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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Timothy 2



Verse 1

1. οὖν. As in 2 Timothy 2:1, so here, οὖν marks the transition from the general charge to the particular injunctions.

πρῶτον πάντων. The expression does not occur again in N.T.; it does not merely denote the order of time, but the order of dignity. The directions which follow relate to public prayer and the conduct of public devotions; and of these the most important is that which emphasises the Catholic nature of Christian worship. The opening sentence of the Prayer for the Church Militant is taken from this verse, viz., “Almighty and everliving God, who by Thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks, for all men,” and such intercessions for those in authority in Church and State are found in the primitive liturgy in the Apostolic Constitutions. In these latest Epistles of St Paul we seem to have a more developed form of common worship than is found in earlier letters.

ποιεῖσθαι is middle voice, as the order of words shews, not passive: ‘I exhort (you) to make &c.’ Cp. Luke 5:33, οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνουδεήσεις ποιοῦνται, and Philippians 1:4, μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος. ποιεῖσθαι is often used with a noun to express by way of periphrasis what would be more simply stated by a verb, e.g. Luke 13:22, πορείαν ποιούμενος.

δεήσεις, προσευχάς, ἐντεύξεις, εὐχαριστίας. The four words are not to be too sharply distinguished, inasmuch as they point to different moods of the suppliant rather than to the different forms into which public prayer may be cast, δέησις expresses the sense of need (what we require, δεῖ), and is a less comprehensive term than προσευχή; the former being equivalent to ‘supplication’ (imploratio), and the latter to ‘prayer’ in general (oratio). προσευχή is always used in a religious sense of prayers addressed to God, and in this differs from the other three terms, which are all used of human intercourse as well. ἔντευξις is the regular word for a ‘petition’ to a superior, e.g. to the emperor, as in Just. Apol. i. 1, in the Petrie Papyri passim, and in inscriptions. In 2 Maccabees 4:8, the only place where it occurs in the Greek Bible outside the Pastorals, it has a reference to a conference between Jason and Antiochus. It is used of a petition to God here and in ch. 1 Timothy 4:5; and also in Philo (Quod det. pot. § 25, ἐντεύξεις καὶ ἐκβοήσεις), and in Hermas (Mand. x. 3). Probably the leading idea in the word is that of boldness of access, of confidence. Though the substantive is not employed elsewhere by St Paul, ἐντυγχάνειν, ‘to entreat,’ is Pauline; see e.g. Romans 8:27. The translation ‘intercessions’ in A.V. and R.V. is misleading, as it suggests a limitation of the meaning to petition for others, which is not involved. (‘Intercession,’ however, in the English of the A.V. had a wider sense, as may be seen from Jeremiah 27:18; Jeremiah 36:25.) εὐχαριστία is not yet confined to the special ecclesiastical significance which it was soon to have; in this context it is simply that ‘thanksgiving’ which is the complement of all true prayer (cp. Philippians 4:6, ἐν παντὶ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει μετʼ εὐχαριστίας). Augustine, who interprets it here of the Eucharist, understands by the three preceding terms the liturgical prayers before the consecration, at the consecration, and at the blessing of the congregation, respectively (Ep. cxlix. (lix.) 16). This is an anachronism. To sum up, then, we may [1] with Origen, regard the four words as arranged in an ascending scale: the needy suppliant (δέησις) as he goes on is led to ask for larger blessings (προσευχή), and then becoming bold he presents his ἔντευξις, which being granted, his devotion issues in thanksgiving. Or [2] we may more simply take the words in two contrasted pairs, δέησις being related to προσευχή as the particular to the general (see Ephesians 6:18), and ἔντευξις to εὐχαριστία as petition to thanksgiving.

ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων. This is the key-note of Catholic worship, perhaps emphasised here in reference to the growing exclusiveness of the heretical sects. But it is an element of worship which always needs emphasis in times of stress and difficulty, as it is then very often neglected. Cp. Ephesians 6:18.

Verse 2

2. ὑπὲρ βασιλἑων,for kings’; not ‘for the kings,’ as Baur interpreted, finding here a reason for placing the Epistle in the time of the Antonines, when two emperors shared the throne. The practice, commendable at all times and not without parallel in Jewish history (see Ezra 6:10 and Josephus, B. J. II. 17. 2), was especially important for Christians to observe in early days, when their attitude to the state religion exposed them to the suspicion of disloyalty, and is frequently insisted on by the early Apologists (e.g. Tert. Apol. 30, 31). Prayers for rulers are a conspicuous feature in the early liturgies. Cp. also Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13, and Titus 3:1. Polycarp (§ 12) repeats the injunction, apparently with reference to this passage. It will be remembered that Nero was the reigning emperor when St Paul wrote these words, which adds to the impressiveness of the injunction.

καὶ πάντων τῶν ἐν ὑπεροχῇ ὄντων, all in authority; for the phrase cp. 2 Maccabees 3:11, ἀνδρὸς ἐν ὑπεροχῇ κειμένου, and see 1 Peter 2:13. The Latin versions render qui in sublimitate sunt.

ἵνα κ.τ.λ. expresses the leading thought in State prayers. The idea is clearly brought out in our Prayer for the Church Militant: … “our Queen, that under her we may be godly and quietly governed.”

The distinction drawn by commentators between ἤρεμος and ἡσύχιος, that the former refers to freedom from trouble without, and the latter from trouble within, is hardly to be pressed. For the latter word cp. Plato’s ἡσύχιος ὁ σώφρων βίος (Charm. 160 B).

The word εὐσέβεια calls for special notice as being one of a group of words occurring in St Paul’s writings for the first time in the Pastoral Epistles, and there used repeatedly. In these letters εὐσέβεια occurs 11 times, εὐσεβεῖν once, and εὐσεβῶς twice, the only other instances in the N.T. of these terms being 4 in 2 Peter , 2 in Acts; we have also εὐσεβής in Acts 10:2; Acts 10:7; Acts 22:12, and 2 Peter 2:9. These words are all found in the LXX., with greater frequency in the later books; and, indeed, are common in Greek literature, both early and late (e.g. in Philo and Josephus). That they were within St Paul’s sphere of knowledge is thus assured; and, as a matter of fact, he has the corresponding forms ἀσέβεια and ἀσεβής in Romans. But why he should not have used them before and yet should use them so often in these latest letters is among the unsolved problems of the phraseology of the Pastorals, although corresponding literary phenomena have been often observed (see Introd. p. xxxviii.). It is worth remarking that this group of words is similarly prominent in Book IV. of the Sibylline Oracles [cir. 80 A.D.), as designating the elect of God. εὐσέβεια is a more general word than θεοσέβεια (see 1 Timothy 2:10) and is almost equivalent to the Latin pietas, due esteem of superiors, whether human or Divine, while θεοσέβεια is restricted to God as its object. However in the N.T. εὐσέβεια always has reference to God; and in the present passage this is well brought out by the juxtaposition of σεμνότης; σεμνότης manifests itself by our demeanour in human society, εὐσέβεια by the fulfilment of duty to God. In the later days of Athanasius εὐσέβεια had almost come to be equivalent to orthodoxy; and Arius, writing to Eusebius, plays upon this, ending his letter with the words ἀληθῶς εὐσέβιε.

σεμνὀτης is also peculiar to these letters (see 1 Timothy 3:4 and Titus 2:7); gravity best conveys the meaning, an intense conviction of the seriousness of life, and the difficulty of realising the Christian ideal (see note on Titus 1:7). One of the resolutions set down in Dr Pusey’s penitential rule was “to pray daily for σεμνότης[519]”; and the underlying idea is one that must not be left out of sight. Bishop Butler’s comment on the passage, though he takes no account of the context, is itself a signal example of such σεμνότης: “It is impossible,” he says (Sermons on Public Occasions, v.), “to describe the general end which Providence has appointed us to aim at in our passage through the present world in more expressive words than these very plain ones of the Apostle.… To lead a quiet and peaceful life &c. is the whole that we have any reason to be concerned for. To this the constitution of our nature carries us; and our external condition is adapted to it.”

Verse 3

3. τοῦτο καλὸν καἱ κ.τ.λ. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. The γάρ of the received text is unnecessary and is insufficiently supported (see crit. note): τοῦτο refers back to 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Timothy 2:2 being of the nature of a parenthesis. It is a question whether both καλόν and ἀπόδεκτον, or only the latter word, are to be taken with ἐνώπιον τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ. The passage usually cited as in point is 2 Corinthians 8:21 : προνοοῦμεν γἀρ καλἀ οὐ μόνον ἐνώπιον Κυρίου, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐνώπιον ἀνθρώπων. And there is no doubt that καλόν in the present passage might in like manner be taken with the following ἐνώπιον. But it seems simpler to take καλόν by itself, as marking the intrinsic excellence of such prayers as those in question, the Apostle going on to add that they are specially acceptable in the sight of God, the Universal Saviour.

ἀπόδεκτος is found in the Greek Bible only here and in 1 Timothy 5:4; cp. εὐπρόσδεκτος of Romans 15:16. See note on ἀποδοχή (1 Timothy 1:15).

For the phrase God our Saviour, see the note on 1 Timothy 1:1; here the expression has peculiar point and force, and is farther defined by the words which follow.

Verse 3-4


Verse 4

4. ὅς πάντας κ.τ.λ. whose will it is &c. ὅς is equivalent to quippe qui, and introduces a clause explanatory of what has preceded. θέλει, not βούλεται, is the word used; not a single Divine volition, but the general purpose of God, antecedent to man’s use of His grace, is here in the Apostle’s thought. Whatever be the ultimate issue in fact, the Divine intention is that all men shall be saved. That this Divine intention may be thwarted by man’s misuse of his free will, is part of the great mystery of evil, unexplained and inexplicable; but that its bounty is not confined to particular races or individuals but takes in the whole race of man, is of the very essence of the Gospel. Cp. Matthew 5:45; Titus 2:11. It is possible that certain forms of Gnostic heresy, which held that certain classes of men, the uninitiated and unspiritual, are incapable of salvation, are here aimed at; but the introduction of the statement of the breadth of the Gospel is sufficiently explained by the context. See, however, Introd. p. liii.

καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν. This is inseparably connected with σωθῆναι; the Life is only reached through the Truth, Who is also the Way. Cp. αὔτη ἐστὶν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωή, ἵνα γινώσκωσίν σε τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεόν κ. τ. λ. (John 17:3). ἐπίγνωσις is a thoroughly Pauline word. (See Ephesians 1:17; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9.) The phrase ἐπίγνωσις ἀληθείας occurs thrice again in the Pastorals (2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Timothy 3:7; Titus 1:1; cp. Hebrews 9:26, and Philo Quod omn. prob. 11), and is significant of that aspect of the Gospel, which naturally comes into prominence, when its mutilation or perversion has begun to lead souls astray into heresy.

Verses 5-7


These are threefold, (i.) the Unity of God, (ii.) the Incarnation, and (iii.) the Atonement of Christ. To take them in order:

(i.) 5. εἶς γὰρ θεός, for God is one. This is connected immediately with 1 Timothy 2:4, and only indirectly with 1 Timothy 2:1. The Unity of God was indeed the centre of the Hebrew religion, but the inference here derived from it was not self-evident to the mind of the Jew. To him Jehovah was the God of the chosen people, and the exclusion of Gentiles from His grace and bounty did not present itself as strange or inconsistent with the character of the Supreme. But when it is analysed the conception of the Unity of God is seen to carry with it the truth that the Supreme stands in the same ultimate relation to all His creatures, and that His Divine purposes of love and mercy must embrace all mankind. So St Paul explains in Romans 3:30 that God is the God of Gentile as well as Jew, εἴπερ εἶς ὁ θεός, ὄς δικαιώσει περιτομὴν ἐκ πίστεως καὶ ἀκροβυστίαν διὰ τῆς πίστεως; cp. also Romans 10:12.

(ii.) There is also one mediator between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus. As there is only one God, so there is only one Way to God: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Christ is the only Mediator (the mediation of saints or angels is quite unscriptural), and He has, in becoming man, taken up all human nature into Himself. In Him all men are summed up, and so He is the representative, not of this or that man only, but of all mankind. Thus, again, all men in Him “shall be made alive”; the saving graces of the Risen Lord are placed within the reach of all. This is clearly brought out in the words ἄνθρωπος Χρ. Ἰη. at the end of the clause. Christ is not a man, but man in the widest sense.

The title μεσίτης must not be overlooked. In Galatians 3:19 it is used of Moses (as in the Assumptio Moysis, i. 14, iii. 12, and in Philo, Vit. Mos. iii. 19); but frequently in Hebrews of our Lord. In the latter Epistle it is always found in conjunction with διαθήκη. In the present case it is used more simply than in either of the other Epp. where it occurs, and indicates that as there is only one mediator or go-between between God and man, so the way of mediation must be alike open to all. This is brought out forcibly by the addition of the word ἄνθρωπος (without the article) at the end, which involves in itself, as has been shewn, the universal bounty of the Incarnation. It is possible that there was here present to St Paul’s mind the contrast between Moses the μεσίτης for the Jews only, and the Mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15), whose mediation was for all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike.

(iii.) 6. The third doctrinal reason for the salvability of all men, is the universal purpose of the Atonement: ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων. Jesus Christ gave Himself a ransom on behalf of all, and hence we may conclude that it is God’s will that all should be saved. The phraseology requires careful attention. ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτόν, He gave Himself, not merely His Death. Cp. Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; Titus 2:14, &c., and δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν (Matthew 20:28Mark 10:45). ἀντίλυτρον is a word occurring only here, though the full meaning of it is contained in the passage last cited from the Gospels; the doctrinal bearing of the preposition is by no means to be lost sight of. The usual language of the N.T. is, that Christ died ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, i.e. on our behalf; but at Matthew 20:28 the prep. ἀντί is used. Here we have the compound ἀντίλυτρον preceding ὑπὲρ πάντων, which suggests that both the elements represented by ἀντί instead of, and ὑπέρ on behalf of, must enter into any Scriptural theory of the Atonement. Cp. 4 Maccabees 6:29.

τὸ μαρτύριον καιροῖς ἰδίοις. The testimony in its own seasons. These words are parenthetical, and in apposition to all that has gone before. τὸ μαρτύριον is equivalent to τὸ μαρτυρούμενον, the thing which is testified to, the purport of the Church’s witness. The great subject of the testimony to be borne by the Church from age to age is the Universality of Redemption through the One Mediator. The antecedent is not merely ὁ δοῦςπάντων, but the whole of 1 Timothy 2:4-6. This witness was not of a character which could have been borne by the Jewish Church; it was reserved for the dispensation of the Gospel, καιροῖς ἰδίοις.

The formula καιροῖς ἱδίοις occurs twice again in the Pastoral Epistles, at 1 Timothy 6:15 and Titus 1:3, in the former of which passages the reference of ἰδίοις is clearly defined by the context to God, the subject of the sentence in each case. Here (as at Titus 1:3) it is simply in due seasons as in Galatians 6:9, καιρῷ γὰρ ἰδίῳ κ.τ.λ., and the outlook is to the future of the Church.

Verse 7

7. εἰς ὅ. sc. μαρτύριον.

ἐτέθην. The Apostle’s ministry was not self-chosen. Cp. ch. 1 Timothy 1:12, θέμενος εἰς διακονίαν; the entire clause is repeated 2 Timothy 1:11, εἰς ὃ ἐτέθην ἐγὼ κῆρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος καὶ διδάσκαλος. The emphatic ἐγώ should not be overlooked. κῆρυξ is only found in the N.T. in these two passages and in 2 Peter 2:5, where it is used of Noah. But κηρύσσειν is a common Pauline word; see e.g. for the collocation of κῆρυξ and ἀπόστολος, Romans 10:15 : πῶς κηρύξωσιν ἐὰν μὴ ἀποσταλῶσιν; As κῆρυξ expresses his work, so ἀπόστολος (here used in the higher sense of the word) expresses his Divine mission.

The parenthetical ἀλήθειαν λέγω, οὐ ψεύδομαι (cp. Romans 9:1 and critical note) may be taken to refer either to what precedes or to what follows. If the former, it would be a strong assertion of his apostolical authority, perhaps introduced with a view to false teachers at Ephesus who denied it. But it is far better to take it as introducing his claim to be διδάσκαλος ἐθνῶν, doctor gentium, the mention of which is especially in place here, as he is insisting on the Universality of the Gospel message. See esp. Romans 9:13; Galatians 2:7-9, for his assertion of this great claim.

ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀληθείᾳ. There can be little doubt that ἀλήθεια is here to be explained in connexion with the ἀλήθεια of 1 Timothy 2:4, to the knowledge of which it is God’s will that all men should come. That is to say, ἀλήθεια does not directly refer to the spirit of the teacher, but to the content of his lesson; it is the λόγος ἀληθείας (2 Corinthians 6:7) which he preaches. And this objective sense of ἀλήθεια makes it natural to take πίστις in the same way; it does not refer to the Apostle’s confidence, or to the subjective conditions of his ministry, but to the faith which he commends to his hearers. See note on 1 Timothy 1:19 above.

Verse 8

8. βούλομαι οὖν. βούλομαι is more specific than θέλω, and conveys here the idea of an authoritative desire; cp. 1 Timothy 5:14; οὖν resumes the general subject, after the quasi-digression of 1 Timothy 2:3-7.

τοὐς ἄνδρας. the men, in antithesis to the women, for whom separate instructions follow in 1 Timothy 2:9. The men are to lead the worship of the faithful; the women are to be silent.

ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. This makes the directions general, in every region, i.e. where the Gospel is known; cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8. St Paul is only speaking of public prayers, not of private devotion; but he lays down as his first rule that men shall lead the worship of the congregation wherever Christians are assembled. Observe the connexion is προσεύχεσθαι ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, not ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἐπαίροντας κ.τ.λ. The thought that prayer may be offered in any and every place, as at every time (1 Thessalonians 5:17), is not relevant to the context here.

ἐπαίροντας ὁσίους χεῖρας. To pray with uplifted and outspread hands was the Jewish habit. See Psalms 141:2; Psalms 143:6; Lamentations 3:41; 1 Kings 8:22; 2 Maccabees 14:34, and (an interesting parallel) Philo, de Hum. 2, τὰς καθαρὰςχεῖρας εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀνατείνας; cp. de vita Cont. §§ 8, 11. It was also the posture adopted in blessing (Leviticus 9:22; Luke 24:50). The practice seems to have been followed in the early Christian Church. Cp. Clem. Rom. 29, προσέλθωμεν αὐτῷ ἐν ὁσιότητι ψυχῆς, ἁγνὰς καὶ ἀμιάντους χεῖρας αἴροντες πρὸς αὐτόν. See also Clem. Alex. Strom. VII. 7, and Tert. Apol. 30; de Orat. 11. The posture of the orantes depicted in the Catacombs is one of standing with uplifted and outstretched arms.

As the attitude of body is described, so is the state of mind. The hands must be holy, i.e. the life must be without reproach; compare for this phrase Psalms 23:4 and James 4:8. Observe that we have ὀσίους χεῖρας, not ὁσίας, as we should naturally expect. But adjectives in -ιος are not infrequently used as if they were of two terminations only; cp. Luke 2:13.

χωρὶς ὀργῆς καὶ διαλογισμοῦ, without wrath and disputation. Either would mar the charity which prays for all men. “Anger,” says Jeremy Taylor, “is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer.” χωρὶς ὀργῆς is the reflexion of that clause in the Lord’s Prayer “as we forgive them that trespass against us”; to be able to recite it with sincerity is to have advanced far indeed in the Christian life. And again, χωρὶς διαλογισμοῦ, without disputation; in our prayers we leave our differences behind us, and in the awe of the Divine presence we realise in some measure how poor a thing is theological controversy.

διαλογισμοῦ (see critical note) is probably the true reading. διαλογισμός might mean ‘doubting’ (see Luke 24:38), but this would seem foreign to the context here; the general N.T. sense (see e.g. Romans 14:1; Philippians 2:14) is ‘disputation.’

Verses 8-15


Verse 9

9. ὡσαύτως κ.τ.λ. We must understand βούλομαι. Some commentators take the words down to σωφροσύνης as referring to the demeanour of women at public prayer, προσεύχεσθαι being supplied: “I wish likewise that women pray in modest apparel with shamefastness and sobriety,” κοσμεῖν ἑαυτάς going with what follows. Such directions would be similar to the rule laid down in 1 Corinthians 11:13, that women should be veiled at the assemblies of the faithful, when prayer is being offered. But this would be a very unnatural arrangement of the words; and the position of κοσμεῖν especially would be awkward. It is better to suppose that St Paul, beginning his sentence with ὡσαύτως as if he were going to add directions about the public devotions of women, goes off in a different direction and supplies principles for their general deportment and dress. This is quite in his manner. We take κοσμεῖν ἑαυτάς, then, as co-ordinated with προσεύχεσθαι of 1 Timothy 2:8.

The introductory ὡσαύτως occurs with peculiar frequency in the Pastorals (see 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:11, 1 Timothy 5:25; Titus 2:3; Titus 2:6); it is only used twice elsewhere by St Paul (Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

καταστολῇ. A word only found in the Greek Bible here and in Isaiah 61:3. It means dress; κατάστημα of Titus 2:3 is a more general word, equivalent to ‘demeanour’ or ‘deportment.’

μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ σωφροσύνης. With shamefastness and sobriety. This, the rendering of both A.V. and R.V., is as near to the Greek as we can go in English. The Greek words have a long history behind them, and have no exact equivalents in modern speech. Both together well describe the discretion and modesty of Christian womanhood.

αἰδώς is almost = verecundia; it is a nobler word than αἰσχύνη, inasmuch as it implies [1] a moral repugnance to what is base and unseemly, and [2] self-respect, as well as restraint imposed on oneself from a sense of what is due to others; neither [1] nor [2] enters into αἰσχύνη. Thus αἰδώς here signifies that modesty which shrinks from overstepping the limits of womanly reserve. Wiclif’s felicitous rendering shamefastness has been retained in nearly all the English versions, although both etymology and meaning have been obscured by the corrupt spelling ‘shame-facedness’; shamefastness is really that which is established and held fast by an honourable shame[520]. αἰδώς is a common term in philosophical writers, but in the LXX. it is found only 3 Maccabees 1:19; 3 Maccabees 4:5; it does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.

σωφροσύνη is a word of much wider meaning. It was one of the four cardinal virtues in the Platonic philosophy, the others being φρόνησις, δικαιοσύνη, and ἀνδρεία (cp. Philo, Leg. Alleg. i. 19). Primarily it signifies (as in Aristotle) a command over bodily passions, a state of perfect self-mastery in respect of appetite. It marked the attitude towards pleasure of the man with a well-balanced mind, and was equally opposed to asceticism and to over-indulgence. Sobriety is perhaps its nearest equivalent in English, but this fails to do justice to the high place which the idea of ‘moderation’ occupied in the Greek mind. The old etymology given by Chrysostom, σωφροσύνη λέγεται ἀπὸ τοῦ σώας τὰς φρένας ἔχειν, shews how intimately it was connected with the sense of self-control.

The word does not occur in the older books of the LXX., for there is nothing corresponding to it in Hebrew moral systems. To the Hebrews ethics had always a religious basis, the revealed will of God supplied an objective standard of right and wrong; and thus the self-regarding aspect of Greek philosophy had no place in their thoughts. And for a somewhat similar reason—though qualifications would here be necessary—it can never occupy as high a place in Christian ethics as it did in Greek[521]. See note on φίλαυτος, 2 Timothy 3:2.

But, in the later books of the LXX., as soon, indeed, as Hebraism came into contact with Hellenism, the word σωφροσύνη and its cognates make their appearance. Thus we have σωφρόνως in Wisdom of Solomon 9:11, and σωφροσύνη in Wisdom of Solomon 8:7 and 2 Maccabees 4:37, both σώφρων and σωφροσύνη occurring repeatedly in 4 Macc., where (4 Maccabees 1:31) σωφροσύνη is defined as ἐπικράτεια τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν (see further on Titus 1:8). In St Paul’s writings this group of words is applied to sobriety and self-command of mind as well as of body. Thus 2 Corinthians 5:13 σωφρονεῖν is used (as in Mark 5:15 || Luke 8:35) of being sane in mind; and in Romans 12:3 it is contrasted with ὑπερφρονεῖν; cp. Acts 26:25 (in a speech of St Paul), ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα. In the Pastorals the words occur with peculiar frequency. We have σωφροσύνη here and 1 Timothy 2:15; σώφρων, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8; Titus 2:2; Titus 2:5; σωφρονεῖν, Titus 2:6; σωφρονίζειν, Titus 2:4; σωφρονισμός, 2 Timothy 1:7; and σωφρόνως, Titus 2:12. The writer’s marked preference for this group of words is indeed one of the unsolved problems of the vocabulary of the Pastoral Epistles. See Introd. p. xxxvii.

ἐν πλέγμασιν, with plaitings; this finds its explanation in the ἐμπλοκῆς τριχῶν of 1 Peter 3:3, a passage strictly parallel to this in its warnings against excessive finery. There is probably no literary connexion between these two passages, similar as they are; they both breathe the same spirit, inasmuch as they deal with the same topic from the same point of view.

Verses 9-15


Verse 10

10. The adornment is to be διʼ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν. This is certainly the true construction; ὅ πρέπειθεοσέβειαν is parenthetical. The stress laid on ‘good works’ all through the Pastoral Epistles is very remarkable; no other Epistles of St Paul lay at all the same emphasis on right living, as the index to right belief. It is possible that the particular forms of heresy with which the Churches of Ephesus and Crete were threatened rendered it necessary to expose the vanity of theological speculations without ethical background, and the impossibility of treating creed apart from life. Thus the heretics of Titus 1:16 while they ‘confess that they know God’ yet ‘deny Him by their works’; they are πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἀδόκιμοι. As here the best adornment of womanhood is found διʼ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν, so the test of a widow to be placed on the Church’s list is εἰ παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῳ ἐπηκολούθησεν (1 Timothy 5:10). The phrase, prepared (or ‘equipped’) for every good work occurs three times (2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 3:1).

There is nothing, of course, in all this inconsistent with St Paul’s previous teaching. Similar expressions occur, though with less frequency, in his earlier Epistles. ἵνα περισσεύητε εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν was his hope for the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:8); ὑπομονὴ ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ is the spirit which shall be rewarded hereafter (Romans 2:7); he prays for the Colossians that they may be fruitful ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ (Colossians 1:10); and in another Epistle he explains that these ἔργα ἀγαθά are prepared of God that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). And in the Pastoral Epistles themselves there are passages which bring out the complementary truth, that it is not by works that we are saved, with all the clearness and distinctness of the Epistle to the Romans. Thus in 2 Timothy 1:9 Paul speaks of God who saved us οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἕργα ἡμῶν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν; and again in Titus 3:5 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν ἡμεῖς ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἔσωσεν ἡμᾶς κ.τ.λ.

We have not yet, however, exhausted the references in the Pastorals to ‘good works.’ In eight other passages ἔργα καλά are spoken of, a phrase similar to though not identical with ἔργα ἀγαθά, and specially noteworthy because it is not found in any of the other letters of St Paul.

Something has already been said (see on 1 Timothy 1:8) of the distinction between ἀγαθός and καλός, and the usage of the phrase καλὰ ἔργα in the Gospels (Matthew 5:16; Mark 14:6; John 10:32), in the Ep. to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:24), and the First Ep. of St Peter (1 Peter 2:12) corroborates the distinction there suggested. So in the Pastoral Epistles the phrase καλὰ ἔργα is used in reference to good works which are seen of men and which illustrate the beauty of the Christian life. If not πρόδηλα, notoriously evident, at all events they cannot remain always hidden (1 Timothy 5:25). The true riches are those of ἔργα καλά (1 Timothy 6:18); if a man desires a bishopric he desires a καλὸν ἔργον (1 Timothy 3:1); God’s chosen are a λαὸς περιούσιος, ζηλωτὴς καλῶν ἔργων (Titus 2:14); Titus is to be a τύπος καλῶν ἔργων (Titus 2:7); and he is to bid the people under his care καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι (Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14).

It would, however, be unsafe to press the distinction between ἔργα καλά and ἔργα ἀγαθά in the Pastorals. The two phrases seem to be used interchangeably in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, and it is not impossible that they are renderings of an Aramaic phrase which had come into use. To speak of ἔργα καλά or of ἔργα ἀγαθά is quite foreign to Greek ethics.

ὃ πρέπει κ.τ.λ. Cp. Ephesians 5:3 καθὼς πρέπει ἁγίοις.

ἐπαγγελλομέναις θεοσέβειαν. I.e. professing religion. ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι in N.T. generally means ‘to promise’; but the meaning to profess, necessary for the sense here, is quite legitimate and is exemplified by the lexicons; cp. 1 Timothy 6:21. θεοσέβεια is a LXX. and classical word, occurring here only in N.T. It is used in a quasi-technical sense for ‘the religious life’; and θεοσεβής has something of the same ambiguity as our word ‘religious,’ which, rightly applicable to all God-fearing persons, is yet sometimes confined to members of a conventual or monastic order. The A.V. and R.V. make no distinction between θεοσέβεια and εὐσέβεια, rendering both words godliness. see on 1 Timothy 2:2 above.

Some Latin authorities (r and Cyprian) render θεοσέβειαν curiously by castitatem, and am has pudicitiam, but the usual Latin rendering is pietatem.

Verse 11

11. γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω. We should observe the close parallelism in thought between these directions and those laid down in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 : αἱ γυναῖκες ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν, οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτρέπεται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν. ἀλλὰ ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει. εἰ δέ τι μανθάνειν θέλουσιν, ἐν οἴκῳ τοὺς ἰδίους ἄνδρας ἐπερωτάτωσαν, αἰσχρὸν γάρ ἐστιν γυναικὶ λαλεῖν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ.

Women are to be learners ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ. This is not, of course, primarily in reference to their general attitude to men, but only to their behaviour at public worship. The reason assigned, however, in vv, 13, 14 gives the direction a wider bearing. Cp. 1 Peter 3:5.

The ‘subjection of women’ is a topic freely debated at the present day; and, although it has been argued that St Paul is basing his rules on the position assigned to the sex in the society of his time, rather than laying down precepts of universal and permanent obligation, there can be no doubt that the distinction which he makes between the respective duties of men and women lies deep down in the facts of human nature as originally constituted. see on Titus 2:5. With ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ may be compared πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος (1 Timothy 1:15) and ἐν πάσῃ εὐσεβείᾳ (1 Timothy 2:2) and μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος of 1 Timothy 3:4.

Verse 12

12. διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω. A woman is to learn; she is not permitted to teach in the public assembly of Christians. The renewal of the prohibition at the Fourth Council of Carthage in 398 seems to shew, as Ellicott observes, that a neglect of this Apostolic ordinance had crept into the African Church. Women were, however, expressly permitted to teach others of their own sex; and we have not to go outside the Pastoral Epistles for a recognition of the value of their private teaching of the young. See 2 Timothy 3:14; and Titus 2:3, where it is recommended that the πρεσβύτιδες should be καλοδιδάσκαλοι.

The construction οὐοὐδέ, which occurs in this verse, is thoroughly Pauline; see Romans 2:28; Romans 9:7; Romans 9:16.

αὐθεντεῖν. This is a ἅπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible, although we have αὐθέντης and αὐθεντία in Wisdom of Solomon 12:6 and 3 Maccabees 2:29. The αὐθέντης is the perpetrator of a crime, as distinguished from an accomplice, and the word was especially applied to a murderer. From this it came to mean one who does anything with his own hand,—‘the responsible person,’ and so ‘a ruler’; and thence we have the verb in the sense ‘to lord it over.’

ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. The repetition of this word at the end of the sentence is emphatic. It is a favourite word with St Paul, in reference to the Christian life. See, e.g., ch. 1 Timothy 2:2 and 2 Thessalonians 3:12.

Verse 13

13. Ἀδὰμ γὰρ πρῶτος ἐπλάσθη, εἶτα Εὔα. There is a somewhat similar argument in 1 Corinthians 11:9, which see. That Adam was created first implies a certain superiority; such at least seems to be the Apostle’s thought.

The word πλάσσειν is specifically used for the creation of man; see e.g. Genesis 2:7; the usual rendering of the Latins for ἐπλάσθη is formatus est, but am has figuratus.

(ii.) The second reason is based on the history of the Fall; the woman was deceived, not the man, and this suggests that she will be an unfit guide. ‘From a woman was the beginning of sin’ said the Son of Sirach (Sirach 25:24). Facilius decepta, facilius decipit, as Bengel tersely puts it.

Verse 13-14


(i.) The first of these is derived from the order of creation.

Verse 14

14. Ἀδὰμ οὐκ ἠπατήθη. What Adam did, he did of his own choice and with open eyes.

On the other hand Eve was entirely deceived, ἐξαπατηθεῖσα. (See crit. note.) Compare Genesis 3:13 ὁ ὄφις ἠπάτησεν με. The compound verb ἐξαπατάω is a common Pauline word (see Romans 7:11; 1 Corinthians 3:18). And so, Eve being beguiled hath fallen into transgression. The perfect tense, γέγονε, is used in preference to the aorist, as the case of Eve has permanent application; cp. Galatians 4:23. Note that the construction γίγνεσθαι ἐν (1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 3:7) is Pauline. The term παράβασις is here used in its strict sense of a transgression of law (Romans 4:15; Galatians 3:19).

At this point the writer passes from Eve, the mother and prototype of the sex, to womankind generally.

Verse 15

15. σωθήσεται κ.τ.λ. The connexion of thought is as follows. The woman fell into transgression, and the judgement pronounced on her for all time was ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα (Genesis 3:16): the fulfilment of her proper duty shall be accompanied with pain. But yet shall she be safely brought through her τεκνογονία, if she abide in faith and love &c. That which may be her curse may also be her highest blessing if she use it aright. St Paul has been deprecating the assumption by woman of duties, such as that of public teaching, which have not been assigned to her in the Providence of God; he ends with a word of encouragement to her if she confine herself to her own sphere; σωθήσεται she shall be saved not only in her body, but in the highest sense of all[522].

The construction σωθήσεται διά has a strict parallel in 1 Corinthians 3:15 : αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός. τεκνογονία is not the meritorious cause of woman’s salvation; it is the sphere, being her natural duty, in which she may hope to find it. The emphasis laid in these Epistles on good works, especially on the performance of the common duties of life, has already been remarked (see on 1 Timothy 2:10 above).

Two other interpretations have been proposed: [1] that of Chrysostom, who regards τεκνογονία as identical here with τεκνοτροφία, the Christian education of children, and supposes an implied τέκνα to be the subject of μείνωσιν. But τεκνογονία cannot be thus explained; τεκνογονεῖν is used in this very Epistle (1 Timothy 5:14) in its ordinary sense of bearing children. And further such an interpretation does not harmonise with the context. [2] Many modern commentators lay stress on the article τῆς and interpret διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας as through the Child-Bearing, sc. of the Blessed Virgin, the τεκνογονία in the Apostle’s mind being the Saviour’s Birth, foreshadowed in Genesis 3:16. But it is impossible to suppose that St Paul would have spoken of the Nativity of Christ as ἡ τεκνογονία without any further explanation. The interpretation must be counted among those pious and ingenious flights of fancy, which so often mislead the commentator on Holy Scripture. The Latin versions give the sense correctly, per filiorum generationem.

μείνωσιν. The promise is given to woman (ἡ γυνή); its fulfilment is for such women as continue in faith, &c. Hence the plural, and likewise the aorist, specifying to these what was given generally. The thought of the whole passage may be illustrated by 1 Corinthians 7:20 : ἕκαστος ἐν τῇ κλήσει ᾗ ἐκλήθη ἐν ταύτῃ μενέτω.

ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ καὶ ἁγιασμῷ. Faith and love will issue in holiness. Cp. ch. 1 Timothy 1:14.

μετὰ σωφροσύνης. σωφροσύνη has already been spoken of as a grace specially to be commended to Christian women. See on 1 Timothy 2:9 above.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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