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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

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Verse 1


Prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, must be made for all

men; because God wills that all should be saved, 1-4.

There is but one God and one Mediator, 5-7.

How men should pray, 8.

How women should adorn themselves, 9, 10.

They are not suffered to teach, nor to nor to usurp authority

over men, 11-14.

How they may expect to be saved in child-bearing, 15.


Verse 1 Timothy 2:1. I exhort - that, first of allPrayer for the pardon of sin, and for obtaining necessary supplies of grace, and continual protection from God, with gratitude and thanksgiving for mercies already received, are duties which our sinful and dependent state renders absolutely necessary; and which should be chief in our view, and first of all performed. It is difficult to know the precise difference between the four words used here by the apostle. They are sometimes distinguished thus: -

Supplications — δεησεις. Prayers for averting evils of every kind.

Prayers — προσευχας. Prayers for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which ourselves need.

Intercessions — εντευξεις. Prayers in behalf of others.

Giving of thanks — ευχαριστιας. Praises to God, as the parent of all good, for all the blessings which we and others have received. It is probable that the apostle gives directions here for public worship; and that the words may be thus paraphrased: "Now, I exhort first of all that, in the public assemblies, deprecations of evils, and supplications for such good things as are necessary, and intercessions for their conversion, and thanksgiving for mercies, be offered in behalf of all men - for heathens as well as for Christians, and for enemies as well as for friends." See Macknight.

Verse 2

Verse 1 Timothy 2:2. For kings — As it is a positive maxim of Christianity to pray for all secular governors, so it has ever been the practice of Christians. When St. Cyprian defended himself before the Roman proconsul, he said: Hunc (Deum) deprecamur-pro nobis et pro omnibus hominibus; et pro incolumitate ipsorum Imperatorum. "We pray to God, not only for ourselves, but for all mankind, and particularly for the emperors."

Tertullian, in his Apology, is more particular: Oramus pro omnibus Imperatoribus, vitam illis prolixam, imperium securum, domum tutam, exercitus fortes, senatum fidelem, populum probum, orbem quietum, et quaecunque hominis et Caesaris vota sunt. Apol., cap. 30. "We pray for all the emperors, that God may grant them long life, a secure government, a prosperous family, vigorous troops, a faithful senate, an obedient people; that the whole world may be in peace; and that God may grant, both to Caesar and to every man, the accomplishment of their just desires."

So Origen: Ευχομεθα τους βασιλεις και αρχοντας μετα της βασιλικης δυναμεως και σωφρονα τον λογισμον εχοντας εὑρεθηναι. Cont. Cels., lib. viii. "We pray for kings and rulers, that with their royal authority they may be found possessing a wise and prudent mind." Indeed they prayed even for those by whom they were persecuted. If the state be not in safety, the individual cannot be secure; self-preservation, therefore, should lead men to pray for the government under which they live. Rebellions and insurrections seldom terminate even in political good; and even where the government is radically bad, revolutions themselves are most precarious and hazardous. They who wish such commotions would not be quiet under the most mild and benevolent government.

That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life — We thus pray for the government that the public peace may be preserved. Good rulers have power to do much good; we pray that their authority may be ever preserved and well directed. Bad rulers have power to do much evil; we pray that they may be prevented from thus using their power. So that, whether the rulers be good or bad, prayer for them is the positive duty of all Christians; and the answer to their prayers, in either ease, will be the means of their being enabled to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Verse 3

Verse 1 Timothy 2:3. This is good and acceptable — Prayer for all legally constituted authorities is good in itself, because useful to ourselves and to the public at large, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; and this is its highest sanction and its highest character: it is good; it is well pleasing to God.

Verse 4

Verse 1 Timothy 2:4. Who will have all men to be saved — Because he wills the salvation of all men; therefore, he wills that all men should be prayed for. In the face of such a declaration, how can any Christian soul suppose that God ever unconditionally and eternally reprobated any man? Those who can believe so, one would suppose, can have little acquaintance either with the nature of GOD, or the bowels of Christ.

And to come unto the knowledge of the truth — The truth-the Gospel of Christ, should be proclaimed to them; and it is the duty of all who know it, to diffuse it far and wide, and when it is made known, then it is the duty of those who hear it to acknowledge and receive it. This is the proper import of the original word, that they may come, εις επιγνωσιν αληθειας, to the acknowledgment of the truth-that they may receive it as the truth, and make it the rule of their faith, the model and director of their life and actions.

Verse 5

Verse 1 Timothy 2:5. There is one God — Who is the maker, governor, and preserver of all men, of every condition, and of every nation, and equally wills the salvation of all.

And one mediator — The word μεσιτης, mediator, signifies, literally, a middle person, one whose office it is to reconcile two parties at enmity; and hence Suidas explains it by ειρηνοποιος, a peace-maker. God was offended with the crimes of men; to restore them to his peace, Jesus Christ was incarnated; and being God and man, both God and men met in and were reconciled by him. But this reconciliation required a sacrifice on the part of the peace-maker or mediator; hence what follows.

Verse 6

Verse 1 Timothy 2:6. Who gave himself a ransom — The word λυτρον signifies a ransom paid for the redemption of a captive; and αντιλυτρον, the word used here, and applied to the death of Christ, signifies that ransom which consists in the exchange of one person for another, or the redemption of life by life; or, as Schleusner has expressed it in his translation of these words, Qui morte sua omnes liberavit a vitiositatis vi et poenis, a servitute quassi et miseria peccatorum. "He who by his death has redeemed all from the power and punishment of vice, from the slavery and misery of sinners." As God is the God and father of all, (for there is but one God, 1 Timothy 2:5), and Jesus Christ the mediator of all, so he gave himself a ransom for all; i.e., for all that God made, consequently for every human soul; unless we could suppose that there are human souls of which God is not the Creator; for the argument of the apostle is plainly this: 1. There is one God; 2. This God is the Creator of all; 3. He has made a revelation of his kindness to all; 4. He will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth; and 5. He has provided a mediator for all, who has given himself a ransom for all. As surely as God has created all men, so surely has Jesus Christ died for all men. This is a truth which the nature and revelation of God unequivocally proclaim.

To be testified in due time. — The original words, το μαρτυριον καιροις ιδιοις, are not very clear, and have been understood variously. The most authentic copies of the printed Vulgate have simply, Testimonium temporibus suis; which CALMET translates: Rendant ainsi temoignage au tems marqué; "Thus rendering testimony at the appointed time." Dr. MACKNIGHT thus: Of which the testimony is in its proper season. WAKEFIELD thus: "That testimony reserved to its proper time" ROSENMULLEN: Haec est doctrina, temporibus suis reservata. "This is the doctrine which is reserved for its own times;" that is, adds he, quoe suo tempore in omni terrarum orbe tradetur, "the doctrine which in its own time shall be delivered to all the inhabitants of the earth." Here he translates μαρτυριον, doctrine; and contends that this, not testimony, is its meaning, not only in this passage, but in 1 Corinthians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 2:1, c. Instead of μαρτυριον, testimony, one MS., Cod. Kk., vi. 4, in the public library, Cambridge, has, μυστηριον, mystery but this is not acknowledged by any other MS., nor by any version. In D*FG the whole clause is read thus: οὑ το μαρτυριον καιροις ιδιοις εδοθη· The testimony of which was given in its own times. This is nearly the reading which was adopted in the first printed copies of the Vulgate. One of them now before me reads the passage thus: Cujus testimonium temporibus suis confirmatum est. "The testimony of which is confirmed in its own times." This reading was adopted by Pope Sixtus V., in the famous edition published by him; but was corrected to the reading above, by Pope Clement VIII. And this was rendered literally by our first translator: Whos witnessinge is confermyd in his timis. This appears to be the apostle's meaning: Christ gave himself a ransom for all. This, in the times which seemed best to the Divine wisdom, was to be testified to every nation, and people, and tongue. The apostles had begun this testimony; and, in the course of the Divine economy, it has ever since been gradually promulgated; and at present runs with a more rapid course than ever.

Verse 7

Verse 7. I am ordained a preacherI am set apart, ετεθην, appointed. The word does not imply any imposition of hands by either bishop or presbytery, as is vulgarly supposed.

I speak the truth in Christ — As I have received my commission from him, so I testify his truth. I did not run before I was sent; and I speak nothing but what I have received.

A teacher of the Gentiles — Being specially commissioned to preach the Gospel, not to the Jews, but to the nations of the world.

In faith and verity.Faithfully and truly; preaching the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH; and this fervently, affectionately, and perseveringly.

Instead of ενπιστει, in faith, the Cod. Alexand. has εν πνευματι, in spirit. "A teacher of the Gentiles in spirit and truth."

Verse 8

Verse 8. I will therefore — Seeing the apostle had his authority from Christ, and spoke nothing but what he received from him, his βουλομαι, I will, is equal to I command.

That men pray — That is, for the blessings promised in this testimony of God. For, although God has provided them, yet he will not give them to such as will not pray. See note on 1 Timothy 2:1, the subject of which is here resumed.

Everywhere — Εν παντι τοπῳ· In every place. That they should always have a praying heart, and this will ever find a praying place. This may refer to a Jewish superstition. They thought, at first, that no prayer could be acceptable that was not offered at the temple at Jerusalem; afterward this was extended to the Holy Land; but, when they became dispersed among the nations, they built oratories or places of prayer, principally by rivers and by the seaside; and in these they were obliged to allow that public prayer might be legally offered, but nowhere else. In opposition to this, the apostle, by the authority of Christ, commands men to pray everywhere; that all places belong to God's dominions; and, as he fills every place, in every place he may be worshipped and glorified. As to ejaculatory prayer, they allowed that this might be performed standing, sitting, leaning, lying, walking by the way, and during their labour. Beracoth, fol. xi. 1. And yet in some other places they teach differently. See Schoettgen.

Lifting up holy hands — It was a common custom, not only among the Jews, but also among the heathens, to lift up or spread out their arms and hands in prayer. It is properly the action of entreaty and request; and seems to be an effort to embrace the assistance requested. But the apostle probably alludes to the Jewish custom of laying their hands on the head of the animal which they brought for a sin-offering, confessing their sins, and then giving up the life of the animal as an expiation for the sins thus confessed. And this very notion is conveyed in the original term επαιροντας, from αιρω to lift up, and επι, upon or over. This shows us how Christians should pray. They should come to the altar; set God before their eyes; humble themselves for their sins; bring as a sacrifice the Lamb of God; lay their hands on this sacrifice; and by faith offer it to God in their souls' behalf, expecting salvation through his meritorious death alone.

Without wrath — Having no vindictive feeling against any person; harbouring no unforgiving spirit, while they are imploring pardon for their own offences.

The holy hands refer to the Jewish custom of washing their hands before prayer; this was done to signify that they had put away all sin, and purposed to live a holy life.

And doubting. — διαλογισμου or διαλογισμων, as in many MSS., reasonings, dialogues. Such as are often felt by distressed penitents and timid believers; faith, hope, and unbelief appearing to hold a disputation and controversy in their own bosoms, in the issue of which unbelief ordinarily triumphs. The apostle therefore wills them to come, implicitly relying on the promises of God, and the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ.

Verse 9

Verse 9. In like manner also — That is, he wills or commands what follows, as he had commanded what went before.

That women adorn themselves — Και τας γυναικας ες καταστολῃ κοσμιῳ. The apostle seems to refer here to different parts of the Grecian and Roman dress. The στολη, stola, seems to have been originally very simple. It was a long piece of cloth, doubled in the middle, and sewed up on both sides, leaving room only for the arms; at the top, a piece was cut out, or a slit made, through which the head passed. It hung down to the feet, both before and behind, and was girded with the zona round the body, just under the breasts. It was sometimes made with, sometimes without, sleeves; and, that it might sit the better, it was gathered on each shoulder with a band or buckle. Some of the Greek women wore them open on each side, from the bottom up above the knee, so as to discover a part of the thigh. These were termed φαινομηριδες, showers (discoverers) of the thigh; but it was, in general, only young girls or immodest women who wore them thus.

The καταστολη seems to have been the same as the pallium or mantle, which, being made nearly in the form of the stola, hung down to the waist, both in back and front, was gathered on the shoulder with a band or buckle, had a hole or slit at top for the head to pass through, and hung loosely over the stola, without being confined by the zona or girdle. Representations of these dresses may be seen in LENS' Costume des Peuples de l'Antiquité, fig. 11, 12, 13, and 16. A more modest and becoming dress than the Grecian was never invented; it was, in a great measure, revived in England about the year 1805, and in it, simplicity, decency, and elegance were united; but it soon gave place to another mode, in which frippery and nonsense once more prevailed. It was too rational to last long; and too much like religious simplicity to be suffered in a land of shadows, and a world of painted outsides.

With shamefacedness and sobriety — The stola, catastola, girdle, c., though simple in themselves, were often highly ornamented both with gold and precious stones and, both among the Grecian and Roman women, the hair was often crisped and curled in the most variegated and complex manner. To this the apostle alludes when he says: Μη εν πλεγμασιν, η χρυσῳ, η μαργαριταις, η ἱματισμῳ πολυτελει· Not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly raiment. The costly raiment might refer to the materials out of which the raiment was made, and to the workmanship; the gold and pearls, to the ornaments on the raiment.

With shame-facedness or modesty, μετα αιδους. This would lead them to avoid every thing unbecoming or meretricious in the mode or fashion of their dress.

With sobriety, μετα σωφροσυνης. Moderation would lead them to avoid all unnecessary expense. They might follow the custom or costume of the country as to the dress itself, for nothing was ever more becoming than the Grecian stola, catastola, and zona; but they must not imitate the extravagance of those who, through impurity or littleness of mind, decked themselves merely to attract the eye of admiration, or set in lying action the tongue of flattery. Woman has been invidiously defined: An animal fond of dress. How long will they permit themselves to be thus degraded?

Those beautiful lines of Homer, in which he speaks of the death of Euphorbus, who was slain by Menelaus, show how anciently the Grecians plaited and adorned their hair: -

Αντικρυ δ 'απαλοιο δι 'αυχενος ηλυθ 'ακωκη·

Δουπησεν δε πεσων, αραβησε δε τευχε 'επ 'αυτῳ .

Αἱματι οἱ δευοντο κομαι, Χαριτεσσιν ὁμοιαι,

Πλοχμοι θ 'οἱ χρυσῳ τε και αργυρῳ εσφηκωντο .

II. xvii., ver. 49.

Wide through the neck appears the ghastly wound;

Prone sinks the warrior, and his arms rebound.

The shining circlets of his golden hair,

Which e'en the Graces might be proud to wear,

Instarr'd with gems and gold bestrew the shore,

With dust dishonour'd, and deform'd with gore.


Or thus, more literally:-

Sounding he fell; loud rang his batter'd arms.

His locks, which e'en the Graces might have own'd,

Blood sullied, and his ringlets wound about

With twine of gold and silver, swept the dust.


The extravagance to which the Grecian and Asiatic women went in their ornaments might well be a reason for the apostle's command.

Kypke, however, denies that any particular article of dress is intended here, and says that καταστολη is to be understood as coming from καταστελλω, to restrain, repress; and he refers it to that government of the mind, or moderation which women should exercise over their dress and demeanour in general, and every thing that may fall under the observation of the senses. All this, undoubtedly, the apostle had in view.

When either women or men spend much time, cost, and attention on decorating their persons, it affords a painful proof that within there is little excellence, and that they are endeavoring to supply the want of mind and moral good by the feeble and silly aids of dress and ornament. Were religion out of the question, common sense would say in all these things: Be decent; but be moderate and modest.

Verse 10

Verse 10. But (which becometh, c. — That is: Good works are the only ornaments with which women professing Christianity should seek to be adorned. The Jewish matrons were accustomed to cry to the bride: "There is no need of paint, no need of antimony, no need of braided hair she herself is most beautiful." The eastern women use a preparation of antimony, which they apply both to the eyes and eyelids, and by which the eye itself acquires a wonderful lustre.

Verse 11

Verse 11. Let the woman learn in silence — This is generally supposed to be a prohibition of women's preaching. I have already said what I judge necessary on this subject in the notes on "1 Corinthians 11:5", c., and 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 14:35 to which places I beg leave to refer the reader.

Verse 12

Verse 12. Nor to usurp authority — A woman should attempt nothing, either in public or private, that belongs to man as his peculiar function. This was prohibited by the Roman laws: In multis juris nostri articulis deterior est conditio foeminarum quam masculorun,; l. 9, PAP. LIB. 31, QUAEST. Foeminoe ab omnibus officiis civilibus vel publicis remotae sunt; et ideo nec judicis esse possunt, nec magistratum gerere, nec postulare, nec pro alio invenire, nec procuratores existere; l. 2, de Reg. Juris. ULP. LIB. i. AD SAB.-Vid. POTH. Pand. Justin., vol. i. p. 13.

"In our laws the condition of women is, in many respects, worse than that of men. Women are precluded from all public offices; therefore they cannot be judges, nor execute the function of magistrates; they cannot sue, plead, nor act in any case, as proxies. They were under many other disabilities, which may be seen in different places of the Pandects.

But to be in silence. — It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women. See the note on 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 14:35.

Verse 13

Verse 13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. — And by this very act God designed that he should have the pre-eminence. God fitted man, by the robust construction of his body, to live a public life, to contend with difficulties, and to be capable of great exertions. The structure of woman's body plainly proves that she was never designed for those exertions required in public life. In this the chief part of the natural inferiority of woman is to be sought.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Adam was not deceived — It does not appear that Satan attempted the man; the woman said: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. Adam received the fruit from the hand of his wife; he knew he was transgressing, he was not deceived; however, she led the way, and in consequence of this she was subjected to the domination of her husband: Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee; Genesis 3:16. There is a Greek verse, but it is not English law, that speaks a language nearly similar to that above:-

Γυναικι δ' αρχειν ου διδωσιν ἡ φυσις.

For nature suffers not a woman's rule. God has not only rendered her unfit for it, but he has subjected her, expressly, to the government of the man.

Verse 15

Verse 1 Timothy 2:15. She shalt be saved in child-bearing — Σωθησεται δε δια της τεκνογονιας· She shall be saved through child-bearing - she shall be saved by means, or through the instrumentality, of child-bearing or of bringing forth a child. Amidst the different opinions given of the meaning of this very singular text, that of Dr. Macknight appears to me the most probable, which I shall give in his paraphrase and note.

"However, though Eve was first in the transgression, and brought death on herself, her husband, and all her posterity, the female sex shall be saved (equally with the male) through child-bearing - through bringing forth the Saviour, if they live in faith, and love, and chastity, with that sobriety which I have been recommending.

"The word σωθησεται, saved, in this verse refers to η γυνη, the woman, in the foregoing verse, which is certainly EVE. But the apostle did not mean to say that she alone was to be saved through child-bearing, but that all her posterity, whether male or female, are to be saved through the child-bearing of a woman; as is evident from his adding, If they live in faith and love and holiness, with sobriety. For safety in child-bearing does not depend on that condition at all; since many pious women die in child-bearing, while others of a contrary character are preserved. The salvation of the human race, through child-bearing, was intimated in the sentence passed on the serpent, Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head. Accordingly, the Saviour being conceived in the womb of his mother by the power of the Holy Ghost, he is truly the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent; and a woman, by bringing him forth, has been the occasion of our salvation." This is the most consistent sense, for in the way in which it is commonly understood it does not apply. There are innumerable instances of women dying in child-bed who have lived in faith and charity and holiness, with sobriety; and equally numerous instances of worthless women, slaves to different kinds of vices, who have not only been saved in child-bearing, but have passed through their travail with comparatively little pain; hence that is not the sense in which we should understand the apostle. Yet it must be a matter of great consolation and support, to all pious women labouring of child, to consider that, by the holy virgin's child-bearing, salvation is provided for them and the whole human race; and that, whether they die or live, though their own child-bearing can contribute nothing to their salvation, yet he who was born of a woman has purchased them and the whole human race by his blood.

If they continue — εαν μεινωσιν is rightly translated, if they live; for so it signifies in other passages, particularly Philippians 1:25. The change in the number of the verb from the singular to the plural, which is introduced here, was designed by the apostle to show that he does not speak of Eve; nor of any particular woman, but of the whole sex. See Macknight.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, or to be saved; and without love it will be impossible to obey. FAITH and LOVE are essentially necessary to holiness and sobriety; and unless both men and women live in these, they cannot, scripturally, expect to dwell with God for ever. Some foolish women have supposed, from this verse, that the very act of bringing forth children shall entitle them to salvation; and that all who die in childbed infallibly go to glory! Nothing can be more unfounded than this; faith, love, holiness, and sobriety, are as absolutely requisite for the salvation of every daughter of Eve, as they are for the salvation of every son of Adam. Pain and suffering neither purify nor make atonement. On the mercy of God, in Christ, dispensing remission of sins and holiness, both men and women may confidently rely for salvation; but on nothing else. Let her that readeth understand.

On the subject of dress I will conclude in the words of a late writer: "What harm does it do to adorn ourselves with gold, or pearls, or costly array, suppose we can afford it? The first harm it does is, it engenders pride; and, where it is already, increases it. Nothing is more natural than to think ourselves better because we are dressed in better clothes. One of the old heathens was so well apprised of this, that when he had a spite to a poor man, and had a mind to turn his head; he made him a present of a suit of fine clothes.

Eutrapelus cuicunque nocere volebat,

Vestimenta dabat pretiosa.

He could not then but imagine himself to be as much better, as he was finer, than his neighbour; inferring the superior value of his person from the value of his clothes." - Rev. J. Wesley's Sermons.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/1-timothy-2.html. 1832.
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