1 Timothy 2:1-7
More Thoughts about 1 Timothy 2:1-7
First, Paul begins this chapter with this statement: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men (verse 1). The phrase “First of all” can be first in importance or first in a list of several.
Then Paul says, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men” (verse 1). Here, Paul uses four words that are commonly regarded as synonyms, but each synonym has its nuances of meaning. At a minimum, the terms overlap. Paul urges that the Ephesians pray “on behalf of all men.” This does not mean that all men will respond favorably to their prayers. We often pray for people who continue to reject God.
Second, Paul was concerned about how the church related to the state. He urges the church to pray “for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (verse 2). Applying this to our own lives, we should pray for all civil leaders, without regard to their political party. We can pray for people with whom we agree or disagree.
Third, Paul declares “3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (verses 3-4). Praying for all men is acceptable in God’s sight. Moreover, God desired “all men to be saved.” This does not mean that all men will be saved. Millions of people know about Jesus but reject the gift of salvation. Happily, the harvest of those who do accept Christ and come to the knowledge of truth is great.
Fourth, Paul writes, “5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time” (verses 5-6). There is only one door to salvation and that is through Christ Jesus (Acts 4:12).
Fifth, Paul refers to his position as a preacher. He writes: “And for 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” (verse 7). No doubt his apostolic authority and ministry to the Gentiles were challenged by unfaithful teachers. So, Paul spoke concerning his calling and ministry.
More Thoughts about 1 Timothy 2:8-10
At this point in his letter, Paul writes some very practical instructions. First, he addresses the men. He states: “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (verse 8). They are to pray “in every place.” They are not limited to praying in the church.
The implication is that men were engaging in dissension even though they prayed in public. The strife and dissension that they engendered did not harmonize with a proper attitude in prayer. The apostle Paul exhorts them to lift up holy hands while praying and to avoid wrath and dissension. Avoiding wrath and dissension would contribute to the holiness of their hands.
When we pray, we are not limited to lifting holy hands. William Hendriksen lists various postures of prayer that are mentioned in Scripture. They include standing, hands spread out or/and lifted heavenward, bowing the head, lifting heavenward of the eyes, kneeling, falling with the face upon the ground, and other postures.
Regarding closing our eyes when we pray, Hendriksen writes: “The present custom of closing the eyes while folding the hands is of disputed origin. Though unrecorded in Scripture and unknown to the early church, the custom may be considered a good one if properly interpreted. It helps the worshipper to shut out harmful distractions and to enter the sphere where ‘none but God is near.’”
The key point is not our physical posture or action, but our reverence for God when we address Him in prayer. Although we may follow given customs in our church services, and elsewhere, it is always what is in our hearts that matters most.
More Thoughts about 1 Timothy 2:9-10
Paul has just addressed the men, exhorting them to lift holy hands in prayer without wrath or dissension. This was a special problem for the men at Ephesus. No doubt the men of the day had a special role in public prayers. Some commentators hold that Paul means “men only.” However, Paul does not preclude an application to women.
Next, Paul addresses the women. He writes these instructions: “9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; 10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness” (verses 9-10).
Paul’s main message is that women should dress modestly and not extravagantly. It appears that this was a special problem for the women of the church. Paul does not direct these same comments to the men. He possibly would have, if the instruction were needed. What dressing modestly means varies from culture to culture and from time to time. In today’s world, styles quickly globalize, so that people are dressing more alike.
Paul continues his instructions to women with these comments about learning, teaching, and exercising authority: “11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (verses 11-15). I will comment on these verses in my next “thoughts.”
More Thoughts about 1 Timothy 2:11-15
In 1 Timothy 2:11-15 Paul instructs women about learning, teaching, and exercising authority in the church. This passage has been widely cited and discussed. Paul writes:
“11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (verses 11-15).
Two of the main lines of interpretation come under the headings of complementarianism and egalitarianism. The complementarian approach is that women and men are equal, but they have complementary, not identical, roles. The egalitarian approach is that men and women are equal and may function in the church in the same way.
Another factor that enters into the discussions is culture. Some would argue that Paul was addressing women at a given time and in a given culture and that his instructions may well have been different in other cultures and at different times.
Other Scriptures are bearing on this subject, but 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 are two of the main ones. In my book entitled Spiritual Persons, Gifts, and Churches, I have a chapter on 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 (pages 207-225) entitled Women Speaking in the Church. If you are interested, the book is available on Amazon.
I do not know of any “official” Assemblies of God exegetical position on 1 Timothy 2:11-15. However, it may be that there is one. Historically, in our denomination, we have had women pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. Currently, women are serving also on our General Presbytery and Executive Presbytery. In practice, therefore, this means that women learn, teach, and lead in our church.
George M. Flattery, Ph.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.