Many see in the passage we are going to study today an example of biblically-endorsed gender bias. They accuse the Apostle Paul of being a misogynist—a woman hater. It is true that some have misrepresented and misapplied the biblical teaching with respect to women, as they do in many other areas. However, the problem lies not with the Scriptures, but with those who distort its teachings. Today, as we continue our study of 1 Timothy, verses 8-15, Paul is going to outline the kind of people we need to be if we are to pray and worship in a God-honoring way. As we look at the text, it is important to recognize that Paul was addressing a cultural and situational context we do not fully understand. In it, he addresses a very particular set of circumstances that were occurring in the church of Ephesus at the time of his writing. We must read between the lines to find clues to the problems and challenges Timothy was facing.
We know from chapter 1 that false teachers had invaded the church and were misleading many. This is an important clue that drives much of what Paul addresses in this letter. As you read through Paul’s correspondence with Timothy, you begin to detect some of the ways this false teaching was impacting the church. We may have an example of this in 1 Timothy 2:8. Apparently, there was some relational friction among the men of the church. We can’t pinpoint with certainty the source of that tension, but one thing is certain. Paul is calling the men in the church to stop fighting and start praying. In verse 9, Paul turns his attention away from the prayerless, wrathful men in the church to address the ladies, who had their own set of problems. What kind of problems? We find some clues in the text.
First, some of the women were more interested in their outward appearance than their inward character (vv. 9-10). Here, Paul was reminding them that we gather together as a church to worship and pray, not to attract and display. Second, when the church gathered for worship, some were disruptive, gossipy, and defiant. It appears that this behavior was tied to an unbiblical, feminist ideology that was being spread by these false teachers who had infiltrated the church. Apparently, some women in the church were challenging Timothy’s teaching in a defiant and disruptive manner, which served to undermine Timothy’s God-established authority as a teaching elder in the church. In addressing this issue, Paul doesn’t name individuals, but directs his comments to the Ephesian women in general—perhaps because the problem was widespread (vv. 11-12).
The book of Genesis tells us that God created mankind—male and female. We are not the same. When it comes to the issue of gender differentiation, it is God’s view that matters. It is to Him that we must ultimately answer. Both genders equally mirror God’s image. However, we do not mirror that image in the same way. Equality of worth does not require equality of roles. “Equal” does not mean “identical.” Between the sexes, God has established an order of authority. The principle of the husband’s authority over the wife has been clearly established by God. Similarly, in the governance of the church, God has established the principle of male leadership, at least at the highest leadership level. It is not because men are smarter or wiser or more gifted than women. It is because God has ordained it that way. The New Testament makes it plain that God has equally gifted Christian men and women with unique talents that they are to use to minister to the church. (1 Cor. 12:7-11; 1 Peter 4:10). Their ministries are indispensable to the life and growth of the church (1 Cor. 12:12-26). Therein lies our gender equality.
However, the New Testament does place some restrictions on how women are to exercise their gifts when the church gathers together for public worship. These restrictions come back to God’s order of authority (1 Timothy 12). God has established that in the governance of the church, women are not to exercise authority over men. Some churches today ignore this Biblical principle because it is out of step with our culture. The question we need to answer is this: Does Scripture stand above culture or below it? The historical position of the church is clear. Scripture critiques culture, because Scripture is the revealed Word of God.
God himself is the definer of right and wrong, of truth and error—not man. God is the center, not man. Culture merely represents the prevailing preferences and inclinations of man. It is ever-changing. God, however, never changes. He doesn’t need to. He embodies truth. Here at TCC, we allow Scripture to critique culture, and not the other way around. There are consequences for rejecting God’s design for the church and for the home (Galatians 6:7). God created us male and female. We are equal, but not identical. We are equal, but not the same. By design, in the home and in the church, we do not have the same roles or the same authority. This is how it is meant to be. This is how we function best.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Determine to glorify God in your consecrated prayer rising from men and women living in unity with one another and submissive worship that honors God’s divine design for men and women.
- If you would like to know God personally, contact us here (connect.tcc.org) Scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second checkbox. We look forward to helping!