Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

Share

The Roles of Women in Church

1Timothy 2

There is no doubt that 1 Timothy 2 is among the most controversial passages of Paul's writings. In this chapter it appears as if Paul calls men to pray and women to shut up - while dressed in sackcloth and ashes - staying home barefoot and pregnant.\r
\r
Although it is short - only 15 verses - it is packed with controversy from beginning to end. What I'm going to do is give you some of the current positions and what I think is going on here.\r
\r
The first thing we need to recognize is why Paul wrote this letter. It was to give Timothy help in silencing false teachers - teachers who had apparently taken advantage of some women and led them astray. With that in mind - the text isn't as acerbic as it might seem at first.\r
\r
The context of the chapter is: how we should act in worship. What may have been happening here is that widows and some younger married women were being drawn off into false doctrine by some church elders who had gone bad. Keep that in mind as we go through the chapter.\r
\r
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. \r
\r
Believer it or not - this too is controversial. Politics has infiltrated the church to the point that Republicans think Jesus must have been a Republican and Democrats know Jesus would never support George W. Bush!\r
\r
Paul encourages us to intercede for and thank God while we pray for our rulers. Even the ones we don't agree with. That means the president, the governor, the mayor, and the school board members. Does this mean we have to agree with them? No. But it does mean we respect them and pray for them.\r
\r
The Apostle Peter said: 1 Peter 2:17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king \r
\r
This is a pretty amazing statement considering that the ruler in Peter and Paul's day was Caesar Nero - the same man who lit Christians on fire while he rode a horse around his courtyard in the nude. \r
\r
Why should we do this? To live "peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." \r
\r
I think there are at least two things operating here. \r
\r
1. We should pray for the salvation of our leaders and that they would do God's will.\r
\r
2. We should pray instead of complain - to show that we belong to God and that He is in ultimate control - not the rulers He sets in place. That doesn't mean you are uninvolved - but just don't be a whiner!\r
\r
Consider what Paul wrote in Romans:\r
\r
Rom 13:1-5 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. \r
\r
The important points are: God establishes rulers - he can put them in and take them out. 2. We are to submit to them - but never to do something against God's law. 3. The purpose of rulers are to punish wrong and reward right behavior. \r
\r
So our aim is to pray for God's direction and salvation for these leaders so they will do what is right. Paul follows up with that thought:\r
\r
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. \r
\r
God even wants those ungodly rulers like Nero and Hitler to be saved. It's unlikely they did - but we have the opportunity to change history by praying for authorities over us!\r
\r
By the way - this is a good verse to speak to God's character - He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked - but really does want everyone to go to heaven - but the choice is ours and there is only one way:\r
\r
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle-I am telling the truth, I am not lying-and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.\r
\r
Several important things here - and they probably spoke to the controversy going on in Ephesus: there is only one God, and that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. We simply can't get to God without a mediator. Jesus ransomed us - we had been held captive by sin and He paid the price for us to be rescued.\r
\r
Paul then gives his raison d'etre: to be a herald (announcer), apostle (commissioned) and teacher (instructor) - and especially to the Gentiles, which was unique among the apostles (though Peter actually paved the way).\r
\r
Timothy didn't need to know this - but those in Ephesus did - that Paul was God's emissary and they better listen!\r
\r
8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. \r
\r
The word "men" is really a "male" - prayers in the Old Covenant and in the early church were given by men - out loud with hands raised towards God as a sign of beseeching God and of humbleness. \r
\r
In Ephesus apparently there was not only false teaching but ineffective praying as well - due to anger and disputing - which is what the false teachers were doing. So if you want your prayers answered - be clean before God. If there is obvious unrepentant sin don't expect Him to answer. \r
\r
So now to the good stuff:\r
\r
9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. \r
\r
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. \r
\r
Questions we must ask: \r
\r
1. Should this be applied universally for all believers at all times?\r
2. Is it a complete handbook for church behavior?\r
3. Was Paul a chauvinist? \r
4. Should I quit while I'm ahead?\r
\r
Question #1 I do not believe that should be applied universally. \r
\r
Later on in this book, Paul tells Timothy to: "use a little wine because of your stomach." (5:23). Does that mean that anytime you have a stomach ache you need to break open a bottle of wine? Of course not. Some things are universal - we see one of them in this chapter - that Jesus is the only way to God. Also - we would have to raise our hands every time we prayed!\r
\r
That also doesn't give us carte blanche to throw out any verse we don't like - but we just need to be careful - to get clues from the text and from the context as to what is for that instance and what is universal. What we're going to find is that although the specifics are not for all places and all times - there are spiritual lessons we can apply.\r
\r
2. Is this a complete church handbook? \r
\r
No. Just as 1 Corinthians 7 is not all there is to say on the subject of marriage. This book is focused on a church in crisis and so Paul deals with the crisis at hand. So too - we don't get a list of prohibited clothing or adornment items. \r
\r
3. Was Paul a chauvinist? I don't believe so.\r
\r
If you read all of Paul's writings - and understand the culture to which he wrote - I don't think he is anti-woman at all. For example in Ephesians 5:21 that husbands and wives should submit to one another. Paul treated the ministry team of Priscilla and Aquilla as equals. \r
\r
1. Understand the culture\r
\r
What was it like for women in Paul's day? When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, women were seen as second class citizens. Women's behavior was extremely limited in ancient times, much as the women of Afghanistan during the recent Taliban oppression. \r
\r
- Unmarried women were not allowed to leave the home of their father.\r
- Married women were not allowed to leave the home of their husband.\r
- They were normally restricted to roles of little or no authority.\r
- They could not testify in court.\r
- They could not appear in public venues.\r
- They were not allowed to talk to strangers.\r
- They had to be doubly veiled when they left their homes.\r
\r
2. Understand that Jesus had set them free - but did they understand how to use that freedom?\r
\r
Jesus set women free - treated them with respect and as followers. The first person to see the resurrected Christ was a woman. \r
\r
Examples:\r
\r
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28 NIV). \r
\r
"'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy'" (Acts 2:17-18 NIV)\r
\r
Often an inmate who has spent a long time in prison is very disoriented when released back into society. That's why they have half-way houses. They are designed to have some order to them like prison, yet be out in the community. With time the inmate adjusts.\r
\r
With women of the first century church it was much the same. The women did not know what to do with their new found freedom and ended up being unduly influenced by false teachers. \r
\r
3. Understand the goal: inward beauty is more important than outward\r
\r
Women show their holy attitudes by their modest outward appearance. Their attire should match their inward character. Anything you do that detracts from who you are as a Christian should be avoided - dress appropriately for the culture and for your calling. Today's modest dress would have been considered scandalous in Paul's day and still would be in many cultures today. Don't let anything drown out the gospel.\r
\r
It's possible that these women thought that by looking great on the outside they would be respected. Paul is saying - modesty and inward character are much more important than outward appearance. By the way - this can apply equally to men as well.\r
\r
It's also quite possible that the manner of dress employed by the Ephesian women were associated with temple prostitutes. We need to make sure that our dress does not imply something about our character - people often judge a book by its cover. \r
\r
Do we then need to go around dressed in large shapeless bags? No. But again and again Paul and the other apostles encourage us to make sure our behavior and appearance don't detract from the gospel. Make it culturally appropriate with modesty.\r
\r
4. Women remain silent (vs 11)\r
\r
The point here is not that women as a group should shut up and sit down - it's that there were several types of women who needed to learn before they spoke. These included Jewish and Greek women who had been under the hand of a harsh culture towards women. They sometimes flaunted their new found freedom in Christ and disrupted services (1 Cor 14:34). Others were former temple prostitutes who were young in their knowledge of good doctrine and need to learn first. \r
\r
Paul saying that women should "learn" was actually a good thing. In that culture women were not allowed to study or discuss issues with men. \r
\r
5. Women should learn in silence and full submission\r
\r
The Greek word for silence here is: "settledness, calmness, undisturbed, implying voluntary restraint." Quietness would be a better way to translate it. \r
\r
Submission here does not imply that women shouldn't have a mind or an opinion - but that a presumptive grasping for authority was not right.\r
\r
Listen to how "The Message" renders these verses:\r
\r
1 Timothy 2:11-15 "I don't let women take over and tell the men what to do. 12 They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. 13 Adam was made first, then Eve; 14 woman was deceived first - our pioneer in sin! - with Adam right on her heels. 15 On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this." \r
\r
Conclusions\r
\r
1. You are not above your society - do don't outstrip your culture\r
\r
That means - get along with government, don't flaunt your freedom in Christ - but pray for those above you.\r
\r
2. Pray instead of argue\r
\r
People love a good debate - but if we spent half as much time praying together as we do debating each other, think what we could accomplish\r
\r
3. Don't dress up your outward appearance so much that you cloud who you really are.\r
\r
This can go beyond clothes and attitude - maybe it is your possessions or your degrees or your position of power or monetary wealth or just a superior attitude. \r
\r
Don't let stuff in your life make it difficult to see Jesus inside of you!\r
\r
4. It's really about others walk with Christ - not whether you have or can use certain freedoms.\r
\r
1 Corinthians 8:13 - in essence, Paul says that if my eating meat (that may have been sacrificed to an idol) would cause my brother to not walk with God then I won't eat meat again.\r
\r
What's more important - your freedom or someone coming to Christ?\r
\r
5. Women are "saved" in childbirth\r
\r
There are several possible explanations of this verse - \r
\r
- That childbearing refers to the birth of Jesus. In the curse, men were condemned to hard labor and women were condemned to hard labor - in childbirth and rearing. Both are "saved" by Jesus Christ.\r
- Another option - that through childbearing women learn valuable lessons.\r
- Still another - that women were abandoning their god-given role of child bearing and rearing to follow these false teachers. By Paul urging them to focus on their families they would show true commitment to Christ. It wouldn't be "saving" as in salvation - the word can also mean "protect." In this case the protection would come against the false teaching. This is likely the best guess.\r

>>Show/Hide Comments<<

Our SOCIAL

Visit us on social media