:37; John 6:44; Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4; James 1:18).

‘The testimony to be borne in its own times.’ The ransom having been paid, and the Mediatorship having been offered, testimony concerning them had to be borne to the world. And that testimony is a part of the whole. Without it the ransom would have been ineffective. What it had achieved had to be communicated, and it was through the proclamation of the word. ‘Its own times’ indicates an indefinite period as determined by God, and has been the period from the cross until now, and those ‘due times’ will go on until the end of time. And it includes Paul’s time as the next verse makes clear. God having acted in redemption the next stage was the offering of the testimony. And that was the purpose and reason behind Paul’s appointment. It was made his responsibility to bring this huge eternal event, for in a sense He was offered before time began (Acts 2:23), to all men, including the Gentiles. It is now also in our hands to be offered to the world. How then can we hesitate for a moment?

Note. The Jews believed in many intermediaries between God and man in the persons of the angels, because of man’s unworthiness. The Gnostics believed in many emanations between God and man because flesh was corrupt and spirit was pure. The Roman Catholics believe in many intermediaries in the persons of the saints and Mary. But Paul tells us that there is but One Mediator, and He God Himself. End of note.

Verse 7

‘To which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.’

Humbled at the magnificent thought that he has offered, Paul now exults in the privilege that was his. This is not just an added comment. This was an essential part of the eternal plan of salvation (‘when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me even from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles’ - Galatians 1:15-16). Humanly speaking without the preacher the ransom would have been ineffective. And without this additional statement the words ‘to be testified to in due times’ would have been left hanging in the air. So he points out that God had already determined on the next step, and thus had he been appointed as a preacher, and an Apostle (yes, truly an Apostle, this is no lie) of the Gentiles.

‘To the Gentiles’ is important. He is explaining how the ransom can be ‘for all’. The One God of the Jews had arranged from the beginning to send him to the Gentiles. Thus none have been left out. Note the order of the privileges. First the preacher/proclaimer. For that message initially called for a preacher. It was through the preaching of the cross that what it had accomplished became effective (1 Corinthians 1:18). Then the Apostle, for as the Apostle he had to oversee what the preaching had accomplished. And as an Apostle he had to be a Teacher, so that men might not only hear and respond, but might also be built up in the truth.

‘In faith and truth.’ And he has taken the message with a heart full of faith and truthfulness, offering the truth to all men and women whose hearts were responsive in faith. ‘Faith and truth’ is both the source of the message and the ground in which the Gospel flourishes.

Some have cavilled at the thought that Paul would have so asserted his Apostleship to Timothy in this way, but that is to miss the point of the assertion. It was firstly in order to indicate how God’s plan was complete and demonstrated that the Gentiles were included in the universal offer of salvation (to us it is a commonplace, but in those days it was still a marvel. This also helps to confirm that the main heresy being faced in Ephesus is based on Jewish exclusivism. Compare Paul’s emphasis on ‘all’ throughout this passage). And secondly it was not Timothy that he wanted to convince. His words were for those to whom his letter would be passed on (as the closing greeting makes clear it is to be - 1 Timothy 6:21).

‘I speak the truth, I lie not.’ There is a strong inference here that others do not speak the truth, and that they do lie. The Ephesians need to consider the very foundations that prove, or otherwise, a Teacher, and ask what is the source of their teaching.

Verse 8

‘I will therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing.’

In the light of all this then he calls on all Christian men (andras) in every place where the church is found (for the Gospel is universally applicable) to lift up holy hands in full benevolence of spirit and harmony. Notice the ‘I will that --.’ His important part in the plan of salvation as the Apostle to the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7) has made him able to make total demands on those who hear.

‘Men.’ His use of aner (andras), which is a word regularly used as a contrast with ‘woman’, and also contrasts specifically with his use of anthrowpos (mankind) earlier (1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:4-5), must here be seen as specifically indicating males, especially in view of what follows. This is what is to be the major responsibility of men, along with the women (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

This exhortation to pray does not, of course, cancel out all the other things required of men, without which they could not have ‘holy hands’. It is, however, to indicate how prominent prayer should be.

‘Lifting up holy hands.’ The lifting up of hands was a common method of praying (compare Isaiah 1:15), but Paul stresses that they must be holy hands. They must be hands that are set apart for God, and therefore kept spiritually clean and pure (compare James 4:8). They may be covered with oil or dust or grit, but spiritually and morally they must be pure. They must be the hands of those who are doing their Father’s will, for ‘if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me’ (Psalms 66:18). They must remember that ‘the Lord is near to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are of a contrite spirit’ (Psalms 34:18), and ‘the Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth’ (Psalms 145:18). See also Psalms 15:0 which details the requirements for approaching God;

‘Lord who will live in your dwellingplace,

Who will dwell in your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart,

He who does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his friend,

Nor takes up an unpleasant accusation against his neighbour,

In whose eyes a rebel against God is despised,

But who honours those who fear the Lord,

He who makes a promise which will cost him something,

And does not change,

He who does not lend in order to gain from it,

Nor accepts a benefit in return for accusing the innocent,

He who does these things will never be moved.’

Consider also Psalms 26:6, ‘I will wash my hands in innocence, so will I have dealings with your altar’. Holy hands are a vital part of prayer, whether lifted up or kept firmly clasped.

‘Without wrath and disputing.’ As God desires peace and tranquillity in the world (1 Timothy 2:2), so there must be peace and tranquillity among the people of God, for they are God’s mirror and pattern to the world. Among God’s people there is to be a loving spirit (John 13:35 and often) and a controlled tongue (James 3:2-12; Matthew 12:36-37). Those who are filled with anger towards others can only pray for themselves. Those who are looking for, or participating in, an angry argument or a quarrel cannot expect that God will hear them. For those who would come to Him must be at one with one another (Matthew 5:23-25).

‘In every place.’ A typical Paulinism, compare 1Co 1:2 ; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8). For the idea of prayer in every place see Malachi 1:11 LXX; John 4:20-24.

Verses 9-10

‘In the same way, that women adorn themselves in modest clothing (or ‘with a modest demeanour’), with modesty and sobriety, not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment, but (which is becoming to women professing godliness) through good works.’

In the same way as men are to ‘lift up holy hands’ when praying, so must women when praying also ensure that they are adorned with modesty, either with modest clothing, or with a modest demeanour (the word can mean either), as an indication of their dedication to God. The point is that in places of public worship especially they must avoid ostentation and seeking to be objects of admiration and of men’s attention. In the place where God is being worshipped this would be seeking to take attention away from God and would be the equivalent of idolatry and blasphemy. It would thus demonstrate a wayward heart.

It is equally true of a woman who comes to public worship scantily dressed, or deliberately revealing her feminine attractions. Rather women should be ‘dressed’ in good works (although even then not ostentatiously) as well as modest clothing. For this is what is becoming to those who profess to love and honour God. Being ‘dressed through good works’ is the equivalent of having holy hands. It means that they come to God as those seen through their lives to be dedicated to His will and desirous of pleasing Him. It demonstrates that their hearts are right. (Of course, we should remind ourselves that ‘holy hands’ will also have been doing good works).

Undoubtedly a major point in mind here is the danger of attracting worship to themselves rather than to God. But equally as important is the attitude of heart that it reveals. There is nothing God-like in ostentation. It depicts someone who is vain and thoughtless. Many poor women would be present in the worship meetings and would feel humiliation when they compared themselves with these women, because of their own poverty of dress and lack of ornaments. Thus to deliberately make a show of wealth would be both obnoxious and unkind. There is nothing holy about that.

However, the mention of good works gives the words a wider connection, and we should therefore also see this as a warning against ostentation and vanity in all aspects of life. The Christian woman should always be an example to her sex of sobriety and godliness. This does not, however, mean that she has to be dowdy. Carelessness of dress can be as bad a witness as being overdressed.

Verse 11

‘Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.’

Paul wanted no unseemly behaviour by over-excitable women in church. It is difficult for us today to appreciate the release that Christianity had brought to the average woman. But the danger was that they could over-react. So they were rather to listen peaceably, treating the Teacher with due respect.

‘With all subjection.’ This simply means that they must humbly recognise their rightful place in the scheme of things. We must not get too excited over the word ‘subjection’. It is a word that is at the heart of Christian behaviour. Children are to be subject to their parents (1 Timothy 3:4), and Christians are to recognise others as better than themselves (Philippians 2:3 -for while they are not aware of the truth about others, but they certainly know the sinfulness of their own hearts). And all Christians are told to be in subjection one to another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21) and in all humility (1 Peter 5:5). The idea is thus simply of showing due respect, listening quietly and behaving courteously, without pushing themselves forward, or behaving arrogantly, accepting their due place, whether high or low, in modesty and humility. Of course the pride of man (and of woman) does not like being ‘subject’ to anyone or anything. But the truth is that we are all usually subject to the law, and to the authorities (Romans 13:1; Romans 13:5), except when they get it badly wrong. In the same way should we be subject to the requirements of being considerate and thoughtful as required by Scripture. For a woman it goes one step further. It is to acknowledge that the man has the last word, not as a domineering tyrant (no Christian male should be that), but as the final arbiter after coming, if possible, to common agreement. We may see the male as the ideal chairman, who comes to the final decision after taking into account the views of all parties, after which all accept the position without acrimony.

Verse 12

‘But I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.’

It is quite clear that this does not mean that a woman cannot teach any others the Scriptures, for Paul will specifically cater for older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:4). But it is noticeable that the emphasis there is on the teaching of good Scriptural behaviour, rather than of Christian doctrine. It would appear also that Priscilla (with Paul’s approval) helped her husband Aquila in his private teaching of others, even with so important a man as Apollos, and was possibly even the major player (Acts 18:6), while Paul took it for granted that women would ‘prophesy’ (1 Corinthians 11:5), although we are not told in what kind of meeting. The daughters of Philip the evangelist were prophetesses (Acts 21:9). The thought here must therefore be of authoritative public teaching, especially when authority was being exercised over men.

As the Christian church grew it rightly exercised careful authority over who could teach. Only those duly authorised would normally be allowed to do so, although that could include a recognised travelling prophet who had a letter of introduction. Thus it is probable that Paul’s guidance here has in mind teaching in the main assembly of the church. Moreover we must recognise that many men in those days, as is true in parts of the world today, would have been offended if a woman had preached to them, especially those men who like Paul had been brought up as Pharisees (Pharisees prayed daily, ‘I thank you that you have not made me a woman’). Paul was certainly free of that bias, otherwise he could not have written Galatians 3:28. But many of his compatriots were not. However, while that may have been a factor, we must not lay too much emphasis on it, for it is not the reason that Paul gives.

Verses 12-15

The Part To Be Played By God’s Special Reserve. Christian Women Are Not To Strive To Be Teachers Or Leaders, But To Ensure That They Are Good Mothers And Evangelists Of Their Children, Bringing Them Up In A Godly Environment As Their Part In The Outworking Of Salvation (1 Timothy 2:12-15 ).

As we enter what is today dangerous territory (we might almost say No Man’s Land) we can see why Paul has been emphasising godliness, peace and tranquillity, and avoidance of disputation. It is as though he had seen ahead to what was to happen in the future. All we can hope to do is present as honestly as we can what it seems to us that Paul is teaching, and trust that God will guide each heart into his truth, whatever that might be, remembering that it is so easy to dismiss or misinterpret the word of God because it does not please us.

Certainly it is right that we recognise that Paul is speaking to a church lacking the New Testament, and the great advances in education in the modern day. On the other hand we must also recognise that the church would have had a solid basis of Apostolic tradition, delivered to it both orally and in writing, and that though times may change, the psychological make up of the sexes does not necessarily do so, and we will do well to consider what the Scriptures say about that.

The thought of women at prayer leads Paul on to consider the Scriptural view of the prime function of women. He would have experienced the excitability of Ephesian women when he had seen their behaviour in the Ephesian Riot (Acts 19:29-41), and he had no doubt often come across situations where powerful women used their influence to the detriment of God’s people (e.g. Acts 13:50). Furthermore he was an observant man and well versed in the Scriptures, and he believed that ultimately both men and women were equal in importance and standing before God (Galatians 3:28). He therefore wished to ensure that women played an active role in the church while at the same time behaving with modesty and decency, and accomplishing the purpose that God had for them. He did not want bodies of wealthy women (Acts 13:50) gaining overriding influence in the church, or vociferous women swaying the church’s decisions or marring their assemblies. Nor did he want the intuitiveness of a woman’s brain, as revealed at its worst in the Garden of Eden, to override the more rationally minded slant of men’s brains when it came to doctrine, for in the Garden it was the woman who had proved how easily she could be deceived and go astray in her views about God. He considered, as he thought about these matters before God, that it would be dangerous therefore for women to have authority over the teaching of the church. They would rather do better by concentrating their efforts on what the Scriptures had appointed for them, being a good mother to their children, thereby maintaining the very core of the church.


a Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection (1 Timothy 2:11).

b But I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness (1 Timothy 2:12).

c For Adam was first formed, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:13).

b And Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled has fallen into transgression (1 Timothy 2:14).

a But she will be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety (1 Timothy 2:15).

Note that in ‘a’ the woman’s manner of life is laid out, and the same applies in the parallel. In ‘b’ she is not to teach or have dominion over a man, and in the parallel the reason for this is explained. Centrally in ‘c’ Adam’s priority is stressed.

Verses 13-14

‘For Adam was first formed, then Eve, and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled has fallen into transgression,’

The reasons that Paul gives are twofold. Firstly man’s priority to woman in creation, (‘Adam was first formed, then Eve’), and secondly that the woman proved the fallibility of her thinking by allowing herself to be deceived in the Garden of Eden.

a). The priority of man over the woman in creation. Paul deals with this subject in 1 Corinthians 11:0 where he points out the order of creation. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of man. Man is the head of the woman. This neither demeans Christ, nor the man, nor the woman. It merely indicates their place in God’s scheme of things. If no one is set over anyone else the result will only be chaos. This is seen in the fact that human employers grade their workers and make some ‘head’ over the others. It may not always be ‘fair’, but as a rule we accept it. It makes for good employer/employee relations, and usually for good management. In the same way accepting God’s appointments makes for good relationships with God. And God’s appointment is that the man will be ‘head’ of the woman.

Of course, God can always intervene to arrange exceptions, as He did in the cases of Deborah (Judges 4-5) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), both prophetesses. And the work of women on some mission fields have proved His case. But we would be foolish to accept such appointments as a matter of course just because some of them worked. And this is especially so as Jesus had many women disciples, but never appointed one as an Apostle (not even an Apostle to women). Nor would it be true to say that in the days of the early church a woman never lorded it over men outside church circles. Influential women often did so in certain societies, and many Christian slaves were owned by women. But women were never allowed to behave like that in the orthodox Christian church. Indeed a Christian woman slave-owner might well have come to the church and found that her slave was one of the elders, and while no doubt, being her slave, he would be very careful what he did and said, she would be subject to his authority within the church, and would submit to him in that regard. Nor did any women that we know of rebel against the fact in New Testament days. They humbly recognised the authority of the Apostles, and the wisdom of their decisions. In fact the word of God is quite clear on the matter, wives are to subject themselves to their husbands, and the Christian woman is to subject herself to the male leadership. And this is seen to be a ressult of the order of creation. The Scriptural position is that for us to deny this principle is to rebel against God’s word, and ultimately against God.

b). The fallibility of women’s thinking as revealed in the Garden of Eden. In this regard Paul stresses that Adam was not beguiled. He sinned knowingly. It was Eve who was beguiled, and while that made her less culpable, it also made her less intellectually reliable. Furthermore, while it is not to deny their overall quality of intellect, nor that some women are the intellectual superior of most men, even the most biased person arguing the woman’s case cannot deny that women think differently from men. And therein lies the danger. They tend to be intuitive rather than logical. And when it comes to sound teaching that can be dangerous, especially at a time when there was no New Testament to act as a final arbiter.

We must repeat that, as there were in Old Testament days with people like Deborah and Huldah, there are no doubt exceptions, especially in view of today’s standard of training for all, but the rules could not be based on exceptions. They had to be based on everyday life and the general course of things. And this regulation of Paul’s no doubt prevented many from teaching and falling into heresy. Revelation 2:20 gives us an example of such a fall, and it devastated many lives.

Today, of course, in Western societies women claim ‘equality’ with men, although no one has yet defined the meaning of equality. Men are not equal with each other, so how can women be equal with men? (What many women mean, of course, is that they want their piece of the action and to dominate men, because they think that they are better and wiser). And certainly we cannot argue with the principle of equal opportunity in modern society. We can also recognise that because we have the New Testament the dangers of allowing women access to ministry on a similar basis to that of men is not so great as regards the whole church as it would otherwise have been. The danger begins to arise when there is lack of immediate oversight over doctrine. Paul is saying that in such situations women are more likely to go doctrinally astray (although it must be admitted that some men have also made a good job of it). Thus as in the present day they begin to multiply in church leadership it is probable on the basis of the words of Scripture that it will begin to result in even more heresy within the church, and cause great spiritual harm to some individual congregations. So the Scriptural viewpoint is that while exceptions may be allowed under adequate controls, takeover by women is not to be seen as being on the whole for the good of the Christian church (in spite of women’s frustration). But like many important lessons it will probably be proved only too late, after it has done a great deal of harm. This is not a question of the general capability of women. We do not doubt a woman’s ability for such minor things as running a country, or even the United Nations, what we doubt is the ability of women, on the whole, to keep Christian doctrine sound. (The introduction of God as a woman, that then leads on to unsatisfactory inferences, is a case in point). To put it bluntly, women’s lib in the church, while possibly good for women, will probably not be good for Scriptural truth, which is why Paul emphasised his restrictions.

Verse 15

‘But she will be saved through her child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.’

The question may then arise, ‘in that case what can women do? Are they to be prevented from having a major role in God’s purposes’ We have in fact seen one answer to that already, she can abound in ‘good works’ (see also 1 Timothy 5:10; Romans 16:2), and she can teach other women, although not so much in theological doctrine as in practical living (Titus 2:4). But Paul’s experience of younger women in this regard was not a very happy one. He thus recognised their weaknesses (1 Timothy 5:11-15). He might have seen it differently today with some women who genuinely determine to remain single. But his argument is that they would do better to marry and have children (1 Timothy 5:14). Indeed he takes it one step further. He declares that child-bearing is a major element in women experiencing full salvation.

So what does he mean here? The first thing to recognise is that when Paul uses the word ‘saved’ it never means what it can in the Gospels, the healing of the sick. To Paul the word ‘saved’ does not refer to sickness, but has to do with the work of God in men’s lives. Thus it is unlikely here that it has to do with the physical aspects of child birth. However, that being said, he does use it in a number of ways. He can use it of a person’s once for all acceptance by God (1 Timothy 2:4; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). He can also use if of the future consummation. But he also uses it of the continual work of God on someone who has ‘been saved’, by speaking of them as ‘being saved’ or the equivalent (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Philippians 2:12; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 2:10). In these latter cases the idea is of a process going on within the lives of those who ‘have been saved’ whereby their salvation is being worked out within them. They are in process of being changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). That would therefore seem to be Paul’s use here. The idea then is that as she goes through the pains of child-bearing hand in hand with Him, and as she continues in the bringing up of those children in the Lord, God will continue the process of salvation within her. He will work within her through what she is undergoing, causing her to ‘will and do of His good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13), and fashioning and moulding her into His image. She will be ‘saved’ by her child-bearing, being changed from glory into glory, as her children grow up ‘continuing in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.’ This stated connection with salvation makes this a vital part of the picture being supplied in this section.

‘She will be saved through her child-bearing.’ Compare 1 Corinthians 3:15, ‘he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire’. The fire was not the basis of his salvation but a means by which his salvation was applied to him so that he would come through it finally acceptable before God. The same applies here to child-bearing.

Nor should we see child-bearing as just a secular occupation. It is to be seen as intimately connected with salvation. The truth is that the solid core of the church of God is built on children borne by Christian women. In some ways they are the lifeblood of the church, and the mission field has certainly owed a huge debt to the children of missionary parents. Without them the church would, humanly speaking, have been in a far worse state than it is today. Indeed one of the dangers of the present day is that enthusiastic Christian women, eager to be involved in what they see to be of prime importance, are planning to restrict their families, or not have one at all, thus unconsciously robbing the church of its central base. (Meanwhile Roman Catholics and Muslims are ensuring the health of their positions by multiplying children). The ‘debt’ that eternity will reveal as owed to godly mothers is beyond telling, and their final influence will probably be seen, in the consummation, to have exceeded that of the majority of ‘elders’ in the church, to say nothing of the ordinary male members. For they are God’s ‘secret service’.

‘If they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.’ Paul is not by this ‘if’ making the continuing process of salvation taking place in the mothers dependent on successful Christian living. Rather he is saying that if God is truly working in them the process of salvation (Philippains 1 Timothy 2:13) these consequences or ‘fruits’ will follow. He is stressing how important their faithfulness to their task is. It is only if they live like this that their children will grow up in godliness, in the way that Paul will leter emphasise that Timothy has (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15). The mothers are to put every effort into ensuring that their children continue in faith (being founded solidly on the truth) and in love (genuinely loving God and living out His truth in the world) and in sanctification (being made continually more dedicated and more like Christ), and live serious and valuable lives. And part of the way in which they will do this is by their own example.

So Paul's point is not that their behaviour will result in their final salvation. It is rather to indicate that anyone who fails to live by these standards is unikely to be in the process of 'being saved'. For these are the fruits of salvation, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22). Those who profess Christianity but fail to lie like this are like the seed sown on rocky ground, outwardly flourishing short term but destined for destruction. Thus it is not a question of - 'if you do this you will be saved'. It is rather a question of 'if you do not do this it shows that it is unlikely that you are in the process of being saved'.

Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/1-timothy-2.html. 2013.
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