READ 1 TIMOTHY 2
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men– the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle– I am telling the truth, I am not lying– and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. 8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing– if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
The Apostle Paul continues his personal letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, with an urge to pray. Paul begins his emphasis on the “order” which the community of believers is to follow. This emphasis on the order created by God is consistent teaching throughout this letter. Apparently, the Ephesians to whom Timothy was ministering needed much instruction about order and how God has established it.
I’d like to call attention to the Apostle Paul’s repetition of his seemingly ingrained mindset of hierarchy and goes through the letter which in this chapter starts at verse 3 with God (as Savior) and 4-6 speaks of Christ (our Hope). Jesus Christ, in His position, intercedes in Heaven for humanity as a human worthy to be before God. Then in verse 7 Paul points out the Apostles, of which Paul belonged, and likely emphasized due to his concerns over false teaching. God sent Jesus and Jesus sent Apostles. The Apostles, in turn, teach us all that we find in the New Testament (instructions for Christians). Elders and others we will get their further instructions in coming chapters. Paul is establishing throughout the letter his understanding of order in God’s Kingdom.
In addition, Paul includes as an Apostle, his desire that everyone pray following the lead of Christ. They are to live in Christ who is our Hope. Accordingly, men (in the hierarchical submission) should intercede for leaders and everyone on earth. Jesus does that for us in Heaven. Men are reflecting the order of Heaven by leading and praying for those around them and standing in the gap for those in need.
He charges women to be in submission to God. Paul gives them the task to dress and behave in a manner fitting God’s order. A woman is to choose good and not evil for herself. She is charged to be supportive and overflowing with godliness. She is to put a priority on her character before physical appearance. Women are reflecting the order of Heaven by helping to nurture godliness in the community that leads to mature Christian behavior.
Just as God the Father brought forth the Son and created all things, so He brought forth a woman from whom all humanity is created. God… Father and Son… are equally God. Likewise, man and woman are equally human. God brings forth life and substance. We as humans are made in the image of God and are to reflect Him and steward the Earth. To do this, God’s good order must be respected and through Christ submission to his Father and our following, this can be done.
Both male and female are to steward family, community, and the world within the bounds of God. He established this relational order in the Garden of Eden. This is the orderly structure (described in Genesis) Paul seems to be drawing on. The order of Eden was true then. That same order… now in Christ… is true now.
The order we see thread throughout Timothy’s letter is the Edenic order reestablished by the life and ministry of Christ. There are some specifics that might trouble our minds, but not when we keep the Edenic order and Christ’s example in mind.
Paul states women are to “learn quietly.” Keep in mind many in Paul’s day would not teach a woman at all in any situation. Paul is not simply pushing culture norms out of the way but is calling back to a God-given order (from Eden). He wants women to learn to share what they learn… this is the goal of learning… is it not? Paul wants an established order within the church family which is only dependent on God’s designs.
What Paul says establishes church order out of family order. Fathers lead. Husbands and wives work together to raise their family and raise children well. Elders lead. Men and women work together to evangelize and disciple and mature the church family well. Again, Paul establishes church order out of family order.
If you did not know, “elders” in the nation of Israel (God’s designed people) were formed from the men. Therefore, they were the fathers who were the best representative of their tribes. This does mean they were not female… because elders that lead over the nation were established from men alone (see Numbers 11:16-30 and Exodus 18:25). You will find women that were leaders, but you will not find them in the Sanhedrin which are the authoritative Elders overseeing God’s chosen Old Covenant people. There were, of course, women in leadership, but what I think Paul is getting at is a community role that is developed in fathers. These fathers are very mature with and steadfastness in understanding headship.
Keep in mind the order we mentioned earlier. The person laying out this strong teaching about Edenic order is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He is teaching with authority about the church family and the role of the elder (see Chapter 3 for more). The Holy Spirit saw fit that this teaching of Paul made it into the biblical canon. Women are not excluded in this Edenic order, but raised up as co-laborers and leaders. Women just aren’t elders. Is that a “slam” or a “slight?” Not at all. Moreover, I think Paul is wisely leaving room for God in His ultimate authority to make exceptions for His purposes. God can raise up powerful women leaders of the Christian faith, but He would make them leaders… not elders… teachers and movers-and-shakers and prophetesses and deaconesses… just not elders.
Therefore, what I think Paul is addressing is the norm based on God’s revealed ideal in the Garden of Eden. Take note, if you will, that it is Adam and Eve’s story that backs the Apostle Paul and his understanding.