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1 Timothy 2

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Instructions Concerning Prayer (2:1-3:1a) Pray for All Men The Regulation of Worship Church Worship Liturgical Prayer
2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-7
  Men and Women in the Church      
2:8-3:1 2:8-15 2:8-15 2:8-15 2:8
        Women in the Assembly
        2:9-15

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This entire section, 2:1-3:13, deals with public worship and organization

1. public worship (2:1-15)

a. the role of men (2:1-8)

b. the role of women (2:9-15)

2. church organization (3:1-13)

a. pastor (3:1-7)

b. deacon (3:8-10,12-13)

c. women helpers (3:11)

 

B. The focus of believers' prayers is the redemption of "all" (cf. 2:1). The desire of God is the redemption of "all" (cf. John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; II Pet. 3:9). Jesus paid the penalty of sin for "all" (cf. Rom. 5:18-19). What marvelous inclusivism!

 

C. This section could be an early church manual designed to help churches organize and direct their activities (cf. 3:14-15).

 

D. The most difficult part of this passage to interpret is 2:8-15. It is not difficult to understand, but it is difficult to know how to apply it to our cultural situation. It is so easy to make the parts of the NT we do not agree with "cultural" and, therefore, not relevant to us. I am very uncomfortable labeling a clear inspired text as cultural for several reasons

1. Who am I to negate Scripture?

2. How do I know that I am not being overly influenced by my own culture (personal bias linked to historical conditioning)?

3. Is there any textual sign, idiom, marker which designates that which might be cultural versus that which is God's will for all churches of all ages?

First, there are no textual markers! Second, I must allow all Scripture to address the specific issue. If Scripture is unified on the topic it must be a universal truth. If Scripture seems to give several options or situations, I must allow some freedom in interpretation (cf. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart, pp. 70-76).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT 2:1-7
 1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimonygiven at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

2:1 "First of all" This Greek idiom means "of first importance." The context asserts that this is meant to control and limit the affect of the false teachers.

▣ "entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings" This is a series of four words for prayer (Phil. 4:6 has three of them; Ephesians 6:18 has two of them). This is Paul's way of emphasizing that all forms of prayer should be offered for all men, especially those in authority. In Eph. 6:18 this same emphasis on praying for all is limited to believers but here it is universalized.

The term "petitions" (enteuxis) occurs only here and in 4:5.

▣ "on behalf of all men" The term "all" appears five times in verses 1-7, which show the extent both of our prayers and God's love. Some see the emphasis on all men as a reaction to the exclusiveness of the false teachers.

SPECIAL TOPIC: INTERCESSORY PRAYER

2:2 "for kings and all who are in authority" The Bible does not teach the divine right of kings, but it does teach the divine will for organized government (cf. Rom. 13:1,2). The theological issue is not whether we agree with our government or whether our government is fair. Believers must pray for governmental officials because they are in God's will in a fallen world. Believers know from Rom.13:1,2 that all authority is given by God, therefore, as followers of Christ we respect it. This statement is all the more powerful when you realize Paul is asking believers to pray for governmental leaders like Nero!

"in authority" This word is huperochē. See Special Topic: Paul's Use of Huper Compounds at 1:14.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HUMAN GOVERNMENT

▣ "so that they may lead a tranquil and quiet life" This seems to mean "peaceful" in the sense of "free of outward trials" and "quiet" in the sense of "free from inner turmoils." Believers must exercise their faith by calm living, which is so difficult in times of distress and confusion. These false teachers had disrupted the peace and joy of the house churches at Ephesus. Paul gave this same type of advice to the church at Thessalonica, which had been disrupted by an over-zealous, eschatological faction (cf. I Thessalonians 4:11; II Thess. 3:12). In the face of church turmoil, pray and live gentle, godly lives!

▣ "in all godliness and dignity" Christians were persecuted and misunderstood by pagan society. One way to counteract this problem was the lifestyle of the believers.

The term "godliness" is used ten times in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 2:2; 3:16; 4:7,8; 6:3,5,6,11; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1). It has the connotation of reverence toward God expressed by an appropriate moral lifestyle. See Special Topic at 4:7.

The term "dignity" is also used several times in the Pastoral Letters (cf. I Tim. 2:2; 3:4,8,11; Titus 2:2,7). It is defined in Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker's Lexicon as "reverence, dignity, seriousness, respectfulness, holiness, probity" (p. 47).

Christians should draw attention to themselves positively (i.e. "worthy of respect"), but not negatively (cf. v. 3; I Pet. 4:12-16).

2:3 "this is good and acceptable" Godliness is God's will for all humanity. This is a way of referring to the restoration of the marred "image of God" in humanity from Gen. 1:26-27. God has always wanted a people who reflect His character. The question has always been "how?" The OT showed that fallen humanity could not produce obedience or righteousness by their own efforts. Therefore, the NT is based on God's actions and faithfulness, not mankind's (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38). God restores and motivates followers through His Book, His Son, and His Spirit. We are not right with God based on our performance, but once we know Him in salvation, the goal of our lives is holiness (cf. Matt. 5:20,48; Rom. 8:29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NEW TESTAMENT HOLINESS/SANCTIFICATION at 2 Tim. 2:2.

▣ "God our Savior" See full note at II Tim. 1:10.

2:4 "who desires all men to be saved" Believers are to pray for all people because God wants all people saved. This was a shocking statement to the exclusivistic false teachers, whether Gnostic or Jewish, or more probably in the Pastoral Letters, a combination. This is the great truth about God's love for all mankind (cf. 4:10; Ezek. 18:23,32; John 3:16; 4:42; Titus 2:11; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:1; 4:14). This verse shows the imbalance of dogmatic, super-lapsarian, double-edged predestination which emphasizes God's sovereignty to the exclusion of any needed human response. The stated truths of "five point" Calvinism, especially "irresistible grace" and "limited atonement," violate the covenant aspect of biblical faith. It is improper to reduce God to a puppet of human free will, as it is also improper to reduce mankind to a puppet of divine will. God in His sovereignty has chosen to deal with fallen mankind by means of covenant. He always initiates and structures the covenant (cf. John 6:44;65), but He has mandated that humans must respond and continue to respond in repentance and faith (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21).

Often the theological discussion of God's sovereignty (predestination) and human free will deteriorates into a proof-texting contest. The Bible clearly reveals the sovereignty of YHWH. However, it also reveals that His highest creation, mankind made in His image, had been given the awesome personal quality of moral decision making. Humans must co-operate with God in every area of life.

The term "many" has been used to assert that God has chosen some (the elect) but not all; that Jesus died for some, not all. A careful reading of the following texts shows that these are used in a parallel sense!

 

Isaiah 53 Romans 5
1. "all" (v. 6)
2. "many" (vv. 11-12)
1. "all" (v. 18)
2. "many" (v. 19)

▣ "to be saved" This is an aorist passive infinitive (see Special Topic at 2 Tim. 1:9). This implies fallen humans cannot save themselves, (passive voice) but God is ready, willing, and able to do so through Christ.

▣ "and to come to the knowledge" This phrase is used several times in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1). It means to understand and respond to the gospel message (cf. Eph. 4:13).

This is the intensified Greek form epi + gnōsis, which implies "full and experiential knowledge." This inclusivism was a real jolt to the false teachers' emphasis on elitism and special knowledge. The exact relationship between the Jewish and Greek elements in the false teachers is uncertain. They obviously have a Jewish element which magnified "myths," "genealogies," and "the law" (see note at 1:6-7). There has been much speculation related to the Greek element. There was surely an element of immorality which was more characteristic of Greek false teachers than Judaism. How much of the later Gnostic system of angelic levels is involved in the heresies of the Pastoral Letters is simply uncertain. In Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4, p. 567, A. T. Robertson identifies the false teachers as "Gnostics."

With the archeological discovery at Nag Hammadi in Egypt we now know much more about the Gnostic speculations and theology. There is an English translation of these texts entitled The Nag Hammadi Library edited by James M. Robinson and Richard Smith. There is also an interesting interpretation of these texts in Hans Jonas' book The Gnostic Religion.

▣ "of the truth" The term "truth" is used in several ways in the New Testament:

1. for the person of Jesus (cf. John 8:31,32, 14:6)

2. to describe the Spirit (cf. John 16:13)

3. to describe the "Word" (cf. John 17:17)

God's truth is ultimately seen in Jesus Christ, the Living Word, which is adequately recorded in the Bible, the written Word; both are brought to light to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The truth referred to here is parallel to "the sound teaching" of 1:9 and "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" of 1:10. It refers to the good news of Jesus Christ (cf. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1).

SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUTH" IN PAUL'S WRITINGS

2:5 "there is one God" This emphasis on monotheism (cf. Rom. 3:30; I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6) can be found in 1 Tim. 1:17, which reflects Deut. 6:4-6. However, Jesus the Son and God the Father seem to be separate here. It is important to remember the NT assertion that Jesus is divine (cf. John 1:1; Col. 1:14-16; Heb. 1:2,3) but also a separate personality from the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity (see Special Topic at Titus 3:6) recognizes the unity of one divine essence and yet, the eternal distinctiveness of the three Persons. One way to show this biblical paradox is to compare passages from John's Gospel.

1. Jesus is one with the Father (John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30,34-38; 14:9-10; 20:28).

2. Jesus is separate from the Father (John 1:2,14,18; 5:19-23; 8:28; 10:25,29; 14:10,11,12,13,16; 17:1-2).

3. Jesus is even subservient to the Father (John 5:20,30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:28; 15:10,19-24; 17:8).

The concept of the deity of the Son and the personality of the Spirit is explicit in the NT, but not fully worked out in orthodox theology until the third and fourth centuries. The term "trinity" is not biblical, but the concept surely is (cf. Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; John 14:26; Acts 2:32-33,38-39; Rom. 1:4-5; 5:1-5; 8:1-4,8-10; I Cor. 12:4-6; II Cor. 1:21-22; 13:14; 4:4-6; I Thess. 1:2-5; II Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:4-6; I Pet. 1:2; Jude 20-21).

The grammar of vv. 5-6 gives the theological reasons related to God's inclusive salvation.

1. There is only one God. From Gen. 1:26-27 we know that all humans are made in His image.

2. There is only one way to God through the Messiah (cf. John 14:6), which was predicted in Gen. 3:15.

3. There is only one means of salvation, the finished sacrificial offering of the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus (cf. John 1:29; II Cor. 5:21).

The one God has provided a way for all to be in fellowship with Him (cf. Gen. 3:15). Whosoever will may come, but they must come His way, through His provision, by faith in His Son as their only hope for acceptance.

SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM

▣ "and one mediator also between God and men" This is an example of the NT's affirmation that faith in Jesus' person and work is the only way to be right with the Father (cf. John 10:1-18; 14:6). This is often referred to as the "scandal of the exclusivism of the gospel." This truth seems so out of place in our day of tolerance (with no absolutes), but if the Bible is the self-revelation of God, then believers must affirm this exclusivism. We are not saying one denomination is the only way, but we are saying that faith in Jesus is the only way to God.

The use of the term "mediator" has priestly connotations (cf. Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). A priest stood between a needy people and a holy God. Jesus is our High Priest (cf. Heb. 7-9). Jesus is our

1. Savior

2. Substitute

3. Mediator

4. Intercessor

 

▣ "the man Christ Jesus" The emphasis of this verse is that Jesus is fully human and is still the only mediator between God and mankind (cf. John 14:6). The Gnostic false teachers would have denied Jesus' humanity (cf. John 1:14; I John 1:1-3).

It is possible that the background is not the Gnostics, but Paul's Adam-Christ typology (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:21-22,45-49; Phil. 2:6). Jesus was seen as the second Adam, the origin of a new race, not Jew, not Greek, not male, not female, not slave, not free, but Christian (cf. I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11-3:13; Col. 3:11).

It is also possible that vv. 5 and 6 are a theological definition of the term "the truth," found in v. 4.

2:6 "who gave Himself" The Father sent Him but Jesus willingly came and laid down His life (cf. Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 10:17,18).

▣ "a ransom for all" This reflects the great truth of Isaiah 53 (esp. v. 6). The term "ransom" came from the slave market and was used for purchasing a friend or relative out of slavery or military captivity. The grammar of this phrase is extremely important: (1) there is an unusual compound form of the word "ransom," with the preposition anti (instead of ), (2) the preposition "for" is the Greek preposition huper, which means "on behalf of" (cf. Titus 2:14). The theological emphasis is the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on our behalf (cf. II Cor. 5:21).

SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

▣ "for all" Thank God for the word "all" used five times in vv. 1-7! It is extremely important that we realize that Jesus' death covered the sins of the entire world (cf. John 1:29; 3:16,17; I Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb. 2:9; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:2; 4:14). The only thing keeping anyone and everyone from being saved is not their sin, but their unbelief in the finished work of Jesus Christ (cf. John 1:12; Acts 17:30; 1 Tim. 4:10; I John 5:10-13). This truth must balance predestination (see Special Topic at Titus 2:11).

NASB"the testimony given at the proper time"
NKJV"to be testified in due time"
NRSV"this was attested at the right time"
TEV"the proof at the right time"
NJB"this was the witness given at the appointed time"

This phrase is parallel to 1 Tim. 6:15 and Titus 1:3. God is in control of historical events. Christ came at His appointed time to redeem all humanity (cf. Rom. 5:18-19).

The other possibility is that it may be related to Rom. 5:6; Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10, whereby certain historical conditions of the first century Greco-Roman world provided the ideal time:

1. Pax Romana, or peace of Rome, allowed people to move from country to country freely.

2. One common language (Koinē Greek) allowed all persons of the Mediterranean world to understand each other.

3. The obvious bankruptcy of the Greek and Roman religions caused people to search for meaning in life. They wanted a more personal aspect to their spirituality (This is also seen in the rise of the mystery religions).

 

2:7 "For this I was appointed" This is an emphasis on Paul's election and calling by God (the Damascus road encounter), much like 1:1. God wants the Gentiles to understand His inclusive gospel.

▣ "a preacher and apostle. . .as a teacher" Sometimes these are listed as separate gifts of the Spirit, as in I Cor.12:28 or Eph. 4:11. In these lists the term "prophet" may refer to preacher (especially use of "prophesy" in I Corinthians, cf. 11:4,5; 13:9; 14:1,3,4,5,24,31,39). In a sense each of these leadership gifts proclaim the same gospel but with different emphases. Paul uses these exact three terms again in 2 Tim. 1:11 to describe his ministry.

▣ "(I am telling the truth, I am not lying)" Many commentators have said that this would be inappropriate in a personal letter written by Paul to his beloved co-worker, Timothy. But we must remember that these letters were meant to be read publicly in the church (cf. 6:21b; II Tim. 4:22b; Titus 3:15b). This letter was Paul's letter of recommendation and transfer of authority to his young apostolic representative sent to the house churches of Ephesus, which were struggling with false teachers.

▣ "as a teacher of the Gentiles" Paul sensed that God had called him specifically to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:17; Rom. 1:5; 11:13; 15:16; Gal. 1:16; 2:7; Eph. 3:1-2,8; 2 Tim. 4:17). This is another confirmation of the universality of God's love and Christ's redemption.

▣ "in faith and truth" This may refer to (1) the attitude of the proclaimer or (2) the content of the message. In 1:14 "faith" is linked to "love." Both of these terms describe Jesus and are meant to be emulated by His followers.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:8-15
 8Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

2:8 "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray" As Paul affirms dignity and appropriateness in public life (cf. vv. 1-7), so too, in worship (cf. I Corinthians 11-14). The phrase "in every place" probably refers to house churches in or near Ephesus. Acceptable prayer is defined in three ways in verse 8.

1. lifting holy hands

2. unstained by anger

3. without dissensions

These qualifications clearly show Paul is speaking to the faithful believers and excluding the false teachers, their surrogate speakers (possibly young widows), and their followers.

Paul uses this phrase, "in every place," often (cf. I Cor. 1:2; II Cor. 2:14; I Thess. 1:8; 1 Tim. 2:8). It may be an OT allusion to Mal. 1:11, which prophesies a worldwide worship of the Messiah. This would match the repeated use of "all" in vv. 1-7.

▣ "lifting up holy hands" This was the normal position of Jewish prayer. It mandates that believers' words and lives ought to agree (cf. James 4:8).

▣ "without wrath" This is the Greek term orgē, which means "a settled opposition" (cf. Matt. 5:23-24; 6:15). Anger at others does affect our relationship with God (cf. Matt. 5:21-24; Mark 11:25; I John 2:9,11; 4:20-21).

NASB"dissension"
NKJV"doubting"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB"argument"

Greek philosophers used this term for a teaching session or dialogue. In the NT it has a negative connotation (cf. Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21). Here, it refers to either the context of the teachings or the inappropriate, angry, and disruptive attitude of the false teachers.

SPECIAL TOPIC: PRAYER, UNLIMITED YET LIMITED

2:9

NASB"likewise"
NKJV"in the manner"
NRSV, TEV"also"
NJB"similarly"

This shows that the context is "how should men and women be involved in public worship" (i.e., house churches, cf. I Cor. 11-14). There is a good discussion on this word in F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, pp. 114-115.

"I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing" Clothes reveal the heart and mind. Believers need to dress appropriately, not only at church but in all places and at all times because they are Christians. The emphasis of this passage is not on outward appearance only, but also on godliness (cf. v. 10; I Pet. 3:3,4). In every area of life believers are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Matt. 5:13-16). We must remember who we represent!

However, this does not imply that believers should wear drab clothing. We should dress so as not to stand out in whatever society the believer lives. Be neat, be clean, be in fashion, but most of all be Christian.

"discreetly See full note at 3:2.

"not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments" This implies that at least a percentage of the believers were relatively wealthy. The Jewish and Roman hair styles of the day were very elaborate, extravagant, and expensive. Apparently the Christian women were being indoctrinated toward worldliness or personal freedom (possibly caught up in the women's freedom movement, which had started in Roman culture, cf. I Cor. 11:2-16). This may reflect the exclusivism of the false teachers who sought out the rich, the influential, and the intellectual.

2:10 "by means of good works" Believers must remember that they are not saved by good works, but unto good works (cf. Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:8; James 2:14-26). Our lives give credibility to our profession of faith, which is the assertion of the entire books of James and I John.

In this context "good works" relates to normal domestic cultural expectations (cf. 5:10; Titus 2:5).

▣ "as is proper for women making a claim to godliness" This clearly limits the context to saved women. This is not a general guideline for society. The proper dress for God's children is godliness. Beauty is not a certain attire, but a changed heart. Truly beautiful and attractive women are godly women (in all areas of their lives).

2:11 "A woman" This could refer to all Christian women or wives (cf. Charles B. Williams translation, "a married woman" in v. 11 and). The context must clarify the author's intended meaning.

▣ "receive instruction" This is a present active imperative. At first this seems very negative, but (1) women could not study the Law in Judaism or attend school in the Greco-Roman world. So, in a sense this is a positive step towards women being trained in God's word, (2) this text must be seen in light of the false teachers who were targeting women (cf. 5:13; Acts 20:30; 2 Tim. 3:5-9; Titus 1:11). It is possible that some women were surrogate speakers for the false teachers in public worship in the house churches (Gordon Fee, New International Biblical Commentary, vol. 13).

▣ "with entire submissiveness" This also seems negative for our day, but let us remember

1. The term "submission" was used of Jesus. He was submissive to the Father (cf. I Cor. 15:28); He was submissive to His earthly parents (cf. I Thess. 5:21). In other words He fulfilled His expected societal and religious duties with the proper attitude

2. "Being submissive" is God's will for all believers (cf. Eph. 5:21). It is one of the five Present participles that describes what it means to be "filled with the Spirit" (cf. Eph. 5:18)

3. In this same passage in Ephesians Paul uses three domestic examples to show mutual submission within the home (1) wives to husbands; (2) children to parents; and (3) home slaves to masters.

The radically positive part of this context (i.e. Eph. 5:18-6:9) is that Paul limits the power of those in that society who had all the power (i.e., husband, parents, and masters). In its day Paul's writings about women, children, and slaves were radically positive

4. Paul did not attack slavery as an issue because he knew it was an issue that would destroy the effectiveness of the church and her witness in that period of history. I think the same is true of the social status of women. Paul asserts their spiritual equality (cf. Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11), their giftedness (cf. I Cor. 12:7-13), and their role in spreading the gospel (cf. Romans 16). But he knew that women in leadership roles would (1) be misunderstood because of fertility worship and (2) rejected by an almost exclusively patriarchal, male dominated society.

 

2:12 "exercise authority over a man" This verb authenteō is used only here in the NT. It is defined as "one who acts on his own authority" (authentēs, master) or "one who dominates." See discussion in Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 91. Does this mean that women can be in leadership if they do not dominate? The immediate context does not support this by the added phrase "but to remain quiet" (cf. I Cor. 14:34). Paul's statements about women in submissive roles cannot be explained by the use of this hapax legomenon. It must be dealt with from a cultural perspective. God chose to reveal Himself into a specific cultural setting. Everything in that culture was/is not the will of God for all believers in all cultures in all ages (see Gordon Fee, Gospel and Spirit and How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 83-86). The truth and power of the gospel radically changes human culture (i.e. slavery, male dominance). Arrogant, exploitive dominance is evil whether from men or women. There are two extremes to avoid: (1) women can do nothing (Ancient Near Eastern culture) and (2) women can do anything (modern western individualism). Believers (male and female) minister within their culture to maximize evangelism and discipleship, not personal agendas!

SPECIAL TOPIC: WOMEN IN THE BIBLE

2:13-15 Paul's argument in this context is related theologically to Genesis 3. It is also related to excesses of the false teachers (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3-11; 4:1-5; 5:11-13). Paul uses Genesis 3 to make the analogy that as Eve was seduced by the snake into sin, rebellion, and independence, so were some of the women deceived in the same way by the false teachers (cf. 5:13; 2 Tim. 3:6-9).

The consequences of the Fall are directly related to woman's submission to and desire for her husband (cf. Gen. 3:16). Her independent action was and is the theological issue. Does this still remain today? Has the gospel totally removed all aspects of the Fall of Genesis 3? Does our modern culture with its trained, articulate women leaders negate Paul's clear statements? See Special Topic at the beginning of v. 12.

2:14 "fell into transgression" There are two consequences assigned to Eve because of her transgression: (1) pain in childbirth and (2) submission to her husband. The verb tense is perfect, which implies that these are still in effect. Jesus inaugurated the new age, but believers also still live in the old age.

2:15 "But women will be preserved through the bearing of children" This is a very difficult and involved passage. It is possibly the most difficult in all of Paul's writings. We need to remember

1. its relation to Gen. 3:13,16

2. the teachings of the false teachers

3. the contrast (i.e. "But"), which relates to the deception of the false teachers

The term "preserved" or "saved" can be related to either physical deliverance from the birthing experience (cf. New American Standard Version), which seems to be backed up by the use of the word in 1 Tim. 4:16 for the abuse of the false teachers (some of whom apparently advocated celibacy as a spiritually superior state, cf. 4:3), or in the spiritual eschatological sense which forms most of its NT usage.

One novel interpretation is based on a detail of Greek grammar where the definite article in the phrase "through the childbearing," possibly refers to the incarnation of Jesus Christ:

1. this context relates to Gen. 3:15

2. the preposition dia can be translated "by means of"

3. there is a definite article with "the child birth"

4. both the singular and plural are used of "woman . . .they"

Thus Eve becomes the representative of all women saved by the promise of God of a special birth (i.e., Jesus, which is theologically similar to the Adam-Christ typology of Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:21-22,44-48; Phil. 2:6-7).

The immediate context seems to emphasize that women as home-makers is the societal expectation of Paul's day, and for most societies, ancient and modern. Woman's salvation does not come from leadership in public worship or an unexpected cultural freedom.

In truth it does not come from expected social roles either, but through faith and its fruits (cf. v. 15b). Salvation is in and through Christ. Godly women trust Him and do not seek to draw undue attention to themselves. However, in our culture the "undue attention" occurs when women are limited. As lost people would have been turned off by overactive Christian women in the first century, today's lost people are turned off by a seeming Christian sexism and legalism. The goal is always evangelism and discipleship, not personal freedoms or personal preferences (cf. I Cor. 9:19-23).

▣ "if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint" This is a third class conditional sentence which means potential contingent action. The contingency is the believing women's continuance in faith, love, sanctity, and self-restraint. See Special Topic: Perseverance at 2 Tim. 2:11.

For "self-restraint" see full note at 3:2.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How do the truths of this section relate to the false teachers?

2. Are we to pray for governmental officials who are not Christians and who act in unfair and godless ways?

3. Does God really want all humans saved? Did Jesus really die for all sins?

4. Define the word "ransom."

5. Why is Christian dress an appropriate item for discussion in our modern world?

6. How are good deeds related to saving faith?

7. What is the place of women in the modern church in light of verses 11-14?

8. What does verse 15 mean in light of the rest of NT teachings?