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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Bible Commentary

1 Timothy 2

Verse 1

Chapter 8

ELEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP; INTERCESSORY PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING-THE SOLIDARITY OF CHRISTENDOM AND OF THE HUMAN RACE. - 1 Timothy 2:1

THE first chapter of the Epistle is more or less introductory. It repeats what St. Paul had already said to his beloved disciple by word of mouth, on the subject of Christian doctrine, and the necessity of keeping it pure. It makes a digression respecting the Apostle’s own conversion. It reminds Timothy of the hopeful prophecies uttered over him at his ordination; and it points out the terrible consequences of driving conscience from the helm and placing oneself in antagonism to the Almighty. In this second chapter St. Paul goes on to mention in order the subjects which led to the writing of the letter; and the very first exhortation which he has to give is that respecting Christian worship and the duty of intercessory prayer and thanksgiving.

There are two things very worthy of remark in the treatment of the subject of worship in the Pastoral Epistles. First, these letters bring before us a more developed form of worship than we find indicated in the earlier writings of St. Paul. It is still very primitive, but it has grown. And this is exactly what we ought to expect, especially when we remember how rapidly the Christian Church developed its powers during the first century and a half. Secondly, the indications of this more developed form of worship occur only in the letters to Timothy, which deal with the condition of things in the Church of Ephesus, a Church which had already been founded for a considerable time, and was in a comparatively advanced stage of organization. Hence we are not surprised to find in these two Epistles fragments of what appear to be primitive liturgical forms. In the first Epistle we have two grand doxologies, which may be the outcome of the Apostle’s devotion at the moment, but are quite as likely to be quotations of formulas well known to Timothy. {1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:15-16} Between these two we have what looks like a portion of a hymn in praise of Jesus Christ, suitable for singing antiphonally (1 Timothy 3:16; comp. Pliny, "Epp." 10:96): and also what may be a baptismal exhortation. {1 Timothy 6:12} In the Second Epistle we have traces of another liturgical formula. {2 Timothy 2:11-13}

St. Paul of course does not mean, as the A.V. might lead us to suppose, that in all Christian worship intercession ought to come first; still less that intercession is the first duty of a Christian. But he does place it first among those subjects about which he has to give directions in this Epistle. He makes sure that it shall not be forgotten by himself in writing to his delegate at Ephesus; and he wishes to make sure that it shall not be forgotten by Timothy in his ministration. To offer prayers and thanksgivings on behalf of all men is a duty of such high importance that the Apostle places it first among the topics of his pastoral charge.

Was it a duty which Timothy and the congregation committed to his care had been neglecting, or were in serious danger of neglecting? It may well have been so. In the difficulties of the overseer’s own personal position, and in the varied dangers to which his little flock were so unceasingly exposed, the claims of others upon their united prayer and praise may sometimes have been forgotten. When the Apostle had left Timothy to take his place for a time in Ephesus he had hoped to return very soon, and consequently had given him only brief and somewhat hasty directions as to his course of action during his absence. He had been prevented from returning; and there was a probability that Timothy would have to be his representative for an indefinite period. Meanwhile the difficulties of Timothy’s position had not diminished. Many of his flock were much older men than himself, and some of them had been elders in the Church of Ephesus long before the Apostle’s beloved disciple was placed in charge of them. Some of the leaders in the congregation had become tainted with the Gnostic errors with which the intellectual atmosphere of Ephesus was charged, and were endeavoring to make compromise and confusion between heathen lawlessness and Christian liberty. Besides which, there was the bitter hostility of the Jews, who regarded both Paul and Timothy as renegades from the faith of their ancestors, and who never lost an opportunity of thwarting and reviling them. Above all there was the ever-present danger of heathenism, which confronted the Christians every time they left the shelter of their own houses. In the city which counted it as its chief glory that it was the "Temple-keeper of the great Artemis," {Acts 19:35} every street through which the Christians walked, and every heathen house which they entered, was full of pagan abominations; to say nothing of the magnificent temples, beautiful groves, and seductive idolatrous rites, which were among the main features that attracted such motley crowds to Ephesus. Amid difficulties and perils such as these, it would not be wonderful if Timothy and those committed to his care had been somewhat oblivious of the fact that "behind the mountains also there are people"; that beyond the narrow limits of their contracted horizon there were interests as weighty as their own-Christians who were as dear to God as themselves, whose needs were as great as their own, and to whom the Lord had been equally gracious; and moreover countless hosts of heathen, who also were God’s children, needing His help and receiving His blessings; for all of whom, as well as for themselves, the Church in Ephesus was bound to offer prayer and thanksgiving.

But there is no need to assume that Timothy, and those committed to his care, had been specially neglectful of this duty. To keep clearly in view our responsibilities towards the whole human race, or even towards the whole Church, is so difficult a thing for all of us, that the prominent place which St. Paul gives to the obligation to offer prayers and thanksgivings for all men is quite intelligible, without the supposition that the disciple whom he addresses was more in need of such a charge than other ministers in the Churches under St. Paul’s care.

The Apostle uses three different words for prayer, the second of which is a general term and covers all kinds of prayer to God and the first a still more general term, including petitions addressed to man. Either of the first two would embrace the third, which indicates a bold and earnest approach to the Almighty to implore some great benefit. None of the three words necessarily means intercession in the sense of prayer on behalf of others. This idea comes from the context. St. Paul says plainly that it is prayers and thanksgivings "for all men" that he desires to have made: and in all probability he did not carefully distinguish in his mind the shades of meaning which are proper to the three terms which he uses. Whatever various kinds of supplication there may be which are offered by man at the throne of grace, he urges that the whole human race are to have the benefit of them. Obviously, as Chrysostom long ago pointed out, we cannot limit the Apostle’s "all men" to all believers. Directly he enters into detail he mentions "kings and all that are in high place"; and in St. Paul’s day not a single king, and we may almost say not a single person in high place, was a believer. The scope of a Christian’s desires and gratitude, when he appears before the Lord, must have no narrower limit than that which embraces the whole human race. This important principle, the Apostle charges his representative, must be exhibited in the public worship of the Church in Ephesus.

The solidarity of the whole body of Christians, however distant from one another in space and time, however different from one another in nationality, in discipline, and even in creed, is a magnificent fact, of which we all of us need from time to time to be reminded, and which, even when we are reminded of it, we find it somewhat difficult to grasp. Members of sects that we never heard of, dwelling in remote regions of which we do not even know the names, are nevertheless united to us by the eternal ties of a common baptism and a common belief in God and in Jesus Christ. The eastern sectarian in the wilds of Asia, and the western sectarian in the backwoods of North America, are members of Christ and our brethren; and as such have spiritual interests identical with our own, for which it is not only our duty, but our advantage to pray. "Whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." The ties which bind Christians to one another are at once so subtle and so real, that it is impossible for one Christian to remain unaffected by the progress or retrogression of any other. Therefore, not only does the law of Christian charity require us to aid all our fellow-Christians by praying for them, but the law of self-interest leads us to do so also; for their advance will assuredly help us forward, and their relapse will assuredly keep us back. All this is plain matter of fact, revealed to us by Christ and His apostles, and confirmed by our own experience, so far as our feeble powers of observation are able to supply a test. Nevertheless, it is a fact of such enormous proportions (even without taking into account our close relationship with those who have passed away from this world), that even with our best efforts we fail to realize it in its immensity.

What shall we say, then, about the difficulty of realizing the solidarity of the whole human race? For they also are God’s offspring, and as such are of one family with ourselves. If it is hard to remember that the welfare of the humblest member of a remote and obscure community in Christendom intimately concerns ourselves, how shall we keep in view the fact that we have both interests and obligations in reference to the wildest and most degraded heathens in the heart of Africa or in the islands of the Pacific? Here is a fact on a far more stupendous scale; for in the population of the globe, those who are not even in name Christians, outnumber us by at least three to one. And yet let us never forget that our interest in these countless multitudes, whom we have never seen and never shall see in this life, is not a mere graceful sentiment or empty flourish of rhetoric, but a sober and solid fact. The hackneyed phrase, "a man and a brother," represents a vital truth. Every human being is one of our brethren, and, whether we like the responsibility or not, we are still our "brother’s keeper." In our keeping, to a very real extent, lie the supreme issues of his spiritual life, and we have to look to it that we discharge our trust faithfully. We read with horror, and it may be with compassion, of the monstrous outrages committed by savage chiefs upon their subjects, their wives, or their enemies. We forget that the guilt of these things may lie partly at our door, because we have not done our part in helping forward civilizing influences which would have prevented such horrors, above all because we have not prayed as we ought for those who commit them. There are few of us who have not some opportunities of giving assistance in various ways to missionary enterprise and humanizing efforts. But all of us can at least pray for God’s blessing upon such things, and for His mercy upon those who are in need of it. Of those who, having nothing else to give, give their struggles after holiness and their prayers for their fellow-men, the blessed commendation stands written, "They have done what they could."

"For kings and all that are in high place." It is quite a mistake to suppose that "kings" here means the Roman Emperors. This has been asserted, and from this misinterpretation has been deduced the erroneous conclusion that the letter must have been written at a time when it was customary for the Emperor to associate another prince with him in the empire, with a view to securing the succession. As Hadrian was the first to do this, and that near to the close of his reign, this letter (it is urged) cannot be earlier than A.D. 138. But this interpretation is impossible, for "kings" in the Greek has no article. Had the writer meant the two reigning Emperors, whether Hadrian and Antoninus, or M. Aurelius and Verus, he would inevitably have written "for the kings and for all in high place." The expression "for kings," obviously means "for monarchs of all descriptions." including the Roman Emperor, but including many other potentates also. Such persons, as having the heaviest responsibilities and the greatest power of doing good and evil, have an especial claim upon the prayers of Christians. It gives us a striking illustration of the transforming powers of Christianity when we think of St. Paul giving urgent directions that among the persons to be remembered first in the intercessions of the Church are Nero and the men whom he put "in high place," such as Otho and Vitellius, who afterwards became Emperor: and this, too, after Nero’s peculiarly cruel and wanton persecution of the Christians A.D. 64. How firmly this beautiful practice became established among Christians is shown from their writings in the second and third centuries. Tertullian, who lived through the reigns of such monsters as Cornmodus and Elagabalus, who remembered the persecution under M. Aurelius, and witnessed that under Septimius Severus, can nevertheless write thus of the Emperor of Rome: "A Christian is the enemy of no one, least of all of the Emperor, whom he knows to have been appointed by his God, and whom he therefore of necessity loves, and reverences, and honors, and desires his well-being, with that of the whole Roman Empire, so long as the world shall stand; for it shall last as long. To the Emperor, therefore, we render such homage as is lawful for us. and good for him, as the human being who comes next to God, and is what he is by God’s decree, and to God alone is inferior."

And so we sacrifice also for the well-being of the Emperor; but to our God and his; but in the way that God has ordained, with a prayer that is pure. "For God, the Creator of the universe, has no need of odors or of blood." In another passage Tertullian anticipates the objection that: Christians pray for the Emperor, m order to curry favor with the Roman government and thus escape persecution. He says that the heathen have only to look into the Scriptures, which to Christians are the voice of God, and see that to pray for their enemies and to pray for those in authority is a fundamental rule with Christians. And he quotes the passage before us. But he appears to misunderstand the concluding words of the Apostle’s injunction, - "that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity." Tertullian understands this as a reason for praying for kings and rulers; because they are the preservers of the public peace, and any disturbance in the empire will necessarily affect the Christians as well as other subjects, - which is giving a rather narrow and selfish motive for this great duty. "That we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity," is the object and consequence, not of our praying for kings and rulers in particular, but of our offering prayers and thanksgivings on behalf of all men.

When this most pressing obligation is duly discharged, then, and only then, can we hope with tranquil consciences to be able to live Christian lives in retirement from the rivalries and jealousies and squabbles of the world. Only in the attitude of mind which makes us pray and give thanks for our fellowmen is the tranquility of a godly life possible. The enemies of Christian peace and quietness are anxiety and strife. Are we anxious about the well-being of those near and dear to us, or of those whose interests are bound up with our own? Let us pray for them. Have we grave misgivings respecting the coarse which events are taking in Church, or in State, or in any of the smaller societies to which we belong? Let us offer supplications and intercessions on behalf of all concerned in them. Prayer offered in faith to the throne of grace will calm our anxiety, because it will assure us that all is in God’s hand, and that in His own good time He will bring good out of the evil. Are we at strife with our neighbors, and is this a constant source of disturbance? Let us pray for them. Fervent and frequent prayers for those who are hostile to us will certainly secure this much, -that we ourselves become more wary about giving provocation; and this will go a long way towards bringing the attainment of our desire for the entire cessation of the strife.

Is there any one to whom we have taken a strong aversion, whose very presence is a trial to us, whose every gesture and every tone irritates us, and the sight of whose handwriting makes us shiver, because of its disturbing associations? Let us pray for him. Sooner or later dislike must give way to prayer. It is impossible to go on taking a real interest in the welfare of another, and at the same time to go on detesting him. And if our prayers for his welfare are genuine, a real interest in it there must be. Is there any one of whom we are jealous? Of whose popularity, so dangerous to our own, we are envious? Whose success-quite undeserved success, as it seems to us-disgusts and frightens us? Whose mishaps and failures, nay even whose faults and misdeeds, give us pleasure and satisfaction? Let us thank God for the favor which He bestows upon this man. Let us praise our heavenly Father for having in His wisdom and His justice given to another of His children what He denies to us; and let us pray Him to keep this other from abusing His gifts.

Yes, let us never forget that not only prayers, but thanksgivings, are to be offered for all men. He who is so good to the whole Church, of which we are members, and to the great human family to which we belong, certainly has a claim upon the gratitude of every human being, and especially of every Christian. His bounty is not given by measure or by merit. He maketh His sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain upon the just and the unjust: and shall we pick and choose as to what we will thank Him for, and what not? The sister who loves her erring or her half-witted brother is grateful to her father for the care which he bestows upon his graceless and his useless son. And shall we not give thanks to our heavenly Father for the benefits which He bestows on the countless multitudes whose interests are so closely interwoven with our own? Benefits bestowed upon any human being are an answer to our prayers, and as such we are bound to give thanks for them. How much more grateful shall we be, when we are able to look on them as benefits bestowed upon those whom we love!

This is the cause of so much of our failure in prayer. We do not couple our prayers with thanksgiving; or at any rate our thanksgivings are far less hearty than our prayers. We give thanks for benefits received by ourselves: we forget to give thanks "for all men." Above all, we forget that the truest gratitude is shown, not in words or feelings, but in conduct. We should send good deeds after good words to heaven. Not that our ingratitude provokes God to withhold His gifts; but that it does render us less capable of receiving them. For the sake of others no less than for ourselves let us remember the Apostle’s charge that "thanksgivings be made for all men." We cannot give plenty and prosperity to the nations of the earth. We cannot bestow on them peace and tranquility. We cannot bring them out of darkness to God’s glorious light. We cannot raise them from impurity to holiness. We can only do a little, a very little towards these great ends. But one thing we can do. We can at least thank Him who has already bestowed some, and is preparing to bestow others, of these blessings. We can praise Him for the end towards which he will have all things work. - "He willeth that all men should be saved" (ver. 4), "that God may be all in all."

Verses 8-12

Chapter 9

BEHAVIOUR IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP: MEN’S ATTITUDE OF BODY AND MIND: WOMEN’S ATTIRE AND ORNAMENT. - 1 Timothy 2:8-12

IN the preceding verses of this chapter, St. Paul has been insisting on the duty of unselfishness in our devotions. Our prayers and thanksgivings are not to be bounded in their scope by our own personal interests, but are to include the whole human race; and for this obvious and sufficient reason, - that in using such devotions we know that our desires are in harmony with the mind of God, "who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." Having thus laid down the principles which are to guide Christian congregations in the subject-matter of their prayers and thanksgivings, he passes on now to give some directions respecting the behavior of men and women, when they meet together for common worship of the one God and the one Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.

There is no reasonable doubt (although the point has been disputed) that St. Paul is here speaking of public worship in the congregation; the whole context implies it. Some of the directions would be scarcely intelligible, if we were to suppose that the Apostle is thinking of private devotions, or even of family prayer in Christian households. And we are not to suppose that he is indirectly finding fault with other forms of worship, Jewish or heathen, he is merely laying down certain principles which are to guide Christians, whether at Ephesus or elsewhere, in the conduct of public service. Thus there is no special emphasis on "in every place," as if the meaning were, "Our ways are not like those of the Jews; for they were not allowed to sacrifice and perform their services anywhere, but assembling from all parts of the world were bound to perform all their worship in the temple. For as Christ commanded us to pray for all men, because He died for all men, so it is good to pray everywhere." Such an antithesis between Jewish and Christian worship, even if it were true, would not be in place here. Every place is a place of private prayer to both Jew and Christian alike: but not every place is a place of public prayer to the Christian any more than to the Jew. Moreover, the Greek shows plainly that the emphasis is not on "in every place," but on "pray." Wherever there may be a customary "house of prayer," whether in Ephesus or anywhere else, the Apostle desires that prayers should be offered publicly by the men in the congregation. After "pray," the emphasis falls on "the men," public prayer is to be made, and it is to be conducted by the men and not by the women in the congregation.

It is evident from this passage, as from 1 Corinthians 14:1-40., that in this primitive Christian worship great freedom was allowed. There is no Bishop, President, or Elder, to whom the right of leading the service or uttering the prayers and thanksgivings is reserved. This duty and privilege is shared by all the males alike. In the recently discovered "Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles" nothing is said as to who is to, offer the prayers, of which certain forms are given. It is merely stated that in addition to these forms extempore prayer may be offered by "the prophets." And Justin Martyr mentions that a similar privilege was allowed to "the president" of the congregation according to his ability. Thus we seem to trace a gradual increase of strictness, a development of ecclesiastical order, very natural under the circumstances. First, all the men in the congregation are allowed to conduct public worship, as here and in 1 Corinthians. Then, the right of adding to the prescribed forms is restricted to the prophets, as in the "Didache." Next, this right is reserved to the presiding minister, as in Justin Martyr. And lastly, free prayer is abolished altogether. We need not assume that precisely this development took place in all the Churches; but that something analogous took place in nearly all. Nor need we assume that the development was simultaneous: while one Church was at one stage of the process, another was more advanced, and a third less so. Again, we may conjecture that forms of prayer gradually increased in number, and in extent, and in stringency. But in the directions here given to Timothy we are at the beginning of the development.

"Lifting up holy hands." Here, again, we need not suspect any polemical purpose. St. Paul is not insinuating that, when Gnostics or heathen lift up their hands in prayer, their hands are not holy. Just as every Christian is ideally a saint, so every hand that is lifted up in prayer is holy. In thus stating the ideal, the Apostle inculcates the realization of it. There is a monstrous incongruity in one who comes red-handed from the commission of a sin, lifting up the very members which witness against him, in order to implore a blessing from the God whom he has outraged. The same idea is expressed in more general terms by St. Peter: "Like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, ye shall be holy; for I am holy". {1 Peter 1:15-16} In a passage more closely parallel to this, Clement of Rome says, "Let us therefore approach Him in holiness of soul, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, with love towards our gentle and compassionate Father who made us an elect portion unto Himself" ("Corinthians" 29). And Tertullian urges that "a defiled spirit cannot be recognized by the Holy Spirit" ("De Orat.," 13.). Nowhere else in the New Testament do we read of this attitude of lifting up the hands during prayer. But to this day it is common in the East. Solomon at the dedication of the temple "stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven"; {1 Kings 8:22} and the Psalmist repeatedly speaks of "lifting up the hands" in worship. {Psalms 28:2; Psalms 63:4; Psalms 134:2} Clement of Alexandria seems to have regarded it as the ideal attitude in prayer, as symbolising the desire of the body to abstract itself from the earth, following the eagerness of the spirit in yearning for heavenly things. Tertullian, on the other hand, suggests that the arms are spread out in prayer in memory of the’ crucifixion, and directs that they should be extended, but only slightly raised, an attitude which is more in harmony with a humble spirit: and in another place he says that the Christian by his very posture in prayer is ready for every infliction. He asserts that the Jews in his day did not raise the hands in prayer, and characteristically gives as a reason that they were stained with the blood of the Prophets and of Christ. With evident reference to this passage, he says that Christian hands must be lifted up pure from falsehood, murder, and all other sins of which the hands can be the instruments. Ancient Christian monuments of the earliest age frequently represent the faithful as standing with raised hands to pray. Eusebius tells us that Constantine had himself represented in this attitude on his coins, "looking upwards, stretching up toward God, like one praying." Of course this does not mean that kneeling was unusual or irregular; there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. But the attitude here commended by St. Paul was very ancient when he wrote, and has continued in some parts of the world ever since. Like so many other things in natural religion and in Judaism, it received a new and intensified meaning when it was adopted among the usages of the Christian Church.

"Without wrath and disputing": that is, in the spirit of Christian peace and trust. Ill-will and misgiving respecting one another are incompatible with united prayer to our common Father. The atmosphere of controversy is not congenial to devotion. Christ Himself has told us to be reconciled to our brother before presuming to offer our gift on the altar. In a similar spirit St. Paul directs that those who are to conduct public service in the sanctuary must do so without angry feelings or mutual distrust. In the Pastoral Epistles warnings against quarrelsome conduct are frequent; and the experience of every one of us tells us how necessary they are. The bishop is charged to be "no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious." The deacons must not be "double-tongued." Women must not be "slanderers." Young widows have to be on their guard against being "tattlers and busybodies." Timothy is charged to "follow after love, patience, meekness," and is reminded that "the Lord’s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves." Titus again is told that a bishop must be "not self-willed, not soon angry," "no brawler, no striker," that the aged women must not be "slanderers," that all men are to be put in mind "to speak evil of no man, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all meekness toward all men." There is no need to assume that that age, or that those Churches, had any special need of warnings of this kind. All ages and all Churches need them. To keep one’s tongue and one’s temper in due order is to all of us one of the most constant and necessary duties of the Christian life; and the neglect cannot fail to be disastrous to the reality and efficacy of our devotions. Those who have ill-will and strife in their hearts cannot unite to much purpose in common thanksgiving and prayer.

And just as the men have to take care that their attitude of body and mind is such as befits the dignity of public worship, in like manner the women also have to take care that their presence in the congregation does not appear incongruous. They must come in seemly attire and with seemly behavior. Everything which might divert attention from the service to themselves must be avoided. Modesty and simplicity must at all times be the characteristics of a Christian woman’s dress and bearing; but at no time is this more necessary than in the public services of the Church. Excessive adornment, out of place at all times, is grievously offensive there. It gives a flat contradiction to the profession of humility which is involved in taking part in common worship, and to that natural sobriety which is a woman’s fairest ornament and best protection. Both reverence and self-reverence are injured by it. Moreover, it may easily be a cause of offence to others, by provoking jealousy or admiration of the creature, where all ought to be absorbed in the worship of the Creator.

Here again St. Paul is putting his finger upon dangers and evils which are not peculiar to any age or any Church. He had spoken of the same thing years before, to the women of Corinth, and St. Peter utters similar warnings to Christian women throughout all time. Clement of Alexandria abounds in protests against the extravagance in dress so common in his own day. In one place he says; "Apelles the painter, seeing one of his pupils painting a figure thickly with gold color to represent Helen, said to him; ‘My lad, you were unable to paint her beautiful, and so you have made her rich.’ Such Helens are the ladies of the present day; not really beautiful, but richly got up. To these the Spirit prophesies by Zephaniah: And their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s anger." Tertullian is not less emphatic. He says that most Christian women dress like heathen, as if modesty required nothing more than stopping short of actual impurity. "What is the use," he asks, "of showing a decent and Christian simplicity in your face, while you load the rest of your body with the dangling absurdities of pomps and vanities?" Chrysostom also, in commenting on this very passage, asks the congregation at Antioch: "And what then is modest apparel? Such as covers them completely and decently, and not with superfluous ornaments; for the one is decent and the other is not. What? Do you approach God to pray with broidered hair and ornaments of gold? Are you come to a ball? to a marriage-feast? to a carnival? There such costly things might have been seasonable: here not one of them is wanted. You are come to pray, to ask pardon for your sins, to plead for your offences, beseeching the Lord, and hoping to render Him propitious to you. Away with such hypocrisy! God is not mocked. This is the attire of actors and dancers, who live upon the stage. Nothing of this kind becomes a modest woman, who should be adorned with shamefastness and sobriety. And if St. Paul" (he continues) "would remove those things which are merely the marks of wealth, as gold, pearls, and costly array; how much more those things which imply studied adornment, as painting, coloring the eyes, a mincing walk, an affected voice, a languishing look? For he glances at all these things in speaking of modest apparel and shamefastness."

But there is no need to go to Corinth in the first century, or Alexandria and Carthage in the second and third, or Antioch in the fourth, in order to show that the Apostle was giving no unnecessary warning in admonishing Timothy respecting the dress and behavior of Christian women, especially in the public services of the congregation. In our own age and our own Church we can find abundant illustration. Might not any preacher in any fashionable congregation echo with a good deal of point the questions of Chrysostom? "Have you come to a dance or a levee? Have you mistaken this building for a theatre?" And what would be the language of a Chrysostom or a Paul if he were to enter a theatre nowadays and see the attire, I will not say of the actresses, but of the audience? There are some rough epithets, not often heard in polite society, which express in plain language the condition of those women who by their manner of life and conversation have forfeited their characters. Preachers in earlier ages were accustomed to speak very plainly about such things: and what the Apostle and Chrysostom have written in their epistles and homilies does not leave us in much doubt as to what would have been their manner of speaking of them.

But what is urged here is sufficient. "You are Christian women," says St. Paul, "and the profession which you have adopted is reverence towards God (θεοσεβειαν). This profession you have made known to the world. It is necessary, therefore, that those externals of which the world takes cognizance should not give the lie to your profession. And how is unseemly attire, paraded at the very time of public worship, compatible with the reverence which you have professed? Reverence God by reverencing yourselves; by guarding with jealous care the dignity of those bodies with which He has endowed you. Reverence God by coming before Him clothed both in body and soul in fitting attire. Let your bodies be freed from meretricious decoration. Let your souls be adorned with abundance of good works."

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/teb/1-timothy-2.html.