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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
1 Timothy 2

 

 

Verse 1

1 Timothy 2:1. I exhort therefore — Seeing God is so gracious, and thou art intrusted with the office of the ministry, I give thee this in charge among other things. He proceeds to give directions, 1st, With regard to public prayers; and, 2d, With regard to doctrine. That supplications — To prevent evil; prayers — To procure good; intercessions — On behalf of others; and giving of thanks — For mercies received; be made for all men — Chiefly in public. “Supplications, δεησεις,” says Whitby, “are deprecations for the pardon of sin, and averting divine judgments; προσευχαι, prayers, for the obtaining of all spiritual and temporal blessings; εντευξεις, intercessions, addresses presented to God for the salvation of others. And by this rule were the devotions of the church continually directed. For, saith the author of the book De Vocatione Gentium, ‘there is no part of the world in which the Christian people do not put up such prayers as these, praying not only for the saints, but for infidels, idolaters, the enemies of the cross, and the persecutors of Christ’s members; for Jews, heretics, and schismatics.’” Of prayer in general we may observe, it is any kind of offering up of our desires to God. But the true, effectual, fervent prayer, which St. James speaks of as availing much, implies the vehemency of holy zeal, the ardour of divine love, arising from a calm, undisturbed soul, moved upon by the Spirit of God. “By this exhortation,” says Macknight, “we are taught, while men live, not to despair of their conversion, however wicked they may be, but to use the means necessary thereto, and to beg of God to accompany these means with his blessing.”


Verses 2-4

1 Timothy 2:2-4. For kings — Especially; and for all that are in authority — “That is, for the ministers and counsellors of kings, and for the inferior magistrates, by whatever name they may be called, seeing even the lowest country magistrates frequently do much good or much harm. In the early times the Jews prayed for the heathen princes, who held them in captivity, (Ezra 6:10; Baruch 1:10-11,) being directed by God so to do, Jeremiah 29:7. But afterward becoming more bigoted, they would not pray for any heathen ruler whatever. Nay, the zealots among them held that no obedience was due from the people of God to idolatrous princes, and often raised seditions in the heathen countries, as well as in Judea, against the heathen magistrates. This malevolent disposition some of the Jewish converts brought with them into the Christian Church. The apostle, therefore, agreeably to the true spirit of the gospel, commanded the brethren at Ephesus to pray, both in public and private, for all men, whatever their nation, their religion, or their character might be, and especially for kings. That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life — God supports the power of magistracy for the sake of his own people, when, in the present state of men, it could not otherwise be kept up in any nation whatever. And we should pray that our rulers may exercise their power in such a wise and equitable manner, that, under the protection of their government, we may live in peace with our neighbours, and undisturbed by foreign enemies. In all godliness — In the genuine fear, love, worship, and service of God; and honesty — A comprehensive word, taking in the whole duty we owe to our neighbour. “In the first age, when the disciples of Christ were liable to be persecuted for their religion by their heathen neighbours, it was highly necessary, by praying for kings and all in authority, to make the heathen rulers sensible that they were good subjects. For thus they might expect to be less the object of their hatred.” For this — That we should pray for them and all men; is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour — Who has actually saved us, and is willing to save all. For the disciples of Christ thus to pray for all men, especially for their heathen enemies and persecutors, was of excellent use to make the latter sensible how good, how patient, and how benevolent the disciples of Jesus were, and that their religion led them to no seditious practices. Indeed, as Macknight observes, this display of the Christian character was then peculiarly necessary, in that the heathen were apt to confound the Christians with the Jews, and to impute to them the odious spirit and wicked practices of the Jews, who, confining their benevolence to those of their own religion, cherished a most rancorous hatred of all the rest of mankind. Who will have all men — Not a part only, much less the smallest part; to be saved — Eternally. This is treated of 1 Timothy 2:5-6. And — In order thereto; to come — (They are not compelled;) to the knowledge of the truth — Which brings salvation. This is treated of 1 Timothy 2:6-7; to which knowledge they would be most likely to come, if they should see the professors of it behaving in the manner now recommended, and avoiding all occasions either of public or private offence.


Verses 5-7

1 Timothy 2:5-7. For there is one God — One Creator of all, the Father of the spirits of all flesh, who is no respecter of persons; and one Mediator between God and men — Appointed by God to make atonement for the sins of men by his death, and who, in consequence of that atonement, is authorized to intercede with God in behalf of sinners, and empowered to convey all his blessings to them. The man Christ Jesus — Therefore all men are to apply to this Mediator. By declaring that the one Mediator is the man Jesus Christ, St. Paul intimated that his mediation was founded in the atonement which he made for our sins in the human nature. Wherefore Christ’s intercession for us is quite different from our intercession for one another: he intercedes as having merited what he asks for us. Whereas we intercede for our brethren, merely as expressing our good-will toward them. We, depraved and guilty sinners, could not rejoice that there is a God, were there not a Mediator also; one who stands between God and men, to reconcile man to God, and to transact the whole affair of our salvation. This excludes all other mediators, as saints and angels, whom the Papists set up and idolatrously worship as such: just as the heathen of old set up many mediators to pacify their superior gods. Who gave himself a ransom for all αντιλυτρον, such a ransom, the word signifies, wherein a like or equal is given, as an eye for an eye. The clause seems to be an allusion to Christ’s words, (Matthew 20:28,) to give his life, λυτρον αντι, a ransom for many. Any price given for the redemption of a captive, was called by the Greeks λυτρον, a ransom; but when life was given for life, they used the word αντιλυτρον. Indeed, this ransom paid by Christ, from the dignity of his person, was more than equivalent to all mankind. To be testified in due time το μαρτυριον καιροις ιδιοις, the testimony, that is, a thing to be testified, in his own seasons; namely, those chosen by his own wisdom. Whereunto I am ordained — Appointed; a preacher κηρυξ, a herald, to proclaim the grace of it all abroad; and an apostle — To attest by miracles that great and essential doctrine of it, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I speak the truth in Christ — As thou, Timothy, well knowest; I lie not — In pretending to such an extraordinary mission. A teacher of the Gentiles — As if he had said, I was not only in general ordained to this ministry, but by peculiar destination was appointed to preach to the heathen and instruct them; in faith and verity — That is, in the faith of the gospel, and in the whole system of truth which it comprehends. This same solemn asseveration the apostle used Romans 9:1. He introduces it here in confirmation of his being an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles in the true faith of the gospel, because some in Ephesus denied his apostleship, and especially because the Jews were so averse to his preaching the gospel among the Gentiles, charging his doing it either upon the want of a due regard to his own nation, or some view of avarice or ambition. On this passage Dr. Benson remarks, “What writer ever kept closer to his subject than this apostle? The more we understand him, the more we admire how much every sentence and every word tends to the main purpose of his writing.”


Verse 8

1 Timothy 2:8. I will — A word strongly expressing his apostolical authority; therefore — This particle connects the 8th and the 1st verse; that men pray everywhere εν παντιτοπω, in every place. Wherever men are, there prayer should be used; and if their hearts be right with God they will use it. By this precept the apostle condemned the superstitious notion of both the Jews and Gentiles, who fancied that prayers offered in temples were more acceptable to God than those offered anywhere else. This worshipping of God in all places was foretold as the peculiar glory of the gospel dispensation, Malachi 1:11. Lifting up holy hands — Pure from all known sin, and in particular from injustice and oppression; without wrath — In any kind, against any creature. And observe, reader, every temper of the soul which is not according to love is wrath; and doubting — Which is contrary to faith. Unholy actions, or wrath, or want of faith in him we call upon, are the three grand hinderances of God’s hearing our petitions. Christianity consists of faith and love, embracing truth and grace. Therefore the sum of our wishes should be to pray, and live, and die, shunning every known sin, and guarding against wrath and doubting.


Verse 9-10

1 Timothy 2:9-10. In like manner also, I command that women — Particularly when they are about to appear in public assemblies for divine worship; adorn themselves in modest κοσμιω, decent, or becoming, apparel — Neither too costly nor sordid, but what is neat and clean, as the word signifies, and suitable to their place and calling. The word καταστολη, rendered apparel, according to Theophylact and Œcumenius, was a long upper garment which covered the body every way. What the apostle especially forbids is that immodest manner of dressing which is calculated to excite impure desires in the spectators, or a vain admiration of the beauty of those that use it: also that gaudiness or showiness of dress which proceeds from vanity, and nourishes vanity, wastes time and money, and so prevents many good works. With shamefacedness ΄ετα αιδους, with modesty, teaching to avoid every thing unbecoming; and sobriety — Or soundness of mind, as σωφροσυνη signifies, which will prevent all unnecessary expense. This latter expression, in St. Paul’s sense, signifies the virtue that governs our whole life according to true wisdom. Not with broidered — Plaited, or rather curled hair, as πλεγμασιν properly signifies; or gold — Worn by way of ornament; or pearls — Jewels of any kind; (a part is put for the whole;) or costly array ιματισμω πολυτελει, expensive clothing. These four things are expressly forbidden by name to all women, (there is no exception,) professing godliness — And no art of man can reconcile with the Christian profession, the wilful violation of an express command. But — Instead of these vain ornaments, (what is itself infinitely more valuable, and much better becometh women professing godliness, and the gospel of Christ, the great rule of it,) with good works — That is, works of mercy and charity to their fellow- creatures, which will render them amiable in the eyes of God himself, and of all wise and virtuous persons with whom they converse.


Verses 11-14

1 Timothy 2:11-14. Let the women learn in silence — Let every woman receive instruction in religious matters from the men in silence, in your public assemblies; with all subjection — With becoming submission to the other sex, neither teaching nor asking questions there. I suffer not a woman to teach — Namely, publicly; nor to usurp authority over the man — Which she might seem to do if she officiated under the character of a public teacher. The word αυθεντειν, here used, signifies both to have, and to exercise authority over another. In this passage it is properly translated usurp authority; because, when a woman pretends to exercise authority over a man, she arrogates a power which does not belong to her. See note on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. For Adam was first formed — As the head and chief; then Eve — To denote her subordination to and dependance on Adam. So that the woman was originally inferior. As if he had said, What I now enjoin is agreeable to what was intimated at the first formation of the human race. And Adam was not deceived — The serpent did not attempt to deceive Adam. But he attacked the woman, knowing her to be the weaker of the two. Hence Eve, in extenuation of her fault, pleaded, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat, Genesis 3:13. And Eve did not deceive Adam, but persuaded him; for he said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat, Genesis 3:12; insinuating that, as the woman had been given him for a companion and help, he had eaten of the tree from affection to her, which is also intimated Genesis 3:17, in God’s words to him, Thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife. “In this view of the matter, the fall of the first man stands as a warning to his posterity to beware of the pernicious influence which the love of women, carried to excess, may have upon them to lead them into sin.” The preceding verse showed why a woman should not usurp authority over the man: this shows why she ought not to teach. She is more easily deceived, and more easily deceives. Let it be observed here, however, that the apostle’s doctrine concerning the inferiority of the woman to the man, in point of understanding, is to be interpreted of the sex in general, and not of every individual; it being well known that some women, in understanding, are superior to most men. The woman being deceived, was first in the transgression — And prevailed upon Adam, by her solicitations, to transgress also. “The behaviour of Eve, who may be supposed to have been created by God with as high a degree of understanding as any of her daughters ever possessed, ought to be remembered by them all, as a proof of their natural weakness, and as a warning to them to be on their guard against temptation. Perhaps also the apostle mentioned Eve’s transgression on this occasion, because the subjection of women to their husbands was increased at the fall on account of Eve’s transgression, Genesis 3:16.” — Macknight.


Verse 15

1 Timothy 2:15. Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in child-bearing — That is, says Locke, she shall be carried safely through child-bearing; a sense which Dr. Whitby illustrates at large, and which Dr. Benson seems partly to adopt, observing, “The apostle having intimated that the man was superior by creation, and the subjection of the woman increased by the fall, he here declares, that if the Christian women continued in holiness and charity, the curse pronounced upon the fall would be removed or mitigated.” To the same purpose also Baxter paraphrases the words: “Though her sin had brought her low, and even under a curse, in the pain and peril of child-bearing, she is, even in that low and sad condition, under God’s merciful protection, and saving covenant of grace, which contains the promise of this life and that to come, if she continue in faith, charity, and purity, with sobriety.” He adds another interpretation, as follows: “Though sin and sorrow in travail came in by the woman, yet by a woman’s child-bearing a Saviour came into the world, (which is some reparation of the honour of the sex,) and so the women may be saved as well as the men by Christ.” This latter sense is nearly that adopted by Macknight, who thus paraphrases on the verse: “However, though Eve was first in transgression, and brought death on herself, her husband, and 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.” He adds, by way of note, “The word σωθησεται, saved, in this verse, refers to η γυνη, the woman, in the foregoing verse, who 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 childbearing 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 doth not depend on that condition, 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, hath been the occasion of our salvation. If they continue in faith — 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, [merely,] but of the whole sex.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-timothy-2.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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