1Timothy 2.8-15 Silent Men and Loud Women

May 23, 2010 Series: 1 Timothy

Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Timothy 2:8–2:15


1Timothy 2.8-15 – Men and Women

May 23, 2010

Sam Ford


Intro: Hard Words

Get ready.  We are going to tackle on of the most difficult and controversial passages in this letter, perhaps in the entire N.T.  I enjoy preaching straight through Bible books because eventually have deal with passages that have no simple explanations.  And, as a result, pastors will often avoid the “hard words” out of fear of being misunderstood, or worse, being understood.  The words Paul writes have been difficult since the days they were first written.  2Peter 3.15-16  15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.


Sin in Me

I’m warning you before we begin here, that some of you are going to want to reject Paul’s words because they are hard to understand.  He talks about roles of men and women in the church.  It could be you simply did not know what the Bible teaches about the church and its leadership, but for some of you it, it may be because your doctrine has been subjected to a different authority than Scripture:


  • Culture over Scripture:  Our culture is not friendly to drawing lines between the sexes.  In the name of reaching the culture, demonstrating the grace of Jesus, OR attracting and  keeping people in your church, Scripture often takes a back seat to what culture says is popular.  We starting affirming and stop discerning.  What is popular dictates what is right.  


  • Church Tradition over Scripture:  Church traditions have also negatively impacted our view of Scripture.  Whether it is denominations or just time with a church, “The way we have always done it” or “The way I was taught” becomes the determiner and the reason for what we believe.  Scripture becomes a tool to defend, as opposed to judge, our traditions. What is  long-established dictates what is right.


  • Emotional Experience over Scripture:  Then we have experiences we have with people, friends, family, leaders, dictate much of what we believe—or at least influence it.   If we’re not careful, the emotions connected with an experience or a person begins to govern our approach Scripture.  Relationship with others trumps relationship with Jesus as we often find ourselves compromising the truth and twisting Scriptures to make us and those we love feel good, or not feel bad.  What feels good dictates what is right.


  • Intellectual Interpretation over Scripture:  Lastly, sometimes when we don’t understand a Scripture, we often reject it.  Our ability to know becomes the final authority.  This will lead us to focus on truth selectively, zeroing in on a verse or a doctrine we can explain (or just like) while we ignore the other difficult verses or doctrines that offend or confuse our intellects.  What makes sense dictates what is right. 


BUT sound doctrine rarely becomes corrupted overnight—it is subtle and slow.  What starts as an inch off course, in a matter of time, becomes miles away from truth.  My prayer as we study this passage today is that we will not fight for CULTURE, for TRADITION, for EMOTION, or even for INTELLECT, but for Biblical Truth—even if it offends or judges all of those things------Read 1Timothy 2.8-20-----------


V. 8  Sin of Men

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands  without anger or quarreling;


I desire THEN

By saying, I DESIRE THEN, Paul connects what he had said in the first part of chapter 2.  After saying DOCTRINE is important and to CONFRONT WOLVES, he commands that prayers be made for all people, all kings, all leaders, even all pastors who have gone astray like these wolves, because God desires all men to be saved through knowing the truth.  The truth is not just facts about “a better or more prosperous life”; it is a person named Jesus (John 14.6).  And Paul says that he was appointed and APOSTLE and a TEACHER to proclaim the gospel, the news of what Jesus has done to bring back broken, rebellious, dirty sinners to God. 


In other words, he says that KNOWING THIS…that proclaiming the gospel is his job and ALL of our jobs… in EVERY PLACE, MEN should LEAD in these prayers.  This is deeper than men should pray more.  Remember, Paul is writing, according to 1Timothy 3.15 that YOUNG PASTOR TIMMY, “may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.”  Here, Paul is talking not about just being a part of the church, but actually what occurs in the assembly of the church. Paul uses the phrase “EVERY PLACE”, four times in his letters (1Cor 1.2; 2Cor 2.14; 1Thess 1.8), all referring to the assembly of the church.  We’re talking a public worship service.


Men should pray

In other words, men should be the spiritual leaders in the church assembly.  This is not to denigrate women.  Genesis 1.27 clearly states that God made male and females both in His image.  In most of Paul’s letters, he goes to great lengths to elevate women.  God made men and women equal, BUT he also made them uniquely different with different roles, different ways of thinking, different ways of doing, and different responsibilities.  Here, right after hammering the importance of SOUND DOCTRINE, the FIRST THING Paul wants to do is clarify how these roles play out in the structure of the church.  AND, he does this by explaining how both men and women uniquely sin in failing to fulfill their responsibilities.  


MEN, like their Father Adam, fail to lead when they are silent.  When they fail to pray, fail to fight for truth, when the fail to confront wolves, fail to teach the flock, they fail to lead.  And when men fail to lead, THEN the church, or the family, is destroyed by sin.  Like the 2nd Adam, Jesus, men are to lead in the worship of God.  Men are to lead in serving.  Men are to lead in praying.  Men are to lead in teaching.  Men are to set the example.  And men are to take responsibility when things go wrong.


Men should lift up holy hands without anger/quarrel

So Paul sets the stage for what is going to be said about WORSHIP SERVICES by starting with the men.  Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of strong male leaders in churches at all.  Paul says men are to lift up “holy hands”, meaning, men who lead should live pure, godly, transparent lives, unashamed, and above reproach.  Unfortunately, many men who “lead” or have led, abused their role as leaders—they get angry and quarrel.  They control and fight.  They destroy rather than build up. 


Other men abandon their role as leaders all together.  It is more common for men NOT to “lift up their hands at all”.  With hands in their pockets, they ignore sin, are indifferent toward need, work hard to avoid conflict, and refuse to build anything that requires self-sacrifice.  Then, a void of leadership that must and will be filled—usually by women.  There are a few churches that are being pastored by women today.  But there are many more churches and families “pastored” by men, but led by women.  Failed churches and failed families are a result of the failed leadership of men.  And when churches and families are not led by godly men who love Jesus, we see the effects in culture as evidenced by a feminist movement birthed out of men who abused and abandoned their roles.  


V. 9-11 Sin of Women

This is not to say that women aren’t capable of or gifted in leading, only that God didn’t’ design, expect, or desire for them to fill the voids left by men in the church or the family. Regardless of what culture says, regardless of what our experiences have shown to be “good”, leadership not in line with God’s design will eventually lead to sin.  In verses 9-11, Paul shifts his focus to the women and their roles in the church. And this is where things get a bit CONTROVERSIAL.  But I believe that any church that walks away from gospel-centered doctrine, often begins by avoiding or ignoring what seem like “minor” theological issues.  This is one: 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.


Adornment and Godliness

Like men, women fail in their own unique way in fulfilling their roles.  Paul tells Timothy to teach the women in the church assembly to concern themselves with adorning the heart, not the skin, to exercise self-control and modesty.  Women are often overly concerned with appearances—their own and that of others—leading to pride, gossip, and sexual immortality.  In any church starting to get sick and die, you will find two things, MEN who are quiet pansies and WOMEN who are loud train wrecks.  When men fail to keep the church or family centered on heart truths, often times unrestrained women will shift the church toward an unhealthy focus on COSMETIC surface issues—right and wrong become whatever is a “delight to the eyes” as it happened in the garden of Eden.  The people, both men and women, become a church desperately to appear beautiful, attractive, or “desirable” to each other and the world for all of the wrong reasons.  God’s charge for women is the same charge for the church.  Look beautiful for the right reason.  The intent of one’s heart will dictate your appearance.


Learning and Submissiveness

Again, we are not vilifying women—it begins with a failure of men. Paul continues, juast as he identified men’s weakness is not leading and not talking, women fail to fulfill their role by talking too much and trying to lead where they should not.  Without question, the church historically has treated women poorly.  Such mistakes should not make us ashamed of what the Bible teaches. At Damascus Road, we agree with Paul that all women should study their Bibles, learn theology, even take classes at seminary if they desire.  Our shared opinion is quite different than the Roman world when Paul writes, who viewed and treated women as 2nd class citizens who were academically inferior.  Paul teaches something entirely counter cultural for the time (the Bible usually is)—WOMEN SHOULD LEARN.  He does say, however, they should learn quietly.  Learn “Quietly” does not mean complete silence.  It describes the overall demeanor of respect.  This is really the only way ANYONE can learn—if they stop talking.


Paul also says they must learn with ALL submissiveness.  There is no such thing as PARTIAL submissiveness. Partial submissiveness means we RESERVE the right to complain, rebel, grumble, resent, etc. It isn’t really submissive at all.  Submission is a dirty word in our culture.  BUT we are not talking about a perverted view of submission, rather, a biblical view that Jesus himself lived out.  Unbiblical submission says there is NO AUTHORITY or there is ABUSIVE authority.  Biblical submission is AUTHORITY like Jesus exercised, AUTHORITY in SUBMISSION to GOD,  and, as a result, AUTHORITY that is HUMBLE, AUTHORITY that SERVES, AUTHORITY that LOVES, AUTHORITY that is gracious, but AUTHORITY that is uncompromising in regards to the truth.  Women are not called to submit to ALL men in this passage, rather, it is in the context of the church assembly, to pastors who meet biblical qualifications in the next chapter. It is a good wonderful thing to submit to God-given authority—not easy—but good.


V. 12 Teaching & Authority

Without hesitating after the first punch, Paul hits us with another hard statement—one that many people have tried their hardest to minimize the apparent harshness of:  12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the Jews believed: “It would be better for the words of the Torah to be burned, than that they should be entrusted to a woman.”  At Damascus Road, we believe that the Holy Spirit equips many women with the spiritual gift of teaching and that God intends for them to use their gift to edify the church.  We believe that women can be deacons, that women can lead in worship, that women can teach Bible studies, and women can lead other ministries…BUT, we believe that Scripture dictates that teaching as an elder/pastor, in the highest office of authority in the church, is not permitted for a woman. Teaching has a specific meaning in the pastoral letters: what the apostles did, what the elders did.  To preach is to exercise authority in the church, and that role is reserved for a man found qualified and called according to the Bible.  There have been several misuses of this passage:


  1. No women should ever teach any man anything There are women who have been given the gifts of leadership and teaching.  There are several examples in Scripture where women taught.  Women can and should teach, just not in this particular office (Acts 2.17-18, Col 3.16, Acts 18.26). You say… BUT…I’ve known, I’ve seen, I’ve been at churches where women were pastors, they are great people! The first question is never “what works”, but what is biblical.


  1. All men can teach all women: The truth is that MOST men are also not permitted to teach or exercise authority in the church.  Just because you are a man, does not mean you can teach.  Not all men can teach, not all men who get divinity degrees or desire to pastor should.   But all husbands and fathers are responsible to teach in their own home—which means you are responsible to be the resident theologian of your home.  If you are married to a biblically knowledgeable women, time to go to school.  She should not be punished because she has learned, rather, you should be prepared to answer her questions. 


  1. All women must submit to all men:  This is the same as Ephesians 5 teaches that wives are submit to their own husbands, not ALL husbands.  The men permitted to speak, the men to whom the women are expected to submit to and learn from, are qualified elders not all men.   


V. 13-14 Creation not culture

Paul ends this portion of his instructions for the church with a couple strange statements.  One has been abused and the other misunderstood.  Verse 13 says: 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.


Ephesus or Eden

Some will argue today that this female pastor issue is a result of the fall, that women leaders are only subordinate to men leaders because of the fall.  There are others who argue that, because of the existence of a femi-nazi cult to Diana in the city of Ephesus, Paul’s strong words here are intended to address a particular time and place in the past—it does not apply today.  There is a great danger in suggesting certain passages of scripture of only local or transient authority.  It is clear, with Paul’s reference to the Garden of Eden, that his charge is not a result of sin or a cultural matter; it is part of God’s perfect plan and design for creation that men were formed to lead and women were formed to help them lead.  We must avoid the extremes of legalistic literalism that precludes women from all ministries, but also cultural liberalism that ignores the whole witness of Scripture.


Adam more responsible

In the Garden of Eden, Eve ignored God’s design and chose to lead instead of follow.  When she stepped out and “led” instead of submitting to Adam’s leadership (as weak as it was), instead of submitting to God’s leadership, she followed the devil.  And Adam who for a moment was the sinless husband of a sinful wife, chose to follow her into sin instead of lead away from it—the fall was complete. 


The notable difference was that Eve is said to have been DECIEVED and Adam was not.  This does not show us that women were weaker, that Adam was less responsible, or that Eve is to blame for everything.  Eve was certainly responsible for her own sin; but Adam wasn’t deceived, not meaning that he was smarter and didn’t fall for the temptation.  Adam was not tempted directly, eyes wide open he FOLLOWED Even into sin.  And ultimately God held the MAN, not the WOMAN, responsible for the fall of humanity.  God came looking for Adam in the Garden.  God asked Adam what he had done.  And, in response, Adam tried to blame Eve, and God himself for giving her to him. Husbands cannot blame their strong wives, and Pastors cannot blame their strong female leaders, for their failure to lead their churches and families in biblical truth/godliness.  


v. 15 CONCLUSION: The child who is born

Chapter two ends with a confusing verse that, if understood properly, helps to strengthen Paul’s overall point. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.   There are several ways to understand this passage, I will close with two that I think are most helpful and Biblical:  


First, I believe that women will be saved through the fulfillment of their God-given role.  The word translated preserved or “saved” here is the common New Testament word for salvation.  The word can also mean to heal, set free, or deliver from.  Today, sin causes women to believe that talking instead of listening, rebelling instead of submitting, leading instead of following, is the way to success.  This belief is not from God but from the fall.  When there is an abandonment or an abuse of leadership in the church OR at home, their greatest temptation will be to fill it.  Women will find their greatest joy and freedom in fulfilling their God given role as women helping to raise godly churches and godly families.


Secondly, another way to translate the passage, is not that women are literally saved through giving birth to a child, BUT that we are ALL saved through THE birth of THE child—Jesus.  It was earlier in the chapter that Paul made the point that we are saved THROUGH the one mediator, and here, all men, women, and children are saved THROUGH the birth of our savior.  This idea echoes the very thing God said in the Garden of Eden, after the fall, that the child of Eve would crush the head of Satan.  It is where Adam set his hope following the curse of God, as he chose to name his bride EVE—the mother of all living.


Without women, there would be no salvation at all.  So, instead of viewing pastors as chauvinistic, or churches who hold to this view as narrow-minded or out of touch, I pray we see men, like Paul, elevating the beauty and importance of women, brides, and mothers—as a part of the gospel itself.  Failure to live out our role as a man or a woman is not a culture issue, it is a failure to believe and live the gospel.  



1Peter 3.3-7  3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.


Women are teacups, not hammers. You aren’t meant to crush a nail with a teacup or drink tea from a hammer.  Men, if we fail to encourage woman to lead in the way they were designed, to love our wives first, and to love the women who call this church home, our own leadership has husbands or pastors will fail.  Don’t ask why women are not following, consider whether you are loving them like Jesus did. Go in grace.