Summary: This is among the most controversial sections in the Bible. Paul appears on the surface to be against women, but if you look at the context there is much more here - and more important issues than how we dress and act.
There is no doubt that 1 Timothy 2 is among the most controversial passages of Paul’s writings. In this chapter it appears as if Paul calls men to pray and women to shut up - while dressed in sackcloth and ashes - staying home barefoot and pregnant.
Although it is short - only 15 verses - it is packed with controversy from beginning to end. What I’m going to do is give you some of the current positions and what I think is going on here.
The first thing we need to recognize is why Paul wrote this letter. It was to give Timothy help in silencing false teachers - teachers who had apparently taken advantage of some women and led them astray. With that in mind - the text isn’t as acerbic as it might seem at first.
The context of the chapter is: how we should act in worship. What may have been happening here is that widows and some younger married women were being drawn off into false doctrine by some church elders who had gone bad. Keep that in mind as we go through the chapter.
1 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.
Believer it or not - this too is controversial. Politics has infiltrated the church to the point that Republicans think Jesus must have been a Republican and Democrats know Jesus would never support George W. Bush!
Paul encourages us to intercede for and thank God while we pray for our rulers. Even the ones we don’t agree with. That means the president, the governor, the mayor, and the school board members. Does this mean we have to agree with them? No. But it does mean we respect them and pray for them.
The Apostle Peter said: 1 Peter 2:17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king
This is a pretty amazing statement considering that the ruler in Peter and Paul’s day was Caesar Nero - the same man who lit Christians on fire while he rode a horse around his courtyard in the nude.
Why should we do this? To live "peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
I think there are at least two things operating here.
1. We should pray for the salvation of our leaders and that they would do God’s will.
2. We should pray instead of complain - to show that we belong to God and that He is in ultimate control - not the rulers He sets in place. That doesn’t mean you are uninvolved - but just don’t be a whiner!
Consider what Paul wrote in Romans:
Rom 13:1-5 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
The important points are: God establishes rulers - he can put them in and take them out. 2. We are to submit to them - but never to do something against God’s law. 3. The purpose of rulers are to punish wrong and reward right behavior.
So our aim is to pray for God’s direction and salvation for these leaders so they will do what is right. Paul follows up with that thought:
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.
God even wants those ungodly rulers like Nero and Hitler to be saved. It’s unlikely they did - but we have the opportunity to change history by praying for authorities over us!
By the way - this is a good verse to speak to God’s character - He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked - but really does want everyone to go to heaven - but the choice is ours and there is only one way: