1 Timothy 2
Pray and keep the women quiet
Job one: pray1First things first. I want you to get in the habit of praying. Pray for everybody. Ask God to help them. Then pass along the people’s gratitude to God for the help he gives them. 2Pray for kings and all people in authority. That way maybe we’ll be able to live in peace, with our dignity and spiritual integrity 3Do this and God our Savior will be glad about it.
4God wants everyone in on the truth because he wants everyone saved. 5There’s just one God. And there’s only one go-between for God and humans. That mediator is a human: Jesus the Messiah. 6When the time was right, he sacrificed himself to save everyone. 7I’m a witness to this story. I’ve been appointed as an apostle to spread the word, telling the truth about it. I’m not spreading lies. I’m focused especially on talking about the true faith to people who aren’t Jews.
8Here’s what I want. I want men everywhere to pray. I want them to lift their hands in devotion to God. I don’t want to see anger or arguing.
Keep the ladies in line9I’d like the ladies to dress modestly and mildly. Not too showy. Keep it respectable. Don’t go crazy playing dress-up. No need for expensive clothes, fancy hairdos, or jewelry made of gold or pearls. 10Let the ladies dress like women devoted to doing good things for others. 11Any women who want to learn need to keep quiet and listen.
12I don’t let women teach. And I don’t put them in positions of authority over men. The ladies need to keep quiet. 13After all, God created Adam first. Eve came later. 14Adam wasn’t the one who got tricked into sinning. It was the woman.
15Women will find salvation in having children, as long as the ladies stay true to the faith, living modestly, lovingly, and devoted to God.
In case you’re wondering, there’s no indication Paul was ever married.
Bible scholars can only guess what Paul meant when he said “women will find salvation in having children.” At first glance, it sounds like something a guy would say if he had never seen a woman deliver a baby. Some scholars guess that since Paul had just finished using a metaphor about Adam and Eve, with Eve sinning, that Paul was making a point: God saved Eve and gave her a role to live out as Adam’s partner. Her unique job was to have children. With that in mind, Paul may have been telling the ladies to live out the role in life that God gave them, deferring to men. Another guess is that Paul was pushing back on a heresy that taught that if the ladies wanted to be saved, they needed to liberate themselves from their conventional roles in life, such as having sex and making babies.
“Devoted to God” comes from the Greek word hagiasmos, often translated as holiness or sanctification. Worship utensils such as lampstands were considered holy because they were reserved for sacred use, devoted to God. People, too, were considered holy when they devoted themselves to God.
Paul tells Timothy to pray for “kings and all people in authority. That way maybe we’ll be able to live in peace” (2:2). That didn’t work for Paul. Nero was the emperor at the time. He was not an endearing soul. A few years after Paul wrote this letter, Nero executed Paul along with Peter, if early Christian writers of the next generation got their history right. So, what value is there in praying for boneheads, jerks, and dictators in authority? And how are we supposed to pray for them, other than to ask God to please let them fall in love with a peasant and run off to live deep in the woods, never to be heard from again?
“God wants everyone in on the truth because he wants everyone saved” (2:4). Really? How do you think that tracks with what Paul sometimes says about God picking some folks for salvation, but rejecting others? For example: “Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened” (Romans 11:7 New Living Translation).
Does it bother you that Paul calls Jesus a human? “There’s just one God. And there’s only one go-between for God and humans. That mediator is a human: Jesus the Messiah” (2:5).
Given what Paul says about women in verses 9-15, some would say it’s no wonder he never found a woman willing to put up with him. Of the commands in that list, what do you think Christian women today would find most objectionable?
- Dress modestly, nothing expensive or fancy (2:9).
- Keep quiet and listen (2:11, 12).
- Don’t teach others (2:12).
- Don’t take assignments that put you in charge of men (2:12).
- You’ll find salvation in having children (2:15).
What do you think Paul meant by saying “Women will find salvation in having children” (2:15)? It’s anyone’s guess. No one knows for certain. For a sampling of guesses, read the footnote associated with the phrase.
What do you think of Paul’s rationale for why men should have authority over women? He says, “After all, God created Adam first. Eve came later. Adam wasn’t the one who got tricked into sinning. It was the woman” (2:14-15).
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul tells Timothy to “get in the habit of praying. Pray for everybody…Then pass along the people’s gratitude to God for the help he gives them” (2:1). Do you think Christians really spend much time thanking God for anything? If you were to thank God for the 10 things most important to you, what would make the list.