Lesson 5: "Let the Women Learn" (I-Timothy 2:11)
I Timothy 2:9-15
Paul's Letters To Preachers.Welcome to lesson tt5. O.K. if you will turn there, we'll begin with v.9 of ch. 2...I-Tim. 2:9. We read this in our last lesson, i.e. v.9-15. You may want to reread it. AND, as we said, this section v.9-15 deals with Paul's instruction to women. The previous section (v.1- 8) was to MEN concerning prayer. In v.8 Paul said: "I will therefore that MEN pray..." Men were to pray and men are to pray EVERYWHERE. The Greek word designating the male sex is used in this verse, i.e. husbands. Usually the word "men" in the N.T. simply means mankind and thus includes both sexes, i.e. both men and women. However, the duty of prayer in the public assembly is assigned to men. They are to lift up holy hands, with emphasis upon that word "holy." This should be without bickering, disputing, bitterness and such like. The discussion here, of course, relates to and applies to worship or in other words to the assembly, i.e. when and where the saints come together for worship. Women of course can pray in private and in some other places. Notice that when Paul said, "I will therefore..." (v.8), he was not merely stating his preference. Paul was an apostle and thus was stating the way this should be done. This is, therefore, just as authoritative as if Jesus himself had said this. Jesus promised that the apostles would be guided by the H.S. into all truth as the need arose (John 16:13) and this inspired letter of Paul to Timothy is part of that truth. Then, beginning (here) in v.9, Paul said: "In like manner also..." In other words, just as Paul had stated the proper procedure for men and prayer in the previous passages; the apostle in these verses (9-15) begins to state certain instruction pertaining to women. In these seven verses, he discusses the dress and adornment of women, the limitations on teaching by women and finally he gives the reason for these limitations. This applied to the assemblies just like the discussion on prayer up above relates(ed) to the assemblies of the saints.
Alright, what did Paul say? Let's re-read v.9-10, these two verses go together as one sentence (in the KJV). Read with me! "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." Now, if you leave that parenthesis out, it says: "but...with good works." Don't miss that! This is the contrast, the other side of the coin if you will. The emphasis is not to be put upon clothing and apparel; but, upon good works. The parenthesis "(which becometh women professing godliness)" modifies or comments upon this contrast. Now, I don't think that's too hard to understand. Women are expected to dress well. But, it's easy to start dissecting the words and splitting hairs over which dress and which apparel qualifies and to miss totally what Paul was saying to Timothy. Someone has said the word "modest" can mean reserved and thus implies skimpy apparel. And, of course, that's not the idea. Peter covered this also (in I-Pet. 3:3) and some have emphasized that if you take Peter literally, he would forbid wearing any clothing. Obviously, that's not the idea. The idea is simply freedom from vanity and sexy garbs that detract from positive spiritual soundness. One of the things that always grabs me with some of the modern Holiness sects I have talked with (who forbid any jewelry or cosmetics whatsoever, using these verses as authority), is that they get all caught up in the dress and adornment aspect of this scripture and then promote women preachers and have women leading the prayers, etc; ignoring other things these passages do forbid. Peter, in discussing wives and their apparel, says "let it be the hidden man of the heart." He discusses "a meek and quiet spirit, which [Peter said] is in the sight of God of great price." Paul and Peter taught exactly the same thing on this subject as relates to women and their dress. With these minimal guidelines, everyone is left to their own good taste. I have been a member of the church of Christ for nearly 40 years and I think I can honestly say with delight: I have seen very, very few violations of this scripture in churches of Christ over the years.
Now, let's re-read v.11-12, are you ready? "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." The apostle says with authority, LET THIS HAPPEN. This is the way it is to be done. The Ephesian church was to do it this way and this is the way all churches of the saints are to do it. This is the guideline. Women are to learn. This does not excuse women from learning. They are to learn in silence. Silence here in this passage is in contrast to teaching.. .please note that contrast. The apostle says two things very plainly: (#1) "I suffer not a woman to teach." (#2) "nor to usurp authority over the man." The word "silence" is used here (v.11) and again in v.l2...so get the contrast, "but to be in silence." The word "silence" (here) does not mean absolute quiet in the sense of not uttering the slightest sound. A women can sing. Their tongue is not utterly tied; it's just that women are not to teach in the public assembly. Why? Well, I don't know why. It's a good question; but, there's no misunderstanding what God said through the H.S.: "I suffer not a woman to teach..." Now, let me back up and take you on an excursion just a moment back through I-Cor. ch. 14. Do you remember what Paul said to the Corinthians with reference to the assembly? "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak..." (I-Cor. 14:34). When we covered that, if you remember, we said the key word there (that many people miss) is "speak." The word "speak" (there) means public speaking, i.e. speaking in the sense of teaching in assembly. Thus, what is said there (I-Cor. 14:34) and what is said here (I-Tim. 2:11) is exactly the same thought. It may take you a. minute or two to get that in focus; but, it's worth your time. Women are not to teach or to speak (i.e. no public speaking) in the assembly of the saints. Let's face it, this rules out women preachers. Is that sexual discrimination? I guess it is! However, don't forget; God has the right to discriminate wherever he chooses. What God made, God has the right to control. Women are to have babies and rule over the home. Is that discrimination? Isn't it terrible that God does not permit men to have babies? Like I said! God set it up that way. We do not have the authority to change it. We must not change it even if we could. Paul said to the Romans "let God be true, but every man a liar..." (Rom. 3:3). What God said, God said. He had a reason for saying it, even if we don't understand the reason. Remember, we're servants. We are not legislators. I must admit to you, in all condor, I don't really understand why. Women are (on the average), far more verbal than men. My wife can say two sentences and be headed for the third before I can scramble around and find words enough for half a sentence. It just comes natural for her. It sure comes hard for me and I think you'll find most men are that way. Why did God assign praying, public speaking AND teaching in the assembly to men? God knows the reason why; you and I can only guess why. But, we don't have to guess what God wants. That is very plain. Not only are women NOT TO SPEAK, they are NOT TO DOMINATE men in this way. Women are to learn, don't miss that. Women are to learn in silence. AND, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28), there is neither male nor female in Christ. Thus, men and women are spiritually equal in Christianity; even though we may be assigned different roles in God's order of things. Paul said in this passage, women are to be in "all subjection" (v.11). "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." That's Paul statement (Eph. 5:22). And just before that (v.21), Paul said all church members are to be submissive. Peter used almost identical wording (in I Pet. 3:1) "wives be in subjection to your own husbands." It very well may have been then at Ephesus (as I presume it is now), some women (and men) think that for both to be equal in Christianity (i.e. for all to be one in Christ Jesus, Gal. 3:28) that all must be given (permitted or assigned) exactly the same duties. Paul said we are all one, i.e.. we are all spiritually equal in Christianity; yet, it's quite clear we have been assigned different duties to some degree as God saw fit. Some have concluded, that if we are spiritually equal, we must all (men and women) be assigned the same duties. That is just simply not true. God made men and women different (perhaps you may have noticed) and he also assigned them different duties and different capabilities; but, that doesn't keep us from being spiritually equal. This injunction does not prevent women from teaching in the home. As a matter of fact, women are commanded to teach in the home, "the aged women likewise," Paul said, "that they may teach the younger women," etc. (Tit. 2:3ff). This does not keep women from teaching classes or teaching their peers individually. However, in the assembly (that God prescribed on the first day of the week) men are assigned the duty of praying, teaching, preaching and/or public speaking. AND, we don't have to understand why, all we need to know is: that's what God wants. This is the way we must settle every issue. What God wants, God gets. We are His servants. It is just that simple.
Now, let's re-read v.13-14...have you got both eyes on it? Here we go: "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." O.K.! Why did God place a restriction on women teaching? Paul must have anticipated that question. Or, to put it another way: why did God assign all the praying, teaching and public speaking in the assembly to men? In these verses (13-14), Paul gave two reasons: (#1) Adam had already been formed or created and given dominion over the earth and all things in it before God made Adam a woman helper or a help meet, i.e. one suitable for him (Gen. 2:18). I trust you know that old Genesis story. (#2) The penalty in that (Garden of Eden) fall was placed upon the woman. Eve led Adam into that transgression. Paul said she was deceived. Now, I'm not saying Adam didn't know it was wrong to do that...he did. Eve took the lead, as I said, and persuaded her husband to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This taking the lead or teaching or persuading or what ever you prefer to call it (that got them in trouble) is what Paul is referring to in this verse. As a result, God placed certain restrictions on the women as well as certain physiological changes there evidently. One of those restrictions is teaching in the assembly of the church. I wish I understood that better. However, you might be interested, if you will take the time to go back and re-read that; God placed certain restrictions upon the man also. It is not degrading to a woman in the least to be what God made her. This does not elevate a man. He is simply what God made him. He has his place just like a woman has her place. However, Paul is crystal clear on the assignments in these passages. You might want to read Romans 5:12-15 in connection (or in relation to) this.
Now, let's read that last verse (v.15), here we go! "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." O.K., what does that mean? That big word "notwithstanding" connects this to the last thought (i.e. v.13-14); we've just been talking about. The word "childbearing" here probably carries with it more than just giving birth. Back in Gen. 3:16, where God spoke to the woman (Eve), God said: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow in thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." So, here in I-Tim. 2:15, "childbearing" means motherhood, or childbearing in its broadest sense. Now, what is meant by: "she shall be saved in childbearing?" Well, this (in the board sense) is part of it (i.e. it's expected): but, this is not all of it. So, don't miss the rest of it. "If," is a contingency, i.e. the first depends upon the second. "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Heb. 11:6). Do you remember? To them that believe, God gives the power to BECOME (John 1:12). Thus, faith is absolutely necessary. Faith in Jesus is the starting point in obeying God. However, more than faith alone is required to be saved. Repentance, confession and baptism are obviously implied in this word faith, i.e. becoming a Christian is expected and necessary to being saved. Then, in addition to faith, "charity and holiness with sobriety," is required, i.e. love and sanctification must be with soundness of mind. Beyond that, even more is expected, going back to the first part of this sentence. God has assigned the woman her role in motherhood. Not only does being a Christian require a godly faith, it requires performing the motherhood role as well.
Thus, Paul's meaning is clear. A woman will not be saved by seeking a man's place in the public worship, i.e. in praying, public speaking and teaching. She shall find salvation through faith (first of all) and then by keeping her own place that God has assigned to her. It is easy in our age with the NEW AGE thinkers and the FEMINIST movement pushing for what they call "equality" to get confused on this issue. My father-in-law, who is still and elder in Florida at age 82, once told me about a young lady there coming forward, repenting, confessing sins and asking for the prayers of the congregation. She was married, pregnant, and a very spiritual person. When asked more specifically about her sins, she said her late stage of pregnancy prevented her from knocking doors and teaching others about Jesus as others she knew were doing. She thought it sinful that she would allow this to prevent her doing the work her friends were doing. He, of course, as an elder explained to her and tried to teach her she was not sinning; she was doing her Christian duty in performing the duty of motherhood. Of course, there's nothing wrong with knocking doors and teaching other about Jesus and the gospel. As a matter of fact, more of us should be doing it. And there certainly is nothing wrong with women doing that and promoting that. They can do that and be in subjection to their own husbands: with his help, hopefully. Even when one is working and making a living they are serving God, up to a certain level. God requires us to work with our hands (Eph. 4:28) and supply our own needs as best we can; but, we must not indulge to the point our thoughts turn only to wealth and ignore God's other requirements. We must put God first. We do that by obeying the gospel and by keeping our assigned place as servants in his kingdom, called the church. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and, his righteousness; and all these things [i.e. materials things] shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) We may think our generation is unique in its feminist movement, etc.; but, evidently that thinking was also a problem at Ephesus where Paul gave these commandments. Thanks for coming! Lord willing, I'll be with you in lesson #6. Until then, have a good day.