As we continue in our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.
Paul Instructs Timothy
Now that we have some idea of who Timothy was (no need to accept my speculation), let us dive right into Paul’s first letter to Timothy.
1 Timothy 1 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
We see here Paul regarding Timothy as a father regards his son. Remember how he spoke to Titus? I believe that an earnest discipleship relationship follows one of adoption. To the fatherless, even more so (I believe Timothy’s father was a non-believing Greek, but that is purely speculation on my part). Right at the beginning of the letter, we see Paul reminding Timothy of the reason he asked him to remain at Ephesus. Remember yesterday we saw that the role of Elder required the ability to give instruction in sound doctrine and to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). We see here that Timothy is first performing the role of disciplinarian. We have some indication of the types of problems he must confront, devotion to myths, speculations and a swerving from the charge of love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Also notice that certain persons have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the Law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. False teachers.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Paul then provides a defense for the rightful teaching of the Law, and leads directly into a reminder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So we see then that the first order of business for Timothy is in the discipline of certain men who seek to teach that which they do not understand, or who have made shipwreck of their faith by rejecting faith and a good conscience. If ever there is a people who need solid leadership, it is these here at Ephesus. Things are a mess, and it falls to Timothy to set the house in order by Paul’s instruction. Likewise, we too, must take heed to Paul’s instruction to Timothy. Let us continue to chapter 2.
1 Timothy 2 (ESV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is 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), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Now that the review/reminder of the disciplinary business Timothy needed to address is complete, Paul begins addressing the instructive portion of his duties. Please notice that he begins with Prayer. You might remember we discussed yesterday that the primary role of the Church leadership addressed in Acts 5 was for the elders to devote themselves to prayer and preaching of the Word of God. Here, we see Paul clearly defining that as the “first of all”. That supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. We also see plainly written that there is but ONE mediator between God and men, and that is Christ Jesus. As stewards of God’s grace, we must guard ourselves against the temptation of thinking that we fill that role in any way. We are administers of reconciliation, in that we preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the ONe and only mediator between God and men. We are the body, and He is the Head. With this firm reminder to pray for all people and to preach and teach in faith and in truth, Paul then transitions to the matter of the gathering of the saints, the assembling of the church.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 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. 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—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Women in Authority over Men?
In our current culture, there is a lot of animosity toward this prohibition of women teaching or exercising authority over men. The conditioned response (by worldly feminism) to this passage of scripture often takes the straw-man position of “so you’re saying a woman shouldn’t never speak?” or “that’s misogynist”. If that is your response, I can only ask that you continue reading with an open Bible. Those of the Protestant or Reformed tradition generally have no problem with this passage (though our culture seems to be gaining ground in those churches lately). It is usually within the Pentecostal, Charismatic, or otherwise non-cessassionist Christian traditions that we see this instruction to Timothy dismissed. Since such traditions generally hold 1 Corinthians 14 in high esteem, I think it is interesting where we find Paul discussing the matter of orderly worship.
1 Corinthians 14:26-40 (ESV)
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.
Paul writes the same instruction in his letter to the Corinthians, another church predominantly composed of non-Jews. He makes mention of the Law, but does not go into detail here. The larger issue in this letter to the Corinthians is the chaotic “manifestations run amock” taking place in the church. Paul has instructed at length the gifts of the Holy Spirit, love, speaking and praying in tongues, and prophesying. Now, he is instructing them to be self-controlled (…and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets) and orderly. Why is it shameful for a woman to speak in church? Let’s go back Paul’s explanation in 1 Timothy, where he goes all the back to Creation. I wrote on the topic of Delegated Authority earlier this year. God gave Adam authority over creation and the commandment of the one tree whose fruit he was forbidden to eat before God created Eve. The serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit, and she was tempted by his words and did eat. Yet, in his letter to the Romans, Paul points out that it was by Adam’s sin that death entered the world ( he did not mention Eve). That is because it was Adam’s responsibility to ensure that the Word of God be taught and observed. While the text (Genesis 3) does not explicitly say so, the fact that Eve adds to the commandment concerning the fruit of the forbidden tree indicates that Adam had failed in his responsibility to teach Eve the Word of God.
As I clearly stated in that January Bible Study, I will say again, this is NOT about Equality. The case I made in that study was that if woman were not equal with man, then Christ couldn’t have been “fully man” for He did not have an earthly father, only an earthly mother. Let’s also look to 1 Corinthians 11.
1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
Remember that we serve One God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There is a hierarchy, yet they are equal. Husband and wife are equals in substance, yet there is a clear line of authority that was set at Creation in the Garden of Eden, and persists to this day in the Body of Christ. The equality of man and wife are demonstrated and enjoyed in their union and the forming of one flesh.
1 Corinthians 11:11-12 (ESV) 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
Paul is not negating himself in this chapter. I encourage each of you to read it as a whole chapter. Paul is simply demonstrating the distinction between authority and equality.
Women Be Silent in the church?
First, in the interest of intellectual honesty, when was the last time you sat in a church service where anyone (male or female) asked a question or challenged a portion of a sermon or reading of the Scriptures? We don’t do church the way it was done in the synagogues and early Church services of the New Testament. I believe that is a problem, I am NOT praising this current mode of unchallenged, unquestioned, unengaged lecturing that passes as preaching these days. However, we find ourselves in this state because so few spend time studying the Word of God and we’ve bought into the very worldly notion that we just hire the “professionals” to teach the law and sit quietly and listen. But, if we are indeed modeling the church after the early Church, then we have a system designed around the family. The man is the head of his family, and bears the responsibility for teaching and discipline. If he has shown himself faithful in this regard, then he is qualified to be an elder (according to Titus 1, we’ll get to it in Timothy a little later). Therefore, given the family as the basic unit of the church, a woman who asks questions or challenges the Word as taught in the middle of the gathering of believers demonstrates to all that her husband has failed his duty first to teach and second that he was unwilling to speak up and ask a question for himself. The same dynamic is understood regarding single women, as their primary covering is their father. A young woman is supposed to be taught by her father and (as we’ll see in a bit) by the Older women in the church.
So Women don’t do anything?
This is a common rhetorical question that needs to be addressed. Women are prohibited (in Scripture) from teaching or having authority over men. That means serving as Elders, Deacons, and Pastors. They cannot teach men from a position of authority. That is not to say they cannot teach, nor does it mean there is no room for women to minister in the church.
Titus 2 (ESV)
1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
We are to be examples and mentors to the younger generation. Older women are to teach the younger women. Older men are to teach younger men. Only a godly woman can teach a young lady how to be a godly woman. Only a godly man can teach a young man to be a godly man. Parents must raise, teach, and discipline their kids; they are the only ones who can. Fathers are the heads of their households, and bear the responsibility of authority. That isn’t a “personality trait” or “special gift or calling” it’s part of God’s design. Sure, some men need to work harder at fulfilling their responsibility, just as some women need to work harder at submitting to the leadership of their husbands. This isn’t an area where the Scripture takes a back seat to modern psychology. God remains Sovereign over His Creation, and the Scriptures are God-breathed.
Tomorrow, we will look at Paul’s specific instructions for Elders and Deacons, and then we will discuss Paul’s instructions to the members of the church. If this seems new to you, please feel free to ask questions. I’m willing to discuss or even address major questions in their own bible studies once this series draws to a close. I will limit my discussion to what we find in Scriptures. If you’d like to discuss from a church tradition or orthodoxy point of view, then I strongly recommend setting up a meeting with your pastor.