Know your role! — 1 Timothy 2:8-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 29, 2017
We all have different roles in life, some we like while others we may not like as much. In our world today there are those who are trying to redefine roles that have been in effect for thousands of years. What we used to think of as an absolute truism that was founded in biology and by the providence of God liberal society has redefined and pushed the boundaries of what was once thought of as foundational. Sadly it has become difficult to preach or teach on what Paul taught his friend Timothy concerning roles between men and women.
In order to fully understand what Paul wrote we cannot allow our emotions or today’s politically correct definitions color what Paul taught and why he taught what he did. The church Timothy pastored and the area it was founded in was one of rampant paganism based on slavery and the subjugation of women as property. To force our preconceived modern-day notions on the world of Paul is a fallacy. In fact if you know history you know that the Christian faith changed all of these accepted social norms of Paul’s day. Let’s discover what Paul wrote about knowing your role…
Whether we like it or not psychology, sociology, and history has proven that while men and women can often do the same task and do them quite well, men and women do have defined roles that work best when they are adhered to. One such is that children in fact do need a mom and a dad, a male and a female presence in the home. Statistically children raised in such an environment are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, display less violence and rebellion, do better in school, and go on to college. They are far more likely to have a stable family environment of their own as well. Let’s see what Paul writes the early church concerning…
I. The role of Christian men! (Vv. 2:8, 13-15)
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing… For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
1. This passage is often misunderstood but it is really quite simple. Paul knew in a church where the background of the people was not one of honoring one God, one Creator, and the Messiah but rather was focused on a myriad of gods and a dog-eat-dog style of living there would be a radical change because of Jesus. Some folks would be confused. So Paul begins by telling them, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing”. Men were to be the examples for the rest of the church. Paul knew the home, society, and government was primarily the duty of the men. He is not arguing who or what is better but rather what was in fact true. Men were to lead in their worship, why? Paul writes that it is because “Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Certainly all believers should “lift up holy hands in prayer” but Paul was addressing the fact that men were to be the example like Adam was supposed to be. “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Paul is referring to the creation account of the fall of all mankind. He is not absolving Adam’s sinful stupidity or saying that Eve was more gullible and therefore guiltier. He is reminding them of what occurred. Both sinned. God told Eve, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NIV) And he scolded Adam by telling him, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life… By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17, 19 NIV) Both would be punished “But women will be saved through childbearing” [because of the coming of the Messiah] “if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety”. Not just for eternal salvation but in finding personal contentment in the roles given to both. Paul teaches about the role of men.
EXAMPLE: We cannot allow chauvinism to dictate to us that women or men should be treated differently however within the church and within the family there are well defined roles. Women are far more nurturing and men are more single-minded. Women can focus on several things and be aware of what is going on while men are often so focused on one thing they can miss what is going on around them. I had to laugh because while we were at Disneyland there were parents of about four little ones riding Pirates of the Caribbean. The dad was so focused on the ride he missed the fact one child was leaning over the side trying to drink the water and another was trying to crawl into the seat behind them. Now the mother while holding two other little ones on her lap grabbed the one heading to the back while rescuing the one trying to drink the water. As she grabbed them both she deftly thumped her husband on the head and requested that he “pay a little more attention to your children”. He grinned and apologized. Paul teaches us the role of Christian men here in Timothy.
While there are exceptions to every rule there are certain truisms that remain well the same. Far too many men have given up their role of being the male influence while many women have forsaken being the feminine influence thinking that it has little significance in our day and age. In fact recent studies suggest that there is indeed a strong biological tendency for boys to act like boys and girls to act like girls – go figure! Here in Timothy’s letter Paul suggests…
II. The role of Christian women! (Vv. 9-12)
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 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.
1. Now here is something that is sadly kind of shocking in our day that Paul would want women too dress with some kind of decorum. He writes, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety”. The idea here is not one of supporting certain fashion statements over another but rather again he is referring to the fact of the culture Timothy ministered in. Greek women did not always dress modestly. Paul was addressing the fact that Christian men and women should be different than the world around them. Believers are not to try to blend in to the point that they join in the disgusting social norms of the world. I have to be honest I was saddened by the way some of the women dressed in Disneyland. In Paul’s day Greek women would spend a lot of their time, money, and efforts on the way they looked; so much so that a lot of money was wasted on their fashions. So he writes that Christian women should not spend their time on “braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God”. Paul is not giving us a Christian fashion statement here; rather he is trying to teach that Christian women are to focus on God first and not their appearance. Their faith would be seen in their actions! In fact Paul would write that “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.” Now before you want to club me to death what Paul is writing here is that the Christian woman should be able to hold herself in check emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And he goes on to shockingly say that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Wow is Paul an old chauvinist or what? And the answer is “nope in fact quite the opposite”. Paul was not talking about teaching a Sunday School Class but rather those who would try to lord it over their husbands. Instead a believing wife should be willing to reign in herself in order for her husband to fulfill the role he is supposed to! The wife is not to be a doorstop nor a bully but a partner. Paul suggests the role for Christian women.
EXAMPLE: You can learn a lot of things by listening or asking questions of folks while waiting in lines. Again, while at Disneyland I overheard a kind of rough-looking older woman speaking to two younger college-aged girls in line. They were talking about their tattoos. One girl asked the older woman if she regretted getting some of her “tats” and she immediately responded, “Yes.” She regretted it she explained because the ones she had no longer represented who she was. She went on to say that she had gotten most of them before she came to Christ and they now represented those things she was completely opposed to. She was adorned with skulls, the words “Death”, “Hell”, and something about dying young. One rather large one depicted a scene with demons, flames, drugs, and rock and roll. “Plus,” she went on, “I would not have gotten so many.” Now I am not either for tattoos or against them but this woman depicted exactly what Paul was trying to teach here in his letter to Timothy of just how a Christian woman is supposed to act. Christian women are to reflect Jesus and here Paul suggests the role for Christian women.
Here in Paul’s letter to Timothy we discover the role of Christian men and the role of Christian women.
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.