Series on I Timothy, II Worship, B Propriety, Text:2:8-15 Title: Humility in Worship.


This passage of Scripture contains elements guaranteed to intimidate the strongest preacher. I don't know many people who would like to preach on this passage considering the current intellectual climate in our culture. No matter how much you wish to honor women, and no matter how highly you regard them, every statement is examined with a microscope to discover if it suggests  anything even remotely demeaning to women. I am sure many people would think that Paul's words here fall into that category. I believe the apostle had the highest regard for women and that, together with the teaching of the Lord Jesus, Paul has done more to elevate the condition of women than anyone else in history. Paul was a strict Jewish rabbi, but he is the one who first wrote, In Christ their is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. But this passage is really not about male-female relationships, although it involves them. The passage is about worship. These are rules for worship for both men and women. Specifically it deals with a proper attitude of humility before God in worship. There are two subjects which Paul treats of here: attitudes in prayer, and appropriate dress. Although he addresses the men about prayer and the women about dress, we should not think that the opposite sex has nothing to learn from the advice. Please note the firmness of the Apostle in this teaching as he begins with telling them what he wants or literally wills.

I Attitudes in Prayer in Worship

Paul declares in verse 8, I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. It was the men who prayed in the synagogue. I Samuel 1:13 tells us about the prayer of Hannah, that great woman of God, at the door of the tabernacle in the presence of the high priest. It says Hannah was praying in her heart and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Paul is indicating here that the practice was not to be changed even though male and female were one in Christ Jesus. Male leadership was to continue. Now, concerning this prayer two things are mentioned. the posture and the purity.

A Posture

Men are to pray with holy hands lifted up. If you survey Scripture you discover that many acceptable postures for prayer are mentioned: standing with head bowed, or with hands lifted up and spread heavenward, or just bowing the head, or lifting your eyes to heaven, or kneeling, or falling down with your face to the ground and several variations of these. Paul is not prescribing just one way but a way which demonstrates our attitude. The problem here is that people can be careless in their attitude in prayer. Their posture can reflect a lack of concern or a lack of humility. Paul reminds us that we need to show in our posture our heart's attitude. This is the holy God of the universe to whom we come.

B Purity

Men are also to pray without anger or disputing. Anger refers to a settled indignation against a brother. Jesus refers to the same thing in Matthew 5:23,24, Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. The word disputing means something different in the original Greek. It means weighing or balancing and refers i think to an attitude of revenge. So not only should our outward posture reflect our attitude, but our hearts must be right before God when we pray. Now Paul turns to appropriate dress.

II Appropriate Dress in Worship

Here Paul addresses his remarks to women because in that culture women were concerned with adornment. It is entirely feasible that in another culture and another time men should also be warned, but because he is talking to women the reasons he gives are women's reasons. He begins by stating what is expected and then gives his rationale. His remarks are still aimed at public worship and still focused on humility. Let us look at the rule and the reasons.

A The Rule

This rule in verses 9 and 10 is given because of the temptation to show off,  I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. Don't check out your neighbor's hair style! Braids in Paul's culture were dazzling. No expense was spared. They were fastened by valuable pins and combs with jewels. Jewelry such as gold and pearls were rare and fabulously priced way beyond ordinary means. The wife of the emperor Caligula was said to have been dressed in emeralds and pearls on her head, ears, neck, and fingers and valued at a million dollars. There is now as then, a cult of beauty. Church time is not the time to show off. the acceptable adornment was good works. This is what God likes to see. This doesn't mean we should look unduly plain, or sloppy, nor should we abstain from all decoration. It just means, don't worry about adorning yourself to worship God except with good deeds. The word translated worship here is used only in this place and it signifies  awe and reverence in our worship of the Lord.

B The Reasons

The reasons given here in verses 11-15 are the hardest part of this text, not to understand but to accept, A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. Paul contrasts an attitude of vain display with humility and submissiveness. A woman should not lead in public worship because that is not her calling. The silence in view is a silence in which the woman does not take the lead, but honors her husband as the head of the family. This has nothing to do with spirituality or ability. A woman may be able to do a better job than a man. If you're a pragmatist you say let her do it. If you follow Paul you will say it is not becoming. Our society does not have much patience with propriety. God does. For the rationale Paul simply gives us facts from the Old Testament history of creation and the fall. He says Adam was formed first. The man is the leader. Eve was created to be his helper. That's it: God's order. Observe it in worship. The creation part is the easy part. Now Paul turns to the fall. The thought here is not that women are inferior. The point of the Apostle is that they are differently equipped. The man is equipped by God to be the spiritual leader. God help us, many are not. The woman is equipped by God to be a follower and helper. The fact that Eve was deceived by the serpent and not Adam must be taken together with the realization that Adam too was deceived but while Eve fell for the serpent's lie, Adam fell for his wife. They reversed their roles. The result of this is given in verse 15. This verse is not saying that the woman will be kept safe in the process of childbirth nor is it saying that she will be saved by childbirth. We are all saved by Christ. What this verse says in the context is that the man will be saved in the capacity of leadership and the woman will be saved in the capacity of a wife and mother. The man is saved while leading from the top down, and the woman is saved by following from the bottom up. That is, a Christian woman exercises at least as much influence as her husband in the world but she does it through her family and children. These things of course are  true in general. All women do not have children although most do. The order in worship is established by the general principle, and the order in worship is one of humility in the presence of God which is always displayed in terms of our specific gender roles according to the Word of God.