Summary: Second in a series from 1 Timothy. This message deals with the role of women in the church.
Note: I’m indebted to Ray Stedman for the title of this sermon - it was just too good to pass up!
Read 1 Timothy 2:8-15 (NIV)
Questions to ask:
1. Should this be applied universally for all believers at all times?
2. Is it a complete handbook for church behavior?
3. Was Paul a chauvinist?
4. Should I quit while I¡¦m ahead?
Two potential dangers:
1. Ignore the cultural context and apply this passage too literally.
2. Over-emphasize the cultural context and miss the principles
- Overall purpose of Paul’s letter
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:14, 15 (NIV)
- Immediate context of this passage
Beginning in 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul is addressing the conduct in public worship, particularly as it deals with public prayer. NIV is not a real good translation of v.9. Literally it should read, "Likewise, I want women to dress modestly..." Likewise refers back to v. 8 where Paul is addressing the role of men in the public worship gatherings of the church. It’s important to understand that all of Chapter 2 deals with how various people are to conduct themselves in the public worship of the church.
- Cultural context
Jewish women were forbidden to learn the law. In the synagogue, they could have no part in the service ¡V they were seated in a separate section or in a gallery. Women could not teach in a school. Jewish men would pray and thank God that He had not made them ¡§ a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.¡¨
The temple of Diana in Ephesus had hundreds of priestesses who were "sacred prostitutes" that plied their trade every evening on the city streets. Respectable Greek women led a very confined life. They lived in their own quarters into which no one but their husbands were allowed. They could not appear in public alone.
Overall, Paul is not putting women down or relegating them to some unimportant role in the body. In fact, we’ll see this morning that he is actually elevating the position of women far above the culture of his time in much the same way that Jesus Himself had done during His earthly ministry.
Six issues regarding women in the public worship of the church
1. Their appearance
I also want women to dress modestly, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes...
1 Timothy 2:9 (NIV)
The word for "to dress" is the Greek word from which we get our word "cosmetic". It is a word that means "to make ready" or "to put in order". Women (and men for that matter) are to make themselves ready or put themselves in order before the public worship time and part of that preparation has to do with putting on appropriate clothing.
I once heard Phyllis Diller say that she spent three hours in a beauty shop - and that was just for the estimate!
Paul moves from the general principle - women are to dress modestly - to more specific instructions about hair, jewelry and clothing. The issue was not those items themselves, but the fact that in the culture of Ephesus of that day, women wore elaborate hairstyles, fancy jewelry and expensive clothing to call attention to themselves. I guess some things never change. The other problem was that the temple prostitutes often dressed in that way and Paul wanted to make sure that no one would associate the women in the worship service with those women.
Dress in a way that does not distract from the worship and call attention to self.
There are some women who have taken this passage and gone to the other extreme. They don’t wear any makeup or fix their hair and they dress kind of frumpily as if somehow that would make them appear more "spiritual". In effect, they are really violating the principle by just calling attention to themselves in a different way.
2. Their attitude
...with decency and propriety...
1 Timothy 2:9 (NIV)
The idea here is that a woman is humble and self-controlled. She would not desire to do anything that would distract others from worshiping God.
3. Their testimony
...but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
1 Timothy 2:10 (NIV)
A woman who truly loves God will behave in a way that is consistent with her professed faith. That includes holding to God’s design for the role of women in the church:
4. Their role
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.