1 - 4 A House of Prayer
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties [and] prayers, petitions [and] thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This 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.
This chapter consists of two issues. The first issue is that of prayer and the particular responsibility it has for men, regarding praying in public. The second issue is the exterior and the conduct of the woman and her place in public. Both issues are particularly important and can hardly be overestimated.
They therefore rightfully belong in this letter. The great aim of the letter is after all to give instructions in the conduct of the believers in the house of God. This conduct concerns the right attitude both towards the unbelievers who are outside the house of God and towards the fellow believers who are also in the house of God. This conduct ought to reflect the characteristic that God shows in this letter, namely as God our Savior.
V1. Isn’t it most telling that Paul “first of all” urges with a view to prayer? There will be more admonitions or exhortations, but the one that is now the issue is the most significant. As a believer you ought to start with this one. It is absolutely essential to heed this exhortation and take it to heart. Praying is one of the basic characteristics of a spiritual life. In any case it is a fact for the newly converted Saul (Acts 9:11). The first believers of the church continued steadfastly in prayer; they gathered together in prayers (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:24; 12:12).
The four different forms of prayer that Paul mentions here applies for both the personal and the collective prayer.
1. “Entreaties” emphasize the need of a steadfastly, fervent praying for a concrete need. There is an extra urge in it.
2. In the “prayers” you draw near to God to speak out your desires in the broadest sense of the word. You can share the most trivial matters with Him without any formality.
3. You make “petitions” when you draw near to Him in an intimate and free access to ask something concrete on behalf of others.
4. “Thanksgivings” are the support of the previous activities. You draw near to God and thank Him in advance for whatever He will give or not, for He gives or does only what is good (Phil 4:6).
That Paul exhorts us to make intercessions “on behalf of all men”, underlines the intention of God that we represent Him as the God-Savior. This is how He wants to be made known to all men (Mt 5:45; Acts 14:16-17; 1Tim 4:10). When you become fully aware of that then its first effect will be that you start to pray. You do not only pray for the believers, but also for the unbelievers and you will exclude nobody in that. The circle of your prayer ought not to be more limited than the circle of God’s interest.
V2. It goes without saying that among ‘all people’ “kings and all who are in authority” are included. Still Paul separately encourages us to certainly make intercessions for these persons. In fact, we are inclined to forget them or even deliberately not mention them in our prayers, because of the usually ungodly nature they reveal. The latter was surely the case in the days of Paul. In those days the cruel, lawless emperor Nero was reigning. Paul therefore exhorts the Roman believers to make intercession for him. See also Ezra 6:10. Also the Lord Jesus tells His disciples to make intercessions for those who persecute them (Mt 5:44).
It is not about the authorities in themselves. We ought to obey them and submit ourselves to them (Rom 13:1-7; Tit 3:1; 1Pet 2:13-14; however, see also Acts 5:29). It is about people who form the government. All who are in authority, are those who have a lofty office. It not only concerns the rulers of the own city of the own country, but also outside those. There is mention of ‘kings and all who are in authority’.
The public prayer will prove to an ungodly government that the believers are not rebels. God can move the heart of rulers that they allow the believers to lead their lives without having them involved with the politics of the world (Jer 29:7). The point is not so much that the government will be grateful to the believers, but that the believer himself is inwardly kept from feelings of hatred and bitterness. Through prayer the Christian exceeds beyond the current situation. It makes the soul “tranquil and quiet” in the midst of persecutions.
This inward rest and peace become visible in “godliness and dignity”. It is “all” Godliness and dignity, which means that they are seen in all areas of life. ‘Godliness’ means to live in the fear of God. That doesn’t mean scare, but respect, taking His will into account. ‘Dignity’ is quite the same as reverence and honesty. You see that your conduct is largely determined by your prayer life.
V3. That attitude of prayer and its effect upon your way of life are “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”. God sees your prayer as something beautiful and worthy to accept. He wants to use it to save people. Your prayer may be a contribution to the proclamation of the gospel.
V4. In fact, God “desires all men to be saved”. This is the first part of God’s desire (Tit 2:11; 2Pet 3:9). There is no man whom God doesn’t want to grant salvation to. God wants to save sinners (1Tim 1:15) and that is all men. To God there is no distinction: all have sinned and all can be saved (Rom 3:22b-25; 10:11-13).
Therefore God is not to be blamed when a man perishes. That man owes that to his own obstinacy, he doesn’t want to. Here it is not about the will of God’s counsel (Eph 1:5), for that will always be executed. It is about the desiring will of God, about His desire (Mt 23:37), that can be resisted by man in his responsibility.
The second part of God’s desire is that all men “come to the knowledge of the truth”. Salvation is no aim in itself. God’s old people Israel was redeemed with an aim. That aim was that God should dwell in their midst. In that way the New Testament people of God are liberated from the power of the world in order to be a dwelling place to God in the Spirit (Eph 2:22). That becomes visible when believers gather together as a church with the Lord in the midst of them (Mt 18:20).
The “truth” is the truth about the Person of the Lord Jesus. He is the truth (Jn 14:6). We find everything about Him in the Bible, the Word that is the truth (Jn 17:17). The knowledge of the truth is to be received in the church of the living God. The church is in fact the pillar and support of the truth (1Tim 3:15). In practice it means that a newly converted should be added to a local church. The local church is to be recognized there where the characteristics are present that the whole church has.
Some characteristics are:
1. The body of Christ is seen there (1Cor 12:27).
2. The order in the church as the house of God is being maintained there by the acknowledgment of the authority of the Lord Jesus that He exerts by His Word and Spirit (Mt 18:20).
3. There is a diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:2-3).
4. Sin is being judged in the local church and in the believer’s own life (1Cor 5:13; 11:31).
Now read 1 Timothy 2:1-4 again.
Reflection: What place does prayer take in your life?
5 - 8 The Mediator – The Praying of Men
5 For 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 [given] at the proper time. 7 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. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
V5. This verse is connected by the word “for” with what is previously said. What follows now is how men can be saved and what the truth is which they ought to get to know. It is clear that all men are sinners. It is also clear that there is one God. This truth is not new. It is the confession of faith of the Israelites in the Old Testament (Deu 6:4; Isa 43:10-11; Zec 14:9). They were called to testify to that truth in the world with its polytheism around them. You encounter that unchangeable truth in the New Testament (Rom 3:29; 1Cor 8:4-6; Gal 3:20; Jam 2:19).
But the New Testament shows something that is not known in the Old Testament. That new truth is that the only God reveals Himself in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). That happened when the Lord Jesus came to earth (Jn 1:14; Col 1:19). In this new truth you also see the means that God gave to save sinners. The Lord Jesus is actually the Mediator between God and men. A mediator was necessary, because God could not in His holiness tolerate in His presence man in his sinfulness (cf. Job 9:33).
Three significant facts about the mediator are mentioned:
1. There is “one Mediator”. Therefore there is only one way to salvation (“the way”, Jn 14:6), only one Person by Whom we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Each alternative to be saved is to be rejected as a lie and deception. It is the foolishness of unbelief to ascribe the place of mediator to Mary or certain saints.
2. The Mediator is a Man, the “Man Christ Jesus”. In order for us to know God’s holiness and to have a satisfactory outcome the Mediator has to be God. Christ is God (Rom 9:5). But to fulfill this necessary work of propitiation in the place of men, He had to become like men (Heb 2:14). Only as Man He was able to be Mediator, not as the eternal Son.
3. V6. The Mediator “gave Himself” (Gal 1:4; 2:20; Eph 5:2; 5:25; Tit 2:14). More than that was not possible and less would not have been satisfactory. By giving Himself He paid the necessary ransom. No one (Psa 49:8) but He was able to pay the ransom, because He Himself was without sin.
He paid the ransom “for all”. The word ‘for’ here doesn’t mean ‘instead of’, but ‘for the sake of’ or ‘stretched out to’ (2Cor 5:15). The ransom is that big that all can be saved; but only those who accept Him in faith are saved (Mt 20:28).
To this awesome event a testimony was given “at the proper time”, which means at the right time, not too early and not too late. When Christ ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came to earth the time for this testimony had come. This testimony could not be given earlier, for Christ had not died yet and the ransom had not been paid yet. He died at the right time (Rom 5:6). Therefore the preaching also entered the world at the right time to proclaim the only means that appeared to be fully appropriate to meet the needs of man.
V7. To be able to give this testimony God had prepared and appointed an exceptional instrument. That is Paul (Acts 26:16-18). He is a “preacher” or herald. A herald is somebody who makes official statements in the name of a ruler. In that way the message of salvation has been preached. Paul is also an “apostle”. He is a special ambassador who comes with the authorization of his Lord. In the case of ‘preacher’ the people to whom he was sent are at the forefront. In the case of ‘apostle’ his Sender is at the forefront. Because his apostleship was sometimes called into question he emphasizes this by saying “I am telling the truth I am not lying”.
Finally he is also “a teacher of the Gentiles”. He teaches them about what the Lord has entrusted him. His ministry was not limited to Israel, but exceeds the national borders. There is no nation that can claim his ministry for itself exclusively. God not only made a preacher and apostle of this zealous Jewish nationalist, but also gave an exceptional revelation of His grace in him to the Gentiles.
His ministry happens “in [that is: in the realm of] faith and truth” and not in the realm of social improvement or a theological discussion. He fulfills his task in faith and truth. He preaches, exerts his apostleship and teaches in the confidence of faith. All his statements are in accordance to the truth. Therefore it is important to accept his ministry without any resistance.
It goes without saying that concerning Timothy there is no mention of resistance. But because he is quite timid Paul strongly presents his ministry again, in order to encourage him. For Timothy shouldn’t be afraid when opponents will try to attack Paul’s ministry. This empowerment you also need, for also today there are people who want to tell you that even Paul didn’t clearly understand all of it.
V8. Against the background of the authority that is given to Paul you hear in verse 8 “I want”. You must not take that as a friendly request, but as an apostolic commandment. The commandment is: Pray! This commandment is addressed to “the men”, because it is about praying in public. That appears from the indication of place “everywhere”. This means every place wherever believers gather together, regardless the building or purpose (cf. 1Cor 1:2; 2Cor 2:14; 1Thes 1:8).
The Scripture speaks more than once of praying women (1Sam 2:1; Lk 1:46; 2:37). But women are not allowed to lead in prayer on behalf of all in a public gathering where also men are present (1Cor 11:5-10; 14:34-35).
In Christianity you encounter an unbiblical restriction and an unbiblical extension of this commandment. The restriction is that only one man prays in the public gathering. The extension is that both men and women pray in the public gathering. The danger for those who reject both of these unbiblical practices is that this important ministry is left to only a few and that not all men pray. Men are addressed as a group apart from women as a group. It regards the total of men, all men, and not a special group among them. Praying demands no gift or a particular feeling.
It actually demands something different and that is “holy hands”. Those who pray in public are to be holy in their deeds (‘hands’). Their practical life has to be in accordance with Him to Whom they pray. The “lifting up” of the hands indicates the prayer position that was usual in those days. In the Scripture there is also mention of other prayer positions, as kneeling down (Dan 6:10; Acts 20:36; Eph 3:14), standing (Gen 18:22-23), lying on the face (Jos 5:14), sitting (2Sam 7:18). In fact the apostle doesn’t give one specific prayer position.
Not only the deeds, but also the inward man and the words must fit in seeking God’s face. “Wrath and dissension” hinder the way to God. The word ‘wrath’ with regard to men, describes an inward passion that explodes in an uncontrolled temperament. None of these elements are allowed to penetrate the holy realm of prayer. ‘Dissension’ is discussion, to be in a conflict or an argument with another believer. The prayer is certainly not supposed to deteriorate in a flood of words to heaven to blame or rebuke the other. He who leads others in such a holy practice ought to be pure in his motivation and attitude.
In case you’re a woman you ought to have ‘holy hands’ as well to be heard and your prayer should also be ‘without wrath and doubting’ not to experience any hindrances. But the ‘prayer commandment’ is addressed to the man. If you’re a man, then you know what is expected from you, with regard to prayer.
Now read 1 Timothy 2:5-8 again.
Reflection: What are the characteristics of the Lord Jesus as the Mediator? What are the characteristics of one who is a praying man?
9 - 15 Women
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 is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must 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 deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But [women] will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
V9. After the particular commandment for the men as a group a particular commandment for the women follows now, also as a group. The word “likewise” with which Paul starts to address the women, refers to ‘I want’ in verse 8. The phrase is therefore: ‘In like manner I desire that …’ He doesn’t mean that the women ‘should pray in like manner’. No, he wants that the women also deliver a contribution to the testimony to God in the world. The men are to deliver an audible contribution. Regarding the woman Paul says that her appearance ought to be a visible contribution.
When Paul goes into detail concerning the appearance of the woman, he doesn’t present her any fashion instruction. He wants to tell her that the power of her testimony lies in her appearance and her conduct. The point here is that there should be a consistency between her apparel and her Christian character and testimony. This concerns the radiance she has not only in the gatherings, but also in public life.
In that context there are two significant characteristics: “modestly” and “discreetly”. The Christian woman ought not to want to draw attention to herself. She may do that “with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments”. You do not read a prohibition on braiding of the hair or wearing gold or pearls or costly clothing. What she must not do is draw attention to herself through these things. The long hair is her glory (1Cor 11:15) and it is shameful when she has her hair cut off (1Cor 11:6), but it is just as much an anti-testimony when she spends a lot of money and time on braiding her long hair in all kinds of artful hair braiding, in order to show off with it.
V10. After having dealt with the things that should not characterize her appearance we hear about the things that are proper for her, namely “good works”. These are works that come forth from faith. They are a fruit of the new man (Eph 2:10). They are beneficial to their character and others experience the benefit of it. Examples of women who have done good works you find in Mary (Mt 26:7-10), Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2), Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) and Dorcas (Acts 9:36-39). You also read about women who served the Lord with their goods (Lk 8:2-3).
Paul is addressing “women making a claim to godliness”. He can expect them to have a conduct that suits to their confession. Doctrine and life should be in harmony, otherwise false notes will be heard in life. When you as a Christian woman confess to be Godly, when you say that your heart is filled with reverence for God, it ought to be seen in your clothing and deeds.
V11. After the general conduct of the woman in public as a testimony to God, Paul then says something about her conduct towards the man. He starts by saying that she should be ‘quiet’. You should also see this in the context of performing in public (cf. 1Cor 14:34) and not in the context of personal conversations or in the domestic environment. By nature women will not predominate. But the spirit of the world certainly doesn’t pass by the Christian woman, by which she is stimulated to be more involved and to be of influence.
Also the attitude and mind “with entire submissiveness” will not find approval in the world. However, the point is not how the world values, but how God values. Through her submissiveness it becomes clear that her being ‘quiet’ is not a sign of bitterness or slavishness, but that it comes from a willingness to accept living from and in an atmosphere that is given to women by the Scripture. It is not about subjection to the man but to the truth of the Scripture. That’s what will make her want “to receive instruction”. She will want to listen and pay attention to take in everything that serves her spiritual growth and blessing.
V12. Then a new apostolic commandment is to be heard in the words “I do not allow” with regard to the behavior of the woman at public occasions. The commandment implies that the woman is not supposed to have the role of a teacher and she is not supposed to have authority over a man. The prohibition on teaching is general and applies also in situations where there are only women. She is certainly allowed to prophesy (as long as she covers her head, 1Cor 11:5), for that is the application of the truth of God’s Word in daily life. She is also allowed to teach good things (Tit 2:3-5).
The woman is also not permitted to dominate or to exercise authority over the man. When a woman exercises authority over the man, then the roles that God has established, are being reversed. Teaching and exercising authority are not permitted to her.
The power of her testimony lies in her remaining “quiet” (cf. 1Pet 3:1-6). The phrase started in verse 11 with ‘quiet’ and ends here in verse 12 with ‘quiet’. Therefore it is particularly emphasized. In addition, men may ask themselves why women ultimately want to teach and exercise authority. Is it because men do not take up their responsibilities?
V13-14. In these verses Paul gives two reasons for the command of verse 12. He finds those two reasons at the very beginning of the Bible. Then God ordained things and things happened that He ordered to write in His Word, so that it is always possible that they can be referred to. The Lord Jesus also refers to the beginning when He is questioned about the man-wife relationship (Mt 19:4).
The first reason that Paul gives for his commandment is the rank order in which Adam and Eve are created (verse 13). Adam, the man, was the first independent living creature with a specific commandment. Only when God had everything in order, with regard to creation and the task of Adam, He created Eve. This is how He ordained the feminine to be dependent on the masculine.
As second reason Paul mentions the fall of man (verse 14). The order of creation shows how God has ordained it. The fall of man shows the character of the man and the character of the woman. The woman is easily to be tempted. Ahead of the fall of man Adam did not play the main role. Satan did not address him. He certainly was dragged into the tragic event, but not as a result of temptation. The man considers things in a more rational way than the woman and is therefore more fitted to teach.
That the woman is not to teach is not because she would be more credulous than the man. The point is that when she teaches she abandons her place and the consequences are then disastrous, as it appeared at the fall of man. The fall of man doesn’t show her credulity, but her abandoning her place as woman. This is how she distorted the Divine order and Adam accepted with open eyes her leadership with the disastrous consequences.
God has determined the woman to be dependent on the man. Her attitude towards the man is that of “someone weaker” (1Pet 3:7). The devil found an access to deceive her by appealing to her emotion and “the woman was deceived” (2Cor 11:3). It is for a good reason that John addresses a woman in his second letter that is about false teachers (2Jn 1:1). She has to be careful not to be deceived.
Eve crossed the border that God had drawn around her. She “fell into transgression” literally means that she ‘crossed a border’. Man and woman are under God’s protection as long as they remain within the borders that God has destined for them.
V15. The section of the woman ends with an exceptional expression of God’s grace that can only be experienced by the believing woman. Since the fall of man, which happened due to her, God connected pain and sorrow to the giving birth to children (Gen 3:16). Nevertheless there is a way for her to be saved in childbearing. However, there is the condition “if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint”. This refers to the atmosphere she entered when she came to faith. Her ‘self-restraint’ means that she continues to think healthy about this atmosphere and that she doesn’t allow to be tempted to take again a place that is not fitted to her.
This is not all that is to be said about this last verse. It has been noted that this verse is one of the most difficult verses of the New Testament to explain. This verse causes to raise questions which cannot be simply responded to. Consider a lot of Godly women who were not saved at giving birth to a child, but died. And what about women who cannot bear children or who remain unmarried.
I therefore believe that Paul is giving a general instruction here, with a view to the particular place that is given to woman by God in creation. As a counter balance to what is previously said, Paul wants to make the woman realize why God has created her. She finds the meaning of her life in the fulfillment of God’s destination for her: her role as woman and mother. Therein she is supposed to find her greatest satisfaction and not in taking over the role of the man.
Now read 1 Timothy 2:9-15 again.
Reflection: Where do you recognize the power of the woman’s testimony?