One of the most difficult passages in the New Testament is 1 Timothy 2:9-15. This is in large part because of the political pressures of our day, but there are also some interesting ideas here, like women being saved in childbearing. What in the world does that mean?
As we have studied this letter of Paul to the young pastor, Timothy, we have seen that there is a primary theme to the letter that makes it all fit together, 1 Timothy 3:15 “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” But there is also a progressing idea that Paul presents in order to help Timothy and the church to stay on the right track. 1 Timothy 1:18-19 “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,”
Therefore our conduct in the house of God is based largely on our continuing in faith with a good conscience. The substance of that, as we have discussed previously is trusting the Lord and submitting to His authority in all areas. (See previous posts) One area of struggle when Paul wrote this letter must have been in the area of women in the fellowship and their struggle with submission to God’s order.
1 Timothy 2:9-15 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
I recognize that to most people who read this post, that these words probably sound harsh and demeaning, yet, it is the inspired Word of God that we are dealing with here. Many try to contextualize this passage and give it a limited, cultural application and declare that it was good then, but, we are not the 1st Century church at Ephesus. Others try to use it to say that there are obvious errors in the Bible. If this is your view, you have bigger problems than the role of women in the Church. The Apostle goes right back to the Fall in order to lay the groundwork for what he teaches here. The Fall is a foundational doctrine that we cannot miss or diminish in any way or we will come to the wrong conclusion every time, having begun in the wrong place. Puritan, John Owen, says this of the importance of getting this right;
“The entire structure of saving, evangelical theology is built on the fact of a completely wretched state of all mankind by nature, and that theology cannot be understood or practiced without a clear sense of that natural wretchedness. Why so? Well, what will follow without it? The healthy feel no need of a doctor, do they? The righteous no need of repentance, the pure no need of sanctification, the living no need of a quickening Spirit, the innocent no need to make redress. Good sight has no need of eye-salve, those with resourced of their own to render due obedience feel no need of the intervention of a gracious God to change their hearts by an efficacious power, God’s good friends stand in no need of reconciliation, the blessed are hardly in any need of deliverance!”
God has a created order and a structure that He has placed on all things, including the Church. That created order is the very source of the Apostle’s direction to Timothy. If we reject that, we reject the God who gave it and we prove that He is right when He tells us through Moses and through Paul that the source of sin is rebellion against the order that He has placed on the world. When Adam and Eve had sinned for the first time, God cursed the Serpent (Satan), the woman and the man. When he cursed the woman, He said;
Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”
The fact that women struggle with the idea of submission (and men with the idea of good leadership) is because it is the result of sin and its curse. This is an ample demonstration of what Paul is trying to get across. However, this by no means degrades women! No more than Christ is degraded in His submission to the Father in the plan of Redemption. He is equal to the Father (Phi 2:6-7, Col 1:19), but the structure of the plan requires submission in order that that very plan might be accomplished. Thus, women are no more useless in the church or the culture than Christ is in our redemption!
I encourage you to listen to our discussion of this text and hear more. This is a pretty deep subject and we will be picking it up again next week, Lord willing. You can listen to the audio by clicking on the link below.
Women Professing Godliness – AUDIO