Online Bible Commentary
All is Possible For the Christian
1 Timothy 2:8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 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. 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. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul started the eastern churches, was imprisoned in Rome, and then ministered in Spain. While he was in Spain, or on his way back, he received word of problems in the eastern churches, likely because of his long absence. So he writes this letter to Timothy in the mid 60’s A.D., who is helping the church in Ephesus, which consisted of many house churches.
The problems consisted of false teaching running rampant, in Ephesus especially. This letter was sent to restore worship order in the churches, specifically addressing the problems of which Paul had heard. In the preceding passage, Paul wrote of the objects of prayer, that prayer should be for all people and all needs, not just a few select people in the church. Now, in this passage, he addresses the proper demeanor for prayer, and worship in general, first addressing men, then women. He is addressing specific problems present in the church at that time. However, his teachings, as always, are the timeless teachings of Christ and therefore are useful for us today.
Paul had heard of disputes between men in the church, angry arguments, and general discord, likely having to do with the false teachings. He called for the men to come to the Lord in prayer with clean hands, “holy hands”. Raised hands, open to God in prayer was a symbol for clean hands, free of sin. This would signify that the men had made amends with their enemies. (v.8). Paul then addresses the women in the church.
As bad as the men arguing in church was, apparently the women had more severe problems. They had fallen prey to the false teachers, and were spreading these false teachings throughout the church through gossip and other means. Paul wrote “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). He followed that up with “some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15), in speaking of young widows in the church.
Paul also wrote regarding these young widows “For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry (1 Timothy 5:11). So there was a question of impropriety in the church regarding the dress and behavior of some of the women, especially the young widows. Paul addressed that issue by calling on them “to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (v. 9). They were not to call attention to themselves, but instead to focus on doing “good deeds”, which would be appropriate behavior for women in prayer and worship (v.10). They should sit in church and learn in “quietness and full submission” (v.11), which is what we all should do.
The literal Greek translation for verse twelve is: “A woman but to teach not I allow, not to exercise authority of a man, but to be in silence”. The word “authority” has the meaning of domination. The meaning is that women should not be domineering over men, which included teaching men in the church. Paul then gives reasons for this statement, by reverting to the Genesis account. Adam was formed first, then Eve from his rib (v.13). Man was first, the head. Then, Eve was deceived by the serpent, not Adam (v.14): “The woman said ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ “ (Genesis 3:13).
This relationship between men and women is from the Lord. Christ is the head of the church, the “bride” (i.e. the woman). Man is the head of the woman. Christ gave his life for the church. Man gives his life for the woman. It is a relationship of equality, but voluntary, and mutual, submissiveness in roles. Christ is equal, in the Godhead, to the Father, but Christ made Himself submissive to the Father. The Bible teaches this same relationship for the roles of women and men, both in and out of church.
After referring to the woman becoming a sinner (v. 14), Paul adds that the woman will be “saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (v.15). The reference to “childbearing” is a reference in general to the “good deeds” in verse eleven. Paul then clarifies this point by adding that the “good deeds”, and salvation, comes from first being a Christian.
This teaching, although controversial today, is no different than any other teaching from the Bible. Paul, and Christianity in general, uplifted women from their roles as second class citizens. Obeying this, or any teaching of the Bible, is not possible without first being a Christian. But all is possible for the Christian, the follower of Christ.