1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all -- this was attested at the right time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; 9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.

11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.  Version: New Revised Standard Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • What kind of life should Christians live? This seems to be the subject of chapter 2. It also seems that the moral content of this chapter was missing from the ministry of the false teachers who are the subject of chapter 1.
  • Christians ought to be people of prayer (vv.1-4,8).
    • While we pray for everyone, we must be especially careful not to neglect prayers for influential people. The result of this is that when God moves in their lives we will be able to function as Christians in a climate of peace.
      • This is not an aligning of the church with the state. Christianity, if it is not to fall again into the lamentable errors of its past history, must remain apolitical. For more, click here.
      • But the opposite extreme must also be avoided: disrespecting political leaders.
    • Men are to pray without quarrelling (v.8), just as women are to dress modestly in church as at all times (v.9). Both anger and immodesty pollute the soul and distract from true worship.
    • Prayer in turn facilitates the spread of the gospel everywhere (v.4ff).
      • After all, God wants everyone to be saved.
      • And there is only one path to God: through Jesus Christ.
  • Notice what Paul calls himself (v.7):
    • Herald -- he is the one who runs ahead of the King, delivering royal proclamations.
    • Apostle -- he is the envoy, the missionary of One greater than he.
    • Teacher -- he patiently and carefully explains the message.
    • Though Paul served uniquely as a teacher of the Gentiles, an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, and a herald of the kingdom of God, in a sense all disciples function in a similar capacity -- don't we?
  • Having already urged modesty, in verses 11 to 15 Paul discusses what is appropriate for a Christian woman.
    • Modesty is not only a matter of dress.
    • It is also a matter of money. The Lord seeks economic modesty.
      • Let's avoid conspicuous consumption.
      • And realize that wealth / possessions is a serious biblical theme.
  • They are to learn submissively (vv.11-12). They are not allowed to preach in church.
    • Paul allowed women to pray publicly and to prophesy (1 Corinthians 11), as well as to sing (Colossians 3:16), so he is hardly commanding absolute silence. Preaching -- which is authoritative -- is in view here.
    • To support his position, Paul appeals to the Law (Genesis 3), just as he does in 1 Corinthians 14:34. But this is not the Law of Moses, but the law of God at the beginning -- or at least at the time of the Fall. The propensity of (some) women to be deceived is also referred to in 4:7.
    • There is nothing unspiritual about a woman marrying (4:3) or bearing children (v.15).
      • Many Christians in the early church developed the idea that marriage was sub-spiritual -- that lifetime celibacy was preferable. While Paul agrees that this is the better choice for those with the gift (1 Corinthians 7:7), he does not forbid marriage, as the Gnostics did.
      • The Gnostics taught that women were inferior, sex was dirty, and marriage only a necessary evil. Paul strongly disagrees.

Advanced:

  • The early church was apolitical, though this changed in the 4th century. But being apolitical does not mean that one is uninvolved in the process, especially through prayer. It means one puts his hope in God, not politics, to effect change in society and on the planet.
  • Since there is only one mediator between God and man (v.5), it follows that:
    • We cannot pray to any "saint," only to God.
    • We do not come to God through any mediator (or mediatrix) than Jesus.
    • The veneration of the Virgin Mary -- which is really only the resurgence of the cult of the mother goddess in Christianity (made official in 431 AD at the Council of Ephesus) -- is misguided.
    • Catholic response: To be fair, mediation and intercession are not identical. It may be possible that the dead pray for us (interceding), but that aren't mediators. Christian counter: Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God (where he is seated). Yet that is not where the dead are; in Sheo/Hades (the underworld) they await the day of judgment.
  • To whom was the "ransom" of verse 5 paid? Most Christians say the ransom was paid by God to God. But this theology dates back less than 1000 years. The early Christians understood the ransom as being paid to the devil himself.
  • Men are to lift holy hands in prayer.
    • It's hardly holy when hands raised in praise of God are made into threatening fists. See Isaiah 58:4.
    • The passage can be emphasized in three ways, depending on how one understands form and function:
      • Lift holy hands... That is, the important thing is to raise one's hands when praying. This is commonly depicted in early Christian art.
      • Lift holy hands... That is, understanding the truth of 1 John 4:20, we dare not approach God when our relationships to others are out of line.
      • Lift hands that are holy... That is, we must raise our arms when we pray, and we must be right with our fellow man.
    • Of course this doesn't mean women need not be holy in their prayers -- any more than it means men need not be modest (v.9)!
    • For more on "Lifting Hold Hands, Shoutin' and Dancin'," click here.
  • Modest dress is (at least partially) culturally conditioned. And yet some things are immodest whatever the culture. In our dress, manner, and speech, Christians ought to be conservative -- not following the worldly crowd, and certainly not in the vanguard of the avante garde! For more, read William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.
  • For the best book I have read on women in leadership, click here.
  • Interestingly, Paul's position in verse 11 shows that he is not just "a man of his time." In Ephesus, women were accustomed to taking the lead in worship, particularly in the cult of Artemis (the "queen bee" -- Acts 19), where the men ("drones") served as assistants, working beneath the female ministers "the honeybees."
  • For a full study of the three pastoral epistles, including the religious background of Ephesus and the unusual teaching of the Gnostics, click here.

Thought questions:

  • Do I disrespect authorities, including political leaders (negative comments, slander, gossip, mockery), or do I support them through prayer?
  • Am I modest, or do I justify worldly actions, speech, and dress by a false appeal to 1 Corinthians 9:22 (becoming all things to all men)?
  • Do I look down on motherhood, or discourage others from pursuing family life, as did the ancient Gnostics?