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Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Timothy 2:1. I exhort therefore. Carrying on the thought that he has begun a ‘charge and has to continue with it, perhaps also connecting faith in the love of Christ to all men, with the expression of that faith in worship.

Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks. Each word has a distinct shade of meaning, and without any undue assumption, the list may be looked on as showing that the primitive worship of the Church included the same elements as those which we find in the earliest liturgies (1) entreaties rising out of want, danger, or distress; (2) requests for spiritual blessings; (3) intercessions on behalf of we desolate and oppressed, with an implied prayer against the wickedness of the oppressor, as in Romans 8:26-27; Romans 8:34; Romans 11:2; (4) thanksgiving, implying a prayer for the continuance of the blessing for which we give thanks. It may be noted, however, that the word rendered ‘intercessions’ includes earnest personal pleading, meeting God, as it were, in prayer, whether for ourselves or others.

Verse 2

1 Timothy 2:2. For kings. The word was generic, but it at least included the Roman Emperor, besides those to whom, as e.g. to Agrippa, the kingly title was conceded. Probably in consequence of the counsels thus given, or of the unwritten tradition which it embodied, prayers of the kind spoken of are found (as now in the Prayer of the Church Militant in the English Communion Office) in all ancient liturgies.

All in authority. With, we may believe, a special inward application to such proconsuls as Sergius Paulus and Gallio, such officers as the Asiarchs and town-clerk of Ephesus, the chiliarch Lysias, and the centurion Julius.

A quiet and peaceable life. The words are significant as pointing to the early date of the Epistle. As yet, persecution had been from below, not from above, tumultuous violence rather than a system of legal repression. To pray for the Emperor was the way to quiet and safety. That prayer would have still been a duty, but it would hardly have been thus commended after the persecutions of Nero or Domitian.

Lead. Better ‘pass,’ as implying continuance through the whole period.

Godliness and honesty. The LXX. use of the first of these words, εὐσεβείᾳ, shows that it was received as equivalent to ‘the fear of the Lord,’ in Proverbs 1:7. ‘Godliness’ and ‘piety’ are both fair representatives of its meaning, the former being that uniformly adopted by the Authorised Version. ‘Honesty’ in the older sense of the word is that which is honourable, becoming, dignified, or grave. The connexion of the two words reminds us of the ‘vir pietate gravis’ of Virgil (Æn. i. 151).

Verse 3

1 Timothy 2:3. Acceptable. This and the kindred word rendered by ‘acceptation’ are peculiar to this Epistle.

God our Saviour. The Greek order is more expressive, ‘ our Saviour, God.’

Verse 4

1 Timothy 2:4. No assertion of the universal love of God can be more clear than this. Whatever might be St. Paul’s belief as to election and predestination, it did not prevent his resting absolutely on the truth that God wills all men to be saved. Men were tempted to draw a line of demarcation in their prayers, and could hardly bring themselves to pray for a Nero or a Tigellinus. St. Paul’s argument is that such prayers are acceptable with God because they coincide with that will which, though men in the exercise of the fatal gift of freedom may frustrate it, is yet itself unchangeable. But this is not all. The nature of the ‘salvation’ is expressed in the words that stand as in opposition with it. It is found in the ‘knowledge’ mil and deep, more than the mere gnosis of the understanding, of the truth which is eternal. This was what our Lord taught, as recorded by St. John (John 17:3), and this was always the most prominent element in St. Paul’s thoughts of the blessedness of the future (1 Corinthians 13:12). Comp. 1 John 3:2.

Verse 5

1 Timothy 2:5. There is one God. Better, ‘God is one,’ as in Galatians 3:20, a passage which St. Paul may almost be thought of as in some sense reproducing. There, as here, the argument is that the Unity of the Godhead is more than the negation of plurality; that it implies oneness of purpose, unchanging and unvarying, as St. James puts it, ‘without variableness or shadow of turning’ (James 1:17); and that that purpose is one of an unalterable love.

One mediator. As if the old associations of ideas in the argument of Galatians 3:20 were still present to him, the thought that ‘God is one’ suggests that of a Mediator. But the relation of the two is not the same here as it is there. There he thinks of the Older Covenant as made ‘in the hand of a Mediator,’ i.e. of Moses, as coming between God and the people; and this is one of its notes of inferiority to the New Covenant, which is in substance identical with that of Abraham, in which God acted in His own essential Unity, promising and giving with out requiring any intermediate agency. Now St. Paul has learnt to see that the New Covenant also has a ‘Mediator,’ one who not only comes between the two parties to the contract, but is himself identified with both. Here the stress is laid on the one Mediator. If one only, and that as being ‘a man,’ then his mediation must be for all humanity, and the whole human race has been redeemed by him.

Verse 6

1 Timothy 2:6. A ransom for all. The words at once repeat and interpret those which St. Matthew (Matthew 20:28) records as spoken by our Lord Himself. There a ‘ransom’ simply, here ‘a ransom paid as in exchange;’ there ‘ instead of many,’ here ‘ on behalf of all.’

Gave himself. Not limited to the death upon the cross, though culminating in that highest act of self-surrender.

To be testified. Better ‘ the testimony,’ i.e. the witness which was needed, and in its own special season was given (comp. Galatians 4:4), to make known to men the saving will of God.

Verse 7

1 Timothy 2:7. Am ordained a preacher. Better, ‘ was appointed a herald.’ It might have been thought that in writing to one like Timothy, loving and beloved, there would have been little need for this vindication of his authority, as if he were asserting his claims against the Judaizing teachers of Galatia or Corinth. What seems probable is that the necessity for so vindicating his position had formed a habit, and any mention of the Gospel led to his dwelling (as here and in 1 Timothy 1:11) on his own relation to it. Here the strong asseveration (‘I speak truth, I lie not,’ as in Romans 9:1) and the emphatic pronoun are perhaps intended to emphasize the marvel that such an one as he had been had been called to that high office.

Faith and verity. The Authorised Version suggests the idea that here again the writer was laying stress upon his personal truthfulness. Looking, however, to the objective sense of ‘truth’ in 1 Timothy 2:4, it would seem better to take the word in its higher sense here as defining the region in which he was a teacher, that region being the faith in man, answering to the truth revealed in Christ.

Verse 8

1 Timothy 2:8. That men. Better, as in the Greek, ‘ the men,’ as distinguished from the women. The ‘praying’ spoken of is not a mental act, but part of the public worship of the Church, and is therefore limited to the men. The sequence of thought implied in ‘therefore,’ is that the new view of humanity, of national life, of social order, that had been set forth in the preceding verses, should influence men’s worship, and keep them from the temptation to which a strong religious emotion is exposed, of turning prayers into harangues, full of ‘wrath and debate.’ The rule implies, what is indeed obvious throughout the New Testament, that the utterances of prayer were not confined to the Bishop or Elder who presided (1 Corinthians 11:4; 1 Corinthians 14:26-31).

In every place. The words do not appear to have been written with any intention of proclaiming, as our Lord did in John 4:23, the acceptableness of true worship independently of local sanctity, but rather to emphasize the fact that the rule laid down was binding in the more private meetings of disciples as well as in the public gathering of the Ecclesia.

Lifting up holy hands. It would seem as if the older attitude of prayer both among Jews and Greeks still obtained in the Christian Church. Men stood (as in Luke 18:11) and prayed with outstretched hands. Those hands were to be ‘holy,’ uplifted in adoration, not in the vehemence of passion.

Without wrath and doubting. The latter word is misleading, and out of harmony with the context. Stress is laid, not, as in James 1:6, on the necessity of faith in prayer, but on the inconsistency of the spirit of strife and debate with true worship. The word is for the most part translated ‘thoughts’ (as in Matthew 15:19), but ‘reasonings,’ whether inward or outward, give a better meaning, and so it oscillates between ‘doubt’ in the former, ‘debate’ or ‘disputing’ in the latter case. And here the second meaning is obviously preferable. Comp. Philippians 2:14.

Verse 9

1 Timothy 2:9. In like manner also. The word shows the sequence of the writer’s thought. His mind is dwelling on the public worship of the Church. He has laid down rules for the men; he will now give rules for the women. General as those rules may seem, they have (as 1 Timothy 2:12 is enough to prove) a special reference to the dress and demeanour of women as worshippers. So understood, the rule is analogous to that of 1 Corinthians 11:5.

Apparel. The generic term, including the details that are afterwards specified. The Greek word, originally meaning ‘order,’ ‘arrangement,’ is precisely parallel, both in its primary and derived meanings, to the English.

Shame-facedness and sobriety. The spelling of the first word is a corruption of the older form ‘shamefastness’ which we find in the earlier editions of the Authorised Version. The second is but an inadequate rendering of the Greek σωφροσύνη, but it is not easy to find a better. The ethical habit expressed is that formed by acts of self-control over desire till the effort of control is no longer needed (Arist Eth. i ii. 13), and so it is distinguished from the more instinctive ‘modesty’ which is joined with it ‘Self-restraint, which has been suggested, loses sight of the true meaning of the word, and ‘sober-mindedness’ has no advantage over sobriety. ‘Self-reverence,’ though not a translation, comes perhaps nearer to the idea of the word.

Not with broidered hair. . . . The words indicate, as those of 1 Peter 3:3 (1) that many women of the wealthier class were found among the converts; (2) that a fashion was growing up of coming to the meetings of the disciples with all the outward tokens of wealth that belonged, as they thought, to their social status the ‘plaitings of the hair,’ which are so conspicuous in all the female busts of the time, the gold bands worn on the head, the ‘pearls’ which at that time were in more request than any gems (comp. Matthew 7:6; Matthew 13:46), the raiment of Byssine or Coan texture, filmy, gauzy, embroidered with gold, for which women of fashion were ready to pay fabulous prices.

Verse 10

1 Timothy 2:10. Becometh. The same reference to a standard of decorum at once conventional and real, as in 1 Corinthians 11:13.

Professing godliness. The usual meaning of the verb is simply ‘promise;’ but here and in 1 Timothy 6:21, it is the promise implied by outward act, and is therefore rightly rendered by ‘professing.’ The Greek for ‘godliness’ (θεοσέβειαν ) occurs here only in the New Testament, and is somewhat stronger than the εύσεβεία commonly so rendered; ‘reverence for God ‘would express its meaning fairly.

Verse 11

1 Timothy 2:11. Let the woman learn in silence. Better ‘a woman.’ As before noted, the words indicate that St. Paul is dwelling on the position of women in the public meetings of the Church. For them to appear as teachers there would be an usurpation. ‘ Quietness ’ or ‘ tranquility’ rather than ‘silence.’

Verse 12

1 Timothy 2:12. To teach. Obviously, as limited by the context, the’ reference is to public teaching. The question meets us whether the precept is of permanent obligation. And as far as the foregoing arguments go, it can hardly be said that they give a permanent ground. The appeal is to a standard of what is ‘becoming,’ and this may vary with the habits of society, and may therefore, if recognised and regulated, involve no ‘usurpation’ of authority. It was perhaps with a consciousness that something more was needed that St. Paul fell back upon the argument that follows.

Verse 13

1 Timothy 2:13. That argument is (1) from the priority of man as such in the history of Genesis 2:0. So in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, the woman was created for the sake of the man. The record (received, of course, by St. Paul as the record of a fact) bore witness to an order which it was not for individual men or women to set aside.

Verse 14

1 Timothy 2:14. (2) The woman was in that first typical history the one directly deceived by the Tempter, Adam’s sin being thought of as more against light and knowledge,’ and so ‘she has come to be in the state of a transgressor.’ The implied thought, of course, is that that greater liability to deception continues now; and this was probably strengthened by what the apostle actually saw of the influence of false teachers over the minds of women (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The history of the fall seemed to him acted over again. Comp. the position of the woman Jezebel in the Church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20), and the false prophetesses in Ezekiel 13:17.

Verse 15

1 Timothy 2:15. Saved in childbearing. Better ‘ by childbearing.’ There seems no ground (in spite of the authority of some great names) for taking the Greek article as giving a meaning of pre-eminence to the word that follows it ‘She shall be saved by the childbirth,’ i.e. by the seed of the woman, the incarnate Christ. It is scarcely credible that St. Paul, if he meant this, would have expressed it so obscurely. We may, I believe, see in this a kind of bold Luther-like way of stating that home life rather than public life, the functions of a mother rather than of a teacher, are appointed for her. At first, it is true, the latter were assigned as a punishment; but they shall become her way of salvation, if only she fulfils the ethical relations that attach to it. Comp. the similar advice in 1 Timothy 5:14.

With sobriety. The force of the change of preposition seems to be that the other graces, excellent as they are, require, each and all, to be coupled with the self-reverence, as contrasted with self-assertion, on which St. Paul is insisting.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/1-timothy-2.html. 1879-90.
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