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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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Verses 1-2

"In saying ’first of all’ Paul underlined the importance of this Godward aspect of the ministry of the church. Paul did not mean that such praying must be the first thing Christians do whenever they assemble, as the word order in the King James Version might imply, but rather that it is an activity he regarded as of primary importance in the total ministry of the church. His use of the present tense throughout these verses indicates that he was setting before them what he hoped would be the practice of those to whom he directed his prayer-exhortation. It is the essential and primary phase of their varied ministries." [Note: D. Edmond Hiebert, "The Significance of Christian Intercession," Bibliotheca Sacra 149:593 (January-March 1992):16.]

". . . providing a peaceful and orderly society was the state’s domain, so prayer for it was calculated to ensure that the best possible conditions for spreading the gospel were obtained." [Note: Towner, The Goal . . ., p. 203.]

"Hence the church’s prayers for the world and recognition of the authority of the state are fundamental to the church’s evangelistic mission." [Note: Bailey, p. 356.]

"All evangelism must begin with prayer." [Note: Lewis Sperry Chafer, True Evangelism or Winning Souls by Prayer, p. 88.]

Though Paul used several synonyms for prayer in urging its practice, the words he chose are not significantly different. This is a Semitic literary device that groups synonyms to enhance the basic concept, namely, that Christians should pray all types of prayers for all people. [Note: Mounce, p. 79. Cf. Guthrie, p. 69.] "Entreaties" (Gr. deeseis) emphasizes the earnestness with which we should make requests because we feel a need for what we ask (cf. Luke 18:1-8). "Prayer" (proseuchas) is a general word covering all types of prayer communication with God. The emphasis is on a spirit of reverence toward God (cf. Matthew 6:9-10). "Petitions" (enteuxeis) are confident requests for others and self (cf. Luke 11:5-13). "Thanksgivings" (eucharistias) is the most different word and served as a reminder that we should express gratitude as well as need in public praying. By using these synonyms Paul was emphasizing the importance of praying all kinds of prayers for all people as well as distinguishing its varieties. [Note: See Thomas L. Constable, Talking to God: What the Bible Teaches about Prayer, pp. 21-45.]

Prayer is so important because it invites God into the situation we pray about and it secures His working on behalf of those in need. Paul did not deal with the reason God has incorporated prayer into His sovereign control of the universe here. He assumed his readers understood this since God has revealed this elsewhere in Scripture. His point here was that Christians must not fail to take advantage of this supernatural resource at their disposal by neglecting prayer.

"The failure of the church to pray in accordance with this exhortation is one of its great sins today." [Note: Earle, p. 51.]

In response to the requests of His people God will do things that He will not do if they do not ask (James 4:2).

"If such praying were useless, the apostle would not write what he does write." [Note: Lenski, p. 539.]

This verse (1 Timothy 2:1) should answer the question of whether we should pray for the unsaved. "All men" certainly includes them. Paul undoubtedly meant all kinds of people rather than every single individual. The king at the time Paul wrote this epistle was Nero, an unbeliever for whom Paul specifically told his readers to pray. Furthermore the focus of their request was to be not only their own tranquillity but the king’s salvation (1 Timothy 2:4).

Primarily we should pray for governmental leaders and those in positions of lesser authority under them so that we may lead tranquil (Gr. eremos, outwardly peaceful) and quiet (hesychios, inwardly peaceful) lives. We should not do so primarily for our personal ease and enjoyment but so we can carry out our purpose in the world as Christians (cf. 1 Timothy 6:1). Our purpose is to bring the message of reconciliation to all people and to glorify God in all our relationships. Obviously the type of government under which people live influences their lives and affects their spiritual welfare (cf. Ezra 6:9-10; Jeremiah 29:7).

"Godliness" (Gr. eusebeia, 1 Timothy 2:2) refers to an attitude of reverence for God based on knowledge of Him. Paul used this word 10 times in the Pastorals, and this is its first occurrence. "Dignity" (semnoteti) refers to the outward manifestation of that attitude in righteous behavior.

"Times of political and social upheaval are excellent times in which to die for Christ, but hard times in which to live for Him." [Note: Litfin, p. 734.]

Verses 1-5


Paul moved on from instructions aimed primarily at Timothy’s person to those the young minister needed to heed in his pastoral work.

Verses 1-7

A. The priority of prayer for peoples’ salvation 2:1-7

The apostle’s first positive instruction to Timothy regarding his leadership of the Ephesian church was that believers should offer prayer for all people. He gave this directive to emphasize its importance, defend its value, and clarify its practice.

"The ministry of prayer is the most important service that the Church of Christ can engage in.

"It [prayer] is the most dynamic work which God has entrusted to His saints, but it is also the most neglected ministry open to the believer." [Note: D. Edmond Hiebert, Working With God: Scriptural Studies in Intercession, pp. 44, 19.]

"The most essential part of public worship is prayer." [Note: Earle, p. 357.]

Every aspect of this prayer touches the church’s evangelistic mission. Prayer is not the subject of this section but the context for that subject, which is the salvation of all people. [Note: Mounce, pp. 76-78.]

"The one clear concern that runs through the whole paragraph has to do with the gospel as for everyone (’all people,’ 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:4-7). . . . The best explanation for this emphasis lies with the false teachers, who either through the esoteric, highly speculative nature of their teaching (1 Timothy 1:4-6) or through its ’Jewishness’ (1 Timothy 1:7) or ascetic character (1 Timothy 4:3) are promoting an elitist or exclusivist mentality among their followers. The whole paragraph attacks that narrowness." [Note: Fee, p. 62.]

Verses 3-4

Prayers of this type please God because God is essentially the Savior, the One who delights to rescue sinners from the wages of their sin. There were other professed saviors in Ephesus at this time.

"Alongside worship of Artemis, the Imperial cult was a dominant religious-political fixture in Ephesus at this time." [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 176. See also S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor, pp 53-100; and P. Trebilco, Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, pp. 30-37.]

There is nothing in this text or in any other that would limit the truly universal interpretation of "all men." God wants everyone to experience eternal salvation. People perish because they do not hear the gospel, or, hearing it, they choose to reject it. God has given people freedom to choose to accept or reject the gospel. When people reject the gospel, this causes God considerable pain. This is clear in the many references in Scripture to God sorrowing over the fate of those (believers and unbelievers) who choose to spurn Him. [Note: See Thomas L. Constable, "What Prayer Will and Will Not Change," in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, pp. 107-9.]

"It’s often said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:215-16. Cf. Matthew 6:10.]

"Even those who will not allow you to speak to them about God, cannot prevent you speaking to God about them. What mighty conquests have been won this way-Hudson, a young schoolboy, reading tracts in his father’s study one Sunday afternoon while his parents were away for the week-end; his mother constrained, where she was, to pray specially for her boy, who was called that very afternoon, miles away, to the Savior, and to become the great Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission. Reuben, a dissolute young man who has left home, has one night got out of bed to commit suicide; his mother, miles away, has that very hour been constrained also to get out of bed, and to pray specially for her erring son, who, instead of suicide, was saved, subsequently to become the famous American evangelist, Dr. R. A. Torrey." [Note: King, p. 46.]

Verses 5-6

Many commentators believed Paul was citing another common creedal statement in these verses. Another possibility is that God inspired him to form this statement himself as he wrote this epistle. In either case we have here a succinct affirmation of the person and work of Christ. The whole statement supports what Paul just said in 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

The God-man is the only mediator of the New Covenant between God and man, providing salvation man-ward and facilitating prayer God-ward. This is something that people have found hard to accept throughout history. In Paul’s day the Jews looked to Moses (Galatians 3:19) or angels (Hebrews 2:5) as mediators, and the Gnostics looked to intermediary deities (aeons). In our own day Roman Catholics and others look to dead "saints" for mediatorial benefits, and Buddhists look to their ancestors. Nevertheless the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:5 is clear: the only mediator between God and people is Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:6).

"This is one of the most significant verses of the NT." [Note: Earle, p. 358.]

In the "fullness of time" Jesus was born and died giving His life as payment to free the human race ("all") from slavery to sin. Jesus’ death made all people savable. [Note: See Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 3:184-85.] Limited redemptionists interpret "all men" to be all the elect. Universalists interpret "all men" to be every human individual. Other passages of Scripture that speak of Christ’s death as providing a basis for the salvation of everyone contradict the limited redemptionists (e.g., John 3:16, 1 John 2:2; et al.). Passages that indicate that not everyone will be saved refute the universalists (e.g., Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15; et al.).

A "ransom" (Gr. antilutron, used only here in the New Testament) is a ransom price. This word and this verse clearly set forth the idea that Jesus Christ died as the substitute for all people (cf. Mark 10:45; Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; Titus 2:14). Some benefits of Christ’s death do not belong to the elect exclusively. He paid the debt "for all." This is proof that He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

Verse 7

Paul’s final support of his command to pray for all people was this. God had commissioned him to herald the gospel to the Gentile world, not just to the Jews who were God’s favored people in times past. Paul proclaimed the faith truthfully, in contrast to the false teachers. His affirmation of truthfulness further emphasized his point.

"Just as Paul regarded his mission as the key to accomplishing God’s salvation plan, so too we must see the embodiment of the gospel in our preaching and involvement in the world around us as a requirement of Christian existence." [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 190.]

The churches of North America generally neglect this exhortation to pray. Most churches spend relatively little time at it and consequently reveal an attitude toward it that is quite different from Paul’s. I believe we have an unrealistic view of life. The world system promotes the idea that we do not need God, and we have accepted this heresy. In contrast Paul and all of Scripture teach that we are absolutely dependent on God (cf. John 15:5). The degree to which we believe that will be the degree to which we pray.

"The practice of prayer cannot be forced by an outward command but must be prompted by an inner conviction of its importance and need." [Note: Hiebert, Working with God . . ., p. 49.]

Verse 8

"In every place" probably refers to wherever Christians assemble in congregations in view of the context. Should we apply these instructions to the meetings of para-church organizations as well as to local church meetings? Paul continued to give directions for the operation of local churches (ch. 3). I take it that his instructions here (cf. 2) are for local church meetings (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15). However it seems that what he said has broader application. I think he meant that typically men should take the lead in praying. In such meetings the men (Gr. andras, lit. males) are to lead in public prayer, assuming there are males able to do so present. I do not think it would have upset Paul if a woman led in prayer occasionally (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:5-16).

"The use of the definite article with men and not with women [1 Timothy 2:10] may suggest that the apostle was laying down the pattern that public worship should be conducted by the men." [Note: Earle, p. 360.]

Paul’s instruction on how they should pray follows with emphasis on the inner holiness and outward righteous behavior of those who lead. Paul did not command the men to pray with upraised hands. He simply described public praying as the Christians practiced it commonly in his day (cf. 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13; Ezra 9:5; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 63:4; Psalms 134:2; Psalms 141:2; Lamentations 2:19; Lamentations 3:41; Isaiah 1:15). This posture was also common in the pagan mystery religions of the first century. [Note: Litfin, p. 735.] Pictures on the walls of the catacombs and in other early Christian art show believers praying this way. Commonly they raised their palms upward and open to heaven evidently to symbolize their inner openness to God and their desire to offer praise to God and to obtain a gift from Him. If Paul had meant the men were to lift up their physical hands when they prayed he probably would not have described the hands as holy. "Holy," "wrath," and "dissension" all point to a metaphorical use of "hands." Our hands symbolize what we do. Paul wanted the men to pray as they practiced holiness in their everyday lives. [Note: See Knight, p. 129.] Posture in prayer does not render the prayer more or less effective, but it often reflects the inner attitude of the person praying.

"Broken human relationships affect one’s ability to pray (cf. Matthew 5:22-24; Matthew 6:12; 1 Peter 3:7), which would include leading others in prayer." [Note: Litfin, p. 735.]

Verses 8-15

B. The primary responsibilities of the men and the women in church meetings 2:8-15

"In this paragraph Paul continues his instructions on ’prayers’ begun in 1 Timothy 2:1. But now the concern is for proper demeanor on the part of the ’pray-ers.’ But why these concerns, and why in this way? And why the inordinate amount of time devoted to the women in comparison with the men? Again, the solution lies with the false teachers. The word to the men is an obvious response to their controversies and strife. The word to the women, therefore, may be assumed also to respond to this conflict." [Note: Fee, p. 70. Cf. 5:3-16; 2 Timothy 3:5-9.]

"In descriptions of Corinth and Ephesus, which were closely linked in Paul’s ministry, flutters of emancipation can sometimes be detected behind the apostles’ discourse." [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 192.]

Verses 9-10

"Having dealt with the disruptive men, Paul turns to the disruptive women; just as the men are to stop fighting, the women are to dress appropriately. . . .

"While their dress is an issue, their attitude is Paul’s true concern." [Note: Mounce, pp. 108, 109. Cf. Guthrie, p. 74.]

The responsibility of the women in church meetings needed more explanation. Paul’s point in these verses is that works that express a godly character should characterize Christian women more than the way they dress and groom themselves. The contrast is between works and wardrobe. [Note: Bailey, p. 356.] Obviously Paul was not saying external appearance is unimportant.

"Let some say what some will about Paul, he here states that women are to dress in good taste when they prepare to attend church." [Note: Lenski, pp. 558-59.]

"Slovenliness in dress and appearance is unbecoming a Christian woman." [Note: Hiebert, First Timothy, p. 58.]

A Christian woman should be remarkable for her Christ-like behavior more than for her clothes, hairstyle, and the other externals that are of primary importance to unbelievers (cf. 1 Peter 3:3).

"The Christian woman is not to adorn herself with ’gold or pearls or expensive clothes’ so as to draw attention to herself. At worst, this is what the prostitutes did. At best, it shows pride and self-centeredness, both of which are contrary to the spirit of Christ. Such dress is especially unbecoming in church." [Note: Earle, p. 361.]

"The reason for Paul’s prohibition of elaborate hair styles, ornate jewelry, and extremely expensive clothing becomes clear when one reads in the contemporary literature of the inordinate time, expense, and effort that elaborately braided hair and jewels demanded, not just as ostentatious display, but also as the mode of dress of courtesans and harlots . . ." [Note: Knight, p. 135.]

"But perhaps the more acute problem was that of insensitive women flaunting their dress, jewelry and hairstyles in a way that hurt the feelings of the poor and disturbed the church. The kinds of adornment mentioned (braided hair . . . gold . . . pearls . . . expensive clothes) all belonged to that culture’s critical caricature of wealthy women. [Note: See Bruce W. Winter, Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities, pp. 104-5.]

"While today this manner of dress is not nearly as exclusive as it was in Paul’s day, nor indeed restricted to women, its effects can be the same. I am reminded of a visit to a large, upper-middle-class church in Dallas (it could have been any large city or suburb). When I entered the sanctuary, the first thing that struck me was the glitter of jewelry, the expensive clothing and the fashionable hairstyles. The craning necks as people sized one another up gave the impression that for many the purpose of gathering together that Sunday morning was to display economic status. A newcomer of modest economic means could not help but feel a sense of exclusion." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p. 71.]

Fee wrote a good discussion of how to distinguish cultural expressions of principles from those principles. [Note: Gordon D. Fee, "Issues in Evangelical Hermeneutics: Part III. The Great Watershed, Intentionality and Particularity/Eternality: 1 Timothy 2:8-15 as a Test Case," Crux 26 (1990):31-37.]

Spiritual qualities should mark a Christian woman always, of course. However, Paul’s concern was that they be outstanding in the church meetings. There the woman’s character and conduct would contribute to the orderly and edifying activities rather than detracting from them (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15).

"A woman’s adornment, in short, lies not in what she herself puts on, but in the loving service she gives out." [Note: Guthrie, p. 75.]

Perhaps Paul gave these instructions to the men (1 Timothy 2:8) and to the women (1 Timothy 2:9-10) partially to counteract the natural (fleshly) tendencies in males and females. Most men tend to be active, so it is important that they give attention to praying, which is more contemplative than active. Women like to look good, so they need to remember that good deeds are more important than good looks. [Note: See Knight, p. 136.]

Verses 11-12

Regarding their participation in the meetings of the church (1 Timothy 3:15), Paul taught that the women were to let the men provide the public instruction and leadership. [Note: See Michael F. Stitzinger, "Cultural Confusion and the Role of Women in the Church: A Study of 1 Timothy 2:8-14," Calvary Baptist Theological Journal 4:2 (Fall 1988):24-42.] He did not mean that women should surrender their minds and consciences to men, but that they should voluntarily take the position of learners in church meetings.

"This was a radical and liberating departure from the Jewish view that women were not to learn the law." [Note: The NET Bible note on 2:11.]

". . . ancient society rarely allowed teaching roles to women." [Note: Craig Keener, "Women’s Education and Public Speech in Antiquity," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50:4 (December 2007):759.]

Typically the women should not accept the role of teacher of the congregation or of leader of the whole church. [Note: See Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 217; and Harold W. Hoehner, "Can a Woman Be a Pastor-Teacher?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50:4 (December 2007):761-71.] The verbs "teach" and "exercise authority" are in the present tense in the Greek text, which implies a continuing ministry rather than a single instance of ministry.

"Teach and have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12) may be references to separate activities that Paul restricted to men. Or the first term might represent a specific example of activity that falls under the general rule that follows: women’s teaching in the public assembly would violate the given authority structure. In either case, we should notice that Paul did not employ his usual term for ’the normal exercise of authority’ (exousia). He chose an unusual word (authenteo) that could carry negative connotations such as ’to usurp or misappropriate authority’ or ’to domineer.’ The unusual term probably signifies an unusual situation. In the Ephesian context at least, women had misappropriated authority by taking upon themselves the role of teacher." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p. 77.]

Some people see red when they read "submissiveness" (1 Timothy 2:11; cf. Ephesians 5:21-22; Colossians 3:18). The Greek word (hypotage) means to rank under. It is clear in military life that a private, for example, who ranks under a colonel is not necessarily of less value or possesses less ability than his or her superior officer. Rank has to do with order and authority, not personal superiority and inferiority. Another illustration of willing submission is Jesus Christ, who is superior to every other human being yet submitted to other human beings (Luke 2:51; Philippians 2:5-11). God will reward His submission to the Father, and He will reward women who submit to His will as unto the Lord (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Paul seems to have been speaking here of the whole local congregation. I do not think he would have objected to women teaching or leading some groups within the church that we commonly recognize as sub-groups provided they do so with the approval of the male leadership of the church (cf. Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; Titus 2:3). Furthermore we should bear in mind that Paul was describing a typical church situation in which there were men who could provide teaching and leadership. If these were absent, exceptions might be necessary to achieve the higher goals of the church, namely, the building up of the saints to do the work of ministry. In some countries today there are few males who can or care to take leadership in churches. In these situations I think female leadership is better than none, at least until males can and will lead.

Exactly what did Paul prohibit women from doing in 1 Timothy 2:12? He did not want them to teach a man or to exercise authority over a man in the local church meetings (1 Timothy 3:15). [Note: See David P. Kuske, "An Exegetical Brief on 1 Timothy 2:12: (oude authentein andros)," Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly 88:1 (Winter 1991):64-67; and Mounce, p. 130.] Teaching the Scriptures is in view. This is more appropriate to the male’s function in the church as a mediator between God and people (cf. Genesis 2) because it involves interpreting God’s Word to the church as an authoritative figure (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:8). Paul forbade women from regularly teaching men in local church corporate worship (1 Timothy 3:15).

"In my opinion, whatever the specific application of ’teaching’ it is the kind of ’teaching’ that gives women a position of authority over men. [Note: Robert L. Saucy, "Women’s Prohibition to Teach Men: An Investigation into Its Meaning and Contemporary Application," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37:1 (March 1994):91.]

Paul approved of women teaching women and children (Titus 2:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:5) and instructing men privately (Acts 18:26). Reading a book that a woman has written is one example of private instruction.

"Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12, does not forbid a woman all teaching. Paul is only prohibiting the headship of women in the Christian community." [Note: Steven B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, p. 305.]

The Greek word translated "exercise authority" (NASB), "have authority" (NIV), or "usurp authority" (AV) is authenteo. It means to act on one’s own authority or to act in an autocratic manner. [Note: A Greek-English Lexicon . . ., s.v. "authenteo," p. 84.] To exercise authority in this way would be to submit to no higher authority in the church. If a woman exercised some authority in the church (e.g., as the leader of a ministry) and she did it in submission to the male leadership, she would not be sinning. It is taking inappropriate authority on herself that Paul prohibited. A woman can have authority over others in the church provided she is under the authority of the male leadership of the church.

"It is noteworthy . . . that Paul does not use ’office’ terminology here (bishop/presbyter) but functional terminology (teach/exercise authority). It is thus the activity that he prohibits, not just the office (cf. again 1 Corinthians 14:34-35)." [Note: Knight, p. 142.]

How can we resolve the apparent contradiction in Paul’s teaching that he presented here and what he taught in 1 Corinthians? There are two problems. First, in 1 Corinthians 14:34 Paul told the women to remain absolutely silent in the church. He used a different Greek word (sigatosan) than what we have here (hesychia), translated "quiet" (1 Timothy 2:12; cf. 1 Timothy 2:2). Hesychia does not mean absolutely silent but settled down, not unruly. Paul wanted the women to express appropriate deference to the teacher or leader.

Perhaps Paul imposed a stricter standard on the Corinthian church than was normal because of the turmoil there, and his instructions in 1 Timothy reflect the normal situation. [Note: J. N. Andrews, "May Women Speak in Meeting?" Review and Herald (January 2, 1879), reprinted in Adventist Review 165:5 (February 4, 1988):17.] I think probably Paul meant that women should not take part in the judging of the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:29), which was an exercise in ecclesiastical authority. The context of 1 Corinthians 14:34 seems to favor this view. [Note: See James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective, p. 188-94, which is, in my opinion, one of the best books on the subject of the biblical teaching on the relationships of men and women. See Appendix 1 in these notes, "Women and Ministry," for a brief summary of this book. Other fine books on this subject are by Susan Foh, Women and the Word of God; Clark; and George W. Knight III, The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women. For an evaluation of six views on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, see Anne B. Blampied, "Paul and Silence for ’The Women’ in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35," Studia Biblica et Theologica 13:2 (October 1983):143-65. Stanley J. Grenz, "Anticipating God’s New Community: Theological Foundations for Women in Ministry," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 38:4 (December 1995):595-611, advocated female participation in church leadership.]

"Paul does not mean that women are to be absolutely silent during the service (compare 1 Corinthians 11:5). Rather, he instructs them to exhibit quietness (in spirit) instead of taking the lead, or to ’be silent’ in the sense of not teaching." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p. 77.]

This silence is a concrete expression of the principle of submission that Paul advocated. [Note: Knight, p. 139.]

Second, in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul permitted women to pray and prophesy in church but insisted that they have their heads covered when doing so. This concession seems to contradict both 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34.

One way to resolve this difficulty is to say that in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 the women in view were single women or married women whose husbands were not present. In 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 those in view seem to have been married women whose husbands were present. [Note: See David Lowery, "1 Corinthians," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, pp. 528-30, 540-41.] However there is nothing in the text or context that justifies these assumptions.

Another solution that I prefer is this. Paul permitted women to pray and prophesy in Corinth and elsewhere because these activities did not involve exercising as much authority in the church as teaching and ruling did. Teaching involved providing normative instruction from Scripture whereas prophesying in New Testament times involved only sharing something God had brought to mind. In some cases this was new revelation, but usually it was not. [Note: See Wayne Grudem, "Prophecy-Yes, But Teaching-No; Paul’s Consistent Advocacy of Women’s Participation Without Governing Authority," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30:1 (March 1987):11-23. Cf. Ryrie, pp. 39-40; Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. "prophetes . . .," by Gerhard Friedrich, 6 (1968):854; Harold W. Hoehner, "The Purpose of Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:20-25," in Walvood: A Tribute, pp. 56-57; and H. Wayne House, "Should a Woman Prophesy or Preach Before Men?" Bibliotheca Sacra 145:578 (April-June 1988):149-54. See also "Women in the Church: Biblical Data Report" that I have included in these notes as Appendix 2.] In every case the prophet was to subject his or her prophecy to what God had inspired previously (1 Corinthians 14:29).

Verses 13-14

Paul gave two reasons why women should conduct themselves in church meetings as he just specified. First, from Creation it was God’s intention that the male should lead the female. He reminded his readers that God made Adam first and then made a suitable companion for him in Eve. God made Eve for Adam; He did not make Adam for Eve. This implies no essential superiority of the male over the female. God created Adam and Eve equals in the sense that they needed and complemented one another. However, God entrusted Adam with leadership responsibility over his wife. Eve was not responsible to God for Adam in the same sense that Adam was responsible for Eve. [Note: See Benjamin L. Merkle, "Paul’s Arguments from Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 and 1 Timothy 2:13-14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49:3 (September 2006):527-48.]

". . . the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved." [Note: Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 7.]

Second (1 Timothy 2:14), as part of the judgment on Eve at the Fall God confirmed (i.e., made permanent) the leadership of the male over the female (Genesis 3:16). It was a result of her deception by the serpent that Eve fell. I do not believe that God confirmed Eve and all women as followers because they are congenitally more susceptible to deception than males. Adequate evidence to support such a sweeping generalization is lacking (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:4). Rather it was evidently because Eve on that one occasion was deceived that God confirmed her and her daughters in their position as followers. Some writers believed that Paul argued only from Creation and used the Fall to illustrate his argument. [Note: E.g., Knight, p. 144.] It has seemed to most that he used two arguments.

In the Ephesian church, some of the women had been led astray by false teachers (1 Timothy 5:15) who were themselves misled by Satan (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1).

"Verse 14 is almost certainly a local reference to the deception of some women in the Ephesian church . . . [cf. 2 Timothy 3:6-7]." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p. 79.]

That is, one of the reasons Paul referred to the Fall was that some women in the Ephesian church were in danger of doing what Eve did, namely, being deceived by false teachers. [Note: See Royce Gordon Gruenler, "The Mission-Lifestyle Setting of 1 Timothy 2:8-15," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41:2 (June 1998):215-38, for defense of the view that Paul addressed only those women in Ephesus who considered themselves "liberated."]

"Paul’s point [in 1 Timothy 2:14] is that this role reversal that caused such devastation at the beginning must not be repeated in the church. The woman must not be the one who leads the man in obedience to her. Thus when the teaching of the Word of God in the assembly occurs, a qualified male elder should fill the role of teacher." [Note: Ann L. Bowman, "Women in Ministry: An Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:11-15," Bibliotheca Sacra 149:594 (April-June 1992):206.]

Some people conclude that women are to be under male authority in all areas of life, not just in church meetings, since Paul appealed to Creation and the Fall. They believe that a man should not submit himself to female authority at all, even in the workplace. Personally I do not think this is what Paul meant. He cited God’s intention for male female relationships specifically in marriage, not in general social situations. Christian men and women should bring their proper relationship to one another in marriage over into church life and apply it in the household of faith (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15) as well as in the household of the family.

Verse 15

Perhaps the best explanation of this difficult verse is this. God promised women a life of fulfillment as mothers in the home, provided they walk with the Lord, rather than as teachers and leaders in the church.

"The meaning of sozo [to save] in this passage is once again something like ’spiritual health,’ a full and meaningful life. This fits the context quite well. Paul has just excluded women from positions of teaching authority in the church (1 Timothy 2:9-14). What then is their primary destiny? They will find life through fulfilling their role as a mother IF they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. A salvation which comes only to mothers who persist in faithful service is not the faith alone salvation taught elsewhere." [Note: Dillow, p. 126. Cf. Bailey, p. 357.]

I believe this interpretation has fewer problems than the others. It balances Paul’s argument in this section (1 Timothy 2:8-15) and stays on the subject rather than switching to a discussion of a subject farther removed from the context. Some of these possible subjects are how women experience eternal salvation, or how they experience physical deliverance when giving birth, or how they experience spiritual deliverance from moral corruption. Some interpreters have even suggested that Paul was alluding to the saving effect of Jesus Christ’s birth. [Note: E.g., Knight, pp. 146-48.] Paul also may have wanted his female readers, who seem to have been under the influence of feministic teaching, to value the privilege of bearing and rearing children. [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 235; Winter, pp. 109-12.]

One significant problem with the view I prefer is this. If this is the true interpretation, can a woman who does not bear children find fulfillment in life? I believe Paul would have responded that certainly a single woman or a married woman who is not a mother can find fulfillment as a woman of God. However usually women find their greatest fulfillment as mothers. Perhaps we underestimate home influence and overestimate pulpit influence (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5). An old saying goes, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." I believe Paul was again assuming a typical situation (cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-12): most women bear children. Even though a woman may not be able to bear physical children she may have spiritual children and so find great fulfillment (cf. 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 5:10-11; 1 Timothy 5:14). Of course every human being-male or female, married or single-finds his or her greatest fulfillment in life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. [Note: See Douglas J. Moo, "1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance," Trinity Journal 1NS:1 (Spring 1980):62-83; and Jack Buckley, "Paul, Women, and the Church: How fifteen modern interpreters understand five key passages," Eternity, December 1980, pp. 30-35.]

"Paul employed the term ’childbirth’ as a synecdoche for that part of the woman’s work that describes the whole." [Note: Lea, p. 102.]

A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole or the whole stands for a part.

Paul balanced what women should not do with what they can do. In popular presentations of what the Bible teaches about women’s ministries this balance is frequently absent. After the presentation is over, women often leave feeling that they can do either anything or nothing depending on the presentation. One must be careful to maintain balance in the exposition of this subject, as Paul did.

To summarize, I believe Paul exhorted the males in the "household of God" (i.e., the local church, 1 Timothy 3:15) to function as mediators between Jesus Christ, humankind’s mediator with God, and His people. They should do this by praying, teaching, and leading the church. The women should concentrate on facilitating godliness in the church family as well as in their homes by learning, by cultivating good works, and by living godly lives. This is the hierarchical view of the passage. The egalitarian view is that there is nothing in this passage that limits the role of women in the church. [Note: See Alan Padgett, "Wealthy Women at Ephesus," Interpretation 41:1 (January 1987):19-31, for this view. Ronald W. Pierce, "Evangelicals and Gender Roles in the 1990s: 1 Timothy 2:8-15: A Test Case," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36:3 (September 1993):343-55, gave reasons he changed from the hierarchical to the egalitarian view.]

Women who try to minister in traditionally male roles face difficulty because of psychological factors involving themselves and those to whom they seek to minister. [Note: See Andrew D. Lester, "Some Observations on the Psychological Effects of Women in Ministry," Review and Expositor 83:1 (Winter 1986):63-70.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-timothy-2.html. 2012.
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